Guests wear eye masks during blind bride's wedding for special reason

Maggie Parker

Guests couldn’t believe their eyes when they arrived at Robbie Campbell and Stephanie Agnew’s Nov. 25 nuptials and found blindfolds.

Agnew, 32, is blind, and the Australian couple wanted their guests to experience their wedding the way she would: without sight. So they asked their 54 guests to wear blindfolds throughout the vows.

“When we lose one of our senses, the others become heightened, which allows us to experience something as beautiful as these vows in a totally unique way,” their officiant said to the blindfolded guests during the ceremony. “Today, we get to experience that in Steph’s way.”

Robbie Campbell and Stephanie Agnew incorporated many nonvisual elements so that she could fully experience the wedding. (Photo: James Day)
Robbie Campbell and Stephanie Agnew incorporated many nonvisual elements so that she could fully experience the wedding. (Photo: James Day)

“The idea of the blindfolds during the vows was born when Shaun and TJ [the videographers, Steph and Rob, and myself were all hanging out and we were talking about how we could bring the guests into the tactile experience that Steph would have,” the couple’s friend and photographer James Day told Yahoo Lifestyle. “We all agreed the blindfolds were a brilliant idea and would be a nice surprise for the guests and a touching way to honor Steph, her mum and her two brothers, who have the same condition.”

The guests wore blindfolds to approximate the bride’s experience. (Photo: James Day)
The guests wore blindfolds to approximate the bride’s experience. (Photo: James Day)

Their guests were surprised but cooperative. “The guests all seemed to really get behind the idea,” Day recalled. “And as the photographer, looking out to a sea of faces all just listening to the celebrant’s words, the vows and the birds chirping in the background, it was quite incredible.”

Agnew has cone-rod retinal dystrophy, an inherited eye disorder that leads to vision impairment. She lost almost all of her vision when she was 27. “I’m now left with light and dark perception and can see some shapes and shadows,” the bride told the Daily Mail.

A few years later, in 2016, she met Campbell after living next door to him for 18 months. “I’ve never seen him,” she told the Daily Mail. “I know his build — he is six-foot-four and I am five-foot-four so he is a lot taller than me — and I know he has broad shoulders but other than that I have to rely on descriptions.” That didn’t stop them from falling in love.

They got engaged in December 2017. “I was really unsure about the whole bridal process to the point where … I didn’t think I could deal with it,” Agnew said. “But it’s been such an enjoyable process.”

Their vendors made sure of that by helping Agnew thoroughly experience every detail of her wedding. “All of our vendors put in special efforts to make sure that Steph could appreciate all of the sensory elements that made the day, especially the videographer Lemon Tree Film House,” Campbell said in a statement provided to Yahoo Lifestyle. Their videographers are incorporating extra audio descriptions in their wedding film so Agnew “can experience it audibly instead of visually,” Campbell explained.

“The staff at the venue where we married were amazing and spent a lot of time with Steph describing the visual features of the whole venue,” he added.

They chose their venue because it was on the same road as Agnew’s great-aunt’s house and therefore had the same view, which Agnew remembers seeing as a child before she lost her sight. “She was able to picture the view on the day,” Campbell said.

The blindfolds weren’t the only unique feature of their wedding that utilized the bride’s stronger senses. They also had an owl fly down the aisle and land on Agnew’s hand to deliver the rings.

One of the special elements was an owl flying down the aisle to deliver the rings. (Photo: James Day)
One of the special elements was an owl flying down the aisle to deliver the rings. (Photo: James Day)

Scent was a big part of the wedding too. Agnew’s bouquet was extra-fragrant, and Day got creative with oils so that his good friend would always be able to attach happy memories to certain smells. “I ended up choosing 10 different fabrics with 10 different essential oils infused on them and having different people at different times of the day hand them to Steph so that when she holds those fabrics or smells those scents later, she will be taken back to that moment,” he said.

Although she couldn’t see herself, Campbell said, his bride felt beautiful on their big day.

Campbell was one of the few able to see the entire ceremony, and his bride was a sight to behold. “I couldn’t control my emotions as she walked down the aisle,” he told the Daily Mail. “She looked like a true princess bride in the dress.”

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