Can you be a creative bride outside of London?

I’ve heard there was a big wedding show in That London this weekend. Sounds brilliant – the Designer Wedding Show. Ah… I wish I could have been there with all the coolest wedding suppliers and UK wedding bloggers out in force!

The Designer Wedding Show

Instead, while everyone was doing the DWS this weekend I was at home in sunny Manchester (yes! sunny!) doing some Pondering. Specifically about creative weddings, the influences in the wedding industry and pressures on brides to have certain things on their wedding days.

Planning a creative wedding

At the ideas stage of wedding planning I think the world is your oyster. It’s easy to dream – and every bride and groom should enjoy this stage of planning. Influences are everywhere: wedding magazines, blogs and websites especially.

A creative wedding in London. Photo credit:

Budgeting for a less creative wedding

Dreams are put to one side when the spreadsheets come out, I think. You plan your wedding budget and begin to research the big purchases: you visit your wedding venues, chat with a photographer, try wedding dresses on. And these experiences all bring new influences into your wedding planning: not necessarily good ones!

I think most wedding venues’ brochures are based on fairytale, romantic, classy white and pink weddings. They’re pretty… but probably not as adventurous as your initial wedding plans.
You could easily begin to absorb the imagery provided by a classic stately home / country hotel wedding without consciously thinking about it. So do your groom and your parents who visit venues with you.

Keeping the creative wedding dream alive!

Getting quotes from photographers can be brilliant: by nature wedding photographers are creative people. Your photographer could be your greatest ally in sticking to your guns and keeping your creative wedding dreams alive!

Wedding dress shopping should be a wonderful experience. Please – find a bridal shop where you feel welcomed, well treated, respected and where you enjoy every second of the experience of choosing your wedding dress. Take someone with you who shares your taste in dresses: your bridesmaid perhaps, if your mum might prefer the more traditional / popular dresses and you want something more unique.

I think – and I keep hearing – that it’s at this stage of wedding planning that dreams and creative ideals tend to fall by the wayside. Has this happened to you?

Local trends and less creative weddings

Getting back to That London and designer weddings, the other influence I wonder about is location. It seems that outside of the capital venues become countrified, less quirky; you’ll find manor houses and stately homes with Georgian architecture and Jacobean features, traditional landscaped gardens with fountains and verandahs.

It’s all very classy, sophisticated and elegant. But how many regional wedding venues constantly develop themselves, reinvent their brochures to attract funky and contemporary weddings? Indeed, why should they, when the bookings are rolling in every year?

Why are there more creative weddings near London?

London is a European fashion capital, a thriving city with a cool image, full of inspiration for designers and creative types. Aside from London fashion week, Camden and all the creative industries in the city, the wedding industry itself thrives there.

Top dress designers are based in London. Chic inner city venues like One Marylebone are making headlines in the wedding press and the Designer Wedding Show – for example – is all about London. So it figures that London brides are surrounded by creative influences we just don’t have as much of in the rest of the country.

Breaking the trend, embracing creative weddings

This is a story I’m hearing time and again: brides around the UK are taking their influences from what’s around them, and it simply isn’t as easy to have a creative wedding outside of London – to some extent, outside of the big cities. I’d like to know if it’s true!

Our Star Brides are planning some wonderfully creative weddings – but are they the exception to the rule? Or do Sally and Salma represent a new type of bride setting new trends, no matter where in the country they are?

There’s nothing wrong with a classic, traditionally styled wedding. If that’s your dream then you shouldn’t let me tell you otherwise: what do I know?! But if you’re a little bit different, if you’d like a more creative day but it’s not working out that way I’d love to know why.

What do you think?

I’d love to hear your comments – there will also be more articles on the blog over the next few weeks about planning a creative wedding so please stick with us to read more. Pop a comment in the box below, or email me to share your views:

Claire x

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.



  • anna and the ring
    9 years ago

    Yes of course you can. I was married in Northumberland and still felt my wedding was creative. It’s all about wanting to do what you want to do. You shouldn’t feel restricted because you don’t live in a city.

    The internet is a marvellous thing!

  • Wedding Sparrow
    9 years ago

    Thanks for your thoughts on this Claire. As a bride to be I seem to be finding more and more of my creative inspiration from the USA in terms of photography, table displays and even the venue styling. It seems to be that I can’t find the same level of creativity and detail that goes into these stunning weddings this side of the pond? Why? Is it because we are behind the times? Is it because they have creative event planners? Who knows. At this point in time we take inspiration from afar and put our own personalised touch to their ideas. Looking forward to the rest of your blog posts x

  • Emma
    9 years ago

    I live in Suffolk and I’m trying to plan a wedding with a bit of a twist. I’m finding that most of the more quirky fairs are in London. However there is a vintage fair in Norfolk soon that I’m looking forward to. I agree that the creative side can get overlooked when doing your budget! I’m trying to stick with it!

  • Claire
    9 years ago

    Thanks for your comments, Anna, Wedding Sparrow, Emma.

    Anna – fab. A resounding “yes!” is what I like! Did you experience any pressures to conform a little more than you did though?

    Wedding Sparrow – my questions exactly. From what I have heard from suppliers recently I wonder if it’s because we hold more tightly to tradition over here… then again, the most meringuey weddings I’ve seen are from the US – although I agree there are a lot of creative blogs over there. Perhaps they do extremes better than we do but it goes both ways!!

    Emma – enjoy your vintage fair – I hope it’s as lovely as it sounds! Good luck and do stick with it 🙂

  • Salma
    9 years ago

    As you know, I felt the pressure to conform to a fairytale wedding (especially dictated initially by where I’m getting married) – but I didn’t know it was pressure until I realised I could do something different – and as Anna says – the internet is a wonderful thing! Without wedding blogs I wouldn’t have realised I could be more creative – the industry really is changing and people are daring to be bold and different and express more of their own personalities in their special day.

    I wouldn’t say it’s hard to be creative in planning your perfect wedding, it is just often overlooked!! So yes, perhaps some of the literature and brochures given out by wedding venues et al should evolve ever so slightly, if just to accurately reflect what people are doing these days!

  • Rebecca
    9 years ago

    Sorry I find the idea that you can’t have a creative weddings outside of London quite offensive!
    I’m originally from rural East Midlands but currently live between urban Islington and Northumberland and I’ve found you can find barns, halls and venues that allow you your own caterer are much more abundent outside of London.

    I do think generally that city dwellers are by nature more expressive and are more likely to have quirkier weddings. I leave my house and walk through Hoxton and see people with tattoos from head to toe and women dresses in 1950’s clothes as a way of life.

    I certainly haven’t found that getting married in the countryside has meant we haven’t been able to do our own thing or conform to our venues ‘idea of a wedding’. I think a lot of this is down to blogs and ideas being readily available. I think this is why I am a little dissapointed that this idea is being raised and given credence on a oft read blog.

  • Claire
    9 years ago

    Thanks for your comment Rebecca, and don’t worry I’m not saying you can’t have a creative wedding outside of London; only that there are too many influences to the contrary – perhaps it just seems we’re further from the leading designers. Please don’t be offended or disappointed!

    It’s refreshing to hear that country venues are readily available where you can hire your own caterer outside of London. (It might be useful for people if you name a few here too.) Likewise that the ideas are there and you’ve been able to do your own thing without restrictions – that’s what I wanted to hear in the comments on this post.

    I think it’s an interesting talking point and I’m glad to hear the positive side of the argument from you here! I’ve heard too much of the opposite view recently 🙂

  • Vicky
    9 years ago

    In my opinion of course you can be creative outside the capital but it’s harder for two reasons. Firstly you have to fight against the deeply ingrained ideas about what a wedding should be, country house, big dress, cravats (think county wedding magazine and you’re pretty much there). If this type of wedding isn’t for you then you will struggle a little at the wedding fairs whereas in London people are much more open and used to more quirky weddings and so there are many more options. Secondly I think in some ways non London brides need to be more creative as we have to really dig around for amazing venues, shops that stock unusual dresses and of course wedding industy peeps who share your vision (incl togs, stationery designers, even caterers).

    It can be done and thank god for the internet!

  • Tony Staggeredface
    9 years ago

    Surely the point is that creativity is piqued by restrictions. People saying you can’t/opposition to your ideas/fewer “creative” spaces to get spliced/etc. I find the idea loathsome that there has to be a market for creative weddings or that you’d need to go to London, or anywhere, to pick up creative ideas – they’re someone else’s ideas, not yours. The market is in your head, the ideas are already there, the creativity is within you. If people oppose it, that’s great because it means you can work out why they don’t see how this celebration reflects you so perfectly and improve the relationship – or end it.

  • chris hanley
    9 years ago

    Tony I totally agree with the point you make.
    Also I like Claire mentioning the photographer being the greatest ally to a bride. Inspiring, enthusiastic, imaginative engaged couples. Photographers thrive on these people and you will certainly get the very best out of your photographer who will go the extra mile on top of the extra mile.

  • Eleanor
    9 years ago

    Agree with Tony. I don’t think this is about creativity, it’s about individuality. When you’re planning an event such as your wedding, you, as a couple, gravitate towards ideas that resonate with you as individuals, not as creatives. That might be the sort of weddings that feature on sites like this, offbeatbride, rockandrollbride, et al, or it might be those that feature in Harpers. It might be bettering the wedding of your cousin from last year, having the most fireworks shooting off your head-dress, or the biggest cake. Unless you’ve got a strange sense of what you’re getting married for, you want your guests to join a celebration that says things about you and your partner’s love, not one that shows how creative you can be and shows off your ‘talents’.

    Thank god blogs like English Wedding exist, they give me ideas of how other people who’s style I admire are expressing themselves. But no idea is unique. Ask yourself, as I have, when you stack your cupcakes, randomise your shabby chic sweetie table, build your antique photo-wall and sew another string of bunting – is this creativity, or is it using current trends to build your own vision? We’re using at least two of those trends for our wedding, but judging by what we see on the blogs I know we all look at, this sort of look/feel is a trend in itself.

    We are a group of individuals choosing to style our wedding in a certain way, regardless of location. What this whole process has made me realise, as I go deeper into the realm handmade signs, whimsical photographers, hand-tied herb bouquets and steampunk-themed accordionists, is that if we were having a reception in the local Hilton with a chicken dinner, a three-tiered fruitcake and a disco, I would be just as individual as I am now. Because we would have created our perfect day, just as we’re doing in reality.

    Celebrate what you are, not what you want people to think. And you can definitely do that outside London! In fact, it’s much cheaper!

  • Claire
    9 years ago

    Eleanor – beautifully put and inspiring. Thank you. I can’t add to what you’ve said – I agree with every word. 🙂

  • Jane
    9 years ago

    Its certainly made people talk …. which is a good thing. In fact today this topic was raised whilst on a photoshoot in the wilds of North Yorkshire…most definitely Its Not London.. In fact the very words ‘Its Not London’ seems to be the mantra of vitually all stylists/wedding magazine editors and wedding journalists who appear incapable of featuring or highlighting the work of anyone who is outside of the M25/South East…if Its Not London its not ‘cool’ ‘cutting edge’ ‘creative’ etc etc …. or maybe this is an ‘easy label’ for them lets face it Heaven forfend anyone actually doing some proper journalism, getting out there doing research & discovering instead of having everything laid on and delivered to your desk by courier…
    So I suppose if you dont exhibit at the Designer Wedding Show your not one of the ‘coolest wedding suppliers’ then? That with the greatest of respect is rubbish along with the notion that there arent as many quirky spaces to get married should you want it… Manchesters got lots ditto Leeds/Liverpool/Edinburgh/Glasgow etc etc… but as someone else pointed out already creativity comes from within and not the latest ‘must have’ thrust at you from a magazine.
    Yes creative weddings most certainly do exist outside of London…the reason this question has been raised in the first place is because of the relentless deification of London as the be all and end all by the wedding industry itself and in the main the magazines…

    • Claire
      9 years ago

      Wow Jane – passionately put! Thank you for your comment. I love posts like this where my ramblings are completely overshadowed by the comments afterwards!
      For the record I don’t think the coolest wedding suppliers were all at the DWS (not that I’d know lol) – some of them were, the branding is certainly spot on, but as a Manchester blogger I feature a lot of real weddings from this area and for me some of the most inspiring businesses are up here. Vintage Twee springs to mind for quirky table decorations, as well as some incredible photographers: Chris Hanley, Tobiah Tayo, Cat Hepple… Red Floral if anyone hasn’t heard of Mat yet… and the list goes on.
      Ah the old classic north / south divide!
      Thank you so much for your comments.
      Claire x

  • Andy Billington
    9 years ago

    Hi – great article and a very interesting point.
    As a photographer I’ve shot lots of unique and creative weddings outside London. A Germanic humanist wedding in a Scotish castle, a peacock themed pagan handfasting at Newstead Abbey with a Geavy Metal reception and most recently a cool vintage Country Casual wedding near Loughborough (check out ‘RockNRoll Bride’ on Friday as it’s going to be featured by Kat).
    I tink it’s a case of knowing the day you want and sourcing the suppliers, designing the day and not being bullied by venues who are used to being very ‘vanilla’.
    I LOVE working with couples on unique visions and working with them to create a bespoke set of images that reflect THEIR day – it’s interesting, fun, varied and perfectly achievable outside the big smoke!

  • sarah
    9 years ago

    Another great and thought-provoking article Claire! I have to admit that I’ve found it hard to get my ‘vision’ across in my beloved Devon…but it’s finally coming together. I think suppliers are really open to the idea of working with peoples individuality – it’s just there’s previously not been many with the confidence to ‘go for it’ – I’ve found our venue so accomodating of me not wanting a top table for example…but initially they were like ‘really? you sure?’…it’s just not the done thing. Times are a changing though – and the world is a smaller place for the internet. Where America leads we follow and I hope – I’m sure, we’ll be seeing many more creative weddings pop up across the country. Also, that ‘make do and mend’ mentality has been picked up on…amazing how much more creative you are when the quaffers are low! xx

    • Claire
      9 years ago

      Thanks Sarah, and lovely to hear that your local suppliers in Devon are keen to be more creative as well. I LOVE Devon!

  • chris hanley
    9 years ago

    eloquently delivered Jane, well said.
    Its not just the wedding industry, do you know there are no decent restaurants outside of London?
    Apparently any one north of watford dies quicker and younger according to latest research.
    It’ll be interesting to see how the media portrays us when media city at Salford gets into its stride with all the major players moving up north. I’m sure quaint and quirky Manchester will all the rage. I wonder if Salford is renamed Sall Foord, just like Battersea was named Bar terse see ahh 🙂 And whilst on the subject of magazines, they have their own divides between editorial and advertising. Anyone else find it insulting when they run features on DIY weddings, how to save money etc but ring the pro businesses up asking them to advertise. Cor blimey guv, I don’t half give em what for.

  • Hi Claire,
    It’s been really interesting to read everyone’s comments on this. I think one of the big issues for brides who want to be creative (certainly many that I see) is confidence. They start out with fabulous ideas for a unique and individual wedding, and are then slowly and surely worn down by outside influences – a bolshy bridesmaid with her own strong ideas, a mum that thinks her daughter should be having the full meringue fairytale princess day, magazines that insist you must have this or that to have the perfect wedding. It takes a bride with a very strong personality and clear vision to be able to just go for it and have the day that she really wants without her creative ideas being watered down by what everyone else thinks.
    If you have people around you with very strong opinions about what you should and shouldn’t have, maybe consider leaving them at home when you go and visit your suppliers. There’s nothing worse for a supplier than to be thrust into the middle of a family feud during a consultation! Speaking from personal experience, it is so hard to get some brides to speak up and say what flowers they really want if their highly-opinionated mother (or mother-in-law!) is sat next to them, pulling faces and turning their nose up at the bride’s ideas. Some consultations end up in a full-blown argument, some in frosty silence – neither help the bride to focus and feel comfortable and confident with their decisions.
    My advice would be to stay focussed on what is important to you and your partner – if you hate cake, don’t feel pressured into having the traditional white-iced 3 tiers just because Auntie Mabel would be disappointed. Have a cheese cake, a dessert bar or even an icecream van if that’s what reflects your personality and life.
    I would also encourage people to trust their instincts when trying to find creative suppliers – we are out there, I promise! Do your research, read blogs and websites, visit shops, email or phone us – if you like what you see and click with the supplier’s style and personality, they are probably the one for you. Once you have found one supplier that you like and trust, they will usually be able to recommend other creative people that they have worked with on previous weddings.
    So stay strong, trust yourself and your suppliers, and remember that it is ultimately your day – a reflection of who you are. Creative suppliers love working with creative brides – you will get the best out of us, and we will be able to do what we do best, without compromise!

  • I love your Devil’s Advocate, Claire!
    I think this is one scenario where North/South divide, or ‘North lags South’ definitely does not occur. National magazines, blogs, articles and current trends influence and inspire creativity but, as many have so passionately stated above, wedding days are unique, individual and personal to the couple in that everyone will have their own take on a popular trend and translate it to their own, regardless of geographical area. Yes, there may be the art gallery/cinema/city ballroom weddings in London but the North West boasts of sumptuous coutryside venues that don’t necessarily dictate the ‘fairytale’ theme, it is dependant all on the couple. I recently met two London planners who are bored with ‘vintage’ specialising in their own USP, nothing out of the ordinary to any other UK weddings. As a Northern bride myself (2009) we married at home in a marquee reception with a complete blank canvas to run with a whole lotta creativity! Our garden could’ve been anywhere in the world, and I still had acccess to the same inspirational advice as any bride in the world with a click of a mouse!
    Thank you for your thought provking and keyboard bashing post! xxx

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