The Journey Begins

Your Wedding, Your Way, The Best Day Ever

You are about to embark on planning what will be one of the biggest events in your lives. I often have to remind my couples, that no matter how big or small your budget.  Whether your venue is a Castle or a Camp site, it’s your day so make it happen your way!

As an Independent Celebrant, I don’t have to limit you in any way. There are no rules about what you can and can’t have included in your Ceremony and for me that means that you can truly be yourselves and share your amazing love story with your family and friends or even elope and have a wedding with just the two of you.

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The Ceremony – Your Options

Often, when couples are asked about their Wedding Day, the actual ceremony is the last thing on their mind. Because they think that the ceremony itself is something over which they have little control. They don’t realise just how much they can personalise this part of their day, if they want to.

To do this, one of the first things couples need to do is to decide what kind of ceremony they want and there are many options to choose from!

So which pathway do you want to follow? Here are your choices and information on each.

A Church Ceremony

This is still a popular, traditional choice for Wedding Ceremonies in this country.

A church can offer not only a beautiful venue but also allows you to celebrate your union within religious traditions. A Church Wedding Ceremony typically includes the exchange of vows, prayers, hymns, a sermon and readings from the Bible all of which are not available if you choose a civil ceremony at the Register Office.

If you do opt to have a Church Wedding, you will be required to include at least one reading from the Bible and to comply with the rules regarding church attendance, so it’s not the ideal choice if religious value really isn’t for you.

However, couples are encouraged to celebrate their love with personal touches too and it may be possible to include your own choice of music and/or additional non-religious readings and you will be able to discuss this with the Priest or Vicar who will spend time with you before the day in order to get to know you both and to become familiar with your personality and lifestyle.

You will also be given advice on marriage and have a wedding rehearsal in the church before the big day.

Today, clergy do recognise that not all couples are necessarily united in the same faith and background or are regular in their worship but a good minister will work with you to find an appropriate balance for celebrating your beliefs in conjunction with your lifestyle, whilst still honouring the values of the church in your ceremony.

In a Church of England ceremony, your marriage will also be made legal on the day of your wedding, as you can sign the legal marriage register in a specified section of the church building with the vicar as your registrar. In a Roman Catholic ceremony your marriage can still be made legal on the day but you will require a Registrar to be present (at an additional cost) in order for your marriage to be recognised by UK law and for you to sign the legal marriage register. This can be only done in the presence of a licensed registrar.

Do please note, that same sex marriages are not currently allowed to take place, although some vicars may offer to give a blessing at their own discretion.

 Length of Ceremony: Typically 45 minutes – 1 hour

Cost: Up to £517

For more information about religious services appropriate to your own faith or culture, please refer to your local minister or place of worship for details.

A Licensed Marriage Ceremony with a Registrar

In order for your marriage to be recognised by law in this country, it is vital that you sign the legal marriage register. This can be done either in church, in a Register Office or in a registered venue licensed for marriage but only in the presence of a licensed registrar.

Lots of venues are licensed for legal marriage part from the Register Office. These include hotels, historic sites, country houses, tourist venues, restaurants and many also typically offer wedding packages.

Holding your ceremony in one of these venues is often the preferred choice for couples as the ceremony and celebrations can be held under one roof and in one location. The content of the actual ceremony itself, however, is quite restrictive. According to the law, the Registrar Ceremony cannot include any element of religion, cultural tradition or spiritual symbolism. In other words, you cannot include hymns, religious readings, prayers or anything recognised as being a symbolic ceremony such as a Hand Fasting, Unity Candles, Sand Blending, Glass Smashing, Tea Ceremony, Cultural Blessing.

Timings are also restricted. Often, only up to 30 minutes is allowed for your ceremony as the Registrar usually has further bookings to attend on the same day. Location can also be an issue as the register itself must be signed under a solid, permanent structure which has been licensed for marriage. In other words, if you have set your heart on your ceremony taking place in the open air or in any venue (or area of the current venue) which isn’t covered by a license, this will be a non-starter.

Whilst most Registrars are incredibly engaging and personable in their delivery of the ceremony, they are equally restricted to a ‘one ceremony fits all’ approach to the wording and content and although they will allow you to personalise your ceremony with your own wedding vows and an exchange of rings, the words surrounding this are pre-selected from a choice of three script options given prior to the day and are the same words used for each and every couple.

Unfortunately, there is usually no opportunity to meet the Registrar in advance of your Wedding Day or to hold a rehearsal before the day. However, you will be interviewed by the Superintendent Registrar on your Wedding Day, just before the ceremony itself as per legal requirement.

Alternatively, many couples now also opt to legalise their marriage prior to the Wedding Day in what is known as a ‘Statutory Ceremony.’ This is a very basic legal ceremony held at a local register office for a minimum fee, where the couple (with two witnesses) make their required legal declarations and sign the marriage register. This option then allows the couple to have a more personal or bespoke ceremony in any location on the Wedding Day itself with an independent celebrant or minister (who is not governed by any legal restriction) officiating the ceremony. This allows you to make your Wedding Day completely your own.

 Register Office Wedding:

Length of Ceremony: On average, 20 minutes

Cost: Each Register Office will have its own set of fees which may be found on the relevant council website.

A Registrar Marriage Ceremony:

Taking place at a licensed venue (not at a Register Office).

Length of Ceremony: 20 minutes, on average

Cost: Circa £450-£550, on average

A ‘Statutory Ceremony’:

At the Register Office

Current Cost across England and Wales: £46 (+ £4 for the Marriage Certificate)

A Celebrant Led Ceremony 

This choice is growing in popularity. A Celebrant is an individual who is trained to provide you with a custom made ceremony, designed to celebrate your marriage in a way which is personal, meaningful and appropriate to you and your choices for your Wedding Day.

A Celebrant is unrestricted by religion or law. This means that your ceremony can include absolutely anything you wish … within reason, of course!

Some couples ask their celebrant to incorporate an element of spiritual symbolism in their ceremony such as Hand Fasting or to use a symbolic element such as candles, sand, water, crystals, trees, doves.

Some want to include a relevant tradition important to their own family or cultural heritage, such as a Chinese Tea Ceremony, a Jewish Glass Smash, a religious blessing, a Persian Honey Blessing or anything else which is meaningful for that matter. You may even wish to come up with your own tradition for future generations to follow!

As a Celebrant, I pride myself on the personal support and the highest standard of support which I provide to couples in the lead up to their big day. My work starts from the moment you decide to engage my services. From that point onwards, I will work very closely with you in order to get to know you before their day and to design and create a very simply beautiful and special ceremony which is totally bespoke and personal to you. Even if you opt to have a more traditional service, I will still aim to get to know you and find out about your relationship so that I can share an element of your love’s personal story on your day.

You may even choose to write your own vows, exchange wedding rings and involve guests in giving readings or you may decide to do something totally different altogether. Whatever your ideas you have, I promise to be there to support you in your planning and in shaping a simply beautiful ceremony.

Not being restricted by law or religion, a celebrant can officiate over a ceremony in any location (whether this be indoors or outside) and in any venue whether this be public or private and anywhere in the world. Your venue does not need to hold a license for marriage.

The only downside you have to consider is that, a Celebrant cannot legally marry you in England and Wales, so for your marriage to be recognised by law you must also register your marriage in legal ceremony either before or after your Wedding Day. This can be done very easily and for a minimum fee in a Statutory Ceremony (as detailed above).

The rules are different in Scotland, however, where a Humanist Celebrant can legally perform marriages.

Some couples ask whether the ceremony I perform will still feel ‘real’ and I tell them that that, with me as their celebrant, this is absolutely the case. Without any doubt, a celebrant led ceremony is quite possibly one of the most personal ways in which a couple can choose to make their marriage commitment. I’d also say that the majority of guests don’t even know there is a difference…. Everybody is just there enjoying the day.

A Celebrant led Ceremony offers you:

A limitless choice of venuescan choose to make their marriage commitment.

♥ The opportunity to be creative

♥ Inclusivity

A ceremony which is personal, meaningful and memorable

Length of Ceremony: My recommendation is for a ceremony which is between 20 and 40 minutes but we can discuss your exact requirements.

Cost: All Celebrants will offer their own fee but the average ranges between £400-600, depending on person and location. Depending on your requirements,my charges start at £400.

So, there are the choices. It’s over to you but I know which one I would choose

Wedding Day Rituals

The Wedding Dress

A number of cultures have adopted the traditional Western custom of the white wedding in which a bride wears a white wedding dress and veil. This tradition was popularised through the wedding of Queen Victoria. Some say Victoria’s choice of a white gown may have simply been a sign of extravagance but it may have also been influenced by the values she held which emphasised sexual purity.

The Wedding Ring

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We live our lives surrounded by cycles and circles. As islanders, the cycle of seasons has long dominated our entire way of living.  In the UK, the way we live is often determined by the weather and its nature is cyclical.  These cycles go around in a circle, much like the sun and the moon. The seasons revisit us every year.  These days they are much changed and unpredictable but isn’t that the very nature and essence of life itself?

Over the centuries we have, when wealth allowed, fashioned precious metals into rings around our fingers.   None more symbolic than the Wedding Ring.    Love is said to be an endless circle, with no end and no beginning.

The use of a wedding ring has long been part of religious weddings in Europe and America, but the origin of the tradition is unclear. One possibility is the Roman belief in the Vena Amoris which was believed to be a blood vessel that ran from the fourth finger (ring finger) directly to the heart. Thus, when a couple wore rings on this finger, their hearts were connected. Historian Vicki Howard points out that the belief in the ‘ancient’ quality of the practice is most likely a modern invention. ‘Double Ring’ ceremonies are also a modern practice, a groom’s wedding band not appearing in the United States until the early 20th century.

After the Ceremony

The Wedding Ceremony is often followed by a Wedding Reception or a Wedding Breakfast in which the rituals may include speeches from the Groom, Best Man, Father of the Bride and possibly the Bride herself, the newlyweds’ first dance as a couple and the cutting of an elegant wedding cake.


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The Journey Continues

Renewal of Vows

If you have cherished memories of your Wedding Day and want to relive them, then you may want to consider renewing your marriage vows. If you and your partner are in love with the idea of a second ceremony but aren’t quite sure what it entails, then you’ve come to the right place.

There are lots of reasons why you might consider celebrating your marriage for a second time. A special Wedding Anniversary might be approaching, for instance and you want to acknowledge that in the company of your friends and relatives. There are also personal reasons too. For example, you might have had children since your wedding and want to include them in your second ceremony. The reasons why couples choose to renew their vows are as diverse as couples themselves. The one thing they all have in common is the desire to express and demonstrate the strength of their love and commitment to each other.

Whatever your reason, a ceremony in which you renew your vows is all about re-affirming the marriage vows on your Wedding Day whether these be your original ones or an updated version. It would be lovely to acknowledge that in company with your friends and relatives.

The reasons why couples choose to renew their vows are as diverse as the couples themselves. The one thing they have in common is the desire to express and demonstrate the strength of their love and commitment to each other.

The Ceremony

One thing a vow renewal ceremony does not involve is legalities. So you can celebrate the occasion as you wish. It can be held indoors or outdoors. There is no real limitation as long as you have permission from your venue for whatever you decide to do.

Choosing a celebrant to lead your vow renewal ceremony marks the occasion and makes it more formal. As stated previously, during the ceremony you could repeat the marriage vows you made to each other on your Wedding Day or you could opt to make new ones, if you’re renewing vows many years later.

The ceremony itself can include music, readings, poetry or the exchange of gifts or flowers. You might want to involve your children, family and friends in the ceremony too. I am able to offer support and guidance on the drafting of vows and will provide examples for you or you might have your own ones.

Often, there is also the re-dedication of rings. Some couples may have new engravings made on their wedding bands or get new ones for the occasion. Ceremonies can also involve a symbolic ritual known as ring-warming or ring blessing, where the rings are passed around and blessed by family and friends.

Who to Invite

In short, there are no rules or conventions about who should and should not be invited, it really does depend you and the circumstances. You might even choose to have very few or no guests at all.

When you first get married, there was likely to have been a random mix of people thrown together on the guest list from both sides but the beauty of a vow renewal ceremony is that it isn’t a wedding and there is less pressure so you’re free to invite only your nearest and dearest, if that’s what you wish.

This should come as a sweet relief to couples who still have flashbacks to sleepless nights spent organising the Table Plan for their wedding.

What to Wear

There is no set dress code for renewing vows either. The occasion is yours to personalise as you wish and this extends to the dress code as well. You could wear formal clothes, evening dresses and suits, or even what you wore to your wedding. It’s also acceptable to go casual. Just make sure you mention your dress code expectations in the invitations.

Make it a Second Wedding if You Want

Although you don’t have to follow some of the rules or traditions carried out at your wedding, you can still choose to plan the occasion as if you’re getting married again. For example, you could even have bridesmaids and/or a best man again. The choice is yours.

Your second ceremony may even end up closely resembling your original wedding ceremony, especially if you’re inviting most of the same guests and repeating the same vows.

If you need some help coming up with new vows, however, I can help you with that. Remember that they don’t need to be as serious the second time so make sure to throw a few realistic wedding vows in there too, such as, ‘I vow to bring you breakfast in bed on a bad day!’

Renewing vows is a chance to create the celebration you and your partner have always desired, without unwanted pressure or the need to please anyone else but yourselves.

I can help you plan everything just the way you want it to create a Simply Beautiful Ceremony.