Original British Weddings

Choosing a quirky, unique and statement Wedding Venue is a fundamental ingredient if you want to make sure that your big day stands out. To ignite your imagination, we’ve picked some of the UK’s most exciting, original and quirky wedding venues to inspire you.

The Caves, Edinburgh

Deep in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, weddings of 65 to 130 day guests and up to 450 evening guests can be held in the Caves, licensed for civil, humanist, religious and handfasting ceremonies. This unique wedding venue makes up the sub-structure of the 18th Century South Bridge: remains of the houses that pre-date the bridge, with the original terracotta floor tiles still intact, can be seen here. Steeped in Scottish tradition, there was once so much whisky stored in the Caves that it became known as “Whisky Row”.

Christie’s Bistro, Manchester

Christie’s Bistro is set in a Manchester city Centre building dating back to 1890 when it was constructed as the new Study of Education. For much of the 20th century it housed Manchester University’s principle science library. Now converted into a bistro, it is still steeped in the institution’s history and character, with portraits of previous vice chancellors gracing the walls and endless rows of original books and documents. A hugely popular wedding venue, the bistro is still used frequently by university staff and students.

Spitbank Fort, Portsmouth

If you want to feel absolutely exclusive — and a little out to sea — Spitbank Fort could be the ultimate choice. The definition of “quirky venue”, Spitbank is a gun emplacement built to protect the British fleet when Britannia ruled the waves. Today it is described as a “luxurious cocoon of indulgence, privacy and exclusivity”. With nine bedroom suites, a rooftop hot pool and sauna and a stylish Officer’s Mess for dining, the imaginative restoration offers wedding parties a unique taste of life at sea.

Hard Day’s Night Hotel, Liverpool

For fans of British music — and the Beatles — this is the ultimate wedding party venue: but Fab Four aside, this contemporary boutique hotel in the heart of Liverpool is worth considering even if you’re not Beatle maniacs. Couples can marry in the “Two of Us” wedding suite, celebrate in a private themed bar and function room, and — for a luxurious wedding night — you could book the McCartney Suite, which pays tribute to Sir Paul’s work in music and the arts, or the Lennon Suite, which features a stunning white piano against a white backdrop.

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London.

One of London’s most exciting venues, St Pancras Renaissance offers the romance of a golden age of rail travel. A celebrated destination, on the lovingly revamped St Pancras station site, it sets the stage for “a wedding day laced with historic charm”. Embracing Victorian style and tradition, the passion that went into the hotel’s creation and restoration envelops wedding ceremonies here, as does the venue’s gracious version of contemporary London hospitality.

Altitude 360, London

If you want a wedding with a view, Altitude 360 could be the one. Based in Westminster, across five floors of Millbank Tower, you and your guests can savour 360 degree views of London. The venue is licensed for wedding ceremonies and receptions across all event spaces, and the views that will mesmerise your guests are just part of the experience; by day, sunlight pours in through wrap-around windows and glitters across white marble floors; by night, the shimmering lights of London create a spectacular backdrop.


Entertain your guests

When it comes to wedding reception entertainment ideas, there’s a number of ways which you can go. Many choose to simply ditch entertainment completely in favour of quiet talking or complete silence as guests struggle to work out just who they should speak to over their glass of Champagne. In order to break the ice, we think that a little wedding entertainment goes a long way and here are just a few ideas to get you started.

Tarot Card/Palm Reader)

Some strolling entertainment at your reception is often a fab way to get people chatting. Moving away from the music acts, there are some wonderfully romantic wedding entertainment ideas that at first might not seem obvious but then make sense when you’re there. One of these is looking into hiring a fortune teller, tarot card or palm reader. A great bit of fun, you never know, they may just see another wedding on the horizon between a couple of your guests!


If you aren’t too sure about predicting the future of those in your wedding party, ideas don’t come much better than hiring a magician for your big day. As the wedding reception entertainment, magic is sure to bring people together and provides a little relaxation for the Best Man and others ahead of the speeches later on! A graphologist is also an unusual entertainment idea for a wedding but no less compelling. Who doesn’t want to know what their handwriting tells an expert about them!? You never know, the writing might be on the wall for another marriage before too long.


There’s nothing quite like completing the wedding vows and heading to the wedding reception to be met by dulcet tone of the Bagpipes. Many of the guests may be in kilts anyway so it’s a perfect excuse to celebrate your heritage! Admittedly if neither the groom or bride are Scottish or Irish, bagpipes may be a truly unusual wedding entertainment idea, but there are many other options.

Living Topiary

Living statues are the perfect solution for ensuring a good time is had by all. These living statues always go down well, whilst a puppet show is an endearing way to tell the story of the couple. It’s bespoke, imaginative and unusual wedding entertainment most guests won’t have seen before.


Engagement Party Ideas

If you’re recently engaged then you might look to hold an engagement party to celebrate this massive moment and get all your friends and family together ahead of the wedding in a year or two. We all know that weddings are expensive so we’ve come up with ideas that put under ‘fun but affordable’.

Food and Drink

This is certainly the thing that people get most excited about when called to attend a party at the last minute and where an engagement is concerned, it makes sense to spend the majority of your limited budget on a variety of food and drink options. Naturally, many people will be more than happy to pay for their own beers. If you’re wanting to get  a little bit more fun, why not hire a food trike to delight attendees both old and young? Foods include hot dogs, sweets, ice cream and many, many more.


Everybody loves balloons and the best bit is that they come in all kinds of different colours. With this idea, you need simply find some time in your schedule to blow up a lot of balloons! We highly recommend buying a pump if you’d like to do it yourself as very few people have the huff and puff to make blowing up fifty to one hundred balloons a doable task.


What’s a party without hiring a DJ?  How to make it more of a party? A DJ of course! Easily fitting in the corner of the pub, the tunes went on for a number of hours and everybody had a fab time; even if there was no dancefloor, the music was great for creating the right atmosphere in the room.


Easily one of the most popular forms of entertainment at weddings, there’s no reason why you can’t hire a photobooth for an engagement party as well! With most coming with a variety of fun props and a photo album where your snaps can be placed, they go down a storm no matter the occasion and anyone who’s anyone will have at least one photo taken if given the opportunity. A no brainer when it comes to organising your engagement party.

Of course these ideas for your engagement party can also be hired for when planning a wedding too.  This is just good practice for the big day!!


What to scrimp and splurge on

Your wedding date

Choose a weekday or an off-season date and you might find that everything is that bit cheaper, and that wedding suppliers are more open to offers. We’re not suggesting that you barter, but it might be worth simply asking your preferred suppliers if they offer a reduced rate on your chosen date.

Your wedding venue

The best wedding venues will offer flexible packages, with price ranges to reflect what they can offer. To secure your venue on an exclusive use basis will always attract the highest prices, but what about if you were more flexible in your approach? For example, if you chose to have your wedding reception at your favourite restaurant (which will keep costs down in itself), would you be willing to share the space with normal paying customers? Or perhaps you might consider holding your reception somewhere that is open as usual during the day? If the venue can take bookings as normal, it’s going to keep costs down.

Your guest list

We all know that the big cost of any wedding is in feeding your guests. Your venue will talk about a ‘per head’ cost. There is absolutely no shame in making it clear to everyone from the start (including your parents and anyone else who thinks that they are going to be allocated invitations to give out!) that you are having a small do. Far better to feed fewer guests with an amazing meal that they will remember than lots of guests with food chosen purely because it was the cheapest option. The general rule is that if both of you haven’t met someone, they shouldn’t be on the list, but actually by eliminating big groups like ‘colleagues’ and ‘cousins’ and standing firm on your decision, this will make a huge difference.

Your dress

Your wedding dress is an investment, something that you will look back on for the rest of your life. You need to get it right, and the only way you can do that is by buying from a bona fide bridal boutique. Good boutiques will work with you and your budget to make sure that you are happy and comfortable with your choice, and show you that you don’t have to re-mortgage to get the dress of your dreams.

Your bridesmaids

Do you even need bridesmaids?! Well, yes, of course you do, and it makes sense that you want them to look right, happy and comfortable, too. Bridesmaid dresses are best bought from proper bridal shops too, and there are many options available, but once again, it’s not worth breaking the bank over.

Your wedding flowers

It’s another thing that you need to fork out for, so get a professional who can interpret your style and work with your budget. That said, there are clever ways with flowers… They can be moved, for example – church flowers can appear again in the evening; bridesmaid bouquets can form table centres – the possibilities are endless. You could even enlist the help of the church flower team, or speak to the venue about sharing the costs, maybe with another event or wedding. There are some incredible silk flower options around – it might be that your out-of-season peonies are better value in silk, for example. Talking of peonies, did you know that they are on average five times more expensive than roses? You should always buy wedding flowers that are in season.

Your wedding photographer

Saving money by hiring someone cheap, or by relying on friends who take good photos will not work. We’re sorry, but you simply can’t take a risk, or rely on, anyone else other than a professional wedding photographer who has a wealth of wedding experience. Taking quality photographs of you on your big day is not the same as taking Facebook-worthy selfies.

Your reception

Of course your best budget bet would be to choose a venue that doesn’t need much decoration, or that already has a huge stock of items you can make use of to decorate. Or you might have some friends who are really good at making things, all of which would keep your costs low. Once you have decided on your theme, you can start to stock up – each shopping trip could include candles, or confetti, or fairy lights.


Which season will you wed in?

It’s that age old question – when should I get married? You’ve been engaged for a year or two and you now need to decide on a date for your wedding day. Would it make more sense to get married in the winter months when everybody can enjoy some gorgeous frost-laden photos or in the summer, when a marquee on the lawn is a distinct possibility? We can’t promise to help you pick the day of the week on which to get married – week day or weekend? – but we can suggest a few reasons to pick each season.


Why would you pick any other season? Spring is synonymous with new life and new beginnings so it’s a perfectly apt time of year to get married. With daffodils just beginning to flower and lambs running about in fields, it’s a superb time to have a wedding and your photos are sure to be absolutely gorgeous!


The most popular time of year to get married! Summer is when those who are planning a wedding envisage hot days, the possibility of sipping drinks outside and wedding entertainment that goes on long into the evening. Because we all live and work in the UK, suffice it to say that the weather is not guaranteed though and even if it is, you don’t want it to be too hot. Venues tend to be more expensive during the summer so bear that in mind, whilst your guests may well have a pre-booked holiday so can’t attend. Even so, there’s a reason the summer season is the most popular and who are we to disagree?


With trees changing colour with the temperature, Autumn is the time of year that will provide the finest wedding photographs you can imagine! With a rustic hue to the leaves, the combination of reds, browns and oranges is hard to beat. This is a season where you are more likely to enjoy the wedding indoors and the entertainment is more traditional than most.


Ah, the coldest of the seasons, where the dark nights arrive early and everybody huddles together as one for warmth. A winter wedding is a true highlight of everybody’s year, primarily because it is a chance for celebration during what many find to be a lonely few months (well, except for Christmas!)

When it comes to the wedding entertainment, most al fresco ideas are unfortunately out of the question, but venues do tend to be cheaper at this time of year and you can still book wedding entertainment of all sorts to wow your guests. A harp or string quartet fit beautifully with the time of year.


Make it unique

Brides across the country are striving to make their wedding unique. Research shows that this is the main cause of anxiety for 53% of couples in Britain planning a wedding. Almost two thirds of couples said that, although their wedding was the best day of their lives, their day lacked distinctiveness. The areas where bride and groom felt they could have added a more personalised touch was through their wedding decorations and what they served to guests.

Welcome reception

A welcome dinner or drinks reception is a great way to break the ice between your out of town guests before the big day. The local pub is a perfect location for this.

Guest welcome packs

Create guides for your guests who are visiting from out of town. Include tips on local pubs and leave it in their hotel rooms. You can also include a local beer as refreshments for the rooms.

Wedding Venue

Use dried barley or fresh hops to decorate the venue instead of flowers. You can also use them in your bouquet! For a really rustic feel, you could have your wedding reception in a brewery or a barley field. Another idea is to use vintage beer crates for seating or to sign your vows on an oak barrel.


Instead of traditional escort cards, use personalised beer caps or coasters to tell people where they are sitting. An even better idea would be to use actual bottles so that guests can enjoy a drink whilst they find their seats.


Use beer as a main ingredient in meals, such as beer battered fish or steak and ale pies. You can also pair your dishes and canapés with your favourite beers. This way, your guests are introduced to a new beer match with everything they eat! You can also put a twist on a traditional wedding cake by using beer as a key ingredient. For the best of both worlds serve a chocolate wedding cake made with a stout beer. This decadent treat will definitely be something to be remembered!


A beer inspired drinks menu is a really nice touch. Serve beer based cocktails using a brew you created or choose beers that represent special times in your relationship. For instance, a beer from the country where you got engaged or the beer you were drinking the night you met.


If your fiancée is not a fan of champagne, serve beer during the wedding speeches. Ditch the bottles and serve beer to your guests in tasteful chalices. There are many elegant beers with signature glassware, such as Leffe which has a cork and foil top.


Make your music work for you

Music is a very personal to each individual and it will play a very important part of planning your perfect Wedding. You don’t have to be from a particular faith to enjoy a piece of music, just go what feels best for you. The Wedding ceremony music has to be right for both of you, and to have the right piece played, you will remember your wedding day for years to come.

To help you choose, this is a list of some wedding music that you might want to consider including in your repertoire:

Wedding Ceremony Music– The Common Requests


1. “Air in G” from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D (J.S. Bach)

2. “Ode to Joy” from Symphony No. 9(Beethoven)

3. “Trumpet Voluntary” or “Prince of Denmark’s March” (J. Clarke)

4. “Clair de Lune” (C. Debussy)

5. “Hornpipe” from Water Music Suite (G.F. Handel)

6. “Wedding March” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (F. Mendelssohn)

7. “Canon in D” (J. Pachelbel)

9. “Allegro from Spring”, first movement theme from The Four Seasons (A. Vivaldi)

10. “Bridal March” from the opera Lohengrin or “Here Comes the Bride” (R. Wagner)

Favourite choices for Christian weddings:


1. “Amazing Grace” (American Folk Melody)

2. “Ave Maria” (F. Schubert)

3. “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” (J. S. Bach)

4. “The Lord’s Prayer” (A.H. Malotte)

5. “Simple Gifts” (Elder Joseph)


Favourite choices for Jewish weddings:


1. “Dodi Li” (N. Chen)

2. “Erev Ba” (O. Avissar & A. Levanon)

3. “Siman Tov” (traditional Israeli song)

4. “Sunrise Sunset” from the musical “Fiddler on the Roof”

Favourite choices for Celtic weddings:


1. “Mairia’s Wedding”

2. “Star of the County Down”

3. “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”

4. “Skye Boat Song”

5. “My Wild Irish Rose”

Winter Weddings

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – for a wedding! If everyone comes together at this time of year, so why not make the most of it and celebrate your nuptials, too?

First off, let’s think about winter colours – if you want to avoid the traditional greens and reds associated with the season, then there are loads of modern winter options for you to consider. Purple calla lilies are a sophisticated choice, and you won’t need many of them to create an impact. Talk to your florist about what will work for you.

If you’re having a late afternoon wedding then it’s going to get dark early, so why not dress your bridesmaids in deep jewel tones that will look great in the evening? Plums and aubergines are a beautiful option in cosy, low lighting. For bridesmaids gifts you could gift them a contrasting pashmina to snuggle into. Remember that shoes don’t have to match– in fact it’s better and more on trend if they offer a pop of colour. If you feel like being minimal, then just having white and silver for your colour scheme makes a perfect winter theme. You could dress your maids in winter white and accessorise with silver and diamante earrings, bracelets or belts.

We think a beautifully decor is an absolute must at both your ceremony and your wedding venue. Use the wedding colours you’ve chosen for your decorations. Whites, silvers, golds and berry shades are classic and chic, while bright jewel shades of turquoise, emerald, ruby and amethyst will also look wonderful.

In the winter season it’s the best time of year to splash out on great food and drink, so serve your guests a winter feast! You could offer your guests mulled wine and hot spiced apple juice as they arrive at your reception, with mini sausages to nibble on.

Most people love a roast – and it doesn’t have to be turkey. If you’re having a buffet you could serve up the main course carvery style, so as well as the traditional turkey with all the trimmings, you could offer a large ham and a vegetarian option. For dessert, the options are endless.

Have a chill-out room to keep the kids entertained and play winter-themed DVDs – we’re thinking Polar Express, The Snowman, and The Grinch. This will leave you and your grown-up guests free to enjoy your amazing wedding day.

Wedding costs

If you have decided to get Married, have you really sat down and thought about costs? Whether money is no object or if you are on a budget you may want to consider some costs.

Here we break down what each part of the Wedding costs and hopefully keep you on track to what needs to be spent on your big day.

As a guide, here are the average amounts that Brides readers spend. (Of course, it’s up to you where you decide to save or splurge!)

  • Wedding venue: £2,223

  • Reception venue: £4,189

  • Catering: £3,063

  • Photography/video: £1,399

  • Flowers: £560

  • Wedding Cake: £296

  • Entertainment: £682

  • Dress: £1,340

  • Shoes: £107

  • Stationery: £240

  • Headdress/veil: £108

  • Attendants’ outfits: £465

  • Mother-of-the-bride outfit: £337

  • Groom’s outfit: £313

  • Beauty: £220

  • Engagement Ring: £2,451

  • Wedding rings: £647

  • Other wedding jewellery: £191

  • Honeymoon: £3,931

  • Wedding Gift List: £1,954

  • Total: £24,716

If this seems rather expensive to you, there are many ways in which you can cut back and have the Wedding of your dreams. You can have your dream ceremony and then cut the costs by going to a pub and having a buffet. If the pub has a big garden (weather permitting)  can have a band in the garden and dance the night away. This option would be cheaper than a reception venue.

When buying your wedding dress, could it be borrowed, or bought second hand?

Could your make your own invitations?

There’s a lot you can cut back on which won’t break the bank.

Extra Special Day

1. To make your special day extra special

If you want your special day to be extra special, live music is the perfect accompaniment to every magical moment of your wedding. The secret is to decide what kind of mood you’d like at each stage of your wedding day, and matching music and musicians with that mood

2. To welcome your guests with a romantic atmosphere and set the mood for the day

Your wedding ceremony is the first event of the day for your guests, and most will be arriving at least 30 minutes before the ceremony starts. Rather than letting them sit in silence in the church or wedding venue, you can welcome them with gentle background music such as a string quartet, a pianist or a harpist playing live. This creates a lovely, relaxed and romantic atmosphere in which your guests can chat to each other if they wish, or just listen to the music and get their handkerchiefs ready!

Most musicians enjoy weddings, and would far rather perform for more than just a few minutes, so why not ask them to play during the ceremony too.

3. To personalise your ceremony

An ideal moment is the five to ten minutes ‘slot’ where you need to sign the register and have your photos taken! For a church wedding, add some vocal excitement with a gospel choir or professional opera singers to lead the hymns and sing a solo psalm or similar.

4. To kickstart the party atmosphere

While you and your new spouse are having your photos taken, your guests may move onto the venue, and a drinks reception. These can be a little quiet at the start, so why not book a Rat Pack singer or jazz band to kick-start the party atmosphere before you both arrive, and your wedding breakfast starts.

5. To entertain and relax your guests during the meal

Wedding meals can seem very long for young guests, so why not entertain them with comedy singing waiters, who suddenly burst into song, or roaming magicians who amaze with clever tabletop tricks.

6. To add wow-factor to your evening party

The key to a really memorable evening wedding party is to choose live entertainment that involves all your guests, regardless of age! At Red Masque, our most popular wedding entertainment is a wedding function band, who play a wide range of pop, soul and contemporary hits to get the party going with energy and enjoyment. If yours is a big family wedding with everyone there from toddlers to grannies, a great way to get your guests up and dancing is to book a ceilidh band or Irish band.