The alternative wedding

A couple vow to make their day “completely” unique, but will their creative visualisation come together?


From the moment Jago proposed to Sienna in the sea in Goa, the couple made it clear they didn’t want a conventional wedding. All their friends were “creatives” of one description or another – and even if most of them had sold their startups for millions of pounds, they still liked to pretend they couldn’t afford a haircut. Certainly Sienna and Jago would never affront their gang with a gilt-edged invitation to a lily-strewn church, followed by herb-crusted lamb and summer pudding in a country house hotel. They were all about originality. Their twin souls deserved a wedding that truly reflected them.

Actually, they wouldn’t have a “wedding” at all – they’d have a pagan “handfasting” ritual, with Sienna’s Pilates teacher acting as the officiant. And they wouldn’t agonise over which of their tantrum-prone, chocolate-daubed godchildren would wreak havoc during the ceremony as they’d limit their attendants to Dizzy and Gillespie, their whippets, who would serve as ring-bearers. So really there was no stress at all involved in arranging the happy day, as Sienna kept telling her friends. It was just as nature intended.

Except they couldn’t find a bluebell wood. Plenty of their friends had houses with copses and paddocks and croquet lawns – but bluebell woods with enough clear and free space to have a bonfire, pitch a hundred hand-painted teepees and house some Posh Wash porta-showers were few and far between. So Sienna had decided to leave that up to Jago – who had come up with some surprisingly inventive ideas of his own – allowing her to concentrate on The Dress.

The story of her wedding dress was a long one, but she kept telling it anyway. When she was a little girl she found a roll of antique lace in a junk shop in France – and she knew then that some day she’d use it to make her wedding dress. This delicate, century-old lace now lay in the expert, if arthritic, hands of the very same couturier responsible for her mother’s wedding dress. Every morning she chanted for him not to die before it was finished.


While the stress of the one-off lace was unsettling Sienna’s biorhythms, writing the vows was playing havoc with Jago’s chakras. No matter how many Rumi quotes he used, they still sounded like a bad Leonard Cohen song. He’d contemplated plagiarising from but knew that if Sienna discovered somebody somewhere had said the words before, she would divorce him on the spot. Or un-fast their hands, anyway. “Everything has to be completely unique,” she kept reminding him.

As the big day dawned, the couple’s creative visualisation seemed to have paid off, with only a few teeny compromises along the way. They’d found a bluebell wood – albeit a little close to Slough. And Sienna’s wedding dress woes abated when Anna Temperton happened to have something that “felt” as if it had come from a scrap of childhood lace, but was actually already hanging on a shop rail in Notting Hill. And when it became clear that Sienna’s hair was not going to behave in a wood-nymph fashion by itself, Sienna simply begged Nando at Richard Davies to get a taxi to deepest Berkshire and give her perfect tendrils with an unwashed feel.

So when Jago pulled up to the clearing in his muddy Defender with Insomnia by Faithless blasting from the speakers and Sienna danced barefoot into the Circle of Love, the guests were enchanted. Even though sheep dung kept getting skewered on the girls’ stilettos and the drizzle put paid to the pagan bonfire, Jago and Sienna’s spirits couldn’t be dampened. As the couple’s hands were bound with lilac string, Dominic the Pilates teacher asked the congregation to open their bottles and blow bubbles into the air, taking a moment to focus on a wish for the bride and groom. Then three dozen, slightly reluctant butterflies were released into the rain.

“How completely fabulous!” Sienna’s new sister-in-law said later, as the two women tucked into their Jaipur street food. “Do you know, we did exactly the same thing for our wedding a few years ago? Barefoot, butterflies, bubbles. We even used the same onion and potato kachori guy. It’s total déjà vu.”