Offbeat partner: Cat, health food shop sales advisor
Offbeat partner: JP, software tester
Date and location of wedding: Pynes House, Devon, England — June 24, 2017
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
We had a pirate-themed wedding because we wanted fun costumes and knew it would be awesome to incorporate sword-fighting since one of my hobbies is HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts). Pirates seemed to fit the bill for being easy to dress as, fun, informal, and a bit chaotic.
I rode up to the ceremony on horse-back (or attempted to at least!). We had a vegan meal, and we also tried to keep it as environmentally-friendly as possible. We DIYed many things like table decorations and confetti, and looked for recycled/sustainable/organic options for things where possible.
We were lucky enough to find some great local vendors. This included the cordwainer who custom-made JP’s pirate boots plus sword frogs made from vegan leather, the seamstress who lived around the corner and made/altered our outfits, and the milliner who made both our pirate hats despite it not being her usual fare.
A very talented friend painted us a fingerprint tree which incorporated our cats, which was a lovely way of including them when they couldn’t be there. We had custom-made ouroboros-style poesy rings, in the form of two snakes eating each other's tails with a rhyming couplet engraved inside, made from recycled gold.
Tell us about the ceremony:
We had a civil and completely non-religious ceremony. For a civil ceremony in England, you have to return a form to the registrar two weeks beforehand detailing what music you’re having, and any personalisations. As this deadline approached, we still didn’t know what we wanted, which made us realise that it clearly wasn’t important to us. We didn’t need to personalise the ceremony just for the sake of it, especially as the rest of the day would be so personal. We had a friend do a reading, “Bridled Love,” as a personal touch.
Even going with the bog-standard legal ceremony, it ended up being personal. The venue was only a 10 minute drive from where my mum keeps her horses, and a friend kindly volunteered to drive Ella the horse over in a horsebox. I rode down the long, straight driveway to where our guests were waiting (in England you can’t get legally married outside — it has to be in a licensed building, so we were married in the venue’s doorway and our guests sat outside facing us). My mum walked with me, and my dad was waiting at the end to walk me the last few steps down the aisle, so it was a nice way to include both my parents. Unfortunately, Ella stopped dead a good distance away and stared with suspicious interest at the large group of pirates waiting ahead! She refused to budge, so I didn’t quite get to ride up to the ceremony. It was very special having her there, though.
Tell us about your reception:
We had a three-course vegan meal with several options from some amazing caterers, and a buffet from different caterers who are well-known locally for their superb vegan food. We decorated the tables with shells I collected and stones that friends helped us to paint. Each table competed in a pirate quiz on antiqued piratical paper (DIY featured here!). Two drew for first place, so it was settled by giving a champion per table a foam sword to fight it out. It still didn’t decide a winner, but it was fun!
Instead of a first dance, JP and I had a first sword-fight, using steel swords. It was part-choreographed, partly ad-libbed. Then he fought his best man, who ended up “shooting” him, missing, and another friend who was in on it fell down as though shot — that got some laughs. My HEMA instructor and I also did an impromptu display fight.
Musically talented friends organised sea-shanties for all to join in on. We had piñatas which we hit with the steel swords after the foam ones took too long. On reflection, we had far too many sweets and not enough piñatas.
We had a treasure hunt with clues written on stones hidden around the venue. The prizes were hidden in a priest hole! (The current house was built around 1700, so isn't that old, but I suppose the builders thought “just in case!”)
What was your most important lesson learned?
We had a little over a year to plan our wedding, and it was about right for us. Think about the sort of wedding you want and give yourself enough time. You don't want to spend so long planning you get fed-up and burnt-out, but try to give yourself more time than you need. I was shocked at vendors already being booked up over a year in advance, and apparently it's never too early to start planning.
- Photography: James Marcelle and Will Farron
- Wedding Breakfast Caterers: Oaktree Occasions
- Evening Buffet Caterers: Fairfoods
- Groom’s Shirt and Waistcoat (before alterations): The Dark Angel
- Alterations and Bride’s Outfit: Helen Plewka
- Pirate Hats: Rivka Jacobs
- Custom Pirate Boots and Sword Frogs (Holders): Chuckle Shoes
- Fingerprint Tree: Naomi Wicks Art
- Custom Wedding Rings: Chris Parry