No church, no dress, no clichés – The rise of the unusual wedding
Many little girls dream of a traditional white wedding. They picture themselves walking down the aisle of a little rustic church, with bells ringing, wearing a long bridal train and a beautiful dress.
And yet for some, the dream changes as they get older. The teenage years are when opinions and personalities shift, and the girl changes into a woman. They still want to find their Mr Right and get married, but their view of the wedding day itself alters. Perhaps the religious aspect becomes less important. Perhaps they don’t want to wear white, or a bridal gown at all. They might not want guests. Maybe their partner wants to get married on a beach, or in a pub. Or maybe….
Unusual wedding locations and theme choices are becoming more popular for the couple that don’t want to go with the flow. Las Vegas, known as the Marriage Capital of the World, offers Hawaiian, fairy tale, cartoon, Goth and other themed weddings among its many venues. But logistical difficulties, the cost of flights and accommodation (not to mention the fear of losing your money in the casinos) and making sure family and friends can get there are all headaches – and there is an unfortunate image of ‘tackiness’.
Vegas also allows couples to get married at several thousand feet with a skydive wedding – a leap of faith administered by a ‘skydiving preacher’, who performs the ceremony in the ascending plane before two “I Dos”, one kiss, and a descent to the Nevada Desert.
Other film-based weddings have seen couples explore the world of Harry Potter, Twilight, The Great Gatsby, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Alice in Wonderland, while some partners have tied the knot dressed as WWE wrestlers or characters from video games.
Elsewhere, couples have been married on roller coasters, underwater, and various other madcap ways. Australian couple Ellie Barton and Phil Hendicott wore their rings for their wedding – and nothing else except strategically-placed bouquets and hats. The Kippers, of Belgium, were married in front of 20 guests on a 160ft high platform – and everyone celebrated by bungee jumping off the side. New Yorkers April Pignataro and Michael Curry got married in a shark tank, communicating via radio transmitters.
All great we’re sure, but what about the couple who don’t want to go quite as far as tying the knot at 80mph on a big dipper, or surrounded by curious carnivorous fish? Who want something different, but not TOO different? Who still want to be surrounded by family and friends, but not the normal wedding clichés?
Weddings can generally take place in religious buildings, a register office, prisons, hospitals (in certain cases), or any building where a local authority license has been approved such as a stately home or hotel. Open-air venues are not usually approved, so you might be able to marry at a golf course clubhouse, but not on the course itself.
That number of venues with licenses has expanded dramatically. Theme parks have become quite common; the ceremony and reception is held in a designated service room and the guests can then enjoy the ride, without tying the knot inside it. Famous locations such as The Gherkin and The Shard both have wedding licences. So do various castles, lighthouses, aquariums, studios, caves, art galleries and even Battersea Power Station. All of these lend themselves to themed weddings/receptions and are certainly venues to remember, but can still retain traditional values.
Walking weddings are also becoming more popular with outdoor-minded couples, where the route to and from the venue is as integral as the ceremony itself. You may still get married in a church or registry office, but your journey there might take an hour or two through fields or lanes or forests, starting from a designated point as various guests join the convoy or convoys – perhaps stopping at a pub or two. They arrive at their target location, enjoy their marriage, and then perhaps stroll out again to the reception. The sight of a bride hitching her dress up, and kicking the mud off her wellies as she strolls to the altar, is one that is guaranteed to raise a smile.
On a similar outdoors theme some couples are enjoying marriage in treehouses, eco-homes, and barns.
But why would anyone want to do this?
Dress suppliers Berketex Bride spoke to Nyree Ambarchian and her fiancé Trevor McSparron from Peterborough who will tie the knot in outdoor pursuits clothes.
Nyree, who works in PR, is an outdoor person. She’s written and organised events for allotments, organic farms and businesses across the UK, and has a bubbly, fun personality.
So the idea of getting married at one of the 28 GoApe outdoor pursuit venues in the UK, which aim to get in touch with your ‘Inner Tarzan’, was one that appealed.
After a meal, guests will enjoy riding segways, zip trekking through forests or clambering over assault courses – a little different from the normal toast.
Nyree said: “I didn’t want the usual wedding as I wanted to keep costs down and do something less formal and more fun. At first I didn’t actually want anyone there, but I’ve been talked back from that.
“However I hate dresses, and I hate the idea of being ‘given away’ and walking down an aisle with everyone looking at me. So we’re thinking of Go Ape – an active, dress free wedding with a nice BBQ afterwards.
“We are being fairly brutal with not inviting random distant relatives, and I’ll be wearing clothes suitable for Go Ape!
“Some people will think it’s inappropriate or silly, but we don’t really care, because it’s our day – and it’s very ‘us’.”
The duo’s big day will no doubt be one to remember for all concerned, and the photographs will be spectacular. And in the end that is all that matters – the thoughts and wishes of the couple concerned.
As more logistical and practical constraints that were once in place are overcome, and more venues are approved by authorities, then the entire image of weddings changes. A quick search will show that you can even get ‘married’ online, in a non-legally binding sign of commitment between a couple. It’s all a long way from the rustic church!
This article was written by Ella Mason.
Ella is a freelance writer who is passionate about lifestyle and culture. She has been featured in a variety of publications including Female First and Company Magazine.