I know you’re not meant to have favourites, but I think festival weddings might be mine. They bring together the best part of a traditional wedding (the romance, the love, the actual getting married!) with all your favourite things about a festival (the dancing, the food, the fun, the music, the crazy outfits).
Get ready to have fun. Lots of fun!
This is your chance to throw away the wedding rulebook and build a day that is 100% you. You can keep the traditions you love and get rid of the ones you don’t.
If you still want your dad to give you away then that’s cool. But if you want to walk down the aisle wearing your pyjamas, then that’s totally fine too – it’s your day and you can do what you want!
How do go about planning a festival wedding?
It’s not quite a festival, not quite a wedding (at least not as you know it!). To help, I’ve written you the ULTIMATE guide to planning a festival wedding.
1. Pick your theme(s)
The world is your oyster when it comes to themes – as in, literally, your theme could be oysters if you really want! Before you even think about anything else, sit down with your partner and make a list of all things you love. This list will help guide the rest of your planning.
- There may be something stand-out that you want to use as an overarching theme for the whole event.
- Perhaps you initially bonded over your mutual love for a certain band and you want to dedicate your whole day to that.
- Or maybe it’s just lots of little things that you can weave in, like knowing you definitely want a pizza truck if that’s your favourite food.
Try not to get stuck thinking about things you’d traditionally find at a wedding and just focus on brainstorming everything you both love. Once you’ve got your list of ideas, you can move onto the actual planning.
2. Plan your wedding invites
To really get into the festival spirit, I love the idea of issuing a ‘ticket’ with the key details like location and date, and a booklet to go along with it containing all the other info and the festival line-up.
You could even send an access-all-areas wristband with the invites for them to wear on the day.
There’s usually a lot going on at a festival wedding. To make sure your guests are prepared, include a checklist of essential info, such as:
The normal wedding high heels might not be appropriate if you’re going to be in a muddy field, so tell guests if they need to bring wellies or trainers instead. Top tip for the bride herself: order bridal wellies to help you keep a little glamour while tackling uneven terrain!
This will depend a lot on the activities you decide on but on a practical level might include layers to put on if it gets chilly in the evening, waterproofs in case of rain. You’ll also need to tell guests if there’s a fancy dress theme, or if sequins are encouraged.
This will depend on the sleeping arrangements you decide on (more on those below!).
Prepare your guests for any activities that might be out of the ordinary.
General info about the set up
For instance if the toilet facilities are just a portaloo in a field, make sure your guests are forewarned!
3. Finding a festival wedding venue
Something to think about is whether you want your official ceremony to be part of the festival line-up, or if you’re happy to do the legal bit separately.
This will decide whether you need to be looking at licensed wedding venues specifically, where you can do everything altogether, or whether you can widen the net a bit.
If you go for the latter option, you could get married in a church, registry office or other licensed venue on the day of your wedding, have all your guests there and then transport them to the festival reception afterwards.
Alternatively, you can do the legal bit completely separately a few days before, then have an unofficial ceremony at your festival. This can be a fab option as it means you can make it SUPER personal; no need to worry about ensuring it’s all legally binding.
Then when it comes to venues, you essentially have these options:
Licensed wedding venue
These will all vary a bit in ‘rusticness’, from barn conversations and quirky country houses to licensed woodlands where you can say your vows amongst the trees. You’ll be able to hold the legal ceremony and the reception in the same place.
These venues are likely to have a bit more infrastructure in place and may be able to offer more planning assistance if you don’t want to completely DIY it.
Somewhere that’s geared up for festivals like a campsite available for exclusive hire, for instance.
Festival-ready venues will mostly already have things like toilets and electric hook-ups, saving you a lot of work compared to starting with a completely blank canvas, but still giving you a lot of freedom.
The empty field option
This gives you a lot of freedom if you’re prepared to put the work in! You may know somebody with a field or even a large garden that you can use. If not, it’s worth asking local farmers who may be up for making a bit of cash renting out one of theirs.
Then you just need to work out what to fill it with!
A pub with grounds could offer a great festival wedding experience with a little less work. The beer is on tap and they’ll be able to do the food too. They’ll probably be able to sort marquee hire etc. too.
4. Think about the sleeping arrangements
It’s not really a festival without camping, is it?! Make sure your venue can accommodate tents, tipis or yurts and think about what you want to provide your guests with. This could include anything from mattresses, bedding and welcome hampers inside, to outdoor furniture and fire pits outside.
You can do as much or as little as your budget will allow!
If you are on a tighter budget, think about just hiring luxury tipis for the wedding party, and then offer camping space for other guests to bring their own tents.
If you have guests who won’t want to spend the night under canvas, make sure your venue is close enough to civilisation for them to get a taxi to a local B&B at the end of the night instead.
5. Choosing festival wedding decor
Now we’re getting to the fun bit!
Your wedding decor is your chance to really stamp your mark onto the day. You can go bold with bright colours and glitter, or for a more whimsical look with lots of flowers and twinkling lights.
The best thing is that the homemade, rustic feel is exactly what you’re after, so you can make this part of your wedding super affordable. Especially if you rope in some friends and family members to help you get crafty!
Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- Lights: Fairy lights, candles in jam jars
- Centrepieces: Wildflowers in wicker baskets, vintage hampers, dried flower
- Hanging decor: Colourful lanterns, bunting or ribbons hanging from trees and tents
- Signage: A festival wedding essential! You can buy personalised signs or make your own from reclaimed wood
6. Finding a festival wedding photographer
Your festival wedding pictures need to reflect how fun and relaxed the day was. What you don’t want is a photographer who only has experience taking traditional, formal shots. Imagine your whole family lining up awkwardly in their glitter jumpsuits?!
Look for a photographer who specialises in what we call ‘reportage’ style images.
Somebody with experience shooting live bands and actual festivals might be a better bet than strictly wedding photographers – don’t be afraid to think outside the box!
It’s always a good idea to do an engagement shoot so you can get a feel of how you’ll work together with your photographer on the big day. Again, ask for this to be in reportage style.
7. Organising the food, cake and drinks
Festival wedding food
Food is almost as big a part of a festival as the music. I’m sure you’ve got amazing memories of sitting down on the grass and tucking into some incredible street food at your favourite festival.
The best thing about going down the food vans route is they do all the hard work for you.
There are so many options: pizza, paella, tacos, Indian thali… Pretty much anything you can think of, it exists in street food van form.
Depending how many guests you’re having, you may be able to have a few different options or you might need to decide on one favourite.
Either way, make sure you can cater to all dietary requirements and locally-sourced is always a nice touch!
The festival wedding cake
Just like with everything else, don’t feel like you need to go for a traditional cake. There are tons of options – how about choosing a stack of cheese wheels instead?! If you do have a sweeter tooth, look for a baker who can deliver something whimsical and chic that fits the theme.
Festival wedding drinks
Depending on your venue you’ll likely need to provide your own bar, either by hiring something in or creating your own DIY one. Make sure to check out alcohol licensing.
8. Booking your festival wedding entertainment
The line-up is what draws in the crowds at any festival. Obviously, the headline act at this one is going to be you and your partner, but you still need to keep your guests entertained for the rest of the day.
Live music is, of course, going to play a massive part on your day. What you choose will completely depend on your tastes but a live band or DJ who can help get the crowd going is ideal. Setting up a stage will add to the authentic festival feel.
Then think about what other entertainment you’d like. You could bring in a magician or a comedian to get the crowd laughing. Maybe you want to set up a photo wall or booth to help you capture some more candid memories.
Think about setting up a mini fairground area with games and stalls.
Have little ones attending? Hire a children’s entertainer to keep them amused. Put on crafty workshops like headpiece making or face painting.
9. Don’t forget the romance!
It can be easy to get so excited about the festival planning you forget that this is a wedding too. Make sure you take some time for a little romance too. Take some breaks just the two of you to have photos together, go for a romantic stroll, and have at least one slow dance under the stars.
This is your day!
So, what does this all mean?
A wedding festival is a whole lot of fun for everyone involved; adding your own unique touches, and making it a special day in your own way.
And remember, planning is key, as with any wedding, from selecting the right venue, theme, decor and invites, to choosing your photographer, food and entertainment. But it can be a lot of fun planning a festival wedding, that’s for sure!
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