You've seen some details of this dancetastic wedding, but here is the full story on this UK parteh with amazing photos!
The offbeat bride: Lotte, PA and aspirant professionally awesome person
Her offbeat partner: David, Playwight, Dramaturg, and Lecturer
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: As a pair of eccentric extroverts with a limited budget and a love all things theatrical and silly, David and I knew we would never have a traditional English wedding. Instead, we designed it with two key principles in mind: we wanted a wedding that was fun (for us AND our guests), and about more than ourselves. There was singing, there was dancing, there was food-a-plenty. Our theme was “Great British fête.”
Our guests were invited to spend their wedding favours (five 20p pieces) playing fête games, which had been designed and made by me and my friends over a series of intensive craft days. We saw guests splat rats (they were offered a choice of celebrity “rats” to “splat”), throw bean bags at paper mache effigies of the bride and groom, and race each other on space hoppers. My brother James dressed as a bear, our friend Sanjay did magic tricks, and I spent a heck of a lot of time pretending to be bridezilla on the bouncy castle.
Like all good fêtes, ours had a cause. David and I decided to use the wedding to raise funds for The SAFE Foundation, a charity run by friends of ours. The proceeds from our fête games, our grand raffle, and the gifts from generous friends helped us raise over £1600 to support people living in poverty around the world.
We also shared the love a little closer to home. Our venue was an amazing community arts centre in Bristol, and David I were happy to know that the money they made from our wedding would be pumped back into the centre and good work they do. The food we did buy (most was donated by our incredible guests) was sourced from local companies.
We tweaked the aspects of our wedding that were more traditional so they felt more personal. We don't have a car, so we were transported to the reception by rickshaw. Our first dance was a choreographed routine to Gogol Bordello, rather than an embarrassed hug-n-shuffle to a romantic song.
David and I walked down the aisle together, like equals. My dad made a speech, and so did my mum. David and I gave a speech together. I did wear white and a veil, but this was offbeat in itself as no one, least of all David, ever expected that of me. We also both had a best man and a best woman.
Tell us about the ceremony: Our first ceremony was a legal ceremony in Bristol Registry Office, attended only by close family. It was short, to the point and surprisingly emotional. My six-year-old nephew presented the rings, and my 91-year-old Nan and David's godfather were witnesses.
Then we pretended to be pirates on the steps of the ceremony for our formal photographs, packed into a tiny pie stall in Bristol's food market, and drank British sparkling wine made six miles down the road from where the David grew up.
Our second ceremony, about two hours later, was in a huge deconsecrated church (covered in bunting, fairy lights, balloons, and disco balls) with 160 people present. The ceremony opened with our wedding “choir” (brave friends and family) singing a specially arranged version of “Don't Leave Me This Way,” with David providing the piano accompaniment.
Then Beyoncé's “Single Ladies” kicked in on the stereo and my bridesbirds and I danced down the aisle, giving a specially choreographed performance complete with arse-slapping.
We had two readings: David's parents and family friend, Anni, read Edward Monkton's “A Lovely Love Story,” and despite only being asked to do a reading, arrived with beautiful handcrafted moveable puppets to illustrate the story. My stepmum gave a beautiful reading of an extract from Captain Corelli's Mandolin.
In place of traditional wedding vows, we had written specific and personal promises for one another, printed on little ribbon-tied scrolls and placed in a “tombola of love.” Our best men and women, David's two-year-old niece, and an audience volunteer drawn at random drew these from the tombola for us to read to one another. The promises were followed by a rendition of Ben E. King's “Stand By Me” led by our choir, and accompanied by talented musician friends.
The ceremony closed with David making a short speech about the similarities between baking the perfect wedding cake and maintaining the perfect marriage (including a few jokes at my expense), before fittingly showcasing the retro wedding cake David's aunt had made for us and me playfully stuffing it in David's face for the cameras. We then danced out to the Glee cast version of “My Life Would Suck Without You.”
Our biggest challenge: As an entirely DIY and rather complex affair, our wedding was a logistical nightmare. There was SO much to do and SO much to arrange, that at times we despaired. Fortunately, we had an armoury: Lotte's obsessive organisation skills, David's experience putting on productions, and a super awesome wedding party.
I created a colour-coded Excel spreadsheet that listed every task that needed to be undertaken and who was responsible for doing it. It took ages to create, and was intimidating to look at, but it really helped tackle everything. David created a detailed production script for the celebrations that outlined everything that was happening when, and I used this to create itineraries and timelines for each member of our wedding party. Micromanaging? Possibly. But it made me feel better.
My favorite moment: The wedding just wouldn't have happened without the support of our wonderful family and friends. So many people gave their time, skills, ideas and creativity to help create an unforgettable experience in the form of a wedding celebration. It was only when we saw the labours of everyone's love all together on the day that we truly realised how much we had been given and how very blessed we were to have such a wonderful community of family and friends.
My funniest moment: When David was 14, his best man Tom secretly recorded him singing a terrible karaoke version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” at an event in London. Then, at the end of the 1970s set of our “decades disco,” we suddenly realised we weren't listening to Freddie Mercury at all, but, thanks to Tom's DJ mixing skills, a strange blend of Freddie and the strangulated breaking vocal cords of a 14-year-old groom believing he was going to be a pop star.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? My bridesbirds and I were very nervous about our “Single Ladies” entrance. We hadn't had much opportunity for rehearsal, and many of us had stage fright and were convinced it would be terrible. However, our fears subsided from the moment we entered. There was spontaneous applause and smiles from our guests and the dance ended up setting the tone for the whole day.
My advice for offbeat brides: Don't be afraid to delegate and ask for help. Like me, you will probably have a whole host of wonderful friends who will be keen to use their talents to help you.
Don't be afraid to pay for what is important to you. David and I knew we wanted the day's events captured for posterity so hired an amazing photographer. Lauren was worth every penny. Not only did she take some incredible pictures, but she also acted as a bona fide counsellor, posture consultant, and underwear adjuster on the day.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? In darker hours, I was convinced our guests would think our wedding was stupid, ridiculous, or self-indulgent. I should have known to give people credit. Everyone completely supported us and (I hope) had a really good time. We loved it.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photographers: Lauren McGlynn, PLUS extra photos taken by Shacari
- Reception venue: Trinity Centre, Bristol UK
- Dress: Vivien of Holloway with petticoat/belt/handbag and alterations by the wonderful Susan Gilby
- Necklace and earrings: custom-made by Sunny and Delilah on Etsy
- Brides shoes: Irregular Choice and Converse
- Makeup: Emma Maddox Makeup
- Groom's outfit: A Suit That Fits, Shoes by Converse, shirt and tie by Ted Baker
- Wedding breakfast: Pieminister stall in St. Nicholas Market Bristol
- Food and cakes: Most of our delicious buffet was made by our wonderful wedding guests. This was supplemented with a tower of local cheeses by Pumpkin Deli, bread by Mark's Bread, and pasties by the Pasty Emporium
- Invitations: my sister, Alexis Soolikhan
- Flowers: my delicious friend Sarah Holland
- Choir/Musicians/DJs: our talented friends and family, lead by the Amazing Nia Clark
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!
photography: Lauren McGlynn Photography