I believe all weddings are beautiful, a great celebration for a couple in love and I’ve been fortunate to photograph some truly lovely weddings. There is so much inspiration available to you in magazines, on Pinterest and at wedding fairs to help you tailor your day to suit your personalities. But that can bring a lot of pressure when it’s time to organise your own.
I started my wedding photography business, because I love to capture couples on this very special wedding day, presenting them afterwards with amazing memories to grin and get sentimental over. Knowing that planning a wedding ‘your way’ can be challenging I’m sharing a few observations on those little things, which make a wedding all about both of you – giving a truly personal vibe.
Location, location, location
Whether you love the beach, enjoy urban architecture, or want to hold a festival in a field , do choose your wedding location based on what you two want and the interests you share. There are some quirky locations available – and even if it’s not typically known for weddings, you may be able to get a venue that is much more personal. Sometimes asking around your contacts will offer alternative options – based on the old adage of ‘who you know’. Local museums, art galleries, large restaurants or botanical gardens are all possible choices.
I love country weddings, with their unique combination of a relaxed feel and stunning scenery to take photographs with gorgeous views. However, it’s very easy to feel anxious about where your guests will get a B&B, or how far your parents will travel, or what it will all cost – but for some of your guests, might camping be a fun option? At one wedding this year, the bride and groom had a private luxury campervan and the main ceremony marquee was converted into a sleepover for the bride’s cousins. The advantage of remote countryside weddings is that any number of tents can go up on site. You can design a cosy chill out space, or set aside another as a playroom for little ones – all conveniently available for sleepovers at the end of the evening.
Transport to your wedding
Your journey to your wedding venue is all part of the fun. Whether you like vintage cars, or motorbikes, or fancy a double decker bus, it’s possible to make it part of your special day. Or if you prefer, keep it low-key and travel with your dad and girlfriends for a giggle in the car! One groom had a relative working at Jaguar, and the running joke became that he would always be a weekend wedding chauffeur – borrowing the latest model from work as a test vehicle for the weekend. (Thankfully his wife took pity on him, and at last, it was his own wedding!)
Food and catering choices
Funnily enough, you may find yourself wound up with nerves and adrenalin on your wedding day, so food might not be first on your mind. For your guests, you’ve got lots of choices beforehand to make your wedding meal special and right for you. I love barbecues at weddings, or you can go for the rustic feel with Pieminister Pies wedding service. I’m also a big fan of street food vendors and have also seen a rise in really cool pop up bars – as well as my favourite, a Prosecco van!
One way to break the ice and encourage your guests to get to know each other during the wedding breakfast is to have a starter that guests can share, such as a fondue. A glorious wedding cake might feel like a must-have (especially if you have a sweet-tooth) yet you can still design it to suit your budget and personal tastes. If you don’t like cake, why worry at all?
Floral designs and decorations
Choosing your wedding flowers is simple: go seasonal, and go for your favourites as a couple, either by picking colours or selecting the blooms. For your photos, you can go for bright colours to stand out or softer pastels for a romantic feel. Flowers really can create a wow factor when your guests walk in, but if you don’t care for them so much, you can use greenery garlands or strings of coloured lighting for a different effect. With plenty of space at a festival style wedding in the country, it’s not just about the traditional flowers – you can arrange hay bales to sit on, decorate trees, create an enchanted circle or even hang flowers in bottles from tree branches. Even the furniture you hire can set the scene for the type of wedding you want: large wooden benches and trestle tables create a communal feel, and if your event marquee is on grass, they are more stable. Circular dining tables and delicate chairs create a completely different vibe. Virginias Vintage Hire have an amazing selection of charming, rustic chairs, tables and accessories.
Dress code and more
You may love the idea of your own beautiful white dress, yet to get your perfect vibe, don’t let tradition dictate what you wear. You could choose your favourite colour or a vintage dress – and have it restyled to your taste. Caroline Alexander offers a unique service where you choose your top and skirt shape, the fabric and colours you like – customising it along the way to create a dress that is truly your choosing. A past bride wore, a stunning feathers and floral headdress as an alternative to a sparkly tiara. You can help your bridesmaids choose mismatching dresses, or go for a colour theme, rather than identical styles. Equally for the grooms, choose an outfit tailored to you with shoes that you love. If you are celebrating in a field, add comfy boots or wellies as an alternative to wet feet!
You can replace traditional confetti with bird seed, colourful flags, glow sticks or paper planes. Have fun with your music too, whether you decide to hire a mariachi band, a single guitarist or have friends and family perform, you can really go to town incorporating your musical tastes on your day.
Tie in your colour theme, not just in the bridesmaids dresses and flowers but get creative – there is nothing to stop you serving colourful cocktails during the reception garnished with a splash of your colour theme.
Many couples share their stories during their wedding day, either in photo displays or table names – or in their actual vows and readings – even the music playlist is personal. The speeches are another special moment, where the guests will hear more from your family and closest friends. You don’t want them to go on too long, but you can choose different speakers, if it suits you better.
There are other little details which give guests a chance to join in and really feel part of your special day. Many use a guest book, or video booth; others have a polaroid camera on hand to create an instant photograph wall, or add games into the entertainment. My top tip is to grab a large sheet of card or a notebook, throw all your thoughts on it – and talk them through, asking your partner to comment honestly on each idea. The only way to plan a wedding with a truly personal vibe is together, to celebrate you as a couple – and it’s no wonder they are all unique!