For some brides, a Vegas wedding is a dream they’ll never fulfil, for others it’s a total cop-out of kitsch meets karaoke Elvis and they would kill anybody who suggested it for them. But one thing you can say about a Vegas wedding … it’s unforgettable, even for those who were so wasted they forgot they got married, like Britney Spears and Jason Alexander who got their Las Vegas nuptials annulled 55 hours after the wedding bells rang!
It’s a neglected and unrewarding role, summed up by the expression ‘show up, shut up, wear beige’ but the job of the mother of the groom is often pivotal. Why? Because the essential duties of the mother of the groom are not as important as the essential nature of the mother of the groom who can be a powerful force for happiness or stress not just at the wedding but either side of the big day.
Do you remember Ann Duffy? She was the woman who rang a register office and cancelled her brother’s wedding because she didn’t like the woman he planned to marry. Her excuse? She was ‘saving him from a divorce’.
Ms Duffy, who impersonated her now sister-in-law to call off the wedding at Plymouth Register office, was jailed for two months on 11 February, for what the magistrate described as ‘totally unacceptable behaviour … a cruel and vindictive act which left the couple distressed and distraught.’ The good news is that her brother and his fiancée were able to reverse the cancellation and get married where and when they’d planned.
Las Vegas wedding
Meanwhile, Donna Farnsworth must be wondering whether her feet have touched the ground yet. Her partner of 27 years, Del, proposed to her live on TV (on the ITV Daybreak programme, to be precise) on 10 February as they were queuing for a ‘holiday flight’ at Heathrow Airport. The whirlwind journey ended on Valentine’s Day, with a wedding ceremony in front of the Bellagio Hotel’s dancing fountain in Las Vegas! The bride said she was ‘emotional and overwhelmed’ to be walking down the aisle in Vegas and no surprise, because the officiant at the wedding was Westlife member Kian Egan. The ceremony was formally confirmed by a Las Vegas registrar and as the couple kissed, the fountains – famous for featuring in the Ocean’s Eleven film – burst into life.
What a thrilling experience for Donna, who was given away by her daughter Fern, and we’ve decided that next week we’re going to have a Vegas wedding special feature … because it’s such a fun idea and because we do love the idea of being married, remarried, by Elvis!
Less joyously, UK immigration officials were uninvited guests at a wedding in Blackburn on Valentine’s Day. They weren’t delivering good wishes either; instead they arrested the British bride and her Kosovan ‘husband-to-be’ for engaging in a shame wedding. The woman was released without charge but the groom, who was in the country illegally, remains in custody.
And forty-two happy couples fulfilled their lifetime’s dream … they got married, on Valentine’s Day, at Gretna Green! Since 1754 the blacksmith’s forge at Gretna has been a popular venue; that was the year that the Marriage Act came into effect in England and Wales, meaning that people under 21 had to have parental consent to marry. In Scotland marriageable age remained 16, and Gretna Green is the first village over the Scottish border!
Of course it’s a huge industry now, and the ‘runaway wedding’ has become a well-oiled machine with pipers, tartan cakes and many couples travelling from further away than just England. 60% of Gretna weddings involve both bride and groom coming from outside Scotland and 20% of those are couples from outside the UK.
Tee hee, Unique Bride loves it when we’re ahead of the field. Just after we posted our blog about non-Valentine’s themed weddings, Cosmopolitan came out with a tongue-in-cheek article covering non-traditional wedding dresses! We see a lot of overlap there. Still, the Cosmo article is worth a read and just to be provocative we’re going to launch our counterargument:
You wear colour
So do our brides. It’s been a long, long time since all wedding dresses were white – Cosmo might need a refresher course on modern weddings!
The wedding industry is full of passion
From The Wedding Fairy through to the humblest favour maker or corner florist, the wedding business brings out the best in people. Look at how often a threatened wedding is pulled through by the generosity and resourcefulness of a community pulling together for the sake of love. Like hundreds of people offering to attend a wedding, bring gifts and sit on the bride’s side of the church for a Reddit user who admitted she was ashamed her partner’s family would see she had no friends … Given that truth, why not have the wedding day you’ve always dreamed of? Half-measures are unlikely to lead to happy memories …
The designers you love design wedding dresses too!
Many top designers make amazing wedding dresses – but designers specialise in wedding gowns because they are an unusually demanding and wonderful garment: they have to look great, perform well and – more often than not – have to be white, one of the toughest colours to make work. You wouldn’t go to a plumber to have your kitchen units fitted, so why seek out a wedding dress from anybody but a wedding dress specialist?
Anything can be a wedding dress
Can’t argue with that. Anything can, and you should always wear what works for you, but don’t exclude a classic wedding dress until you’ve tried a couple on … there’s a reason so many brides wear them and it’s simple. A wedding dress always looks stunning!
Wedding photographs should reflect your wedding
Of course they shouldn’t look like stock photography, but that’s about the skill and passion (there’s that word again) of the photographer, not about the dress. Seriously, do the images on this page look like ‘any other wedding’? No. So why would yours, just because you’re wearing an iconic item? That’s like saying all births are the same because they involve a baby, and any mum who’s had more than one will tell you they’re totally different!
Bunkum. Most dresses made of modern fabrics are easy to store. Many brides don’t store their dresses anyway, they repurpose them for evening wear or lend them to friends. And for those of us lucky enough to have worn a mother’s or grandmother’s wedding gown, there’s really nothing like it – and maybe your daughter, granddaughter or other female relative will feel the same about your wedding dress.
You may not be having a wedding dress wedding
See above point, Cosmo!
Not a Disney princess!
No, nor were we. Some of us were a bit of a Diana princess though, and some will be Kate princesses and what on earth is wrong with wanting a bit of fairy-tale romance on the biggest day of your life so far? There’s as many ways of being a princess as there are brides and whether you’re a Princess Leia, a Princess Fiona or a Princess Myrcella Baratheon, there’s a dress and a day for you!
Dancing, breathing at your wedding
See above, Cosmo. Modern wedding dresses are light, breathable and easy to wear.
Carrie Bradshaw did it
Yeah … and look what happened to her marriage! Seriously though, some brides love the whole traditional look, others really do rock a totally off the wall wedding theme. It doesn’t matter, there are no rules, and every attempt to break the ‘old rules’ just shows that people are trying to put new ones in their place. Do what works for you, and then send us the pictures, we love to see real life weddings!
Hearts and flowers are not for everyone and celebrating a Christian martyr on your wedding day isn’t for everyone either. Sometimes February weddings get hijacked by the theme of Valentine’s Day but if you don’t fancy that, you can strike out in several directions:
Magnificently minimal – this wedding theme requires you to limit your palette and focus on style. Black and white are the most common colours seen for a minimal wedding, and you can ask your guests to wear those colours, cater in them, and decorate your reception venue in them. High fashion, high key photography and high drama make a minimal wedding something unforgettable. But remember, you have to be ruthless with yourself and others to pull this wedding off.
Chinese New Year – now 2014 is the year of the horse, and that’s an easy and charming theme to celebrate, but the year of the rat, for example, is a tougher ask! If you don’t fancy the animal the year is characterised by, you can still build other features into your wedding. Red envelopes for your invitations, a Chinese themed reception including food, and decorating with lanterns and cherry or plum blossom and lotus flowers would all give this theme significance in your wedding plans. A red, or red and gold, wedding dress would be the perfect finishing touch,
Pagan celebration. The hard to pronounce Imbolc festival celebrates spring and the birth of the god of the new year. Pagan clothing ideas are great for a wedding – long dresses with trains, draped or daggered sleeves, coloured kirtles and other such Middle Earthish details can flatter any bride and you can decorate your church with hints of spring like flowering bulbs, branches of catkins and pale green, orchid yellow and white accents. And lots of candles. Finish the reception with a bonfire and a pagan handfasting where your hands are bound together with ribbon to symbolise your unity – you may be able to find a druid willing to handfast you in many areas of the UK as a complement to a formal wedding ceremony.
Get into it. Men care too, and your bride will adore you for caring about the details, even if it’s only a few of them. So whether you want a karaoke booth or bow ties, share your desire with your bride.
Don’t get into it. The bride is under pressure. She’s going to feel, from time to time, that other people aren’t doing their bit. Don’t get into it – however unreasonable you think her mother is being, however nasty her chief bridesmaid was about the dress, no matter how much of an idiot your best man just made of himself, don’t say anything you might regret later. That way, when you look back on your wedding you won’t have to apologise to anybody, for anything.
Have fun. A wedding is like an invasion – think of it as Call Of Duty Black (Tie) Ops and aim to be the winner! Be keen and enthused and take your bride-to-be off regularly to eat sushi or go rollerskating or for a walk in the park, just because you’re so on top of the wedding game you’ve got lives in hand!
Wedding bells and hearts and flowers
There probably isn’t a more romantic day of the year than 14 February for a wedding – which is one reason it gets booked up not just a year in advance, but many years in advance for the most popular venues. Here’s quick rundown of some of the best (and worst) ways to get married on Valentine’s Day
• Don’t go public unless you’re sure. In 2010 a New York ice hockey fan decided to propose to his girlfriend in the break between plays as his team left the ice at Madison Square Gardens. The in-ground cameras panned to Nick and his loved one, Melissa, who read the screen, stood up and walked out!
• Do allow yourself to be romantic. If you chose this day so your loving side could shine, don’t stint yourself. Whether it’s Cupid on your wedding cake or pink boas for your bridesmaids, let your own romantic nature shine through. Just remember not everybody wears their heart on their sleeve (or their tiara, or wherever) and your husband or wife to be might prefer to be more restrained. It’s their day too, so don’t force them to be as pink and fluffy as you are.
• Don’t overdo the red. It’s a great colour for a Valentine’s Day wedding, but too much can make your wedding look like a pillar box convention! Dashes and accents are the way to go – red shoes look fab, red ribbon on your cake will be wonderful and red wedding favours will cause everybody to sigh and smile, but too much of the romantic hue can leave everybody feeling overheated and overwhelmed.
• Do get modern. It can feel as if the pressure to have an old-fashioned lace and roses, top hat and tails wedding is unavoidable, but romance is ageless and modern wedding with short dresses, grooms in Paul Smith shirts etc are just as romantic so feel free to bring the old themes up to date and rock a really ‘today’ look.
• Don’t be surprised if somebody steals your thunder. There’s a pretty good chance that if you marry on Valentine’s Day, somebody will decide that it’s the perfect day for them to pop the question and announce their engagement at your reception. Be prepared to share the limelight!
It’s not just about putting your hand in your apparently bottomless pocket, especially as a growing number of brides choose to pay for their own big day. But the role of Father of the Bride, whether you’re her actual father or a person chosen to represent seniority and authority in the wedding process, still has real relevance and importance.
It’s not women’s work – your input is invaluable to every question from ‘is this the right place to hold the reception’ through to ‘what music shall we have for the formal dance’? And if you don’t participate in the decisions, you’ll have no right to complain if you’re not happy with how the day goes.
Don’t be driven to distraction – you will be a chauffeur, so you might as well enjoy it. At least one way (on most journeys) you’ll have some peace and quiet!
Be a boy scout – think about what people might want, whether it’s directions to a local DIY for batteries, the nearest chemist for painkillers or blister plasters or just the best local walks and cafes and put together a little map and directions. Your daughter will think you’re the wisest man on earth when you can answer all those questions in relation to her wedding locations!
If asked, walk your daughter down the aisle. Stand beside her in the receiving line if she has one, and make a short speech when the reception starts, thanking guests for coming and toasting the happy couple. Enjoy it!
Kanye and Kim … again
Is this romantic or creepy? A source close to Kanye West has told Hollywood Life that that he started to write his wedding vows the very day that he met his bride-to-be Kim Kardashian! He’s going to tell her that she’s single-handedly changed his life, which is pretty cool, but we’re not really sure about the vows thing.
Hiroyuki Yoshida and Sandra Smith got married in Thailand. It’s a popular destination wedding choice, but this couple chose to marry 130 metres below sea level, in an underwater cave.
The couple are both diving instructors but even so, had to train for six months to prepare for their deep water wedding. Their officiant, best man and bridesmaid were also cave divers and the rings were carried down by the best man on a safety cable, because if either was dropped, they would have been lost forever. Sandra wore a white dress and yes, the couple did manage a kiss – briefly removing their breathing apparatus to celebrate their wedding in the traditional fashion.
We’ve never heard of a bride asking how well her dress would stand up to total immersion, but for those who are watching the current wet weather in the UK and wondering what dress works best for such appallingly rainy circumstances, there are a couple of tips that can be taken from Hiroyuki and Sandra’s experience:
Keep the lines simple. A wedding dress that is reasonably form-fitting won’t get knocked out of shape by wind or pulled out of shape by heavy rain.
Line it or wear a petticoat. Most wedding dresses are designed to be opaque but there’s always a risk that moisture, whether humidity, a spilled drink or sudden rainstorms, could leave a bride showing more than she wanted to. Be utterly safe with a lined dress or a white or nude petticoat under your beautiful designer wedding gown.
How to be the best mother of the bride …
Renowned for being difficult to deal with, the mother of the bride is the victim of many jokes, but the solution is in your hands – don’t become the woman that everybody hates!
From the day it’s announced, start saving for your daughter’s wedding. Of course there’s a budget, but something, somewhere, will cost more than planned. If you’ve managed to put away a little extra you can be fairy godmother as well as mother of the bride and if that little pot of gold isn’t needed for the wedding itself, buy something super-special for the new couple’s new life together and give it to them when all the fuss has died down – you’ll remind them (and yourself) of what a great wedding they had.
Accept what your daughter wants. You might think her boho wedding is going to be something she looks back on and wishes she’d done differently, but the best thing that you can say is ‘I want you to be happy and I’m just glad to be involved’. Even if she does regret some choices, she’ll never admit it to the one person who told her she would!
Be there for her. So many brides and their mothers live very separately these days, but technology can allow you to be right there, looking at dresses with her over skype or commenting on reception venues through your mobile phone. If you haven’t mastered these gadgets yet, this is the time to do so!
Don’t get into the guest list. It’s up to her and her husband-to-be. Have no opinions, express no views and you’ll be the best mother of the bride ever. Even if they want to invite crazy aunt Beth or light-fingered cousin Prad, it won’t help if you’re the one who dishes the dirt. If you really think somebody is inappropriate, try and suggest a neutral party they can talk to who can tell them more about Beth and her voices or Prad’s uncanny ability to leave with more wallets than he arrived with.
This weekend we’re all about winter vintage. It’s a fact that many vintage weddings are scheduled for spring and summer because those are seasons that seem to lend themselves to vintage and rustic approaches. But what about winter vintage weddings? They might take a little more organisation but they are just as charming, relaxed and individual as their spring and summer cousins and so we’ve been compiling a list of what we love most about winter vintage…
Winter Vintage Wedding Themes
Venue. A village church and a village hall for the reception, or a village based hotel for both, or perhaps a register office service followed by a barn dance at a local barn. City farms have been used to great effect as reception venues for village weddings too.
Personal touches. One of the easiest themes to work with, if you can arrange to get married in a village! Aim to have a tour of the High Street, with some informal photos outside quaint buildings or rustic features for your album, hire a local bus to take to guests to the reception, or on a little sightseeing tour (great for giving bride and groom half an hour to themselves before they’re back into the throng of well-wishers) and see if you can get the bells rung at the church – if not, what about handbell ringers or morris dancers to see you on your way?
Décor. Jam jars, preserves, wildflowers and bunting. Consider typical village pursuits such a skittles, shove ha’penny and darts for your reception, and local beer, cheese and food specialities etc for your catering.
Wedding dress. Polka dots work well for village style vintage weddings as does lace. Mid-length dresses seem to work particularly well for village vintage brides, perhaps because they allow for that saunter through the streets that makes this kind of wedding such fun. It’s also a wedding theme that lends itself to bright colours, so if that’s your thing, maybe village vintage is for you?
Venue. Whatever works for your budget.
Personal touches. Okay, it’s not the most appealing initial idea – who wants a thrifty wedding? But with good planning, a vintage thrift wedding can easily be one of the most inclusive and fun celebrations of a new partnership. There are a couple of ways to play it: coupon weddings are where guests get a book of coupons that they can redeem (a free drink, a dance with the bride or groom, their reception food, a photograph dressed in WWII costume for the wedding album) and then they can ‘buy on the black market’ for anything outside their ration book (extra drinks etc) which works well for couples on a tight budget as well as being fun for the guests. Old, new, borrowed, blue are vintage thrift weddings where the couple aim to borrow, make or repurpose as much of their wedding as possible and invite their guests to contribute by lending or making wedding contributions. These weddings often end up being much more luxurious than expected, because of the hidden talents, resourcefulness and generosity of the people involved.
Décor. DIY so find out who is good at art, cooking, hairdressing, who’s a musician, a secret comedian or magician and get them to contribute their skills to your big day, whether it’s making table decorations, calligraphy for the invitations or a stand-up set at the reception.
Wedding dress. Try to borrow or make your own dress. If not, ensure it’s a style that you can repurpose, perhaps by dying it, to be something you wear at least a couple of times a year. Many brides find there’s a vintage dress in the attic of a relative or friend that will fit them, and that’s the starting point for defining the vintage era in which they will set their wedding.
Let it snow …
Venue. The venue needs to be chosen with care, as it has to look suitably wintry inside, even if it’s mild and sunny outside.
Personal touches. Mulled wine, carol singers, snow globes on the reception tables and a snowman piñata filled with white sugar mice and snowflake keyrings for each guest as wedding favours.
Décor. Branches sprayed white, hung with glass or plastic icicles. Christmas trees in pots. A roaring fire. Carry a lantern as well as your bouquet and ensure the venue of your wedding is filled with candles.
Wedding dress. For a wintry theme, consider that a bright wedding dress with a snowflake pattern is a stunning variation on a winter white wedding gown. Opt for a tiara to give yourself an icy gleam and choose fake fur trim for opulence as well as warmth.
Well, we were surprised too. So far, in all the agonising we’ve seen over wedding guest lists, we’ve never heard of anybody fretting that whether they should or shouldn’t invite their robot. But we’re learning differently. People apparently do invite robots to their weddings, they have robots as ushers, as guests and even as officiants!
We’re not sure where in the world you can be legally married by a robot but if you’re having a wedding celebration rather than a legal union, why not have a robot officiate? They certainly wouldn’t forget the names of the lucky couple or have a head-cold so they sounded like the Impressive Clergyman in The Princess Bride. They might fall over though, as in several videos we’ve seen rather wobbly robot performances.
Perhaps the best reason for a robot wedding attendance is that you can hire a robot and programme it to be activated remotely by guests who can’t attend the wedding in person, so they can dance with the bride, joke with the groom and even ‘drink’ a toast to the happy couple.
Disposable wedding gown?
It was suggested back in 2010, and so far, it hasn’t caught on. We can imagine a wedding of the future where resources will have run so low that wedding dress manufacture will be an absolute extravagance, but we think history gives a better idea of how brides will handle this, than melting wedding gowns.
Just as the brides of WWII got together to raise enough coupons to buy the fabric for a wedding dress that they wore in turn, we think future brides are more likely to form a bride consortium to invest in one amazing wedding dress they can adapt to their own weddings and bodies, rather than choosing a dress that’s ephemeral.
Glass wedding dresses
This amazing video, created in 1939, is well worth a watch – first for the great couture, second for the things they got right (‘yet another designer goes so far as to believe skirts will disappear entirely’ and he or she wasn’t far wrong! and those Madonna-esque boob cones) and finally for the wedding dress made of glass!
That idea really didn’t become a hit, although for those of you who have the time, Torcher Tailor’s hour long performance art/wedding dress creation out of hand-made glass is an absorbing and fascinating video – but we’re really not sure that we’d want to wear something so fragile (and dangerous) down the aisle.
Other futuristic wedding ideas that might be easier to incorporate are:
• A Back to the Future DeLorean as your wedding vehicle
• Inviting your guests to dress in one of two epochs, the year you (or your partner) were born or how they imagine people will be dressing when your silver wedding anniversary rolls round
• Future-themed reception with your servers wearing Tron and Star Wars costumes
• Robot cake topper if you’re not prepared to go all the way and have a robot officiant
• Space games on consoles on your reception tables for your guests to play
• Having a Darth Vader lookalike turn up to do the Best Man’s speech!
So, if you’re struggling for an original approach, and our futuristic ideas have given you some scintillating ideas, why not curl up with your favourite drink and enjoy seeing a wedding dress emerge from the fire!
Bouquet catching and groom backing
They do things differently in the USA. 33 couples got married simultaneously at the Grammy Awards. Queen Latifah was the officiant and Madonna was the wedding singer. And guess who caught one of the bouquets? Katy Perry! Currently dating John Meyer, she exhibited typical bride indecision at the event, managing to cram four different dresses into one evening, and two completely opposed hairstyles, a tousled hair-down look and an extremely sophisticated up-do. A sign of things to come?
Meanwhile, McFly’s Danny Jones, who is marrying Georgia Horsley this year, has chosen his three bandmates to be his ushers. Tom Fletcher, Harry Judd and Dougie Poynter will be escorting Danny down the aisle but he’s still being coy about whether one of the three, or all three, or somebody else together will be his best man. Those wedding plans will be fun to watch.
How to be the best … best man
The British are notoriously good at being amateurs; ‘duffers’ as Wooster and Jeeves so charmingly put it. But the one time to be a true pro is when you’re the best man. Here are our tips for carrying the day like a true Jeeves.
The planning starts a year ahead. Don’t think your job starts with organising the stag night, ensure you have holiday booked for the week of the wedding and find out what the key dates are in the run up (suit fittings, stag night, pre-wedding shoot etc) and get them in your diary.
Be clear about your role with the key players:
• Your job is to support the groom (your mate) so he can support the bride.
• The mother of the bride probably thinks she’s the power behind the wedding – at least act like you think she is!
• The father of the bride probably needs a bit of moral support and a chap to talk to, he’s often overlooked but much of the time he’s paying for the whole thing, literally and emotionally, because he’s got a daughter and a wife who are focused on the wedding.
• The chief bridesmaid or matron of honour is your female opposite number, coordinate planning with her, flirt by all means, but remember you are two chief executives of two rival companies planning a successful merger – your job is to make light work of the planning before the wedding – if you want to get romantic with any of the opposing team, save it until the big day is over.
• The photographer – has got such a hard job that anything you can do to make things easier will have a lasting effect on the memories of the day. Find out if there’s any way you can contribute to his or her work, and you’ll be doing the bride and groom a huge favour.
One of our readers asked us this question and it’s one that comes up in all the wedding magazines. The simple answer is, whatever you like!
Of course it’s a little more complicated than that. Some brides like white as marking a new life with a new partner. Other encore brides aren’t so keen – oyster, blush, ecru and café au lait are popular colours for the ‘white palette’ while older brides can look stunning in grey, a colour that works well for the sophisticated second-time-around bride. For many second time brides, a white dress with a coloured sash and shoes is a wonderful compromise, whilst for some the only way to go is full on colour with scarlet, gold and burgundy being the most popular shades. But we say again, wear whatever you like, you’ve earned the right to do as you please at your wedding – just remember to send us some photos, we love to see what our brides wear!