Are you planning on getting married? Today's world of weddings can be a confusing and even contradictory place, whether you’re tying the knot in Herefordshire or half way around the world. In the build-up to our next wedding fair, guest blogger Dominic Garnett negotiates the styles and sticking points of the modern wedding, along with handy tips and advice to save you stress and money while organising a special event to suit you to a tee.
Has there ever been a time of more freedom for a couple planning their wedding? Once upon a time, the "big day" was a far stiffer, more traditional affair. We only have to look through family photo albums over the years to see the vast difference in fashions, formalities and social expectations. However, having blogged, written about and survived many weddings (including my own) I cannot help but feel that the digital age brings a new set of pressures, whether down to the joys and ills of social media or our more complex social and family lives.
So, rather than talk about which pastel shades are “in” this year, or which table decorations will look best on Instagram, I thought I would provide my own no-nonsense set of tips and trends. Here are some of the glaring lessons, highlights and pitfalls collected up from my own experience of 21st Century weddings:
Aim for Less Quantity, More Quality
Once upon a time, a wedding was about packing as much food, booze and guests into a single day as possible. But I strongly sense that this is changing - and the logic of “less is more” is appealing on so many levels. Not least of all because couples want to stay within their budget.
With food and drink, the logic is especially apparent because we can go way overboard (says the chap who has only just finished the last piece of his wedding cake a full 6 months after getting married). The same can also be said of decorations and even guests! Well, that’s just rude, but if you’re on a set wedding budget (and who isn’t?) do you really need to invite half of Herefordshire? And would they return the favour for you? I’m sounding like your prospective mother in law now...
Simpler, Craftier Wedding Decorations
Simple, hand-crafted decor is here to stay; better for your pocket and the environment!
Another strong leaning in the wedding scene appears to be towards rather more elegant, less excessive decorations. Any quick scan of Pinterest boards or wedding sites will reveal a lot of crafty and handmade wedding décor. Personally, I love this; it’s not only more personal (and you can get creative friends to help) but also more eco-friendly and budget savvy.
It seems odd to say that materials like paper and wood are “bang on trend”, but cute, simply crafted decorations are definitely the way forward. At my own wedding we had paper hearts and hummingbird cages, along with rustic style jam jars, easily decorated with hessian and ribbon. Not only pretty, but easy to recycle - and the only major cost was time.
Involve the Menfolk More!
You might already have spotted that this blog is unusual because it was put together by a man. Why is it that so many weddings (and 95% of the articles about them) are totally masterminded by women? Before you spit your tea out and label this is a sexist comment, just hear me out for a minute because it is a basic truth that I feel needs addressing. After all, a marriage is meant to be a shared and equal partnership between a woman and a man. Shouldn’t the actual wedding be the same?
Too often, weddings become gushing and girly beyond all belief. The chaps blush and do as told, but wouldn’t it be better to meet half way? I insisted on there being craft beer for the toast at my wedding, besides bubbly. I also made a strict “No Boybands” rule for the DJ, which makes me sound like some kind of wedding dictator (even though my wife prefers Joy Division to Take That).
Garden games or party challenges are also great for ensuring that the boys don’t get bored. However you play it though, my main point is simple: the healthiest way to plan a wedding is not by plastering everything in pink, but with the groom involved as much as his bride-to-be.
Beware of Social Media
We have never lived in an age like it. Never has it been so easy to share pictures and news, or shop for wedding accessories at the touch of a button. And it can be dangerous. For one thing, jumping the gun on Facebook can spoil all those surprises and special touches that make weddings tick.
Worst of all though is the use of technology at the wedding itself. It is a second-hand form of existence and I even know of couples who deliberately chose a venue with no phone signal. You don’t need to Instagram everything from first sight of the bride to the cutting of the cake. A wedding is there to be lived, not to be converted into an endless stream of tweets and selfies.
Here’s a dare for couples: Why not hold a phone-free wedding, or at least one where guests take their shots and then put the damned things away? A decent wedding photographer will be more than capable of getting great pictures and memories. Guests will also mingle more and Facebook less. Enjoy the event as it is- you can always post pictures and relive it later.
Lose the Script & be Yourselves
Another direct consequence of living our lives digitally is that our lives are shared daily and social pressures grow. When image is king and everything is recorded, some of our friends will always show off or compete, until we feel that everything has to be “super-perfect”. But perhaps the most vital tip I can give you in this blog is that the most important thing is you.
With unerring certainty, the next blog you read will suggest that you go for a movie star or beach themed wedding shoot; or that you should make a video blog of your wedding ceremony with specially customised vows. I say don’t bother. There is nothing wrong with good planning, but avoid trying to stage manage everything in a contrived manner. Be yourselves, be spontaneous and let things happen. It’s much less pressure and a lot more fun that way.
Find Wedding Inspiration & Fresh Thinking at our Wedding Fair in Ledbury
Are you planning to get married in the next year or two? There is no substitute for talking to the right people when it comes to planning a wedding that is spot on for your own tastes and budget. Our wedding fairs bring together many of the best professionals, services and friendly experts in Herefordshire, from flower arrangers and entertainers to wedding planners.
This will also be a great chance to take a look around the Feathers Hotel, including our newly refurbished Courtyard Room. With award-winning food, bespoke service and beautifully historic setting, we are one of the best wedding venues and places to get married in Herefordshire (as well as the recipient of TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence yet again).
There will also be a glass of bubbly and delicious canapes for those who attend, not to mention a free prize draw for all brides to be, with an exclusive bonus for our lucky winner. Click HERE for full details of our Wedding Fair, or see our weddings section for further details on the packages and services we offer at the Feathers Hotel in Ledbury.