Tips for Planning a Festival Wedding
September is here, and we are winding down towards the end of another spectacular wedding season. This year has taken us from countryside stately homes, to urban warehouses, to Italian nunneries. And it's also taken us to fields.
Yes fields. Which is why today we're talking about festival weddings! A trend still going strong with so many UK couples. The appeal is obvious - a blank canvas, no restrictions, no pre-existing designs, no rules. Another appeal for many could be cost - there are no prescribed menus or formats so you can keep the costs down, right? Well, right and wrong.
As much as we love festival-style weddings, it is our planner duty to brides and grooms to get real on some of the pitfalls and hidden costs. So here's our brief tour of what to watch out for and what not to forget!
When you're visiting spaces to see if they might be the one to host your perfect festival wedding, you'll be expecting a blank canvas. But check whether you will have access to both electricity (some spaces might be handily hooked up with mains, most won't) and access to water (some may have taps installed). If there's no electricity already on site, your first unavoidable expense will be a generator or two. You'll need this for your caterers, lighting, DJ, photo booth, hairdryers, showers, and more. If you're hiring a marquee or tipi, they may be able to provide these.
Now this is where it really gets fun. You could literally do anything you want! Food stalls, ice-cream carts, burger vans, the world is your oyster (ooh, oyster bar?).
If you decide to forgo the traditional catering and instead go full-on festival with your food and drink, be aware of some of the gaps this might leave you. Having one caterer at your event means all bases are covered - they will provide the staff, the linens, the crockery, the cutlery, the tables, the chairs, whatever you need. But if you opt for a series of vans and carts, you'll need to figure out where all that other stuff is going to come from and make sure you don't forget anything.
Aside from what everyone is bringing, also consider what everyone is signed up to do. Caterers would normally handle set up and clean up too but if you're going for something different, make sure you have thought about who is in charge of certain areas. Who is going to set the tables? Who is going to pack away the glassware? Who is in charge of cutting up my cake to serve later?
If your event is going to be a series of trucks and stalls instead of a cover-all caterer, hire in agency catering staff to plug the gaps. They will do whatever isn't covered by your food providers and give you a lot of peace of mind.
On another note, if you are having more than a one-day event and you're asking people to camp on site, think about how and when you will be feeding your guests. Is there a way to cook food for breakfast on site or order something in for brunch the next day? Is there somewhere walkable your guests can sort themselves out?
Whether you're throwing a three day weekend event or just a single day, you're going to need toilets. Luxury event loos are available far and wide - portaloos be gone - and you can stock them with all the goodies you'd expect at home.
Showers might also be necessary if you're asking your guests to camp for one or two nights before and after, and will be extremely gratefully received by all who use it.
We'd advise speaking with a local company or the shower/toilet providers about getting a cleaner in to spruce up the facilities after your pre-game Friday night or the morning after the big day. It's a small expense that is well worth doing for happy guests.
Weather or Not
Ah, the one thing we can't control. Our blessed English weather. The appeal of a festival wedding is of course that a lot of the day's events are held outdoors, with perhaps the exception of a sit-down meal.
If you are planning an open-air ceremony, you're going to need to consider a Plan B in case of rain (or even serious sun!), and pray you don't have to use it. If the space you have chosen doesn't have a sheltered back up, consider your options. Would you consider decking everyone out with clear umbrellas, should the heavens open? Is there space in the dinner tent for you to move everyone inside for the vows, and would you be happy with that?
A back up tent may be the way forward here. What you can do with most tent and marquee companies is pay a little money to keep something on hold for your date, and then when it comes to the week of the wedding and you're looking at the forecast, you can make a call on whether you pay the rest of the money to put it up, or lose the deposit but can get married al fresco as planned. It's a little investment for a lot of peace of mind on the day.
As beautiful as our countryside is, the irritating reality of our fields and farms is that often there's not a lot of phone signal. This is just something to bare in mind when you're briefing your suppliers or if you know if guests get lost they aren't going to be able to get through to anyone.
For your staff working on site, old school walkies are the best (and most fun) way of communicating. And we're very much looking forward to using the ones we've just purchased for ourselves...
What are your main concerns about hosting a festival wedding? We'd love to hear your thoughts whether you're embarking on the planning or have just come out the other side - let us know!
And for the fun stuff, check out our Wed Fest inspo board over on Pinterest!