In my experience, most couples – especially the men! – don’t really know what can go into their wedding service. There are exceptions, of course, but most people have enough trouble accepting that there are alternatives to either a full religious church service or the somewhat sterile register office ceremony.
Creative ceremonies are very much a possibility, and all you actually need to ensure is that the legal formalities are catered for.
What do I mean by “creative”? Well, how long is a piece of string?
To begin with, do you plan to hold the ceremony indoors or out? How conventional do you want it? Do you want it under the sea? In a plane? Up a mountain? In a back garden? They’re all possible.
To speak fairly generally, you can hold a fairly traditional ceremony that, to all intents and purposes, looks like the wedding my grandparents would have expected (except that it might not be held in a religious edifice).
You may opt for a pagan ceremony. A handfasting will invoke nature blessings and can be most exciting.
Then there are various gradations of religiosity. You could have a few prayers and blessings, some originating from other liturgies or cultures, and of course it might be a humanist-type wedding, with no religious words at all.
A Civil Celebrant-led wedding can cover any degree of religiousness, but your choices don’t end there. There’s the language to be used (by that I mean formal or informal), there’s the music to be decided, what readings or poems will be used, and, indeed, whether you want friends or family participating.
Perhaps the element that differentiates weddings the most is the choice of ritual. I’d like to speak about this more next week, but just a few pointers as to what I am driving at.
Depending on personal beliefs and preferences, you can include rituals from your own or other religions. An East European ritual, for example, involves the couple being presented (usually by a mother) with a loaf of bread. They both bite into it simultaneously, and the person who gets more will supposedly be the head of the household!
One of my favourite rituals normally comes at the end of the ceremony, is pagan, and can bring a smile to everyone’s face. It’s called “jumping the broom”, and the couple have to jump together over a besom. This symbolises sweeping out the old and bringing in the new, as they start their life together.
Some more suggestions will follow next week, but if you can’t wait till then, feel free to contact me!