February 12, 2020
Laidback, rustic and romantic, festival weddings sound wonderful…but how do you actually pull one off? We’re sharing our step-by-step guide to help you plan not only the big day itself but a whole weekend of festival fun.
1. Count up the guests and pick your celebration space under canvas
First things first, nail down the numbers by writing a guest list. If you’re planning a festival wedding you’ll want to be able to invite all your favourite people to the party so count up your family and friends, not forgetting all the new in-laws. This will give you an indication of what size space you need – will it be a giant 3-hat tipi or a smaller marquee? Once you’ve decided this you’ve laid the foundations for your wedding.
2. Find a special spot for the wedding ceremony itself
At a festival wedding you write the rules so let your imagination run free. Do you want a peaceful and romantic ceremony in a shaded woodland beneath the tree canopy, or do you want to dance up the aisle through a wildflower meadow to the sound of a tambourine? Many festival venues will require you to get the legal part of your marriage done before-hand at a registry office or legally-recognised venue. After that you can continue with the festival ceremony of your dreams with hay bales for pews, buckets of flowers scattered about and exchanging your vows against a breathtaking backdrop of your chosen spot in nature.
3. Festival feasting and planning your menu
The celebrations start when the guests arrive and for a festival wedding that usually means for a couple of days. If they’re glamping or camping then it might be a good idea to give them a heads’ up that they’ll need to bring some of their own supplies to keep them going, or you could organise a pop-up pizza van to kick off the party. When it comes to the wedding itself, remember your numbers and keep things simple; yes you may want some sophisticated canapés to serve with drinks, but then opt for an easy menu like a hog roast that can be easily cooked onsite and enjoyed at long tables together. And don’t forget about the cake!
4. Keep the bar well stocked and let the good times roll
It’s time to raise a glass and celebrate! For the wedding reception itself, think about whether you want champagne for a classic wedding toast, or would you rather keep things low-key with a festival feel and serve craft beers or kegs of local cider instead. What about welcome drinks? In keeping with the festival theme, botanical cocktails around a rustic bar are always a hit. It’s likely you’ll want wine for the wedding breakfast, and then you could pick things up with a nip of homemade sloe gin or damson vodka. Consider how you are going to manage drinks for the remainder of the weekend; do you want to have a paying bar, ask guests to bring a contribution or are you going all out and supplying drinks for the whole weekend? Get your plan in place and let the good times roll.
5. Set the soundtrack to the big day with your choice of music
Band or DJ, a capella choir or steel drums…the music choice at your wedding is up to you. Whatever you want the soundtrack to be, you’ll need to think about the practical things like how much power they’ll need, how long they need to set up and where they’ll stay. Then you can consider the fun bits – like choosing the music to walk down the aisle to or picking out a song for your first dance. You could even run with it and set up a DIY music festival and get your friends to bring guitars and instruments to play around the campfire.
6. Finding everyone a place to stay…
Inviting your guests to sleep under canvas is one of the most magical aspects of a festival wedding. Not only is it convenient – you can forget about finding taxis and accommodation – but it’s a pretty special experience too. Consider what sort of glamping might suit your guests, will people be happy to bring sleeping bags and all their own kit or do you need to offer bell tents with proper beds? Plus you’ll need to think about loos and hot water for showers. Once it’s all in place you’re in for a treat. Imagine the fun of waking up surrounded by all the people you love; it’s about happiness, shared.
7. Getting ready and bridal pampering
No matter how laid-back or boho a bride is, it’s still important to have space and time to get ready for such a special day. Things to consider are whether or not you want to book a hair stylist or make up artist, or perhaps you’d like a manicure on the morning of the wedding? Have somewhere to hang your dress in the dry and out of the mud, and consider your footwear – you may want to bring some wellies just in case or sparkly trainers to pull on for the dancing.
8. Make it personal: styling your wedding with flowers, bunting and decorations
Adding the details to the day is all part of the fun and the first step should be booking a florist to help with the flowers. Together you’ll settle on a colour scheme and overall ‘look’ – maybe you’d like bright pops of colour spilling along in jam jars or greenery trailing along the trestles. Then you can set about adding your own decorations, candles and place settings. Maybe you want to add more personal touches – like balloons in the woodlands, bunting or festival flags to lead the way.
9. Capture the moment with the perfect photos
At a festival wedding, nature provides an idyllic and wildly beautiful backdrop. Be sure to capture that on camera; maybe you want to set up a wedding hashtag so your guests can share all those festival moments on instagram. You may also want to pick out a professional photographer who can make the most of the spectacular setting – think pictures of your bridesmaids winding through a wildflower meadow to the party tent illuminated beneath a blanket of stars.
10. Get into the glamping spirit with a whole weekend of fun
Remember a festival-style wedding isn’t just one evening, you’ll need to keep everyone entertained for a whole weekend! So how about organising some group games, like a competitive treasure hunt or 5 a-side footie tournament, or offering an activity like clay pigeon shooting or outdoor yoga? The morning-after-the-night-before it could be as simple as suggesting bacon butties and a walk in the fresh air to blow away the cobwebs. Providing some structure will keep everything running smoothly.