There’s nothing wrong with wedding-day nerves. Totally natural, if you ask me.
After all, your wedding should be the biggest day of your life. Together with your loved one, you’ll be centre-stage.
Adrenalin can often enhance performance, although, to be fair, your role is not actually demanding. Your celebrant will guide you through the ceremony, and your Best Man (or equivalent) or Toastmaster can facilitate the celebrations. Mainly, you have to do what you’re told and enjoy yourself!
However, you need to control your jitters so they don’t ruin your day.
Perhaps I can alleviate things for you.
You may well suffer most because you’re uncertain about how things may pan out. There’s always that “what if …?” question lurking.
The most important solution is to ensure you are confident about your suppliers. Of course, nobody can guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong, but you minimise those risks by choosing reliable suppliers. These will be professionals, and will also have experience of dealing with the odd challenge.
However, professional they may seem, it won’t do any harm to reconfirm everything with them a few days before the event. Good for your peace of mind.
On the eve, be prepared. Make sure you have ready whatever is needed – rings, vows, goblet, repair kit, etc.
Allow plenty of time to arrive. You don’t want to get stuck, fuming in a traffic jam.
At the event, relax! Even if things may go wrong, you have two advantages. Firstly, you should be surrounded by professionals, so they can sort out the issue. Secondly, people understand that hitches happen despite the best planning. They’re on your side and will be tolerant and forgiving.
If you have a phobia about the whole thing, it might be wise to employ another professional to help you deal with it. I can recommend Isobel at intherighthands.co.uk
If all else fails, don’t get tanked up on alcohol (certainly, not till after the ceremony!). And if you need to step out and take a few deep breaths, this may calm you down sufficiently.
But if you’re looking for an empathetic professional civil celebrant who can put you at your ease before and during your big day, please have a chat with me!
These specialise in letting their clients choose what they are going to include in their service (and exclude!).
So how can you personalise your ceremony?
You can choose (as long as you can afford it!) the venue that really hits the mark for you. It may be quirky (like a pod on the London Eye, an aquarium, or an old favourite like a castle or a hotel). It can be outdoors (if you gamble on our climate!) or indoors. It can be grand, modest or somewhere in between.
What you choose will reflect your personalities.
You can individualise your wedding décor. This may include invitations, signage and seating plans. You can commission this, or do it yourself (given the time and creativity).
As well as beautifying things, flowers too will reflect your personalities. They may, or may not, be seasonal, exotic, simple, ravishing, or your own themed colour(s).
The flowers can extend beyond the bridal bouquet to table and room decoration (as in the photo) and even arches.
These days, you may not choose to wear the traditional clothes. So a bride might shun white, or even a dress. The groom may prefer to dispense with a tie. You can still look original and fetching, and declare your personality.
There are lots of ways to personalise the ceremony itself. You may go for a ritual (what about a handfasting?) or a recital of how the two of you got together and/or why you stayed together! You may want to write your own vows. And so on.
Your civil celebrant should be able to help you with all this, and positively channel your affection, humour and potential emotion.
So the whole service can reflect your personalities and beliefs and be very, very special.
I’d love to be of help to you constructing this. Just contact me!
In my experience, a couple goes to a lot of trouble and expense to ensure that preparations for their wedding are comprehensive. Eventualities are considered and weighed up, and experienced professionals are usually employed.
From my point of view, I ensure that the couple approve every word of what I am going to say, and this was the case in my latest wedding.
So what could possibly go wrong?
I had worked for a couple of years (delayed because of Lockdowns) with a lovely couple, and we covered all the necessary ground. They were using an event planner at the venue, but I discussed with them well in advance the logistics of an outdoor ceremony.
We had a room in the house booked just in case of intemperate weather, but the first choice was a pergola situated a few hundred metres from the house. Recorded music was to be played, and a professional sound engineer (and assistant) had been employed to ensure all went well. They were also responsible for a microphone for me.
As usual, I arrived in good time and went to check out the pergola. The sound engineer was there and explained that he’d just found out that, for technical reasons, he couldn’t connect to the electricity supply in the house. In short, this meant that I had no microphone. Well, with only 60 guests and a fairly wind-free day, I am able to project my voice sufficiently, so this unpleasant surprise wasn’t an issue at all.
The processional, with music played via Bluetooth, went well, and we were off! We then came to the hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful”. As per the Order of Service, I invited the guests to rise and join in (they had the words on a sheet).
I waited for the music to start. Silence. I turned to the sound engineer, who just returned my look. I waited and he mouthed “I haven’t got it!”. Not good news!
I had to ad-lib. Importantly, people saw the funny side. With the bride and groom’s go-ahead, I suggested that we could gamble on me leading the singing unaccompanied. Luckily, people joined in. It wasn’t perfect, but we got through it.
The major issue came when we reached the second and final hymn. I wasn’t confident enough to lead that one. We were about to omit it, when one of the guests found a version on his mobile and passed it to the sound engineer. He was able to connect it up to the speaker. The words didn’t exactly maych those on the hymn sheet, but another hurdle was successfully negotiated!
The rest of the service went well (although we had to substitute water for wine, as the couple had left the bottle in their suite!).
What all this confirmed is that, with the best will (and planning) in the world, things can still go wrong. People will do their best to help out – and nobody will grumble, provided that the problem was not caused by negligence. Feedback I got about the service was that it was first-rate. Phew!
The couple – and their guests – may well look back on the day in the future, remember the problem(s) and share a little laugh.
It’s all about unique occasions, and some are more unique than others!
A few weeks ago (when the sun still shone!), I was reminded what it was like to conduct a wedding once more. I realise how much I’ve been missing!
Becky and Chris are lovely people and very much in love. They make a perfect couple, especially as they share quite a sense of humour!
They were a pleasure to work with, knowing their own mind, yet not averse to taking guidance. The vows were most important to them, so they basically took in hand the composition, They kept the wording a secret from their partner until the moment arrived. Then they got them spot-on.
In addition to the elements you might expect (eg ring blessing), Becky’s brother wrote and delivered an apposite and amusing poem about the couple.
It was all over so quickly (or so it seemed)!
The couple sent me an enormous testimonial, which I was so happy about (for obvious reasons!). I’ve edited it considerably, but this is the gist:
“Michael was amazing … We had so many lovely comments from friends and family about the service and lots of them had said it was the best wedding service they had been to; my father-in-law was the most sceptical as he is a traditionalist and had never been to a celebrant-led wedding before but he was wowed over by the detail and thought put into each element of the service… We were able to add a small blessing and read our own vows, which meant the world, as well as add in some humour in places. We wouldn’t change a single thing about the service … and would recommend Michael to anyone getting married that wants a personal touch to their big day.”
Do you fancy a traditional full religious wedding service? Many still do, although these are becoming less popular. You know what you’re getting with such a service – and that’s precisely what drives some people away. They prefer a unique, personalised ceremony to a standardised, predictable service.
The same criticism can be levelled at Register Office services. They tend to follow the same pattern. Moreover, some registrars have not been trained in public speaking and sometimes fail to deliver a memorable service.
An unexpected option
Not everyone’s aware of this choice, but a civil celebrant may be a better bet. They can offer a tailor-made order of service, which will make the ceremony very special and individual. Additionally, they will be very experienced in public speaking and can ensure that nobody is disappointed with the presentation. And what they offer does not have to be way-out or woo-woo!
Another advantage of a civil celebrant is that you can be married by them wherever you choose (subject to permission etc., of course!). So indoors or outdoors is not a problem. Conventional venues, like hotels, are available, as are quirkier ones, such as castles, marquees, beaches, warehouses, in woodlands, beside canals, etc.
You can individualise your wedding further by choosing original décor. Put your stamp on the invitations, seating plans and general signage.
Flowers are another way to personalise the proceedings. One example is the display at a Cyprus wedding I conducted (see photo above). You may choose a floral arch, unique bridal bouquets and table furnishings.
The days of obligatory formal dress have gone for many people. The bride doesn’t have to wear white; the groom might not wear a suit. They can still show originality and style, however. For example, the groom might wear coloured socks or a special cravat, the bride may wear sandals.
I’ve already hinted at this, but a civil celebrant ceremony allows you individualisation. You can write your own vows. These can be moving and sometimes very funny! You can include ritual – a simple example would be the Loving Cup.
You could also include some religious elements, if you want.
You can invite family and friends to participate in the service, and, of course, the register (ie the degree of solemnity) is something you and the celebrant can agree on.
All of this, especially preparing the ceremony, is something I’d love tohelp you with.