When TV presenter Layla Anna-Lee married Richard, they both knew they wanted to do something different. They wanted their wedding to feel like them, to be easygoing and fuss-free. They had their ceremony at Artington House and their reception was afternoon tea at home with just their closest friends and family.
“We’re not big party people, we like quiet quality time with friends so we had a small ceremony then high tea at our home”, explained Layla. “It was all a little last minute despite having six months between getting engaged and getting married. I had to fly to Brazil for six weeks for work and then when I returned we were just really chilled out about it all. We only really started planning three months before the date.”
“We knew the date we wanted, and we were super excited to get married but all we were interested in was the actual getting married bit. When we spoke about wanting to marry each other we were attracted to the beautiful promise and a future together, we never uttered the words ‘I want to have a meeting with a florist and check out venues with you!’ These things were just not on our minds at all. We both wanted something warm, modest and homely. We saw many lovely venues online, but we kept wanting to just have it at home. We only bought our house together very recently and we got engaged here – it feels so special.”
As a wedding blogger, being submitted a wedding described as a “dino glitter explosion” is a red letter day. Rob and Lucy’s Derby wedding might have just leapt up to being one of my all time favourites ever! They were legally married in a registry office but had an emotional and beautiful blessing at their reception at Shardlow Village Hall.
“We were inspired by our parents weddings”, said the bride. “My folks got engaged on a Tuesday and got married two days later with flowers from the garden and a chippy tea for the family, and Rob’s parents took only two months to plan their homespun wedding; they inspired us to just crack on with it! Most people spend over a year planning their wedding, but because we had just four months, only the most important things got done, and the rest of the pomp and circumstance just didn’t happen. It left us free to do exactly what we wanted.”
Ali and Gem are both into the arts, so having their wedding at the groom’s place of work, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre was the perfect choice! They wanted a wedding that reflected both of them and avoided tradition and trends at all costs! The groom actually sent me the most amazing email while they were planning their wedding (which I couldn’t help but share!) so it really is a thrill to see how their wedding turned out!
“From the very start we were inspired by Rock n Roll Bride”, they began. “Through the blog we could see that we wouldn’t be chastised for having a wedding that didn’t fit or didn’t follow a specific structure or tradition. We didn’t want tradition and grey monkey suits, but we didn’t want to be drinking out of jam jars and buying hipster centrepieces from vintage car boots either. We didn’t want to think about what cake ‘suits our personality’ or what colour theme to go for, so we just took it all one step at a time and agreed on everything together.”
“The question we most found ourselves asking was ‘Why?’ – ‘why would we leave a sugared almond for our friends?’, we hate them (the almonds, not our friends), the guests hate them, why would we do that? Why would you have a three course meal? We’re real foodies but we wanted to spend our day talking to our guests not watching them, from the back of a room, suckling on an amuse bouche. Once you start asking ‘why?’, a lot of the parts of a wedding just seem kind of odd. We didn’t want to find ‘alternative’ options to the traditional aspects of a wedding, we just scrapped things we didn’t like.”
Jody always wanted a steampunk themed wedding, but their theme really came to life when they booked their venue. It came complete with a funfair! “When it came to planning our wedding there were very few surprises for anyone who knew us”, Jody began. “I have never been one for anything traditional and after 12 years of catering weddings James did not want anything traditional either.”
“Our starting point was to find a venue so I listed every wedding venue in Shropshire, Cheshire and North Wales and started crossing them off if they did not fit our criteria of size, budget and quirkiness. We ended up with six venues that were slightly unusual and visited them all. The last one (which was my secretly favourite) was The Ironbridge Gorge Museums. They had so many choices of areas and rooms that we could use for the ceremony and for the reception. We went for The Covered Bays for the ceremony and wedding breakfast, and Blists Hill Victorian Town for the reception. The fact the latter has a fairground sealed the deal for James!”
“For me it was a no-brainer to have a Steampunk themed wedding,” she continued. “I am a huge fan of steampunk and a complete science fiction nerd, and we both love museums, so the idea of having a steampunk themed wedding at the home of the Industrial Revolution made me just a little bit excited! We actively encouraged all our guests to dress up and extended the dress code to cover Victorian and gothic for those who weren’t comfortable with going full steampunk. We also built up a list of people and companies providing costume hire, hat making and dress making services to pass on to everyone and links to websites for inspiration.”
If you’re sad about the fact that your wedding day will be over in a flash, why not do what Mark and Alex did and have a two-day celebration?! They wanted both parts of their wedding to have their own unique personalities, so day one was a casual fancy dress festival party, and day two had a more glamorous, sparkly theme.
“We held our wedding over the August bank holiday”, began the bride, “with the fancy dress festival day on Saturday and the wedding on the Sunday. We hired Colehayes Park in Dartmoor for the whole week (oh yeah!) and over 25 family and friends stayed with us. We actually continued the celebrations until the following Friday. Greedy aren’t we?!”
“We always knew that we wanted to drag the wedding celebrations out for as long as possible, so finding a venue where we could stay and party for longer than a day was our pre-requisite in choosing where we were going to get married. Our plan was to always have a festival day and wedding day, we decided to have the festival day first so that all the guests could mingle and were familiar with each other before the wedding. This worked out really well and we had an 12pm curfew so that people were still fresh the next day!”
“The main thing we wanted was an incredibly relaxed, fun and friendly wedding”, she continued. “We’re not huge fans of serious, formal and traditional weddings as just not our style, and so wanted to go as far from that as we could while still ensuring we were getting legally married.”
“The festival day was an incredible, sunny day. The theme was Willy Wonka which meant that a lot of oompa loompas turned up! Mark went as Willy Wonka in lilac and purple suit, and I went as the golden ticket in a metallic sequin jumpsuit! Our friends made such an amazing effort with one group coming as confectionery – so we had the Milkybar kid, a Fried egg, a Fruit Salad, a Loveheart and Strawberry Shortcake. We had face paints, a lemonade stand where we served chilled cocktails. We also had someone dressed as a Jagermeister bottle, handing out shots of Jager!”
Being big foodies, Billy & Laura knew they wanted to serve up an amazing feast at their wedding. But they wanted to do it in their own way, so a Full English Breakfast it was! “Overall we just wanted our wedding to be the best party anyone had ever been to”, wrote the bride. “We wanted great food, music and laughter. We definitely wanted our food to be different as we’d attended 8 or 9 weddings the year before and had (albeit very tasty) the same meal over and over.”
“One of the reasons we chose Skipbridge as our reception venue was that we could hire our own caterers and we weren’t stuck with a cookie cutter hotel wedding menu. We really wanted a Full English for our wedding breakfast but I found it difficult to find a supplier that would do exactly what we wanted that wouldn’t charge us an extortionate amount. Eventually I contacted House of Hog and he delivered exactly what we wanted for a great price. We had a fruit starter, followed by a buffet of sausages, bacon, black pudding, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes, hash browns, eggs and veggie alternatives. Dessert was a selection of pastries, pancakes and muffins.”