Tradition vs. Twist
Whether in a church, at a hotel or in the great outdoors, the ceremony is the first and most important part of proceedings. Ask whoever is marrying you for a full order of service, as this does tend to vary from couple to couple. Some opt for biblical readings and hymns, others for poetry, while some prefer a more streamlined affair.
The Formal Photographs
Usually this involves group photos and posed shots outside the venue. Popular shots are all the girls, all the guys, and the happy couple and their families.
If you want to be super-traditional, you’ll need to organise a receiving line, whereby the wedding party stands in a line at the reception entrance and greets the guests as they arrive.
The Wedding Breakfast
The first meal of married life. After champagne and canapés, this is usually a sit down affair, with either a four-course set menu or a classic buffet service.
Once dessert is over, it’s time for the speeches. The father of the bride gets the ball rolling, introducing the bride to the groom’s family. This speech is usually full of praise and special memories, ending with a toast to the newlyweds. Then the bridegroom thanks the bride’s parents for their help, compliments his new wife on how unfalteringly beautiful she is, and toasts the guests. Finally it’s the best man’s turn – he infamously tells funny stories, trying not to be too risqué, in order to introduce the groom to the bride’s family. This is a fine art, and sadly one that many a best man has taken too far!
The Cutting Of The Cake
The couple make the first cut (a highly photographed event), then it’s taken away to be sliced and served.
The First Dance
The newlyweds take to the dancefloor for their first dance as man and wife. Then the bride dances with her father, the groom with his mother, and other guests (hopefully) start pouring onto the floor to join them.
Whether a cheesy disco, live jazz band or hilarious magician, the entertainment takes up the remainder of the evening. If all goes well and the barman does his job, you’ll all be celebrating well into the small hours.
Why wait until the ceremony to kick off the festivities? The social aspect of a wedding is one of the best parts, and a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and relax before all eyes are on you. Have everyone arrive the day before and organise a beach barbecue, boozy brunch or a night at the bowling alley – it’ll calm your nerves and give you a chance to talk to everyone properly (it’s difficult to get round everyone on the day itself).
The Official Bit
Get creative when you’re planning where to tie the knot. What about on top of a famous landmark, tucked away in a private woodland clearing or perched on a cliff overlooking the dramatic North Sea? For something low-key, pop into the registry office while your guests mill around outside with a glass of something bubbly.
Forget awkward staged photographs – more and more couples are opting for reportage-style photography throughout the day. You’ll end up with a natural, candid collection that’ll transport you back to the big day every time you flick through your album. Plus it saves all the waiting around outside the venue, when all your guests want is the get the party started!
It’s so difficult to cater for every taste with a set menu, and it’s far more fun to have food carts dotted around the venue for the whole day. Think hog roasts, Thai street food and burrito vans for mains, then cotton candy, cupcakes, popcorn and pick ‘n’ mix for dessert. You could even hire a cocktail caravan and beer tent for a full-on festival feel.
Don’t leave all the hard work to the boys. Enlist the mother of the bride and your maid of honour to have your guests rolling on the floor with laughter – women are better at talking, after all!
The Cutting Of The (Cheese) Cake
Not much of a sweet-tooth? Fear not: a big trend this season is a mock cake formed out of cheese wheels, served with crusty bread, crackers, chutneys and grapes. If you’re not a fan of traditional fruit cake, embrace your inner child and go for a chocolate fudge cake with an additional chocolate fountain and an ice cream stand.
This can be as out-there as you like. Pull out all the stops and go for karaoke, casino roulette and a ferris wheel to keep your guests talking for years.