Fiona & Sean's 1950s strawberries 'n' cream wedding

By on Dec. 14th

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The offbeat bride: Fiona, local government support officer (Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Sean, social housing options manager

Location & date of wedding: The Riding School, Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, UK — August 1, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: We arrived at the venue in a 1959 pink Cadillac convertible. A good friend of ours was riding ahead on my Dad's old Harley, which was our way of representing my Dad who died four years ago. Our friend had put in such a lot of work on the bike to have it ready for the big day. It was nice and LOUD for our arrival at the quaint English stately home venue! _MG_3348

I really like 1950s retro glamour and rock and roll style so that was definitely featured.

My custom-made dress and fascinator (featuring red plastic hearts) were both made by my friend Marta. The three gorgeous bridesmaids were in different-colored polkadot dresses.

_MG_6841My brother walked me down the aisle to Johnny Cash. Friends of ours played traditional Irish music for the champagne reception.

Tables were named after our old haunts (mostly pubs/clubs in London) such as The Dublin Castle, The Electric Ballroom, The Ace Cafe, and The 100 Club.

My mum (a headteacher who also sings in a band!), Auntie (aka Decca Records' sixties pop sensation Truly Smith!) and cousin (a perfomance artist) sang special songs to us after the speeches. The rockabilly band, The Brick Lane Boogie Boys, played for the evening reception.

We had a wild after-party at a hotel, where we took over the piano and partied until they shut the bar at 5am.

_MG_3422Our biggest challenge: My one-woman struggle to organize everything and everyone over the past few months while Sean was working extremely long hours. I dealt with this by nagging Sean a lot, crying on the phone to my mum, escaping for a glass of wine at my bridesmaid's house, and then getting on with sorting everything out myself!

_MG_3408My favorite moment: Grabbing a glass of pink champagne and whisking my brand new husband off straight after the ceremony for a ride around the grounds of the venue in the pink cadillac for a perfect, private moment together and a chance to take it all in before heading back to the party.

My advice for offbeat brides: When dealing with the venue/caterers/anyone, really question everything you're not sure about and make your own suggestions that aren't on the usual list.

Work out what the key things are that are really important to you and make sure they are perfect. For me this was the band for the reception and my dress and shoes. Other things I wasn't so bothered about, like table centerpieces and menus, I just put together myself at the last minute and they were fine — not amazing, but perfectly fine.

_MG_3301If you know exactly what kind of dress you want and it isn't a typical style and, especially if you are a woman with plenty of curves like me, then find a good local dressmaker and have it custom made.

Don't even enter a standard wedding dress shop if you can possibly help it. Be cautious about attending wedding fairs — a balloon sculptor cornered me at one of those fairs and tried to convince me that my wedding would be lacking without his services. But on the other hand I met my dressmaker at one of those fairs too and she was a star.

Do a budget spreadsheet right from the beginning of the planning process, not half way through like me. I saved a lot of money by not having chair covers or canapes and no-one even noticed.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!