On Kelly Ann Ferraro's first date with her now-husband Anthony, who is blind, she wore a velvet dress so he could "feel how she looked." On their wedding day last week, she wore a tactile dress embedded with woven cotton flowers and lace so once again he could feel how she looked.
"I've also said she's my eyes in this world, but for her to have a dress custom made so I could feel and touch it meant the world to me," Anthony Ferraro, a Paralympian, musician and motivational speaker, told USA TODAY. "I could feel her. I could feel she looked beautiful."
The couple met in 2018 when Anthony had just returned from Judo training in Tokyo and Kelly Ann was back from Thailand. While joining friends at Belmar Beach in New Jersey, the pair were introduced to one another, and Anthony said he felt "an instant connection."
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Their first date was at the New York premiere of Anthony's documentary, "A Shot in the Dark," which tells his journey as a blind wrestler and athlete. Since meeting Anthony, Kelly Ann had researched more about blindness and those who can perceive some light, like Anthony.
She learned to place pillows and bubble wrap around sharp objects in their apartment, and she learned he loved the touch of velvet and soft fabrics. So when it came to finding her wedding dress, Kelly Ann turned to Loulette Bride to create a dress that incorporated woven cotton flowers, a velvet waistband and soft fabrics like chiffon and lace.
"The whole time at the aisle I was whispering to him 'touch my dress, touch my dress,' and it made me so happy to know he could feel and enjoy my dress as much as I did," Kelly Ann told USA TODAY.
Anthony said Kelly Ann and her mother planned the wedding with him and his comfort in mind. Before the ceremony, Kelly Ann wrote a letter to Anthony in braille, a form of a written language for blind people. They were married on a beachfront property in Maine and purposely held the ceremony during the day since Anthony can perceive shadows and light.
The reception was held in a tent, and the metal poles were wrapped in bubble wrap disguised with decorations so Anthony could safely move around.
"The thoughtfulness and work behind making our wedding accessible for me meant everything. She's truly my best friend and like I said, 'my eyes in the world,'" Anthony said.
The couple looks forward to expanding their social accounts and spreading more awareness on the blind community and positivity. They are active travelers; Anthony enjoys the independence of traveling and Kelly Ann enjoys describing the views to him.
"Our story sheds a lot of light on just joy and unity, even for those with disabilities like me who didn't think love was possible," Anthony said. "The world needs more light and I hope our story shows some of that."
Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bride marries blind husband wearing tactile wedding dress