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Screw the naysayers: how to plan the alternative wedding of your dreams

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Kat Williams

Kat Williams

Kat Williams is the founder and editor of Rock n Roll Bride, a blog and bi-monthly print magazine for alternative brides so, unsurprisingly, she’s full of sage advice when it comes to planning a wedding less ordinary. Here, she dishes her advice for anyone hoping to flout tradition on their big day 


It’s a familiar story: A couple gets engaged and immediately get excited about all the possibilities for their wedding: we could jump out of an airplane. We could elope in Vegas. I could wear a jumpsuit instead of a big white dress…

And then, for a lot of them, reality hits and they decide to ditch all these grand plans and get married in a church with 200 guests and have a £25,000 bill at the end of it.

If you want the big traditional do then that’s totally up to you. But I do often wonder if a lot of couples who start out wanting to do something really unique and different end up with something altogether more – well, normal – did so because they were just a bit scared of what other people might think.

If you do want buck convention and stay true to yourselves for your wedding, my advice is to choose things that make you happy and ignore those naysayers.

Kat and her husband,. Gareth, on their wedding day - Rock n Roll Bride

Kat and her husband, Gareth, on their wedding day in 2008 - Rock n Roll Bride

I got hitched in 2008 when the fact that my bridesmaids wore black and I didn’t put camouflage make-up on my tattoos was pretty radical. The industry has come on in leaps and bounds since then, with even the mainstream wedding magazines embracing DIY ideas and realising that people actually want to bring their personal style into their weddings.

But 10 years ago, as a newly engaged lady, I was faced with the stark reality that having a church wedding, a big white dress and a manor house reception was pretty much our only viable option (there was no Rock n Roll Bride to guide me after all).

Kat often wishes that she'd followed her gut on her wedding day - Rock 'n' Roll Bride

Kat often wishes that she'd followed her gut on her wedding day - Rock 'n' Roll Bride

When I look back now, I do sometimes wish that we’d been braver with some of our choices. I really wish I had walked down the aisle to Canon Rock (a rock version of Pachelbel's Canon) instead of the original arrangement that we ended up using. 

I wish we had taken the risk and booked a local restaurant that that had never hosted a wedding before, and I do wonder what my flowers would have been like if I hadn’t just agreed to everything that the venue’s recommended florist suggested.

Clean Plate Pictures - Rock 'n' Roll Bride

Clean Plate Pictures - Rock 'n' Roll Bride

At the end of the day, it didn’t matter of course. I still look back with the fondest of memories, but if I could do it all over again we would 100% be choosing things that were much more reflective of us as a couple.


Read more: “I was fired as a bridesmaid – now I’m laying down the ground rules”


So what exactly do you do about those people who seem to have an opinion on everything?

Katie Osgood Photography - Rock 'n' Roll Bride

Katie Osgood Photography - Rock 'n' Roll Bride

I think we all have that friend or relative quick to jump on our ideas and let us know if they don't think they’re right. However try to remember that 1) they’re probably only saying these things because they care (in their own way), and 2) that negative voices always seem louder than the ones who agree with you and love all your choices.

It might be that just one or two people are raising objections, whereas all your other guests are super-excited about your quirky ideas.

Ed Godden Photography - Rock 'n' Roll Bride

Ed Godden Photography - Rock 'n' Roll Bride

The first big step is to take a deep breath and let their comments roll off your back. It can be tricky to do this at first, especially when it’s coming from someone who’s opinion you usually trust, but sometimes you just have to swallow your pride to keep the peace rather than getting into an argument.

Put on your big girl pants, nod and smile and generally make them feel like their voice is being heard. “Thank you Aunt Mildred, I appreciate your opinion, I’ll give it some thought…” should do the trick. Yes, it might be a little white lie but sometimes saving yourself the aggravation of a confrontation is better than trying to fight your corner every single time someone brings an objection up.


Read more: The most iconic celebrity bridesmaids


This in itself is usually enough to placate most naysayers, but just in case they’re more persistent you might want to try being more forceful. “We appreciate your ideas Mum, but times have changed and I promise, me wearing a black dress doesn’t mean people will be confused whether they’re at a wedding or a funeral.” 

Yes, that was a real objection I was faced with when we were planning our wedding.

Clean Plate Pictures - Rock 'n' Roll Bride

Clean Plate Pictures - Rock 'n' Roll Bride

You must understand that no matter what you do, you can't please everyone and there will always be someone who doesn’t like some of your choices. But – newsflash – it’s not their wedding, it’s yours.

At the end of the day, who cares if someone doesn’t like the food you served, the tunes you played or the dress you wore? If they don’t like it, they can jolly well stay at home.

You just have to stand your ground. I firmly believe that anyone who compromises too much on what they really want in order to please other people will only end up regretting their decision down the line.

Below, I’ve listed a few more tips for dealing with these awkward encounters.

James Melia - Rock 'n' Roll Bride

James Melia - Rock 'n' Roll Bride

  1. Think – really think – about who your critic is
    If someone is making you doubt your ideas, ask yourself this: are their comments coming from a place of love, or of fear? Are they saying they don’t like your ideas because they’re worried what other people might think? If so, give yourself permission to discount them and move on.
     
  2. You shouldn’t feel like you HAVE to explain everything
    A wise person once said, “Never complain, never explain” and I think this is solid advice for wedding planning too. You should never apologise for your ideas – they are yours and yours alone. You also don’t owe anyone an explanation if they don’t ‘get’ them.
     
  3. Show don’t tell
    However, if you do want to try and explain what you’re trying to do better, then it can sometimes it can be hard with words alone. If you show them photographs of your ideas then they’ll be much easier for them to get their heads around. The archives of rocknrollbride.com are a great place to start.
     
  4. Stick to your guns.
    This is your wedding, and you (hopefully!) only get to do this once. The number one regret I have from my own wedding is that we weren’t brave enough with our choices. In my opinion you are much more likely to regret the things you didn’t do than the things you did.

RocknRollBride.com is updated daily with unique planning ideas and advice, and inspirational real life weddings a-plenty. The magazine is available to buy in WHSmiths, Sainsburys, and selected independent newsagents and via rocknrollbride.com/shop.

Top image: Devlin photos

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