First came love, then came marriage — and for YouTubers Hannah Aylward and Shane Burcaw, a baby carriage is hopefully in the future — at some point.
The interabled couple, who tied the knot on Sept. 4 after four years of dating, say that while children are certainly on the horizon, they’re enjoying their time as newlyweds.
“We totally want to have kids, [but] we’re not quite ready yet,” Aylward tells PEOPLE (the TV Show!) in Wednesday’s episode.
Adds Burcaw: “We go back and forth. Like one week we’re like, ‘We’re ready!’ And then the next week we’re like, ‘Why did we ever think we were ready?’”
The couple, who highlight the realities of an interabled relationship on their popular YouTube channel Squirmy and Grubs, say their recent nuptials were actually a last-minute decision, and that their loved ones —including Burcaw’s cousin, who officiated — all tuned in over Zoom.
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On Friday, September 4th, I married the love of my life. It wasn’t the big gathering we had always planned on having, but it was perfect. Thank you so much to @sburcaw for officiating over Zoom. We love you! Shane and I can’t wait to celebrate with our families in person when it’s safe, but for now, we’re husband and wife!!!! And that’s the most important part. I’m incredibly lucky to now be married to the greatest guy I know. We also just posted our wedding video! The link is in my bio.
“Afterwards, Hannah and I ordered Italian at our favorite takeout place and we had a wonderful takeout dinner,” says Burcaw, who has a genetic disorder called spinal muscular atrophy. “It was a very pandemic-type wedding! Nothing flashy.”
For her big day, Aylward wore her mother’s wedding dress, and the bride and groom’s rings were custom-made using gold from the wedding bands of Aylward’s grandparents.
“They feel really special because of that,” she says.
After spending years in a long-distance relationship, the happy couple says that actually being married feels “surreal” — and has only cemented the fact that they’re teammates for life, a concept they say helps them stave off mean comments.
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We’ve gotten lots of requests for close up photos of our wedding rings, so here they are! My favorite thing about them is that they’re made from my grandparents’ wedding bands. Knowing that they’re created from that gold makes them even more meaningful! We had them custom made by @newgild, a wonderful shop here in Minneapolis. We highly recommend them to anyone around here who’s looking to get custom jewelry made!
“Getting mean comments is nothing new. I thought that once we were married people would be like, ‘Oh, they’re for real,’” says Aylward. “Because we would get comments saying, ‘This is fake, it’s for publicity,’ or, ‘She’s using him for money or a YouTube channel,’ or whatever.”
Burcaw says that those types of comment underly ableism — but that both he and his new wife are content in knowing that his disability does not make him any less of a valuable partner to her.
“I think there’s this underlying perception in society that people with disabilities are not worthy or valuable as romantic partners,” he says. “And in our case… that is not true. And so we’re just trying to show people that our life is normal and silly and fun and disability is a part of it in the ignorance we face, but it doesn’t inhibit our life.”
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Shane and I get a lot of questions from people asking our opinion on various words that are used to refer to disabled people. Two of the most common ones we get asked about are “special needs” and “differently abled.” Like many other disability activists, we see these words as trying to make disability more palatable. They skirt around the word, framing it more “positively,” as if the word “disability” is a bad one. Our society never fails to frame disability negatively, and it translates into the words we use. The term “wheelchair bound” is a great example of how society has taken a great device that allows millions of people to move around, and turned it into a bad thing by attaching the word “bound” to it. There are countless more phrases and words like this one, so Shane and I just posted a video trying to address some of them! If you’ve ever wondered what the origin of the word “handicap” is, or whether or not Shane thinks he has “overcome” his disability, this video is for you! The link is in my bio.
Adds Aylward: “When we see terrible comments, we remember that we’re the ones that know the truth. We know our relationship better than anyone, so that just makes it easier to just ignore the people that are being mean, and remember that it’s just about us.”
The couple has plans for a bigger celebration at a historic mansion in the Minneapolis area when COVID-19 allows, but until then, they’ve turned their focus to planning a honeymoon.
“We’re definitely going to do something, hopefully something by an ocean,” says Burcaw. “That’s what I want. A blue ocean. And [Hannah] said something about a yacht, so I think we’re on the same page.”
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