Why you should prioritise your wedding ceremony

Nov 3, 2021 | Weddings, Ceremonies

Photo credit: Liz Baker Photography

With all the planning involved in a wedding it is so easy to lose sight of the reason for it.  It is easy to get distracted by all the trappings.  But if there is no ceremony there is no need for all the trappings.  No need for a party.

A wedding ceremony is a rite of passage, a life event and should reflect you, your relationship, your love for each other and your community.   So don’t forget to prioritise your wedding ceremony.

Wanting the most from your ceremony

All couples want a wonderful party, large or small,  at their wedding.  But there is no doubt in my mind that the priority for couples who use a wedding celebrant is the ceremony.   They identify that currently they are having to compromise on many levels to have any individuality in their ceremony.  And they don’t like it.   Furthermore it does not sit comfortably with them to have no control over its content or who officiates.

Making their commitment and promises to one another with their friends and families as witnesses is a priority not the legalising of their marriage.  They want to own the moment rather than having to settle for prescriptive text and content as neither the church or state offers any real scope for personal autonomy or creativity.

For a deeply meaningful, personal and heartfelt ceremony filled with humour and authenticity with freedom to include any content you want, you need to talk to an independent wedding celebrant.

prioritising wedding ceremony

Photo Credit: Venetia Norrington Photography

Lack of knowledge about the choices for a wedding ceremony

It’s been 5 years since I became a wedding celebrant.  To be honest prior to that I didn’t know much about wedding ceremonies and had never heard of a wedding celebrant.

My knowledge was limited to the process my husband and I went through when we got married in church 30 years ago.  Indeed even when it came to our own wedding, and like so many others then and now we asked few questions just took the lead from the vicar and did as we were directed.

Things have changed and this new generation are not such an accepting society.

I have also learned not to assume that everyone knows what I now know about weddings and what is on offer with regard to wedding ceremonies.

Therefore informing or, at the risk of sounding patronising, educating couples, my peers, wedding venues and planners and really anyone who will listen that there are beneficial alternatives to what the church and state can offer has become something of a mission for myself and all my celebrant colleagues.  Trust me this lack of knowledge can be very frustrating.  Choice is key and all couples deserve that choice.

Ask questions about your ceremony and find out what’s important to you

For many couples, although they know a ceremony is required, they haven’t really thought much further than that.  They may follow what their wedding venue recommends or indeed what a friend or family member suggests.   Only couples who really want a ceremony that is a true reflection of them are those who are will delve deeper and research what options are out there for them.

Furthermore as I have inferred above there still remains a sense of acceptance of how the process of marriage is managed by the church or state .  Couples do as generations or peers have done before without question, input or opinion.

If however you, a family member or friend has attended a celebrant led wedding ceremony all would recommend that you should at the very least consider this option. And in so doing you will find that it is possible for your ceremony to be individual and authentic and not just a template of every other.

It is therefore so important for you to research and ask questions about all the options you have.  You can then make an informed decision on what’s right for you.

prioritising your ceremony

Photo credit: Simon Hawkins Weddings

Some background into wedding ceremonies and registered buildings

Wedding ceremonies have literally been ‘wedded to buildings’ since 1753 when it was made compulsory for all marriages to take place in the parish church with the exception of Quakers and Jews.

The Marriage Act of 1949 changed things a bit.   A distinction was made between those marriages solemnised by the church of England and those who, for whatever reason, did not want to follow that path.   Those couples had to undergo a separate civil ceremony in a registered building to be married in the eyes of the law.  Hail the advent of the registry office and then more recently registered wedding venues.

How crazy is this that a building is more important than the act and detail of uniting two people in marriage.  And what’s even more crazy is that in the twenty first century it is still the law!

What other restrictions are there within a wedding ceremony

We have now established that to be married in the eyes of the law in England and Wales it needs to be held in a registered building be that be a church or venue.

There are still more restrictions.  This is regarding content and design in both and applies to both church and civil ceremonies.  It’s got better definitely with a little bit more flexibility and some bending of the rules, but still if you want to be really in control of your ceremony and drive what happens within it at the moment, technically you are still not allowed to and you are at the mercy of the registration services or clergy and the archaic regulations.

This really should not be the case.  Your ceremony is your ceremony.  It really is the most important part of your wedding day.   It’s a rite of passage.  A life event.   In this modern world you should not be dictated to by some archaic law.

You should be in control of what is said, done or going to be done.  Who says what, what music you can use, what readings you want to include, what you can say to one another and anything else you want to include symbolic rituals, religious and/or non religious traditions reflecting cultural heritage.   You name it; you should be able to include it.

It’s time to take control of your wedding ceremony

Modern couples who see that the ceremony is the focus of the day want it to be about them and their relationship.   They want it to be about their families, their friends and their lives.

They want to choose where they want to have their ceremony and who officiates.  It’s time to take control and own your wedding ceremony.

prioritising your ceremony

Photo credit:  Little Phat Dog Photographic

Wind of change

For the time being in England and Wales you still, as decreed by the law passed in 1939, have to undertake a separate civil ceremony.  This is not the end of the world.  Forward thinking modern couples can see past the inconvenience and are putting to one side the need to legalise their marriage at the same time as their ceremony.  They attend the registrar’s office on another day and get the legals done.

But just imagine if the law was changed and getting married in England and Wales could be like in Australia or the States.  You could legally marry at home in your garden, on the beach, I could go on;  but basically you could have your wedding ceremony and be legally married anywhere and by the person of your choice.    This can happen if the law is changed so that the officiant is licensed not the building.

The Law Commission is currently reviewing the marriage laws.  Their recommendations are due any day.  To quote Russell Sandberg “This is a once in a generation opportunity to bring about marriage law reform.”

The Give Couples Choice Movement is an organisation run by independent wedding celebrants who believe there is a real need for reform to the current outdated marriage laws to ensure that couples have this choice.

If anything of what I have written resonates with you, and choice matters to you please contact the Give Couples Choice Movement (link here) for more information and lend your support.

So, I go back to my first question.  What matters most to you?   Is the ceremony the focus of your wedding day?  I bet you cannot wait to say your vows and commit to one another in front of your family and friends.  Ask yourself why are you having a wedding and where your priority is?

Food for thought hey.  I’d love to hear what matters most to you about your wedding day


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