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Getting creative can help bring down the cost of your big day; The average wedding costs over PS20,500 but organisers of an Eclectic Wedding Extravaganza in Birmingham are offering tips on how to personalise your wedding for a fraction of the cost. ZOE CHAMBERLAIN reports.

HALF of brides expect to blow their budget to get the day of their dreams, with 20 per cent borrowing money to make it come true. A study by You & Your Wedding has revealed that, despite the tough economic climate, Midland brides are spending an average of PS20,983 on their weddings.

But, according to bridal gown maker Jo Bromley, the days of an obligatory church wedding with a bride in a white dress followed by a sit-down meal are becoming a thing of the past.

She has got together with photographer Sassy Lafford and embroiderer Vikki Lafford Garside to form All About Ewe, an alternative wedding event in Birmingham, showcasing the quirkiest wedding paraphernalia available.

"It is definitely a growing market," says Jo, 46, whose wedding dress business The Couture Company is based at The Custard Factory.

"A lot of people want to inject their own personalities into their weddings but there is peer pressure which says you have to have three bridesmaids, or flowers on the tables.

"The advent of wedding bloggers has enabled brides to see what other couples are doing and has given them the chance to say we could do that.

"They're realising they don't have to have a church service, a sit down meal and DJ Dave and his dodgy disco."

Having been a wedding dress designer for the past 23 years, Jo's trademark gown is a vintage style dress with retro-style tattoos embroidered onto it.

"If a bride wants rainbows or unicorns on her dress, I can do that," says Jo, who did a degree in fashion.

"I recently made a unicorn headdress for a bride who was getting married in Las Vegas.

"I've also done Gothic wedding dresses.

"My iconic dress is one that has retro style tattoos embroidered onto it. I did a lot of research into it to make sure no-one had done anything like this before. It's become my trademark.

"It's a 1950s-style dress with lots of underskirts and different tattoos, such as swallows, shooting stars and people's names sewn into the tattoo design.

"It makes it unique to the couple.

"One girl got engaged on a campsite in Wales so she had a little picture of some trees, a campsite sign and a caravan on her dress. It was good because it meant something special to her. She would never be able to sell on her dress, no-one else would buy it, but that's what made it special to her.

"Another lady loved penguins so I included two kissing penguins in her wedding dress design.

"I can do whatever people want and I encourage them to inject a little of their personality into their dress.

"Some girls come in and they love the idea of a tattooed wedding dress but then the mother or mother-in-law is not entirely happy. There can family politics and niggles.

"But I say it's down to the couple and what they want.

"Some end up bowing to what their families say but others say 'sod it, I'm doing what I want."

Jo believes that being creative on your wedding day can really help to bring down the cost.

"Weddings can be so expensive, they can cost PS20,000 or more," says Jo, whose dresses cost between PS1,000 and PS2,000.

"Some couples really want to get married but spending that much is not in their remit.

"With alternative weddings, couples can do what they want without having to spend tonnes of money.

"Many people choose DIY options for their wedding, such as making their own table plans, invitations and place settings, getting a friend to bake the cake and decorating the tables without using lots of expensive fresh flowers.

"This really does bring down the cost." The All About Ewe Eclectic Wedding Extravaganza takes place at Fazeley Studios, Digbeth, on Sunday, February 1 and offers everything from vintage fairgrounds and photo booths to corsetry and custom-made shoes.

"Some people choose to be married by celebrants rather than vicars, and they create the day to suit themselves," explains Jo, who is mum to Millie, five.

"Others have unusual cakes. We work with a world renowned cake-maker called The Conjurers Kitchen, based in Birmingham, who creates really sculptured amazing cakes, even skulls and severed hands.

"Some people choose really cool stationary, such as invitations and place names made by Satin and Tat. If you want your invitations to look like anatomical hearts, they can do it because they offer a truly bespoke service, whereas many suppliers just have a series of set designs you put your name on.

"We've also linked with DiscoShed who bring the fascia of a shed to indoor or outdoor receptions. I'd seen them before at a festival and thought they were great for marquee weddings.

"At the show, there will be fashion 'walkabouts' showing off some of the gorgeous outfits, fun demonstrations and some activities for your little lambs to get involved in to make it a family friendly interactive experience.

"Basically we want you to have fun, and not feel like your're a lamb to the slaughter or have to fight off cheesy disco Dave and his amazing, never seen before, lighting rig that's clearly been bodged together by him!

"If you want to break free from the shackles of what is considered 'normal',' then this is the place for you.

"Our message is don't be a wedding sheep!" Jo got married to IT worker Darren in Thailand. She made herself a Japanese kimono-style dress which she hand-painted with cherry blossoms.

"Our wedding was pre-alternative really but we still knew what we wanted," she says.

"We got married in Thailand then had a party at The Old Library at The Custard Factory. We didn't have a sit down meal. Instead I bought a chest freezer and made lots of hot pots that we served for supper, together with Indian snacks from the local delis.

"We also got all our guests to send us a tune they would dance to and we made a massive playlist so that everyone was dancing all evening.

"We did it our way."

? The Eclectic Wedding Extravaganza is taking place on February 1 at Fazeley Studios. Visit www.fazeleyevents.co.uk/weddings and www.allaboutewe.co.uk to find out more.

A wedding show ewe won't want to miss Some of the other |exhibitors at the Eclectic Wedding Extravaganza by All About Ewe at Fazeley Studios on February 1 include, wedding cakes by Conjurer's Kitchen, Birmingham (top); Jamball who make felt bridal bouquets (inset); bridal shoes by Frankie Lynn (left) and Ink Slinger Art, Redditch (above) and (below) DiscoShed

CAPTION(S):

Picture: Ink Slinger Art

Picture: Jay Emme Photography

Picture: Eliza Claire Photography

Picture: Lisa Devlin

Picture: JM Photography

| Wedding dress designer |Jo Bromley who runs The Couture Company at the Custard Factory and (below) some of her tattoo designs Picture: Assassynation

Pictures: Assassynation

Jo's rainbow dress | Picture: Assassynation
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 31, 2015
Words:1155
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