“It was the 18th wedding dress I tried on… I felt my whole face change. It felt like, almost redness going to my cheeks and a smile coming across my face. I felt my face light up and I thought, I don’t want to take this dress off.”
Steph never thought she would get to have that ‘this is the one’ feeling about trying on wedding dresses. How could she if she couldn’t see the dresses, she thought?
The 31-year-old has Cone-Rod Distrophy, a genetic condition in which the cells in your retina slowly deteriorate and die. She hasn’t been able to see for four years, when her vision first started getting blurry.
“The way I explain the way I see now is it’s like an old TV you’re trying to tune in and you get the fuzziness of the black, white and grey. That’s what I see, complete and utter fuzz,” she told Mamamia.
“Being a blind bride, you face a lot more difficulties than a sighted bride would. Obviously, people didn’t know how I would choose my wedding dress.
“I didn’t even know how I was going to choose my wedding dress, to be honest.” But she did.
In March, Steph went dress shopping ahead of her November wedding with her dad, brother and bridesmaid, and her mum Linda, who is also blind.
"There was a whole process around how I was going to choose my wedding dress. I haven't been able to see photos or pictures for about four years, so I didn't know what was in fashion or if what I liked was even still available," she said.
"I know one of the dresses I wanted, there wasn't such a thing anymore. It was all about feeling the dresses, what they felt like on and really paying attention to how I felt in them."
It was also important for Linda to come up and feel the dresses on her daughter as the sales assistant described its style and fabric in detail to them.
After trying on 17 dresses, Steph experienced that bridal moment she didn't think would be possible for her.
"It was strange that I got that feeling, even not being able to see what the dress was like. It was the way it made me feel."
Even though Steph will never get to physically see the photos Sydney wedding photographer James Day took of her wedding dress shopping experience, or those on her wedding day with her fiance Rob, the photographer came up with a way to help her see.
"James did a photo description for every single photo he took for me that day, a detailed description of exactly what the photos were. I could see them in my head," Steph explained.
"There's picture descriptions, and then there's picture descriptions. James' descriptions were out of this world, I could see the images in my head, even though I couldn't see them, the way he described them allowed me to see them. It's like when you close your eyes and somebody describes a scene to you and you can picture everything. Like guided meditations or reading a really good book.
"It meant everything to me."
Below are the images James took on Steph's wedding dress shopping day.
This is their story, through pictures.
Images by James Day Photography.
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