Kelly Anne Ferraro met her future husband in 2017, hanging out with mutual friends at the Jersey shore. Kelly knew Anthony was blind – but soon learned there was much more to him.
“Anthony didn’t have a cane or anything and no one was guiding him around,” Kelly told CBS News, adding that Anthony said he can see some light outside, but nothing indoors. “So I was like, ‘Why isn’t anyone helping you?'”
“Kelly grabbed on to me and was helping me the rest of the day,” Anthony told CBS News. “I was like, ‘This girl’s amazing.'”
Kelly said that was their first “bonding experience,” but their first date came about a month later, when Anthony invited her to a documentary premiere. The film was about Anthony wrestling against sighted opponents in high school. The athlete is not only a wrestler, but also practices judo, and trained for the Paralympics.
For the first date, Kelly wanted to do something special. So, she got a new dress – one he could feel. “She’s like, ‘Well, he can’t see me, so I have to wear something that feels nice.’ And no one’s ever thought to do that, like ever,” Anthony said.
“I remember my sister making fun of me because I was like, ‘I’m going to wear a velvet dress so he can feel it.’ And she was like, ‘That is so corny, he’s not going to feel your dress just because he’s blind,'” Kelly said. “And I was like, ‘No, he might! You don’t know.’ And it ended up being something that was so important to him.”
After that first date, the pair became a couple. Anthony travels a lot for his judo tournaments, and Kelly began going with him.
“My whole life changed when I met Kelly. I remember just not being able to see anything when I traveled, you know,” he said. “She would describe these landscapes to me, visually, where it would paint these pictures in my head. And she literally became my eyes for the world.”
After about four years of dating, the couple got married in Maine earlier this month. Ahead of the wedding, Kelly wanted to do something special for Anthony again. So, she got a custom wedding dress – one with many textures, so he could “see” by feeling.
“I really want something that’s a whole experience for Anthony,” Kelly remembered saying. Kelly’s friend recommended a bridal shop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn that makes sustainable gowns by recycling fabrics. Since she’s “not a shopper” she was anxious about going.
“I remember looking at her before she left and saying, ‘Kelly, just go be a princess today. Go have fun,'” Anthony said.
Kelly went to the bridal shop with her mom, and her dreams came true. She tried on a dress with velvet tassels, embossed flowers and several fabrics. “When I looked up, I started crying,” Kelly said. “This is the dress I dreamed about.”
She also got a jacket to stay warm – and with long velvet tassels on the sleeves, Anthony had another tactile fabric to feel. “That was the real kicker,” Anthony said. “It was velvet, just like our first date.”
Like most grooms, Anthony had no clue what his bride’s wedding dress was going to be like. So when she met him at the altar, he was shocked.
“My mind was blown. I started crying. And it was just like – was able to see Kelly. That was the best part, I was able to feel her dress.” he said.
Kelly said she was so excited about the dress that she showed it to him at the altar before ceremony even started. “I was like, ‘Feel it!'” she said.
“When I was feeling the dress, it was just creating this image of an angel in my brain, it was just beautiful,” Anthony said.
Kelly not only had the dress customized for Anthony, but she also ensured the wedding venue was accessible.
“To put yourself in other people’s shoes, I think really helps,” Anthony said about people like Kelly. “But understanding everyone in life is different and going that extra step to just think about that other person and try to put yourself in their experiences.”