Shannon and Dave wanted to throw tradition out of the window for their London wedding. They had a legal ceremony at the register office the day before their main celebration which took place at Little Nan’s Bar and The Brookmill Pub in Deptford.
“Our wedding was a rainbow heavy metal disco with a science fiction twist… plus dogs!” began Shannon. “We were inspired by so many people, things, and events, but mostly music, bunting, food (we are both vegetarian so we wanted all the food to be both vegetarian and delicious) and Deptford, where we live We love our neighbourhood! It can be rough around the edges and has a less-than-polished reputation but we love it just as it is. It’s vibrant, colourful and multi-cultural. We wanted to make Deptford the star of the show. We used local merchants and venues wherever possible. We created a Deptford prize pack with local goodies, artwork and craft beer for the winner of our pub quiz.”
“We disregarded all the rules”, she continued. “We decided up front that we were going to do things our own way. I don’t like flowers, so we had no flowers. Why should my dress be white? I don’t like white. If we liked a tradition, we kept it. If we didn’t, it went out the window. We knew from watching our friends go through the experience that other people (however well-intentioned) can have a tendency to impose their own ideas into a wedding. To avoid this, we planned things out before we told anyone we were getting married!”
Their two ceremonies were very different, the first being strictly the legal bits, and the second being really personalised. “We took care of the legal wedding the day before our big London event, so we had no constraints on the wording we used in the ceremony at Little Nan’s”, she explained. “Rather than just writing our own vows, we wrote the whole ceremony. We created a verbal patchwork of readings from science fiction writers (CS Lewis, John M Ford, Madeleine L’Engle, Douglas Adams and Babylon 5) stitched together with our own words. We had Dave’s brother act as officiant.”
“One of my closest friends is a spectacularly talented opera singer. We’re not exactly opera people but I love cross-genre musical mashups. We decided to ask Sarah to sign two songs for us — specifically to take hard rock / metal songs and make them her own. We agonised over what to pick for several weeks. Then the Daily Mail ran a headline declaring Remainers to be ‘saboteurs’. Well, that settled it. Sarah’s first song had to be Sabotage by the Beastie Boys! Later in the ceremony she led the whole group in an a cappella hymn sing of Nothing Else Matters by Metallica.”
However they didn’t stop at two ceremonies… they actually had third a week later in Toronto! “I’m from Canada but as we live in the UK we knew that some of my family and friends would have found it difficult or impossible to travel. So we decided that it would be cheaper, simpler and better for us to fly ourselves to Toronto to repeat everything. Our biggest expense by far was travel and accommodation. In total, on both events and travel we spent £14,000.”
Is there anything they’d wish they’d known before they started planning their wedding(s)? Well… “It’s not the big ticket items that blow your budget, it’s all the little things you forgot about or didn’t know about!” Shannon laughed.
“Do what you want!” she advises other couples. “Make it your own. Celebrate your relationship and who you are as people. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you you have to do X, Y, or Z because it’s what people expect. And finally, don’t stress! The worst thing about planning our wedding was knowing that I was going to be made redundant just beforehand and worrying about whether I should just scrap stuff to save money. However If something doesn’t work out the way you planned, just go with the flow.”