Flamboyant florists marry at wacky wedding – replacing usual service with everything from drag queen bingo to exchanging phones instead of rings

·5-min read

A pair of flamboyant florists cocked a snoop at tradition with a wonderfully wacky wedding – replacing the usual ceremony and reception with highlights such as drag queen bingo and a champagne reception on a double decker bus.

Not only did John Voyle, 61, and Richard Allison, 48, replace the usual ring exchange with top-of-the-range mobile phones, but there was not a bloom in sight – even though they run a flower shop in their hometown of Leicester.

And the couple kept the unconventional order of service a complete surprise for the 65 guests who joined them at Leicestershire’s Anstey Frith House in Glenfield on August 29 for the ceremony and celebrations.

The couple wanted their wedding to be worry and hassle free. (Jamie Gray/PinPep/PA Real Life)
The couple wanted their wedding to be worry and hassle free. (Jamie Gray/PinPep/PA Real Life)

Richard said: “Our big day would not be most people’s idea of the perfect wedding, but it was absolutely perfect for us. It was emotional, hilarious and at times, bonkers!

“We decided to strip everything away from our wedding day that would cause worry or hassle for anyone attending, especially ourselves.

“Out went the speeches, the cake and, even though we’re florists, even the flowers.”

John and Richard wanted to do away with tradition. (Collect/PA Real Life)
John and Richard wanted to do away with tradition. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “No first dance, no extended ceremony or customary vows. We even organised a boozy post ceremony bus, so no one had to worry about driving.

“Our focus was on fun, as this would be the first time many had been to a good old shindig since the pandemic began – and it paid off.”

John and Richard first met through mutual friends 28 years ago and got engaged on Christmas Day 2020.

The couple have been together for 28 years. (Collect/PA Real Life)
The couple have been together for 28 years. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Richard said: “We moved in together within two months of knowing each other and we’ve been together ever since.

“John surprised me on Christmas morning last year with a proposal on Hunstanton Beach in Norfolk with a cinnamon ring doughnut and, even then, we knew we wanted to do things differently.

“Neither of us wear any jewellery, so we didn’t see the point in buying rings.”

John and Richard hired performers to play at their wedding reception. (Jamie Gray/PinPep/PA Real Life)
John and Richard hired performers to play at their wedding reception. (Jamie Gray/PinPep/PA Real Life)

He added: “At first, we wanted a super simple wedding, but it escalated and the pair of us started planning more and more things to make each other laugh.

“When it came to what we were going to exchange instead of rings, it started off as a joke but quickly turned real.”

Both wanting to buy new phones, the couple decided that instead of swapping rings at the altar, they would give each other new phones instead.

The pair got engaged on Christmas morning at Hunstanton Beach in Norfolk. (Collect/PA Real Life)
The pair got engaged on Christmas morning at Hunstanton Beach in Norfolk. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Richard said: “We’d been eyeing up the new Samsung phones. We really wanted a Galaxy ZFlip3 and the Galaxy ZFold3 so we thought, why not buy them as wedding presents to ourselves?

“We made a joke of it, saying we were going to exchange them instead of rings as a way to communicate more with each other.

“It was a bit of fun.”

The couple’s guests had no idea what to expect. (Jamie Gray/PinPep/PA Real Life)
The couple’s guests had no idea what to expect. (Jamie Gray/PinPep/PA Real Life)

And on the big day, their family and friends had no idea what to expect.

Richard said: “Everyone was so relaxed. The laughs were there from the offset. The registrar was hilarious and did an amazing job of easing our nerves while entertaining the crowd. When she called up our nephews to bring the phones for us to exchange, the room filled with laughter.

“Everyone knew from this point to expect the unexpected. We were announced married as ‘Voyley and the Duchess.’ Again, the room erupted and we left the register office for drinks on the lawn.”

John proposed to Richard with a cinnamon ring doughnut on the beach. (Collect/PA Real Life)
John proposed to Richard with a cinnamon ring doughnut on the beach. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Following the ceremony, the wedding entourage enjoyed a game of drag queen bingo hosted by local drag queen, Fanny Burns, before boarding the champagne bus to the reception.

Richard said: “The bus took us into town and dropped us off at the Knight and Garter pub. We posed for some fun shots on board, before going into the venue to be greeted by the most amazing saxophonist, Rob Charles, playing over a backing track of Ibiza classics.

“Fanny was entertaining all the guests. She had asked us previously if we wanted her to tone it down. Not in a month of Sundays! We told her to go for it and we were laughing so hard, it hurt.”

A saxophonist played Ibiza classics for the wedding guests. (Jamie Gray/PinPep/PA Real Life)
A saxophonist played Ibiza classics for the wedding guests. (Jamie Gray/PinPep/PA Real Life)

He added: “We enjoyed fairground treats for pudding and, with everyone’s bellies full, we caught up with them all and they all wanted to play with our new phones. I don’t think I actually saw my new phone again until Tuesday.

“The evening was everything we wanted it to be. We had about 150 friends and family moving between the champagne and oyster bar downstairs where DJ Fitz played club classics and the main bar where there was an amazing set of soul and funk.

“Everyone was dancing and it was a spectacular end to our perfect wacky wedding.”

The phones were presented at the altar on pillows. (Jamie Gray/PinPep/PA Real Life)
The phones were presented at the altar on pillows. (Jamie Gray/PinPep/PA Real Life)

Since the big day, the pair have been enjoying their honeymoon at their holiday home in the UK.

John added: “We’re not quite ready to travel abroad yet due to the pandemic, but we have a second home in Hunstanton, Norfolk, which is perfect for our honeymoon.

“We just wanted the whole wedding day to be full of fun, which I think all our family and friends were looking forward to after such a difficult couple of years.”

John and Richard celebrated their big day over the bank holiday weekend. (Jamie Gray/PinPep/PA Real Life)
John and Richard celebrated their big day over the bank holiday weekend. (Jamie Gray/PinPep/PA Real Life)

He added: “We didn’t want the pressure of a traditional wedding and, being a gay couple, we realised that there were no rules anyway.

“Our day matched our personalities exactly, which is why it was perfect for us.

“Just a fun day full of love and laughter.”

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