Anita Lesko and Abraham Talmage Nielson celebrated a major milestone for themselves and for everyone on the autism spectrum on Saturday.
The couple got married at the Love & Autism Conference in San Diego, California; everyone involved in the wedding identifies as being on the autism spectrum.
Both Lesko, a nurse anesthetist, and Nielson are autistic and met at an Asperger’s support group that Lesko started in Pensacola, Florida. After dating for a year and a half, Nielson proposed on Christmas last year. Love & Autism founder Jenny Palmiotto had the idea that they get married at the conference to showcase a healthy relationship between two autistic people, and Lesko and Nielson jumped at the chance.
Everyone, from the officiant to the wedding cake baker, had some form of autism.
Palmiotto coordinated all of the vendors, including wedding photographer Kristina Bant Jenkins, whose son is on the autism spectrum. Artist Michael Tolleson live-painted the event, and Temple Grandin even pre-recorded a champagne toast to play during the reception. Lesko said they consider their nuptials to be the first-ever all-autistic wedding.
“A common misconception about folks like me is that people think we don’t have any feelings or major desires, but we’re the same as everybody else, if not even more,” Lesko told BuzzFeed Life, adding that she hopes her wedding will correct that perspective. “We tend not to be very demonstrative with emotions on our faces, so people think we don’t have any emotions. On the inside, we’re highly emotional people and capable of deep, deep love.”
Lesko noted that the fact that she and Nielson were able to find each other at all is something worth celebrating.
Lesko told BuzzFeed Life that Nielson “felt an overwhelming sense of calmness and peace come over him” when they first met. She calls it love at first sight, but they stayed friends for a year before they began dating.