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Rock and Roll Wedding: Ideas for a Wedding Inspired by Different Rock Genres

Updated on April 2, 2013
The rockabilly wedding is the perfect combination of style and fun.
The rockabilly wedding is the perfect combination of style and fun. | Source

Since weddings are important life and cultural milestones, it comes as no surprise that music is a critical component in weddings. And whether you are virtuoso on multiple instruments or a sadly talent-free lover of music, you can recognize the role music plays in your life. Obviously not everyone is as dedicated to this art form as others, but if you feel that music is a vital component in your relationship, you have every reason to include it in the festivities.

Because music is a near-infinite form of expression, there is really no shortage of genres or aesthetics to draw from, but I wanted to focus on different rock genres in particular. Pop and R&B tend to dominate wedding playlists, leaving no room for our inner Rock Gods. Obviously, members of these musical communities have their own distinctive style, so think of this guide more as a starting point; you can rock out your own distinctive style when you plan your wedding.

Rockabilly/Retro Rock

Obviously, there’s a bit of an overlap between Rockabilly, Rock and Roll, Punk Rock, and other Rock genres. Indeed, the Rockabilly look remains quite common in Punk bands, and there is always a push for “retro” looks in any era, whether that means copying the covers and linens featured in Mad Men or achieving the perfect quiff. If you feel particularly dedicated to the Rockabilly/Retro Rock look or lifestyle, you probably have an idea of how you want to style the wedding party—if not, you can always watch Cry-Babyor look to your friends for inspiration. But selecting elements of décor like linens and flowers can be a bit more challenging.

For one thing, Rock music has always and will always stand for a sense of rebellion. There is nothing more traditional than a wedding, so the idea of hair gel and heavy makeup mixed with a bridal veil and pristine wedding linens may feel a bit odd initially. But thanks in part to the rebellious rockers of the past and present, traditions allow their participants to take a few liberties. Instead of white table linen, for example, you can go with red, black, or any other color of your choosing. You can even look for linens and napkins in a bandana print, checks, or polka dots—popular patterns in the rockabilly era. Instead of frilly flower arrangements, you can go with black and red roses with no white to draw away from the boldness.

Note that the most prominent colors in the Rockabilly style are probably black, white, red, and occasionally blue, but if you prefer to integrate another color, you can of course do so. You may also want to incorporate Rockabilly trademarks, like red flowers, sunglasses, sashes, guitars, and motorcycles, throughout your wedding tables.

Shock Rock

I use the term “Shock Rock” loosely here, as it has been used to describe everyone from Iggy Pop to Lady Gaga. The defining trait of Shock Rock is the fact that it exists to be provocative and upsetting, but also to make its audience question convention—and again, there is nothing more conventional than a wedding that follows tradition. Some artists are more successful and intelligent in this regard than others, but in any case, Shock Rock is here to stay, even if its artists’ antics are hardly shocking anymore. And since it has become a welcome part of our popular culture, you will undoubtedly face more than a few challenges in reconciling this complicated drama with your wedding decorations.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the aesthetic of Shock Rock. Androgyny is fairly common, if overused, and has been since at least the ‘70s. Makeup is equally common, though many favor action over appearance. But if I were to pick one word, I’d go with “theatricality.” Shock Rock combines music with performance art, with some acts being far easier on the eyes (and the digestive system for that matter) than the others. Clearly, you don’t want to channel GG Allin at your wedding, so instead, look for acts that have at least a little mainstream appeal. I have a very conservative friend who nevertheless decided to feature Lady Gaga heavily in her wedding playlist precisely because Mother Monster is bland enough to appeal to everyone. My friend didn’t replace her wedding linen rentals with strips of raw meat or arrive in a giant egg, of course, but she appreciated the message behind “Bad Romance” and applied it to her own relationship.

When I think about it, that’s really the key to integrating Shock Rock—to examine how it defines you as a couple. Do you enjoy spectacle for the sake of spectacle? Do you have a fondness for masks and costumes? These and other questions will help you to start thinking about how to combine your love of Gwar’s signature masks with your need to find comfortable chair pads (you can always rent the chair covers in silver and add a ring of spikes to your vases for a hardcore edge), or your appreciation for Marilyn Manson with your firm desire not to be disowned by your parents (maybe you could feature a few of his less-offensive paintings or do an “inspired by” makeup look rather than plastering it on).

Keep in mind, too, that you can always draw from musicians who are only Shock Rockers in that they offer a sense of the theatrical. Most would argue that such acts don’t even count as Shock Rock, and I’m inclined to agree, though I include them in this category because they aren’t easily pigeonholed elsewhere. Emilie Autumn is a good example—between her electric violin and confrontational lyrics, she’s hardly a traditionalist, but neither does she have the antics of Ozzie Osborne. More importantly, her “Victoriandustrial” attire and pink hair just begs to be translated in wedding décor.

Rock Musical

And speaking of theatricality, there is always the Rock Musical. Clearly, this covers a huge range of shows—everything from Hedwig and the Angry Itch (which features the wedding-ready song, “The Origin of Love”) to that musical that featured the works of Green Day. Theater geeks and musical connoisseurs alike can appreciate the songs of Rent even if its plot and characters are somewhat lacking.

This is yet another category that is ripe for matrimonial translation, simply due to the sheer volume of works that fall under this category. Little Shop of Horrors would be particularly fun—you could center your wedding décor around Venus fly traps and other botanical elements, dress like Seymour and Audrey, and ask bridesmaids to serve as the doo-wop chorus. And, of course, your table covers and linens should be green.

I have to confess that I was delighted to find that my favorite musical of all time, Pippin, is technically considered a Rock Musical. I don’t feel the music is remotely rock-like, but if they want to categorize this fantastic, post-modern examination of the existential crisis , then I’m all for it. Pippin has been staged in several different ways, but since the idea behind it is that a troupe of medieval actors has abducted this poor prince to force him to deal with his issues, it seems a circus theme would be a good bet. That means masks, stripes, boldly-striped tablecloth rentals, sparkles, bells, and so on. Simulate the flame with a wind machine and an orange table linen, and do a replay of Pippin’s decision to choose love and life.

At any rate, you’ll have no shortage of options if you go with the Rock Musical option. Like most stage productions, they serve to highlight the drama and spectacle of the human experience, which will help you to inject a little of the same into the festivities. And isn’t that what Rock is all about?

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