Welcome to Part Two of our Punk Rock Weddings Weekender!
Earlier this year, Kaz and Big Hands hosted two of the biggest punk rock marriage celebrations I’ve ever heard of. Not only did they have a four-band line-up on their big day, they also managed to squeeze in an impressive ‘Hag Do’ gig at Gullivers in Manchester.
Chris Hinsley, better known as Big Hands, does data analysis by day but is the drummer in Revenge of the Psychotronic Man by night. Karen Hinsley (née Warburton, better known as Kaz) loves her job as an Animal Nursing Assistant, where (if her Facebook feed is anything to go by) she gets to care for incredibly cute puppies and kittens for a living. Together, Kaz and Big Hands are an integral part of the TNS Records family, spending their spare time packing merch and helping with new releases, as well as going to gigs and generally getting involved. They have also taken on the admirable task of running all the merch for Manchester Punk Festival.
I wanted to find out whether their experience of DIY gigs influenced their marriage choices, how two noisy punk gigs translate to a successful wedding, and whether Kaz managed to crowd-surf in a wedding dress.
How did you both meet?
- Big Hands: We kinda met years ago but didn’t really talk to each other – I was dressed as the Alan Partridge zombie along with Revenge. Bizarrely Andy from Revenge (and best man at the wedding) used to teach Kaz at college.
- Kaz: I’ve known some of the guys from Faintest Idea for over 10 years now and I used to go down to Norfolk quite a lot for weekend trips. One of those times was for a Halloween gig that Revenge were playing. I was actually just getting into the punk scene at the time so I hadn’t actually heard Revenge before… and I hadn’t watched Partridge so I totally didn’t get their costume choice! I didn’t really say much to Chris at all that weekend but I remember we were at the same house party that night for a few hours.
- Big Hands: We first properly spoke to each other at Strummer Camp 2011 as we both knew Faintest Idea, so we blame Dani for that one.
- Kaz: We went out for a drink a week or so after that and I haven’t been able to shake him since!
- Big Hands: It was six years the day before the wedding. I proposed on our anniversary, and we decided to get married the same weekend two years later, so with my shocking memory I only have to remember one date!
Before we get onto the wedding in detail, tell me all about the hen / stag do.
- Big Hands: We both have the same friends (male and female), so we decided to have a joint one: hence our ‘hag do’. It meant that A) we could all party together and B) it was really hard to choose bands to play the wedding, so it gave us a chance to put some others on. We ended up with Pizzatramp, Matilda’s Scoundrels, Casual Nausea, Rising Strike and The Lab Rats. We also managed to convince Sense of Urgency to reform for it, which was amazing. We roped in Col and Laura of MBBP fame to run it for us, so we have them to thank for that one.
- Kaz: The hag do was also on the day of my 30th so it was a joint celebration. Col and Laura did a great job and it was such a cracking gig!
- Big Hands: Also, to finish it off, we managed one last night in Retro Bar before that got closed down.
- Kaz: Yeah, originally we we only going to do the hag do and not your typical hen and stag do’s, but my wonderful maid of honour, Kim, had other ideas. She planned a surprise get away to Ibiza for me and some of my close girl mates. Big Hands also had a weekend in Berlin. She called it a ‘not hen do’ and we didn’t have any of the typical hen party tat. We just went away for a long weekend and had a good time together. Also, my 63 year old mum came and got her first tattoo, in Ibiza… on her bum!
When and where did you get married?
- Big Hands: June 10th this year at a place called Victoria Warehouse in Salford, right next to Old Trafford. We spent ages trying to find somewhere cheap but not rubbish that would let us take our own catering in, as we wanted it to be completely vegan.
- Kaz: Victoria Warehouse was the perfect venue really. We were one of the first couples to book a wedding there, as they had not long had their licence. When we first viewed it they were still refurbishing, so we had to use our imagination as to what the finished product would be.
- Big Hands: Although it was still being done up, it looked like exactly what we were after: basically somewhere that looked better than a shitty venue but still had that rough look.
- Kaz: Looking around the rest of the warehouse, we got a good idea of what they would be going for. The rest of the building is just incredible. It’s totally full of random, quirky things. I knew as soon as we walked in that was going to be the place!
What made your wedding less traditional and more special?
- Big Hands: I think we kept describing ours as a ‘posh gig’. We didn’t really aim for a non-traditional wedding, we just picked out the best bits of weddings and gigs and mixed them together.
- Kaz: We just did exactly what we wanted to do instead of worrying about what we ‘should’ do or what others would expect from a wedding. We talked about other weddings we had been to and discussed what we did/didn’t enjoy. I was keen to reduce the waiting around time as much as possible. I feel some weddings are very stop start; you’re waiting for food, or for the bar to open, or for the music to start… We just wanted the whole day to flow nicely from start to finish without any lulls. We decided to just do it for us and do what we enjoy.
- Big Hands: We basically asked for the shortest possible ceremony and made sure that the bar was open all the time. Throw into that four amazing bands and there’s not really a lot more you could want.
Do you think your experience of organising/helping with gigs helped when it came to organising the wedding?
- Kaz: The evening do was basically a gig, so previous experience and contacts came in handy with that. We are really lucky to have so many talented friends and family members, and so many of them who were so eager to step up and offer assistance.
- Big Hands: Definitely, it was pretty much a complete DIY wedding. £1000 for a photographer? Nah, it’s alright – there’s about five coming anyway. Big thanks to Bev, who did amazing considering I only paid him with a Motorhead record. £500 for a cake? It’s alright, Kim can do a better one for a bottle of rum. I don’t want to know how much they normally charge for a PA and a standard sound engineer; we just paid Marios and got Francis from Stand out Riot, who’s amazing. There was no need for an expensive shit DJ when you’ve got Spotify and a 90’s dance playlist.
- Kaz: I decided to make the invites and all the decorations with some help from my friends; we just had crafting days where we made things and drank wine. I started planning it pretty much a month after we got engaged and just did a little at a time over the 2 years.
What musical entertainment did you have at the wedding?
- Big Hands: We had quite a mix of music, and very little punk apart from the bands. We were lucky enough to book the mighty Wonk Unit before they became Rebellion main stagers! We also got Black Volvo for what I think ended up being their last UK gig before they split up. I hope that wasn’t our fault. We basically told Faintest Idea they had to play; they owed us that for always turning up at our house at all hours, expecting breakfast beds for the night. Stoj Snak even came over from Denmark for us.
- Kaz: I think we were actually spot on with the music choices on the day. The bands even went down really well with family! I think my mum now secretly likes some punk. Our two nieces Emma (8) and Lily (5) got to experience the bands for the first time too and were absolutely loving it. They even got to take part in Stoj Snak’s set.
- Big Hands: We decided not to bother with a DJ because of cost and not having full control over the music that was going to be played. Instead I did 12 months’ research with Andy and Matt, remembering and playing all the best 90’s indie and dance music in the van on the way to Revenge gigs. At the risk of sounding big headed, it was a fucking banging playlist.
What songs did you have for your first dance / walking down the aisle?
- Big Hands: We went for the traditional Jurassic Park theme tune for Kaz to walk down the aisle.
- Kaz: I actually suggested the Jurassic Park theme for my entrance song as a joke originally, as there’s a bit of a thing with JP in our friendship group and I thought it would be hilarious. The more I listened to it though, the more I realised it’s actually a really nice piece of music.
- Big Hands: We got Wonk Unit to play Nagging Wife for our first dance.
- Kaz: I think we knew from the offset that Nagging Wife was going to be our first dance. We had asked Wonk Unit to play quite early on, and I can’t think of anything more awkward than just the two of us dancing together with everyone watching. We just asked Alex to start the set with Nagging Wife and had everyone dancing with us. Obviously there was a first dance crowd surf!
What other entertainment did you have? Please tell me there’s a wedding-dress/human pyramid photo out there somewhere.
- Big Hands: That was it for entertainment. We had to stop ourselves at booking four bands and that didn’t leave us with much spare time. I can’t remember if we managed a human pyramid? I know we’d been saying for ages that we needed to. Both our Mums went crowd-surfing.
- Kaz: I’m pretty sure there was a pyramid or two. We definitely managed a decent rower, and I was getting whisked off my feet into the air every five minutes to crowd surf. As far as the wedding dress: I had an evening alternative that was better suited for the antics, which was lucky as I threw red wine down my actual dress during Stoj Snak.
What traditional elements did you keep?
- Big Hands: We gave each other rings and Kaz wore an amazing white dress… I think that was about it.
- Kaz: Well, the dress was actually blush, but it was really subtle. I decided to go for a typical wedding dress, but I wanted one that had a bit of character still. When I went to the dress shop I didn’t actually pick a single dress myself; I let each person who came with me pick one for me to try. Fizzy actually chose the winning dress.
Did I see that you both got tattooed afterwards?
- Big Hands: Yes. We didn’t do normal speeches, Andy did one and our friend Em from Bomb Ibiza wanted to do one. She invited everyone to draw a tattoo design to put into a black voting box that she pulled out, which we then got to choose from.
- Kaz: This was actually such a good idea. I think it was actually Em’s sister, Tilly, that came up with it. When I agreed to it I actually thought we had to pick one at random and have that tattooed, so I was pretty happy when I got to pick!
- Big Hands: I’m glad we got to choose because if not, I wouldn’t of ended up with Lord Blobby Bucket Head. I’d probably have ended up with a tattoo of Miff from Chewed Up, as there must have been twenty pieces of paper with his name on in there.
- Kaz: Pulling out the slips I was like ‘Miff’… ‘Miff’.. .’Miff’… There were actually some amazing suggestions! I couldn’t resist the one I got though, because let’s be honest: cats are better than Big Hands.Is there anything you would do differently?
- Kaz: I would hand my glass of red wine to Kim when she tried to take it off me, seconds before I spilt it on myself!
- Big Hands: I honestly don’t think so. We both had so much fun. Actually, I got put on the spot just before the vows when the registrar asked me what names we wanted to be called during the ceremony, i.e., Chris & Kaz or Christopher & Karen. I said Chris & Kaz and only thought after that I should have gone with Big Hands & Kaz.
What advice do you have for anyone else looking to incorporate a punk/DIY aspect into their wedding?
- Big Hands: Forget about overthinking it. Think about what you don’t like about traditional weddings and just change it. That and you can pretty much do everything for cheap or free if you have awesome friends.
- Kaz: Yeah, exactly, just do it for yourselves. It’s ok to be a little selfish in that respect – don’t worry about pleasing everyone else, just do what you want to do.What was the best thing about the whole day (apart from your betrothal!)?
- Big Hands: It’s harder for Kaz to get rid of me now.
- Kaz: I actually loved seeing how much everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves too. It was amazing to see my mum, mum-in-law and my glamorous cousin, Tracie, crowd-surfing. I’ve got to say: I’ve never seen someone crowd-surf as flawlessly as Tray did!