Featured: Are “Unique and Alternative Weddings” really just “Bang on Trend”?

Hot topic alert! – This article may offend some people

So it seems that if you take a look at “wedding blog land” that the same adjectives appear over and over: “unique” ,”alternative” ,“individual” & “different” – along with “rustic”, “backyard” and the buzz word of the moment, “vintage”.

Now before you stop reading and think this post is going to be all about how much I dislike “alternative weddings”… Nothing could be further from the truth! I love unique and alternative weddings… BUT only if they truely are unique and alternative. The very best and I mean VERY BEST wedding I have ever been to as a guest was that of my friends, April and Matt, who got married (long before vintage was nothing more than a word you would hear on the Antique’s Roadshow!) at Matt’s mums garden. They had a tea party style ceilidh reception in the local town hall. It was complete with handmade bunting and mismatching tea cups. This wasn’t because April wanted a vintage themed wedding, but because she wanted to do everything cost conciously. We had a ball and it was a great day out!

In my line of work I read at a lot of wedding blogs… and I mean a lot! Both as part of my role here at Graham Crichton Photography as Studio Manager (keeping up to date with latest trends) and also for inspiration for planning my own wedding (sorry, I mean “our” wedding!). One thing that strikes me time and time again is, that if everything is described as “rustic, backyard and VINTAGE” then how is it that all these weddings can also be unique, individual and different? Surely if they are ALL rustic and vintage then they are more “on trend” than anything else – dare I say it… main stream even. It would seem that in “blog land” at least, every wedding that happens now is “rustic and vintage”. Now I know this isn’t the case, because Graham’s customers don’t use any of these buzzwords to describe their weddings!

Now off the top of my head I can only think of a handful of wedding venues in Northern Ireland that would fit into the “rustic & vintage” category. Places such as Larchfield Estate, Clandyboye Estate and Riverdale Barn spring to mind instantly. All of these fantastic venues are popular and are not wanting for bookings. But equally nether are contemporary venues such as Galgorm Resort and Spa or Malone Lodge who have both recently spent a lot of money refurbishing their wedding suites, which must be in line with what their clients have been asking for, or else why would they spend so much doing it?

My question is “Does every bride out there want a unique, individual, special wedding?”

OF COURSE THEY DO! But is having a vintage wedding unique, individual or alternative? For the most part NO, not any more. But it can be. These weddings are in fact BANG ON TREND and keeping up with the newly married Mr & Mrs Jones.

This leaves me with the question, if vintage weddings are now “on trend”, then why is it still being plugged by vendors and wedding blogs as unique and alternative? The real reason is, mostly because as soon as something is “trendy” no one wants it anymore and some of these vendors have a lot invested in “the current trend” specifically… (or why else would they have invested so heavilly in it, if they didn’t think it would appeal to the mass market?). If you had said to someone ten years ago that you were going to pay someone to leave a battered old suitcase at your wedding they probably would have told you to go and get your head examined – but people make a living out of this today.

Bloggers

There has been a HUGE increase in the number of online wedding blogs, caused mainly by recently married girls looking to earn a bit of extra money and hold on to the magic of planning their own unique and different wedding. Writing blogs has never been easier with engines like blogger and word press taking all the techy aspects out of it. If you look at a lot of these blogs, a lot of the people setting them up have had a vintage wedding themselves in the last few years when it was “up and coming” as a style. When they got married it was unique. It was alternative. Every bride thinks after the wedding itself has happened and the cake has been eaten that they had the best wedding ever, so of course they are going to push their idea of a perfect wedding on to other girls too, Most of these “bloggers” tend to be genuine lovers of the “vintage style” and hats off the them for doing such an amazing job. If you do love this type of “vintage”, check out some of the great blogs on the web. For me vintage is so much more – it isn’t a suitcase or bit of lace, it is going the whole hog. If you want a period wedding then plopping a bale of straw in the middle of a hotel is just going to be odd. Now doing the same in a barn envionment is fitting.

Part time “vintage” “alternative” Photographers

In the last couple of years, a new breed of photographer has been born. You probably saw some of them recently at a wedding show. There are a whole army of what are known as “weekend” photographers out there who have all jumped head first into the “vintage & alternative” market because, it is easy to cater for. Taking “reportage” non-posed shots and whacking a filter on them is easy to do. Taking time to pose, setup and properly process images – now that is something different. Something the weekend people don’t have time to do, because afterall they have jobs to go to.

For some photographers (and for some brides who make there minds up based on what someone else tells them) that’s all you need to do to get “alternative shots”. The only comparison I can make to this “style” is, it reminds me a lot of Instagram. Because this, “Instagram method” of taking pictures is easy and because really anyone can do it, the market has been completely flooded with this sort of work. It is what’s generally known as “a safe bet for a fast buck”. It lacks in creativity and as a result, (ironically) will not age well. So then I guess it really is “vintage”!

Alternative isn’t what everyone else is doing. Alternative is doing your own thing. We photograph truely alternative weddings. Weddings where couples don’t mind climing up trees, sitting on a waterfall, dipping their feet in a river or even going out in torrential rain. These people are alternative, because not everyone is doing that. Are you an alternative bride? Just because a bride has blue hair doesn’t make her wedding alternative (despite what some photographers at slightly off the wall wedding fayres may tell you).

“Vintage stuff sellers”

On the other side of the wedding industry, there are also a lot of people making an absolute mint out of renting out their granny’s half broken tea set and the likes. Five years ago you couldn’t have given away a single “vintage” cup and saucer if you had broken the rest of the set. Now, I kid you not, you will struggle to buy one on ebay for less than £8. It’s the old sales tactic of supply and demand. The demand has never been so high so the suppliers can put up the price – and in a converse way as the price goes up, the more people want it and it becomes more popular.

The main thing I have noticed about this trend and let’s call it that as really that’s what it really is now, a “trend”, is that it is mainly being pushed by the wedding “part timers” army who see it as a quick way to make a fast buck – more often than not AT THE EXPENSE OF GENUINE BRIDES AND GROOMS.

So if “vintage” doesn’t really make your wedding different, unique and alternative what does?

Well I’m so glad you asked 🙂 What makes your wedding unique and different is… it’s about being yourselves of course! So what if you are actually much more into the classical than the rustic look? What if you really do prefer that contemporary slinky satin dress to the short lacy one which is “oh so vintage”? What if you would rather have leather chairs and crisp white table cloths than wooden tables and benches? I say, have the faith to have YOUR wedding. Have the confidence to trust your professionals to do a good job, after all that’s why they are professionals. For instance if Graham say’s “if you are willing to go out in the pouring rain you will have stunning images” or if he say’s” bring your trainers and climb up into that ruined tower it will look amazing” He means it! You really will be being alternative and these types of photos honestly won’t be like anyone else’s. These are the really unique, alternative and different weddings – the ones where people are truly being themselves and having the time of their lives. Which to take you back to April and Matts wedding… is was exactly what they did. For them the vintage thing is a way of life not just a wedding style they liked. As for Graham and I? It’s not the sweetie cart, the bunting and mismatched tea cups (all with the 1970’s soft (instagram) filter applied) that are unique and alternative to us, but those people brave enough to truly have weddings that reflect themselves as a couple.

About Graham

Graham Crichton is an award winning professional wedding & portrait photographer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. With 10 years of experience and having photographed hundreds of weddings he has photographed weddings all over Ireland, the UK and abroad.

About Hannah

Hannah Crichton is the principal photographic assistant, blogger and studio manager (and other half of Graham Crichton Photography). Hannah and Graham recently married themselves in Ynysybwl, Wales, where Hannah is originally from. Hannah loves “everything wedding"!

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