- 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.
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.
Every time I’m asked why couples should choose a celebrant ceremony, my first response is always because it is completely unique. And the reason it is unique is that the main part of the ceremony apart from, of course, your vows is your love story. In my ceremonies a large section of the ceremony is just that.
They say a picture paints a thousand words, but your specific thoughts about how you felt when you first met your fiancé, what made you fall in love and why you want to spend the rest of your life with him or her can be conveyed in your ceremony. These feelings can only be communicated in words and your celebrant ceremony provides the opportunity to do just that.
My second meeting with my couples is when I get down to the nitty gritty and discuss their love story. After which I will produce the first draft of their ceremony. I take notes of what happened during their relationship to the present date and how they felt in those moments. It is a lovely meeting. Not only do I get to know the couple incredibly well by the end, but I also get to understand their love and their relationship. I think, if possible, it may even deepen your connection because you both get a chance to re-live some of the most special times of your lives together.
Sharing the words of your love story is a simple, yet power way to add personal meaning and intimacy to your wedding day. Your flowers, wedding décor and food will say something about you as a couple, but those things can never tell the complete story about how you came together and fell in love. Surely that’s what your wedding day and more particularly your ceremony is all about.
When it comes to deciding where to get married, there is an array of choices available to you. All of which have their advantages and disadvantages – whether that be down to availability, size, venue restrictions or religious beliefs.
Deciding on who should marry you, however, is still something that falls way down to the bottom of most couples’ wedding preparation priorities. I hope to change that by giving you 10 reasons to choose a celebrant for your special day, rather than a registrar.
Choose a wedding celebrant if…
- Your perfect venue does not have a civil marriage licence. This could be your own garden, woodlands, a beach or an unlicensed wedding venue
- You don’t want to be restricted by the limitations of a licensed ceremony
- You don’t want to be married by a complete stranger
- You want to be married somewhere where all your friends and family can stay together i.e self catering accommodation
- You want to include a religious element within your ceremony but don’t want to get married in a church
- You want to be married outdoors without a permanent structure
- You want to be confident in the knowledge that your celebrant will have one booking that day and therefore there is no need to rush or fit in with a schedule
- You want a ceremony that has no template or standard script, no tick boxes or restrictions.
- You want to add a hand fasting, sand ceremony, religious or cultural element, to give your ceremony added personality
- You want your ceremony to be completely personal and unique to you.
So, now you know. Your wedding need not follow the same template or wording. Your ceremony will not feel rushed or conveyor-beltish. Your special day will be completely and utterly unique. If you have any other questions please, please do contact me via the website. I’m always happy to chat and help in any way I can.
When you think about ‘wedding season’, the height of it all tends to be around the summer months. But as the weather becomes more and more unpredictable in the UK and we hear stories of weddings being completely washed out, more and more couples are choosing the winter months to get married.
And why not? Tying the knot in winter alleviates the pressure of the ‘British’ summer. In winter, good weather is a bonus and therefore not always a deciding factor when choosing a venue or a date. The venues are also cheaper during the winter, sometimes as much as half the price of dates through June to September. And if you are looking for a last minute date, chances are they are more available during the latter quarter of the year.
The scenery, whilst not bursting with floral abundance, is crisp and clear and minimal and fresh. The nights draw in giving the perfect backdrop for fireworks displays and festoon lighting. Tables can be dotted with candles and tealights and anything sparkly. Couples should remember that natural daylight is best for photographs, so bear that in mind when timing your day.
Brides can keep warm under faux fur wraps and velvet capes. Guests can snuggle up under blankets and congregate around open firepits with hot chocolates and marshmallows. Or warm their cockles on mulled wine or vodka ice sculptures.
And for couples looking to winter for inspiration in their wedding vows…
And if you are planning on lots of DIY touches, head over to our sister company Fanfare Celebration Supplies for all your winter wonderland wedding paraphernalia. Everything from paper snowflakes to napkins and crystals.
And here are just a few of our favourite venues that are simply stunning in winter. Some of them still have availability for 2018 winter weddings, so head on over and take your pick.
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.
A wedding is a time for joy and laughter and the bringing together of your loved ones and closest friends, in celebration. But what about those dearest family members who are no longer with you, or the friends living thousands of miles away, who can’t make it to your wedding day? How do you include them or commemorate them? Will drawing attention to their absence create too much sadness for what should be the happiest day of your life?
I’ve put together a few suggestions as to how you can remember a missing loved one on your special day. And I can help you with making sure that your loved ones, dearly departed or just absent from your day, are remembered in the most personal, subtle, intimate or full on celebratory way you can imagine. Just give me a call to chat through your ideas.
- Put images of family and friends in frames and display them on a table, a tree or even a stepladder, so that guests can remember them in their own way, at their own time.
- Save a chair for a missing family member, by adding a personal item or a photograph. Or set one chair aside, perhaps in a different colour or style, that is symbolic and for every missing person.
- If you want to do something completely unforgettable, then release balloons or even white doves in memory of those absent.
- For something a little more subtle, add a personal trinket, small locket or photo in cuff links to your wedding gown, suit, bouquet or even shoes (your loved ones will literally be walking down the aisle with you, even if they aren’t there).
- For those that are perhaps living abroad and unable to attend, make them feel included by sitting your laptop on a chair and Skyping them throughout the ceremony.
- Your speech or wedding vows are the perfect platform to remember a missing relative or pal. Or why not add a paragraph or so into your order of service; a keepsake for all.
When I decided to become a celebrant, whilst I knew that I would be fully involved in creating a lifelong memory for couples and families, I hadn’t really allowed for how it would make me feel personally. For weddings, I presumed that I would meet a couple, they would book my services, we would convene regularly to put in place a truly intimate and personal service that they would share in front of their nearest and dearest, and afterwards, we would part company with a smile and warm handshake and I would move on to the next.
Well, what an emotional kick up the pants I was in for when I met Bex and Gavin. To become so close to a couple, so quickly and to be so involved in something so personal and precious, was truly a mind-blowing moment for me and really cemented why I truly love what I do.
We met at Huntsham Court, the venue for the wedding, in November, for the first time. I’m listed as a recommended celebrant on the Huntsham website. I liked them immediately which, as you know, I think is as important as them liking me! Bex is an incredibly warm and fun person and Gavin is just the most charming laid back fellow. They were clearly very much in love and Bex in particular very excited about the whole thing. Not that he wasn’t but she just is an excitable incredibly enthusiastic type! He just sat smiling, letting her do all the talking with her ENORMOUS notebook. I took lots of notes about how they met, how he proposed, their families etc etc. and what they wanted out of the ceremony.
That was that until January when I sent them the first draft. It toed and froed for about a month. Then I met them again in London at a wine bar to go through the draft and who was going to do what, where everyone was going to stand, who was walking in with who etc etc. We had a very jolly evening. I felt very fond of them both.
Family and friends were particularly important to them. They absolutely loved Huntsham because it meant their nearest and dearest could stay with them and they could make a weekend of it. They wanted their ceremony to reflect their love of their parents and friends and also to have their story told with humour but sincerity.
By then we were good to go except for the vows. They were keen to write their own vows and read them themselves. Bex’s vows were prepared well in advance. Gavin appeared not to have really thought about them and I left him to it until about 3 weeks before the wedding and then put some pressure on him and when they were arrived I knew that Bex would never be able to hold back the tears. They were keen that they would not see other’s vows so on the day it would be a surprise.
On the Thursday before the wedding I met them at Huntsham to have a quick chat and a mini run through although the hall was not set up with all the chairs so we had to use our imagination somewhat.
Bex had asked me to arrive in good time on the day so I arrived an hour or so early. I went up to see her and then introduced myself to all the ‘key players’. It was good toput faces to all the names I had heard about over the past months.
The ceremony ran completely smoothly apart from an agonising rendition of All you need is love when I heard myself singing it at one stage almost entirely on my own as nobody was really joining in!! I left quietly. As I drove away my lovely couple were heading outside into the rain, full of love and happiness for their confetti shower.
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.