There are some expenses, when you arrange a ceremony, that may be indispensable, but others that you only think are.
You don’t need to spend money on a wedding planner …
- If your ceremony is going to be very small and simple
- If you’re prepared to source and reserve the best suppliers yourself
- If you’re willing to deal yourself with things that may go wrong
- If you can arrange necessary co-ordination between suppliers
You don’t need to spend money on a venue …
- If you think you can hold the event in your backyard
- If you’re prepared to manage the health and safety issues involved
- If you’ve got plenty of support
- If you’re keeping the reception very simple
You don’t need to spend money on a celebrant …
- If you’re not too bothered how professional the officiant actually is
- If you don’t want your ceremony to be really special
- If you’re not worried about the words being easily heard by your guests
- If you want to be calm and relaxed during the ceremony
You don’t need to spend money on caterers …
- If you’re not feeding or watering your guests
- If you’re prepared to buy in and prepare food and drink
- If you can organise the service, such as a buffet, (and clearing-up) yourself
- If you’re not serving up special dishes (eg vegan)
You don’t need to spend money on entertainment …
- If you don’t want a reception
- If you can provide something simple that works
- If you can’t find something entertaining to suit all
You don’t need to spend money on photographers/videographers …
- If you don’t want memories for years to come
- If you’ve got a friend or relative who can do this professionally (and doesn’t mind!)
- If you don’t want to share the event with absentees via livestream or social media
The list could go on! But I hope it gives you something to start on, as you plan your big day – and, if you decide to use a civil celebrant, please have a chat with me!
In March 2020, I wrote a blog entitled “COVID-19 Musings”. We had just gone into (first) lockdown and were all stunned. I made it clear that I had no crystal ball. Some of my predictions would confirm that!
Social distancing was being introduced. I deplored the fact that I could not even shake the hand of the next-of-kin before or at a funeral. Worse still, mourners could not make physical contact with each other (“social bubbles” had not yet come into play) and offer consolation. Sadly, that has not changed outside the social bubble.
I thought that Direct Cremation was the way forward, although, again, I deplored it. No ceremony, at the very least, means lack of closure for the mourner. There were numerous direct cremations during the panic period of last April/May, but many people found it unsatisfactory. At best, it was a conveyor-belt strategy for dealing with the unexpected number of casualties. Some chose to allay this by deferring the ceremony to a thanksgiving service a year (or more) down the line.
Fortunately, direct cremation has become far less common. Families are opting again for the more traditional funeral. I am glad to have been proved wrong on that one.
I also mentioned that I didn’t expect to be making home visits (to plan the funeral with families), and that is still the case, although I made one exception last summer. In that instance the chief mourner was deaf, so a phone call would not have worked, and I saw him, at a distance, in his extensive garden.
The good news is that, from 17th of this month, chapels and crematoria will have discretion to allow in as many people as wish to attend, provided that social distancing is applied.
At the time of writing, I pointed out that celebrations with more than 40 guests were being discouraged. We all know how that developed! Even now, it will not be until 17th May that as many as 30 people will be permitted for a wedding. It should be unrestricted after 21st June, but we’ll see.
I suspected that the virus would peak (last) April and May, and I was right, but I thought that might see the end of it as a major factor. Well, we’re still waiting, aren’t we?
However, I’d say that my final advice of “wait and see” was sound and might still apply. Let’s see how the ‘road map’ goes and take it from there.
When you’re ready and want to start planning your ceremony, let’s have a chat.
Most people have little, or no, experience of putting together a ceremony. The internet can offer some help, but consulting a professional is wise. However, how do you know which supplier is going to be a match for you?
Of course, you’ve got to decide what you want and how much you are willing to spend. One rule of thumb is that, if you really like someone but they’re just out of your price range, it’s worth going with them. You can probably cut a corner elsewhere to cover the shortfall.
I’m not going to talk here about the reception, as my brief is the ceremony. There are still decisions to be made, though.
The venue and the officiant are paramount – and will each have their own advantages as well as potential drawbacks.
If you are not marrying in church, you essentially have two choices: the Register Office or a venue such as a hotel. If the venue is not licensed for weddings, you need to go to the Register Office first (with two witnesses). Then you can have the wedding of your dreams (see next section) in the venue of your dreams.
If you’re choosing a hotel, say, make sure you have visited – and love – it. Ensure you have spoken to the Event Planner and understand exactly what the terms and conditions are. For example, does your hire cover the whole venue? What about payment terms? What social distance safeguards are they employing? What happens if you have to cancel?
If you’re going with a celebrant as officiant, there are many different types. Humanists should not even mention “God” or include any religious elements in their service (though a few do seem to be doing that nowadays). Wiccan celebrants will include pagan (nature-related) elements. Then there are independent celebrants who will include some conventional religious readings or rituals, if desired, but who are comfortable with secular ceremonies.
To clarify, an independent civil celebrant will normally tailor the service to your expectations and beliefs, so you can have as much – or as little – religion as you want. Your day really can be special and the way YOU want it.
Finally, you need to be sure of venue and celebrant (especially, as you’ll want to be comfortable for your actual marriage).
Personal recommendations are always good. Otherwise, websites will give you an idea, but personal contact is even more revealing. Is this a venue that excites you? Will this celebrant listen to your wishes and be someone you can feel confident about?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Check Terms and Conditions and query anything unclear.
If you have any questions in the meanwhile, please feel free to ask me!
I’m often asked what is my role. How can I conduct a wedding? Surely, that’s got to be either a priest (or equivalent) or else the registrars?
What people often don’t realise is that those are not the only options.
As we’ll find out, there’s also a civil celebrant (like me!) who can do the job.
If you opt for a full religious service in England & Wales, then of course you go to your church (or equivalent). They will explain all that’s involved. Not every branch of Christianity is catered for here, though. Church of England, Quaker or Jewish are the only types of religion included.
For other sects, you can marry in a non-C of E church (say), but the marriage will not be legal until you have made an appointment and been to the Register Office. Without the registrars’ participation and the pronouncing of certain words, you will not qualify as legally wed.
If you choose the civil route, you need to know that the service must be totally non-religious. You can be sure that it will be a totally secular ceremony, even though the content may vary a bit from registrar to registrar.
The Register Office service will cost in the region of £100. Pre-COVID, they could come out to a venue licensed for weddings, albeit for another £500 or so. As I write, this is no longer possible, and, anyway, wedding numbers are still limited severely.
There is another option, however, which all too few people know about. It is particularly useful if:
- You may not want a full religious service
- You may want one, but are prevented from marrying in your church/synagogue etc. For example, you are a (Catholic) divorcee or yours is a mixed-faith ceremony
- You (or even your parents!) want to have just a smidgen of religion in your service
Note that, a humanist celebrant, like the registrars, will not allow any religious references. So go for an independent celebrant, and you can enjoy a personalised ceremony with as much or as little religion as you want.
Again, this is not a legal ceremony, so you still have to go to the registrars. Afterwards, you can enjoy the ceremony you actually want, compiled and conducted by your civil celebrant. It can be in the venue of your dreams, and, to all intents and purposes, be your actual wedding. It can reflect your personalities and beliefs, with inspiring spiritual – or even funny – readings, and contain personalised sections, such as self-written vows.
So don’t go thinking that your big day can’t be the way you want it! Because it can!
Have a chat with me, and I’ll show you how.
No. I know it’s not Halloween, but this is all about nightmare scenarios!
The following have happened at (or before) weddings that I was officiating at:
- A fire
- The groom forgot the ring
- The bride’s car got lost
- A staircase collapsed
- A photographer fell over backwards
- The Best Man arrived two hours late because of a job interview
Of course, there’s virtually no limit on what might go wrong. Usually, nothing does, and, if something does go awry, most people don’t even notice!
That won’t stop most brides and their team worrying, though.
You can use a wedding planner. You pay them to take the burden off your shoulders. And experienced ones are good at improvising solutions. It doesn’t have to cost that much, either. They offer packages, so you can hire a planner for the day only, if that’s all you want.
But what if you’re doing it yourself?
You have to prepare properly. Do your homework before booking professional suppliers (celebrants, venue, florists, DJs, photographers, make-up artists, caterers, the bridal car, and so on). Make sure you ring round the week before the wedding and confirm they do have your reservation on their books!
Good for your peace of mind, at the very least – and suppliers are human too!
If something does go wrong, don’t panic. Your team will rally round. If the problem is major, guests will show tolerance. Some may tut a bit, but most will understand. Nobody complained when our service was delayed because of a fire!
So relax and enjoy your big day, secure in the knowledge that you have prepared well and have a fine team on side. Don’t look at the dark side and assume the worst. Relax and everything will flow sweetly. You’ll have an unforgettable day – and for the right reasons!
It’s time to take a look at the relatively new trend that is changing the face of weddings across the UK (and beyond).
I’m referring to micro-weddings.
Of course, people are still looking at “traditional” weddings (bride in white, formal processions, receptions for large numbers, and the like). Hopefully, after 21st June, weddings will be unrestricted again (although social distancing will surely still apply) and people will be able to pursue this lovely course of action once more.
However, there are more choices open to couples nowadays, as people have had to adapt to the draconian regulations imposed on us. With guests and participants severely limited, what has changed?
Excessive pomp has been limited, but the budget for weddings has not necessarily decreased. Demand is exceeding supply at the moment, which can add a premium to the budgeting. Couples are also focussing on quality, as that appears more affordable. The guest list might be smaller (allowing you substantial savings), but that has opened the way to, for example, providing better champagne!
As such weddings are often not “traditional”, they can become more personalised. I hardly need say that, as a civil celebrant, I have been offering personalised ceremonies for years, but this is becoming the norm now.
So the proceedings can be far more relaxed. The bride’s father might not give the bride away. The bride might dress in colours or separates. Dresses may be shorter and less formal nowadays.
Venues can be less formal too, as cafes or bandstands come into the equation. Decoration still plays a big part, but quality can stand out at smaller-scale events. There can be personalisation for the guests too – perhaps their name can be inscribed on the cutlery, for example.
Make the ceremony yours.
Don’t forget that a civil celebrant will add so much to your ceremony, whether it be a larger “traditional-style” event or a micro-wedding. Just contact Michael for a chance to find out how!