Genius ways to add horses to your wedding without the real thing

With wedding season in full swing, if you’re engaged chances are you’re scoping out ideas and inspiration. And if horses are a big part of your life, you’ll almost certainly want to include a nod to your passion on your special day.

A popular option is to have your horse as a guest of honour at your wedding, or to feature in your wedding or pre-wedding photos, but if this isn’t feasible you don’t need an actual horse present to put an equestrian stamp on the occasion. Check out our ideas for incorporating horses into your wedding, from the simple and subtle to a total takeover.

1. The venue

If you want to give your whole day an equestrian flavour, consider holding your wedding at a polo club, such as Ham Polo Club in Richmond or Beaufort Polo Club in Gloucestershire, a racecourse — take your pick from Ascot, Cheltenham, Newbury and others — or even the renowned All England Jumping Course at Hickstead. If you’d just like a lovely rustic vibe, consider a barn — there are a huge number of beautiful rural barn wedding venues up and down the country.

2. The ceremony

If you’re not planning a church wedding, a barn is perfect for a rustic, rural ceremony, or why not have it outside with hay bales for seating? You could incorporate music that will remind you and your guests of a significant horsey event — no one who has ever been to Horse of the Year Show could fail to recognize Mozart’s A Musical Joke — used for many years as the theme tune to the show. And when the vows have been made, polo playing couples could adapt the traditional military guard of honour by inviting their teammates to use polo sticks instead.

3. Wedding clothing

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It’s unlikely you’re willing to forsake a wedding dress in favour of horsey attire — this may well be the one day of your life you don’t spend in breeches after all — but there’s nothing stopping you donning a pair of riding boots or wellies to flash from beneath your gown. Let’s face it — they make for great photos, and they won’t make your feet hurt.

When it comes to jewellery, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to beautiful stirrup, bit, horseshoe or horse head designs. You could even incorporate a subtle horsey design into your wedding ring.

If you can’t have your horse at your wedding, or just want to keep him close by your side at all times, consider having a lock of his mane or tail made into a bracelet for you to wear during the day.

4. Decorations

When it comes to wedding décor, you can go wild with horsey paraphernalia. Think horseshoes used as place names or favours, bunting made out of rosettes, boots or trophies acting as vases to hold flowers or candles and tealights twinkling in silver stirrups. You could take it even further with an old saddle for friends and family to sign instead of a guest book, or display your icy bottles of beer in wheelbarrows or stable buckets.

5. Stationery

This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to incorporate a horsey theme. An equestrian design for your invitations will give guests a clue in advance, and you can go one step further and use a race card or show schedule design.

On the day, table names are the perfect way to include a personal touch and get your guests chatting — think breeds, the names of your own or famous horses, even dressage movements. Horse & Hound’s magazine editor, Pippa Roome, named her tables after major events she and her husband had attended together, complete with a handwritten explanation of their significance.

5. The food and drink

There’s no end to the ways in which you can give your wedding cake an equestrian touch, from subtle sugar horses to transferring a photo of your horse onto it. It doesn’t have to stop at the cake either — consider a speciality cocktail bar with drinks named after equine celebrities. We wonder what would go into ‘The Valegro’ or a ‘Big Star’…

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6. Entertainment

All weddings need a form of entertainment to keep guests occupied in between the drinking and dancing, and this could be the perfect opportunity to give a nod to your horsey life. Forget giant Jenga and croquet — invest in a few polo handsticks and let your guests get competitive with a mini polo tournament on the lawn. Or if the majority of your guests are also horsey you could design an equestrian-themed quiz for everybody to get stuck into after dinner. Then again, if you have opted to hold your wedding at a polo club, you could be treated some some real life action with an after dinner polo match.

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

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