A festival-themed wedding can be fun, frivolous, and playful. This a fantastic way to bring your friends and family together to celebrate your nuptials with music, games, and entertainment on your wedding day.
Although there can be a lot to think about when planning a festival wedding, it’s also not as structured as the more traditional setup. This gives you the freedom to be creative, imaginative, and a lot more flexible with what you choose to include.
It is a lot more informal and relaxed than a traditional wedding day, from having the ‘standard’ ceremony, followed by a drinks reception, a three-course meal, and an evening reception. You have the freedom to mix it up and have a different type of day for you and your guests to remember. Whether this is from the entertainment you have or the food you serve – such as having street food or sharing-style buffet foods rather than a traditional sit-down meal.
To start you on your way to creating your own style of a festival wedding, we have a few ideas to share with you.
Choosing Your Festival Theme
It is important to decide on your theme before the planning commences, as it will help to determine what type of venue you are looking for e.g. choosing a venue in the great outdoors – whether it is in fields, a forest, or natural woodland; or in a castle, country house or rustic barn for example.
You may decide to go with a theme such as Boho, circus fun, musical, or a Glastonbury glam festival-themed wedding. Considering things such as whether you would like to have a marquee, tipi, or bell tent on site, will all be things to consider beforehand, as some venues may already have them or have restrictions on having them on their grounds.
Venues such as Woodhall Manor, an exclusive use medieval mansion, is surrounded by 9 acres of countryside in a walled garden. It is perfect for a weekend-long celebration. This idyllic wedding venue is steeped in history and is exclusively yours for a day or two or three! With plenty of outdoor space to hold your festival wedding, it also has accommodation on-site and indoor event spaces perfect for if the weather takes a turn for the worse!
Deciding On A Wedding Planner
It may be worth considering a wedding planner for your special day. This is so that they can take a layer of stress away from you. It is going to be one of the best days of your life, and you are there to enjoy it! A wedding planner will be your right hand, they will be able to run your day as you planned, from setting up your decorations to directing guests and organising suppliers. They help with keeping on track of the timings for the day, and general coordination of the day.
If you choose to have your wedding at Woodhall Manor, we have a dedicated team available to help you with your planning from the minute you book, to the day itself. There is no need to book an external wedding planner, as the team can answer any queries and know the venue best.
In the few weeks leading up to the day, you will be assigned a wedding coordinator that will plan everything with you. From the timings of the day to the food and drinks. You will then have an on-the-day event manager and team, who will be able to organise guests and ensure your day goes exactly to plan, all included in the cost of your wedding.
However, not all venues will include this service. Take a look at For Better For Worse, who have contacts to a range of wedding planners across the country.
Choosing Your Suppliers
While choosing your photographer for the day it is important to consider the different types of wedding photographers there are. For a relaxed-themed wedding, you want to find a photographer that shares the same vision as you do – to get the more natural and fun shots that you may be looking for rather than formal, traditional shots.
Other things to consider are the type of catering you would like and finding the best caterers that are able to cater to what you are looking for. It may be worth speaking to your wedding planner, as some venues will have restrictions on external catering. Woodhall Manor has a team of in-house chefs, who are happy to put together a menu to best suit you, so it is worth discussing your options beforehand.
While looking for other suppliers, we recommend looking for ones that have the same approach and vision as you. For example, when finding a company that can supply you with a photo booth for your festival-themed wedding, you are less likely going to want to go with a company that has a modern, high-tech one, that they use for celebrities.
Speak to your venue or wedding planner for any recommendations, as they are bound to have contacts with suppliers they have used before. Or even friends and family, will be more than happy to help where they can!
Festival Themed Décor Ideas
Some festival-themed wedding ideas may include:
- Rustic, handmade and personalised signposts
- Hay bales for guests to sit on
- Wedding poster/Signpost/Pallet for guests to sign rather than a guestbook
- Fairy lights or hanging lights
- Bunting and banners
- Paper lanterns
- Hanging garlands
- Colourful napkins, chair sashes, glasses, cutlery, candles etc
- Colourful flowers
- Giant festival flags
- Fire pit
- Colourful decorative streamers
Some added extra things you may like to include into your day may be:
- Wellies or flip flops
- Neon lights or signs
- PinatasTo get your guests started with your festival-themed wedding, you may decide to send them a unique-themed wedding invitation. This could be a festival entry ticket, wristband or lanyards, that are personalised to you with your wedding date and names on, or even a physical or virtual, bright, colourful themed wedding invitation. Such as a festival line-up-styled ‘Wedfest’ invitation with the headliners being the main events of the day.
How To Decorate A Festival Wedding
Festival weddings can be as elaborate or as relaxing as you like. The most important thing is that the festival represents your style, personality, and taste.
There are many festival styles that you can adopt. You could be more conservative with your wedding venue and choose a quintessentially English vintage garden party or choose a more chaotic carnival, fancy dress affair. Before you start planning, make sure you have an idea of what style you want, otherwise, you could get completely carried away with mix matching props, outfits, and décor.
When decorating a festival theme, it’s important to have a mix of statement pieces and delicate touches which creates layer upon layer of excitement and beauty. Think huge flags and outdoor love letters complimented with fairy lights in the trees and quirky signage.
We’ve talked about bringing the outdoors in before, but how about you take the indoors out? Old-school sofas, decorative rugs and rustic benches, and trestle tables are great for creating a festival vibe.
You could also hire giant hat tipis or bell tents to be set up in the grounds, as you will have the perfect backdrop of the beautiful rolling countryside for your wedding photos. They also make a beautiful setting to have your wedding breakfast – as dependent on the tipi, they can hold guest numbers from 50 to 200 people seated.
Nothing has to match, be as random as you like and incorporate as many colours and textures as you can. This is great for your wedding photography and perfect for you helping your guests feel right at home.
What To Wear To A Festival Wedding
Let’s talk wedding party. As the happy couple, you decide the dress code and you should lead by example. If the idea of a fitted three-piece suit and ball gown wedding dress fills you with dread, don’t wear it!
Dress how you want to dress, there are so many retailers out there who offer gorgeous alternatives to wedding dresses, the retail world is your oyster.
You can be as elaborate, silly, or as casual as you like, as long as you are comfortable whilst saying your vows, it really doesn’t matter.
When sending out your invites, let your guests know how they should dress and what to wear to a festival wedding. Set a fancy dress theme, give them an idea of the level of formality or if you are holding an outdoor wedding, this is important info that they will need to know. Give them time to swap the stilettos for flats or wellies.
If you are adopting a fancy dress theme to your wedding, some guests may not initially feel that comfortable buying or wearing that style of outfit.
Just wait until they arrive, the other guests are dressed up, the flags are flying and the atmosphere is set.
Offer a box of props for those who may arrive slightly formal and then decide to relax into the spirit of the occasion later on at the evening party. As the drinks start flowing you could start to see even the quietest of wall flowers all dressed up in grandeur.
Festival Wedding Entertainment Ideas
If you are used to the festival scene, you will know that they are filled with entertainment space everywhere you look.
Music is one of the most important forms of entertainment that you need to look into. Live bands and musicians are perfect for this style.
Don’t just limit yourself to one band, why not have a live vocalist as you’re walking down the aisle, followed by an acoustic band as you enjoy your drinks?
If your friends are musical, you could ask them to come along and have a jamming session, all followed up by a fun DJ in the evening or live music to help you dance on into the moonlight. Or perhaps even consider a silent disco, this can be great for your guests as they can switch between different channels to suit different music tastes.
There are always moments when you as a couple, have to disappear. Whether it’s to sign the register, have your own photos with the photographer, or just to have time to catch a breath (and have some peace and quiet just the two of you before the party gets started).
Fill these moments with magicians, caricaturists, live painters, dancers, or even a comedian. Keep the atmosphere alive throughout the day and evening.
Keeping Your Guests Involved
It is super important to keep your guests involved and engaged throughout the whole day. Especially if they don’t know many people, and you’re not going to be able to spend all your time with everyone.
Maybe task some of your guests with roles – such as setting up a variety of interactive activities or games. Adding photo booths, giant garden games, crazy golf, inflatable activities, or bouncy castles, can keep guests of all ages occupied, involved, and entertained. It can also be good character building between guests, encouraging them to participate and helps for guests to get to know one another. Creating an area for arts and crafts or face painting for children, is another idea that will fit into your festival-themed wedding while keeping them involved and entertained during the day.
Food For Your Festival Wedding
Generally, a formal wedding breakfast is the main event at a traditional celebration… not really the case for a festival wedding.
Canapes and food trucks or drink stands are perfect for your festival foods. Enjoy tiny versions of some of your favourite dishes such as tiny fish and chips or you could even create a taco stand!
If you are considering having your special event at Woodhall Manor, then our team of chefs are happy to offer live cooking to get you into that festival feel. Your guests can watch our chefs create culinary magic before their very eyes. This is great for one-pot dishes such as fajitas, curries, chillies and paellas.
Base your food choices on what is socially easy to eat. Allow your guests to carry on mingling with hand-held food, you don’t have to limit them to a sit-down meal. If you have any food-specific ideas then please feel free to let the team know and the chef’s would be happy to help.
And why not explore some creative options with your drinks? Themed cocktails including jazz & gin or jugs of Pimm’s nod towards the more sophisticated festivals of Henley Regatta and Royal Ascot – enjoy something quite different, it would be rude not to!
There are so many variations on this theme the mind boggles. Have a wander through Pinterest for some wonderfully creative inspiration, or even better, come and visit our dedicated team and we’ll get started on planning your amazing day together.
Back Up Plan
Having an outdoor festival wedding is a great idea, and can be one of the best types of wedding there are. However, it can be all good fun and games until the weather decides to take a turn for the worst.
This is why we highly recommend having a backup plan. Even if you are planning to have a wedding in the peak summer months, the British weather can still be very unreliable! Choosing a venue that has the option to go inside if needs must, isn’t a bad idea, or even having a marquee or tents to take shelter in. Our top tip would be to always have some umbrellas on hand, as you will thank yourself later on if they come into use!
Why should I have a festival wedding?
Because why not! They are relaxed, fun and enable you to have a good laugh with your closest family and friends!
Should I have a weather dependent back up plan?
We would always recommend that you do, just in case. You can hope for the best but the weather can be so unpredictable! Consider this while choosing your venue, as a venue such as Woodhall Manor has the spaces to take everything in with you!
Do you normally have a ceremony at festival style weddings?
It is entirely up to you. Personally, we would recommend having a celebrant ceremony instead, as they are more willing to get involved into the theme of the wedding and have some fun! You can then include music, poems and games into your ceremony – and save the legal part to another day!