Our Alternative Wedding: The Concept

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How does a rock ‘n’ roll couple who met in a mosh pit and want to have their idea of an “alternative” wedding, celebrate their nuptials? Check out this series of articles detailing how we planned our wedding 🤘!


I’ve written a series of articles about getting ready for our wedding, partly as a fun exercise to reflect on what I loved, hated, and learned through the process, and to share in case any of my experience is helpful to others. 


Let’s kick off where it all began: the concept! 


We had a few challenges in thinking about how to approach our wedding. Firstly, my fiancé and I have family and friends in far-flung places. My fiancé is Canadian and also an American citizen, having just moved to the UK months before we met in 2019. We live in London, but neither of us grew up here nor have any family in the city, and many of our closest friends live out of town and overseas. We were struggling to decide on a location that would work for us. 


Secondly, as travel has been so difficult due to lockdown, I haven’t had the chance to meet many of my fiancé’s friends and family. We needed a solution that would allow us to share the love with the people we care about but avoid being overwhelmed by new meetings on our actual wedding day.


We would take inspiration from rock bands and go 🤘 on tour 🤘…

So, we decided to opt for an intimate wedding day ceremony and breakfast at a meaningful location in the UK (more on this later). Then, we would take inspiration from rock bands and go 🤘 on tour 🤘 to bring the party to our loved ones, the logic being that it’s easier for us to travel to meet groups on different continents, than have everyone come to us on one date. This approach was also very appropriate for us, given that we first met in a mosh pit at an industrial concert!


Pic from a couple photoshoot with the fabulous, Kirsten Mohan


How our “tour” will work


At the time of writing, we’ve had our wedding day celebrations and some of the UK tour dates immediately after the wedding. We’re making final preparations to go global…


We decided to have our wedding ceremony in Oxford. I had lived there as a student for nine years, plus it’s a lovely town with good transport links, only an hour from London and major airports. We opted for a civil ceremony at the gorgeous 19th Century Oxford Town Hall in the morning. As a University of Oxford alum, I was lucky to be able to hire my college, so we had our wedding breakfast, speeches, cake cutting, and first dance in the stunning 16th Century dining hall. Many of our guests (including us!) stayed in the student rooms on-site, so it was super handy to be able to pop back to our rooms for forgotten items or a makeup touch-up. We had about 50 guests, so a small group of close family and friends for the first part of the day…


Then our 🤘Wedding Tour🤘 officially kicked off that evening! We hired a private area at Freud cocktail bar in a former 19th Century church building, for drinks and partying. This event was open to anyone invited to the tour, and it was lovely to see our wider guest list join the party! We had the raised apse area reserved for us, but we were the largest group and ended up taking over most of the bar. We couldn’t control the music, so it was relatively generic, but it wasn’t too loud and everyone was busy talking (we’re also having a more music/dance-focused party on another occasion). The bar agreed to play our “first dance” song as the last track of the night, so we were able to re-enact this moment for our wider guest list- it was lovely!


For the rest of the tour, we’ve mostly chosen locations where family are living or where we have a significant number of friends. We’ll pick a favourite spot in this town e.g. a motorcycle clubhouse in London, a brewery in San Diego, and arrange a meet-up. For other dates and locations, we’ve chose to coincide with popular events that we knew friends are likely be attending from out of town. We get to “borrow” the party a little, plus this means that friends aren’t burdened with lots of additional orgnaisation and can wish us well at an event they were already planning to travel to. The timings were determined either around seasonality (it should be nicer weather in Canada in June as opposed to January!), or the specific events (e.g. a dance weekend in Edinburgh in July, a post-apocalyptic festival in California in October). 


There has been a lot of planning involved on our side for us to make it affordable and maximize our scarce time off from work, but it’s been a fun logistical challenge to work through and I think we’re in for a great time!

Pic from a couple photoshoot with the fabulous, Kirsten Mohan


Developing the concept further


We let the tour inspiration guide us to further ideas around the wedding: we sourced white leather biker “battle” jackets to customise with spikes, studs, paint, and pin badges and patches from our tour stops. We both bought jackets from a local sample sale and we’ll have fun hunting for souvenirs in each location to add to the picture. We are also bringing paint pens with us to the different parties and asking our guests to sign their names on the jacket lining as an informal “guest book”.


Every rock ‘n’ roll band needs merch., so we also commissioned artwork to print on a tour t-shirt. I love the story of how this came about: we had prepared a brief to commission a freelance graphic artist. We wanted figures of us on the front and a list of the tour dates on the back, decorated with motifs that are meaningful to us as a couple. Stylistically, we wanted a rockabilly feel, just like one of my favourite artists, Vince Ray, to fit with the alternative and vintage-glam themes of the wedding. I found someone online who understood what we wanted and commissioned him, but on the day it was due, he let us down and said he could no longer do the job. 


Vince even included little Sterling (our cat) in the design…

Not knowing what to do next, I searched “Vince Ray-style art” and clicked on Vince’s website as it, unsurprisingly, came up first. I noticed he had an email address for commissions and thought: “What the heck, I’m asking other people to do a “Vince Ray-style” illustration, I might as well see if the man himself would do it!” To my amazement, he replied the next day and agreed! I was so happy, I danced around the room! He was fantastic to work with and took so much care and attention to detail to get it right for us, and Vince even included little Sterling (our cat) in the design. 


Pic from a couple photoshoot with the fabulous, Kirsten Mohan


Why this approach works for us:


It extends the party: We were warned that our wedding day would go “very quickly” (which it did!!) but the tour lets us spread out the party and create even more memories. If you’re considering this, it also de-risks your wedding a bit in case you or a key guest isn’t feeling well, the weather is crappy, you can’t book the band you want, etc. 


It allows us to see more people: It has allowed us to celebrate with lots more family and friends, including those whose health doesn’t permit them to travel. It also avoids expensive international travel so is inclusive of people on different incomes.


Keeps it casual: we don’t have the budget of a rock band, so we’re not orgnaising full wedding receptions in each location. Instead, it’ll be a series of meet-ups that our invitees are welcome to pop in to. We prefer this more casual approach for budget and event planning ease, plus we prefer a more informal atmosphere.


Re-using our lovely wedding clothes and decorations: One of the great aspects for me is that I will get to re-wear my wedding dress and accessories for some of these events! I purposely bought a dress for the evening that was less bulky and would travel better so that I could re-wear it. I also constructed silk flower arrangements, including my bouquet, which we’ve saved and will reuse at some of the UK parties (more on all of this in later articles!).


We can embrace different types of parties: We have a large number of diverse hobbies and friendship groups. On our tour, we’ll have a beach party, a Blues dance with live music, a country pub dinner, a Goth festival meet-up, a fancy lunch, a garden party, drinks at a brewery, a post-apocalyptic wedding re-enactment, and a medieval knees-up. This format allowed us to cater to our different groups of friends and design celebrations that maximise the fun for everyone, plus make the most of what the location has to offer.


Lower carbon footprint: certainly while taking air travel isn’t good for the environment, the two of us touring compared to inviting 200 people to fly to the UK, likely has a lower carbon footprint, which is an advantage for the planet!


In future articles, I’ll share some tips and tricks that I picked up along the way when choosing my wedding dress(es) (oooh, spoiler!!), accessories, hair and makeup choices, decorations, and more updates on how our tour is going! 


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