Do's and don'ts for a distinctive & personal ceremony
Updated: Feb 11
A celebrant led ceremony leaves you free of the restrictions that come with using a registrar to perform your ceremony but where do you start if you want to add personal touches, unique moments and special words to your ceremony? As a former Registrar I have attended so many weddings and renewal of vows ceremonies, it has been easy for me to notice trends and fashions come and go, from good old chocolate fountains and sweet trolleys to owls bearing rings and dancing entrances from brides and grooms, but now and again something would make us say 'Oooh! Thats different!'
I guess to start with just the location itself could be classed as a place that holds special significance to you both. For a legal Civil Ceremony in the UK there are thousands of amazing venues licenced for weddings including castles, barns, stately homes and even nightclubs. I was lucky enough to be based at our Brentwood Office and for those of you familiar with TOWIE, the Sugar Hut was licenced for weddings and we also did lots of weddings at the Country Club where the gang often frequented. My best friend at work even performed Mark Wrights wedding, and the whole office was buzzing when he and Michelle Keegan came to our office to give their notice of marriage!
If you are planning on holding a celebration because you have already done the legal parts at the Register Office, then the choice of venues for your ceremony is not limited at all! Subject to permission of course, you can have your ceremony anywhere because the venue does not have to be an approved premise by law.
I have seen all the owls and dogs bearing rings, even an older couple arrived at the Register Office for their wedding with the bride on horse back dressed as an Indian Squaw, and the groom leading the horse dressed as a native Indian Chief! They kept it all secret from their friends and family and some did not have as good a sense of humour as you may have thought! This leads me to suggest that whatever you would like to do to make your day personal, do think about your guests too and make sure that what you do is fun but appropriate to the occasion too.
I attended a lovely little wedding once. It was just a small affair in a beautiful country house where the couple's little cocker spaniel brought the rings and as the bride taught at junior school, her class were there as a choir and sang while the bride and groom signed the Register. It was a winter wedding with a roaring fire in the room and candles and tea lights were everywhere. As my colleague bent over the couple to show them where to sign in the marriage register, the children sang away 'All you need is Love! La la la la la......' I looked up and noticed that I could see smoke rising up from my colleague and I soon realised that the back of her jacket had caught fire as she and her jacket had moved over a window sill full of tea lights! Luckily, everything was ok and we laughed it all off and carried on as the complete professionals that we were, but in future, if ever I spotted candles or tea lights too close to where we had to take care of the ceremony, I would gently move them out of harm's way! As for the performing animals, just remember how unreliable they can be and that they always seem to need the toilet at the wrong times! I have seen lots of guests get 'pooped' on my owls and eagles, and one who (too whit too whoo!) flatly refused to fly to the best man and deliver those rings!
Dare I say it, but even us professionals get it wrong sometimes and I will never forget the first time that I performed a double wedding. There were 2 brothers getting married, and I practised the names over and over in my head...'Frank & Veronica. Bob & Sue.....Frank & Veronica. Bob & Sue.....,' then as all four walked down the aisle, stood in front of me and the music stopped, I heard myself loudly and proudly announce the arrival of 'Frank & Sue and Bob & Veronica!' Well the lucky for me everyone including the couples all saw the funny side and it broke the tense atmosphere and everyone relaxed....except me, who made sure all the words that followed were totally correct!
Most UK civil weddings allow room for you to personalise parts of your ceremony with readings and your own vows and promises to each other and even special ring words but the local Register Office will always ask to see what you are intending to say in advance, even with the music for the ceremony. They are duty bound to check that any readings or personal vows are appropriate for the occasion and contain no religious content. It is the same for the music although the rules on song words has relaxed even from when I first started in Registration. The actual 'nuts and bolts' of the ceremony are set in stone, apart from a few options you are given for your declaratory and contracting words and exchange of rings, you cannot really get involved in personalising any more of the ceremony than that. The only way to have a complete personal ceremony script from start to finish is if you have a simple marriage at the Register Office and then follow that with your own personal wedding or renewal of vows celebration wherever you want with all your guests.
If you are looking for a Celebrant Team in Essex & Kent for your celebration and you are not sure where to start, remember to go to our website page all about the great choices a Celebrant Ceremony gives you. Maybe you just need help pulling it all together? Bride Buddy Ceremonies is here to help. In the meantime, please don't think about wearing your pyjamas to your wedding as one bride did at a wedding I attended, but that is another story!