Category Archives: Wedding Planning Advice

Wedding Planning When You Have an Unconventional Family

If the Kardashian-Jenner’s and the Bridget Jones’s of the world have taught us anything, it’s that today, the unconventional family is far more conventional than ever before. However when it comes to planning your wedding, many elements only seem to work for a very traditional family set up. Zoe Wells is here today to help us navigate what can be very tricky waters.

If this is your situation then my first piece of advice would be to immediately let go of your expectations and pains that your family dynamic does not living up to societal expectations. As someone planning their own wedding for an unconventional family, I can tell you first hand this part is not easy…but that planning for the inevitable that could play out at the wedding is better than ignoring the enormous elephant in the room.

Arrange for people to meet in advance

Don’t let the wedding itself be D-Day. If your partner’s parents haven’t met yours, if your divorced parents haven’t seen each other since the separation, if either party has a new partner then I’d recommend arranging a meeting before the wedding. This will (hopefully!) mean that any potential awkwardness or conflicts can come about before the wedding and they’ll then have time to work through them, rather than there being a blow out on the actual day!

Gathering in an informal space without the pressures of the big day can really help to diffuse things and will also put your mind at rest. Engagement parties and bridal showers are the perfect opportunity for this.

Set your own boundaries and rules

You may have a few people that are overbearing, so set your boundaries in place early. Know what your non-negotiables are and make these clear in advance with an explanation of why these choices are important to you. Let family members know how much you love and appreciate them but also make your limits known.

Make your own traditions

Don’t be afraid to set your own rules and make new traditions. If you want your sister to walk you down the aisle because your parents can’t – do it! If your best friend is male, definitely forget gender typecasting and have a dude of honour. If you want to have eighteen bridesmaids or two mothers-of-the-bride – go for it! Just be aware that older generations may hold traditions a little closer to their hearts so give it some thought and warn people in advance if need be.

Get the right seating plan in place

Getting the seating chart sorted is one of the most headache-inducing parts of the wedding planning process and it’s only made worse by the complexity of the modern family. In saying this, most of the time, as long as your guests know and get on with at least one person on the table, or have something in common, they should be happy.

Most people will be more than happy to sit wherever they’re put for the duration of the meal but obviously, you don’t want to seat people that really don’t like each other together! There are have many options on how you can address this.

Before you plan anything, you could ask your family and friends who they would like to sit with. Although you should never promise you will be able to accommodate every request or it’ll turn into a logistical nightmare. If either sets of parents are divorced, or have new partners, then ditching the traditional top table completely might be a good option. One idea is to have each of them hosting their own table and you having a ‘sweetheart table’ for just the two of you.

Another idea is to have long tables with guests sitting opposite one another, rather than round ones. This is a good option for limiting the conflicts that can come up in a group seating dynamic.

You could simply mix everyone together with no hierarchy at all, or you could ditch the seating plan entirely and tell people to sit wherever they like! This blended format is really good for encouraging your guests to mingle with one another too.

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Self-Care for Reluctant Brides

It can be extremely difficult to plan a wedding if you struggle with depression or anxiety. With all the potential for extra stress its important, now more than ever, for you to pay attention to being good to yourself. Lauren McMillan, who writes about life, the universe and mental health on her blog lifebrew.co.uk is here to talk to us about how you can get through it and still plan the wedding of your dreams.

Whenever anyone talks about self-love, the 13-year-old that governs my sense of humour guffaws. Images of funky smelling bedrooms and sticky tissues. Yes, that type of self-love is encouraged and encompassed by the term, but there are far more wholesome aspects too.

Before a wedding was even on the horizon, you may well have found me at intervals throughout the year having fallen arse first from the self-love wagon, dazed and crying in my pyjamas at midday. If you ordinarily struggle with depression or anxiety, a wedding can be just the thing to heighten the effects. Weddings and the planning of them can be fucking stressful and, in turn, stress can cause you to self-neglect.

As a child, I did not really dream of that special day, the one all little girls are supposedly born to prepare for. I would dream of being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and having a boyfriend with a motorcycle instead.

In my early relationships, I longed for commitment, love and partnership but my expectations were about as high as ‘don’t cheat on me’, ‘call me your girlfriend’ and ‘buy me a present at least once a year that isn’t stolen, illegal or lube’. If someone achieved one or more of these things, part of me would freak out. I always yearned for commitment when it was an unattainable goal but when it was in my grip, the weight of it felt burdensome.

Just before I met Mike, my future plans were ‘be single forever’, ‘rent a nice flat with a pink and mint colour palette’ and ‘have a pug named Shelby’. We were both at a place in which our previous relationships had diminished our desire to settle down and we were learning to be single again. Rather inconveniently, we fell in love.

We talked about marriage fairly early on and we knew we would do it at some point but both felt it wasn’t necessarily a huge deal to us – our ongoing relationship was what felt important. Not giving too much of a shit was a relief. Then, a year ago, he proposed.

I had no idea, literally no idea. In fact, he was down on one knee on Brighton beach with a ring and I still didn’t suss it out. I was too busy trying to light a cigarette in windy conditions and moaning about pebbles in my shoe. Then, I noticed shiny diamonds and loudly shouted, ‘WHAT?!’

To those around us, it must have seemed like it wasn’t going well, but it was. We wanted to be married – that was the easy part. I said ‘yes’. I then walked around for three days in a confused state of bliss, shock and what I can only describe as paralysing fear.

Marriage doesn’t scare me. Our relationship has stood strong through both mental and physical illness and all the other curve balls life can throw at you (not to mention all the bloody marvellous times). I know exactly who he is, even in his darkest hours. I have no doubt he is the one I want to grow old with. I can’t wait be his wife. I feel like we already have the marriage, we just haven’t had the wedding yet.

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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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How to Style a Blank Canvas Wedding Venue

Having a “blank canvas” wedding venue (where you can literally take control and do anything you heart desires!) is a dream for many alternative brides, but it can be somewhat overwhelming. Without any constraints it can be difficult to know where to start! So today, in partnership with the fabulous JJ Media Group, I’m here to give you an idiot’s guide on how to do it!

Work out your budget carefully

You might think that opting for a blank canvas venue would save you a lot of cash BUT that’s not always the case. Make sure you check with your venue what is and is not included in the hire fee. If you have to start bringing in things like furniture, lighting, portable bathrooms and external catering companies it can actually end up being a much more costly exercise.

Reign those ideas in

It can be tempting to go wild and bring in any and every idea you have, but if might end up looking more like a hot mess than wedding. Picking a few key ideas or motifs will (usually, there are always exceptions to every rule!) look a lot better than a lot of different things mashed together.

It’s tempting to jump in and buy everything you see and like right away, but try not to. Do your research first and really consider the look and feel that you’re hoping to achieve before you start spending money.

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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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