How to keep the familiar traditions and modernise your wedding ceremony

Apr 13, 2021 | Uncategorized

Photo credit: Kathryn Clarke Mcleod

So how do you keep the tradition but have a modern wedding ceremony.

A common question in wedding planning is are you having a traditional or modern wedding?  I maintain that there is no need to choose and that it’s entirely possible to combine the two.

Millennials want to bring their wedding ceremony into the 21st century but that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to be rid of the traditions and classic format that has been passed down the generations.

Tradition with a modern twist

There are traditionalists who feel that there is the church way or the civil way.  But there is an increasing demand nowadays for couples from a traditional background to be able to wed their way.

Couples can sometimes be fearful that celebrant led ceremonies will be too ‘out there’.  The truth is that If a couple want a ceremony that retains elements of tradition but with the freedom to put their spin on it choosing a celebrant to work with them is the ideal solution.

top tips to retain traditionPhoto credit: Venetia Norrington Photography

 What image represents a traditional ceremony for you?

Indeed for me, having been married in church myself, it is church bells, clergyman, a bride being ‘given away’ by her father, vows, ring exchange, readings and more church bells.

Apart from the church bells and the clergyman modern wedding ceremonies can and do comprise all the other elements.   It can contain as many traditions as you wish, updated and adapted or left alone.

The act of ceremony of course differs depending on your culture and religion but the traditions originate from that heritage whatever it may be and remain a starting point when formulating a modern wedding.

Couples don’t want to stray too far from the familiar tradition

Modern couples have greater control over their wedding and are more enquiring.   No longer a pleasing society they are under less pressure to appease older generations of family members who have strong opinions on what a wedding ‘should’ look like.

This freedom has to led to couples being creative and putting modern wonderful twists on old ideas which in turn are leading to a new set of modern traditions.

top tips retaining traditionsPhoto Credit : Simon Hawkins Weddings

Wedding celebrants and tradition

Celebrancy is a relatively new concept and for some it’s associated with ‘wacky’ ‘weird’ and very unconventional weddings.

One of the many advantages of a celebrant led ceremony is that because there are no rules and regulations you can have it exactly how you want it.   You can, if that’s what you would like, be as unconventional as you like.  You can push the boundaries and kick the rule book properly into touch.  I guarantee there will be a wedding celebrant out there who will be able to create the most perfect ceremony that will suit your style however outlandish.

Similarly if you want to put your spin on the familiar classic structure of a ceremony based on tried and tested traditions that is equally possible.  A wedding celebrant specialising in that style of ceremony will create a very traditional feeling curated ceremony but that is entirely personalised to reflect you.

Modernising ceremony traditions

There’s a lot of discussion about upgrading centuries old wedding tradition but this is often more focused on the trappings of a wedding ie the cake, dress, etc and not the ceremony itself.

Your wedding celebrant will be full of ideas on how to do this.  You can personalise your ceremony to your heart’s content but keeping to the familiar format based on tradition and a flow that works.  This is a typical format for a wedding ceremony with some simple personalisation of tradition.

top tips retaining traditionsPhoto credit: Kathryn Clarke McCleod


Traditionally this is when the bridal party enters accompanied by music.  Music is a wonderful way of personalising your ceremony and live musicians are particularly atmospheric.    Perhaps you have a very musical friend who can play or sing something that is a particular favourite of yours.

And let’s not forget the classic custom of the ‘giving away’.  Considered sexist and dated by some.  If this is you rather than leaving it out completely, transform it into something affirming and meaningful to you.  Your wedding celebrant will change the wording to suit whichever or however you decide to arrive at your wedding.

Many brides still consider being walked down the aisle by their father a tradition that should be preserved but you may want your mother to have the honour, or a best friend, both parents, a sibling, a pet or even walk alone.  The options are endless and it’s all about which is right for you.

The Welcome

A modern wedding ceremony should be the pre-cursor to a wonderful party and the wedding celebrant’s role is comparable to that of the host of that party.

Your wedding celebrant will be warm, enthusiastic and above all smiley and friendly welcoming your guests.    With so many different people attending and often across generations it is important that everyone should feel relaxed and part of this great occasion.

A great way to create a relaxed and informal atmosphere is for the wedding celebrant to introduce the bridal parties.

The best man, groomsmen and bridesmaids are after all important people to the couple.  It is even possible that some guests may not know how they fit into the couple’s lives or what roles they have played.

This introduction can include amusing anecdotes or words of thanks.  The guests will undoubtedly hear something new, something familiar or just have a good laugh.  In so doing everyone feels involved and included in this momentous occasion.

Another way to personalise at this point is to include a communal vow.  It’s a bit of fun and really gets the guests involved.

top tips traditionsPhoto credit: Rockrose Photography


Readings are a very typical tradition of church weddings and which have been carried over into civil ceremonies.  Some choose to have only reading others a couple.  They  normally follow ‘the welcome’ and introductions and/or are added where they fit comfortably in the flow of the ceremony.

This may be a tradition you decide you don’t want to include.  On the other hand you may have a special poem, music lyric or bit of prose that is particularly personal to you.  Alternatively you could ask a friend or family member to choose a reading themselves and keep it secret from you or even ask them to write their own words around a topic or theme.

The couple’s story

It’s at this point that following a reading that a celebrant will include the couple’s story.  This is a key element of a celebrant led ceremony and is the ultimate personalisation.  It also reminds all the guests why they are actually attending and makes the tradition of the exchange vows and rings which follows even more poignant and intimate.


Vows like wedding ceremonies vary in differing cultures and religions but are probably the most common place tradition in all weddings whether you write your own, stick with tradition or combine the two.  The promises you make are a milestone and delineate the time before and after you made them.  A traditional exchange of rings will follow.

top tips traditions

Pronouncement and recessional

After the ring exchange  a celebrant will present a couple as married and followed by the much photographed and long awaited moment of the first kiss accompanied by a mad cheering from the guests.

The ceremony ends with the recessional where the wedding party leave accompanied to music of the couple’s choice.

A ‘fanfare’ ceremony is traditional with a contemporary twist

Couples who choose to use my services want the familiar feel of the ceremonies of old as described above.

A fanfare ceremony is conventional in its structure with familiar traditions but adapted and modernised allowing the couple to express themselves however they choose.

They are bursting with warmth, laughter and personality and always with the couple’s story at the heart.    If this sounds like your sort of ceremony do get in touch I’d love to tell you more.

Photo credit: Kathryn Clarke McCleod




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