Picture this

You’ve chosen your professional photographer and come up with a list of must-have shots and group poses. You’ve done your homework and know exactly the style of photography you want for your wedding and have given the photographer a long brief to that effect. You’ve even bought your wedding photo albums. You may have decided to hand out disposable cameras for your guests to take snaps throughout the reception. You’ve bought a nice guest book for friends and family to sign and a special pen to go with it.

STOP!

What about…

Wedding Photo Booth

A photo booth that produces strips of passport photos, unlimited and free of charge to your guests! It’s set up and managed for you. Most companies will provide props.

Needed: Try to get a recommendation for the company you use.

Pro:

  • You can leave the professionals to it, totally hassle free
  • Tremendous fun for your guests, particularly i) squeezing multiple people into the booth ii) time pressure between snaps iii) taking loads of snaps and getting creative with poses
  • The booths produce a copy for the guest and a copy for the guest book
  • Booth prints look cool on your fridge as well as in albums
  • Quality print outs
  • Great if you and your guests like dressing up/getting creative

Con:

  • Close up shots only
  • Limited number of people per shot
  • Crazy rush to change wig/specs/mask in between shots can result in lots of blurred ‘fail’ shots
  • You’re reliant on the props provided – not tailored to your theme
  • More expensive than the DIY option, extra expense if you choose to have a professional photographer aswell

DIY Wedding Photo Booth

The homespun version of the above.

Needed: A backdrop of sorts, picture frames in various sizes, cut out boards, props, chalk and blackboards, a camera, tables, chairs, instructions for guests

Pro:

  • Complete control – you can tailor it to your theme and your guests, you can personalise it
  • A relatively cheap alternative
  • You can set up your booth outside!
  • Flexibility – You could use a digital camera, a polaroid camera, or even disposable cameras
  • Polaroids look cool in frames or pinned to the fridge or kitchen noticeboard as well as in albums
  • You can fit as many people as you like in the shots
  • If you supply a chalk board for guest messages you won’t need a guest book at all

Con:

  • Someone has to take the photo (This could be a paid pro but it defeats the money-saving aspect. This could be whoever is free, but they might take bad photographs!)
  • Stress over/time spent buying props
  • Stress over/time spent setting the booth up
  • Stress over the camera going missing/breaking
  • While digital snaps can produce multiple printouts, you only get one polaroid so you’d have to stop your guests from taking them home!
  • If you don’t use a polaroid, you might wish you had spent a bit extra and got more professional looking pics

Caricature Artist

An artist who will mill around your guests informally and draw funny pictures of them. The drawings can form a photo/guest book of sorts.

Needed: Phone or internet and credit card to book with. Try to get a recommendation for the artist you use.

Pro:

  • Captures your guests personalities as well as their looks
  • A very different type of guest book to flick through in years to come
  • Could be right up your street and your guests could love it
  • Drawings can feel more personal than photographs
  • Doubles up as entertainment for your guests
  • Drawings can be framed and displayed on walls
  • No risk of expensive equipment breaking or going missing

Con:

  • Drawings take longer than photographs
  • The artist probably won’t get round all your guests
  • Single portraits only, no group shots
  • Only produces one copy and your guests are likely to want to take drawings home with them
  • Caricatures are not very flattering
  • It’s not everyone’s cup of tea

Picture Frame Decorating

An activity for younger guests. They can make their own frames for you to use with photos of them from your day.

Needed: Cardboard, scissors, glue, glitter, other craft supplies, on a table covered with an oil cloth (for spills)

Pro:

  • Keeps younger guests entertained
  • A lovely gift from them to you
  • Saves you having to buy lots of frames
  • Cheap and easy
  • Personal

Con:

  • Could be messy
  • You might want someone to ‘supervise’
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Wedding cakes with a twist

Wedding Cake Traditions and Traditional Wedding Cake

Wedding cakes make fantastic centre pieces, and are chosen as much for their visual appeal as for how they taste! The classic multi-tiered affair became popular I believe in Victorian society after a cake designer took inspiration from St Bride’s Church in London. I wonder if the steeple itself took inspiration from the cute older tradition of piling cakes as high as possible to challenge the Bride and Groom to kiss over the top of the cakes? What a fun game! As with most wedding traditions, the couple could expect prosperity and fertility should they succeed in kissing over the cake tower! Nowadays the ritual associated with the special cake is the joint cutting of it and feeding it to one another by the newlyweds. These important first joint acts and exchanges as husband and wife symbolise the bodily and spiritual nourishment the couple have pledged to provide each other throughout their marriage.

http://www.1weddingsource.com/history.php

The luck imbued in the cake was treasured by couple and guests alike after the Wedding too. Ladies! If you sleep with a slice under your pillow you will dream of your future husband! While the convention of saving the top-tier of cake for the Christening of your first-born child has recently given way to saving the top-tier for your first Anniversary. But with fewer people opting for fruit cake and fewer cakes having tiers, the saving of cake to be eaten at the next big event looks set to become a thing of the past.

One delightful cake tradition that has sadly fallen out of fashion is to bake different charms into the cake, (“cake pulls”) so that when ribbons are pulled, your Bridesmaids receive different blessings depending on the charm revealed. A Heart: for love. A Clover: for luck. An Engagement Ring: you’ll be the next to wed.  An Anchor: adventure will come your way. A Flower: love is going to bloom. A Horseshoe: you are lucky in life. If you like the idea of the nostalgic bridal luck charms I discuss here, why not make this sweet tradition part of your wedding too?

http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?um=1&hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&sa=N&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&biw=1280&bih=681&tbm=isch&tbnid=TH4MraMreDuawM:&imgrefurl=http://jewelrybyrhonda.com/webpages/cakecharmpics2.html&docid=_1fZyL9LYPf4IM&imgurl=http://jewelrybyrhonda.com/images/cakecharms/cakepullneworleans.jpg&w=541&h=343&ei=ayViT6__E8ab8QPl3sXmBw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=965&vpy=130&dur=515&hovh=149&hovw=201&tx=155&ty=90&sig=104008391997752555404&page=4&tbnh=149&tbnw=201&start=60&ndsp=20&ved=1t:429,r:14,s:60

Reinventing the Wedding ‘Cake

I like to deconstruct every element of the wedding so that it can be reimagined in a fresh, fun way which suits the couple and the wedding they dare to dream of. A wedding cake generally serves the following purposes:

  • It is a stunning centrepiece to the reception room
  • It is a tasty treat for guests to look forward to
  • It has to feed all your guests
  • If you want to cut it, it needs to be cuttable
  • It has to not spoil or melt as it stands on show for at least a few hours

Given this ‘cake’ criteria it is apparent that the cake need not be made of make at all. There are many reasons why you may not want a cake cake. If you are servings lots of cakes as part of an afternoon tea spread; if you dislike cake; if you want your food budget to go further; if you particularly like the look of towers or croquembouche; or particularly like another type of sweet treat.

Cheese

Myself and my husband went for a cheese tower draped with tomatoes, figs, and grapes instead of a cake cake. A) I love cheese, and it just seemed so fitting B) we didn’t have a traditional wedding breakfast but afternoon tea, so we needed savoury not more sweet! C) the cheese tower still had the shape of a wedding cake, and the three tiers could still be cut by us.

Pie

Pork, chicken, vegetable… theoretically you could make a tower of pies, with any firm filling. A fruit pie would soon turn to messy mush, but savoury pies provide an easy to slice, tasty and substantial alternative. A practical option with the oooooooo! factor.

Chocolatehttp://www.choccywoccydoodah.com/product/0363/Three+Tier+Vortex

If money had been no object? Choccywoccydoodah, and not just because they have a funky name. These chocolate sensations do look quite tricky to cut and are ‘only’ chocolate coated. But what a coating. These cake cakes are all about the chocolate and the sculpture created. If you were going to choose a cake cake, this company offers the most delectable choice of sponges as opposed to the usual vanilla, chocolate, lemon or carrot.

Don’t Tell The Bride does have its moments. A creative Groom designed his own chocolate box wedding cake which instead of a cake and fruit filled chocolate box tower cake you can order from Patisserie Valerie or Druckers (YUM!) he went further and revealed to his Bride a chocolate made chocolate box with individual chocolates inside it! Marvellous! I wonder if Thorntons do these.

Towers

Pile fudge, l, or profiteroles high to make a wedding cake shaped tower. There are no tiers and it might be impossible to slice but who cares when you can dive in and start scoffing these morish morsels!? Cupcake towers have become uber popular lately. It’s cake already individually portioned so saves all that cutting and holding the crumbley slice over a napkin while you eat it, but it’s still cake. Bitesized confectionary or patisserie somehow seems more decadent. I also love that while the individual pieces of yum are easily plucked one by one, they can be laced together with streamers of chocolate, so that the ‘cake’ is one.

Twistshttp://www.marthastewartweddings.com/226890/gateaux-de-mariage-croquembouche

I think what makes tiered cakes so pretty is the diagonal dressing with flowers or other decoration, so that the tower takes on a twisted effect appearance. Towers can easily be given a twist by stacking slightly asymmetrically. My advice with every aspect of your wedding is to think about what suits YOUR wedding best. So if you are having an early wedding and want to serve brunch, how about a sweet breakfast pastry tower – almond and chocolate croissants, Danish pastries, cinnamon swirls. For an evening do how about an after dinner coffee and mint theme or cocktail theme? For weddings in the tropics, baked Alaska; and for winter weddings serve your cake hot, flambe and carve the sponge and serve with custard?

For a metaphorical twist, there are cakes with a super surprise inside. Yes this could be a full-blown person, but think along the lines of the bridal good luck charms, and perhaps you could hide sweets, chocolate money, lottery tickets, easter eggs, kinder eggs! inside a regular looking sponge cake.

Fountains

If you don’t care about the cake being sliceable, but want maximum tower centrepiece effect, why not consider (guilty pleasures of mine) chocolate and/or champagne fountains? I adore the concept of these edible fountains. They really encapsulate the spirit of sharing and diving in I associate with the wedding cake. An added bonus is that unlike the other options, as they are devoured, they do not lose their shape or illusion of plenty. Who wants to choose between chocolate and champagne? If I could plan my wedding over again, I’d have one of each.

~

Our cake 🙂

Cutting our mini cheese tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben getting a mouthful

A cracking cracker

 

 

Making an Entrance!

Following on from yesterday’s post about the significance of holding onto something as you walk down the aisle, today I’m exploring options for making an entrance with a difference.

Who gives this woman…?

The overwhelming majority of Brides still choose to be given away by their Dads. For many Brides, their Father is the ideal person to escort them down the aisle. Long gone is the traditional meaning of being given away. Brides are no longer considered property (or burden) to be passed from man to man. Still, many of us feel that is important to be given away by our Fathers as a show of their blessing and approval of our marriage and choice of Groom.

There are many reasons why the Father may not be the obvious choice for this very important role. Some Fathers will be sadly absent. Other Brides may feel another member of their family played a more significant role, or is a more fitting escort on their wedding day. In choosing our escort(s) we should honour those who have brought us up, those who have shaped us, those who have been there for us and provided us with support and guidance. I personally wanted to honour my Mom as well as my Dad by asking her to walk me down the aisle. The idea being they hold an arm each. If the width of your aisle doesn’t allow for this, do as I did and ask your Mom to walk down the aisle with your Maid of Honour.

Mothers often fall into the conventional slot that is made for Mother-of-the-Bride, without thinking they can take part in wedding ceremonies in these kinds of ways. Just ask what each traditional element means to you, and invite whoever means most in that regard to be a part of the tradition. Traditions are created by regular people, and there is nothing but ourselves to stop us creating our very own new family traditions.

The French have a lovely tradition of the Mother of the Groom giving him away to the Bride. I think this act has the potential to have a powerful effect on all those involved. If, as all rituals should be, it is enacted with an appreciation of why it is being done. Marriage is undeniably a watershed moment where the key players in a newlywed couple’s lives change places forever. The wedding ceremony is the perfect opportunity for those key players, generally parents/guardians and spouses, to acknowledge this handover of power, and the resulting shift in priorities. A father’s daughter becomes a married woman. The most important person in her life becomes her husband rather than her father. A mother’s son becomes a married man. The most important person in his life becomes his wife rather than his mother. Love is not lessened and no less respect or regard is felt. This is simply what marriage requires. Acceptance of inevitable and necessary change is essential to family harmony.

http://thepunypundit.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/father-of-the-future-brides/

Going solo…

Many couples incorporate a unity ritual into the main wedding ceremony but don’t think to start the ceremony with one. If you are not escorted down the aisle but instead enter alone, this serves to highlight your togetherness at the front. If you both walk down the aisle alone one by one, this only heightens your individual nature before coming together in marriage. There is no reason why the Groom should wait for the Bride at the front rather than make an entrance himself. If it is possible to enter the room at the same time from opposite directions before walking down the aisle together, this can be very symbolic of couples who already feel unity before marriage whilst acknowledging that you are coming into the marriage from different places.

Your walk down the aisle can represent your final steps as an unmarried individual. Whilst your wedding ceremony will reflect your personality as a couple, and combine elements of your individual personalities, your entrance can be exclusively yours. Instead of choosing entrance music: a wedding march, or processional; instead choose your own personal theme tune. This goes for both halves of the couple. Choosing markedly different music from each other will show beautifully and effortlessly who you are separately and celebrate that fact as your guests recognise YOU in your music choice. The entrance music does not have to be classical. It can be a TV theme tune, a pop song, disco tune, opera, anything. Your individual songs can be cross faded or blended so that they are both separate and as one.

Taking your time…

Whatever music you choose and whoever you choose to enter with, it is important not to rush down the aisle. Walking through your guests should be savoured. Give yourself time to look at and smile at every row of guests. Soak it up and take your time. This is your wedding day and you want to remember Every. Last. Bit.

If you think you might rush on the day, choose music that will slow your steps down. Think of it as a dance. Match your steps to the beats of the song. Don’t feel self-conscious. All eyes are on you, but they should be! No one has anywhere else to be. They are all there for you.

Try not to look at your feet. If you’re worried about this, choose a dress that is ankle length or shorter.

And finally, practice with your escort if you are having one.

More than an aisle…

The first and only thought for an aisle, especially in outdoor ceremonies tends to be the red carpet. If you want carpet, choose a colour that complements the rest of the ceremony and the wedding. For something more personalised, you can get aisle runners that are specially printed with your initials or monogram.

Consider a thick carpet of petals, or outlining the aisle with candle holders, lanterns, petals, or other markers that tie in with your theme, such as seashells or driftwood.

Turn your aisle into a tunnel. Guests can be asked to blow bubbles towards you and upwards, making an arch for you to walk through. Alternatively, guests nearest the aisle could turn inwards and join hands above your head(s) as you walk past them.

http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/2011/air-new-zealand-fit-to-fly-with-richard-simmons/

Things to do…

If you’re not holding a bouquet, your hands are free to do any number of things. Likewise, don’t feel that you have to simply walk forwards. If there’s something more active than walking that is an important part of who you are that would lend itself to an entrance, you should do it. Just to throw some examples out there: breakdancing, moonwalking, skipping, riding a horse, pogoing, performing magic tricks, combing your hair. It’s all about expressing yourself.

When you get to the front, consider your options. Who would you like to kiss or shake hands with? Would you like to take a bow? Would you like to pick your Bride up? Again, if it’s YOU, do it. Have the confidence to inject your personalities into these first minutes of the ceremony, and you’ll have set the mood wonderfully for the rest of the day.

Alternative Bouquet

I’ve written before about having fun choosing the perfect flowers for your wedding but what if you don’t want a traditional flower bouquet?

When I was planning my wedding, I didn’t want to do anything just because it’s the done thing. I decided against carrying a bouquet despite warnings from florists that I’d miss it (I didn’t) because I found the idea of handing it over to my sister when I reached the front clumsy and silly. I didn’t want the bouquet to end up as a table decoration. The tradition itself held no importance for me.

I knew I wanted flowers on me somehow though, so I experimented with real flowers in my hair, but ended up finding the perfect vintage silk flower to wear instead. My Mom made me a wrist corsage to wear so I could have flowers on me all day, even when kissing, hugging, and dancing. It worked out just right for me. Still, I wish I had researched my options more thoroughly because I’ve come across some really exciting alternatives to the traditional bouquet. I’m sneakily making a mental note of my new faves for a Renewal of Vows I might get to have in… 49 years 😉

source: newherbgarden.info

The tradition of carrying a bunch of flowers down the aisle comes from the belief that herbs could ward off evil spirits. Before bouquets became the ‘in’ thing, Brides wore herbs in their hair for this purpose. If you want to retain this tradition you could ask your Flower Girls or Bridesmaids to scatter herbs in your path so that you release their aromas as you walk over them. I’m a big fan of herbs, and if you love cooking, why not use herbs in place or alongside flowers to reflect your tastes? Herbs look great and smell great so it’s a win, win. If you want to wear flowers instead of holding them, you can wear a wrist corsage or pin flowers onto your dress. You can wear a garland around your neck or present each other with garlands or flowers as part of the ceremony.

Another reason for carrying a bouquet down the aisle is so that you have something to toss over your shoulder to over-excited female wedding guests hoping to be given a sign that they’re next to wed! However, the original significance of the tradition is that the Bride’s clothing and by extension items belonging to her were considered good luck. Therefore Brides, feel free to choose an alternative to the bouquet as your lucky offering.

http://whatireadandwatched.blogspot.com/2011/06/muriels-wedding.html

Finally, you might be struggling to think of an alternative to the bouquet to keep your hands from fidgeting as you make your big entrance. Maybe you’ll feel less self-conscious with something to hide behind. Maybe people have told you Brides look silly without bouquets in their hands. Here I can help!

So what are the alternatives?

If you want a bouquet shape without the flowers, replace the offending flowers with:

  • Buttonshttp://www.iheartbuttons.co.uk/#
  • Silk butterflies
  • Lolly pops
  • Sea shells
  • Feathers
  • Christmas baubles
  • Beads
  • Crystals
  • Macaroons
  • Bonbons

If you just want something to hold onto:

  • Umbrella

    My dear Dad escorting me down the aisle

  • Parasol
  • Dog lead
  • Dog/Cat
  • Balloon string
  • Magic Wand
  • Fairy Wand
  • Purse
  • Fan
  • Lantern
  • (my personal favourite) The arm or hand of the person giving you away

Hen Night Hangover

I recently rewatched the movie the Hangover. I turned to my husband and said something like “…but that is THE destination though isn’t it. If you lived anywhere near there, you just would, wouldn’t you? It’s pretty hard to beat!…”

I was of course talking of Las Vegas. Sin City. The adult’s play ground. It’s like a much, much more glamourous and much, much more serious Fun House for adults many of us early 80s kids have wished someone would invent! More than anything I think Las Vegas is super cool. You can really fancy yourself in Las Vegas, you can take yourself seriously as a grown up, but have an absolute blast. You can be pampered, you can indulge, you can completely lose track of time. You can act like a big kid or you can go all classy and demure. Anything goes.

image from ioffer.com

But let’s face it, most British hen and stag dos cant stretch to that airfare + hotel tarifs + spending money! So where else could you go on your bachelor/bachelorette party as the Americans call them? It got me thinking of other super cool destinations for your party of a lifetime…

The first and largest hotel made of ice can be found in Swedish Lapland. A trip to Ice Hotel offers amazing experiences like taking in the stunning Northern Lights, snowmobiling and skiing, but it’s only open December – April. The mindboggling thought of sleeping in an ice bed in an ice room in an ice hotel actually sounds lovely! You get togged up in your sleeping bags and sleep on reindeer skins. They bring you a hot drink in bed in the morning. Then you warm through in the sauna and showers before breakfast.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/northernlights

Closer to home, Ice Bar London is a fabulous venue, with the bar itself and various lounges available for private hire. The bar is made entirely of ice, and is open year round. Dine here before sipping cocktails out of glasses made of ice! How fun! The Ice Hotel project is a must for art and architecture lovers. These party venues are art installations in themselves.

Staying with London – think big! If you have the budget, you can hire any number of places to hold your party including museums, performing arts venues, and royal palaces! If you’re hiring a venue like this for your wedding, it’s a nice excuse to try it out with just the girls (or boys)! Whatever you do, DO NOT search for “hen/stag party venue” and click on one of the many event management sites that hire venues as part of a hen/stag package. It might be easy but you pay for the ease of a package. If you go down the private hire route you’ll get a better deal, and your event will be tailor made to your requirements. How about chocolate tasting in a private capsule for 20 of your closest friends, on the London Eye?

http://www.virginballoonflights.co.uk/blog/when-is-an-envelope-not-an-envelope/

Now think bigger than London. Is a hot air balloon ride something you’ve always wanted to do? A basket can hold 16 guests! Choose to fly over the place you got engaged, your old school and stomping ground, magnificent castles or beautiful countryside. Now think boat party. River boats are cool, but how about a yacht on the Solent? Or off the Devonshire coastline? Onboard jacuzzi and sunbathing, a dip in the sea, dolphin spotting, BBQ, and of course oodles of champagne. What more could we want?

Your hen or stag do can be anything you want it to be. As with weddings, they should not be generic and impersonal but reflect who you are and what you love. Get creative and go all out. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend some high class, quality time with the girls/boys and to make lifelong memories. You probably wont be organising your own shindig but that doesn’t mean you can’t drop big hints. Just send your Best Men and Ladies over to my blog, or email them a few links to check out. 😉

Weddings as they used to be

Going vintage is all the rage, but we’re not just going vintage because it’s pretty or because it’s cool. The wedding industry is vast. There are certain gate keepers and venues in particular love to tell brides what we must have, what we can’t have, what’s possible, and how much it will all cost us to do it their way. Most brides faced with the authority of the industry go with it, wanting to put on the perfect wedding for themselves and their guests. People expect certain things of weddings – a certain kind of dress, certain drinks, certain music, certain transport, certain grandeur and formality, certain entertainment, certain food, certain favours, certain dancing, certain schedule for the day. Planning a wedding is no mean feat.

But not all brides want the conventional wedding, which has become rather more about the after party than the ceremony itself. To me that reflects the pressure on the couple to make sure their guests have a great time, that everyone is pleased. What about the couple though, are they building in moments during the day to be alone together, to soak it up, to reflect, to spend that precious day on things that really mean the most to them as individuals and as a couple? OK for some brides and grooms the most important thing is pleasing their guests; is having a good drunken dance; they might be happy just to get through the day without any stress. That’s not good enough for me, your wedding day should be magical and memorable in those ways significant to you both, and to your family and friends.

So brides and bridegrooms to be, what do you want?! Think about what your ideal wedding would look like if you could remove all the conventional boundaries, rules, and obstacles. Think about what a wedding is really about, traditionally, culturally, at its essence. That should be your starting point. Build your wedding around those dreams. If that means looking for an unusual venue, having your dress made from scratch, reducing your guest list to only 20, serving cheese instead of cake, arriving on a bicycle, ending the wedding at 5pm, then do it. If that’s what you want, don’t let the expectations or narrow-mindedness of others stop you, no matter how much you love them. This day is about you. Dare to dream!

If you’re thinking of a vintage wedding consider holding the ceremony in a family back garden, at a village hall, in a tea room, on a farm, exchanging vows in a hot air balloon, on a narrow boat. As long as the venue is safe and dignified the choice is all yours, with humanist ceremonies.