Marriage and tradition are synonymous with each other, and from the decor to the catering, weddings often bear the weight of this. An alternative wedding allows you to customise these conventions to suit you. Whilst the fairytale white wedding remains popular, an increasing number of people are opting to leave the customs behind and add their own flair to their special day. Here are five ways you can add a twist to tying the knot.
Sophisticated style: alternative wedding dresses and unique wedding rings
Your wedding ring will last a lifetime and for this reason it should be as unique as you are. An alternative wedding ring design can be more than just a gold band, it can reflect you and the relationship it represents. A recent trend is to omit the diamond from the ring altogether in favour of opal, birthstones, and other more ethical or fairly-traded stones.
The long white dress is another strange tradition. Rather than being symbolic of purity, it actually came into fashion in the Victorian era after Queen Victoria herself sported a long, white lace gown at her wedding. There are few fashions today that are influenced by Queen V, so if (like most) you take style influence from another authority, you may consider a different look for your own ceremony. Recent trends have included bohemian styles with vintage dresses and floral garlands the LWWD (little white wedding dress!) or even black dresses, for those with a slightly more gothic edge. Whether your style is Marilyn Monroe vs Marilyn Mason, wear whatever makes you feel comfortable and amazing on your big day.
For unique wedding memories, capture the day with photojournalism
You know what a traditional family wedding photo looks like. You’ve seen enough… or have you? Commemorate your wedding day with photos that capture the spirit of the day, the feelings, the little moments you might forget with time. Using a photojournalistic photographer that is able to capture the best parts of the day naturally and in the moment will help you to avoid the tedium and face-ache of having to stand smiling for hours. You want to remember the day with more than just choreographed rows of your loved ones - you want to capture laughter, tears and raw emotion. Give yourself memoirs that are real.
Farms, barns and visual arts - alternative wedding venues
A wedding in a church is beautiful but it can be expensive, and if you’re not religious there are some fantastic alternative venue ideas that have come of trend lately. I recently had the pleasure of shooting Scott and Clair at the idyllic pop-up venue, Wagons Fire in Pewsey Vale. They chose the venue because of their love of camping and they wanted the day to be stripped back and relaxed. In the evening, the party sat by campfires watching the sunset. The chic simplicity of the venue enabled Scott, Clair and their friends and family to connect and enjoy the emotional warmth of the day. I had an equally wonderful experience capturing a radiant new couple on a beautiful summers day in Palazzo Collicola Visual Arts, Italy. Hannah and Sam chose this venue because of their love of modern art and because they wanted their closest friends and family to meet in a beautiful location. Both sides of the family really bonded in their extended time together and this familiarity made for a happy and stress-free ceremony. My wife, Rosie, and I can relate as we felt the same at our own Italian wedding.
Alternative wedding entertainment idea: outdoor games!
An alternative wedding reception has a number of benefits. The reception is the time to let loose and enjoy the first few hours of married life. If your wedding is early in the day, the length of your reception might mean your guests become a little too merry before you reach late afternoon. Switch the small talk and the free bar with exciting activities in that time between the ceremony and the evening. I shot a highly amusing egg and spoon race when working for Katy and James at Bartholomew’s Barn - a magnificent, listed oak-beamed building built in 1884. Katy had her dress altered especially for it! This wedding was full of life and the games (including Mr & Mrs!) played prior to the reception excited the revellers greatly - even the mother of the bride, who bought the whole bridal party tequila shots! Enjoyment like this not only keeps the party entertained; it creates lasting memories of humour, joy and love.
From bicycle to campervan, arrive in style.
The transport used when arriving and departing the venue has always been a bit of a statement. But you can really own it by tailoring your vehicle choice to be unique to you. James is a mechanic with a passion for cars. I am unsure how he persuaded Katy to go along with this, but James requested a photo of the two of them in front of his beloved vintage Mini. A wedding is one of the few occasions you can really celebrate yourselves - individually and as a pair. This means you should do whatever you think will make one of the best days of your life even better - even if that means rocking up on a tandem bicycle or a giant school bus. If you’re the kind of couple that enjoy spending the weekend camping and hiking across scenic landscapes, an outdoor wedding complete with VW campervans can add a contemporary yet personal feel to your much anticipated nuptials. I also spent some time with the lovely couple, Jade and Jamie, at their wedding in Emsworth. We made the journey to and from the ceremony in a whole convoy of vintage VW campervans… an excellent example of a quirky play-on-tradition done well.
Your wedding is a day outside of all others and by really owning it, you are only doing your relationship and unity justice. You don’t have to walk down the aisle to Wagner’s Bridal chorus, you don’t have to eat fruit cake. You don’t even have to wear something blue if you don’t want to. Just make sure that whatever you are doing it means something and will make the both of you smile.