There are a million different types of wedding… which one is the best for you?
This is likely to be a long blog post, a bit like the Timing Your Day post, no matter how I tried to work it, I just couldn’t get the word count down. There are too many variables, there are (as you are about to discover) too many options. Don’t be too surprised if you make it all the way to ‘the end’ only to find a link to part two… lets see how we get on.
We are ENGAGED… Now what?
Well first off, congratulations! You may have picked up a wedding magazine, you may have already become addicted to scrolling through impossibly glamourous looking affairs on Pinterest or Instagram. You may even have a folder that you have had stored under your bed since you were little, like they do in the movies (does anyone actually do this though?)
For most of us mere mortals, wedding planning can promise adventure and excitement, but the reality can be much more daunting. There are just too many good things to choose from! Some of them might have you re-mortgaging the house or bankrupting your family if you are not careful, but an amazing wedding can be attained on almost any budget (I promise).
Here is a brief (ish) look at some of the main options
A Do It Yourself wedding can be really fabulous without breaking the bank. You can be really imaginative with your choice of venue, and you could secure something ‘basic’ for such great value that you can then use your own imagination or a venue dresser to make it both personal and spectacular. Venues you should consider if you thinking of going DIY
- Some of the marquees and venues offer a ‘Dry Hire’ option. This allows you to hire your dream venue and then you can save pennies elsewhere. But, be warned, some venues will still put in corkage charges or charges for bringing in outside catering and unless you are considering clever alternatives on things like food, in reality, this can end costing even more than full hire.
- Village Hall hire There are some really nice village halls around, some have double height ceilings and are situated in gorgeous, picturesque villages. The prices can be staggeringly cheap, usually allowing room in the budget to decorate to your hearts content and treat yourself in other ways too! It is important to check the hall has adequate parking, toilet and kitchen facilities before you commit.
- A farm or big garden. If you or someone in the family owns a farm or large property and you are in their (very) good graces, it may well be worth an ask. You may well have to pay for things like power and water, but that might be all you have to pay. If you don’t know anyone, it can still be worth approaching local farmers to see if they will hire a barn or field to you. Bear in mind, they will likely want to be reassured and compensated for their property use!
A word of warning with DIY weddings, they can be very labour intensive and you will likely be relying on family and friends to help with all the crafting and creation! Also, if you are choosing a DIY wedding because of budget, be careful you don’t get carried away on all the exciting ‘extras’ and neglect the basics. Basics in a DIY wedding can include anything from a parking attendant, to a generator, to toilets for your guests!
Barn venues are becoming more and more popular. You can find gorgeous barns which have been refurbished into luxury venues or you can choose a more genuinely rustic option as the working farms are diversifying into other things. The options throughout the country are extensive, but locally I love Farmhouse at Redcoats and The Milling Barn for gorgeous upmarket barns (these ones are both in Hertfordshire). If you are looking for a more DIY style barn (as above), then check out this hidden gem of a venue Kingsthorpe Lodge Barn in Peterborough – character, charm and great dry hire options.
Barns can provide a gorgeous and photogenic option at any time of the year. In winter they can provide a lovely cozy feel like Coltsfoot Retreat. Or they can provide the perfect base for a wedding on a glorious summers day, hay bales outside and champagne being sipped whilst the younger guests can run about and burn off their energy. Below are some images from Coltsfoot in the November and a gorgeous April wedding at Priory Barns. You can see a real weddings from South Farm here and Milling Barn here.
Milling Barn Priory Barn Milling Barn The Barns Hotel Priory Barn Coltsfoot Retreat
Manor House in the country
A truly classic option and the one most seen in films and on TV! This is probably what springs to mind for most people when they even hear the word ‘wedding’. They can be breathtaking venues, offering fantastic architecture, sprawling lawns and great practical benefits. For example most allow for you to to have your wedding ceremony and your reception in the same venue, not only this but all your guests can often stay on site. This makes their lives easier, encourages them to stay a little longer on the dance floor and saves you the hassle of worrying about a wedding car. Not always country houses, as such, these weddings are similar across Country Clubs and Golf Clubs too.
Wrest Park Luton Hoo Offley Place Woburn Sculpture Galley
These classic venues work great at all times of the year. Often the architecture means that you I can create fabulous shots using the internal grandeur and decadence without even needing to step outside. Of course, I would always advise it, the grounds are usually stunning too! I have so many favourite Country Houses, they lend themselves very well to the directed side of my style. I really enjoy using these buildings to create drama in my wedding images and have a number of favourite venues. My personal favourite is the truly stunning Luton Hoo and I also love Down Hall, Longstowe Hall and Gosfield Hall (to name a mere few!). These weddings tend to be more classic in nature, but there is no reason why you cannot have a relaxed wedding in a formal setting if that is what you want.
Castles are in a similar vain to Country Houses, offering something a bit extra-special. I like them for all the same reasons I enjoy shooting the mansion houses, however Castles have the added ‘wow factor’, the drama of turrets and grand halls! I cant say I have ever photographed a castle venue that I didn’t utterly love, but two favourites to get you started are Berkeley Castle and Clearwell Castle! I have a featured wedding from Clearwell here.
Clearwell Castle Berkeley Castle
These are usually DIY in nature, but not always. Picture teepees on the lawn, food trucks offering an amazing array of wares and garden games. Not to mention, if wanted THE MUSIC, for me it is the music offerings that make a festival style wedding, pop ups little stage area and speak to local bands and buskers as well as the usual wedding bands. Your entire day will have its own very unique-to-you soundtrack and your guests will feel like dancing and swaying all day.
These weddings tend to have a very relaxed vibe, lots of fun and chatter, lots of dancing and I cannot lie, it makes them an absolute JOY to photograph. My couples who choose this style of wedding tend also to like the very natural and relaxed style of my photography or a featured festival style wedding here
I have a full blog on City Chic weddings, but briefly, why not?! They can offer unique venues with amazing city backdrops and if you already live in a small town or village, they also something utterly different and unique. Museums, library’s, city halls, city gardens, the list is inexhaustible.
Great for your international guests and those from farther away, your guests can make a mini break of it as well as enjoying your wedding. It is the city backdrops which I cannot help but fall in love with each time I visit a new urban area, the graffiti, landmarks, street performers and even the ‘random strangers’ bustling in the background can all come together to create some breathtaking memories and photographs.
A Religious Ceremony
This is a personal decision and totally down to you. You may wish to have a ceremony at your chosen place of worship/church and then the head off to celebrate at a reception. Other couples may not choose to have a full religious ceremony and instead might have a legal ceremony, followed by a religious blessing. But it is important to work out what matters to each of you on this, especially if you come from two different faiths/cultures. In this is the case, please don’t feel disheartened, the ‘fusion weddings’ that I have been privileged to work at are all amongst my favourite ever, the unique mix of cultures and traditions can combine to create something truly special.
Not quite the same as eloping, these are more like downscaled versions of a traditional wedding format but held at some exotic destination. Usually a number or friends and family will come over and combine your wedding with their holiday. There are some staggering options around the world, but bear in mind that there may be some legal complications to overcome in terms of being actually legally married abroad (in some countries it is simply not possible). This is a big topic and a big decision, check out my blog on destination weddings
If wedding planning is stressing you out, causing family rifts or budget concerns and you are a bit adventurous…. well why not elope? Sometimes just the two of you (with a celebrant and of course a good photographer!) and sometimes a small family/friend group, an elopement can be a freeing way to get married. If you fancy this option, there is still a plethora of options, you could opt for one of the more obvious location; Gretna Green or Las Vegas. Or you might be way more adventurous and fancy a 2 day hike to an isolated Norwegian waterfall… the world is quite literally your oyster.
Bear in mind that there may be some “family political fallout” for this, really have a think if it will be right for you. Alternatively, keep everyone happy by having a relaxed celebratory reception with would-be guests once you return from your elopement.
FYI I LOVE an adventure, I love to hike and explore, so I am very happy to discreetly join your elopement to capture those staggering locations and moments on camera.
Something completely random
No really, anything. It may not always be possible to get legally wed anywhere in the world, but you can celebrate your wedding almost anywhere that you can imagine. You’ve likely seen the news articles on receptions at McDonalds (umm please no), but I utterly applaud these couples doing what is right, what means something to them. If you are thinking of doing something a little different, you may want consider a celebrant lead ceremony instead of a legal one, as this can open up a lot of opportunities for them.
If you love books, find an awesome library, if you share a love of Sci-fi, incorporate as many Darlek centrepieces as you like, if you want a beach wedding have one. This is your wedding, don’t rule out unconventional wedding venues because you feel that you should, first rule of weddings is – your wedding, your way!
Get in touch Here – Esmé