A month ago, we were very happy when the world’s most famous portal and magazine dedicated to alternative weddings – “Rocknroll Bride” published a story about a wedding organised and decorated by Multipraktika. If you look at their website, you will understand what an authentic society we find ourselves in: colourful traditional weddings from the most exotic parts of the world, weddings on mountain tops, weddings on Caribbean beaches, gothic weddings, queer weddings, circus weddings, weddings with film and pop cultural themes … This is the first time Rocknroll Bride has written about an evening from this part of the world!
The first wedding we planned under the name Multipraktika, was specific in many ways. Milica, a member of our trio, got married which meant we had no obligation to “pitch” our ideas to the newlyweds and instead could run free with our imagination. Even with all this given, it was not easy for us because we planned this wedding “from scratch”. We ignored all the traditional wedding rules from this region and took control of every segment of the organisation and decoration. We had many challenges, but in the end we managed to carve out a completely original wedding which we are so proud of and where, in the end, we had a great time.
As we receive more and more enquiries about organising weddings “from scratch” in unusual locations, we decided through the story of this “rock and roll” wedding, to try and give you a guide for organising and decorating original weddings and point out some of the potential pitfalls, problems and unplanned costs that you can expect if you opt for this approach.
So let’s start.
Certainly the most important thing. Only when you decide on a wedding venue, you can develop the concept of how to decorate, plan a budget and start planning the wedding.
Since we are talking about “custom made” weddings here, we do not deal with wedding venues that impose conditions with the choice of food and drink, their waiters, decorators and photographers, and where all creativity in wedding planning usually comes down to choosing one of their three packages.
In search of the right location for this wedding, we spent months visiting private properties along the Danube and Sava, stables, floating restaurants, warehouses and factory halls, mills, breweries, theatres and alternative urban spaces. Most of the locations we visited had the potential to organise beautiful and glamorous/picturesque weddings, and yet, each of them meant facing numerous challenges. Here are a few tips that can help you choose your unique location.
When it comes to a wedding in a place outside the city, the biggest problem can be having the necessary wedding infrastructure in place. It will most likely be necessary to rent a generator, refrigerator, on site banqueting kitchen, tents and pagodas in case of bad weather conditions, then portable toilets, a stage for a band and dancefloor, tables, chairs, glasses, plates, cutlery, catering team… Very easily it can happen that, after adding up the rental prices of all the listed elements, you go way over your planned budget, without even starting to deal with lighting, decoration, music, food, drinks, cake and the wedding dress. The same applies to a wedding in a factory hall or industrial space. You may not have a problem with electricity and a roof over your head, but most of the other costs remain. Plus you should keep in mind that these spaces can be very difficult to clean and convert them into the place where your guests will feel comfortable.
Of course, if you really want to organise a wedding in one of these locations and you can afford to cover all the costs, with quality preparation, all difficulties can be overcome and the end result truly spectacular.
You can also organise a unique wedding in one of the alternative urban spaces. There you are likely to have most of the infrastructure at your disposal and you won’t need to rent inventory and equipment. You can hire decorators who will rearrange the space and create the wedding atmosphere. What can be a problem with places like this, in addition to the fact that you have to agree with their drinks menu, is that they usually earn the most on weekends, and as weddings are normally scheduled on weekends, rental prices can be high, because they will want to recover planned income and expected tips for employees.
When it comes to weddings in breweries, stables, mills and similar spaces that look nice, but deal with activities that are not related to catering, we know from experience that the organisation goes much easier if the couple are close to the owners or managers of those spaces. Otherwise, it is very difficult to persuade them to step out of their comfort zone and adjust their work space for the wedding, in order to return it to its “usual” condition the next day.
Another option is a wedding in an “event space” that does not function as a classic restaurant, and is only rented for social events. Corporate gatherings usually take place in them, but they can also be suitable for weddings of up to 250 people. One of these spaces is “Karbon”, which we decided on in the end. Our decision was mostly influenced by flexible owners who were willing to fulfil our needs and customise the offer to meet our criteria. Recently renovated interior with an ideal balance of rough and fancy that didn’t require much decorating. They also had enough tables and chairs for all our guests, as well as a large number of parking spaces.
For us, this was one of the biggest challenges. Milica and Aleksandar did not want turbo folk at their wedding, and to make it even more complicated they did not want to hire just ‘’any’’ band. So, we needed a music band, whose songs we all knew and made us want to get up and dance. We invited the band ‘Vampiri’ and to our great joy, they agreed. After the wedding ceremony, in a red tailcoat, Era jumped on stage and with the band played “Zaljubljena tinejdžerka” as a first dance. The evergreen “Pokloniću joj nebo” came next and everyone joined bride and groom on the dancefloor, which was followed with the band’s well known dance songs. As expected, atmosphere culminated with “Rama Lama” song and in that moment there was not enough space on the dance floor, so people danced between the tables. ‘Vampiri’ played a little over an hour, and in between DJ Ratkerolla was on the stage. The guests were welcomed by well known hits from the fifties and sixties, than the DJ slowly introduced foreign rock’n’roll from the same period to “prepare the ground” for the band Vampiri. After the Vampiri’s performance, the DJ moved to the hits of the seventies, then the eighties and nineties, and the party ended with punk an hour after midnight! We succeeded, people of different generations and interests danced rock and roll all night.
If you decide to hire a band that does not normally perform at weddings, you should keep a few things in mind. First of all, you should not expect them to play for your guests all night, yet realistic that their performance lasts up to an hour and a half. Secondly, be sure to check if they have their own sound technician or if you need to hire someone for it. It would also be good to visit the space where the wedding will take place with the sound technician, so that he can assess what equipment is needed for the sound to be good. These are all the things you don’t need to worry about when you hire a ‘’proper’’ wedding band who has complete equipment and plays all night long with short breaks.
When it comes to hiring a DJ for a wedding, we advise you not to hire a “friend who has good taste in music”, but a proven DJ who knows how to feel the atmosphere, adapt to it and slowly raise the adrenaline of everyone in the room and keep it at optimal level. Good music is essential for a good party and you just can’t make a mistake with it.
Another very important part at “alternative” weddings. Often it happens that the bride and groom don’t want a traditional ceremony and all the small rituals that are part of it; but a good replacement is needed. Such weddings can easily become boring with most guests staring at their plates or mobile phones.
No matter how much all these people love you, you have to find a way to entertain them in order to include them in the celebration and have their full attention during those few hours of the wedding.
Milica and Aleksandar got married two years ago on the beach in New York, so they didn’t need a registrar, and they didn’t want a wedding in a church. Therefore, we had to pay a lot of attention to creating a protocol which will lead to the event that will be the highlight of the evening. The guests started arriving at “Karbon” around 5pm . An appetizer and drinks were served, and the bride and groom arrived an hour later. They arrived on stage, greeted their guests and made a toast then personally approached each guest to thank them. The wedding photographers we hired had the task to capture the real atmosphere full of important and interesting moments. The couple’s toast helped to elegantly avoid the wedding practice of newlyweds taking individual photos with each guest because it usually makes them very tired and “steals” too much time. After that, the main course was served and wedding speeches began. Milica’s mother spoke first, followed by her godparents and closest friends, and Alexander’s brother was the last to appear on stage. He gave a short introductory speech and he invited the newlyweds to come and once again say yes in front of all of those who were not with them in New York. He also read the famous words of legendary Serbian poet Dusko Radovic about marriage, and the couple once again said Yes . Wedding Sparklers went off and confetti flew into the air. The band ‘Vampiri’ started playing. After their performance, the DJ informed guests the cake will be cut, and after the cake, Milica and Aleksandar climbed onto the stage again where accompanied by several friends who are musicians, they sang the song “Home” by Edward Sharpe, in which Aleksandar sang a part in Serbian that made many guests cry.
Due to the specifics of this wedding, we decided to print the wedding schedule instead of the menu and put it on a plate in front of each guest, and the part with the performance of the song “Home” was listed as a “surprise” at 11pm .
This was exciting too. Milica and Aleksandar wanted food to be prepared by their friends who usually cook for all the important foreign rock and roll bands that play in Belgrade. For them, preparing food for over 200 people was a big challenge because until then they had served much smaller quantities and could carefully dedicate their time to each piece. However, after good preparation and a clear idea of the bride and grooms preferences, we had an amazingly good and delicious feast. A feast that was enjoyed equally by vegans and the toughest traditionalists. The reactions were so good that after the wedding, Milica and Aleksandar, together with the team from the kitchen, started the catering company “Ulje an vatru!” and continue to do great events successfully – we are happy to recommend them to all future newlyweds who contact us. Of course, this was a specific situation and hiring chefs that hadn’t cooked for weddings before is a bit of an extreme decision and it doesn’t often happen that you start a catering company after your wedding.
Our advise is to choose a catering company that is ready to listen to you and adapt to your menu ideas instead of insisting on standard offers. Also, insist on tasting food before engaging them.
We had control over the drinks and ordered the list of drinks that Milica and Aleksandar wanted through one of the wholesale distributors. The day before the wedding, the ordered drinks were delivered at the venue, and the day after the wedding, they came to pick up any unopened drinks and refunded the money. In addition to the standard offer of drinks, rakija (Serbian traditional drink) from a small distillery whose products are not in wholesale, was drunk at the wedding, and we also had a craft beer tap – a gift from a friend from Zebrew brewery.
Since we only rented space from “Karbon”, we had to find staff to serve food and drinks to the guests. We chose a team that has a lot of experience with weddings, which was a double-edged sword. On one hand we knew we had people who had no problem moving through the crowd juggling glasses and plates, they knew their duties and how to maintain professional, but on the other hand we had to talk to their manager and explain that some of the things they are used to, they will not be able to do on this occasion. Among other things, we did not want them to leave bottles on the tables (especially not plastic ones), nor to set up tables in the hall for dirty dishes. Drinks were served on request, and dirty dishes taken right away to the kitchen.
WEDDING DRESS AND SUIT JACKET
Here we were creative! We found a great tailor for Aleksandar who made to measure his pink plush suit jacket, and we first sewed and then embroidered(!!!) the original wedding dress for Milica. Rock and roll was finalised with him wearing Dr. Martens Brogues and she completed her look with Vivienne Westwood x Melissa pumps.
When we talked about the wedding venue we already emphasised the space will usually dictate the way decoration is allowed. It is not always possible to replicate all the ideas the bride and groom find on the Internet in their own wedding.
Some spaces have such a strong character that too much decoration can create an unpleasant tasteless impression, and yet some other spaces are so beautiful and elegant that we must be careful not to disturb the harmony.
Since the interior of “Karbon” is in a neo-industrial style, we decided to reinforce this controlled rawness of the interior with real concrete blocks that we put on the tables. Food was served over them, and tea light candles glowed from the holes in the blocks. Black candles on the tables and black dahlias in flower arrangements were a homage to the rock and roll aesthetics, and the rest of the flowers in soft blush colours created a contrast and gave a “girly note” to the complete visual effect. Dozens of disco balls in different sizes were inviting us onto the dancefloor, and spotlights whose light refracted through the silver strips that hung from the ceiling were colouring the space. Because of all of the above, Rocknroll Bride presented this wedding to the readers with the title “Disco Noir: A Rock n Roll Urban Serbian Wedding”.
Original custom weddings are not easy at all, but the effort and money invested in them is definitely worth it in the end if the wedding is well planned. We hope with this guide we have helped and encouraged you to remain yourself and your ideas uncompromised. If you have a plan and you think Multipraktika can help you, please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to working with you.