How to pull off the ultimate festival themed wedding

Festival style weddings have become a massive trend in recent years, with couples looking to recreate the carefree atmosphere of a music and friend-filled weekend for their big day.

Photo by Darek Novak

And the good news is, as a wedding theme, they’re fun to put together and fairly simple to pull off! Here are some top tips on how to make it work.

Tin Hut Accommodation at Mount Druid, County Westmeath66
Tin Hut Accommodation at Mount Druid, County Westmeath

The Venue

A festival theme hinges on the venue, and once you find something that reflects that understated, cool and carefree vibe you’re looking for, the rest should fall into place. Opt for a venue with a good outdoor space for the drinks reception, and make sure when you speak to the coordinator that they are open to the idea of adding decor such as festoon lighting, signs and outdoor games. Ask to see a few example of where a “chillout area” set up or lighting has been used to good effect, so that you have some inspiration of the venue itself to build on.

The gorgeous Loughcrew House in Oldcastle, Meath has been the setting of many a gorgeous festival themed wedding before, and with its beautiful open courtyard and garden marquee, it makes for a fabulous backdrop for wedding receptions. Boutique wedding venue Mount Druid in Westmeath offers the additional “glamping” experience for guests, who can stay in playful yurts or shepard’s or tin huts to really get into the festival spirit – but a far more comfortable one than you may be used to!

Photo by Darek Novak | Venue: Loughcrew House66
Photo by Darek Novak | Venue: Loughcrew House

If you’re DIYing your big day, Ireland now has lots of great suppliers of unusual marquees, tents and teepees that will make for a dramatic setting for your scene. For something guests won’t have seen much of at other weddings, The Outdoor Wedding Company based in Dublin have some amazing stretch tents which set a cool tone and allow you to have an outdoor event without worrying too much about the weather. They also provide loos, heating, furniture and bar units to complete the look.

The Style

We are all pretty much au fait with festival fashion – it’s the time to break out the serious glitter-based war paint, don some Daisy Dukes and top it all off with a cute rain jacket.

Photo by Darek Novak | Venue: Loughcrew House66
Photo by Darek Novak | Venue: Loughcrew House

Of course you could get away with that as the happy couple in question, but the safer bet is to go for the softly-softly approach instead. Fresh flower crowns, although declared “over” by contributors to Vogue earlier this year, are still a stunning option for brides looking to feel a bit Woodstock on their big day, and going for a floral print for bridesmaids should instantly establish a relaxed boho vibe.

Think boho designers such as Temperly London, Rue de Seine or Irish designer Emma Manley for the wedding dress and the groomsmen in cute bowties, cool hats or unusual colours and fabrics for suits (stripes, Tweed?) could work really well to give off that cool festival vibe. Wellies have almost become a wedding staple as much as a festival staple these days, and you’ll be thankful for them when you’re mucking around the grounds of your venue trying to get ‘the shot’ with your eager photographer!

Photo by Darek Novak www.photosligo.com66
Photo by Darek Novak

The Details

A new idea for marquee and outdoor weddings is the idea of the “chillout area” to create a backstage-at-the-festival-feel. This space can come in lots of different forms with hay bails doubling as couches, swing seats, mix and match tables and lots of cushions and bean bags to make the area feel comfortable and ‘zen’. To set the tone outdoors, pop up some bunting or festoon lighting around trees and over courtyards. Make sure to discuss the ins and outs of this with your coordinator before; some will need to check insurance for hanging electrical items which you don’t want to find out about it on the day itself!

Signage is such a big wedding decor trend at the moment that you can even find it in high street stores like Penneys, but there’s nothing wrong with creating some yourself if DIY is your bag! Think bar directions, photo booth signs or use an old window or mirror for the menu of schedule or events – take inspiration from some of the amazing instillations at festivals such as Body & Soul and let your mind run free with ideas.

Photo by Darek Novak www.photosligo.com66
Photo by Darek Novak

When it comes to after-hours, glowsticks will always  go down a storm with guests on the dancefloor, as will props like inflatable instruments, sunnies or hats – just give everyone an excuse to get posing!

The Food

Think festival, think food trucks. But don’t think those dry burgers or questionable hot dogs you might find yourself chowing down on at ungodly hours; Irish food trucks have come a long way since the unmentionable goings-on in The Van. With options like Canadian dish poutine – a delightful mix of chips, cheese and gravy – from Lala Poutine, crepes from The Crepe Box, wood-fired pizza from The Dough Bros and plenty of other amazing mobile chefs doing the rounds, you have plenty to offer hungry guests besides the traditional sausage sambos before midnight.

The Music

Of course when you declare your wedding a ‘festival wedding’, you better have the tunes to back it up. Put plenty of thought into your entertainment and curate a gig list that really works from the ceremony right through to the dance floor. If you’re having a non-religious ceremony use song lyrics as your readings, and for your entrance and exit songs, think bigger melodies to get your guests involved – you could even print the lyrics to your exit song on your ceremony booklet to make sure everyone joins in! For the drinks reception, look for a cover band with a difference – Trio Royal, a trio jazz and swing band who do unique takes on contemporary tunes and cool lounge music influenced by the old crooners, could be just the ticket.