Weddings have traditionally been solemn, religious affairs to celebrate the joining of a couple in holy matrimony. They have also been boring, with a capital B. We remember the time when it felt like laughing or joking was banned in the house of God. If you were a kid, then they still were expected to adhere to the Victorian ethos of you should be seen and not heard. In fact, for the younger ones a wedding was a miserable, epic challenge, trying to stay quiet for hours on end.
How things have changed with the Instagram generation, quirky is in, with the happy couple not only wanting to undergo their religious service, but also have fun whilst doing it. Many couples are also on second marriages or have lived together for a period before tying the knot and have children. As a result, they tend to include the kids in the day and its become far more of a fun celebration.
Over time we have been to some unusual weddings, in fact nothing really surprises us anymore, so we will share our 5 favourite themes here.
1 The Wild Wild West
This is definitely one of our favourites. Some couples will book a few Western themed props, others will go the whole hog and have their guests dress the part. Like fancy dress parties, as soon as you take people out of their suits and put them in something more relaxing, they let their hair down and have fun.
We have a full-sized Wild West stagecoach, with a photo booth installed inside, and a little village of cowboy stalls, so on the entertainment front the wedding party can enjoy a real cowboy themed experience. To balance it out we also have an Indian Teepee which we serve bangers and mash from.
We used to have our staff wearing blank firing guns, but one hapless groom who asked to borrow the gun to take in the booth, accidentally fired it whilst inside. When he came out it took him a good half an hour to stop shaking, so we leave the blanks out nowadays.
2 Rock’n’Roll / Grease
Funfair rides are becoming increasingly popular for weddings, they give the kids something to do, and the rest of the guests tend to enjoy them. Dodgems is far and away the favourite, but we have had a few book the Ferris wheel as a second ride for the real Grease feel. One bride in Derbyshire even went as far as to turn up looking like Olivia Newton John, well, she dressed like her, with her groom in a teddy boy style outfit. Most of the guests followed suit, and just like the cowboy weddings, they had a blast.
3 Gothic Horror
We were booked for a wedding at the giant York maze one Halloween. It was unusual in that we had been asked to provide our horror themed stalls, and a candy floss machine dispensing ‘toxic green’ candy floss.
The bride was stunning, although dressed like Morticia of the Adam’s Family, with the groom a suitably attired Frankenstein. The only guest who looked out of place was the groom’s mother, who steadfastly refused to dress up and came in a floral dress. She looked like a rabbit caught in headlights, I think she was worried about the quantity of vampires that were drifting about.
The wedding breakfast consisted of a buffet, where everything had been made to look like body parts. The boiled eggs had eyeballs painted on them, the hot dogs looked like chopped off fingers, even the cake appeared to be dripping blood, with little dismembered body parts decorating it. At one point during the proceedings a kid came up and asked for the hammer off the test your strength machine, or as it was here, the hammer the stake through the vampire’s chest machine. When it was inquired as to why he needed a hammer, “So the bride can smash her cake up mister!” Which she proceeded to do, cue cheers from the ghouls, and tuts with rolling eyes from the Mother in Law.
4 Only Fools and Horses
This is a pretty regular theme, though we haven’t had anyone go the whole hog and ask all their guests to dress up yet. You always get a couple of them in sheepskin coats as ‘Del Boy’ and occasionally a ‘Trigger’ carrying his broom.
Our 3 wheeled van photo booth, a perfect replica of those used in the series, even down to the smoke when you try to start the bloody thing, plays sound clips from the series, as well as providing themed props for you picture opportunities. It is amazing how many people still love the series, even the younger generation. Indeed, we transport the van on a trailer (due to it being a nightmare to drive) and whenever we stop at services for a bite to eat, we come out to crowds around it taking photos. I must confess though, on a job in West Bromwich city centre, my teenage daughter wasn’t too impressed when I left her to blow up the inflatable doll (any fan of the series will understand this).
5 Great British Festival
This is probably one of the easiest, a camper van photo booth, outside marquee, a nice rustic bar, or even one in a horsebox and you have the basics. Our great British summertime will probably lend a hand, either chucking it down for days before to leave you up to the eyeballs in mud, just like Glastonbury, time for wellies. Or it will bake the land dry and leave you all choking on dust, but hey we are a tough breed over here and we can have fun in either situation.
Like the other themes we love, it seems as soon as you take people out of the traditional hotel venue, they have more fun. We have seen the guests stop for an impromptu football match, have a birds of prey exhibition arrive to entertain the kids, even a lady who booked a baby elephant, although due to a road traffic accident that one didn’t turn up.
Whichever way you ‘fun’ up your wedding, there is just so much more you can do to have fun nowadays. And more importantly you are allowed to have fun, we have even ventured across the odd vicar that joins in the spirit of things. Even the wedding photos are fun and quirky, no longer the buttoned up Victorian gentleman with a frown type image.