Tag Archives: wedding planning advice

Is It Possible to Have a Truly Feminist Wedding?

Can a woman who’s fought for equality still be comfortable as a bride? In an industry that’s dominated by sexism (I mean an engagement ring is a symbol of ownership and it’s only the woman who’s expected to change her name… and don’t even get me started on the fact that the whole wedding thing is automatically assumed to be the woman’s domain). Well, weddings and marriage don’t always look that great. But if it’s the commitment you and your partner want, there’s no reason why you have to leave your feminist beliefs behind when you say “I do”. Becky Hoh-Hale, founder of the Most Curious Wedding Fair, is here today to talk you through the options.

As the founder of a wedding show, it can be hard to reconcile my career of choice with my feminist beliefs. I can sometimes feel myself explaining what I do with an element of guilt, almost apologising for my role in sending more sisters off to the patriarchal shackles. But The Most Curious Wedding Fair takes the idea of a wedding day and offers it up to couples to own it, and this allows me to rest easy in our quest for equality. So, I thought it would be interesting to look at how women in 2018 can and are reconciling their empowered selves with those wedding rituals less palatable to the bad ass bride.

As you are here already on Rock n Rock Bride, it’s likely that sticking to tradition is not top of your list of priorities, but similarly you’re reading this because marriage is important to you and you want it for you and your partner. Hell, you may not even want to lose all the romantic symbolism set up by some of the time-honoured wedding traditions. So let’s go there, what do these traditions mean? What are their origins? How can you change them up, slip in important feminist acts and reclaim your wedding?

The Wedding Dress

First up, let’s talk about the dress. I think we all know what the virginal white angelic gown associated with brides is meant to symbolise (although this assumption is actually completely inaccurate as it was originally blue that was seen as the virginal colour because of the Virgin Mary. The white wedding dress only became popular after Queen Victoria opted to wear it when she married Prince Albert!)

Whether a white wedding dress is a symbol of whether or not you’ve had sex yet or not (and honestly, even your Gran is probably pretty much up to speed on where you guys are at with that, having lived together for three years already) if you think about it, it’s always going to be an act of rebellion to wear something other than traditional white or ivory.

The Cake

Now we don’t want to ruin everything… but apparently even the damn cake cutting is about your hoo-hah. There’s different stories about the tradition, at best the couple could cut it together but she had to feed the groom a piece to signify her servitude to him and at worst the bride would do it alone to symbolise the loss of her virginity (eye roll). Do with that what you will. So if you’re worried about the symbolism, definitely cut it together and feed it to each other!

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My #1 Wedding Regret…

Sophie and Gareth were married last September in Wales (you can see their wedding in full in the current issue of Rock n Roll Bride magazine!) Their day was everything they ever wanted it to be, but they almost made one decision that they would have regretted forever.

Gareth and I have been married nearly five months now, and since the glitter has faded, the post-wedding admin complete and thank you cards long sent, there’s been a niggling sense of regret in the back of the mind. Nothing to do with the day itself, against all odds that was absolutely perfect (you can read all about it in the latest issue of the magazine!) Nor to do with who I married, thank goodness; he’s still my absolute number one and despite being together nine years before we got wed, it’s been like a brand new start to our relationship, in only the best way. You hear stories of people who regret not spending enough time with their other half on the day, or how much they smashed the pre-ceremony champs, or how they got carried away in all the wedding stuff and somehow landed themselves £25k in debt.

Thankfully none of those apply to me. My regret is to do with something we very nearly didn’t include. Something that was brushed aside in our initial planning as ‘something people like us just don’t have’. When I think about it too much, the thought of not having it now actually starts giving me anxious butterflies in the pit of my belly. At how much we would’ve missed, how it would’ve tainted the day and the remorse we would’ve felt. I guess I’m just going to have to take a deep breath and come out with it – my big dirty wedding secret is that we very nearly didn’t have a wedding video.

When we first started planning, we started looking at our budget, and what were our non-negotiables and what we were willing to let slip by. Photography was #1 in the absolutely gotta have it section, (well….apart from marrying each other, of course!), followed closely by good food and plenty of alcohol. And despite working in the wedding industry, knowing many talented filmmakers and highly admiring what they do, having a wedding video for ourselves was probably as far down the list of our priorities as having pristine white chair covers at our reception, or releasing doves as a symbol of our love.

We chalked it up almost straight away as something we just couldn’t afford, and I’m ashamed to admit, tried to justify our decision with a bunch of negativity; ‘everyone who needs a photographer AND a videographer traipsing after them all day must be pretty self-involved, right?’… ‘what would we do with it, force all our family and friends to come round to have an unveiling?! vom!’ I was honestly probably just jealous of the people who seemed to be able to afford everything for their wedding without so much as skipping their bi-annual holiday. Apparently weddings can turn anyone a shade of bridezilla for a small amount of time.

Now, full disclosure; we didn’t suddenly come across a pot of gold to be able to hire a videographer for our wedding. We were in the very fortunate position to be offered to do a skill exchange, a veil in exchange for our wedding footage, to help build up her portfolio. And now I feel forever indebted to Helen, because what she gave us was so much more than a wedding video.

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Having an Alternative Wedding is now a Trend (Apparently)

Breaking News! Meghan Markle is to do a speech at her own wedding! WHAT A WORLD THIS IS 🙄

Yesterday I received an ‘urgent’ phone call from a journalist at The Sun newspaper asking if I could help her put together a piece on the “alternative wedding trend” that “a lot of brides seem to be doing these days.” This was in response to the breaking news that Meghan Markle has decided to do a speech at her wedding to Prince Harry this summer. I internally chuckled as she went though a few different aspects of a wedding that they wondered if people were now doing differently (bride not walking down the aisle with her father, a white dress not being the only option, no fancy three-tiered wedding cake, no sit down meal etc) and eye-rolled extra hard into my cup of English Breakfast when she asked if I cared to comment.

I’m not trying to be a bitch, but seriously, WHAT? Since when did a woman wanting to stand up at her own goddamn wedding make worldwide headline news? I know this is a royal wedding and all, and any departure from tradition is going to make a big splash but jeeeeeeeeeez, is this 2018 or 1958!?

I didn’t speak at our wedding, but I was only 24 and not very confident standing up in front of a whole room full of people. Yet if I was getting married now OF COURSE I’d want to say a few words. It’s not even about making some kind of feminist stand, its just about being an equal and also wanting to thank all those people who helped us get to this point. I’m not one to want to ever just sit back like a little woman and let my husband speak for me. Ironically I’m now actually way more confident speaking in front of people, much moreso than Gareth. In fact if we were to get married now it wouldn’t surprise me at all if I did the main speech and he sat back and relaxed instead!

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In Hot Pur-Suit: Alternative Wedding Suit Ideas for Men

As a bride-to-be, you’ve probably spent hours trawling websites, blogs and magazines in search of your dream bridal gown – and in some ways it’s easy. Everyone’s talking about them, everyone’s sharing the latest trends, everyone’s pretty much obsessed with what the bride will wear. Err… But what about the boys? If your man has be struggling with what he’s going rock on his special day, then hand your laptop over to him for a second. Dude, we got you. Regular contributor to Rock n Roll Bride magazine, Alex Smith, has tried out all the wedding suit options you could possible think of … So you don’t have to.

I was having a conversation with a close friend recently about suits for his wedding. He said ‘it’s all too complicated, I don’t know where to go, or how to do it, I’ll probs just let my wife pick or go and hire it from the place we got our prom suits.

Just two weeks later, that friend… was dead! Not really, but with that attitude towards his suit for his wedding day, and the fact that he uses the word ‘probs’ in actual verbal conversation means that he is dead… to me. Also, just so you know for my prom I wore a white tuxedo jacket, black trousers, and dyed my hair black, but had an allergic reaction to the dye. I became the new punchline to “What’s white, black and red all over?” I bet that sunburnt zebra is laughing it up somewhere, smug prick.

Picking a suit for your wedding is extremely difficult, there are absolutely tonnes to choose from. Last time I was in Topshop there were about 30 different types of suit, and three guys in the store, so that’s 10 different types of suit per person, which means globally there are over 70 billion different suits in the world. Don’t look at that statistic like that, Katie Melua told you there were 9 million bicycles in Beijing in 2005 and you’re still rolling it out as a definitive fact, but you have a problem with my 70 billion suits?

Either way, the choice can be overwhelming, and part of that confusion comes from how you are going to acquire the suit. Much like that thing that seems like it would be fun, but will probably destroy your marriage: it’s a three way. Three different choices: Rented, Bought and Custom Made.

I figured the best way to be able to talk you through all the different processes, would be to actually go and do them. So, a few companies generously offered to take me through the process and lend us some suits to show you what you can expect from each different level.

Rent – Moss Bros – £59

Fifty-nine pounds! I mean you could buy 5900 penny sweets for that, or 59 pound sweets, OR almost 6 £10 sweets, but if you’re paying ten pounds for one sweet then I imagine your budget stretches way beyond this, you fancy bitch.

There are thousands of places that rent out suits, I chose Moss Bros because they are everywhere, near enough every high street I’ve ever walked down; there’s a Moss Bros, every shopping centre; there’s a Moss Bros, that time you were walking down a dark alley and you thought you heard another set of footprints; that was a Moss Bros!

The Process

The process is pretty straight forward, you go into a store and say: “Good morning, fine sir or madam (pick one don’t say both) I am looking to hire a suit”.

They will then show you a multitude of options of 40 or so different suits, many of which are made by Moss Bros, but also FCUK, Ted Baker and more (here I have cleverly used ‘and more,’ to mask the fact that I am unaware of any others – journalism!)

Then they’ll do this fun thing where they look at you in a slightly judgmental way and pick up the size that they think you are – act impressed it’s a party trick that they are extremely proud of. They will get it wrong sometimes, and if you are one of the people they get it wrong on then be gentle when breaking the news, imagine watching a sword swallower finish his act and then you see his pancreas has fallen out, you don’t want to scream it at him, it’s important everyone stays calm and sensitive to the situation.

On top of hiring the suit, you can hire shirts, ties, waistcoats, pocket square, even a cummerbund. The cummerbund was adopted by British military after seeing men wearing them during the colonialisation of India. But I find if you don’t spend too much time thinking about its ghastly origin, then it does look nice and works as a great way to keep your gut sucked in.

Why Rent?

To be blunt, this one comes down to cost. If you’re trying to keep things tight then only having to spend 50 odd quid on your suit is extremely reasonable.  You go and grab it a couple of days before and drop it off a couple of days afterwards, job done. On top of that the suits are exactly the same as the ones that you can buy for substantially more, you just have to try and ignore the fact that another man’s junk has been in them before, although knowing your future wife, you’re used to ignoring that HAAAYOOOOOO!!!! – I genuinely apologise, Janine’s a lovely girl.

I personally wanted to keep my wedding suit and with renting that is not an option – unless you skip the country – but I can’t condone that. Also, you do not have the option to edit the suit in anyway, it can’t be taken in, out, up, down, I suppose you could wear it inside out like The Fresh Prince, if you’re having a 90s theme – but I can’t condone that. Moss will get you the best fit possible, but it simply won’t be as good as something altered to you.

I would say that renting is the perfect option for groomsmen, each guy can go in to whatever Moss Bros they are closest too, be fitted, collect, and return the suit. It is so simple, cheap and easy… Much like Janice – HAAAAYYYYOOOO. Again, I’m so sorry for that, she’s charming.

Buy – ASOS – £125

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How to Start Planning Your Wedding

Before I say anything else lets get the formalities out of the way: CONGRATULATIONS! Getting engaged changed my life. Not only did a gain a husband and a new surname, but a brand new career as well! I’m Kat by the way, and I started Rock n Roll Bride in 2007 (yes, I’m a dinosaur) just after we got engaged. I was 24.

Over a decade later and this blog has not only become a full time passion for myself and my husband, Gareth, but it sporned a print magazine, which we launched in 2015. If you haven’t already, the first thing you should do is go ahead and subscribe to that baby. It’ll be your bible, I promise.

But enough about me, this time is all about YOU! Everyone you speak to over the next few months will probably have a lot of unsolicited advice about how you should spend your engagement and exactly what you should, and should not, do for your wedding. You’ll also likely start feeling that inevitable wave of panic too. It’s perfectly normal to be a little bit scared and overwhelmed at this stage. I mean, how the hell do you even start to plan a wedding!? This is where Rock n Roll Bride comes in! We’re here to help you, every step of the way.

Remember that it’s just one day

The most important thing to remember is that this is just one day and, in essence, you’re really just planning a party. The best, most exciting, important party of your life – but a party none-the-less. If you boil things down and take the drama out of it, the whole thing will feel a lot less stressful.

Your wedding will also not define the rest of your life. It will be a lovely celebration and a jumping off point for your marriage, it will not impact anything about your life afterwards. But I know how it feels, and once the happy glow of getting engaged starts to wear off, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of hyperventilating over seating arrangements and finding that one perfect dress (the pressure!)

So relax. Try not to think about everything you have to do right away, instead break your tasks up into manageable chunks and tackle them one at a time. The wedding industry is notorious for scaring you about time frames and budgets etc. But often they’re more worried about their own bottom line than actually helping brides and grooms navigate the muddy waters of planning ‘the biggest day of their lives’ (cynical but true).

On this blog we’ve featured weddings that were planned in a matter of weeks and weddings that cost under £500. So whatever your time frame and budget, it can be done.

Get organised

However what you do have to do, is get yourself organised. I’d highly recommend grabbing yourself a Rock n Roll Bride Wedding Planner too – it’s like a modern day FiloFax for alternative brides! Not only will it be the perfect place for you to keep all your ideas, notes and inspiration but it’s packed full of useful advice and tips (written by yours truly) as well as a year’s worth of week-to-view calendar pages, a budget calculator, time frames to follow and oodles of different sections to keep you on top of things. There’s even fun distractions like stickers and postcards to play with.

I’m a huge fan of lists and breaking things down so they’re less intimidating. My only advice other than that would be to make sure you have your priorities in mind and try to book the big things first. These are the things that either take the longest, get booked up the soonest or set the tone for the rest of the wedding. They are usually the venue, your photographer and your outfit. Get those three sorted first and everything else will fall into place around them.

However, before you can start any of that you need to make some decisions. Set some time aside, just the two of you, to sit down and have ‘the talk’. You need to decide what kind of day you want, when and where you’re going to hold it and how you’re going to make it all happen.

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Planning Your Wedding with Hidden Disabilities in Mind

For Erin Balfour, a mum of two children who both have Neurological conditions, attending events such as weddings can be a huge challenge. If you, or any of your guests, have any hidden disabilities, here are some things for you to consider

As a mum of two children who both have what’s known as ‘hidden disabilities’, attending even family gatherings, never mind weddings, is a huge challenge. My husband and I usually spend the whole time anticipating or soothing their sensory overloads and missing the event, or sometimes if it’s all too much we simply have to leave early.

What is a hidden disability, you might be asking, and why would that happen? We’re all familiar with disabilities where equipment such as a wheelchair or hearing aids makes it clear that someone needs additional support, but what about when there are no obvious pointers like these to suggest that someone might be struggling?

Neurological conditions like autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, sensory processing disorders, and a whole host of ‘syndromes without a name’, don’t always come with support aids (although lots do). Many of them come with ‘invisible’ characteristics such as being overwhelmed by noises, smells, and lights. This can be really challenging and actually impossible to cope with in a noisy, busy, ‘neurotypical’ world. We are beginning to accommodate the needs of those with these disabilities – we have quiet hours in shops, and autism-friendly performances in theatres and cinemas where the house lights aren’t totally off and the volume is lower – but we still have a long way to go.

Now a wedding day, with its hustle and bustle, and a high likelihood of having extended periods of waiting and milling about, can be extremely difficult for those with the type of disability described above, and for their carers (especially if we’re talking about children). A very common characteristic is the need for a clear and rigid routine with no deviation from what’s been decided. The consequence of this not happening usually leads to what’s known as a meltdown – and no this is not a tantrum, but rather the end result of building pressure inside a person because they’re unable to process or cope any longer with the unexpected and the overwhelming. It can cause them actual physical pain. Imagine you’re in a room with twenty televisions on, ten radios, five people asking you questions, lights flashing, perfumes being sprayed, and you can’t distinguish between any of them, nor filter them out. You would want to collapse and scream! A crude analogy, perhaps, but it goes a little way to explain exactly how overwhelming things can become for those with sensory processing difficulties.

The good news is that there are measures you can take to smooth the way as much as possible on a busy wedding day so that everyone has the best shot at enjoying themselves. It’s all about anticipating needs and accommodating them where you can.

Here are a few things you can do to make it easier for neurodiverse guests and those with complex needs to attend your wedding.

BEFORE THE WEDDING DAY

Provide your guest with the order of the day in advance so that they know what will be happening where and when.

This could include the seating plans, the order of service, the menu, and even itinerary information from the planner. If there’s nothing on the menu that they can cope with, consider asking them what they would like and asking the venue to accommodate this. If the caterers know in good time, there’s no reason why this can’t happen. Remember, some may have a carer with them who isn’t their ‘plus one’, so make sure there are enough seats and meals!

Using the web to do a little research on the type of disability your guest has is invaluable.

A school mum friend of mine did some reading around autism so that she could advise her daughter on what my son would need and also what he would find unhelpful. That totally touched my heart, and has really helped him. A little knowledge goes a heck of long way.

You could also just ask your guest directly what things they might find difficult so that you can either think of an alternative or understand why they might not be able to be present during certain parts of the day.

Help guests to research the venue.

If it’s a church, maybe arrange to go on a few short visits with them to get to know the place. Churches, especially older ones, might have funny acoustics, so it’s best to know that in advance so they know to definitely pack the noise-cancelling ear defenders!

In fact, with any venue it’s a good idea for them to get to know where everything is and familiarise themselves on a more relaxed day with no pressure. Does it have adequate changing facilities if they have continence issues? A place for wheelchairs and other big equipment?

Also has the venue got WIFI so they can access their calming apps and familiar programmes on a tablet? If not, consider getting a portable WIFI hub from your phone network provider.

Speak to the manager in advance to request a quiet area for in case things get too much on the day. A place your guest can go to come down from overwhelm and to reset in their own time before heading back into things. This will be their absolute lifeline.

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