A Walk on the Dark Side

When Lou Hoy was planning her wedding she had a very clear picture in her mind of the look and feel she wanted.

The day needed to be an expression of the love of art, taxidermy and the slightly macabre that she and husband Lloyd shared.

Top Tips

  • Create a mood board on Pinterest so you can borrow and adapt other people’s ideas

  • Have a go at making things yourself - it’s good fun and costs a lot less

  • Don’t be afraid to say no to some of the traditional elements of a wedding - remember it is your day and you can include (or not include) anything you like

As you can see from the photos, she opted for high drama and a colour palette that was delivered with her skilled eye and resulted in a darkly romantic day that was anything but sombre.

Having walked down the aisle once before, Lou was well aware of how costly a wedding can be and wanted to ensure money was well spent when it came to creating a stylish and memorable celebration.

“My first wedding was completely different with bridesmaids in pink and a shabby chic, country feel.

“It cost £30,000 and we had 110 guests for the daytime and 180 for the evening. Being such a big event it felt stressful and a bit like an out of body experience.

“When it came to planning this wedding, I was determined things would be different.”

Planning for the big day with just 38 guests began a year before. Covid scuppered plans to marry in Prague and instead the couple opted for the Square Tower in Old Portsmouth.

Having looked around for a suitable venue for the reception, Lou admitted the moment she walked into the Queens Hotel and saw Libby’s Room with its wooden panelling and marble pillars, she knew she had found the right place.

“For the most part Lloyd let me get on with it. We both share a love of art and taxidermy and he got used to coming home to find me busy creating some element or other for the wedding day,” recalled Lou, who works as a Training Coordinator for Comserv.

“I really enjoyed creating the arch with the neon sign saying Til Death. I looked at hiring it initially but something very basic was going to cost £700 so I did it myself.”

Bridesmaid dresses were from Next in the sale and snapped up for just £16 a piece and when it came to her own dress, Lou ordered it from Russia online.

“It was just what I was looking for and perfectly made. I did get a bit mixed up with the continental sizing and ended up with a size 8 when I normally wear a 12 but I made sure I got into it and it looked wonderful on the day,” she said.

Trips to charity shops proved fruitful when it came to finishing touches for the tables at the reception and Lou sourced all the tablecloths and napkins herself.

“I dressed all the tables myself and when it was done I felt totally relaxed and I knew it was going to be a great day,” she said.

Lou and her bridesmaids stayed the night before the wedding in Room 126 at the Queens Hotel which is specially designed for such gatherings with a capacity for up to six and its own beauty parlour room.

“I really loved the specially designed hanging area for wedding dresses. In most rooms you end up hooking a hanger over the curtain pole due to the length of the dress but this was perfect.

“And it was great on the day to have a special area to have our hair done – there was loads of room and the kids were quite happily playing in the corner,” she added.

And just in case you would like to know, Lou created her dramatic dark and romantic wedding day for just £6,000.

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