What do I mean by the “best” ceremony?
Of course, no such thing exists. However, there are definitely ceremonies that will meet your needs and expectations better than others. If you have the choice – and a lot of people don’t realise there actually is choice out there – are you happy with the standard ceremony offered by your religious institution or by the Registry Office? Or might you prefer something tailor-made, that reflects your personal beliefs and desires?
Let’s look at the options, so that you can make that decision more easily. I’m going to talk about weddings here, but a lot of my remarks will apply to other ceremonies (such as Vow renewals or even funerals). I am assuming, incidentally, that you are marrying for love, rather than for legal reasons!
The religious option
There are a number of advantages for marrying in your church/synagogue/temple etc. You will probably be comfortable if you have your familiar priest; your family may well approve; you yourself may be happy remaining within your cultural traditions. On a practical level, the religious and legal parts will be combined if it’s an Anglican ceremony.
I had a religious wedding (my choice), so I have nothing against it whatever – except that it is a standard ceremony (same size fits all).
The church etc. wedding is not for everybody. You may not be allowed a full religious wedding if you are “marrying out”. Or perhaps you are uncomfortable with a religious service, especially if you opted out long ago.
What else is open to you?
The Registry ceremony comes at the other extreme to a religious service. It is quick and simple, probably lasting less than 15 minutes. It smacks a little of a ‘conveyor-belt’, but such a ceremony will suit some people well enough.
Of course, the service is standardised. But the main disadvantage is that, if you want just a little religion or ritual (either because you don’t feel happy cutting yourself off culturally or even because you don’t want to upset family or friends), that option is simply not available.
The third option
If you rule out the two choices mentioned above, you may be looking for a ceremony that appeals to you spiritually, personally and emotionally. A civil celebrant may offer what you are really looking for on your big day.
The service will be created for you in conjunction with your civil celebrant. (It will not cover the legal side, of course, but that is easily dealt with and your civil celebrant will be able to advise you).
Your ceremony will not be a standardised service, though it may contain many conventional elements, if you so choose. The point is that you are free to put in whatever readings, music or rituals you want (your celebrant will offer ideas) and choose whoever you want to participate.
This way, your ceremony can be a reflection of you both. It can be as romantic as you choose, and should be a memorable, meaningful experience that you – and your guests – will treasure long after the event itself.
So don’t go thinking that there’s no third option – there is. And it’s really viable. Just ask someone who knows!
Why not enjoy the “best” ceremony, after all!
Michael can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, Europe.