Let’s Hold a Wedding… With Swords!

Let’s Hold a Wedding… With Swords!

As a guy, it’s hard sometimes to get inspiration from wedding planning. Let’s be honest, that’s usually not a dude thing… until you add swords.

Do I have your attention now? As a kid, who loved knights and battles, I sought out every movie I could find with swords and sword fights. Two of my favorites were The Princess Bride and The Adventures of Robin Hood [1938]. Incidentally both included weddings, one rather ridiculous, the other in the epic aftermath of a battle (come on folks, that’s the way to do it, saves a ton on catering).

So when photographer Taylor Cash asked to do a styled medieval wedding photo shoot, my first thought was to add swords. My second was: how do you make a wedding dress?

Well, a few hours on Google gave me a pretty good idea what was out there in the way of inspiration. I found that most modern medieval-themed weddings did not include a medieval dress, and most medieval dresses, were not for weddings… hmmm.

So at this point: I’m a 28 year old male, a costume designer with a degree in Political Science, and a background as a helicopter pilot, trying to be the first person to make and document a 12th-century dress for a wedding in about 800 years. What could go wrong?

Being so out of my depth, I assembled my ideas and called my friend Sarah, who came over and helped me figure out the design. There were a few bumps, and we had the devil of a time with some unfortunate gores, but finally we were done. Then, all we had to do was surcoats for a dozen men, sashes for the bridesmaids, plan a wedding feast, get everyone ready and, of course… swords.

Taylor and I designed the shoot to follow the progression of a modern wedding, just with a medieval aesthetic: engagement shoot, wedding, bridal party shots, reception, dancing and finally, the exit. After a beautiful week, the weather threatened rain, but the morning dawned clear and the sky held nothing but sunshine for our couple.

Now that you’ve heard the story of the creation, enjoy the story of the wedding itself!

For our bride, we designed a two-layer dress (dress and underdress) made of Krista Natural linen. It is a lovely almost-white, with a hint of butternut. Her sash and veil were made of Grey Mist sheer linen, which has to be one of the softest things I have ever touched! We also used a bias tape made out of this material for the sleeve hem.

The groom got a darker color palette, using my all-time favorite linen color Blue Bayou for his surcoat (we also found a matching color paint at the hardware store for his armor!) Autumn Gold was used for his cloak and the detail around his sigil on the surcoat.  

First, the engagement shoot. Sure, they did not have engagement shoots, but I’m sure plenty of medieval lovers spent their time wandering across the green hills and dales…
On to the ceremony! Our groomsmen and bridesmaids escorted their charges dressed in style!
We gave the good friar a blue stole to match the couple as well!
 
Let the Celebrations begin with a feast to honor the couple!

In order to decorate the feast area, we used more of the Grey Mist and some sturdy heavyweight Bleached linen for table runners and tablecloths.

We had the usual meet and greet, and then as darkness fell, things got a little more rowdy (as any good medieval wedding should).

Eventually, the bridesmaids began to assail the groomsmen with grapes from the feast, so the bold knights had no choice but to don their armor and taunt the damsels in the best way they knew how…

Finally the exit, and the happy new couple are headed off to build their own castle!

A huge thanks to Fabrics-Store.com for providing such wonderful materials to work with, to Taylor Cash Photography for capturing it and to the whole Fell & Fair team for making it happen! We’d love to hear what you think of our medieval wedding, please feel free to leave us your comments below and we hope you enjoyed the post.

33 comments

  1. vickie

    LOVE THIS! What a lovely wedding, love and joy forever to the bride and groom. My husband and I had a very simple wedding 45 years ago and we are more in love now then ever. Let this beautiful wedding in it’s elegant simplicity be a model for more folks, to remember it’s the love, family, friends that make a marriage, not a big checkbook. Great job, love it all, and thanks for sharing

  2. Yara Roussille

    Outstanding ?
    I loved everything ?? the clothes, the wedding, food, all the pics are awesome ?. Thanks for sharing this incredible wedding and the story behind it. ?
    Blessings to the couple. ?
    Greetings from Brazil.
    Yara

  3. Donna Kohler

    Wonderful!!! It gave me chills! This would be so much more memorable than the average $30,000 wedding and for much less! A wedding should fit the interests of the couple. Well, usually of the wife, smile. Hubby and I were married in a tea shop, after hours during the Christmas season and we didn’t spend more than $1,000 in 1996 for 21 guests. Unique memories are for the creative people. Great job! I hope you get to produce and design many.

  4. Pingback: Medieval Elopement

  5. M.Greene

    Very much enjoyed the mock wedding photo shots, it shows off the potential of using the linens as a natural texture to, specifically, an outdoor themed wedding, as well as the usual formality of linen for an indoor wedding. And also love the idea of the cost savings by making one’s own garments that are unique and individual. Well done! Hazzah!

  6. MC

    Your work is beautiful but the bliaut on the bride is inaccurate. There are many historical patterns and references for you to follow using costume history.

    1. Glenda Castillo

      I don’t believe the author was looking for perfect authenticity. IMHO, I thought he was trying to bring the “mood(s)” of this era into our modern time. Very few, if any at a wedding with a historical theme are aware of what perfect authenticity looks like. What is recognized is that setting the mood and ambiance of what the couple feels was a special era in their “historical/romantic hearts”. A time past that had love and romance as well as what is typically shown on the screens, big and small. It “feels” authentic and the brides head piece is gentle and amazing, all at the same time. I love your knowledge … I had no idea it was called a bliaut, lol.

  7. Susan

    Fabulous! Thank you for sharing your talents with all of us. I agree with Judy, that instead of spending so much $, spend the love and talent to enrich the experience for all. As an aside: what types of gifts did people bring to the wedding? Is the couple actually involved in the Medieval Scene in their jobs or hobbies? So many questions to ask!

  8. Peggy Kennon

    Love this so much! Your creativity and stepping out to do new things with your ideas is an inspiration! Blessings and continued creative successs for you and all of FellandFair!

  9. Honorable Lady Cera

    You all did a great job! The staging of your photos is lovely – as is your choice of materials. I’m glad you used linen from fabrics-store.com – they are wonderful and 1 of my favorite shopping places 🙂 I was wondering where you got your design choices for patterns though. I belong to a 501C3 group that focuses on educating people in medieval ways of pre-17th century. Medieval weddings are common among our members and most of us make our own garb from extant findings. We are the SCA – Society for Creative Anachronism and can be found at sca.org. We research, recreate and live the dream that was. It’s a lot of fun and you find a whole new like-minded family you never knew you had.

    1. Susan

      The SCA intrigues me. I’ve read painstaking directions to make authentic items from clothing to weapons, yet never forget that the SCA is called the Society for Creative Anachronisms, so there is artistic license granted for SCA participants.

      1. Jo

        Yes, there is! The SCA is a very rewarding hobby, and the Arts and Sciences members are full of information. Once you find your local group, get in touch with their Chatelain. He/she can guide you to the members who excel in the field you are interested in, from costuming to cooking to blacksmithing, and all points in between!


    2. Author
      Zan Campbell

      Thanks so much! We designed the garb as a combination of various 11th and 12th century illustrations and recreations. My philosophy is basically: if they had the materials, the skill and a general look, you can work within that to create something that matches the period. I find that if I only stick to patterns from finds, everyone ends up looking the same, like they all went to medieval Walmart and bought the same dress/cloak/tunic. We are also not making any strict historical claims here, the wedding actually falls in a historical fiction universe we are creating so I don’t feel 100% bound to any specific date.

      1. Hilary Catron

        Hi, I’ve read your post over and over, and realized you don’t actually say this is a real wedding. Was this a portfolio piece for the photographer? You did a great job on the designs, I’d love to see any in-progress photos you took during design and fabrication.


        1. Author
          Zan Campbell

          It is a styled shoot meaning yes, it’s not a real wedding. The couple has been married for some time. Laurie (the bride) did say that she expects an annual wedding now though as an anniversary gift! 😉

          1. Hilary Catron

            Hahahahaha! She can join Delta Burke and Celine Dion on that road! Thanks for the confirmation. Nice job, the shoot looked great.

  10. Ro Curtis

    Where can I find a pattern for the bride’s dress? The rear shoulder pleats are very interesting!!

  11. Lytle Markham

    This is fantastic! Wish I could be part of a group like that. You did a fabulous job on the clothing. Do what you love!

  12. Glenda

    I read the whole post and being a romantic at heart, I cried. At 28 yrs old you are very talented. Is this your calling to be a wedding and banquet planner for Medievil times events? I’m 69 yrs old and have never been to anything like that, but it’s never too late, is it!!
    Love your work

  13. Judy

    What a cool article, I have been altering gowns and working with Bridesmaids for 20 years and not once have I been asked to work on this theme. I was asked to help with Cosplay but the couple changed the venue. So three cheers for a lovely Wedding and a great article. I wish more couples would see how beautiful it can be without the $$$$$ that they spend now. Ha and don’t even get me started about prom season, my clients could learn a lot from this article.
    From the research that we gathered for our Wedding in regards to the cloak, my husband wore one as he is a KOC knight ,even in the Old Testament it was symbolic because it represents the laying down of ones life for the other.
    thank you for sharing with us.

  14. Joanne

    Amazing!
    Gorgeous colours, fabrics and designs that work so well with nature and the event itself. I loved it all – great job! (Who knew swords could make everything a kazillion times better??) That’s got to be the best wedding AND wedding dress designed by a knight EVER! (Truly, It was lovely) Your designs are fantastic and I’d love to see more. It looks like such a great time was had by all. Thanks so much for all the hard work and for sharing it with us!

  15. Debbie C.

    This was exactly as I have imagined a medieval wedding to be. From the clothing to the swords, this was brilliant!! Well done!!

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