This is going to sound very cliché I know but I felt that I really was on a journey with Katie and Jooles. And a very wonderful one it was too. All weddings are special but there was something about Katie and Jooles. Right from the get-go when I met them on a Facetime call, I just knew that this was going to be a very special occasion. We all got along famously but what I particularly loved was how important to them the actual ceremonial part of their day was.
When I met with Abbie and Luke to discuss the detail of their script it became very apparent that they both had an incredible bond with their mothers. Rarely are there occasions when one can publicly express one’s love and thanks to a parent, but a celebrant ceremony provides just that opportunity.
My first wedding of the year was at Rockbeare Manor for Sam and Helena. What a couple they are! They met at university, became best friends and are now blissfully happy as husband and wife. Their love for one another is so clearly captured in these beautiful images taken by Tom Frost Photography.
As a wedding celebrant I am always being asked whether I know any good readings. As a massive music lover my first source of inspiration is always lyrics of songs. I love music but sometimes the lyrics of a song with a little artistic license can be adapted quite brilliantly into readings or vows.
Hello and welcome to my brand new monthly feature – Fanfare Favourites. I spend an inordinate amount of time trawling the internet for inspiration and ideas and I absolutely love to see how the bridal industry is evolving and how clever suppliers and creative couples are uniting to come up with some truly incredible weddings.
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.
Every single wedding ceremony that I’m lucky to be part of, is completely different to the last one. From the style of the bride, to the way the couple enter and leave their celebrations. From the personal readings, poems, songs and music to how family and friends react to seeing the bride and groom marry in front of them.
Michelle and James chose a low-key wedding in the garden, with lots of DIY touches, on the Rousden Estate, near Lyme Regis. Michelle dressed in a beautiful soft cream, beaded gown and was accompanied up the aisle by her very proud father and her children; Isla as a flower girl and Toby, her page boy. Her four best friends took on the roles of bridesmaid. An emotional James and his Best Men looked handsome in grey checked jackets and matching waistcoats. I love the subtle touches of colour from the bouquet and buttonholes.
The couple were very keen to keep everything modest and understated. A simple ceremony, with personal vows and then onto doing what matters most, celebrating the union with all their loved ones.
Why did I become a Celebrant?
The simple answer is, because I am dealing with love and meeting people at the most loved-up time in their life. It is impossible not to make it sound anything other than corny, but it truly is a beautiful thing.
I hear a couple’s story and I can help them tell it however they like. Love is beautiful – actually, that doesn’t even come close to describing it. And I make no apologies for getting caught up in experiencing a moment that is amazing. I’m not, and I will never be – a ‘robotic’ celebrant. I can’t imagine being a part of a wedding – where two people are expressing their enduring love for each other – and not being affected by it. I’ve learned to take my own advice – I tell my couples, when it becomes a bit overwhelming – take a deep breath – and soak in all the love that is around you. There’s a lot of truth in Wet Wet Wet’s song ‘Love is all around us’
I feel it in my fingers
I feel it in my toes
The love that’s all around me
And so the feeling grows.
I won’t go on but you get the gist. Don’t be ashamed if there are tears. They are tears of genuine joy, emotion and happiness and everyone will be touched. A moment’s pause may feel like a lifetime, however it reinforces that these special moments will last forever. In the words of Dr Seuss “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory”
I’ve never considered myself as being overly romantic but I do think everything involved in the planning of a wedding is infectious, joyous and exciting. For me, I feel hugely privileged to be involved and trusted with a story. My couples share with me their most personal feelings and tell me about the most important people in their lives. It is a huge responsibility that I welcome and respect.
There is a powerful, infectious feeling of love, anticipation, excitement and I take the responsibility of my position very seriously and it’s not uncommon when a couple first contacts me – for them to ask for examples of previous ceremonies I have performed. I’m more than happy to do so… but it comes with a very specific direction: “Don’t focus on the words, focus on the intention.”
Why? Because when I write a ceremony, it’s a personalised ceremony… and it is completely and utterly customised to the couple who it is written for.
When the ceremony is over and ‘my’ couple immerse themselves amongst their nearest and dearest, I go home with warmth in my heart and a huge smile on my face. A job well done.