The Best-Laid Plans!

The Best-Laid Plans!

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.

Lovely Horwood House

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!

What happens when – your wedding guide

A Church wedding

Being faced with your wedding, especially if it’s a big event, can be pretty unnerving. Fun, exciting and wonderful – but unnerving. There are so many questions to be answered. I’d like to offer a guide to your wedding.

What happens at the Church?

Assuming you have chosen a Church wedding, you will need ushers (who should be the first to arrive, naturally). They should guide the bride’s family and friends to the left side of the altar and the groom’s to the right.

The groom and best man should arrive at least 15 minutes before the ceremony so the photographer can take a few shots before they enter the church (they will occupy the front right-hand pew).

Bridesmaids arrive about 10 minutes before the ceremony. Together with the bride’s mother (normally), they wait at the church door for the bride to arrive. (Another moment for the photographer?)

The bride, along with her father-to-be, will be greeted on arrival by the officiant. The photographer will certainly want to be in attendance here too!


Who goes where?

The bride’s father, family, and any relations and friends will have the officiant ahead of them on their right; obviously, the officiant will be ahead, but to the left, of the best man, groom’s family and selected relations and friends. The bride and groom, chief bridesmaid and bridesmaids will be central, facing the officiant in front of the altar.

The bride and groom followed by bridesmaids (and/or pageboys) will lead out at the end of the ceremony. Behind them, on the left, will be the chief bridesmaid, bride’s mother and groom’s mother; on the right, the best man, groom’s father and bride’s father.


The above follows the traditional order. Of course, a celebrant-led wedding will offer more flexibility and choice .

Next time, I’ll advise on the reception.



Michael is a celebrant based in London.