So we all know a wedding day is, for the most part, all about the couple getting married. But when a bride and groom put just as much thought and effort into their guests having as much fun as they do, well you know you’re into a winner.
I also can’t go on any further without calling out probably THE most amazing bridesmaid outfits I’ve ever seen! Tulle skirts, oversized sequin playsuits, HELL YES, I am so on board!
Beth and Sam were hitched in style at Elmore Court in Gloucestershire. “We wanted to create a unique carnival atmosphere with lots of glitter and sparkles so every element had a glittery and sparkly theme”, said Beth. “The guests also contributed by dressing in sequins, sparkles and glitter which meant that our carnival theme was apparent across the whole day. We have been going to lots of festivals for many years and wanted to create a playful, inclusive day where everybody could let their hair down and laugh!”
Valerie and Brian met when she was 18 and he was 23. Brian worked at a skate shop and they would routinely hang out talking about alternative ideologies and hardcore music, never thinking that their paths would cross again. Fast forward a few years and they reconnected via OKCupid and decided to meet up! “In typical Jersey Shore fashion, we met for a late night cup of coffee at a diner, and a stroll on the boardwalk; the rest is history”, said Valerie.
They were married in New Jersey at The Loft at Jackʼs Barn. “As music was the glue that held all of our wedding plans together, it is only fitting that the inspiration for our wedding would be an album”, she continued. “The Bouncing Soulʼs 1999 album Hopeless Romantic was the inspiration for our wedding. Youthful, care-free, alternative, and fun, but still romantic in itʼs own right.”
There’s one thing you’re all going to notice right away with this wedding – the bride’s amazing, and enormous, flower crown! I mean, wow! The best part is she made it herself. “After being quoted different prices from several places, my sister and I decided to give it a go ourselves”, Robyn explained. “We ordered the artificial flowers online and bought a headband from Claire’s Accessories. After a few nights of pinning and gluing, on occasions having to de-glue our fingers and thumbs from the headband, we finally mastered the skill of using a glue gun and the headpiece was complete!”
The rest of Robyn and Lewis’ wedding, held at Eaves Hall in Lancashire was just as colourful. “Our wedding was a bit of a mix of vintage and floral an a quirky edge. We both love anything olde worlde so any pictures or ideas we saw from Downton Abbey or out of books we added to our collection.”
Amy and John wanted to be married outside and for their wedding to have a bohemian and rustic vibe. Both being massive music lovers, that was also always going to be a big part of the celebrations. They had a rock and blues band (who are all their friends) as their entertainment and the bride sang with them in the evening too!
“We met 11 years ago working at the same hospital”, began Amy. “We dated for a few months but decided to just remain friends. We stayed in contact over the years and then in 2014 we got back together and five months later we got engaged. Despite our years apart with always knew we’d end up together… And so did our friends and family!”
The day was held at Lemore Manor in Herefordshire. “We didn’t want a traditional wedding in a church or indoors so when we found our venue we fell in love with being able to get married outside underneath the bandstand and for all our guests to be seated on hay bales. We also didn’t want a standard wedding band, so we had a rock and blues band play for us who just so happened to be our family friends. I guess what made it more unique is that I’d sang with the band before and I was able to sing with them on our wedding day. Most of the music played throughout the day was rock, blues and acoustic.”
Nikki loves biscuits. So much so that she built a business on designing things with them on! So when she married artist Michael in May, she knew their wedding would somehow have to reflect her obsession!
“We wanted a casual day, surrounded by the people we loved. We were inspired by creativity and our love of art and design,” she said. “We were inspired by all of the things that we love. We wanted to share our story with our guests through our combined creativity.”
The ceremony was in their own back garden. “We had a humanist ceremony in our back garden. Somehow we managed to squeeze in 90 of our closest family and friends! Having our ceremony outdoors was weather dependent, but we were lucky – the sun split the sky just in time for our vows!”
Lily and Owen, who live in the US, came back home to the UK for their August wedding. They day was held in the groom’s parent’s farm. The bride wore an upcycled vintage dress and their budget was £8500.
“Our wedding has always centred around friendship”, said Lily. “We knew that we would sacrifice detailed luxury over guest numbers as living on two continents for equal parts of our lives means that we’ve collected quite the community of amazing people along the way. Our friends are like family and our family are like friends. We wanted a celebration that would reflect our love and appreciation for all those people and one that would also reflect a little bit of all of them in one creative way or another.”
Lily and Lance’s wedding was inspired by their one big love – Star Wars! “We had a lot of fun making huge Pinterest boards.” began the bride. “As soon as we decided on a Star Wars theme the fun really began!”
“Our ceremony was short and silly while remaining sweet and genuine. As it started, Lance was walking down the aisle to the music from the end of Star Wars episode IV and asked the crowd ‘What’s up everybody?!? Are we ready for a wedding!?’ and started high fiving the guests as he continued down the aisle, which was then followed by the groomsmen and bridal party being greeted with the same clapping, cheers, and high fives. Later we were told by guests that that moment set the tone for the rest of the day.”
Emma and Dion’s September wedding had a laid back, rustic vibe. It was held at The Wallace Pub and Hotel in Victoria. “Our wedding was relaxed, vintage and a bit random!” said the bride. “I looked at Pinterest and blogs for ideas but mostly we just did things that felt right.”
“We had a surprise Elvis impersonator perform at the reception, which everybody loved! We also made our own invitations and wedding favours which were little jars of homemade marmalade. Boy, was that a long and sticky night of work!”
“We saved money on a lot of things. We went local for flowers which in the end only cost just over $500, including flowers for all the tables. We hired a VW van which was only $200 because we asked a local car aficionado to drive me and didn’t go through a formal car hire company. We also had several different cakes instead of just one traditional cake which was a lot cheaper.”
This weekend was my sister’s hen do (bachelorette for my American readers!) We planned everything as a surprise for her, but were under strict instructions that there be nothing pink, fluffy or penis shaped!
After posting a few photos on social media, I’ve had lots of questions about where we were and what we did (apparently a lot of you also want a send off that doesn’t involve inflatable penises or matching tee-shirts!) so I thought I’d share what we got up to. I’ve also ended the post with a few bonus tips to make sure your own alternative hen do goes off without a hitch!
Renting a house though Airb&b
There were 11 of us, so we decided that hiring a big house that we could all stay in would be the most fun and economical option. Rachel (my sister) didn’t really want to go ‘out out’ so we didn’t need to be near a big town or city.
I trawled Airbnb for weeks to find somewhere big enough to sleep everyone, that didn’t cost a thousand pounds plus a night, and if there was a hot tub or a pool, even better! Eventually we found Lower Tadmarton House, near Banbury. It was wonderful! The house slept up to 16 (although we had to share double beds, which no-one seemed to mind) and we had the option of hiring in a hot tub at an additional cost. It was PERFECT.
If you are wanting to do the same my advice would be to start looking way earlier than you might think you need to (especially if you’re doing it over a popular weekend, like the May Bank Holiday). I booked this place in January but even then a lot of the places I considered were already booked. Plus, some people did reject our booking when they found out we were a hen do! Mean!
Crown and Glory’s Candy Shop and a henna artist
Libby and Stephen were hitched in September at Tournerbury Woods Estate on the Hampshire/ West Sussex border. They didn’t set out to have a theme, but in throwing together all the things they liked it ended up being a super colourful, festival-esque day.
“Our wedding was an expression of our personalities and everything we love”, explained the bride. “We also had lots of colour! We wanted to create a day that was going to be fun for all our loved ones.”
“We were true to ourselves and didn’t have a theme and we created our own ceremony from scratch with our friend Harry. At the venue, they had this beautiful black metal pagoda which we decorated with ribbon and brightly coloured pots with beautiful plants and pink flamingos. Our guests were all sat on hay bales with crochet blankets sourced from various car boots and charity shops. As I walked down the aisle with my Dad and bridesmaids ahead of me to James Vincent McMorrow’s cover of Higher Love the sun came out and apparently dragonflies were flying around the guests! I was oblivious at this point as I must admit I was a little nervous.”
Danni and Ben, your wedding gives me LIFE. I am so excited to share it on the blog today.
This gorgeous heavily-tattooed pair were hitched in Maidstone, at a venue called Kent Life. “Our wedding theme was a bit of a mixture of 1950s, rural farm life and a tea party!” said Danni. “We love the 1950s anyway, I have a huge collection of dresses already and we just love the music and the dancing. I really love that our wedding was personal to us and wasn’t generic.”
“One of the highlights of the day was our fire breathing burlesque dancer!” she continued. “That’s pretty different to most weddings! We just wanted to be ourselves and also to make sure there was a lot going on all day. I would never want anyone to say they were bored, so we had wooden games, a sweetie table and a Rat Pack tribute. We also had close up magic and it really created such a great atmosphere with people crowding round and laughing!”