Here’s how to plan the ultimate festival themed wedding in Scotland

If you’re a Glasto gal, an Eden enthusiast or a Creamfields cracker, a festival-themed wedding could be just the ticket. Amy Shearer finds out what’s needed to bring your vision to life

(left) A grazing board with a selection of fruit and snacks (right) a bride and groom with three alpacas
Left: Channel the VIP backstage vibe with Harrograze’s stunning grazing tables Right: Langbank farm Larch Green Alpacas has seven friends who can bring furry fun to your day (Photo Del and Jayjay Photography)

Festivals and weddings have more in common than you might imagine. Months (sometimes years) in the planning, going back and forth on the perfect outfit to wear, curating the ultimate entertainment offering to ensure there’s something for everyone on the music bill… you get my drift. So having a ‘wedfest’ could be one way to have a cool celebration that allows you to throw the rulebook out the window and do whatever suits you and your vibe.

If you want to dance in a tent to the Spice Girls wearing glitter face-paint and flowers in your hair, go for it. Prefer to get down to Calvin Harris in a blaze of strobe lights and smoke machines? Why not make it happen? We’ve taken a deep dive into every corner of the business to find out how to propel your wedding festival to the top of the bill.

Choose Your Fighter

Do you get tickets for the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival each year? Are you a big fan of the ’80s and head for Rewind every summer? Perhaps fist pumping to techno at Parklife is more your bag? It’s good to have a think about what sort of entertainment would suit your day, suggests Scottish DJ and producer Bruce Glenny. “When booking a band or DJ, it’s all about your own taste,” he tells us. “Just as every festival is different (electronic dance, indie family-driven, country and western, etc), most bands and DJs will have their own style and preferences. So you need to know what or who you’re booking and what sort of tunes they’re likely to play. One or two special requests are fine, but if you have booked the right musician, they’ll already know what to play that suits the evening.”

Emily Grieve, owner of Miss Mobile Disco, believes a festi-themed wedding is not complete without old-school disco hits. “I like to play disco, funk and soul along with all the party gems from the  ’80s and ’90s – weddings definitely need a bit of disco!” she says. “I find this type of music gets guests of all ages up and grooving till the sun goes down. Good singalong songs are a must too.”

Left: Scottish DJ Bruce Glenny is no stranger to playing festivals, taking to the stage at TRNSMT each year (Photo Michael Cameron Hunter) Right: Delicious drinks are the basis of a good party. The Dispensary Bar has you covered!

Your Ven-you

When planning a festival-theme, there are a number of things to consider on the venue front. If you want the full glamping experience, there are places boasting their own campsites. If you fancy a woodland extravaganza followed by disco dancing under the stars, chat to your dream venue and see what it can offer. Some have different (i.e. stricter) licensing agreements for outdoor celebrations, so make sure you check these so the party doesn’t end promptly (and unexpectedly) mid-rave at 10pm. We’ve rounded up a few of our favourite festi-vibe venues here.

Invite Only

As this is going to be a more informal wedding, you can decide to disregard traditional stationery. Turn your invites into tickets with all the information, or direct guests to a website that looks like a real music festival’s portal. You could also ditch the table plan in favour of guest lanyards or wristbands – VIP for the top table and general admission for your guests would make a lovely keepsake of a fun-filled day. And by putting names on these, you’ll be sure that everyone will mingle and nobody will awkwardly forget their new pal’s name after too many tipples!

Good music makes a festival. Miss Mobile Disco always gets the party going! (Photo: ITAGO Media)

Make Your Own Kinda Music

The highlight of any good festival is of course the live music. Having stepped onto the stage at many festivals over the past two decades, Stephen Lauchlan of the popular Waterfront Band says the secret to a successful shindig is a high-energy set as a focal point of the evening. “For a festival-themed wedding, it would be better to offer a variety of entertainment throughout the event,” recommends the keyboard player.

“Treating our slot like that of a proper festival billing means you are getting the best of what we can offer – an upbeat, energetic, all-rounder show that has something for everyone. The bangers, the dancefloor classics and some of our own mash-ups make for a set that suits everyone and moves away from that old-school mentality of a wedding band slogging it away all night. We have played at events for ten people to crowds of more than a thousand – and the secret is simply putting on a show.”

Food for the Soul

All that raving to great tunes at a festival can make you hungry, and it’s no different at a wedfest. Your guests will be looking forward to refuelling with fast, easy and delicious food. With formalities thrown out the window, you can pick all your favourites, and you can afford to stick a couple of less healthy treats in there too. Rory and Craig Thomson, the brothers behind Pizza Box Scotland, recommend bringing in a street-food truck. “We have the ability to customise menus to cater to various tastes and dietary restrictions, and it can be an affordable alternative to traditional catering options,” Rory tells us. “Food trucks are versatile – they could serve as the main meal or as a late-night snack. They also add to a fun and lively atmosphere.”

Craig agrees, pointing out that this style of catering is a way to bring guests together. “We believe that having more casual catering options, such as serving buffet-style, can create an inclusive and relaxed atmosphere. It can bring a sense of comfort and informality to a big event while still providing delicious and high-quality food.”

Steve Brown, chef-director at East Lothian caterer Pop, says the informal style of dining is proving more fashionable than ever. “We are certainly seeing more couples coming to us with a super-chilled vision, as they just want to celebrate by having a relaxed day with their loved ones,” he says.

“Food has always been really important at weddings, but these days the emphasis is on flavour, seasonality and provenance rather than the formality of the past. Casual dining often offers loads of variety for guests, especially those with allergies and intolerances, is cost-effective and can be really fun to organise and enjoy!”

Colourful Kelburn Castle and a man cutting pizza from a pizza trailer
Left: Kelburn has everything from a secret forest to a castle to enchant guests Right: Everyone loves pizza. Grab a slice from Pizza Box Scotland for a satisfying refuel before you get back on the dancefloor

Alternative Entertainment

Anything goes at a festival, so bring that relaxed approach to your big day. If you love animals, why not add some furry friends to the guestlist? Larch Green Alpacas in Langbank has seven fabulously friendly alpacas who’d be happy to come and hang out with you and your pals. They’re great company and real posers too – so you’ll have a brilliant time and even funnier photographs.

Face-painting and glitter tattoos are always a big draw at a festival, so why not treat your guests to this on your big day too? Other ways to capture the fun of a festival include entertaining extras such as pick-and-mix stations, candy floss machines and pop-up bars in unconventional vehicles. All of these can be hired for the afternoon or evening.

Backstage Bliss

If you have ever watched footage of acts backstage at a festival, your eye might have been caught by the table laden with goodies for the performers and crew to graze on. Channel this same vibe before or during your wedding with Edinburgh-based caterer Harrograze. With festivals being a fusion of people, backgrounds and styles, Harrograze creative director Tara Stewart believes the food you serve up to your guests should reflect this: “A grazing table is a statement piece but with the fabulous added bonus of bringing people together,” she says. “What better way of creating beautiful moments at a wedding than with the most delicious sharing food, all laid out in style?”

Festivals are also usually not short of a sweet treat or two, and Morag Rycroft from Pantry Events reckons dessert sharing tables are also on the rise: “A whole table full of indulgent sweet treats – what’s not to love?” she laughs.

Hot air balloon bar set up at a wedding and a salad with white and orange produce
Left: Bring the wow factor with The Dispensary Bar’s amazing hot-air balloon bar; Right: Grab and go’ grub is essential if you’re fitting the festival bill. Pop caterers can sort you out!

Cheers to That

Festivals may be synonymous with warm pints, snuck-in spirits and overpriced alcopops, but at your own wedfest, you can turn things up a notch (or have buckets of WKD if that is your jam). With the Dispensary Bar, complete with its incredible hot-air balloon set-up, owner Greig Sparkes can bring theatrics to your day.

“Cocktails and festivals are made to go together – what better way to listen to your favourite music than surrounded by your friends with your favourite cocktail in hand?” he asks. “A mobile bar is essential for a DIY venue and it’s all about those vibrant colours, fresh flavours and refreshing tipples. How about a margarita? Juicy lime, tequila and triple sec – you can’t get any more party-ready than that!”