Colour-Popping Festival Wedding - Bellows Mill, Bedfordshire

Anna & Steph

Any wedding that has a bathtub filled with champers is alright by us, and Anna & Steph’s wedstival is a colourful, music-filled smile fest! From the pop of the brides’ suits to the pride-themed décor, Trinidadian feast, music on the lawn, and the dance-til-you-literally-drop evening party…it’s a wedding full of ideas you’ll want to steal!

Bellows Mill is their lakeside wedding venue, award-winning funtojournalist Marianne Chua is on hand to photograph the day, and The Hot Keys provide the soundtrack to their party.

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The Playlist

Processional: Good Thing Going by Sugar Minott

Signing of the Registers: At Last by Etta James & Warm Foothills by Alt J

Recessional: Wonderful world by Jimmy Cliff

First Dance: Ragtop Car by Noisettes, performed live by The Hot Keys

Evening Reception: tailored party set by The Hot Keys

First Set Finale: Proud Mary by Tina Turner, performed live by The Hot Keys

The Entertainment

“We were really impressed with The Hot Keys’ videos on Alive Network’s website and they offered the perfect amount of brass that we were looking for, for our evening reception. We were definitely very pleased with our choice!

“After the ceremony we moved to the lakeside for champagne, while family and friends jammed with percussion and brass instruments, and played lawn games. Guests brought their own instruments, plus we brought quite a few of our own instruments from home e.g. djembe, pandeiro, rhythm sticks. We happen to have a lot of musical friends and family members so we asked them to improvise however they wanted. It was perfect for the time in between our ceremony and wedding breakfast.

“For those less musically-inclined, there were retro outdoor games – croquet, ring toss, limbo, ping pong. The games stayed out the whole time so guests were welcome to play with these at any point. The children in particular enjoyed them.”

Watch The Hot Keys performing Do Your Thing by Basement Jaxx, live in the studio

The Music

“After pudding, the incredible seven-piece band, The Hot Keys, invited everyone to the dancefloor to watch our first dance. They had learnt our favourite Noisette’s song, Ragtop Car, and it was simply perfect! At the end of the first set, they played the most amazing rendition of Proud Mary, to which we danced a choreographed routine, ending in an unchoreographed collapse for Steph!

To see the awesome routine that has Steph on the floor in exhaustion at the end,
check out their amateur Facebook video, filmed by wedding guest, Geeta... you won’t regret it!

“Between their musical of the children asked The Hot Keys if she could sing us a song and promptly got up on the stage. One of our teenage guests performed a stunning ballet piece for us which inspired one of the youngest guests to attempt to recreate her moves! The band were so awesome for facilitating these extra impromptu moments. The Hot Keys then kept the party going late into the evening, with the help of an alfresco bar with plenty of Aperol!

The Hot Keys’ Top Tips...

  • Your Song: Like us, many bands offer you the chance to choose a song that’s not on their repertoire, that they’ll learn for your wedding. It can take us about a week to learn your special song request, but try to give your band one month’s notice, so they can play it really well on the day.
  • Special Requests: Got a singer in the family who’d like to get on stage? Or a special dance routine to surprise your other half? If you’d like to arrange something a bit different, choose a band who are open to special requests, and let them know well before the big day so they can do their best to make it happen.
  • Noise Limits: Check with your venue about any limitations on the volume your band can play at, so they can plan accordingly and ensure to get the best sound possible. If your venue has strict volume restrictions, Alive’s list of Sound Limiter-Friendly Party Bands is a good place to start your search.
  • Setting up: Your band usually needs around 60–90 minutes to setup and soundcheck their instruments before they start. We like to plan this in advance, so we can get in discreetly and set up without causing too much fuss; ideally, you shouldn’t have to worry about us until it’s time for your first dance.

Wedding Band, The Hot Keys

The Photography

“To capture the ‘pow’ colours and emotions of the day, we chose the fabulous ‘funtojournalism’ documentary style photography of award-winning Marianne Chua.

The Venue

“We had our ceremony and reception at Bellows Mill, on the edge of the Chilterns in Bedfordshire. It’s an absolutely beautiful venue and they were so relaxed about us making it our own. They offered more flexibility than other venues we looked at, plus they had some gorgeous cottages on site for the wedding party.”

Advice On Choosing A Wedding Venue...

Choose a venue that offers as much flexibility as possible so you can plan your day according to your own ideas and preferences. You may wish to come in the day before the wedding to set up and decorate your venue, chill drinks, do the flowers, and so on…always check that they can accommodate your needs.

“At Bellows Mill, couples are free to choose their own caterer and other suppliers. If you don’t have anyone in mind, most venues can provide a helpful list of suggested suppliers who they’ve worked with before.

“If you’re supplying your own drinks, check that your venue is licenced to serve alcohol, and whether they charge a corkage fee. At Bellows Mill, corkage is included in the venue fee, which avoids the risk of a large unforeseen drinks bill at the end of the day.

Rachael Hodge, Proprietor, Bellows Mill

The Decor

“Our ceremony was in the barn, which Anna’s parents decorated for us in beautiful golds and creams.

“For our reception, we had decorated a marquee in Pride colours. The vibrancy reflected the festival feel which we aimed to bring to the day.”

The Outfits

“As two women, we decided not to go down the traditional ‘one dress, one suit’ route. Anna was inspired by Janelle Monáe’s style to wear a blue suit with braces. Steph decided to go for a bridal jumpsuit in her favourite colour, orange (with a touch of lace). For both of us, pockets were an important feature.

The Ceremony

“We danced down the aisle together, to Sugar Minott’s Good Thing Going. Our friends and family, representing three generations, delivered beautiful and meaningful readings, and we read poems to each other in place of traditional vows.

“After the ceremony we moved to the lakeside for champagne, while family and friends jammed with percussion and brass instruments, and played lawn games.

Find more Ceremony music ideas here...

The Food

“We had a Trinidadian feast in a marquee by the lakeside. We didn’t have a seating plan, but we named each table after our favourite albums, and invited guests to choose a table that best represented their personalities.

“After dinner, our parents gave emotional speeches and we also both delivered speeches. We then had vegan puddings out by the lakeside.

“Our beautiful wedding cake was designed by Anna’s Godmother and made in pride colours.

Favourite Moment

“There were so many it’s hard to choose. For me (Anna) it was seeing Steph for the first time and for Steph it was all the emotional words - vows, readings and speeches. We both loved all the food and music of the day - our two favourite things!

What We Learned

Prioritise Plans & Chart It Out… “It was important to us to have a wedding that reflected us. In the beginning we thought about what was high, medium and low priority for us and just got rid of anything that was ‘low priority.’ Also we made a Gantt Chart – we couldn’t have got through the planning without it even though it drove Steph mad!.”

Love for Alive

“Verity at Alive Network was the most efficient supplier that we dealt with during our wedding planning. She was always very clear and prompt with her responses to our questions. Thank you Verity.

The Magic Makers

Music, atmosphere and vibes of love and fun Alive Network, UK-wide Wedding Band The Hot Keys' 7-piece, exclusive to Alive Network | Photographer Marianne Chua Photography, London and world-wide | Venue Bellows Mill, Bedfordshire | Outfits – Anna’s blue suit by iTaylor, Worldwide; Steph’s orange jumpsuit & lace shrug Tina Waller Bridal Wear, Berkshire Headpieces – Anna’s pearl & diamante hair vine, Starcrossed Beauty, Amazon; Steph’s gold blossom crystal & pearl hair comb ‘Devoted’ Alan Hannah, London | Ceremony Shoes – Anna's blue ‘Clio’ heels, Lotus, UK-wide; Steph’s vintage lace heels Fashion WorldReception Shoes – Anna’s alpargatas Toms, UK-wide; Steph’s Ace Carvela sandals Kurt Geiger | Wedding Rings Goldsmiths, UK-wide | Steph’s pearl jewellery F.HINDS, UK-wide | Hair design family friend, Bev Pitter | Beauty family friend, Sukanya Montgomery | Marquee Hire Marquees With Pryde, Bedfordshire | Decor Tickety Boo Bunting | Bespoke Wicker Letters Norfolk Hedge Baskets | Wedding cake by Anna’s godmother, Christine Morris | Wedding cupcakes Candy Cakes | Catering Trini Caribbean Catering, London & South East | Vegan Catering Vinnie's Eatery, Cheltenham | Crockery Hire Jaspers Event Hire | Dating Site Pink Sofa

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