How to Plan Your Classical Wedding – Violas, Veils and Vol-au-vents

If you’ve always dreamt of your wedding day as something from a Jane Austen novel, then classical is the way to go. It’s a wonderful feeling to seemingly take a step back in time, away from smartphones, reality TV, traffic jams and jogging bottoms, to a period of propriety, piety and (not in the literal sense) Pride and Prejudice. Sweeping lawns with plenty of room for croquet and badminton, gorgeous flower arrangements and, of course, the gorgeous strains of classical music lifting your spirits are just the kinds of ingredients

Here are a few stylistic tips to help you plan the classical wedding you’ve always wanted:

Outdoor Reception

To really evoke the green pastoral countryside of yesteryear, the best place for you to host your reception would be a large garden, possibly a marquee in the grounds of a stately home (which are often hirable for events). This way, you’ll have plenty of room for games, musical entertainment and outdoor seating so you can enjoy your reception in the fresh air. There are several stately homes across the UK which offer their services for weddings, often including accommodation in the deal. The prices tend to start at around £1500 and reach upwards of £20000 for a weekend

Indoor Ball

A classic scene from Austen’s most well-known tale is the ball, with the carefree Elizabeth Bennett trading dance steps and sarcasm with the uptight Mr Darcy to a beautiful backdrop of candlelight and chamber music. If you do hire a hall or stately home, you should have access to a function room, which you can bedeck with ornate tablecloths, doilies and candelabras. And for the full effect, organise a few rehearsals with your guests so they can learn the dance steps from the Netherfield Ball. Those of your friends who are fans of the book and adaptations (with or without zombies) will surely be delighted to oblige!

Canape Waiters

There’s no better way to make your guests feel elegant and sophisticated than by hiring waiters to tend to their every wish! The number of waiters you’ll need is entirely dependent on the number of guests you’re expecting – roughly, 1 waiter per 15 guests tends to be the trend, although there are also wine waiters and supervisors to take into consideration for larger scale events. For the canape menu, you might like to consider prawn cocktails, vol-au-vents, pate, sardines, and, for the sweet of tooth, profiteroles.

Lawn Games

You may as well make the most of all that freshly mown grass – and lawn games are by far the most fun way of doing this! Setting up classic games like badminton and croquet barely take any set up time – all you’ve got to do is set up a net and hammer in a few hoops, and you’ve got hours of fun for everyone from nephews to great aunts. And even though they’re not strictly Regency-era, you can’t go wrong with giant Jenga and colossal Connect 4.

 Rob Sarmiento

Liquid Refreshments

The perfect accompaniment to a summer wedding is undoubtedly Pimms, but home made lemonade is a deliciously refreshing substitute for the teetotalers and children. Gin based cocktails and champagne have enough classiness about them to suit your theme, but you might also like to serve some slightly rarer brews. Drinks popular in the Regency era include carrot beer, parsnip wine, raspberry brandy and Flip (hot beer, brandy and sugar). All the rustic flavours of the countryside distilled into one interesting and enjoyable beverage!

Dress Code

The Regency and Victorian periods are often revered for the smartness of elegance of their fashion trends. Ladies: Lace on everything! Long dresses with such as Empire line gowns were the style at the time, and look fantastic trimmed with lace hems and sleeves. If you want to go all out, you might also like to give a pair of lacy ankle-length boots a whirl. Gents: hope you can handle the heat, because you’ll be wearing starched shirts, cravats, waistcoats and fitted tailcoats, and topping it all off with a felt top hat – but it’s all worth it for the Beau Brummell dandy look.

Classical Music

Live music from classically trained professional musicians will complete the illusion that you’ve somehow married in the early 1800s. There are a range of options available when you’re looking to hire the finest purveyors of Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart and Beethoven. The most traditional musical entertainment to hire for a garden reception is a string quartet – with their tight-knit combination of cello, viola and violins, a string quartet can reproduce the majority of classical composers’ works. If, however, you budget or venue dictates otherwise, you can hire a string trio or duo for a less full but still beautiful sound, or a solo musician such as a harpist or classical pianist. 

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