Location, location, location
Gone are the days where your choice of wedding venue was limited to church, registry office or hotel. Choosing a sensational location for your celebrations is guaranteed to get everyone talking, so think outside the box! You could tie the knot on the seashore at sunset, surrounded by ancient exhibits at a history museum, in a festival-style tipi on a local farmer’s land or even on the London Eye. The sky’s the limit!
Dress to impress
It goes without saying that you want your dress to be one of the big talking points of the day, so think about what will make your guests’ eyes pop out when you walk down the aisle. It could be a brightly coloured dress, a dramatic train or a tea-length gown with a pair of to-die-for shoes. Alternatively, let your bridesmaids make a statement – try dressing them in mismatched candy colours or bold retro prints, or furnish them with striking accessories like parasols or button bouquets.
Release the lovebirds
If you’ve always envisaged a fairytale wedding, what could be better than celebrating by releasing a pair of white doves? According to legend, seeing a dove on your wedding day foretells a long and happy life, and a dove release will give your ceremony a magical finish.
The personal touch
Writing your own wedding vows isn’t just a romantic gesture; it also makes your ceremony memorable for your nearest and dearest. “Guests are always impressed by personalised wedding ceremonies,” says celebrant Judy Mansfield [cherish-ceremonies.co.uk]. “Instead of reciting the stale old words, couples can design a ceremony that is perfectly in tune with who they are and incorporate rituals and traditions to make it unique.”
Burn baby, burn
You won’t find a much better way of making an impact than by hiring a fire performer to astound your guests. These daring artists specialise in a variety of pyrotechnic skills, ranging from juggling with flaming torches to fire-eating, and create a visual spectacle that will ensure your wedding is never forgotten. Fire artists make particularly fab entertainment for outdoor festival-themed celebrations.
Food for thought
A cool alternative to a traditional sit-down meal is to let guests dine from a number of food stations so they can pick their favourite dishes. Popular options are international cuisine, waffle bars, crepes, canapés and even fondue and ensure your wedding menu makes a fab foodie statement.
The great outdoors
“Tents and marquees can be positioned around the most beautiful features, such as trees, bushes or even a steam to capitalise on the existing organic decorations,” says party designer Emily-Rose Gibbs (kasimira.co.uk). We’ve built tents around trees, terraces and even had a brook running through one to wow the guests.”
Come over all Strictly Come Dancing with choreographed first dance routine that will knock your guests’ socks off. This is the perfect way to impress and surprise, especially if you and your h2b are renowned for having four left feet.
Fantastic flash mobs
There are few better ways to surprise your guests than with a wedding flash mob – an unexpected group song and dance performance involving the bridal party and other close friends and relatives who are in on the act. A flash mob makes for a memorable finalé to your wedding ceremony, or a sensational interlude before the speeches. You can either hire a professional flash mob company to devise the routine (and supply performers, if your wedding guests are the shy and retiring type) or check out YouTube for lots of great choreography ideas.
Holding a cocktail hour either post-ceremony or in between your afternoon and evening reception is a chic Stateside trend that is growing in popularity over here. “An experienced mixologist can work with you to create your own signature drink,” says Hamish Shephard of wedding venue Hedsor House (hedsor.com)
Cool cake creations
You could go for a quirky lopsided cake iced in bright primary colours and topped with decorations like feathers and sparklers, choose a supersized pure chocolate creation, or theme it around a favourite movie.
Up, up and away
There’s something magical about seeing a cloud of colourful balloons floating away on a summer breeze. Just make sure you use natural latex balloons filled with helium, and don’t attach ribbons or strings, as these can be hazard to wildlife. Visit nabas.co.uk/about-balloons/ for guidance.
Light up the sky
Fireworks have a way of turning everyone into a big kid, and as show-stopping wedding day finalé go, you can’t top an amazing fireworks display. It doesn’t all have to be about the flashes and bangs, either – you could have your display set to music, choose a low-noise fireworks show to suit a volume-conscious venue, or even tailor it to fit your theme. We can’t think of many better ways to ensure your wedding day goes out with a bang!
Picture the scene: you’re just waiting for your after-dinner coffee to be served, when one of your guests stands up and bursts into song. Moments later, the waiters join in, followed by the chef and his team coming out of the kitchen to chip in with the chorus. Soon, half the room is on its feet, serenading your guests with a love song, music hall standard or opera classic. Booking a troupe of secret singers to surprise your wedding guests is one way to ensure your reception is unforgettable.
Here’s one for the guys. If you’re dreading your speech, consider hiring a speechwriter to put together the perfect piece. Using a professional guarantees a speech full of personal details, just the right length, and hits whatever tone you’re looking for. Your guests (and your bride) will be bowled over by your talents.
What could be more dramatic than completely transforming your venue between the day and evening events? “Redressing the main reception room while everyone is dining is a fantastic way to surprise your guests,” says Hamish Shephard. “You could change the decor from day to night with special lighting effects, and bring the band into the reception room to take their places while no one is in there. It would make a brilliant ‘big reveal’ before the first dance.”