When Rob and Laura told me they had a fancy dress Alice in Wonderland/ Mad Hatter’s tea Party wedding I thought “Wow that sounds cool, but I bet I’ve seen it all before…” Oh how wrong I was! Never in my life have I seen a wedding where everyone – the couple, the wedding party and the guests – threw themselves into it so much. These costumes are just off the hook awesome!
The wedding took place in September in a marquee on a field at Hodore Farm, East Sussex. It was decorated from top to bottom with balloon teapots and playing cards, oversized playing cards, papier-mâché mushrooms, giant paper flowers, giant paper clocks, blow-up flamingoes, blow-up bananas, giant bean bags and a black and white tiled dance floor!
“We had our first (and actual) ceremony at Burning Man in Nevada – the theme for that one was Mad Max vs Barbarella,” began Rob. “Laura had never been before but knew how much the place meant to me, having been the previous four years, so we decided we should get married there! Oh, and it was blogged by Buzzfeed!”
“This was our second (unofficial) wedding two weeks later. It was proper fancy dress as we love to dress up. I was the white rabbit, Laura was Alice, and all the people to do with the service were allocated characters. Laura had nine bridesmaids (and made the hats for all of them), a flower girl and a little drummer boy. I had Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee as my best men, whilst Laura’s best men were the Walrus and Carpenter. Of course, some people went completely off piste and we ended up with all sorts turning up, including Santa himself.”
Kiran and Josh had a two-day wedding on the 3rd and 4th of May. Their main aim was to throw a celebration that felt very ‘them’ and for everyone to have a great time. Big weddings can often cost a lot, but even with their two day event, this savvy couple only spent £8500! They called in favours, DIYed a LOT and made some clever and unusual choices in order to save money. Everything from the flowers, the cake, the DJ and the stationery were either DIYed by the couple or donated by friends.
“Our wedding didn’t have a theme or colour scheme,” began the bride. “We didn’t want to stress over little details and even the fancy dress party was theme-less. It definitely was an ‘anything goes’ kind of wedding. From the beginning we decided that we would only do or have things that meant something to us. We actually said early on that we felt that we didn’t actually need to get married but it was important to us to celebrate our love. We’ve been through a lot together, with amazing support from family and friends, so we just wanted to celebrate that. We also really wanted it to be enjoyable for our guests without the pomp, tradition and nonsensical things that weren’t meaningful to us.”
Damon & Tooty we’re never going to have a wedding with a boring or standard theme. In fact as soon as they found their venue, Spring Grove House at the West Midlands Safari Park, the seed for a safari themed day was planted! “The theme came after viewing the venue”, the bride began. “We saw a few places and found them booooooorrrrringg. We planned to go and see Spring Grove House but really didn’t expect much from it as we had never heard of it. But when we got there we fell in love! They’ve kitted it out all in animal print décor including the carpets, the wallpaper and ornaments. The idea for the theme was obvious to me. I’m always wearing animal print attire and so we decided to insist our guests did the same for the wedding!”
“With the invitations we included a poem inviting everyone to dress up for the day… although the theme wasn’t optional. I’d have kicked butt if anyone hadn’t turned up in animal print! We were so pleased with the effort everyone made. Some people took it to another level including our two gay friend who turned up dressed as big cats – body paint and all! I only spotted them when the ceremony was over and we had turned to face the people when signing the register…my face was a picture and I think I said something along the lines of ‘what the f*** is that!’”
Lauren & Matt started their wedding planning knowing exactly what they wanted: something relaxed, stress-free and fun. They were lucky enough to have a friend whose parents own a farm, so everything else really stemmed from that. Lauren told me all about it. “As soon as we got engaged we knew how we wanted our wedding to be, we just didn’t know how to do it! The first and most important thing was to find a photographer. Being a enthusiastic photographer myself, I spent weeks searching for one that she liked, we finally came across Sassy of Assassynation and sent an excited email straight away. She immediately told us to phone her for a chat as we hadn’t set a date yet, but when she told us she only had 2 Saturdays free in the 3 months that we were looking at we booked her there and then! Everything else was then planned around her.”
“I knew I didn’t want a traditional ‘wedding dress’ as I didn’t think I would feel comfortable in one, plus I knew it wouldn’t fit in with our wedding ideas”, Lauren continued. “I did try a few on, but although they were nice dresses I just hated being in them! In the end I wound up buying 6 dresses, all from eBay, all cheap and all not right! My last hope was a woman I had found on Etsy but I had to wait 4 months for it to arrive, considering we only had 5 months until the wedding I kept my fingers crossed the whole time that it would be right! Luckily it was perfect, and even more so at just £80! It was so comfortable and light.”
“Although there were some traditional elements to our wedding, we wanted to keep the day as informal as possible,” began newlywed Anna. “We wanted a traditional wedding ceremony, but for the reception we just wanted to create a space for our friends and family to enjoy themselves. We had music all day, put out games and a fancy dress box, and left a jar of moustaches on the bar. The fancy dress box was well-used and our wedding became the chaotic festival-party we always wanted!”
“We didn’t really plan a theme, our wedding was just a collection of all the things we love – The English countryside, camping, festivals, folk music, food, beer and Fancy Dress! We’re big campers, and love going to festivals in the summer so our wedding loosely followed that.”
Anna & Jonny were married in April in Hampshire. Their ceremony was held at St Mary’s Church and their marquee reception was in the grounds of Gilbert White’s House & Museum. “We both grew up around Selborne village and wanted to celebrate our wedding somewhere that was close to our hearts”, the bride continued. ” Johnny used to work in the gardens of the Gilbert White Museum when he was younger, and we wanted our wedding day to have a real English-country garden feel to it so the beautiful setting and history of the place was perfect for us! The museum has only just started making itself available for weddings so we felt very lucky to be able to hold our wedding there.”
So where do I begin trying to explain the awesomeness of Renee & Ian’s undead steampunk wedding? I think maybe the title gives away just how amazing this wedding is going to be doesn’t it?
The couple were married at Catalyst, a private live/work artist community in Chicago. “We actually had to ‘audition’ for the space,” Renee told me. “The members have a delicate relationship with the community and can’t risk any trouble. We had to prove to them over several months that we talented and responsible enough to be able to use their space. We had to foster a personal relationship with them before they would even consider us. It was tedious, but worth it in the end.”
“We gained some more wonderful friends for our already stellar collection, and the space allowed us freedom that traditional venues could not (like staying until 6am and coming back later in the week to help clean up).”
The bride made her dress herself from a 1880′s corset pattern. She tea stained dupioni silk and lace and designed the skirt and blouse herself. Her headpiece was a pair of vintage goggles that she bought from a flea market which Ian ‘steampunked’ by using random pieces including a magnifying glass that belonged to his Grandmother.
“We love Halloween and costumes!” the bride continued. “It’s truly the only time of year that we have any pictures together. We plan all year for it! We’re not really big on the institution of marriage. We partly decided to ‘make it official’ (though our love and commitment was official enough for us) because Ian’s dad was diagnosed with cancer, and the outlook was grim. We knew he would love to see us married. On a lighter note, Greg is doing very well these days in remission.”
“Our choice of theme started a bit of an uproar in our families. We were made fun of, called sacrilegious, and many of our family from WI didn’t show up (some for financial reasons, but I assume many of our very catholic family members just didn’t approve). We were asked to have a separate ‘family wedding’ in WI, but refused. Our wedding was going to be a celebration of our love, our way and a way for us to show our families that we are proud of who we are. We didn’t WANT to dis-include or hurt them, but we didn’t want to compromise ourselves on our day! In the end, the family that did show up really seemed to enjoy themselves.”