The couple were married in January and had their photographs taken by friend of the blog Kim Hawkins. The venue they chose was The Mayfair Hotel in London and their theme was old school glamour. Ashley was keen to tell me all about their big day and I’m thrilled to share it all with you here – especially as a lot of the suppliers they used are my friends!
“I suppose what made us Rock n Roll was that we had to think on our feet. There are no rules for civil partnerships; there’s no tradition and no etiquette to follow. It sounds liberating but it can also leave you a bit ‘at sea’. We wanted it to be an occasion but the last thing we wanted was to end up mirroring a ‘straight wedding’. With gay weddings there is such a risk of turning one person into the bride and one into the groom and then just applying all the rules of weddings thereafter. No thanks. I was always going to wear a dress and Ray was always going to wear a suit but we both got our walk down the aisle and neither of us wore white. We also wanted it to be about more than me and Ray committing ourselves to each other. I have an 11 year old daughter, Edie. Marrying me means that Ray also makes a commitment to Edie and we wanted that reflected in our day. After Ray and I had made our promises to each other the registrar asked Edie to come forward. Ray promised to love, encourage and care for Edie and gave her a charm bracelet with a charm representing each of those promises on it. It was a beautiful way of saying that not only were we committing ourselves to each other as a couple but that we were all committing ourselves to this new family. People cried. I cried.”
“In terms of the style of the day we decided what we really wanted was a ball. We both LOVE getting dressed up and going to black tie dos. We love the formality and the glamour and we loved the idea of giving our friends the opportunity to dress up to the nines and spend the evening in the type of hotel most of us would never get to go to. We wanted old school glamour with a bit of old library thrown in. We also wanted to make sure there were a few elephants around. Years ago I asked Ray out for dinner by sending her a note and a small plastic elephant in a jiffy bag to her work. She was a journalist on an online news site at the time and her editor thought she was being stalked and was going to call the police. From then on we found that wherever we went there was always an elephant somewhere. I found a bag of 10 tiny grey elephants on ebay and we scattered them about the tables for people to find.”
“We actually had TWO wedding days. We wanted a huge posh wedding but the budget wouldn’t allow it so we had a medium sized posh wedding in London and then a week later we had a massive party at The Kursaal in Southend with live music and a DJ. We had to make sure all the flowers and decorations would last the week in between and cart them all back from London in our Ford Fiesta so we could use them again. I also had to bake another 120 cupcakes!”
“Everything else was DIY; The invites, orders of service, menus, the orchid table centres, the cakes, the decorations, everything. I am also an utter control freak so I HAD to do all the DIY myself. I got a 1929 German typewriter for the guest book off ebay for £13 which delighted me no end. Everyone thought I was mad. ‘So do you get to relax before this wedding or do you just scrape the icing sugar out from under your nails and walk down the aisle?’ As it turned out doing almost everything ourselves was indeed chaotic. We were so rushed on the day I didn’t even have time for a bath. I had to have a stand up wash on my own wedding day! It was worth it though. Friends helped out and decorated cheese and laid out ikea vases with candles in and stuck silk orchids back onto willow sticks with double sided sticky tape and it all looked like perfection to the naked eye! Never mind that we had to pile it all back into a Ford Fiesta and drive it back to Essex ourselves afterwards.”
Everyone loves sweeties right? Well Rock n Roll Bride favourite (and provider of the sweetie table at the Rock n Roll Party in April…eeek!) Hannah of Sweet Dream Events sent over this vintage-inspired shoot she was a part of. The idea for the shoot was to promote a new bridal show she is involved in…and from the look of these images, the show is sure to be a good one.
“This is what happens when a group of talented women get together to create a wedding fayre with a difference,” Hannah told me. “Hannah (Sweet Dream Events), Carrie (Carrie Bugg Photography) and Natalie (Exquisite Bridal) met when they decided that the personal touch was severely lacking in the wedding industry in their area. And so, The Luxury Wedding Showcase was born. This shoot was to give those wishing to attend an insight into all their talents.”
“I had a huge rush of excitement when Carrie arrived with Tori and Natalie. This was actually happening and within the next 6 hours we were engrossed in the scene we were setting for the day. The sun was shining all day, which helped give the Southern California feel to the shoot, we all had so much fun together and found ourselves bouncing inspiration off each other.”
The Luxury Wedding Showcase will be taking place over two days and in two locations. On Thursday March 10th from 6-8pm at Exquisite Bridal Boutique, Lymington and on Thursday 17th March from 6-8pm at Di Lusso Interiors, Canford Cliffs. For further information or to book your place drop Hannah an email to email@example.com.
My inspiration for this shoot came from the fact that I had seen a lot of big brands in The States using fashion bloggers to model for and promote their new lines. I loved the idea and thought it could really work for the UK wedding market. After all, wedding blogs are the new wedding magazines right?! I approached Rachel at Wimbledon-based Luella’s Boudoir if she’d be up for letting us run wild in her shop and thankfully she loved the idea!
“OMG Huge congratulations!” I squealed, remembering how she’d once told me that winning a photography award was on her list of things she wanted to achieve in her career. “I know” she replied, “and the best thing? I’ve won my DREAM kit from Hasselblad who sponsored the awards…and we can use it for our shoot!” (and they even offered a wind machine…Lisa didn’t have to ask me twice whether I wanted to use it for my shot!)
For those non-photography geeks out there, getting lent a Hasselblad is kind of a big deal. Not only is this a camera worth about £30,ooo (and that’s not including the lights, wind machine and Mac that they also let us borrow!) but it pretty much blows any other DSLR out of the water in the quality of image!
Lisa explained all the techy goodness to me, “In layman’s terms, Hasselblad is a medium format camera and its all about the increase in image quality due to its massive sensor. The files are much bigger than 35mm DSLR and there are a lot more pixels. This is a camera for high end fashion and advertising work, the detail is phenomenal even when you crop in a lot. You get a lot more in the shadows and highlights and if you need to do any image recovery (if you’ve shot too light or dark) there is a whole lot more there to work with. The latest camera, which is what they gave us has a fancy focus system called True Focus which allows you to lock focus on any part of the image then recompose your shot. Once you get the hang of it, it is pretty useful especially when shooting at wide apertures which I do most of the time.”
“You can also shoot straight to computer into their dedicated processing software, which is what we did. This is very useful as you see exactly what is going on and can even control everything from the screen. So if you wanted to, you can shoot from a directors chair with a flunky doing the camera work! It has an eye-level viewfinder and can be held pretty much in the same way as a 35mm DSLR so I found it surprisingly easy to handle.”
Everything seemed to be falling nicely into place. Now all I needed was willing models.
It was important to me to pick bloggers who really stood out – bloggers with a strong sense of identity, both in themselves and their blog themes and ideas. Then I thought that having each of them styled to match the genre of their blogs would work really well. Not only then would the images be authentic, but we could use them to show some different bridal style ideas.
You absolutely MUST head over to all these girl’s blogs to see their full set of images and to find out exactly what they are all wearing…(you can get a sneak peek in the behind the scenes video below, but be assured, you will want to go check out all of their images. These girls are SMOKIN’) Click the links below to see their full sets…
But wait! There appears to be a certain pink haired blogger missing from this list! Well, as you all know I am always well up for a bit of posing. Oh I do love a good photo shoot. For this shoot I (obviously) still wanted to share some alternative/Rock n Roll Bridal styles… but I had to do something different.
First up I decided to add some more colours to my hair – I have been lusting over rainbow hair for months now and I was so excited when my hairdresser, Elbie Van Eeden said she’d be over the moon to do it for me! We dyed bits of my own hair (my base colour is Baby Pink by Stargazer and the highlights are Crazy Colour – Peacock Blue, Violette and Cyclamen) as well as adding clip in extensions dyed with the same colours.
Pretty awesome huh?!
In a similar way, we wanted me to wear something different to anything you’d seen me in before. I have to admit, it took a little bit of persuasion from stylist Kate Barbour that I looked OK in a slinky number but after looking at these images, I might have to admit that she was right! The dress is by Caroline Atelier and is called Emmy (available through Luella’s Boudoir) and I wore it with a Camelia Organza Flower by Victoria Fergusson.
For the group shot I wore an original blush vintage dress, created by Marilyn Monroe’s favourite designer, a gold shooting star band by Jane Taylor Millinery and shoes by Emmy (full list of what everyone is wearing below the gallery.)
But wait…there’s more! I also asked my friend Richard of FX Films to do the honours and film some behind the scenes action for us. I think you’ll agree the result is amazing! This man is a video genius (and I guarantee you will be humming this song all day now)
At the end of the day, we got together for one final group shot. Being a blogger and working from home alone, can sometimes be a very lonely career path. However having these girls on the end of the phone/hanging about on Twitter/eager to respond to an ‘omg I need your advice’ email, makes being a wedding blogger the absolute best job in the world.
I love these girls for their individuality, for their spark and for their passion for their jobs.
I love these girls for the support they give me and their genuine attitudes. These are the girls that make the UK wedding blogging industry great…and they’re all pretty foxy too!!
A few months ago photographer David McNeil and I were sat in a Creperie in London. He turned to be and said, “Let’s do another photo shoot and let’s make it the best yet… Let’s go to Paris!” It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come since that first whimsical conversation and that we actually managed to pull it off – to hop over the channel and channel my inner Marie Antoinette!
Well, if I do say so myself, we not only pulled it off but we SMASHED it! I am actually so blown away by the whole experience (and the results) that I kind of don’t really know where to start..maybe the beginning would help?
The Photographers Myself and David McNeil have been friends for years – before either of us got into this who wedding ‘thing’ so needless to say we know each other pretty well. I love the fact that we started our businesses around the same time and I often refer to him as my “wedding industry husband” (and a few people have actually thought he was my husband – however Gareth is a lot more beardy!) We’ve worked together on shoots before; he did Gareth and my engagement shoot, my (two!) bridal shoots (here & here) and my boudoir shoot, however this was our first with proper styling, hair & make up.
Working with David is a dream. He’s calm, he makes me comfortable and he’s so creative it’s unreal. In fact the first ever shoot we did together was my boudoir shoot which just goes to show how comfortable I am with him! David also asked our friend and Rock n Roll Bride favourite, Shell De Mar if she’s like to come along too. I think it took her all of about 3 seconds to agree after we told her we were going to Paris! Shell second shot with David and also shot some behind the scenes images and video – both of which will be featured on the blog next week.
The Stylist With such an epic idea as a Marie Antoinette themed shoot in Paris, there was really only one lady I could ask to help is style it. Penny Merricks of Tigerlily Weddings is not only one of the most well connected planners I know but her vivacious personality and unique visual flair made her perfect for this project. She managed to get some amazing people to donate props for us to use and she pulled together an utterly incredible hair & make up team. She also persuaded Ian Stuart to lend us FOUR – yes FOUR – gowns to bring with us! Gift of the gab? Yes I think so!
I don’t quite know how she did it, but after she spoke to Mr Stuart himself (yes she spoke to him directly!) and told him of our plans, he immediately shipped four of his most extravagant dresses right out to us! I know. I still can’t believe it either. Amazing.
The Dresses I am so pleased that we asked Penny to take creative control on the styling of this shoot because in all honestly I would never have chosen Ian Stuart as the dresses for the shoot if it was all up to me. Not only would I never dream that he’d agree to letting us borrow over £20,000 worth of stock to bring to Paris, but big dresses scare me a little…and these were BIG dresses! These were the kind of dresses that make an instant impact and yes, are ginormous and a little scary, but after getting my hair and make up done and rocking the look out of the streets of gay Parieee, they were, well…perfect. The lady was right!
The Concept The inital idea from David & I for this shoot was to do something really really different. That phase is thrown around a lot at the moment so we really did have to think outside the box, and even go out of our own comfort zone. DIY & quirky touches, tattoos, pink hair…are all very unique and Rock m Roll but we really wanted to make you all go WOW. We wanted to pull off a real statement of a shoot…something you’d literally never seen before and maybe wouldn’t even expect me to do.
Penny was able to bring this out of us, even more so than we envisaged ourselves. David & I may have said said “Paris, Marie Antoinette” but if we’d done everything ourselves I don’t think even we would have gone as far-out as we did.
I predict that over the next few years the trend of small and quirky DIY weddings might shift slightly towards couples wanting to create something a bit more opulent and ‘out-there’. I think that people will still be doing things on a budget and implementing DIY elements, but that the styling will become a lot more more glam, ostentatious and extravagant. With this shoot we wanted to show you that more dramatic styles can still be pretty damn Rock n Roll and you don’t have to follow everybody else’s idea of what makes a Rock n Roll Bride to be fabulous!
Want a big dress instead of a short quirky number? Go for it!
Want mini wedding cakes instead of cupcakes? Do it!
Want to wear vintage pearls and a custom made crown? ROCK IT OUT!
…And what a way to showcase this idea that by channeling one of the most glamorous and opulent women in history, Marie Antoinette!?
Rock n Roll Bride promotes individuality and general awesomeness within a cookie cutter and often puke-worthy wedding world. Don’t let the wedding industry define your day, let YOU define your day.
Rock n Roll Bride is all about the charm and unique nature of ordinary people’s extraordinary weddings. Our passion is inspiring couples to plan the wedding that they really want in a world dictated by tradition.
Being ‘Rock n Roll’ is not about being cool, a rebel or even thinking of the most unique idea you can. It’s about planning a day that reflects you and your partner and declaring your love in your own special way. You don’t have to be wacky; you don’t have to be offbeat and you don’t have to be intentionally quirky – you just have to be you.
Launched in 2007, Rock n Roll Bride is one of the biggest wedding blogs in the world. Updated daily, the site and its accompanying print magazine attracts quirky, alternative and creative readers from all over the planet.
About the Editor
Kat Williams is the founder and editor of Rock n Roll Bride magazine and Amazon #1 bestselling author of Rock n Roll Bride: The Ultimate Guide for Alternative Brides, published in January 2019 by Ryland, Peters and Small.
Launched in 2007 as a blog while Kat was planning her own wedding and working as a full time TV producer, Rock n Roll Bride came about she became jaded by the limited offerings of the UK wedding industry. If you didn’t have a big budget, if you didn’t want something traditional and if you didn’t fit in to the straight, white, able-bodied bridal mould, there was nothing for you! Kat saw a niche for alternative wedding inspiration and ran with it.
The blog spawned a bi-monthly print magazine in 2015, which is now one of the very few remaining print bridal magazines in the UK.
Kat’s TV and radio appearances include BBC Radio Berkshire, Ireland AM and ABC News Australia. Kat has written regular columns for Cosmopolitan, Closer, Photo Professional, Vintage Life, Wedding, Unique Bride and Perfect Wedding.
In February 2020 Kat hosted the first ever Rock n Roll Bride Live, a wedding fair meets conference meets party for 200 alternative-loving brides and grooms in London.
Kat is passionate about inclusivity, using her platform to show that all kinds of people get married and deserve love and respect. Through her podcast, The Confidence Club, she encourages her audience to embrace their own unique selves and to look for the good in the world especially in dark or uncertain times.
Rock n Roll Bride has won a multitude of industry awards. The accolades include:
Best alternative blog, Wedding Magazine Blog Awards, 2014 & 2015 Best real-life weddings, Wedding Magazine Blog Awards, 2014 & 2015 Best designed blog (highly commended), Wedding Magazine Blog Awards, 2014 Best wedding blog (highly commended), Cosmopolitan Magazine Blog Awards, 2014 Best wedding blog, Cosmopolitan Magazine Blog Awards, 2011
Rock n Roll Bride has partnered with some of the most amazing brands for various projects. These include the Natural History Museum, the W Hotel, AirBnB, the National Wedding Show, Next, Charlotte Balbier, BHLDN, Irregular Choice, Choccywoccydoodah, Links of London, Cancer Research, Claire’s Accessories, John Lewis, Confetti, Alfred Angelo, Thomas Cook, Paradox London, David’s Bridal, and Tourism & Events Queensland.
I’m looking for a wedding supplier based in (blank) for my wedding. Can you send me some recommendations?
The quickest and easiest way to find some awesome wedding suppliers for your own wedding is to browse the real weddings and company profiles on the site. Each real wedding has a suppliers section at the bottom which lists everyone involved in the event. Remember, most suppliers these days will travel or work via phone/ Skype/ email so don’t feel like you can only look for people in your exact location.
I’m having a problem with (blank) while planning my wedding. Please help!
While I would love to reply to every distressed email I get from brides and grooms-to-be with wedding planning woes, I simply don’t have time. I’m only one little blogger after all! Please do email me though and even if I can’t reply I may well use your email as the basis of a blog post.
I want to start a blog. Can you give me some advice?
Blogging is amazing but it’s no easy ride. Also, as I’m sure you can imagine, its not really possible to give you any quick fix answers. The key to having a successful blog is having something different to say and a unique way to say it, consistency and dedication – none of which I’m able to give you I’m afraid!
If you’re really serious about making it happen, I’d recommend checking out a workshop I co-founded called The Blogcademy Online. In it we cover topics like how to write great content, growing readership, making money, branding, photography, social media and so much more!
Can you give me some help or advice with my business?
I am unable to give free advice via email. As much as I might like to spend all day meeting people for coffees and chats, I regrettably don’t usually have time for that either.
I’d love to work with you on a project…
I love doing brand collaborations and I’d love to hear from you. Obviously I can’t accept everything but drop me an email and we can have a chat about it! I do not work pro bono or on commission.
Can I interview you for my school project/ dissertation?
While I WISH I could say yes to all the requests like this that I get, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day! I’m so sorry but at the moment I simply haven’t got the time to dedicate to long interviews for school projects. If you have a couple of short (i.e. one word answer or multiple choice!) questions that you’d like me to complete, I’ll try my best to do it. Email me!
Who designed your website?
My graphic designer is the one and only Shauna Haider of We Are Branch. She’s the bees knees. My husband Gareth is a development, coding and IT wizz and he makes it all work!
Can you please promote my company or event via your blog or social media?
As you can probably imagine, I get a lot of these kinds of requests, and while I’m honoured to be invited to so many events and to have people wanting me to mention them on my site it’s just not physically possible for me to say yes to everybody. At the end of the day I don’t want to just become a walking billboard for the wedding industry so in order to keep it fair I choose to only promote my advertisers or events I am directly involved with.
How much is your magazine and where can I buy it?!
The bi-monthly magazine costs £4.99 and is available for purchase at WHSmiths, Sainsbury’s and selected independent newsagents all over the UK. You can find your nearest stockists by entering you postcode into our interactive map.
For those of you who are not in the UK, or if would prefer to buy copies online, you can do so via my shop page. Shipping throughout the UK is free!
How can I get my wedding featured in your print magazine?
I make the final call on whether a successful submission is featured online or in print, however if you have a preference, please make it known when you email.
All the available back issues are listed in the shop.
Can I work for you?
I’m super flattered when someone reaches out wanting to work for me and I give everyone who does so much credit for having the intuition to do so. However right now I’m not on the look out for any outside help or to employ anybody.