To Theme Or Not To Theme…

To Theme Or Not To Theme…


An image of two rings on a newspaper.
Circles Of Life. You can make your wedding day as simple or as extravagant as you like. Photo credit www.balancephotography.co.uk


Almost half way through February already. Christmas is a dim and distant memory and now Easter is looming large on the horizon. How many of those resolutions have lasted and how many gym memberships are now lapsed after the initial euphoric push fuelled by endorphins and ‘new year new you’ adrenalin? It’s not all bad though – it is still light (only just) at 4pm and it means Spring is not too far away, although the wind and rain recently is doing nothing for my self-diagnosed SAD (seasonal affective disorder). I think a lot of people feel this way around this time of the year – you aren’t alone and it’s not long until March.

However, if you are not feeling any of the above emotions then I am willing to bet it was because you are deliriously happy due to receiving a festive proposal. January is always our busiest month of the year and we were full to bursting with potential brides coming in to try and find their dream dress. This has rolled into February – our Saturdays are chock full of bookings and we have matched lots of brides to their dream dresses already.

An image of a proposal in Central Park.
A dream Central Park proposal for Zara. Tell me about your proposals in the comments below.

So you’ve got the rock on your finger, you’ve drunk more fizz than is possible and now everyone keeps asking you ‘so when is the big day?’ You have nothing to offer them, other than a blank expression and a shrug of your shoulders. When this happens to you more than five times in one day, I’m afraid you can no longer put of the inevitable. You need to have a pow-wow with your husband/wife to be and start to tentatively plan the ‘biggest day of your life’. Can I suggest this is done with the aid of a bottle (or two) of wine, some chocolate and a very co-operative mood?

The reality is, unless you and your beloved are completely on the same page about absolutely everything, then you are both going to come up against things you don’t want, people you don’t want to invite and everything in-between. I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that you mustn’t lose sight of the fact that your wedding day is about you as a couple, it should reflect that. The point is if you work together you will find it is an altogether more harmonious experience, each of you should be prepared to listen and remember the all-important C word – compromise.

I have watched far too many episodes of Don’t Tell The Bride from behind my fingers to know that to leave it all up to one person can often be a recipe for disaster. I’m thinking of the infamous Las Vegas wedding (Google it – it is utterly mortifying). Whether they show it on camera or not, there is usually something that causes dissatisfaction and let’s face it this is one day where you deserve to be happy about every aspect.

An image of a wedding in a barn
Jemma and Toby are music mad and this reflected heavily on their special day. Photo credit www.adamcherryphotography.co.uk
A close-up image of the table setup for a barn wedding
Jemma and Toby went for a great idea for keepsakes. Vinyl records with messages from their nearest and dearest. A great memento to display in their home. Photo credit www.adamcherryphotography.co.uk

A good way to keep all your planning linear and in focus is to decide whether you are going to have a theme. This is a good way to help keep you organised as the theme becomes the focal point and everything is the branches that come off it. Sometimes it won’t necessarily be that you’ve consciously thought of a theme, but the same thing might keep cropping up in your discussions and this is a good thing to make the theme. It doesn’t even have to be massive but can be as small as colours you are using.

An image of a couple outseide a stately home
Joanna and Jim went for an all in one venue and chose the beautiful Down Hall in Essex for their gorgeous summer wedding! (It was actually the hottest day of the year!) www.downhall.co.uk
Photo credit www.balancephotography.co.uk

You might decide that you don’t want to go for a theme as such but you want to stick to having a very traditional wedding. A church wedding, hymns sung by the choir, and the church bells, followed by a full sit down reception at a grand venue. Usually this option is the easiest to plan, as you just have to turn up to the church (on time!) and the Vicar does all the hard work. Then if you are using a traditional venue then they more often than not will have in-house wedding organisers to help you have a smooth, problem free day. They will dress the venue, organise chair covers, make sure your table displays are all in the correct place, ensure the cake is setup so that when you and your guests arrive you only have to concern yourself with carrying on the festivities rather than worrying about the seating plan.

An image of a married couple kissing
A Town Hall wedding – perfect for a city dwelling couple! Photo credit www.adamcherryphotography.co.uk

If you are a city-dwelling couple and want your wedding to reflect this lifestyle, then you could go for a chic modern theme. For example, if you live in London (substitute any big city) then the possibilities for this are endless, however it might work out on a slightly pricier end of the scale. You could get married at the Registry Office and then move onto a smart city hotel or even your favourite restaurant for the reception. However, if you decide to go for this type of wedding then you have to have a fairly intimate guest list, unless money is no object and you can afford the Grand Ball room at the Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane. Also logistically speaking, getting a cast of thousands (slight exaggeration) across a busy city will be a bit of a planning nightmare, so keeping it intimate will help immensely – of course you can avoid this by having the ceremony and reception in one place.

An image of a crowd at dinner in a restaurant
Upmarket restaurant and sophisticated surroundings – city weddings are achingly hip and smart. Photo credit www.adamcherryphotography.co.uk
An image of alcoholic drinks
Cocktails and Canapes – cool and classy. Photo credit www.adamcherryphotography.co.uk

If you do go for a modern, contemporary theme then another alternative is to go for a 6pm, (latest you can get married in England), ceremony followed by cocktails and canapés. This would be ideal if you were having a mid-week wedding, meaning many of your guests might not need to take a full or even half day off work to attend, they could still join in the celebrations and also not have to stay so late or arrange accommodation if they have work commitments the next day. Chic city weddings always look effortlessly stylish and so many of our big cities have glorious buildings steeped in history, magnificent architecture and quirky little streets and alleys which means it will be a dream wedding for a photographer to get really creative.

An image of a festival tent.
Festival Weddings are all the rage – boho, free-spirited and carefree. All the ingredients for a special day – this one belongs to the folks at Boutipi. www.boutipi.co.uk

If you aren’t city-dwellers or you are but want your wedding to be the opposite of that, then you are probably thinking along the lines of a boho chic/festival wedding. Just saying the word boho instantly makes me think of daisy chain crowns, walking barefoot in a field and linen shirts and gypsy skirts. Obviously it goes without saying this kind of wedding is best suited to the warmer weather, I know that the wonderful British Summertime doesn’t always guarantee that the sun will be out, however the torrential rain and muddy fields at Glastonbury are proof-positive that you don’t need the burning ball in the sky to be present to have fun. You just need some good old-fashioned British stoicism and a great pair of wellies! If it is good enough for 200000 revellers, then it really can’t be that bad. There are many places all over the country that will hire out fields and outdoor spaces, or you might be lucky enough to know someone who may be willing to let you have it for mate’s rates or even better for free. There are some great companies around that do high quality tipis and tents ideal for celebrations. You could have them dotted around a field and turn them into on site accommodation to (a la Guy Ritchie and Jacqui Ainsley). One company worth checking out is Boutipi. Their tipis and tents are so much fun and a fabulous alternative if you want your wedding to be an occasion that is chilled out and all about having loads of fun with your friends and family without having to follow a rigid schedule or timetable.

An image of a couple in the sea
Swept off into the horizon – A Bridal Reloved bride on her special day by the sea. Photo credit www.dawnpotter.co.uk
An image of a couple getting married in Cornwall
I’ve always said when the sun shines there is no better place than good old Blighty – look at those Colgate smiles. Photo credit www.dawnpotter.co.uk

A variation on the festival theme is to have a nautical beach themed wedding. If you are keen surfers, wind surfers, sailors or you just like the way the sand feels between your toes. Again this kind of wedding is weather dependant, and while you can get away with rain in the middle of a field with some precautions, if you get married on beach with uncertain weather around, you risk exposing yourself to all the elements, and let me tell you standing around on a beach looking bedraggled is most definitely how you don’t want to remember your wedding day. However, if you happen to pick that magical two weeks in July and August where the weather catches us by surprise then a beach wedding could be sun-sational – geddit?! You could have your ceremony down by the water’s edge then pick a sea-facing venue for the reception. With a beach wedding along with festival and other non-traditional venues you have to be sure the place where you actually say ‘I do’ is registered to be able to hold marriages. If not, it might be that you have to visit the registry office to complete the legalities before or after the actual big day and just have a blessing at the actual wedding.

An image of a couple on the beach.
Of course if you want beach weather for your beach wedding then you can always go abroad like Natalie and Brett did. I’ll be doing a blog soon on International Nuptials – keep your eyes peeled. Photo credit www.giannelis.com

These are just a handful of ideas I’ve picked off the top of my head, there are hundreds more. I’ll be grilling suppliers who help to arrange and execute quirky and out of the ordinary weddings and bringing you more inspiration if you know the traditional route is just not for you. I have mentioned Boutipi in this blog and as always you’ll find their details at the bottom. Remember to sign up and subscribe if you don’t want to miss out on a post and give me a follow on Twitter @zbridalreloved

Zarina xx

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