A Swinging Pagan Christmas Wedding

As a UK based blogger, I get particularly excitable when I discover a unique wedding from the UK, and especially excited when it’s as cool as this one!  Not to be disrespectful to my country or my fellow British brides, but it is a lot harder to find Rock ‘n Roll brides here in Blightly..maybe because our country is so small..or maybe because the tug of the top hat and tails is too much for most English couples?

Controversial I know..but just look at these and tell me I’m wrong.  Gem & Dean’s wedding looks absolutely wicked, and to top it all off, the wedding too place at a club I used to frequent as a pink haired teenager (now I’m a pink haired wife!)

Here is a bit of info about the day from the lady herself, Gem writes:

“Our wedding was crazy. We had to keep it under £3K as we were paying for it ourselves. It was totally DIY and personal though and we used our own creative skills as well as borrowing them from our very talented friends.

Cake – D’s mum
Photos- our friend Carly
Food and cupcakes – my Mum
Invites – I designed them and my Mum and sister Stacey made them
Corsages – my friend Sam from university
Petticoats and various sewing jobs – me (why waste a fashion degree?)

The list goes on. Everyone helped out in teeny ways anyway. Other things we bought from Etsy like our tree bark rings, my knitted shawl and my necklace. Loads of stuff was from eBay like D’s suit which was only £20, my dress was from the lovely ladies at Whirling Turban and we are pleased to say we didn’t once use a proper wedding store 🙂 Pastel coloured, froofy rip-off merchants *shakes fist*

The wedding was very much inspired by my idol, Tim Burton and so colours were quite gothic in red and black, we had a twisty tree centrepiece (made by ourselves and involved a romantic icy walk through the woods, which was a bonus) a HUGE candy buffet and the music for our ceremony was from Nightmare Before Christmas. I also had a Jack Skellington necklace 🙂 We also sneaked in loads of other songs from Tim Burton movies, as well as D’s songs he picked from his favourite games such as the World of Warcraft and Halo theme tunes.

THE CEREMONY – Early on and totally out of the blue, D said “Why don’t we do one of them old fashion ceremonies where they tie the hands together?”. I’m Pagan so was of course amazingly pleased as I hadn’t wanted to suggest anything like that as we’re a couple and I didn’t want to drag him into my beliefs.. if that makes sense?? We discussed it and it turns out he was more interested in my chosen belief system than I realised. The search was on to find someone who could do the ceremony for us and we found an amazingly lovely lady named Vicky who is a Priestess of Avalon (trained in Glastonbury). This was to be her first of this kind of ceremony so there were ideas and excitement from both parties. She gave us a rough guide and we tried to write each section of it ourselves. We had to explain how we met, confess our love to each other (which we did in the form of love letters)exchange our vows (we based it on a hand blessing) and finally be handfasted using a wand and hoop.

The ceremony went amazingly well and we involved everyone. My sister, brothers and best friend did our elemental callings. My Dad read a poem and our mothers poured wine for our blessing. Everyone was encouraged to shout out blessings for the marriage as we were being tied such as friendship, romance, children, laughter, etc. After that my tiny bridesmaids placed our besom on the ground and we jumped into our new lives together. As we left the room apparently loads of other couples jumped it too which was awesome. We went into the adjoining room and the doors were opened so all our guests were greeted by us behind the table with bottles of booze. We did the cake cutting here too since we didn’t have a proper sit down dinner – also kind of going for the traditional pagan cake and ale (well, bucks fizz) ceremony. Our biggest concern was people being uncomfy with the ceremony as people like D’s mum had expressed concern before hand “Why can’t you get married in a church all properly?”. EVERYONE loved it and said how refreshing, personal, interesting and different it was. This was of course lovely to hear 🙂 One the way out the door we also realised it was a full moon which I hadn’t even though about! It was just beautiful and so nicely aligned with our wedding (which was timed for 5pm so was of course dark already by then).

THE PARTY- We had a 1940/50’s swing/jive party in our favourite rock night venue (The Face in Reading, UK). Handy as it’s quite a dark little place and is decorated in red and black too. Also cool as we know the lady who runs it so it only cost us a teeny bit to hire. It was a cash bar, but we made sure they invented a cheap cocktail for us that people could buy in cheap pitchers. We named it The Casablanca. Everyone was encouraged to dress up and hardly anyone didn’t – people at least made an effort with a nice dress or a suit and fedora. Others came in full gangster outfits, poodle skirts, one came in a US army outfit and my brother and cousin randomly turned up as the Blues Brothers – not quite sure where that fit in but we were happy they made an effort at least 🙂

Food came in the form of a mashed potato cocktail bar which we, along with friends/family, prepared the night before (which was a giggle/drama in itself) and we had a mega candy buffet. It went down a storm, especially the one chafing dish of garlic butter mash. D made all the mash as he makes the best mash ever. It’s my comfort food and always cheers me up when he makes it 🙂

So we had a mix of all kinds of swing/jive/mambo music with a few Christina Aguilera tracks thrown in for good measure. Our first dance was to Love Me or Leave Me by Sammy Davis Jnr. Not an especially lovey dovey song but it is just soooooo smooth. We attempted to choreograph something using our new lindy-hop skills (been going to lessons on and off for a few months), but it all went to pot so we winged it in the end. We had an A M A Z I N G swing band called The Ding Dong Daddios who even learned The Way you Look Tonight for us as our kind of second ‘first dance’. People loved them and it was great to see everyone boogying about after a few drinks.”


  1. Great post, looks like you made it special for yourselves and that added DIY touch is a great way to go.
    Well done
    Dominic Halpin

  2. Post author

    If you ever get married Carmen I want the exclusive rights to your wedding photos! *that* would be a wedding id LOVE to see!

  3. This is great …. I’ve been trawling wedding websites for ages and lamenting the lack of good (ANY?) UK ones. I start trawling through yours and finally realise that YOU’RE a UK one! Great! I think funky weddings happen in the UK – brides are just not sassy about blogging about them! (Although they do crop up ever so often on offbeatbride.com) Glad you’re changing that 🙂

    I’m getting married in Somerset in July. I’m Asian and my fiance English and we’re trying very hard to keep it very much ‘us’ (not much that is traditionally English or Asian). We also met Lindy-hopping (such a laugh to read this post) – only, we’ve been doing it for YEARS (me about 10 and fiance about 5); so half the guests will be our swing dancing ‘family’ who are some of the wonderfulest people on earth …

    Keep up the fab work – will be checking back lots, and will let you know when WE have our photos!

  4. Post author

    OMG fantastic. Im so glad you’ve found me :o) and I like to think I am trying to change the UK’s obsession with the traditional and unoriginal wedding! Most of the weddings I feature are American (as that is what’s out there) but I am defo a British Bride (or I was!) myself. lets hope the revolution hits the UK sooner rather than later :o) I do think it’s happening..just slowly. Hopefully with people maybe cutting back because of the dreaded credit crunch, couples will start thinking about doing things differently.
    Anyway defo stay tuned..I have some VERY exciting things happening on the blog in the next few weeks (which will be of particualr benefit to my UK readers!)


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