On a dreary January day there is nothing better to lift the spirits than casting my mind back to a wonderful warm (boiling in fact) summer day last July. I was back at Barons Hill Farm to conduct a ceremony, this time for the delightful Kirsty and Tom.
- You make the brilliant decision that you don’t want a ceremony that reads the same as everyone else’s and contact me. The next important decision is to make sure I am the right person for you. You must like me; like the sound of my voice and indeed my style of ceremony.
- If we all decide that we ‘get’ one another, ideally the next step would be for us all to meet face-to-face however if, for whatever reason, this isn’t possible Facetime is a good alternative. This meeting is not long but it is just to confirm that your instincts were right and that I am the right person for you and for you to ask any questions you may have. All being well you will then pay a deposit to save the date and I will send a contract for you both to sign.
- The next time we meet will be about two to three months before the big day. I like you to allow at least two hours for this. It doesn’t have to be at the venue but if the ceremony is to be held at your home then that would be ideal. If it’s at a venue, I’ll meet you locally here in Devon. However, many of my clients are based in London and if this is the case, I will happily meet you there.
- Prior to this meeting I will send you some homework in the form of some questions. Ideally, I like it returned before we meet but this is not essential. Many of my clients find this a very reflective exercise and rather fun. The questions cover everything from the details of your bridal parties to telling me all about your relationship, your characters, your families and of course the proposal. In short, the story of you and your partner. This is the essence of your ceremony script and what makes it entirely bespoke. For me this is my favourite part of my job. I introduced the questionnaire a year ago. I’d rather spend this precious time with you both, getting to know you, rather than having to concentrate on getting the chronology and detail correct. That way the script will be truly reflective of you.
- We will kiss goodbye and I always hear myself saying ‘Most likely the next time we meet will be on your big day’. I always feel like I’ve made some new friends and hope that you will feel the same.
- I go home and write the script and then send you the first draft with everything crossed my end that you will love it and that I’m along the right track. You will tweak, amend as necessary and I will do the same and the script will go back and forth until we are all absolutely happy.
- In the meantime, I will also, if applicable, liaise with the venue and make sure that the event manager and I are entirely happy with the production on the day.
- A week or so before your wedding I will email to confirm the finer details on the production of the ceremony, confirming that we all know who is doing what, where everyone is seated and so on.
- Then it’s the big day! I always arrive an hour beforehand which gives me plenty of time to introduce myself to members of the families and of course the rest of the bridal party. I’m always equipped with plenty of water for nervous dry throats, tissues for the regularly teary groom, and Vaseline for the ring fingers in case of sweaty hands. I always bring laminated copies of the readings for the readers just in case.
- My second favourite part of my job is standing with the groom (or bride) awaiting his bride (or groom!). When the music starts and she’s on her way my heart skips a beat, often my eyes fill with tears and I must give myself a metaphorical kick to pull myself together! That’s how involved I feel.
- And so, I read our script and I mean ours. We created it together – the three of us. I issue the immortal words, “You may kiss your beautiful bride (or groom!)” and for me ………. It’s nearly over. But for you it’s the beginning of bigger and better things.
- Before I leave, I love to get a picture of the three of us. These pictures are the most special of all.
So, there you have it. I hope I have answered any questions you might have had before reading this post. If not, just give me a shout and I’ll be only too happy to chat with you.
Hello friends and a very Happy New Year to you all! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and if you were amongst those who got engaged over the festive period, many congratulations to you!!!
Joanne and Colin were married at Canonteign Falls in September. Their backdrop was the falls itself and they stood and exchanged vows under a pagoda overlooking Lily Lake.
Colin’s brother Graeme was his Best Man and Joanne was given away by Jonny, the son she never had. They adopted one another as mother and son before the ceremony. Joanne was also keen to make a special mention to her mother during the ceremony, whom had been a constant in her life and role model.
The wedding was light-hearted but sprinkled with great sincerity and perfectly reflected Colin’s sense of humour and the couples’ long-time friendship. I particularly love the accents of burgundy throughout the wedding party and proof that chivalry is not dead – Colin gave his jacket to Joanne during the ceremony to shelter her from the breeze coming across the lake.
December has always been a month of madness as we all tie ourselves to the Christmas bandwagon and hold on tight. But it’s also a month of reflection and what a year it has been for the Fanfare family.
It kicked off back in April with the postponed wedding (due to the snow in March) of Jan and Richard at Powderham Castle and my last ceremony was for Emily and Andy at the Deer Park Country House in November – A venue which has now closed its doors to hotel guests and now concentrates entirely on weddings and events. I was lucky enough to be asked to conduct two ceremonies there this year. Both were wonderfully happy and memorable. Bizarrely for Kirstie and Dan in September the weather threw the book at them. Heavy rain and gales. Whereas at the beginning of November for Emily and Andy the sun shone down on them. I’m always saying that couples should consider winter weddings, although I’m saying that as we are entering yet another week of wet and windy weather.
This is my third year of being a celebrant and I’ve been to some new venues such as the quirky and charming Streamcombe Farm and returned to some old friends like The Barn at Barons Hill Farm. But my favourites are without doubt those that are at home. Both Becky and Ran’s and Charlotte and Chris’ weddings were the stand outs for me. Purely for that reason. Both their homes are in the most magical of settings and although again the blummin’ weather threw a spanner in the works for Charlotte and Chris it didn’t take away from the fact that Charlotte had her wedding and exchanged vows and rings with the person she loved, in the place she loved… at home. For me there is nothing better.
The year culminated with a last-minute decision to enter the Wedding Industry Awards and unexpectedly being made a regional finalist. I lost out to the very talented Cornish Celebrants – a charming duo of lady Celebrants based, yes you’ve guessed it, in Cornwall. It certainly was an experience and I cannot thank all the couples who voted for me enough especially as I really had not given them much warning! It wasn’t to be this year but who knows I might try again next year!
One more thing I’m delighted to report, is that Bex and Gavin and Amy and Dave, whose ceremonies I conducted last year at Huntsham Court and The Barn at Barons Hill respectively, are expecting their first babies. I feel like a prospective Granny!
And so I would like to finish by wishing all members of the ‘Fanfare’ family, both old and new (and coming soon!) a brilliantly Happy New Year. I’m excited about all the ceremonies I already have booked for next year and look forward to meeting new couples looking to have a celebrant wedding soon.
The rivalry between Devon and Cornwall is friendly but notorious. Whether it’s the discussion over the order in which you apply cream and jam on a scone or who first came up with the pasty (although I fear Devon is clutching at straws in that battle – the clue’s in the name after all!).
Whilst I live in, and love everything about, Devon, I am also a huge fan of the Corns and everything Cornish! I love the people, the pubs, the cider, the rivers, the beaches, the cliffs, the coves, the villages, the ruggedness, the wildness, the moors and, of course, Poldark (well, Aiden to be precise!).
I was recently talking to my colleagues from the Cornish Celebrants, who said that the programme Poldark has had a massive impact on their business. More and more couples are wanting to be married in places with dramatic backdrops, be it a rugged moorland landscape or a clifftop overlooking a mesmerising seascape. The Poldark effect also sees many couples drawing on the Celtic influences (handfasting in particular) of the period and because no license is required for a celebrant ceremony, it is entirely possible to have your wedding in all these magical places incorporating as much of the inspiration behind the TV drama as you wish.
However, when you are considering a wedding like this, Devon has those cliffs, coves and moors too and they’re every bit as good as those of our neighbours. Devon has magical, mystical places. It has Jurassic coastlines and secluded woodlands and remote sheep covered hills. So don’t just default to Cornwall…… consider Devon and all its gloriousness. And while you’re at it, stick your cream on first and then add your jam!
I’ve put together a Poldark inspiration board over on our Pinterest page. There’s some glorious landscapes and loads of ideas for an 18th century, wild and rugged wedding.
It was all about the Jess’ on the 7th July 2018. It was only when I sat down and started writing the script that it occurred to me, when I began telling their story, that the shared name issue was potentially going to be quite challenging. I don’t normally have to use second names when I’m sharing weddings on this blog, but for ‘their story’ and for clarification purposes we adopted two of their nicknames. I wonder if I shall ever come across this situation again?
Their chosen venue was the magical Streamcombe Farm near Dulverton. It’s completely off the beaten track with a wonderful Boho vibe and when the Jess’ fell upon it they knew it was exactly what they were after.
The ceremony took place under a beautiful canopy created by an enormous beech tree which provides a majestic natural cathedral.
Escorted by her father Kevin, Jess C emerged first from the woodland path, looking sensational. She was supported by her bridesmaid and two flower girls who were the daughters of mutual friends. It was actually the first time I had met her. This is extremely unusual as normally I meet my couples at least twice. Unfortunately, when we had planned to meet, she had been struck down by a horrid tummy bug just. I met with Jess B who was able to provide me with all the information that I needed to write the script and gave me the lowdown on their story and Jess’ personality and I was very pleased with the result. I hasten to add the script wasn’t at all one sided. I sent the first draft with a few gaps about Jess B which Jess C very ably filled in.
It was sweet watching Jess C awaiting the arrival of her bride with her father, Robert. There was a palpable hue of anticipation. And Jess B didn’t disappoint. She looked equally stunning and was accompanied by her sister as Maid of Honour and nieces as bridesmaids.
The plan had been for Coco their dog to be their ringbearer but sadly due to the sweltering heat it was decided that poor Coco might have melted.
Jess and Jess are a couple who are renown amongst their friends and family for their generous hospitality and warmth. With most of their guests camping at Streamcombe for the weekend there was a real sense of celebration and good cheer which had started the night before the ceremony and I am sure continued long afterwards. Another very happy day.
These incredible photographs are courtesy of Vaughan-Stephens Photography.
Cast your mind back to June this year– we’d had a spell of the most beautiful weather and we were all feeling a little complacent and were beginning to assume that all would be well for a BBQ or indeed ….. a wedding. I could hardly bear it as I left home to present Andy and Sarah’s ceremony at Wonward Barton. It was pouring and I mean properly pouring with rain.
Wonward Barton is a cosy, rustic wedding venue with fantastic views towards Cornwall. In prime position taking full advantage of the said view, was a beautiful ceremonial arch made especially for the day by Andy’s uncle. Indeed he wasn’t the only family member who had been hard at work preparing for the day. This really was a family affair. Everyone had helped to make this special day the very best for this incredibly kind, fun and busy couple. The beautiful marquee was festooned with literally miles of bunting made by Andy’s Mum. The garden was full of outside games. How dare the weather turn on my nurse and paramedic?
But there is a God up there after all and the rain did stop and although still very unsettled I was delighted when Andy decided five minutes before the ceremony was due to start that Yes, we were going to have it outside. All of us set to and within minutes the chairs were in place and we were ready to go.
Their’s was a lovely story to tell and their love and friendship are worthy of great celebration. Having met with them, got to know them and laughed with them, we collaborated and created a script that reflected their relationship and love. This ceremony was truly personal. Everyone who attended knew them well, loved them a lot and recognised them in the story we told.
The rain was never going to dim the light at this wedding. Simply because it was shining bright in Andy and Sarah’s eyes and I was lucky enough to be a part of it.
Images by Emma Oakes Photography