Category Archives: Guest Posts

The Last Five Years in LGBTQ Wedding Planning

Photo: Megan Melia

To celebrate Pride Month in the US, Kate Schaefer, founder and editor of the fantastic LGBTQ wedding planning resource, H&H Weddings, is here to discuss how she’s seen LGBTQ planning change over her past five years in the industry.

The year was 2012. I was a 20-something-year-old intern, sitting at my desk in Brooklyn, essentially rolling my eyes at the Huffington Post piece I was reading. This bride-to-be was venting about how she, as a lesbian, had no resources for planning her wedding. “This is nuts”, I thought. And then I started doing some research because, let’s be honest, I wasn’t actually doing anything else.

As it turns out, the only part about the situation that was nuts was the fact that the bride-to-be was 100% right. The only same-sex/LGBTQ+ wedding resources looked like they had been designed in 1992. I decided to change that.

At the time, my knowledge of weddings was based off of the three or so episodes of Say Yes To The Dress that I had seen. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was determined to get something going. LGBTQ+ folks deserved a beautiful, useful blog where they could go to see themselves, not just a straight wedding blog that occasionally featured a Ken & Ken/Barbie & Barbie-like couple.

Since 2012, I’ve seen many changes in the LGBTQ+ wedding space. People (on all parts of the spectrum) are choosing to make their ceremonies more and more personal. Five years ago, it often felt like a couple was just taking the hetero wedding mold and plugging themselves into the equation, which meant that, frequently, one member of the couple ended up being labelled the ‘bride’ and the other the ‘groom’ despite the fact that that (obviously) wasn’t the case.

The ceremony

We’ve featured hundreds of weddings on H&H Weddings and we’ve seen couples walk with each other down aisles, we’ve seen circular ceremony set ups, we’ve seen couples walk down aisles, simultaneously, towards each other. One of my favourite ever ceremonies we shared was Zoe & Lil’s outdoor ceremony. They set up a circle around them so that, while they said their vows, they were surrounded by friends and family!

 We’ve seen people dance and cry and laugh while walking down the aisle. We’ve seen people write their own vows and even sing their vows. The long and the short of it? Do whatever the fuck you want. It’s your wedding. No one knows your love like you, why not express it how it feels best?

The wedding party

We have also seen big changes in wedding party set ups. We’ve shared weddings with huge wedding parties and no wedding parties. We have seen wedding parties made up of all gender identities (straight couples, take note on this one! Why would a bride’s brother stand on her husband’s side of the wedding party?!)

The outfits

One of my favourite ways that couples get creative these days is attire! I used to feel like I saw a lot of uncomfortable brides in dresses because that’s what they felt like they were supposed to do. It was as if you had to options as a bride: 1. Wear a dress or 2. Wear an ill-fitting Men’s Warehouse suit that was frumpy.

Now, there are a ton of suiting companies that cater to people of all gender identities and expressions such as Bindle & Keep, Kipper Clothiers, Duchess Clothiers and Sharpe Suiting (just to name a few!). Another favourite of ours is House of Ollichon. They do wedding attire without a single dress in sight! Such a breath of fresh air! As well, couples are wearing a plethora of colours, jumpsuits, rompers, suiting combinations, shorts, dresses, skirts, really, whatever makes them feel their best, which is exactly what we like to see.

Photo: Rachelle Derouin Photography

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Planning a Wedding with Accessibility in Mind

Disability Rights Wedding Editorial

Preparing for one of the biggest days of your life can be as testing as it can be exciting, what with the multitude of things to think about. If you’re not organising the venue, you’re dreaming up your wedding invitations. If you’re not debating a dress with your mother, you’re talking your groom-to-be’s best man down from any eccentric goings on.

Additional accessibility needs can then add to your list of things to consider. Whether it’s you, your partner, or even some of your guests that require additional accessibility or mobility aids, making sure your wedding is suited to the needs of those attending is a must, to really make the most of the special day.

While accessibility has become a hot topic of conversation recently, there are still a number of locations and venues associated with weddings, that fail to provide enough accessible options to make your day as comfortable for everyone as possible. As such, mobility aid providers, Ability Superstore, have provided a few words of wisdom to help you plan your wedding with accessibility in mind.

Save the dates will come in handy

You’re engaged! Congratulations! There aren’t many occasions that make you feel as giddy as you do when your other half pops the question. Now, while you might think that sending a few save the date cards are just to let your nearest and dearest know when you plan on getting wed, you could in fact use it to find out about any accessibility needs.

Even if you don’t require any additional accessibility yourself, you might find that some of your guests might. With this in mind, create your guest list filled with those closest to you, and start filling in those ‘save the date’ cards. If you’re having your cards designed, you could add in a section that asks your guests if they have any accessibility needs. That way, you’re prepared well in advance, before the official invitations go out and before you have decided on your venue.

Don’t forget the plus ones! You don’t want to plan your wedding knowing that your guests don’t require any accessibility needs, only to the discover that their plus ones might. All it takes is asking your guests to think about their plus ones, too, when responding to your ‘save the date’ card.

Disability Rights Wedding Editorial

The various locations are key

Now that you know of any accessibility requirements both for the two of you and your guests, you can begin dreaming of your perfect wedding venue.

If you had any venues in mind beforehand, begin by doing a quick internet search to discover if they cater for accessibility. Bear in mind that if you’re looking to book an older venue, their accessibility might not be as obvious, so it’s always a good idea to get in touch with the venue to discuss your needs.

Reception venues and hotels

Think about reception locations, too. If you are planning on having a church wedding, for example, the chances are you will be throwing your reception in another venue nearby. As well as discussing the venue’s accessibility, you should also consider the distance between the wedding venue and the reception, as well as if there are any local taxis or car companies available to hire, should you or your guests need driving between the two.

Nearby hotels are well worth looking into, as well as their accessibility. Ideally, you would hope to find a hotel that meets your needs close by, but if not, transport may be required, especially after a night of dancing and celebrating!

Hen and stag dos

How about your hen and stag do? If you and/or your groom require extra accessibility when it comes to your ‘last night of freedom’, you don’t want to show up at the venue only to find they don’t cater to you or your guests’ needs. The same goes for your hen or stag do as it does the wedding venues; think about where you want to have it, and make the call to find out if they can provide the accessibility you need.

If you’re worried a night on the town isn’t going to be enjoyable, think about alternative ways to throw a party! From a weekend in a lodge to afternoon tea, a spa day to adrenaline fuelled activities, there’s plenty of ways to make the most of it without the worry of accessibility.

Top Tip: If you’ve spoken to managers of venues over the phone, don’t just take their word for it. Once they’ve said they can provide additional accessibility, book in a time to go and visit the venue, where they can show you what they can offer. You don’t want to be assured into thinking everything will be ok on the day, only to show up with little accessibility available.

Disability Rights Wedding Editorial

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Spend the Day Together

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Hey you, loved-up-engaged-planning-my-wedding you, can I have a word please? I hope all your planning is going well and that you are gearing up for the day of your dreams. Me? I’m a wedding photographer and I have been for many years now. And here’s a funny thing that after all this time, I’ve only just realised. Like, it’s hit me smack in the face like a wet kipper, realised.

NOBODY TELLS YOU TO SPEND THE DAY TOGETHER

And you know what? Unless you make a concerted effort to, then chances are you simply won’t. Think about weddings: Most couples spend the entire morning apart, they come together for the ceremony (you won’t actually remember much of this bit) then as soon as the confetti has been chucked, you will be talking to the people you know and your lover will be talking to all the people they know. Then apart from your portrait session, chances are you won’t come together again until it’s time to sit for dinner.

Take a good look at most of the weddings on Rock n Roll Bride over over and over again the images with the couple actually together are portraits and formal moments. Cake cutting, speeches, first dance.

Now why do I care? Well, because as a wedding photographer this is the conversation I’m probably going to have with you:

“We love your photography, it’s really natural looking. We hate being in photos, so don’t want to do lots of posing. It would be great if you could just capture us in little moments over the day.”

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I love a challenge but natural and little moments is pretty tough when your couple are on opposite sides of the room or the only significant time they are together is the obvious ‘wedding moments’. I feel like I’m always doing my best to orchestrate ‘natural’. In your couple session, I’m actually hoping to catch those little seconds in between when you think you are being shot, when you are lost in a giggle or just finally looking your favourite person in the face without 100 guests trying to congratulate you. I’m thinking I will get natural when we are walking back from the couple session and you are relaxed as you think formal photos are done with. I’m stalking you all day, camera poised ready but more often than not, I won’t get another shot with you both in it until you are sat at the dinner table.

Once I really thought about it, I began to wonder, is there anything I can do to make a difference?

I shot a wedding last Saturday and I knew that the couple felt super awkward at their engagement shoot. So in the morning I explained to my very lovely bride that if she wanted lots of natural photos to consciously spend the day together with her husband. I told her to make sure they walked together from the ceremony venue to the reception, that they worked the drinks reception together talking to both of your friends and families, that they didn’t just do a first dance together, they did a few. I told them spend the day together to be present through it all.

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Whose Wedding is it, Anyway? Managing Meddling Family Members!

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Weddings and juggling family politics seems to go hand in hand. So much so that may be feeling like wedding planning is more of an exercise in negotiating family dynamics than a celebration of love. But don’t worry, Rock n Roll Bride is here to help!

You’ve set the date of your wedding and you’ve already decided that it’s not going to be a traditional affair. Your wedding is going to be special, out of the ordinary, something that you’re both going to be proud of. You’ve decided on the theme and it’s all going so well: you and your fiancé agree on all the things you want and you’re kind of wondering what all those brides before you were making such a fuss about. This is fun and easy!

But then something unpleasant happens. It’s like when your smoke alarm goes off when you thought nothing untoward was happening on the stove. Suddenly, everyone has an opinion on your choices and obstacles like anxious bridesmaids and meddling mothers get in the way. In expressing their ideas, they seem determined to destroy yours. Sometimes it’s just the sighs and silent shakes of the head which can crush you even further.

I remember the strained words we had over our wedding song. You would not believe that a three-minute bunch of crotchets and semibreves could cause such a rift. Mum laid the back of her hand across her forehead, much like a Renaissance figurine, “You can’t have THAT song!” she cried, “for heaven’s sake, it’s a wedding!”

You might think I was planning to play a funeral march, or the Hokey Cokey. Dear Lord, no. I wanted Queen, I Want to Break Free‘ I don’t think my mum got the irony.

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30 First Dance Song Ideas for Alternative Weddings

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Call me a hopeless romantic, but I bloody love a first dance. Maybe it’s the music geek in me, but I just love the idea of getting to share the music you love with everyone. If you don’t already have a special song chosen then it’s the perfect excuse to look for ideas, immerse yourself in lots of lovely music and find a new song that will mean the world to you both for years to come. These are some of my very favourite love songs which could be perfect for a first dance (or any point during your wedding really!) whether you want to jump around together or do the old cling-and-sway…. from Indie to a bit of Northern Soul, absolute classics to lesser-known tracks. Oh, and the theme tune to Father Ted.

I’ve created a Spotify plylist including all these songs too – you’re welcome! I’d love to know your first dance choices in the comments.

You You You You You – The 6ths
“Who has made my dreams come true and turned my grey skies blue?

Simple Song – The Shins
“Love’s such a delicate thing that we do,
With nothing to prove, Which I never knew”

Archie, Marry Me – Alvvays
“So, honey, take me by the hand and we can sign some papers
Forget the invitations, floral arrangements and bread makers”

Everywhere – Fleetwood Mac
“Oh I, I want to be with you everywhere”

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The Book of Love – The Magnetic Fields
“But I, I love it when you read to me,
And you can read me anything”

The Lovecats – The Cure
“We’re so wonderfully wonderfully wonderfully Wonderfully pretty!
Oh you know that I’d do anything for you “

In My Life – The Beatles
“But of all these friends and lovers, there is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning when I think of love as something new”

Stay Young, Go Dancing – Deathcab for Cutie
“Through Autumn’s advancing, we’ll stay young, go dancing”

You’re My Best Friend – Queen
“You’re my sunshine and I want you to know that my feelings are true… I really love you”

You Are The Light (By Which I Travel Into This And That) – Jens Lekman
“Why would anyone need a map or a compass? It’s so beautiful to be guided by you”

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Songs of Love – The Divine Comedy
“So sing while you have time, let the song shine down from above… And fill you with songs of love”

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths
“And if a double-decker bus crashes into us…To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die”

You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman – Aretha Franklin
“Before the day I met you, life was so unkind and you’re the key to my peace of mind”

Fire In My Heart – Super Furry Animals
“You’ve got needles and pins and the seven deadly sins, Still I’ve got a fire in my heart for you”

First Day of My Life – Bright Eyes
“Yours was the first face that I saw
I think I was blind before I met you”

Baby I’m Yours – The Arctic Monkeys
“Yours until the poets run out of rhyme…In other words, until the end of time”

Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) – Frank Wilson
“As long as there is life in me, your happiness is guaranteed… I’ll fill your heart with ecstasy, forever darling”

If You Find Yourself Caught In Love – Belle and Sebastian
“Someone to take your life beyond, Another TV ‘I Love 1999′”

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Feeling Body Confident for Your Wedding

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While body confidence isn’t something you’ll just magically be able to come across just in time for your wedding (it’s a life-long struggle for a lot of us), marriage counsellor and founder of Mindful Bride to Be, Collin Christine, is here today to talk us through some ways you can have a positive body image, for your wedding day and beyond.

Congrats! You’re engaged. Now you’re probably experiencing what most women experience when they get this happy news: “I am SO happy but now I am going to be on display for my friends, family, photographers, and future husband… I better look hot.” At this point a lot of women start to feel overly conscious of their body and start to do crash diets, exercise like crazy, and restrict themselves in mind and body. During this time even of the sweetest of brides might be a tad bitchy because they’re trying to hard to be perfect.

If you want to feel confident in your body on your wedding day it’s time to look a little deeper and make some healthy adjustments. Want to break up with bad body image before your wedding? Try these four tips to have you truly shining on the inside and out.

1. Comparison is the thief of joy

Everyone at some point has something that they wish they could change about their body. When you notice yourself wishing that you had someone else’s body, you’re taking for granted what is uniquely you.

You’re very rare and special and so is your body! Perfect is an illusion so try and ditch that mentality before your big day, and while we all have areas we can improve on, that has nothing to do with your value as a person or how much love and gratitude you deserve.

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2. If the only prayer you said in your life was “Thank You”, that would suffice

Rather than spending your energy on wishing you were thinner, redirect your focus to something you already have at this very moment – whether it’s something like your beautiful eyes that allow you to take in the world around you, your ears so you can hear the sound of the ocean or the magic of a great song, or just your arms so you can embrace loved ones and cuddle with your pet.

It really doesn’t matter; the act of expressing gratitude actually has a chemical effect in your brain and makes you happier! Just thank the universe for what you have and you will feel its gratitude in return.

3. You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it

When you’re physically uncomfortable in your body, it’s important to wear clothes that you feel good in. This doesn’t mean you have a license to go out into the world wearing your PJs every day (not that there’s anything wrong with that once in a while), but you should consider clothes that make you feel physically comfortable so you aren’t tugging on them all day.

There is also value in dressing to how you want to feel. If you want to lose weight so you can wear the latest fashions, then wear them already as you are. You will look hot if you feel hot!

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