Show off those dancing shoes in one of these chic styles…
Wedding dresses to dance in: Jumpsuits, trouser suits, loose fitting gowns or tea-length dresses; if you love to dance, opt for a bridal style that will allow you to do so without holding you back. You could even change into a second, more relaxed dress for your evening reception and hit the dance floor to shake your tail feather in style! Either way, it is important to take into consideration how long you will be wearing your dress and how comfortable you feel in it. If comfortability and your ability to dance is directing you with your dream dress it may be a good idea to let your boutique know before you go for your first trying on session! That way they can suggest further styles that will not only look stunning but provide the support and movement you need.
Tea Length Kelsey Rose v neck gown with an illusion bodice. This dress features a detailed lace overlay that will look oh so elegant when you twirl on the dance floor!
Cap sleeves and an illusion neckline provide a pretty contrast to the satin finish tea dress. This dress is the perfect balance in support and style on the dance floor and provides subtle details for an unfussy bridal look with a satin bow belt and lace hem finish.
Shear petal-esque skirt and floaty sleeves with applique floral top and vintage high neck.
True Bride have reinvented the short skirt wedding dress with the most subtle waterfall skirt which gently bells out from it’s embellished belted waistline, supporting sweetheart bodice and similarly embellished illusion sleeves.
Sassi Holford have similarly created their version of the graduating waterfall skirt with a slightly looser rippling effect material that flows from a structured applique sleeveless bodice.
Rita Mae thrives on a retro vintage look and traditional layered tea length skirt finished with a subtle lace overlay. The slight v neck shape and delicate straps offer a tasteful and sexy shape for the younger and older bride. This style deserves to be paired with a pair of fun peep toe court shoes.
Petr whisked Michaela away for a spontaneous trip to the mountains when he popped the question during a hike on Wolf Hill. “We were sitting on a bench in the wood and he kept telling me to look at something behind me. By the time I turned back again, he was on one knee with a ring and asked me to marry him!
I’m so glad Petr chose such a beautiful place for it.” From the beginning Michaela’s dream was for a tailor made wedding that could be personalised to them, starting with her dress. “Our ceremony and reception were outdoors at a farm, so I wanted something simple and airy with a long skirt and lace top. I don’t like artificial materials, so the only choice was silk, which my dressmaker Petra sourced from Dubai. I loved the dress from the very beginning – it made me feel like a fairy but still sexy enough for my husband-to-be.”
MICHAELA WALKED DOWN THE AISLE IN A PAIR OF TREASURED SILVER SLIPPERS WITH A TINY HEEL, ORIGINALLY OWNED BY HER LATE GRANDMOTHER.
A silver bracelet with blue stones and a flower crown completed her bridal look.
“We both agreed that a suit would be too much for our farm location, so Petr went for a less formal blazer, shirt and trousers. We purchased it all, cufflinks and socks included, at TM Lewin in Prague, and Petr teamed his outfit with Clarks shoes. When I saw him at the ceremony he was smiling, happy and looking like the complete gentleman that he is.”
One of the bride’s friends has fantastic makeup credentials, also working for the likes of Chanel, so Alena Telenská was the natural choice for Michaela’s bridal beauty too.
“WHEN PETR SAW ME, HE WHISPERED THAT I WAS BEAUTIFUL AND LOOKED AMAZING – PROOF OF ALENA’S GOLDEN HANDS” SMILES THE BRIDE.
A farm set the scene for the couple’s civil ceremony in the Czech Republic, where they tied the knot beneath the colourful canopy of cherry trees. Their wedding officer wrote a special service for them, referencing their venue, family and cheerful and optimistic approach to life. “We chose ‘Come on Eileen’ by Dexy’s Midnight Runners for my processional, with Penny and the Quarters’ ‘You & Me’ the soundtrack for when we exchanged rings and shared our first kiss – there were a lot of tears!”
Rather than a formal seated dinner, it was laid-back buffet style dining that whetted Michaela and Petr’s appetites. “We asked our caterers to serve a selection of dishes, including vegan and vegetarian options alongside steaks, salads, roast beef, beef tartar, chicken rolls, a mixed grill and lots of sweets. Traditional Czech dishes meant that everyone could go for their own favourites.”
Freedom and a feel good atmosphere were top of this couple’s priorities when it came to their reception.
INSPIRED BY THEIR MUTUAL LOVE OF NATURE, THEY SPREAD BLANKETS ACROSS THE GRASS, USED HERBS TO DECORATE AND INTRODUCED WOODEN ELEMENTS LIKE HANGING HEARTS AND SCRABBLE.
Michaela enlisted the skills of expert florist Dana Sedlácková–Kytickárna to provide everything from the bouquets and buttonholes to floral bracelets and crowns. “I wanted my bouquet to have a freshly picked from the meadow aesthetic, and I had my heart set on including lavender, chamomile, wall flowers and ranunculus. Unfortunately the latter wasn’t in season, so we chose peonies as a similar alternative. The other flowers were my own arrangements. Coupled with pots of herbs, they suited our barn perfectly.”
Lázenská Cukrárna, a local baker, supplied the couple’s cakes, advising them to have one larger cake for cutting surrounded by lots of small cakes so that guests could take one each.“We went for a simple design featuring strawberries to decorate the chocolate cake inside. It was so good we plan to have the same cake for each of our wedding anniversaries, too.”
RATHER THAN PURCHASING SPECIFIC FAVOURS, MICHAELA AND PETR TOOK A MORE RELAXED, PICK AND MIX APPROACH, GIFTING GUESTS AN ASSORTMENT OF LEFTOVER ITEMS THE DAY AFTER THE WEDDING.
“Some left with bottles of wine, others with fresh herb pots – everyone loved our unusual favours.”
With Eels being the first band they had listened to together, it just had to be their song, ‘Fresh Feeling’ for the couple’s first dance. “We considered lots of others, but we always came back to this one and all of the magic moments it reminds us of.”
Honeymooning in their home country, Michaela and Petr embraced adventure, hiking through woodland and mountains, visiting castles and falling in love with characterful old towns.
“WE ONLY INVITED 40 GUESTS TO OUR WEDDING BECAUSE WE WANTED TO SPEND IT WITH THE PEOPLE WE LOVE THE MOST, AND NOT BE OBLIGED TO ASK DISTANT FAMILY TO KEEP OTHER PEOPLE HAPPY.”
“I first met David on the dance-floor in a pub in Angel, London – the old school way!” laughs Rebecca.
“We hit it off instantly. Not only did I think David was ruggedly handsome, but he is from New Zealand just like my dad. Then when he started to talk about tennis and how much he loved playing, I knew he was the right man for me!”
“At the last minute I arranged to go for dinner with my best friend, which kind of messed up David’s proposal plans!” remembers Rebecca.
“But, never one to be deterred, David had decorated our lounge with roses and candles, so when I eventually got home from my night out he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! He presented me with my grandmother’s ring, too, which is nearly 100 years old. It was a very special moment.”
THE BRIDE’S OUTFIT
Pronovias designed Rebecca’s gorgeous wedding gown. “They are known for their beautiful lace and the dress I chose was made from the most gorgeous vintage lace in a fishtail style,” she explains.
“Additionally, I had the whole dress beaded with iridescent sequins, which gave the most gorgeous shimmer! Funnily enough, parts of the dress were very similar to my grandmother’s dress who got married in 1935.”
Rebecca found her dream dress at the New Bond Street boutique. Each appointment lasts an hour and right at the end, she saw a dress hanging up on the rail that she hadn’t noticed before – always the way! “Although we had run out of time, I quickly changed, put the dress on and knew it was ‘the one’. I didn’t even leave the fitting room!”
“I’m not big on ‘bling’ but because it was for a very special occasion, I went to see Gillian Million, ” explains Rebecca.
“We spent an hour in her showroom choosing my wedding jewellery, talking about my style, what I liked, and getting ideas about what I wanted for the big day.” In the end, she decided on a pearl headpiece with a matching bracelet and earrings, which perfectly complemented her gown.
THE GROOM’S OUTFIT
“David’s suit was a joint decision – we didn’t feel that morning suits were very us, whereas David loves wearing black tie, and I love looking at him in black tie – so it worked out perfectly,” beams Rebecca.
“David looked the most gorgeous I have ever seen him – like a kiwi James Bond! I honestly couldn’t believe that this man was soon to become my husband,” she smiles
Rebecca chose three bridesmaids – her sister Hannah and her two best friends Jo and Grace. “My flower girl was my gorgeous niece Hazel-Rose, who stole the show!” recalls Rebecca.
“The girls’ dresses were designed and made by my mum in a gorgeous Champagne silk. They looked absolutely stunning!”
“The service was incredibly touching,” says Rebecca. “We read our own vows (my favourite line being David telling me he will always run my baths and rub my shoulders!) and the readings were An Art of Marriage read by David’s brother and best man, Chris, and an extract from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, read by my bridesmaid, Grace.
Then my sister read Let Our Love Be An Enigma, which she had written for David and I – one of the most poignant moments of the day.”
“I actually had several florists! I love flowers, which was one of the reasons we picked Narborough Hall – it has award-winning gardens with a stunning array of the most beautiful flowers you will ever see. This fitted in perfectly with the look I was going for – an elegant, sophisticated take on the English country garden,” explains Rebecca.
“The flower arrangements around the venue came from the gardens of Narborough Hall while the buttonholes, corsages and bouquets came from Arcade Florist in Great Yarmouth.” For the table centrepieces they hired beautiful candelabra and antique rose bowls from La Belle Amour, and Starlings florists provided the hydrangeas and green roses for the displays
“The general décor and theme for the day was an elegant, sophisticated English garden party – think Pimm’s on the lawn, croquet and afternoon tea!” says Rebecca.
“We also wanted a tennis theme because both David and I are avid tennis fans. We named our tables after our favourite tennis players and sourced some vintage tennis racquets as decoration.”
“My mum designed not only the bridesmaid dresses, but also the most fabulous table plan using lots of different photo frames, and fixing them on to a huge framed board. The gorgeous Kelly at La Belle Amourprovided us with the most beautiful handmade lace bunting for the marquee, along with the silver candelabra, vintage candle votives and antique rose bowls. We even ordered two heart trees to stand behind the top table!”
Rebecca’s superstar mum made the couple’s wedding cake. “We had three layers, each a different flavour – raspberry sponge, chocolate and fruitcake,” adds Rebecca.
“She decorated it herself with fresh hydrangeas, lace ribbon and strings of pearls to tie in with my dress. It was delicious!” Kelly at Eventiss also provided some cake pops decorated with union jacks and silver fern emblems.”
Rebecca and David had a full-on, adventure-filled road trip around America.
Even the most perfectly planned proposals don’t always run smoothly. “Sebastian surprised me with a weekend away in Barcelona and on the second day he was keen for us to go up the mountain to see the views. When we reached the top we discovered an abandoned fairground that still had funfair jingles playing. A little freaked out, we headed back down to Gaudi Park instead. Seb got down on one knee with a Spanish guitarist playing behind us, it was perfect.”
One visit to Burr Bridal in Cambridge had Stephanie’s dress sorted. “They had a huge selection and were amazingly helpful. I’d pulled out lots of slim fitting, bohemian styles and, after trying them all, the owner Kim asked if I would try on one further dress for her. The ‘Rosabella’ by Nicki Flynn design felt huge in comparison but it had everyone in tears and I knew it was the one.
Blue suede shoes from Marks and Spencer and a veil trimmed with lace from Burr Bridal completed the bride’s purchases. “I also wore my grandmother’s pearl earrings as my something old. My mother’s Tiffany & Co silver and pearl necklace was perfect for my something borrowed.
Seb really wanted a more casual, summery look for his outfit, wearing formal suits every day to work. We spent months searching for a light blue jacket that would be like the one he already owned. We then we had the eureka moment that he should probably just wear that one!” Stephanie laughs. The jacket is from El Ganso and the groom teamed it with new Baker brogues. “Seb looked amazing, smiley and totally relaxed, putting me completely at ease.”
Stephanie turned to the ASOS bridesmaid range to dress her six best girls for the occasion. “I loved the dresses!” she gushes, “you could choose different styles to suit each maid and I know my bridesmaids felt great in them.” The couple’s four-year-old niece joined the bridal party as flower girl, wearing a light pink fairy style skirt.
THE WEDDING DAY
“We stayed at the Rye Retreat the night before the wedding. It was brilliant – we headed down for a fun breakfast together – exactly what you need to start the day feeling thoroughly pampered – before Lisa from the Rye Retreat got to work on our up-dos. My talented sister did our makeup using MAC products.”
The couple married in the groom’s mother’s local church, a stunning grade-I listed building with 360-degree views of the countryside. “I loved the original stone floor and lovely wooden seats, which we hung buckets of gypsophila from. We placed framed photographs of us as kids at the entrance, my father walked me down the aisle and Seb’s father and my mother gave readings.”
Seeking food that was full of flavour but didn’t cost a fortune, the couple enlisted their fabulous caterer Sara who shared their ethos. “Sara invited us for lunch and to her deli to pick out foods for the cheeses, meats and antipasti, creating dishes made for sharing. I loved looking around and seeing guests carve lamb joints at the table!” The feast was washed down with beer brewed on the very farm that became their reception venue.
“It was actually my dress that inspired our classical, Italian style for the wedding,” the bride reveals, “and I chose natural colours in white, blue, pink and green.” Stephanie and Sebastian decorated their dry hire barn with festoon lighting, illuminated letters, bunting and white balloons. Jubilee Hire supplied the furniture, with tables topped by jars of flowers and lavender.
“Our amazing local florist, Café des Fleurs, guided us through the entire process of choosing specific flowers, inspired by our Italian theme. They created the most beautiful hand-tied, natural bouquet of white O’Hara roses, pale blue echinops, blossom, guelder rose, white gypsophila and herbs.”
An Italian accordion and mandolin-playing duo, Oh La La Music, provided the soundtrack during the ceremony. Four-piece band Gravity from Tailored Entertainment then took over, playing a mixture of old and new music that everyone adored. Sebastian and Stephanie chose a Viennese waltz for their first dance, with the song sung by the bride’s sister!
Three weeks in Borneo beckoned for their honeymoon, booked through Audley Travel. “We opted to enjoy jungle trekking, visits to an orangutan sanctuary, diving and relaxing by the beach. The great thing about Audley Travel is that you create your own website for donations instead of a gift list, so your guests can help make your honeymoon happen.”
Central Park added two new fans to its list when Michael chose this pretty Manhattan location to propose. “We were in New York for a friend’s birthday when Michael planned us some alone time and took me to Central Park,” Lucy explains. “He proposed with a token ring, engraved with the all-important question, which was a lovely keepsake to have before we chose a ring together.”
Lucy visited 15 different boutiques, trying on over 100 dresses before she found her Stella York design. “It was in the lovely Aurora Bride in Cheam that I found my dress – they had a brilliant range. The lovely assistant suggested alterations to remove the high neckline and move the lace overlay down. Once the alterations were done it felt much more special.”
The bride purchased a veil but didn’t end up wearing it, feeling more herself without one. “I also wore a heart-shaped diamond pendant, a gift from my late father. It felt very special and right to wear it.” A Swarovski tennis bracelet, white gold earrings and Pink by Paradox satin shoes completed her look.
Michael hired his charcoal tails suit from Moss Bros, adding a lilac cravat and pocket square. The groomsmen joined him, wearing three-piece suits with ivory waistcoats.
FOUR BRIDESMAIDS ATTENDED LUCY, STEPPING DOWN THE AISLE IN DUSKY ROSE, EMPIRE LINE DRESSES FROM DEBENHAMS.
“I chose them because the style and shade suited all of the girls, and they accessorised with Pink by Paradox shoes and sparkly silver earrings, necklaces and bracelets.”
The couple married in a civil ceremony at Woodlands Park Hotel in Cobham, led by their neighbours who also happen to be registrars. “I walked down the aisle with my mum, it was extremely special although she did have to walk funnily to avoid stepping on my dress!” the bride laughs. The maid of honour read ‘I’ll be there’ by Louise Cudden and the groom’s sister read ‘On your wedding day’ during the ceremony.
“We love our food so we gave guests a choice of several menus for the day.” Dishes included crab and chilli tarts and salmon on watercress mashed potato, with decadent dessert offerings of melt in the middle chocolate pudding, lemon tart or apple and blueberry crumble.
“The speeches were brilliant. My step dad kept his appropriately short and sweet. Michael’s was just the right side of funny, serious and sentimental and the best man made people laugh, smile and cry!”
To introduce their pastel theme and colours of pink, silver and lilac, the couple began with personalised stationery. “We sent postcard magnetic save the dates, followed by invitations and RSVPs that featured pink and silver stripes.”
It was at Epsom Wedding Fair that Lucy and Michael met their decorators, Harpers Events. “We hired a white post box, white aisle runner, a silver sequin table cloth and four oversized light up letters. They were all amazing value and made a big impact on the day.” Photobooth props and table trivia from Ginger Ray as well as home-printed couple’s advice cards kept the guests happy – “everyone mentioned how nice the little details were.”
There were also plenty of favours to go around, with guests receiving Yankee candle votives and personalised shot glasses and napkins for the evening buffet and cake, both supplied by Confetti.
ENHANCING THE PRETTY PASTEL THEME WERE THE FLOWERS, SUPPLIED BY BLOMSTER DESIGNS, WHICH FEATURED PINK, WHITE AND LILAC ROSES.
“The scent was amazing. We also had roses in large martini glasses for the table centres and the groomsmen wore darker pink rose buttonholes.”
Michael led the cake search, choosing three tiers in different flavours.” Victoria sponge, lemon and chocolate layers kept everyone’s taste buds happy.
There was also a photobooth from King of the Booth to entertain guests, as well
as the Jay Marsh Trio band, hired through Lemon Entertainment. “The photobooth team offered a very high quality service and everyone complimented the band – they created the atmosphere and kept things lively and fun.”
“WE CHOSE ED SHEERAN’S ‘THINKING OUT LOUD’ FOR OUR FIRST DANCE – IT WAS A VERY SPECIAL MOMENT.”
Lucy and Michael planned a jet-setting honeymoon after the wedding with the help of Trail Finders. “We’ll be spending five nights each in Vancouver, Oahu, and Maui and three nights in San Francisco. Vancouver is all about bear watching and Hawaii is for surfing and beach time.
Invest in a good photographer and a good band. Booking Dan Sakal for our photographs was by far the best investment of the entire wedding, and people will always remember dancing the night away. Plan things well in advance – the further ahead you make decisions, the more you are able to do yourself, saving you money in the long run. The real weddings section of Wedding Ideas was a guide for how our day should run and a brilliant way to check I hadn’t forgotten anything important!”
Since sharing their first kiss to fireworks on Bonfire Night, it’s fair to say that for Danielle and Ashleigh the sparks never stopped flying. “Ashleigh loves to try new things, so I have him to thank for all kinds of adventures… Swimming with dolphins, quad biking through Mexican jungle and even sailing around the Sardinian coast!”
The proposal, however, was a far more understated affair at home, complete with all the sentiment you could wish for. “Ashleigh proposed on my late grandfather’s birthday. We were extremely close so it’s a day that means a lot to me. My birthday was two days later, but he insisted I open my card there and then… and it was addressed ‘to my fiancée’! We chose the ring together the very next day.”
Danielle’s Kenneth Winston mermaid gown stole her heart while visiting Samantha K’s boutique in Swansea.
“There’s an impossible amount of detail to describe,” she gushes. “I loved the lace appliqué, bead, pearl and crystal detail, and the dramatic back.” The bride sourced her floor-length veil with matching lace detail on the same visit, adding Jimmy Choo shoes, gifted by her parents, and stylish Swarvoski drop earrings.
Ashleigh enlisted the team at Slaters to outfit him.
“We decided to purchase rather than hire the suits so that they could be properly tailored.”
A Royal London pocket watch gifted by his parents, Topman shoes and a tie and pocket square from Dyfed Menswear completed his look.
“I asked my four closest friends to join me as bridesmaids. We wanted lemon dresses, which are harder to find than you might think. Kelsey Rose dresses from White Orchid Bridal, Swansea, fit the bill perfectly, though, with a soft chiffon skirt and V-neckline that flattered all of my girls.
“Most people questioned why I didn’t hire a makeup artist already in Italy for our Sorrento destination wedding, but Farhana Ali is incredible and I knew she could create the look I wanted.”
“I wore Bobbi Brown’s ‘Cosmic Raspberry’ on my lips, also using MAC, Lancôme, Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel products.”
Danielle and Ashleigh made the most of their magical Italian surroundings with a garden ceremony for their Sorrento destination wedding. “The huge stone archway complete with iron lanterns at the entrance to the gardens are what made me fall in love with our museum venue. The aisle runs right through into the gardens to create a romantic, Italian ceremony setting.” The soft notes of a harpist accompanied their vows.
The wedding party then moved on to their villa reception, where a culinary greeting of canapés, tartlets, olives and drinks welcomed all. A four-course Italian feast ensued, with the couple’s lemon wedding cake served for dessert.
“I love being creative so even though we were marrying abroad, I chose every decoration and flew them out with me!”
“I wanted our wedding to be elegant and classy, working from a palette of white and silver, with the flowers and bridesmaid dresses introducing lemon accents. The featured weddings in Wedding Ideas helped me to pick up lots of tips and ideas.” GPS Stationery supplied all the couple’s paper goods, using a cohesive theme from the invitations to the table plan and place cards.
Decorating with large white lanterns, silver and white frames, crystal candleholders and ivory rose petals introduced a classical touch to their romantic Italian venue. Teamed with A&D letters for the cake table, Mr & Mrs bunting on the bar and crackled glass vases, their wedding décor glistened with understated style.
“I changed up the usual set up so that the guests could face the incredible views and all of the photographs taken of our top table would have it in the background.”
Sophisticated Weddings’ Victoria Morris aided the couple as they planned their wedding. “I chose Victoria because she creates many bespoke weddings. I knew she would be able to find exactly what I wanted. She was amazing!”
Local florist Giovanni Castellano supplied the flowers. These included a bouquet of ivory, lemon and pink roses, as well as the bridesmaid posies, buttonholes and table centres. “All the groomsmen had a white rose buttonhole apart from Ashleigh. He wore lemon to stand out.”
The villa venue provided the DJ. This offered a simple means of abiding by Italy’s strict laws on playing music outdoors.
“We chose Ella Henderson’s ‘Yours’ for our first dance, quite simply because the lyrics are so beautiful.”
Having celebrated their marriage in the Italian sunshine, Danielle and Ashleigh opted to delay their honeymoon to make the festivities and gorgeous weather last longer. Thailand is their destination of choice, where they will spend two weeks. The couple plan to explore Patong, the Phi Phi islands and an elephant sanctuary from their base in Phuket.”
Traditionally, at the reception, the bride’s father is the first one to make a speech to the wedding guests. Closely followed by the best man and groom, the father of the bride is usually seen as a bit of a warm-up act, and something to be endured rather than enjoyed. However, with a little effort you can make sure your moment in the spotlight is something to be remembered.
What to include in your speech
Whether you intend to make it short and sweet, or to really reap the benefits of the spotlight, your speech will need to contain some basic elements if it is to be in keeping with tradition. These are…
You need to introduce yourself, but it doesn’t have to be reminiscent of an AA meeting. Tell them your name and maybe crack a small joke to make yourself feel relaxed.
Make a formal welcome to everyone, and thank them for coming. Try to mention, in particular, the bride’s mother and the groom’s parents too.
She’s made you pay for it, and now’s your chance to get a little of your own back on her! Recall a funny anecdote from her youth, or simply tell her how proud you are of the woman she’s become.
Formally welcome the groom to your family, in any way you feel appropriate. You can mention how you felt about him when you first met him, or a moment when you’ve been particularly glad he’s around.
As the elder speaker at the wedding, you should impart some of your wisdom to the happy couple about maintaining a healthy marriage or living a happy life. This is also a good place to throw in some jokes about wives, weddings or life in general, just as long as it doesn’t upset your wife!
Finish up by asking everyone to stand and raise a glass to the happy couple. No doubt, the best man will do something similar at the end of his speech too, but it’s the traditional way to close yours.
Like this? You’ll love…
Top tips for making it fun
The father of the bride might be a mature gentleman, but that doesn’t mean your speech has to be dull. Here are some top tips to make it as enjoyable as possible for everyone involved…
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
At many weddings, fathers of brides have been known to drone on for some time, and that’s only fair. However, to keep things fun, engaging and avoiding Aunty Doreen falling asleep in her soup, aim for a speech that lasts around six to seven minutes in total. Read your speech through at your normal speaking pace to gauge how long this really is.
KEEP IT CLEAN
Jokes are a great way to break the ice and loosen up the crowd, but don’t be too focused on being funny. You’re the elder statesman of the speakers today, so you can afford to be a bit more conservative in your words. That doesn’t mean you have to be full though; a few jibes at the expense of the wedding or your daughter’s love of spending money are fine, just don’t go too close to the bone. Leave it to the best man to really roast up the groom, and focus on welcoming your new son-in-law to the family and toasting the happy couple.
HOLD ON TO YOUR EMOTIONS
This is such a big occasion for you and all your family, it can be easy to get caught up in the emotion of it all. Do you best to keep things light and happy, as nobody likes to see a grown man in tears. If there are some personal things you would like to say to your daughter, but don’t want to include in your speech, write them down for her to read on the day instead.
The last word
Ask any public speaker what their biggest fear is, and they’ll pretty much always say it’s forgetting where they are in their speech. Fumbling over your words and getting a bit lost is nothing to be ashamed of, provided you can make a quick recovery and get back on track okay. Take your speech on cue cards with bullet-pointed reminders of what you want to talk about, rather than printing it all out in full. This will give you a more natural delivery, and will save you having to read through several paragraphs to find your place after getting lost.
If you do get stuck, use a moment to clear your throat, take a drink of water or give your daughter a kiss. These moments might seem a lifetime to you, but will feel like a natural pause to your audience, and will give you the breathing space you need to get things back on track. Take your time, don’t panic and try to enjoy your moment of fame.
We’ve got more tips for other members of the bridal party too – from groom speech ideas to bridesmaid dutiesand best man duties.
A processional song is the music that you and your wedding party will walk down the aisle to – you can have one song for everyone, or choose a separate song for your grand entrance. At the end of the ceremony, you and your new husband leave the venue to your recessional music, which tends to be more upbeat than the processional.
There are traditional choices for both of these pieces of music, but we’ve given you a couple of options to consider. Listen and enjoy!
1. BRIDAL CHORUS, WAGNER
Often known as Here Comes The Bride, this piece of classical music is the traditional choice for the procession of the bride, and is often played on an organ. We’ve chosen a slightly more modern arrangement by Vicente Avella on classical piano – that way you can keep the element of tradition without the drama!
2. CANON IN D, PACHELBEL
Another very popular choice with brides. This gorgeous piece of music sounds beautiful played by a traditional quartet, but we also love this version by Per-Olov Kindgren on classical guitar.
3. A THOUSAND YEARS, THE PIANO GUYS (ORIGINALLY CHRISTINA PERRI)
Often couples can’t decide between a classic instrumental or a more modern lovesong with vocals for their processional music. Why not get the best of both worlds with an instrumental cover of one of your favourite songs? We seriously love this piano and cello cover of Christina Perri – check out The Piano Guys for more classical covers.
4. GLASGOW LOVE THEME, FROM LOVE ACTUALLY
Walking down the aisle to a song from your favourite film soundtrack is another way to incorporate instrumental music with a personal touch into your ceremony. There are loads of options to choose from – Love Actually is a great place to start, and will have you welling up before you know it.
5. MARRY ME, TRAIN
If you want a modern song but aren’t sure what sort of thing to go for, then we think this a great choice. The melody and lyrics are both beautiful, and the tempo isn’t too fast for a processional.
6. SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW, ISRAEL KAMAKAWIWO’OLE
Picture the scene: the late August sunshine spreads its warming rays freely, the sky and sea are exquisitely blue, and the glamorous city of Cannes forms a covetable backdrop.
It’s fair to say that Leigh got it very right, choosing a mini-break here to propose to Jo in a picturesque garden. Perhaps the only thing prettier than the location was the ring. Designed by Leigh in Hatton Garden, the rose gold ring featured a cushion cut, double halo diamond. “It was stunning and a huge surprise,” Jo gushes.
This couple’s sense of style didn’t stop with the proposal, as they chose to channel Gatsby-esque glamour for their 1920’s-inspired wedding, starting with Jo’s dress.
“My search was so much fun! I knew I wanted a modern take on a style from the ’20s, so I turned to a design by Ronald Joyce at Aurora Bride, Cheam. I knew the moment I tried it on that my search was over!” The dress featured a beaded V-neckline, low back and scalloped lace detailing that was highlighted with sequins sewn onto satin.
Jo accessorised with an equally sparkly full-length, Swarovski encrusted veil, also from Aurora Bride, a vintage floral diamond ring borrowed from her grandmother, and Manolo Blahnik shoes. A bespoke headpiece made by Beverley Edmondson Millinery finished her 1920’s style with a flourish.
“Leigh’s style is quite unique,” the bride explains, “so he wanted to show that in his groom’s outfit too.”
“Working within a black tie dress code, he opted for a black Paisley jacquard dinner jacket, Nick Hart skinny fit trousers, a white fitted shirt and a polka dot bow tie, braces and socks. He looked amazing!”
Five bridesmaids and two flower girls attended Jo as she walked down the aisle. As many brides experience, Jo’s leading ladies were all very different, and she wanted to accommodate this. “I asked them each to choose their own dresses and shoes so long as they were white with silver embellishments. They found designs they liked from ASOS, Coast and Phase Eight.” The flower girls were fitted out in dresses from Monsoon.
“One of my closest friends, Lucy Nash, is a fantastic makeup artist, so that was a real blessing. She used MAC, Laura Mercier, Tom Ford, Max Factor and No7 products to create my bridal look, and Makeup by Evi stepped in to style my bridesmaids.”
“Your natural look is always best, and you can apply more makeup in the evening to ramp up the glamour if you’d like!”
The couple tied the knot in a traditional Christian ceremony, given a contemporary twist by the upbeat band who joined them. “I surprised Leigh by walking down the aisle to Van Morrison’s ‘Someone Like You’. Our friend Nat Graham sang ‘Knocks Me Off My Feet’ by Stevie Wonder as we signed the register.”
Extravagance and excess are synonymous with parties of the Art Deco era, and Jo and Leigh’s wedding was no exception.
Guests dined on a contemporary but indulgent menu that began with crispy duck salad. Jack Daniels barbecue pulled pork burgers with brioche buns and sweet potato fries soon followed, and warm chocolate brownie with ice cream was for dessert. The entire meal was expertly cooked by Just Jane Caterers. There were also delicious crepes from the Crazy Crepes vintage van in the evening.
The venue featured transparent chiavari chairs with dramatic black seats, chandeliers suspended from the ceiling and candelabra to echo them on the tabletops. Up lighting enhanced the draped ceiling. The couple added scatter crystals, mirrored centrepieces and mercury glass, vanilla-scented votives reflected the twinkling details.
“Wedding Ideas was a huge source of inspiration and great for locating suppliers.”
“When it came to my flowers, I knew I wanted to keep them simple, so Leigh’s aunt Daryl Ballard, who is a florist, created a bouquet of white roses for me, with similar for the bridesmaids and white rose buttonholes for the men.”
Another talented family friend created the couple’s decadent Deco cake. “After going through ideas together, she created the most amazing four-tier cake. It featured two chocolate, one Victoria sponge and one marble cake tier – Leigh’s favourite.”
The cake was decorated in white with silver foil for a 1920’s edge.
The party was as fun as it looked, with The Little White Photo Booth capturing hilarious snaps. The band Chocolate Charlie, kept everyone out of their seats and on the dance floor.
“We are huge fans of Motown anthems so we chose ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ by Diana Ross for our first dance.”
“Booking our honeymoon through Designer Travel took all the pressure off. We travelled to Thailand, staying in Chiang Mai for three days. We then flew on to Koh Samui for 10 days. Designer Travel organised all our excursions and transfers with Tour East Thailand, so we made the most of the temples and elephant trekking for the honeymoon of a lifetime!”
Bite-size berry tarts, cheesecakes and cupcakes were being passed to the 70-plus guests who had gathered for Lauren Pienkowski and Corey Chavers’s engagement party at the SKY Armory, in Syracuse. By 8 p.m., the party was in full swing when the couple took to the stage, the front of a sign pressed up against Ms. Pienkowski’s chest. The crowd quieted.
Bridesmaids and groomsmen were asked to stand behind them, for a photo op, they were told. A videographer and photographer started to capture the moment. Ms. Pienkowski, 30, scanned the group to make sure everyone had arrived. The D.J. took a musical pause.
“You’ve been so patient about the date of our wedding,” she said. “We promised we would tell you tonight when it will be. I hope people are ready to pack their bags and get excited, because …” She then paused to turn over the sign, which read, “Surprise! Welcome to the wedding of Lauren & Corey, March 18, 2017.” “It’s today.”
Mouths hit the floor. Screams and shouts ensued, followed by clapping. An ivory curtain behind the stage was pulled back to reveal the ceremony location. Guests filed in and took their seats as Ms. Pienkowski ducked into a reserved bathroom and changed into her wedding dress.
Then the couple were married.
“It was fast, suspenseful and exciting,” the bride said. “The shock in the room made for more of an interesting affair.”
Shh, don’t tell anyone, but surprise weddings are having a moment.
No longer the sole domain of celebrity couples looking for privacy, such weddings are becoming popular among couples who can’t pin down a date months in advance, are overwhelmed by the prospect of planning a huge gala, or want to save a bundle on doing an out-of-season event (sometimes without having to provide dinner). The here-and-now philosophy offers many positives.
“As soon as we got engaged, we were asked repeatedly when the big day was, what kind of wedding we wanted, where the wedding would be; we got overwhelmed,” said the newly married Ms. Chavers. “And Corey’s schedule makes it nearly impossible to plan past six months in advance. It was all too much pressure.”
The faux engagement/real wedding was planned within four months. Only their parents and one person from each side of the bridal party knew.
Mr. Chavers, 31, found humor in watching people’s reaction and their attempts to up the amount of their gifts.
“I overhead someone screaming to their date: ‘Put more money in the card, it’s a wedding. It’s. A. Wedding!’” he said. “People were screaming: ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’ We really nailed this.”
For Lauren Mabry and Sam Petner, both 33, their goal was to do something unusual.
“We wanted our guests to experience the flood of emotions and happiness that we assumed we would experience on that day,” Ms. Mabry said.
The couple were married in Houston on April 25, 2015, at the McGovern Centennial Gardens. As far as their 200 guests knew, it was a surprise proposal where Mr. Petner would ask for an unsuspecting Ms. Mabry’s hand in marriage. (Unbeknown to everyone, Mr. Petner had proposed five months earlier.) Before calling anyone or snapping photos to post on social media, they discussed the surprise wedding idea.
“We thought it was a good bluff,” the recently wed Ms. Petner said. “Who doesn’t want to watch a proposal? After knowing each other for 19 years and dating for the past four, we thought people would enjoy watching Sam ask. Now looking back, I realize there were so many things that could have gone terribly wrong. I’m not sure it was tremendous luck or meticulous planning, but somehow everything turned out truly magical. I can’t imagine our day any other way.”
Cocktails in the garden were interrupted when Ms. Petner’s father gave a welcome speech and then revealed the truth.
Ms. Petner, who had spent the night before in the nearby Hotel ZaZa, was hiding in a car behind a big wall of shrubbery, in full makeup and dress. Before emerging into the crowd, she heard the joyous eruption from her attendees.
“The video was really important because I wanted to relive the moments I missed,” she said.
“We’re very spontaneous people,” she added. “The surprise made it exciting, and that’s what we were going for.”
While having sealed lips may bring some couples closer together, it can disappoint relatives and best friends who, once the surprised is unveiled, can have hurt feelings or feel left out or duped.
“We had to keep the truth from best friends; that was really hard,” admitted Ms. Petner, who said that only a handful of people were disappointed, but that the disappointment lasted only 24 hours. “If the roles were reversed, I’d probably be hurt, too, so I get it. It’s not for everybody, but it’s the most special thing we’ve ever done.”
Ms. Chavers spoke similarly about hating to fib or be unusually secretive to those closest to her.
“My maid of honor didn’t know; that posed an issue,” she said. “I couldn’t share it with her, and she felt left out that she missed certain moments with me.”
Missed moments are twofold.
For brides choosing to surprise, they lose out on group wedding fittings and a bridal shower. Bachelorette party? Not this time. Registry? What registry? And, as Mr. Chavers witnessed, envelopes contain less money and smaller checks.
“Lauren did feel shortchanged and cheated,” Mr. Chavers said. To make up for a lack of shower and bachelorette party, her friends took her on a post-wedding getaway in June.
Still, for many couples, they’d rather have less than more.
“I’m an anti-bride who’s an event producer who didn’t want to plan my wedding,” said Kate Levenstien, 30, who married Fletcher North, also 30, on March 25, 2017, at Gary’s Loft in New York. They, too, invited guests to an engagement celebration. “It was too much planning and stress,” she said. “We knew we didn’t want to spend a lot of money, and both of us are jokesters who love adventure. We wanted to skip the formality and have something nontraditional.”
Which is what they did. Their 130 guests arrived at 7 p.m., some dressed elegantly, others in ripped jeans and T-shirts. (“If you’d only told us this was a wedding,” claimed her two friends from Brooklyn.) The caterer, Sweet Chili, passed spicy lamb chops and fried chicken sliders. The band, 45 Riots, played jazz off to the side.
For the first hour, Ms. Levenstien wore a pretty skirt and top. Attendees slurped oysters, sipped cocktails and mingled. Then her mother was handed a microphone. Everyone was asked to grab a glass of Champagne and head to the roof for a group toast. Ms. Levenstien jumped into her dress; her father zipped her up. Mr. North added a fancy jacket to his understated tuxedo shirt and slacks. He went upstairs to stand at the end of an aisle, which had been lined with candles. Plants doubled as an alter. Guests sat on benches. The Empire State Building was their backdrop.
“I was so nervous when I entered I grabbed someone’s Champagne and drank it because my throat was so dry,” Ms. Levenstien said. “We didn’t take into consideration that Fletcher would be standing there for 10 or 15 minutes while people came up the stairs. But once they realized what was happening, they started laughing and clapping, hooting and hollering. It made the ceremony my favorite part. That energy lasted through the evening. One friend suspected and brought popping confetti and shot that off.”
For the parents, many of whom have been made co-conspirators, knowing about plans alleviates some concerns while creating others.
“I was relieved when Kate told us because they had gone around and around for a month not knowing what to do,” said Robert Levenstien, Kate’s father. “But my wife and I were concerned people might not go out of their way for an engagement party like they would for a wedding.”
James Mabry, Lauren’s father, was apprehensive about how people would handle the surprise once he shared the real news.
“I didn’t know if I’d hear crickets chirping or applause,” he said. “But when I said it was their wedding, there was an explosion. Everyone really enjoyed it.”
Like the Chavers, the Norths chose not to have a cake. Instead, mini-Key lime pies and a variety of desserts were served.
“My fear was people would go home early because they were mentally prepared for a short engagement party,” the newly wed Ms. North admitted.
Her concern was nullified. Guests stayed until 7 the next morning at the loft. Like Ms. Chavers, a handful of girlfriends are whisking Ms. North to Vermont for a post-wedding party weekend. Gifts are still tricking in.
“Having a surprise wedding allowed the planning process to be an intimate affair between Corey and I,” Ms. Chavers said. “It was a secret for just us, until we let everyone else in on it.”