If you do want to start incorporating more movement into your life in the run-up to your wedding, I want to introduce you to two concepts embedded in the anti-diet movement – joyful movement and body inclusivity.
If there’s one thing I know to be true, it’s that as soon as you start planning a wedding, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you need to change your body. One day you’re sitting on your sofa watching Netflix with your cutie, then a proposal happens and BAM! Suddenly you’re signing up to a PT or jogging before work and buying an outfit three sizes too small as an ‘incentive’. Yikes! (Please don’t do this last one, it’s a recipe for many, many anxiety tears.)
I get why this happens, though. The pressure to have some sort of ‘wedding body transformation’ is real. Every trad wedding mag, subtly or not, pushes the message that a wedding diet is something to be expected, and when I was shopping for my own dress, the dressmaker commented that ‘Everyone loses weight before the big day’. BUT WHY?!
‘Looking your best’ on your wedding day genuinely doesn’t have to kickstart a pursuit of weight loss. You can look the shiniest, glowiest, most polished and photo-ready version of you (if that’s your bag) WITHOUT shrinking or buffing your bod so much that you look like a different person on your big day. You do not need to be smashing it, ripping it, tearing it up or punishing yourself to get the benefits of moving your body more.
The term ‘joyful movement’ means choosing exercise that gives you a sense of pleasure or fun, rather than focusing on results such as goals or body changes. It’s about how the movement makes you FEEL, which can seem like a radical shift when we live in a society that’s dominated by before and after photos.
In 2021, we had the pleasure of publishing Rachel’s journey of planning her feminist wedding. We loved her contributions so much that we’ve invited her back to continue the series by talking about the first year of her feminist marriage.
But aren’t you already married, Rachel? You can’t be a rock ‘n roll bride anymore, can you?” I spy in the comment section. Well, yes, I can actually. And in my first addition to this next series, in an issue dedicated to self-love, I’m going to explore why.
A while back, Kat had an online interaction with an individual who claimed that the title of the brand made this magazine inaccessible and exclusive; that the inclusion of the word ‘bride’ shut out many potential members of the club, who may not have identified as female but who wanted to be able to get married their way.
In a previous column, I talked about the origins of the word ‘wife’, and how the archaic definitions of the word had really put me off the idea of ever being one (my two least favourite definitions were: ‘a woman, especially an old or uneducated one’ and ‘female servant’). I talked about how language is in a constant state of flux and how the meaning of words is ever-changing. So, collectively, I think it’s fair to say we can change up the definition of the word ‘bride’ here, right? Well… it may interest you to know that, actually, this changing-of-definition has already happened without us realising it.
We all know the word ‘bride’ to mean ‘a woman engaged to be married’ or something to that effect. But one quick Google shows us that, actually, the word ‘bride’ comes from the Old English ‘bryd’, which is said to be derived from an old Proto-Germanic verb meaning ‘to cook, brew or make a broth’. Given that this tedious task was usually dished out to the daughter-in-law of the intergenerational German household, arguably, the original meaning of the word ‘bride’ could basically be translated as ‘the girl who makes the soup’.
Now… I don’t think it’s outrageous to assume— whether you’re planning an alternative wedding or a traditional one— that there are very few people in this modern world who would be okay with getting engaged and then being labelled as ‘the girl who makes the soup’. So, you see? Already the definition of the word has been changed, so why on earth shouldn’t it happen again?
Being a rock ‘n roll bride is not something you can be only if you are a cis, straight woman engaged to be married. It is a ticket into a space where anyone and everyone gets to be their authentic self and be accepted and celebrated for it. Being a rock ‘n roll bride is, in a way, defined by its lack of definition, or, at least, its refusal to put anyone who wants to be one in a box.
At the time of writing this, I have been married for six months, and I’m looking forward to sharing some of the things I’ve experienced so far as a rock ’n roll wife in this column. I know one of the things I was most intrigued about was whether anything would actually feel different between us once we did get hitched.
So… can you believe that I got that horrific super-cough virus… ON THE SECOND DAY OF OUR MINI-MOON?! Less than a week after the wedding I lost my entire voice for nearly a month. Every time I tried to speak, I would cough… and cough… and cough. Imagine that for the start of a feminist marriage: woman marries man and is immediately silenced. Great stuff, Mrs D. Really sticking it to the patriarchy with that one. Cough, cough.
I know, inevitably, the future will hold far bigger challenges for us to overcome than one of us having a heinous chest infection made worse by a pre-existing auto-immune disease. But, for the first month of our marriage, my husband patiently played charades with me because I literally could not talk. He cooked and cleaned and ran me baths and did my laundry and took over all the things I couldn’t do because if I moved, I coughed. Imagine that for the start of a feminist marriage: woman marries man and HE’S the one who makes the damn soup!
What I learned in those weeks was… something was different between us. I can’t put my finger on exactly what, but since we got married it truly feels set in stone— promised, vowed, however you might put it— that whatever one of us needs, for however long, whatever it might be, for the rest of our lives, the other will just step up and provide. He’s my ride or die, and I’m his. And that feels pretty rock ’n roll to me.
No matter who you are— how you identify, who you love, whether you’re engaged, in a relationship, completely single (I bought my first ever issue of this magazine five years before I even met my husband because, as a wedding singer, I was so excited by how it was about to disrupt the wedding industry!), or even if, like me, you’re already married but the concept still brings you joy, inspiration and a warm, fuzzy feeling that reminds you it’s okay to be you— if you are someone bold and brave enough to take the ancient institution of love-and-marriage and mark it in your own life how you want to, then, baby, you’re a rock ‘n roll bride.
Rachel is a writer and contemporary singing teacher. Her children’s book, The Doll’s House Mouse, won the Bath Children’s Novel Award 2021. She lives in southwest London with her husband. You can find her online at racheldarwin.com and on Instagram @rachelbdarwin.
This article originally appeared in issue 44of Rock n Roll Bride magazine. You can purchase the latest copy here, or why not subscribe to never miss an issue?
It’s not up to you to solve the climate crisis single-handedly, but making eco-conscious choices with your wedding can make all the difference.
So, you want to have an eco-friendly wedding? How about plastic-free too? Carbon neutral is a must, surely? Or better still, why not simply have a wedding that’s carbon-negative, plastic-free, produce so local you grew it yourself, outfits made of the contents of your recycling bin, flowers fresh from the graves of newly dead people and a venue you built with your bare hands from timber rescued from trees that died peacefully in their sleep?
Why not, in-friggin-deed.
I get it, you care about our planet. You care so deeply, so why would you ever throw a wedding that wasn’t simply a perfect reflection of an eco-conscious sustainability orgy that Greta Thunberg would sail across the seven seas (or part thereof) to attend?
For reasons, that’s why. And those reasons are:
1. It’s too much pressure
2. It’s not achievable
3. Fixing the climate crisis isn’t actually up to you. There, I said it.
But let me first tell you a tale. A tale of two wonderful people/clients who came to me to design and furnish their wedding. They wanted it to be a heartfelt reflection of them, including making it plastic and waste-free.
Awesome, I replied! I’m thrilled to do this with you. It’ll be our first totally waste-free wedding and I cannot wait.
One of the best things you can do to ensure your wedding is as sustainable as possible is to work with local small suppliers who model genuine sustainability in their own businesses.
More couples than EVER are showing how much they care about the planet by putting sustainability at the heart of their wedding planning. This is GREAT NEWS because if we all don’t take a long look at how we’ve been living and make some changes, we’ll allllll be effected.
It’s no wonder that a 2021 study from The University of Bath found that 75% of their respondents said they felt the ‘future was frightening’. It is scary to hear what the scientists are saying and think about how climate change will impact our lives if humanity can’t change the course it’s on.
It is daunting, but taking action is the number one way to counter any eco-anxiety you might be feeling and there are HUNDREDS of ways to make your wedding so super sustainable that you’ll have some serious bragging rights. This issue of the magazine is a great place to start collecting lots of ideas!
One of the key things you can do is support businesses that care about their workers and how they produce the products and services they sell. The key to finding suppliers with the right ethical credentials is to do your research and ask a LOT of questions. Where are my flowers grown? Where is my dress material sourced from? How are the workers treated? Where’s my food grown? How is food waste dealt with?
It can feel overwhelming and sadly there’s a LOT of sustainability ‘greenwashing’ going on out in the world (meaning lots of right words being said with not enough action to back it up). However, here are four fabulous suppliers who have sustainability at the forefront of their businesses. Hopefully their stories will inspire you to find the right people local to you:
When it comes to choosing a colour palette for your wedding, we say more is more! Wanting to banish neutrals and snooze-worthy samey colour schemes from your day but not sure how? Well, read on colour lover because we got you…
If you type ‘wedding colour palette’ into Pinterest, your head will explode and you will die. Cause of death: Brain Overload of Blurgness (or BOOB). It’s all burgundy and navy and (*clutches pearls*) neutrals. Side note: ‘neutrals’ is not a colour and should thus be banished from colour palettes until the end of time, or even later. Be gone neutrals, we do not miss you, because you barely exist.
Beyond the blurgness, there’s a whole lotta copy and paste going on. Couples picking up a palette without question and rehashing it. Boring! It’s simply multiplying the blurgery. Plus, there’s nary a merry fuchsia, poppin’ lime green, incandescent fluro yellow or an eye gouging 70s orange to be seen. A modern-day Pin-tragedy (*lies on sofa for 11 hours to recover from serious case of BOOB*).
But do not fret, here’s how to create a kickass bright and bold colour palette that will cause zero BOOB deaths, is not a rehash of a rehash of a copy, and suits your rock ‘n’ roll wedding perfectly (*chef’s kiss*).
Get your wedding styling ball rollin’
Like starting an essay by writing an outline, mapping out your colour palette is the key to nailing your wedding styling, with max fun and min stress.
Start at the start. Go about your wedding planning pretending to not even know a single thing about colour schemes, combos or palettes. As you start to read wedding magazines (oh hello there, dear reader!), dabble in Pinterest and follow ace wedding blogs and vendors on Instagram and TikTok, make note of what attracts you. I betcha there’s a bit of a pattern in terms of colours and styles that have you positively jazzed.
Wedding vibe = your colours
When you think about the wedding you want, what vibes and feels does it give you? Raging party = neon hues. Wintery and romantic = deep, moody colours that feel warm and cosy. Relaxed garden wedding = pastels and all the greens. Desert elopement = a mix of dusty and stark colours.
There! You’ve snuck up on a colour scheme without it even realising! Use it to help you narrow your searches and decisions. For example, when thinking about a florist, which ones do kick arse work in colours (and styles) already aligned with yours?! Get in touch with them and don’t worry about anyone else. You don’t need to talk to every florist in your 500km radius, and thus you’ve made your life heappppppps easier (nor will you waste the time of eleventy billion florists, and they thank you for that in advance).
When it comes to the expectations put upon a bride, the patriarchy has done us all a great dirty wrong by creating yet another unattainable standard for women to try to meet. I know— shocking, right? This one tends to go by the cliché of the ‘perfect bride’.
The perfect bride will look the most beautiful she has ever looked on her wedding day. She will be an effortless host to her friends and family: gliding about like a silken swan; laughing in all the right places; glowing when appropriate; accommodating for each individual attending, as if they themselves are her personal guest of honour. And… she will manage all of this on potentially one of the most emotionally-challenging, mentally-demanding, physically-exhausting days of her life, without making it seem like any work at all. The perfect bride, simply put, will not be human. Or, in other words, she does not exist.
Ask yourself… is the thing your friends, family and significant other most love about you the fact that you are perfect? No. It isn’t. And even if you were perfect (which you aren’t, none of us are), let’s be honest… it would probably be the thing your friends and family loved you in spite of, not because of. Who wants a perfect friend? Who can relate to or connect with or be vulnerable around perfection? So why strive for it on your wedding day?
I’m saying this because, though it was magical, memorable, joyous, elating, happy, fantastic, wonderful, special, hilarious, emotional, spectacular and incredible… my whole wedding day was not perfect from start to finish. And I believe I’d be doing the readers of this magazine— and the ethos of what it is to be a Rock n Roll Bride— a disservice to pretend otherwise.
Strike one in pursuit of perfection (and I’m pulling no punches here, reader): I had such bad diarrhoea for the whole morning on my wedding day that we started referring to the downstairs loo as “the scene of the crime”. I’m not sure if it was the gluten the night before or if I just had a nervous tummy, but it was like the scene from Bridesmaids and it was not okay. Strike two: During the journey to the venue, I had my first ever anxiety attack and had to get out of the car.
Planning and getting excited for your upcoming wedding is fun (even when it’s stressful) but what happens when that to-do list is done, the wedding is over and you’re on the other side? Post-wedding blues are something all couples need to consider.
I love a plan. My desk is littered with lists, tasks and schedules, and ticking things off gives me more satisfaction than I think is natural! Wedding planning is no different; that sense of achievement when you’ve completed those tasks and done a mini fist pump is heavenly. But what happens when it’s all over? It’s perfectly normal to feel a sense of melancholy once a big life event is over, and planning for this should definitely be added to that wedding to-do list.
All the hard work, preparation, planning (and COVID re-planning… and re-planning…) has led up to your wedding day. Big or small, fancy or simple, the day passes and you should be left in an utter dream-world of immeasurable bliss, right?! Well, for every major high point in life, there has to be a comedown. With all the drama of the pandemic too, the build-up has been even greater, which can make the comedown even harder.
With so much uncertainty, couples have been reluctant to make post-wedding plans, delaying the big party or honeymoon for fear of having to cancel or rearrange (AGAIN!). It’s easier to focus on the day itself, but once that’s done, there is the risk of feeling a huge, sad void. Now don’t get me wrong, the promise of being married to and forever living with your one true love is a beautiful notion, and one to be honoured and celebrated, but once the busyness is over, you may feel a real sense of loss. So, how can we manage those post-wedding blues?
Finding a way to infuse your wedding with cool and individual ideas is something that can bring pure joy, but it can cause a lot of stress too. Cake designer and all-round creative gal Autumn Rabbitts is here to bring you some tips for being creative on your wedding day when it doesn’t come naturally to you.
I see myself as incredibly creative, I’m always full of ideas, but sometimes I struggle making them a reality. As a designer, I have spent years (and a shit-ton of money!) learning how to do what I do. I have also learnt that everyone struggles with this sometimes, no matter how well trained they might be. Getting the ideas out of your head and into tangible actions can be really difficult. The following processes should help if you have lots of ideas for your wedding but you’re not sure how to bring them together to create the vibe you want.
Research, Research, Research
The aim is to get your mind thinking about things visually. I would suggest faking it till you make it – you are now Picasso! Create a Pinterest board or scrapbook with colours, tones and textures you like. You could include foods, dresses or florals – anything that floats your boat!
I suggest Pinterest to help you organise all of your ideas because it is something I would have killed for as a bride-to-be! Use it to organise your thoughts and ideas. Start with boards for everything you love and then step back and see if there is an overall feel that you might have subconsciously gravitated towards. Then create one ‘master’ board with your favourite parts to work from.
For instance, everything I ever pin seems to be pink, green, shiny (I am a magpie in a human costume!) and is always based in something to do with the natural forms of nature. If I was creating my wedding theme from scratch, this is where I would start.
I’ve watched Say Yes to The Dress with my mum for years, so when the first big COVID lockdown ended and all the bridal boutiques were only allowing one or two people to accompany the bride, I felt fine about not taking a big entourage. More often than not, a big group can end in tears, and not the I-just-found-my-dream-dress kind! My auntie is a keen dressmaker, and generously gifted me a budget for my wedding dress, so I went with her and my mum.
To start with, for me, wearing white (or ivory, whatever) is always how I’ve pictured myself on my wedding day. Not because I want to present myself as pure and celebrate my pre-marriage chastity, but because it’s what I want to do. I also want to wear a veil. Not because I want to demonstrate modesty in the presence of God and my future husband, but because they feel fabulous and look amazing. That’s just my personal approach. Whatever anyone wants to wear on their wedding day, if it makes them feel their most confident, comfortable and happy, they should just do it.
Besides colour, there were four things I wanted to be sure of about my dress:
1. I wanted it to be made by an ethical, environmentally conscious brand that values its employees.
2. I wanted a dress that worked with the parts of my body I am not confident about, without feeling caged-in by corsetry and boning.
3. Given that this is the most expensive item of clothing I’ll ever own – and the fact that wearing anything just once is neither sustainable or responsible, even if it is a wedding dress – I wanted to be able to repurpose the dress and wear it again.
4. I wanted it to make me feel like Galadriel, elf queen of Lothlórien… because I’m a massive geek.
For me, the place that offered all of these things was Katya Katya in London. Before I went to Katya Katya, however, I went to Maisie Darling in Lutterworth. My fiancé and I are having a humanist ceremony, which is still not considered a legal marriage in England or Wales (lots of petitions to sign online about that idiocy if you want to look into it). To get the legal bit done we’re heading to the registry in my hometown the day before the big day. I was planning to wear a dress I already own for this, but my auntie’s gift means I’ve been able to find a wedding dress for this ceremony too. I plan to sell this dress after the wedding (on stillwhite.com or bridalreloved.co.uk) and will be donating the money to Girls Not Brides, a global partnership committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls all over the world to fulfil their potential.
When I first saw Katya Katya dresses on Pinterest, I fell in love. And when I discovered their strong ethos – in-house production exclusively using fabrics from Italy and France to reduce ecological footprint; ensuring great working conditions for employees and paying them all a national living wage; offering a dress-shortening service after the wedding so the dress can be worn again – I knew without doubt that I wanted to find my dress with them. Not only that, but pretty much all the elements of their dresses are interchangeable. For example, as someone who doesn’t feel confident about her upper arms, Katya Katya will be adding sleeves to my dress. Female-led, Katya Katya really seem to understand how to help their brides feel their most confident.
The wedding industry will have you believe that by achieving wedding day perfection you will ensure your happily ever after. But let’s be realistic for a second, we all know that for some couples, that simply isn’t the case. Being a second (third or fourth!) time bride is nothing to be ashamed of. The good news is that in most cases partners are often wiser and know themselves even better having gone through the wedding – and marriage – process before.Alicia Porter is here to share her experiences of wedding planning second time around.
When I got married the first time in 1996 it was, for lack of a better phrase, ‘planning chaos’. We had location battles, I had a ‘friend’ wanted me to pay her to be a bridesmaid, my mother told me I was too fat for my wedding dress and people constantly wanted to ‘help’ by faxing me pictures of suitable dresses. So, I went on strike. We flew from Alaska to New Zealand and eloped. It was pretty, there were fun cousins nearby, and the florist was a star. The wedding dinner was a random restaurant, and there was chocolate log for a wedding cake. It was wonderful.
My family then threw an elegant garden party reception on our return. However, my parents attitude was it was their party, therefore their choices prevailed. My mother chose the invitations, the cake, the venue and what everyone wore – including me. This is how I found myself in a borrowed dress with a gardenia on my shoulder in a receiving line with outright strangers.
In hindsight, I now realise that although an elopement was easier, the result was we were two very independent people who didn’t know how to work together on big projects. Obviously, this wasn’t the only issue in the relationship, but a lack of being able to work together as a team compounded the fact that the marriage simply didn’t work. Planning for a future together requires work and communication. Child rearing is nothing if not a joint effort. Wedding planning in some respects is a safe practice run to make sure that you know how to work with each other for the bigger picture.
Introducing our brand-new real bride columnist! Rachel is getting married in September so we’ll be following her journey of planning a feminist meets rock n roll wedding, culminating in us sharing the big day in our last issue of the year! Over to you Rachel…
The first time I learned about Rock n Roll Bride was at a wedding show in 2015. I was exhibiting with a vintage wedding band and caught sight of Kat’s bright blue hair. I went looking for her, intrigued by this exhibitor, who looked so unlike the wedding industry I’d been used to after five years of wedding singing.
I found the Rock n Roll Bride stand and learned what it was all about: how these friendly people were on a mission to change the face of the wedding industry; to make it more inclusive; to celebrate individualism. With no ring on my finger and no boyfriend(!), I subscribed to the magazine immediately. Five years later, in 2020, it was my turn to be a bride.
Though I believe I would be perfectly happy to be ‘not married’ to this excellent man ’til death us do part, the Disney Princess-loving, Nora Ephron-viewing, Notting Hill-quoting romantic in me really did want to be married to the person I loved. And, luckily, H really wanted it too. “Let’s do it,” we said, “But let’s do it our way.” (Like everyone who reads this magazine says!).
The reason I’d been dubious is feminism. Long and short: I was worried that wanting to be married made me a bad feminist.
I don’t feel I need to explain why I had any reservations about marriage and feminism to the readers of this magazine. If you’re here, clearly you understand that there’s a lot that’s wrong with many marital traditions and you’re up for breaking the status quo in your own special way. One quick Google of the origin of the word ‘wife’ was enough to make me wonder if I was letting the sisterhood down.
If the idea of skipping the hassle and fuss of planning a wedding and marrying your true love in secret is starting to appeal, then you’re not alone.Christina Golian from Scottish elopement blog We Fell In Love is here to give you the low down on what to think about if your heart is setting on eloping.
Wedding planning can be stressful even for the most laidback of brides. One study found that, on average, each couple spends 42 full days arranging their nuptials. No wonder then it can feel like having an extra job at times.
And while there are undoubtedly lots of fun parts along the way, there can also be potholes to navigate on the road to the aisle – family politics, people’s expectations and the pressure to hold a kickass party that will be remembered for all the right reasons, to name just a few.
There’s also the cost. What can start as a simple, fuss-free celebration can soon escalate until, before you know it, you’re booking a stately home for 150 guests and debating the merits of adding those sparkly charger plates to your budget (and to think we were going to get married on the family farm then have a relaxed BBQ!) At a time when so many people are struggling to buy their first home, it’s understandable that increasing numbers are choosing to put any savings they have towards a deposit instead.
But it’s not just the money, other factors come into play too. Perhaps you hate the thought of being the centre of attention or are worried that a panic attack will strike as you go up the aisle (this was one of my biggest fears in the run up to my own wedding). Or maybe you just love the idea and intimacy of tying the knot in private, and on your own terms.
Your wedding night is for one thing (wink wink nudge nudge) right? Umm, actually…probably wrong. Dr. Caroline West, a lecturer in sexuality studies and host of the Glow West podcast, is here today to talk abut how your wedding night doesn’t have to be a night of passion.
Picture this: It’s been years in the planning. Your wedding day is finally over and it’s wedding night time. You slip out of your beautiful dress, allowing your new spouse to strip you of your silky, special wedding night lingerie, and you consummate your marriage. You slip into exhausted sleep, both happy at such a lovely end to the day.
Well, wake up babe because this is a fairy tale and, as we know, fairy tales don’t often match up to reality. According to a 2019 survey conducted by thevow.ie, more than half of 3030 people (52%) said they didn’t have sex on their wedding night.
Here’s the truth: you’ll most likely be drunk, exhausted, cranky, delirious or a combination of all four. You will most likely pass out the minute your head hits the pillow. Even if you do manage to have sex, it’ll probably be a quickie that isn’t exactly the fireworks you were envisioning. Those cute neck-to-floor buttons on your dress will be a nightmare for your drunken mess of a spouse to undo, and foreplay…? HAHAHA! Forget it.