Hello lovely readers and thank you so much Annabel for inviting me to write this feature. It’s an absolute joy to be here, talking about my favourite EVER subject – weddings and, more specifically, joyful, heartfelt, memorable and truly personal ceremonies.
You see, in addition to spending my days writing about weddings, I also spend a lot of time actually writing the weddings themselves. As an independent wedding celebrant, I create and conduct bespoke, one-of-a-kind ceremonies for loved-up couples just like you. It’s true that these ceremonies don’t give you ‘married’ status in the eyes of the law but they absolutely do give you ‘your’ wedding. And that, dear readers, is why celebrant-led ceremonies are becoming so popular.
Over the last decade or so, we’ve all become rather brilliant at planning personal weddings. We’ve utterly embraced all the things that allow us to put our own stamp on our big days. From dresses, styling and venues to food, photography and all those amazing finishing touches, no two weddings are ever the same.
Until it comes to your ceremony that is.
Photography by Amanda Karen
After spend so many hours making the wedding personal, the one area that remains relatively untouched is the ceremony. For sure, you can choose a couple of readings and a few pieces of music but we still seem content to repeat words that are essentially not much more than an exercise in legal box-ticking. Whether you wed in a church, an approved venue or a registry office, to become legally married, you need less than fifty words.
That’s it. Just a handful of bald, impersonal little words, usually read out to you by a registrar you’ll only have met a few moments earlier. Your history, your relationship, your hopes and dreams for the future don’t have a place in what should be the centrepiece of your wedding day. You might be allowed to write your own vows but these are usually just slotted in around the official words. I’ve witnessed legally complete but oddly empty ceremonies that are over and done with in minutes.
This breaks my romantic old heart because I absolutely, well and truly love a love story.
That brings me back, rather neatly, to my earlier point about the fact that we all want to personalise our weddings. We want to show everyone who we are and we want to tell the world that we’re in love in our own way.
And that is exactly why celebrant-led ceremonies are becoming more popular.
When you work with a celebrant, your ceremony is extra special. Instead of a script drafted by government bureaucrats, someone who’s got to know you and your amazing, wonderful, personal story writes yours with care.
You can include elements from various religions and cultures that are significant to you, you can involve many people in many ways and if you’ve got children, pets, extra special friends or adored family members who are no longer with you, they can all be included and honoured in a way that works for you.
Celebrants are also great at including symbolic rituals in ceremonies and these bring a whole new layer of meaning to the day. Instead of simply exchanging rings, why not have all your guests warm them with their good wishes? You could include an emotive handfasting, an energy-filled ‘Jumping the Broom’ or an elegant sand or candle ceremony. Whatever you want to convey can be done and it will absolutely be in keeping with your vision of your wedding.
Another definite plus-point of celebrant-led ceremonies is that they can take place anywhere and at any time. If a cliff-top sunset ceremony appeals then let’s do it! If there’s a place you love that’s not a registered venue, no problem. From intimate occasions in family gardens to lavish affairs in castle ruins or romantic estates, celebrant-led ceremonies really are for everyone. You set the rules. You call the shots. You get your wedding.
Now, by this point, you might well be thinking ‘all that sounds great but will it actually feel like a wedding?’ and I get that. We’re so conditioned to believe that weddings can only follow a certain pattern in certain places that it’s easy to think that anything else will somehow feel ‘wrong’ or ‘less’. Of course, I can’t change your mind about that in a few lines of text but I can remind you of a couple of things.
Not so very long ago, a ‘proper’ wedding took place in a church between a man and a woman who’d not slept or lived together before their vows and who definitely hadn’t been married previously. Divorcees and mixed faith couples only had one option – the registry office – and same sex couples had no options at all. We move on. We evolve and, if we’re getting it right, we get to decide what’s important and special for ourselves because weddings, like love, belong to everyone.
I’d also remind you that we’re all totally fine with separating the legal registration of births and deaths to the celebrations or commemorations or christenings, naming ceremonies and funerals so why do we feel that a wedding is only a wedding when it happens at the same time as the legal niceties? Perhaps we do it because there’s never really been an option.
If you’d like to find out more about celebrant-led ceremonies for weddings, marriage celebrations or vow renewals, hop on over to Wild & Oak. As a little thank you for reading today, I’d love to offer all Love My Dress readers a £50 discount on any ceremony booked with me – just mention Love My Dress when you enquire.
Thank you so much for reading – here’s to love,
Wild & Oak officiate individual and personal wedding ceremonies in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, London and beyond – wherever you are located, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect through Facebook or Twitter. You can also connect with Tamryn through her Candid Apple Instagram account @candidapple.
Photography - Amanda Karen