Happy ice-cream faces for mr and mrs! - festival wedding photographer

Planning a Festival Wedding- The Ultimate Guide

Planning a festival wedding- the ultimate guide

So I bloody love a good festival. Actually that’s a lie. I love the good bits. The MUSIC for one. The outdoor drinking. The planning cool outfits. The feeling when you’re dancing like a loon on cloud 9 and forgetting the real world. I can leave the mud, and the pitching tents, and the stinky toilets though, if I’m being honest, thanks muchly.

But that’s why planning a festival wedding is SO GREAT. You can plan it your way! So if you want a cool Indie covers band, followed by a Spice Girls tribute act and a silent disco, you go right ahead. If you want to rock out with your cock out, and set up the most awesome mosh pit ever, you go for it. The world is your lobster. You can wear what you like- a princess dress and wellies? A glittery jumpsuit? A bright pink suit and flowers in your beard? Hell. Jeans and a t-shirt if you like. It’s YOUR DAY.

Festival weddings are an awesome way to express YOU. It’s informal and relaxed, without any pomp and circumstance- you can basically throw that wedding rule-book right out! It can be all about you as a couple and the things you love. From live music to street food vans, flower crowns to bonfire cook-outs- there’s a bazillion options. What’s more, you can make the party last longer by turning the wedding into a weekend-long event with on-site camping and an after party chill-out. In short, there is literally no limit to how awesomely YOU a festival wedding can be.

So (sorry, I’m waffling aren’t I? Can you tell festival weddings really get me excited?!!) here’s my best tips for making your festival wedding bloody AWESOME. P.S. The images in this blog are from Nova and Jack’s fabulous wedfest in Tamworth and Maddy & Mike’s beautiful outdoor wedding at Spring Cottage in Rivington. Click the links to read more about their days!

1)Finding a location for your festival wedding

Finding a location for a when you’re planning a festival wedding can be a bit tricky. Although it’s becoming more popular, if you haven’t got a family farm to utilise, you might feel a bit stuck. The best advice I can offer is, don’t be afraid to ask! Local farmers will often rent a field for a small fee. Even sports clubs or village greens are worth an ask! Village halls are a great option too for a dry-hire, blank-canvas space. Remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get! Just don’t forget to check out the legalities, such as music licences and when live music has to stop, as well as being able to serve alcohol. Hiring a bar can be a great option, and is often free if you can guarantee a certain number of guests. If you’re looking fot an AWESOME humanist celebrant, try Halde Pottinger,, Katie The Celebrant, or Lorraine- Liverpool Celebrant 

2) Get your guests excited for Wedfest fun

Your invites are the first clue your guests get about your wedding. Get their juices flowing with an awesome festival themed invite. Ticket style invites are awesome, or go the whole hog and send them a wristband or lanyard to wear on the day! There’s usually tons of extra info to add to festival invites- can guests camp on site? Do you want them to bring a dessert for a Bake Off style contest? Do you want them to wear their best festival style get-up and leave the stilettos at home? Pack that invite with all the info and get them excited for the wedding of the year. There’s some fab ones on Etsy!

3) Plan a super-personal ceremony for your wedding festival

The best bit about planning a festival wedding, is that you don’t have to be limited by anyone else’s rules. Your ceremony can be really, ridiculously personal, with any songs, readings and ideas that you fancy. My favourite ceremonies, the ones that make my eyes leak, are the ones that a gorgeously individual, sharing tales of how you met, how you fell in love, and little sneaky peaks into your lives together. I’ve had couples dance and sing during their ceremonies, play each other songs, and read each other poems they have written. From hand-fasting, to jumping the broom, you can include any (or no) traditions into your day too. Plus, what’s even better, you can have them outdoors- what about in a fairy-lit forest glen with your guests seated on haybales, or get dramatic with it on a Pyramid stage of your own making? Just do the legal bit at another time (because, two outfits, right?) and make your wedding day perfect for you.

Alternatively, find a licenced venue with a festival feel. Some of my favourites include: Spring Cottage, Rivington, The Normans, Betty’s Tipis, Camp Katur, The Palm House, Hinterlands, Camp & Furnace,  Hush, Fforest– in fact there’s loads- I’m sure I can help you find somewhere amazing!!

4) Perfect festival-themed food and drink

So food and drink are obviously massively important in both setting the tone for the day and making sure everyone is happy and has a good time! There are also lots of ways of keeping costs down- you can bring your own booze, keeping it cold in big buckets (or wheelbarrows!) of ice, or even ask guests to bring a bottle. Alternatively there are some great quirky options for bar hire. Food can be a little trickier, with nowhere to store it and keep it cool- so I would highly recommend food trucks or mobile caterers- it’s much less stressful  than a buffet, and there are so many awesome options- some of my favourites include I Knead Pizza, Fat Annie’s and Milk Maids. The best bit is, with so many incredibly tasty options, your menu can be totally your own- if you can’t eat the food you love on your wedding day, when bloody can you? Just remember to think about veggies/ vegans/ allergies etc.

5) Get Crafty with it

So I’m a total craft nerd. If I can cut & stick it, crochet it, stitch it or put glitter on it I’m there with bells on. Because festival weddings are a total blank canvas- a field, or a tent, basically!- you can go chuffing mental with the DIY and go mad bringing your Pinterst board to life! Bunting, festival flags, and hand-painted signs are great ideas. I’ve even had a bride and groom set up a bunting-decorating station, where guests each customise a flag and add a message for the bride and groom- such a cool idea! You could even get your hen party involved in your crafty exploits! The Crafty Hen run all kinds of awesome workshops, including Flower of Pom Pom Crown making, bunting making and even knicker customisation! The possibilities are really absolutely endless- I have a Pinterest board for planning a festival wedding- check it out here! 

6)The Wedfest Line Up

Entertainment options for festival weddings are crazy cool. Just like Glastonbury- literally anything goes. Whether its stilt walkers and firebreathers, magicians or garden games- there are such a crazy number of options. You could have all of the fun of the fair with bouncy castles, carousel rides and circus performers. You could set up areas for board games or have a beer pong tournament. You could have a chill out area with soft seating and relaxing tunes. You could have a bonfire or fire pit with marshmallow toasting! Anything. But the best thing is, you don’t HAVE TO do anything. People will love just being able to chill out, have a tipple and soak in the awesome atmosphere. One of my absolute favourite things at festival weddings is a glitter bar or temporary tattoo station- everyone loves to let loose and have a go, and it makes for fabulous photos too!

7)Tents fit for Glastonbury

Let’s talk tents. We live in Britain, and despite best laid plans, the British weather sometimes likes to quite literally rain on our parade. The day before our wedding was absolutely torrential rain. I had visions of everyone sitting miserable under umbrellas in a field, and, even though the day itself was glorious, I was so grateful for our marquee. A tent isn’t necessarily an essential. If you’re happy to take the weather as it comes and you’re your day in the rain- amazing. I’ll happily get out there with you and get soaked. But, if you want a back-up plan, there’s so many cool options now too, from a traditional marquee, to a tipi, a sperry tent or even a circus big top! But I would recommend something waterproof- just in case. Some companies I love include: PapaKata, and Smart Party Marquees.  

8)Music- what a festival wedding is all about

So it wouldn’t be a festival without music right? But hiring live bands can be super pricey, and let’s face it, the more traditional wedding bands definitely come with a generous helping of cheese. So here’s my tips for finding an affordable band that doesn’t make you cringe! 1) Ask around- getting tips from friends and family is often fab- they might just remember a friend of a friend who can get the party going 2) Check out local open mic nights or festivals- we found our two bands by heading to a beer festival at our venue- they were AMAZING and cost next to nothing. 3) Buskers- I shit you not, they are a fantastic source! We had an amazing singer during our arrival drinks, who we had seen busking in Preston. We didn’t actually have the balls to approach her the first time, but heard her again and couldn’t resist. She is incredible, we still get comments about how good she was! 4) As an alternative- hire a PA system and get on Spotify! Live music is great, but actually a banging playlist does the job just as well. Play all your faves, aiming for a wide range and lots of energy to get everyone dancing their socks off.

9)Keep me warm, baby

Outdoor weddings are a little bit exposed in the evening, and guests can get pretty chilly! To stop them heading back to their tents early to snuggle in a sleeping bag, it’s a great option to have bonfires or firepits, as well as some lovely snuggly blankets. There’s something so magic about your guests sitting, sharing stories around a campfire, toasting marshmallows and keeping warm. A lovely warming evening snack, like chilli or a curry is a fab idea too, or even some mulled wine. If you’re opting for campfires or firepits, maybe have a designated (sober) person in charge of safety! 

10) Dance under the Stars

Ok, so I’ve said before, I’m a sentimental old fool. I cry at literally anything. But one thing that gets me EVERY TIME is a first dance under the stars. It’s just so BEAUTIFUL! You somehow feel more relaxed when you’re not hemmed in by four walls, and the twinkly stars, perhaps some festoon lighting and candles in little lanterns… oh my goodness, so magical! Choose a tune that is all about you both, and get out there- you’ll be so glad you did!

And finally… Find a Photographer who’s PERFECT for your festival wedding extravaganza!

So it goes without saying, that traditional, posed wedding photography probably won’t work for a day as chilled as a festival wedding. You need a photographer who is as relaxed in their style as you are- someone who will capture all of the fun in a creative, unobtrusive way, becoming a part of the party!  I LOVE couples who choose to party their day away with a festival themed wedding. My quirky, creative and fun photography style might just be what you’re looking for. I’m a very happy camper, a bit of a hippy at and a huge indie music fan, so I’d feel right at home! I can’t wait to hear about your Wedfest wedding plans so get in touch!

Rachel Burt Photography

Hey! I'm Rach- a craft nerd, serial Netflix binging, tea-o-holic, peanut butter loving, music geek who loves to travel. I’m also a kick-ass documentary wedding photographer who loves quirky, relaxed couples who like to do things differently. I love colourful weddings and non-traditional couples planning their day, their way.
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