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What Is An Alternative Wedding? with Katie McMillan from Alt Wedding

What Is An Alternative Wedding? Katie McMillan from Alt Wedding describes her take on what alternative weddings are… and you might just be surprised!

Listen to Katie on the Wedding Espresso Awesome DIY Wedding Planning Podcast…


Katie McMillan, Alt Wedding


James: [00:00:03] Hello Katie thanks so much for joining me today. 

Katie: [00:00:05] Hiya. Are you all right? 

James: [00:00:07] Yeah good, thanks.

So you are from Alt Wedding and you are photographers and videographers. 

Katie: [00:00:15] That’s right. Yeah. 

James: [00:00:16] Brilliant. So we’ve got this question for you. With your name, your company name being Alt Weddings, perhaps you can clear something up for us.

What is an alternative wedding? 

Katie: [00:00:27] Well I think there’s quite a lot of… everybody has a different opinion on what it is. But for us, it’s just creating a wedding which shows off your personality, and isn’t just the, I don’t want to say bog standard, but you know, like the every day sort of wedding that you see.

We want to do something a bit quirky. Our aim is to show off our couples personalities, rather than putting them into poses that they might not necessarily feel comfortable doing.

We like to create some fun and natural pictures, and then also throw in… we’ve got quite a lot of props, with smart bombs and sparklers and things, just to keep it nice, bright, colourful. Probably a little less traditional to a lot of photographers around at the moment, where it’s a lot of muted colours, quite hazy and light. Whereas we like bold and bright and colourful. Especially to show off the sort of weddings that we get as well. Especially in autumn, that’s my favourite with all the colours. 

Katie: [00:01:23]

So in terms of alternative, we like to just basically say it’s a different way of doing your wedding.

So we’re hoping that people will latch on to that. And obviously, it’s not a case of you have to have tattoos, or coloured hair, or anything like that. It’s just a case of it’s an alternative way of doing your wedding. And I think it is becoming more and more common. People are doing what they want to do, rather than what they have to do, with all the traditions around weddings now. It’s quite nice to see, and obviously great for us because then we get to do some more fun and creative stuff. 

James: [00:01:56] Awesome. I would say that, I mean Rachel and I have been married for four years now, coming on five, and I would say that we went really outside of the norm, trying to find a photographer that was different. That like you say, really concentrated on big bold colours. That’s what we were initially attracted to. It was like, wow the colour spectrum. You know, look at this!

So our wedding photography was incredibly untraditional, but I would say it was incredibly fun and I would have said that actually the photographer that we chose, all those years ago, actually kind of brought an element of excitement to us, on our day.

Would you say that’s how you approach these weddings? 

Katie: [00:02:40] Yeah definitely. I hate having my photo taken. I completely understand people’s qualms of having their photos taken. And you know, people have sides, and you know, things like this, and it is awkward. I can imagine how awkward it is as a couple, having photos taken, especially when you’re kissing and those intimate moments. They’re not necessarily shared with people normally, and then obviously you’ve just got someone taking photos of your having a smooch. I have some couples that don’t want to do it.

And we always do a pre wedding shoot. It’s included in the package completely.

And you know, as long as they want to do it obviously. And we like to do them just because it breaks the ice between us. I can see what they’re comfortable doing. I’ve had some couples where they just don’t want to have any photos kissing, which is absolutely fine. But then at least we can address that before the day. And then on the day, they’re not feeling uncomfortable. Because as you said, you do spend more time with your photographer than anyone else, on the day. So you need to make sure that you’re comfortable with them, and obviously we want to make it as pleasant as possible. And you know as fun as it can be, having photos taken. So we try to have a bit of a laugh with it. So yeah keeping it exciting hopefully! 

James: [00:04:01] Brilliant! One of the funny things, when we found your company, actually is, when we were filming weddings, we used to refer to ourselves as alt . wedding . film. That was like our tagline. Yeah all those years ago. And I remember it’s funny that you bring up the pre wedding shoots actually, because one of my favourite bits, was listening to a couple, you know their story, and coming up with an idea of somewhere weird and wacky that I could take them to kind of make a little pre wedding film, that was all about them. And I remember some moments where, very, very early days, when the first iPad came out, there was an app that would film in an old 1950s kind of vintage style video. And one of my most exciting moments was when I actually handed the iPad to the couple, and said listen, just film each other. And so you know, I was there to film it, but I got them to film each other, and then they started mucking about, being silly, and being themselves. And it really broke the ice. So have you got any…

what are the toys nowadays that we use to break the ice?

Because obviously we’ve moved on since the iPad one. 

Katie: [00:05:07] I don’t think I’ve ever on a pre wedding shoot, ever really brought anything into it. What I tend to do is to begin with, the first 10 minutes, I’ll just say things like “can I get you over here”, and I’ll see what they do, and then I slowly start to direct them a bit later on. I don’t want to go straight in directing them, and doing things that they’re uncomfortable with. So I tend to use comedy and my sarcasm, things like that. Just because when you are laughing and stuff, you feel a bit more at ease. Like it just makes you feel more comfortable when you’re laughing, and things like this. And I get couples to face each other a lot more, to begin with, just so then they’re facing each other.

Even though they’re probably feeling uncomfortable and awkward, they end up giggling to each other. Because you’re just looking at each other in that awkward situation. And then they make the nicest photos, because they’re so natural.

You’re getting them laughing at each other, and then it just looks like they’re having a great time, even if they are like “Oh gosh, I’m having my photo taken!”. 

Katie: [00:06:12] In terms of that, we sometimes use smoke bombs on the pre wedding shoot, but not very often. I had a pre wedding shoot yesterday, and it was so windy we couldn’t do it. But yeah, I tend to use “them”, if that makes sense. Like I let them lead the way to begin with, and then I sort of, not take control, but obviously direct them a little bit later, to then hopefully get what we want out of things. So half of the time, the photos we begin with, we might not even use.

But it’s just getting to know each other first, I think, which is why I love doing the pre wedding shoots, and making sure that we do them.

Just because then on the day, you’ve got rid of the awkwardness of working out what they want, and how comfortable they are in front of the camera, and things like this. 

Katie: [00:07:01] Because people can say “I’m absolutely fine having my photos taken”, and even the people who have actually gone to a family photo shoot in a studio, or something like that.

It’s still a completely different scenario having couple shots, to having any other photographs.

Because they are such an intimate moment that you’re capturing, and obviously you’ve got spectators on it, pretty much! 


How much would you say that the choice of locations that the couple are getting married in, affect the “alternativeness” of their wedding? 

Katie: [00:07:49] Yeah I suppose it depends, because I suppose you can put your own stamp on anything. So I’ve done alternative weddings in like a beautiful manor house, and it’s still… so I think with the alternative stereotype of it all, people think you know, quite dark and you know, all these different things. But one of my good friends got married, and she had it all still super pink. Some blushes and things like that. But then there were little twists. She added different things. So we all work in events, and we all wore tour laminates, and festival wristbands, and things like that.

So you can still keep some traditions of a princess wedding, which is what she wanted. And add in your own personality on top of it. 

Katie: [00:08:38] But yes, there’s so many different options for venues now, which is amazing. I’m currently in the process of getting booked for this industrial warehouse in London. It looks insane. It looks so cool. And so I feel like industrial style weddings are a thing. And my friend’s Dad is getting married in a brewery, in the New Year. So I feel like there’s so many options now, that you can really find a venue to really suit everybody. And it’s not just a case of these manor houses and fancy hotels now.

There’s so many different options for people out there, which is amazing. Because I feel like in the last… I’ve been doing weddings for 10 years now, and I feel like in the last 3 or 4 or 5 years, it’s definitely taken a bit of a turn, and it’s becoming easier for people to find what they want. 

James: [00:09:37] Yeah I think you’re absolutely right. We got married right at the beginning of that shift, of that change, so we’ve seen it. Super cool. So we’ve actually just got, as is the custom with these Q and A’s, a little fun question to throw at you. It goes a little bit something like this.

What’s the most surprising thing that’s ever happened to you at a wedding? 

Katie: [00:10:03] It’s something bad, in a way. So my bride fell down some stairs, and it was only like a few you know, like into a garden, and oh my gosh! You know when everything goes in slow motion. That was probably the most surprising, in that sort of way, for me. When it was like oh my gosh! And she laughed it off, was very chilled out about it, bless her. And luckily there was a bush there to catch her. And that was probably the most surprising in that sense. 

Katie: [00:10:34] And then I’d probably say, in a cool way, we got a double rainbow once. Which was cool. I’ve been wanting to do some pictures with stars in the sky and things like that. And it’s so rare to do because you’ve got to have the most perfect light, in the darkest place. You’ve got to be there to take the photo, and then you’ve got to have a clear sky. And I managed it once, and that was a surprise because all day it was raining. 

James: [00:11:10]

So have you ever done any light painting? 

Katie: [00:11:13] Yes we do quite a lot with sparklers and stuff. We sometimes do it with torches as well. But yes, the back of my car has just got random sparklers and smoke bombs. It’s probably very questionable if someone goes into my boot. 

James: [00:11:33] Hope you don’t drive through any checkpoints. 

Katie: [00:11:34] Yeah! 

James: [00:11:37] Well Katie that’s been awesome. Thank you so much for sparing the time with us today. 

Katie: [00:11:42] You’re welcome, thank you very much! 

James: [00:11:43] Awesome, we hope to speak to you again soon! So bye for now! 

Katie: [00:11:47] Speak to you soon! Bye! 

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