From Christine Quinn’s showstopping black Galia Lahav wedding dress to Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker tying the knot in their own pop-punk inspired way, alternative and gothic leaning weddings are certainly getting a lot more attention by the mainstream press these days.
If you’re reading this website then it is quite likely that you’ve been planning your own alt-wedding day long before it was considered ‘cool’ but if you still need a little guidance, event planner and founder of Electric Sugar Elopements, McKenzi Taylor, is here to share with us some of the main things you might want to consider.
COLOUR & DÉCOR
It’s a misconception that goth equates to anger or sin. Instead, it’s about finding beauty even in darkness, which makes its symbolism perfect for a wedding.
The colour palette of a gothic ceremony is dark and moody with shades of blood red, deep berry, jewel tones and black.
Consider elevating the space by sourcing opulent items that represent the fantasy of a dark-themed fairytale. Think Tim Burton as wedding designer.
You might consider peacock or crow feathers, or anything made with ornate metals and heavier fabrics, like velvet. Also consider fruits, taxidermy, skulls and antique or steampunk pieces (inspired by Victorian-era industrialism).
Some top tips for planning a destination wedding courtesy of Valentina at planning and design studio The Stars Inside.
One of the joys of destination weddings is getting excited about the location. Whether you choose somewhere you know well, from a favourite past holiday or childhood haunt, or you embrace the new and choose a spot that you’ve been dying to see, I encourage my couples to really open that map up wide and consider all their options.
Manage your budget expectations
Some people assume destination weddings are always much cheaper, while others may think it is going to be prohibitively expensive to get married aboard. It actually depends on the location you choose and on the style of wedding you want. You might find that a particular country has very cost-effective catering and venue hire fees compared to what you’ve seen in your local area, but requires a higher-than-average investment for flowers or entertainment for example. Or perhaps the particular style of rentals you want are really tricky to find or are in higher demand, and therefore more expensive. Depending on how well your wedding vision aligns with what that country has to offer, you may need to reassess your budget or revisit what your priorities are. Spend smarter by choosing native, seasonal flowers and local ingredients and specialities where possible.
Give yourself lots of time and hire a team of professionals you trust
Destination weddings have more logistical challenges to plan for and you may also discover that the speed of communication and approach to paperwork is different to what you are used to. Have buffers for possible delays. It’s better to feel like you can go with the flow and making decisions at their natural pace, rather than like you’re constantly chasing up vendors for contracts, responses or translations. If you do find yourself with a short planning lead time, don’t panic – it’s still absolutely possible, it may simply require a little bit more flexibility and quicker decision-making.
Working with a planner that knows the area, or that is experienced with supporting couples internationally, will give you the peace of mind of knowing that every supplier will be managed and briefed, and that everything will come together seamlessly and beautifully on the day.
Become familiar with the legal bit well in advance
Make sure that you spend time researching and familiarising yourself with legal part of the marriage – even before choosing the country. Some countries will have easier, more friendly eligibility criteria for non-residents to marry there, while others may be exceptionally complicated (or may even not allow it at all). Or, you could keep your plans more flexible by doing the paper-signing legal bit locally to you, and having a symbolic (but no less meaningful!) ceremony abroad.
If you do want to start incorporating more movement into your life in the run-up to your wedding, I want to introduce you to two concepts embedded in the anti-diet movement – joyful movement and body inclusivity.
If there’s one thing I know to be true, it’s that as soon as you start planning a wedding, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you need to change your body. One day you’re sitting on your sofa watching Netflix with your cutie, then a proposal happens and BAM! Suddenly you’re signing up to a PT or jogging before work and buying an outfit three sizes too small as an ‘incentive’. Yikes! (Please don’t do this last one, it’s a recipe for many, many anxiety tears.)
I get why this happens, though. The pressure to have some sort of ‘wedding body transformation’ is real. Every trad wedding mag, subtly or not, pushes the message that a wedding diet is something to be expected, and when I was shopping for my own dress, the dressmaker commented that ‘Everyone loses weight before the big day’. BUT WHY?!
‘Looking your best’ on your wedding day genuinely doesn’t have to kickstart a pursuit of weight loss. You can look the shiniest, glowiest, most polished and photo-ready version of you (if that’s your bag) WITHOUT shrinking or buffing your bod so much that you look like a different person on your big day. You do not need to be smashing it, ripping it, tearing it up or punishing yourself to get the benefits of moving your body more.
The term ‘joyful movement’ means choosing exercise that gives you a sense of pleasure or fun, rather than focusing on results such as goals or body changes. It’s about how the movement makes you FEEL, which can seem like a radical shift when we live in a society that’s dominated by before and after photos.
In 2021, we had the pleasure of publishing Rachel’s journey of planning her feminist wedding. We loved her contributions so much that we’ve invited her back to continue the series by talking about the first year of her feminist marriage.
But aren’t you already married, Rachel? You can’t be a rock ‘n roll bride anymore, can you?” I spy in the comment section. Well, yes, I can actually. And in my first addition to this next series, in an issue dedicated to self-love, I’m going to explore why.
A while back, Kat had an online interaction with an individual who claimed that the title of the brand made this magazine inaccessible and exclusive; that the inclusion of the word ‘bride’ shut out many potential members of the club, who may not have identified as female but who wanted to be able to get married their way.
In a previous column, I talked about the origins of the word ‘wife’, and how the archaic definitions of the word had really put me off the idea of ever being one (my two least favourite definitions were: ‘a woman, especially an old or uneducated one’ and ‘female servant’). I talked about how language is in a constant state of flux and how the meaning of words is ever-changing. So, collectively, I think it’s fair to say we can change up the definition of the word ‘bride’ here, right? Well… it may interest you to know that, actually, this changing-of-definition has already happened without us realising it.
We all know the word ‘bride’ to mean ‘a woman engaged to be married’ or something to that effect. But one quick Google shows us that, actually, the word ‘bride’ comes from the Old English ‘bryd’, which is said to be derived from an old Proto-Germanic verb meaning ‘to cook, brew or make a broth’. Given that this tedious task was usually dished out to the daughter-in-law of the intergenerational German household, arguably, the original meaning of the word ‘bride’ could basically be translated as ‘the girl who makes the soup’.
Now… I don’t think it’s outrageous to assume— whether you’re planning an alternative wedding or a traditional one— that there are very few people in this modern world who would be okay with getting engaged and then being labelled as ‘the girl who makes the soup’. So, you see? Already the definition of the word has been changed, so why on earth shouldn’t it happen again?
Being a rock ‘n roll bride is not something you can be only if you are a cis, straight woman engaged to be married. It is a ticket into a space where anyone and everyone gets to be their authentic self and be accepted and celebrated for it. Being a rock ‘n roll bride is, in a way, defined by its lack of definition, or, at least, its refusal to put anyone who wants to be one in a box.
At the time of writing this, I have been married for six months, and I’m looking forward to sharing some of the things I’ve experienced so far as a rock ’n roll wife in this column. I know one of the things I was most intrigued about was whether anything would actually feel different between us once we did get hitched.
So… can you believe that I got that horrific super-cough virus… ON THE SECOND DAY OF OUR MINI-MOON?! Less than a week after the wedding I lost my entire voice for nearly a month. Every time I tried to speak, I would cough… and cough… and cough. Imagine that for the start of a feminist marriage: woman marries man and is immediately silenced. Great stuff, Mrs D. Really sticking it to the patriarchy with that one. Cough, cough.
I know, inevitably, the future will hold far bigger challenges for us to overcome than one of us having a heinous chest infection made worse by a pre-existing auto-immune disease. But, for the first month of our marriage, my husband patiently played charades with me because I literally could not talk. He cooked and cleaned and ran me baths and did my laundry and took over all the things I couldn’t do because if I moved, I coughed. Imagine that for the start of a feminist marriage: woman marries man and HE’S the one who makes the damn soup!
What I learned in those weeks was… something was different between us. I can’t put my finger on exactly what, but since we got married it truly feels set in stone— promised, vowed, however you might put it— that whatever one of us needs, for however long, whatever it might be, for the rest of our lives, the other will just step up and provide. He’s my ride or die, and I’m his. And that feels pretty rock ’n roll to me.
No matter who you are— how you identify, who you love, whether you’re engaged, in a relationship, completely single (I bought my first ever issue of this magazine five years before I even met my husband because, as a wedding singer, I was so excited by how it was about to disrupt the wedding industry!), or even if, like me, you’re already married but the concept still brings you joy, inspiration and a warm, fuzzy feeling that reminds you it’s okay to be you— if you are someone bold and brave enough to take the ancient institution of love-and-marriage and mark it in your own life how you want to, then, baby, you’re a rock ‘n roll bride.
Rachel is a writer and contemporary singing teacher. Her children’s book, The Doll’s House Mouse, won the Bath Children’s Novel Award 2021. She lives in southwest London with her husband. You can find her online at racheldarwin.com and on Instagram @rachelbdarwin.
This article originally appeared in issue 44of Rock n Roll Bride magazine. You can purchase the latest copy here, or why not subscribe to never miss an issue?
“Nobody will love you if you don’t love yourself.”Umm… what?! As a relationship therapist, this phrase is the equivalent to seeing “Live, laugh, love” on someone’s doormat. Well-intended, but also rubs you the wrong way.I think we all know on a gut-level that self-love is important to make marriages last. But why exactly does it work like that?
Let’s start by clearing the air about one thing. It’s absolutely not true that you’re unlovable if you don’t love yourself. Here’s my snazzy new version of the quote:
“It’s easier to fill the cups of our partners, if we know how to fill our own cups first.”
Boom! Now, let’s take a look at how this pans out in your love life.
Unhealed insecurities fester and multiply in your relationship like a bad case of the fleas. Rejecting compliment after compliment because you don’t believe you’re as gorgeous as your sweetie sees you, quickly sours the romance. Ignoring your own needs for the sake of pleasing your partner will have you burning out faster than the unity candle on your wedding cake.
But a person who fully accepts and takes care of themself?! That person now has more fuel in their tank for growing the relationship. More good times = happier marriage. Who knew that loving yourself translated into loving your partner better? The silver lining here is that your partner literally becomes a “mirror” who can reflect the parts of you that need healing.
No sweat, because here’s a three-step therapist-approved guide to loving yourself for the sake of loving your marriage:
Diversity and inclusion are popular buzzwords right now in the wedding industry, but are diverse communities actually being represented enough? Black business owner Nicola Wilshire of Velvet Queen, an independent bridal shop based in Portsmouth is here to share some advice and an interview with one of her recent brides, Steph (pictured).
I know how it feels to not feel represented and I understand the importance it has on communities when they are seen, accepted and celebrated. With Velvet Queen my mission is to promote diversity and inclusion for all minority communities in the wedding industry.
After seeing how slowly changes happen in the wedding industry, we decided that it was time for us to be part of the change so we created a campaign for real people to come and model for us, including real bride, Steph, who is a wheelchair user.
Any shopping as a wheelchair user is more challenging; a lack of changing room space and not enough suitable handrails are common issues. When it comes to wedding dress shopping as a disabled bride, in addition to the practical challenges of bigger and longer dresses and closures on the back, there are also heightened emotions to deal with all whilst juggling the lack of dignity of getting in and out of bridalwear in front of a stranger.
Contact Shops in Advance
If you are a wedding dress shop which strives to be inclusive, your shop must be fully accessible to wheelchair users!
Steph said, “I contacted many bridal shops first to check if they were wheelchair accessible. One shop that I had contacted had been assured it was, but when I arrived there were two rather large steps to gain access that the staff member had overlooked. I also found that some shops had difficulty knowing how to approach my shopping experience and lacked consideration of what styles would work with my chair.”
Finding the perfect wedding dress can feel overwhelming, especially if you are in a larger body. Newlywed Emma Jackson-Sanders shares her story and tips for finding a dress you love no matter what your shape or size.
I thought my years of working in the NYC garment industry had given me an insider advantage. I knew the language, the process and how weddings dresses are made, but nothing prepared me for walking into a salon as a plus size bride and being told over and over that there was nothing for me to try on.
I am a US size 16 in street clothes (UK size 20), this puts me on the end of plus size scale that usually has more of a selection. I started to feel like I was not the “right” kind of bride. That I didn’t deserve to have that magical dress moment. It was a much longer journey to the perfect dress than I ever imagined, but in the end I did get there.
I was expecting the proposal on my 40th birthday in London pub with my family over a Sunday roast. I had already made appointments to visit bridal salons with my mum the day after I returned home. What I didn’t expect was the limited number of dresses the consultant showed me, which she justified by saying it was too expensive to make samples in a larger size for all the gowns. I had one I really wanted to see. It was not in my size, and she suggested I put my arms through the straps and imagine how this $5,000 dress would look when it fit me. I wanted to laugh, I wanted to cry. My mum said it looked like I was wearing a peasant dress. I realised if I was going to make it through this, I needed a plan.
The first step was calling salons and asking if they even had plus size samples. Any salons that did not, I crossed off the list. If they didn’t want to spend money on plus samples, then I didn’t want to give them any. I had one place tell me the location in NYC was the flagship store so it only carried size 2 (UK size 6-8) dresses. Surprisingly, the fashion capital has many salons here with the same attitude. I told consultants I was shocked by the lack of options, and they laughed and said, “Oh don’t worry we can get you in any size sample”. I learned that meant they would only show me silhouettes like A-line or ball gown that I could get on but not zip up. I had no choices when it came to other dress shapes in the smaller sizes. I searched out salons that advertised as plus size friendly, but in many cases that still meant smaller than what would really fit me.
It’s time to rip up the rule book. If you’re reading this website than it’s probably QUITE likely that you already agree with this sentiment, but today we want to encourage you to take it one step further.
It’s OK to elope It’s OK to not wear white It’s OK to accompany yourselves down the aisle It’s OK to cut your guests list It’s OK to not want to be the centre of attention Its OK to not invite children It’s OK to have a destination wedding It’s OK to spend very little… or a lot!
It’s not up to you to solve the climate crisis single-handedly, but making eco-conscious choices with your wedding can make all the difference.
So, you want to have an eco-friendly wedding? How about plastic-free too? Carbon neutral is a must, surely? Or better still, why not simply have a wedding that’s carbon-negative, plastic-free, produce so local you grew it yourself, outfits made of the contents of your recycling bin, flowers fresh from the graves of newly dead people and a venue you built with your bare hands from timber rescued from trees that died peacefully in their sleep?
Why not, in-friggin-deed.
I get it, you care about our planet. You care so deeply, so why would you ever throw a wedding that wasn’t simply a perfect reflection of an eco-conscious sustainability orgy that Greta Thunberg would sail across the seven seas (or part thereof) to attend?
For reasons, that’s why. And those reasons are:
1. It’s too much pressure
2. It’s not achievable
3. Fixing the climate crisis isn’t actually up to you. There, I said it.
But let me first tell you a tale. A tale of two wonderful people/clients who came to me to design and furnish their wedding. They wanted it to be a heartfelt reflection of them, including making it plastic and waste-free.
Awesome, I replied! I’m thrilled to do this with you. It’ll be our first totally waste-free wedding and I cannot wait.
One of the best things you can do to ensure your wedding is as sustainable as possible is to work with local small suppliers who model genuine sustainability in their own businesses.
More couples than EVER are showing how much they care about the planet by putting sustainability at the heart of their wedding planning. This is GREAT NEWS because if we all don’t take a long look at how we’ve been living and make some changes, we’ll allllll be effected.
It’s no wonder that a 2021 study from The University of Bath found that 75% of their respondents said they felt the ‘future was frightening’. It is scary to hear what the scientists are saying and think about how climate change will impact our lives if humanity can’t change the course it’s on.
It is daunting, but taking action is the number one way to counter any eco-anxiety you might be feeling and there are HUNDREDS of ways to make your wedding so super sustainable that you’ll have some serious bragging rights. This issue of the magazine is a great place to start collecting lots of ideas!
One of the key things you can do is support businesses that care about their workers and how they produce the products and services they sell. The key to finding suppliers with the right ethical credentials is to do your research and ask a LOT of questions. Where are my flowers grown? Where is my dress material sourced from? How are the workers treated? Where’s my food grown? How is food waste dealt with?
It can feel overwhelming and sadly there’s a LOT of sustainability ‘greenwashing’ going on out in the world (meaning lots of right words being said with not enough action to back it up). However, here are four fabulous suppliers who have sustainability at the forefront of their businesses. Hopefully their stories will inspire you to find the right people local to you:
All relationships, even the happiest ones, experience conflict. Psychotherapist and relationship coachGloria Zhang says the goal should not be to eliminate it entirely (because that’s totally unrealistic!) but instead to work through any disagreements, niggles and stressful times together.
Do you know one of those blissfully happy couples who seem to have it all figured out? You probably roll your eyes at them. That perfect, fawning pair who have been together longer than the Internet has existed. They hold hands everywhere. Their Instagram feed is full of romantic getaways to countries you’ve never heard of. Sometimes you secretly wish they would adopt you.
“How nice,” you might think, “They probably never fight!”
Surprisingly, therapists have discovered that people in happy marriages often never solve a lot of their issues!By default, that means the goal isn’t to eliminate all conflict entirely.
So, how do those ‘perfect’ couples (although you know no one’s relationship is actually perfect right?) deal with their problems? The answer is actually more philosophical than anything.
Happy couples accept that problems are just a fact of life. They focus on handling conflict in a productive way.
The good news is that you can also learn how to fight fair. By conquering your fear of conflict, you’ll have a happier marriage and actually grow stronger after an argument. In my opinion, that sounds way better than the slow, painful death of years of resentment.
But first… we need to talk about how NOT to fight.
After you pick your wedding date and location, one of the first things you’re going to want to do is put together a wedding website. Traditional paper invites are awesome (we’re huge fans of print at Rock n Roll Bride!) but having something online will make it SUPER easy for your guests to get all the vital info they might need before your big day.
In the whirlwind that is wedding planning, it is so easy to forget some really important things, but fret not, today we are here to help! Here are some vital, but often forgotten, pieces of information which we think you should definitely include.
Your ceremony arrival and start time
It’s a good idea to include a start time for your ceremony but also a recommended arrival time too. If your ceremony starts at 1pm, advise people to start arriving from 12:30 for example, to avoid any confusion or stragglers showing up at 1 on the dot!
If your reception is being held somewhere else, how to get between locations and how long the journey is
Everyone has Google Maps on their phones of course, but an idea how long and how easy the journey is between venues will certainly be appreciated by a lot of people. Also advise if there is public transport or they have to drive/ carpool.
Gift info… even if you’re not having a gift list!
It’s frightfully British to feel like a gift registry or asking for cash is very grabby. That’s not the case at all and actually, it makes your guests’ lives way easier if they know what to buy you. Most people will want to give you a gift so a suggestion that, if they’d like to, you’d love XYZ actually helps people out a lot!
Dress code… even if it’s come as you are
Figuring out what to wear to a wedding can be stressful for guests, so to make it easier on them, be specific but not demanding. Avoid telling people exactly what to wear but if you’re having a theme, or you have any guidelines, let them know!
For example, if you’re having a festival wedding and most of the day is being held outside, make them aware that they need to wear field-appropriate footwear and bring a jacket for the evening.
A weather check
While, of course, we can’t guarantee the weather, letting people know to pack things like sunscreen, insect repellent or an umbrella just in case will certainly be appreciated.
This one is easy to forget, especially if you don’t have to think of it for yourself, but it’s a super helpful thing to include for your guests. Add any details you have about ramps and wheelchair accessibility, accessible bathrooms and hearing loop information at your venue(s) can be added. Also, if you have any neurodivergent guests, include details about the measures you are putting in place for them too. Weddings can be a big stressor for Autistic people, for example, so this extra attention and thoughtfulness will be approached.
When it comes to choosing a colour palette for your wedding, we say more is more! Wanting to banish neutrals and snooze-worthy samey colour schemes from your day but not sure how? Well, read on colour lover because we got you…
If you type ‘wedding colour palette’ into Pinterest, your head will explode and you will die. Cause of death: Brain Overload of Blurgness (or BOOB). It’s all burgundy and navy and (*clutches pearls*) neutrals. Side note: ‘neutrals’ is not a colour and should thus be banished from colour palettes until the end of time, or even later. Be gone neutrals, we do not miss you, because you barely exist.
Beyond the blurgness, there’s a whole lotta copy and paste going on. Couples picking up a palette without question and rehashing it. Boring! It’s simply multiplying the blurgery. Plus, there’s nary a merry fuchsia, poppin’ lime green, incandescent fluro yellow or an eye gouging 70s orange to be seen. A modern-day Pin-tragedy (*lies on sofa for 11 hours to recover from serious case of BOOB*).
But do not fret, here’s how to create a kickass bright and bold colour palette that will cause zero BOOB deaths, is not a rehash of a rehash of a copy, and suits your rock ‘n’ roll wedding perfectly (*chef’s kiss*).
Get your wedding styling ball rollin’
Like starting an essay by writing an outline, mapping out your colour palette is the key to nailing your wedding styling, with max fun and min stress.
Start at the start. Go about your wedding planning pretending to not even know a single thing about colour schemes, combos or palettes. As you start to read wedding magazines (oh hello there, dear reader!), dabble in Pinterest and follow ace wedding blogs and vendors on Instagram and TikTok, make note of what attracts you. I betcha there’s a bit of a pattern in terms of colours and styles that have you positively jazzed.
Wedding vibe = your colours
When you think about the wedding you want, what vibes and feels does it give you? Raging party = neon hues. Wintery and romantic = deep, moody colours that feel warm and cosy. Relaxed garden wedding = pastels and all the greens. Desert elopement = a mix of dusty and stark colours.
There! You’ve snuck up on a colour scheme without it even realising! Use it to help you narrow your searches and decisions. For example, when thinking about a florist, which ones do kick arse work in colours (and styles) already aligned with yours?! Get in touch with them and don’t worry about anyone else. You don’t need to talk to every florist in your 500km radius, and thus you’ve made your life heappppppps easier (nor will you waste the time of eleventy billion florists, and they thank you for that in advance).