Determined not to settle for a cookie-cutter wedding? Go the extra mile with unexpected, quirky details and you’ll blow your guests away, says Rosie Duncan
1. Ditch white tablecloths
There’s a good reason why the crisp white tablecloth reigns supreme: a blank canvas on which bright centrepieces can shine. It’s also relatively straightforward (and inexpensive) to source. Nonetheless, don’t discount louder alternatives – these can add depth, particularly if your venue isn’t already heavily decorated. Look out for monochrome stripes: fresh from the spring catwalks, these make an effective base for a vivid watermelon palette or a no-nonsense partner to glitzy metallics.
2. Ditch stodgy wedding fare
You might be obsessed with Joe Wicks’ Lean in 15 cookbook, but is it fair to subject guests, who’re expecting cake and rich cuisine, to your new regime? Absolutely, says Harley Lothian of Saltire Hospitality: “People are more aware these days of what they’re eating, both in the nutritional content and in the origin of the produce. A lot more couples are opting for lighter, fresher menus. As a company, we are very focused on using only the finest Scottish produce, sourced from as close to the venue’s location as possible, i.e. Border berries for a Borders wedding!”
3. Choose a fashion-forward headpiece
Struggling to imagine yourself in a flowing cathedral-length veil? There’s nothing to stop you from breaking the mould. Branch out with geometric headpieces from AM Faulkner, such as the Brass Geo (right, £120).
4. Put your own stamp on the day
“We always recommend that couples identify some sort of theme to tie everything together,” says Cheryl Dowie of Premier Wedding Planners Scotland. “It doesn’t have to be cheesy or overbearing, it just helps to keep everything consistent and stop guests being confused by mixed messages.” Where to start? “Many couples use a colour, but we encourage them to think more creatively about it, even if it’s just words – ‘romantic, timeless, classic’, for example.” Think about which words sum you up as a couple, or perhaps go something more specific, such as the time of year that you met.
5. Float on air
A clutch of gallant, flamboyant balloons in bold building-block tones will add zing to a white palette and raise a smile from the grumpiest of guests.
6. Invite some four-legged guests
Guess what’s coming to a wedding near you soon? Alpacas. Yes, really. “We have ten boys of various colours that we use as guests,” says Stuart Ramsay of Velvet Hall Alpacas. “They are used primarily as ring bearers – they have a collar, bow tie and velvet pouch around their necks.
Afterwards, they are happy to be part of the official photography, whether indoors or outside in the gardens, and are at the wedding for around four hours.”
7. Jazz up your photobooth
Photobooths have become so integral to weddings in recent years, it’s difficult to imagine embarking on planning without popping one on your list. Think outside the booth and transport your guests to another place entirely.
Get Knotted’s playful setting for snapping comes in the form of a Pimp My Ride-style black cab, complete with lime-green flooring, a sticker-clad ceiling, roses packed under the seats and sombrero tucked into a handle, ready for its close-up. Who could fail to have fun in here?
8. Ready, set, bake!
There’s no doubt about it: a hefty chunk of your budget will be dedicated to feeding hungry mouths on the big day. Strapped for cash? Rather than cutting corners on the main course (perish the thought!), save some dough on your dessert. “Consider asking friends to bake a cake or dessert and get your caterers to dress the table for you, putting it all together,” proposes Kelly Naylor of Bespoke Catering & Events.
9. Plan a unique drinks reception
“Mix things up a little and don’t always feel you have to go with the traditional format,” suggests Laura Ryan of LemonBox Studios. “You don’t have to serve champagne and canapés during the drinks reception, if that’s not your thing. Maybe you’re both film buffs and your dream is to serve gourmet popcorn and hotdogs with ice-cream float cocktails? Go for it! Your guests will love the fact that it’s a change from the norm.”
10. Take inspiration from nature
“Don’t feel you have to pick one theme colour and religiously use it everywhere,” advises Caitlin McKenna of The Brahmin Lettering Co. “Look to nature for your colour inspiration. Some of the most beautiful weddings I have worked on have pooled from neutral, natural colour schemes including whites, greens, taupes and soft greys, with accents of pink and orange.” With this in mind, what better scenery to draw from than the typical Scottish landscape?
11. Turn over a new leaf with your guestbook
Remember the days when friends and family scribbled their hopes and dreams for the couple in a guest book? Nowadays, anything but the ordinary goes. “All your guests will be wanting to send you their heartfelt best wishes and there’s no better way of capturing them all for posterity than on a wishing tree,” says Arabian Tent Company’s Katherine Hudson. “Choose one in your garden or venue, or hire one especially, place it in a decorated pot and cover it in ribbons. Then have your guests write on tags and attach them to the tree.”
12. Trade glass chandeliers for florals
Although a chandelier dripping in crystals may throw twinkling light around a reception or lift a lofty marquee ceiling from bare-bones to beautiful, what if such a glamorous piece won’t suit your scheme or just isn’t your style? Take your cue from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and try using ethereal flowers instead.
“Floral ceiling rings are great for creating a focal point and conversation-starter among your guests,” says Lindsey Hunter of Get Knotted. “They can also be used in marquees to lower the ceiling and give it some colour.”
13. Enlist the help of calligrapher
After a lengthy process of proofreading and designing your stationery, one potentially crucial detail is nearly always overlooked – who will write your envelopes? If the answer is you and your clumsy penmanship, you might want to think twice. Caitlin McKenna of The Brahmin Lettering Co. puts it delicately: “What if your handwriting looks more like chicken scratch?” she laughs.
“Working with a calligrapher to address envelopes is a simple way to add a touch of elegance to your invitations. It’s all about the handcrafted details that make a big impact.”
14. Modernise your Moet
What’s a wedding without a toast? You may be relishing picking your vintage, but believe it or not, there is a way to transform the bubbly into something even better and more considered.
“Make the traditional glass of fizz interesting by using champagne boats with a sprig of lavender and a frozen blueberry,” suggests Kelly Naylor of Bespoke Catering & Events. Why? The scent of lavender will relax guests (and any member of the wedding party nervous about making their speech) and the blueberry will weigh down the sprig and enhance the deeper tones of the lavender flowers.
15. Revamp a plain venue with funky furniture
If your wedding is to be hosted in a start-from-scratch kind of setting, furniture hire will be on your hit list. With full control over seating and lighting, you can explore more outlandish, party-ready options. Hay bales to lounge on after the meal? No problem.
Get Knotted’s Lindsey Hunter has some other ideas: “Inflatable sofas are fun and perfect for creating a chill-out area for your guests to get their breath back,” she suggests. “And funky LED light cubes are not only great for a different lighting effect but also serve as additional seating.”
16. Add some DIY elements
Combat our penchant for throwaway pieces with Dylon and craft blogger Kate Hansford of Daphne Rosa who have drafted a guide to making your own hand-dyed keepsake fabric roses. “Lay white cotton fabric on bubblewrap and spray water all over,” says Kate. “Sprinkle the dye on top, playing around with an even spread, mixing all colours and leaving some of the fabric white. Then rinse and hang to dry. Once dry, gather up into a rose shape and sew in place. Glue in a wooden skewer for the stem and display in a vase.”
17. Forget about formal dining
Laid-back, sociable eating is on the rise. “Take a relaxed approach,” suggests Harley Lothian of Saltire Hospitality. “Weddings are moving away from the traditional three-course sit-down wedding breakfast into something more informal and interactive for guests.
Family-style service, where large sharing dishes are served to tables, is becoming ever more popular.” Hog roasts and barbecues are great, but you could also consider other types of cuisine that lend themselves well to this type of dining – Japanese sushi or an Italian antipasti could work just as well.
18. Invite an illustrator
It’s not often we encourage you to judge a book by its cover, but where reception décor is concerned, appearance is everything. Use it as an opportunity to get personal, urges illustrator and Glasgow School of Art graduate Laura Henderson: “Rather than going the traditional route, lots of couples are looking for customised designs, just for them,” she says. “These can include illustrations of the venue, of themselves or even sometimes of their pets!” Where should you unleash your creativity? “Table plans and names don’t just need to be numbers and lists any more,” she adds. “They can really say something about the couple. I’ve done table names with illustrations of anything from places the couple have travelled to (and table plan maps to match, or even table plan bunting) to their favourite childhood books.” How sweet is this Wind in the Willows tribute?
18. Add quirky decor touches
The venue is yours for the night – so use every nook and cranny, from floor to ceiling, to carry on the celebrations. “Making your wedding truly your own doesn’t stop at the invitations,” says Caitlin McKenna of The Brahmin Lettering Co. “Create a bespoke drinks menu on a vintage mirror, with your details written out on chalkboard marker. Or create a dramatic backdrop for your ceremony using a long roll of paper, painted with your favourite love poem.”
20. Serve up some sea-dwelling delights
Self-confessed foodie? Have you met The Oysterman? “We organise for fresh Scottish oysters to be delivered to weddings,” explains the company’s Laura McKinlay.
“Once there, usually during the champagne reception, an Oysterman will mingle and offer guests freshly shucked oysters. The oyster is opened in front of them, checked for quality and offered with a choice of five different seasonings: freshly squeezed lemon juice, tabasco, raspberry gin, Japanese ponzu sauce or a grind of white pepper.” Yum!