So yeah! planning a wedding is hard & stressful. Planning an alternative wedding that’s against the grain of “traditional wedding” is even harder. We totally feel for you. You start off thinking, this is so much fun & is going to be amazing, but quickly end up stressing & hating it, often second-guessing choices, and just wanting the day done.  Your wedding day is ALL ABOUT YOU & don’t you forget it.  You can’t please everyone, so mainly, please yourselves!

There is no right or wrong way to plan, what is one person’s dream, isn’t going to be another. Bringing your individual flair to your day is what will make you look back on it with fondness & the most amazing memories.


Plan something different. Be creative, & break the Wedding mould. It’s fun!

Where the heck to start!

Sit down one evening just you & your partner & start making a list of all the things you love, even if they are silly or small, they all count & you can start getting the picture of your awesome wedding day.

Think about your Wedding & what’s most important to you. Is it the service or ceremony? having all your friends & family in one place celebrating somewhere you can bring your fur babies to. Or is it, a beautiful designer dress, fresh flowers everywhere or a beautifully styled & decorated space?  I ask, ‘cause this leads you to the next stage…


Think realistically about what you have & want to spend? This is crucial, so be honest with yourselves. You’ll be amazed what you can get if your prepared to do some of the bits yourself. The main chunk of your money will go to your Reception, not just the venue, but food & drink, so we have a top tip for you. Before you look at venues, write a quick guest list. By doing this, you’ll have a rough idea of numbers, which helps, ‘cause you can work out straight away roughly what it’s gonna cost you. Take some time to think about it & ask questions of what’s included, linen, glassware, cutlery, tables chairs etc. Does it include vat, this is often missed & a pain when the final bill comes through.  Staff is there a corkage charge & any other hidden costs.

Now don’t panic, ‘cause you’ve just spent a lot of money in your head. You just need to think about how you’ll split the rest of the budget. People will always tell you different things, but as it’s up to you, next write down a list, of what you see to be the most important aspects of the day & put them in order, i.e. band, photography, dress & suits, photo booth, mini golf, decor. Then research individually & get an idea of costs. Always do this before you book anything, there is nothing wrong with a budget spreadsheet, in fact, it’s what some people dreams are made of, I bloody love a good spreadsheet, even have a mug proclaiming my love!

The where & the when

Here are some links to some pretty different venues to give you an idea of whats out there, hopefully, no gaudy carpets in sight, but plenty of character.

A totally great space for your alternative wedding. A freaking submarine: Royal Navy Submarine Museum

Imagine your wedding in an underground lake or a Rumstore: Carnglaze in Cornwall

Your awesome London wedding in this amazing Industrial warehouse: MC Motors

Overlooking the London Skyline from East Dulwich Horniman museum

Head down to the woods of the New Forest

Check out these real weddings to wet your appetite.

Relaxed & modern East Dulwich wedding, with a Twenties, old Hollywood vibe, local pub reception & a London bus.

Planning an alternative wedding.


A vintage English Garden wedding with a DIY rustic Village Hall Reception.

Planning an alternative wedding. London wedding photographer, Surrey wedding photographer

When your lucky enough to have an Aunt & Uncle who not only have awesome land, but also rent out Tipi tents for weddings, I guess it’s a no brainer. A BYOB reception, with smoke bombs, wild flowers, picnic tables & the most amazing fireworks display 

Planning an alternative wedding. London wedding photographer, Surrey wedding photographer

A perfect backyard wedding in your paddock, your own mini Pub, 2 types of Whippet, unlimited Ice cream, hay bales & a bloody windy day. It’s not what you have, it’s what you do with it.
Backyard diy wedding Planning an alternative wedding. London wedding photographer, Surrey wedding photographer


Obviously, you can have the marriage ceremony & party all on the same day. You’re probably thinking I’m a bit strange saying this but hear me out. If, to you standing in front of friends & family & being married by a stranger in a room that’s ugly is not your cup of tea, then consider having it at your venue, even if it’s not licensed, by hiring a celebrant, or how about asking your parents, grandparents or friends to officiate, then instead of having to transport people here, there & everywhere, you just do it all in one place & then do the legal signing of paper the next day or the day before.


Flowers are expensive & can easily eat into your budget. With reason too, if you want something out of season, that’s gonna cost you, florists are artists too & sometimes a little doesn’t go a long way.

If you have 10 tables, 5 bridesmaids, 10 groomsmen & your bouquet, yeah you may need another stiff drink!  Here’s a few alternative options to think about, paper flowers, a bouquet, or just making one large stem for you & your girls to rock down the aisle.

Planning an alternative wedding. London wedding photographer, Surrey wedding photographer

(I’ve taken the above images from Pinterest)

Then there is a pin & button bouquet. This one was a Steampunk wedding & she made her bridesmaids one too.

Planning an alternative wedding. London wedding photographer, Surrey wedding photographerOr you could try Hydrangeas, soft ruffly & gorgeous, just 3 make a perfect statement, or paper flowers, you can tie these in with a theme, or pages from a favourite book or music you both love, see I told you, little things matter.

Planning an alternative wedding. London wedding photographer, Surrey wedding photographer

And, if your wondering what to do for the men & their buttonholes, then again a quick search on Etsy or Pinterest will pull up loads of ideas. Comic book buttonholes, Button buttonholes, Lego figurines, felt & feathers. Get your friends in & have a crafting evening, just make sure you leave the wine till after.

Keeping people entertained

Apart from alcohol, there are a few things you can do during your reception to keep people entertained. You can make your own carnival stalls, like hook the duck, a coconut stand, or a ring toss.

If you know your friends will be up for it, Flip cup or Beer pong. I’m aware this will get very messy, very quickly, so maybe this is one for after dinner.

You can hire Mini Golf courses & skittle alleys that come to you, this makes a nice change to the standard lawn games you can get.

Planning an alternative wedding. London wedding photographer, Surrey wedding photographerPlanning an alternative wedding. London wedding photographer, Surrey wedding photographer

Fairground rides are such fun, transport yourself back to Grease & get yourself a big wheel, bumper cars, Funhouse & a helter-skelter.

You can even challenge your friends with a Bucking Broncho, this was hilarious to watch! Planning an alternative wedding. London wedding photographer, Surrey wedding photographer


Who says you have to have a 3-course meal & a seating chart. Exactly!! So if your venue lets you provide your own caterer, throw the seating chart part of your planning book away. Let people decide where they wanna sit & even what they wanna eat.

Street food vans: These are everywhere now, Why not have 3 or 4 different trucks, offering different options, guest can get what they want, when they do & can go sit anywhere. You could even have them during your drinks reception, serving small portions, kind of a cross between a Canape & a starter as it were. Paella, Hog roast, Lamb roast, BBQ, Fish & chips, Pizza. See the list is endless & no jus in sight!!


Dessert & Cake

The possibilities are endless here, and I’ll let you into a little secret. If you don’t really want a wedding cake, don’t have one. Here are some alternative ideas

Find someone to make you an awesome Dessert table full of amazing yumminess.

Stack Donuts or Brownies to create a “Cake”

Ask friends & family to bring their own creations

Milk & Cookies table

Waffle station

Macaron tower

Tower of cheese- This also doubles as a great evening buffet too.

Told you there were loads of options.


Don’t feel obligated to go classical, but if you like the idea of it, then maybe a quartet playing acoustic versions of your favourite songs!  A simple guitarist, not necessarily a singer, but again, just playing your fav songs as background. Most venues will have a PA system, so you can hook up an iPod with a playlist. For something totally different, Cuban salsa band or a mariachi band.

In the evening, will you want a Band or DJ, it’s the ultimate battle. Nothing beats live music & you don’t have to have a dedicated wedding band, so the cheese factor doesn’t have to be high. Head down to your local pubs & open mic nights, hire someone you like & wanna listen to. Do you like swing dancing? Country music, Irish folk? Something different will always get people dancing

It kinda comes with the territory, & some DJ’s can be super cheesy, but give them some direction & they can be key, treat it like a club I guess, you know your friends & what will get them on the dance floor. There are other options too, like a DIY option, set up a Spotify playlist & put it on your invitation. Guests can add to it & you’ll have an abundance of music to last through the night. Have you thought about a Silent Disco? This will cater to all those different music tastes. Not everyone’s ideal evening, but Karaoke. Get your guest up & involved & come on! it’ll definitely be a laugh.


Well, I think we’ve pretty much-covered everything, but if I’ve missed anything, sorry, but you can Google those yourselves. You’ve got loads to get you started, so enjoy your planning, just don’t forget to book us for your photography!

Surrey wedding photographer | FUN wedding photographer

friendslet's be

Surrey wedding photographer | FUN wedding photographer