How serious should a wedding ceremony be?

I know: how long is a piece of string?! Everybody’s take on humour at a wedding ceremony is likely to be unique, so there’s never going to be a “one answer fits all” response. A wedding ceremony means such a lot – but there’s no compulsion for yours to be standardised, if you don’t want that.


Of course, if you choose a full religious service, then you’ll have no options as far as content is concerned. There’s unlikely to be much humour. You know what you’re getting, and that suits plenty of people, so all well and good.

Register Office

Of course, you have the choice to have a secular ceremony instead. In each district the Registrars conduct their own service (although the core will be identical). So you will be at the mercy of geography when it comes to the atmosphere conjured up. Basically, you can expect about a 10-minute ceremony, plus time for signing the certificate. It may reek a bit of conveyor-belt.  Maybe you’ll chance on a registrar with a sense of humour, but maybe you won’t!


What I’ve written so far seems to be suggesting that wedding ceremonies have to be serious after all. But, remember, there is a third way.

You can opt for another type of ceremony: a civil ceremony. Your civil celebrant builds a service that will be personalised to you, so the tone (as well as content) will normally be made to suit you precisely.

But how light-hearted do you want such an important ceremony to be? Of course, that depends entirely on you. However, there’s a good chance that you’ll include some serious elements. For example, I might give an address on the meaning of marriage; there could be a serious final blessing; exchanging the rings may be accompanied by fairly serious words; so might the vows.

Equally there is the potential for humour, and even laughter.

You may want to tell your story (how you met etc.), and that usually involves a funny anecdote or two. If you write your own vows, you can include humour, although most of it will probably be serious. The readings or poems can be amusing. I do enjoy this one by Pam Ayres:

Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear,

And here’s the reason why:

So I can push you out of bed

When the baby starts to cry.

And if we hear a knocking

And it’s creepy and it’s late,

I hand you the torch, you see,

And you investigate.


Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear,

You may not apprehend it,

But when the tumble-drier goes,

It’s you that has to mend it.

You have to face the neighbour

Should our Labrador, Jackson, attack him,

And if somebody makes me sad,

It’s you that has to whack him.


Yes, I’ll marry you.

You’re virile and you’re lean,

Our house is like a pigsty

You’re amazing – you keep it clean.


That sexy little dinner

Which you served by candlelight,

As I cook canned soup,

You can cook every night!


It’s you who has to work the drill

And put up curtain track,

And when I’m feeling moody,

It’s you who gets the flak.

I do see great advantages,

But none of them for you,

And so, before you see the light,

I do, I do, I do!

If you’re of a surreal inclination, you may even include readings that have nothing to do with marriage, but that you simply love. Neil Gaiman’s “The Day the Saucers Came” is a lovely example!

That Day, the saucers landed. Hundreds of them, golden,
Silent, coming down from the sky like great snowflakes,
And the people of Earth stood and
stared as they descended,
Waiting, dry-mouthed, to find out what waited inside for us
And none of us knowing if we would be here tomorrow
But you didn’t notice because

That day, the day the saucers came, by some some coincidence,
Was the day that the graves gave up their dead
And the zombies pushed up through soft earth
or erupted, shambling and dull-eyed, unstoppable,
Came towards us, the living, and we screamed and ran,
But you did not notice this because

On the saucer day, which was zombie day, it was
Ragnarok also, and the television screens showed us
A ship built of dead-men’s nails, a serpent, a wolf,
All bigger than the mind could hold,
and the cameraman could
Not get far enough away, and then the Gods came out
But you did not see them coming because

On the saucer-zombie-battling-gods
day the floodgates broke
And each of us was engulfed by genies and sprites
Offering us wishes and wonders and eternities
And charm and cleverness and true
brave hearts and pots of gold
While giants feefofummed across
the land and killer bees,
But you had no idea of any of this because

That day, the saucer day, the zombie day
The Ragnarok and fairies day,
the day the great winds came
And snows and the cities turned to crystal, the day
All plants died, plastics dissolved, the day the
Computers turned, the screens telling
us we would obey, the day
Angels, drunk and muddled, stumbled from the bars,
And all the bells of London were sounded, the day
Animals spoke to us in Assyrian, the Yeti day,
The fluttering capes and arrival of
the Time Machine day,
You didn’t notice any of this because
you were sitting in your room, not doing anything
not even reading, not really, just
looking at your telephone,
wondering if I was going to call.

So if you want a bit of humour at the altar, there are quite a lot of possibilities. In order to explore this further, please give Michael a call (07931 538487) or send ane-mail (

How 400 Prostitutes Turned me into a Celebrant

How 400 Prostitutes Turned me into a Celebrant

I’ve often been asked how I came to be a Civil Celebrant.

I never had any ambition to do such work. (In fact, three years ago I didn’t even know what one was!)

I only heard about it by chance.

If I’m absolutely honest, it all came about because I was interested in 400 prostitutes!

Now don’t get me wrong, please. I may be an active man, but not in the way you may be thinking!

I innocently went to hear a talk by somebody who had considerable experience with prostitutes. He had made a fortune many years back by selling answering machines to a niche market nobody had tapped before: prostitutes!

After the presentation, I had a chat with him, and it turned out that he was now a celebrant.

He told me that he helped people who wanted a ceremony that was bespoke – not formulaic. He worked with them to construct a ceremony that would mean the most to them (and, hopefully, their guests). It could be religious, semi-religious, non-religious – anything. It could be held anywhere – perhaps a licensed religious building, a hotel, a beach or a mountain top.


The ceremonies included weddings (straight or gay), vow renewals, naming blessings and handfastings. (Not to mention funerals.)

Anyway, as I listened to David, I got drawn in. This was something different, this was exciting, this was something I could do well (I have considerable experience as a public presenter) and something that would enable me to make a difference to others.

When could I start?!

Well, I trained late in 2012, and was sufficiently enthused that I then decided to train to become a funeral celebrant.  I’m now almost three years down the celebrantt line, and loving it!

Who’d have thought that 400 prostitutes would have made such a difference in my life!

Who’s Heard of A Civil Celebrant

Who’s Heard of A Civil Celebrant

Although I do my best to get about and spread the word, I find there’s still a lot of confusion about what civil celebrants really do and what they can offer. I hope that this brief blog can clear things up a bit.

Imagine …!

What if a full religious wedding doesn’t rock your boat?

What if the totally non-religious, standardised Register Office ceremony isn’t really all that special for your big day?

What if you could go to the Registry Office in the morning in your jeans, with a couple of witnesses, sign the marriage certificate and then enjoy a wonderful, joyous, memorable ceremony in the afternoon with all your guests?

Nowadays, you can. That’s where a civil celebrant comes in.

As long as the legal bit is still carried out, there’s nothing to stop you holding the ceremony you actually want – at the venue you want, in the way that you want.

The Ceremony

One of the beauties about a celebrant-led wedding is that he or she will help you (as much or as little as you want!) to build your own ceremony. So if you want a religious component (or perhaps one or two drawn from various cultural sources), put that in, by all means; if you want spiritual elements, go for it; poems and favourite texts are absolutely fine. With some give and take, you should be able to please yourselves AND keep your parents happy!

As with the readings, you decide on the music. You also decide on the choreography (who walks or stands where), the readers, any address, the wording, and delivery, of the Vows. Your celebrant will be pleased to advise and make helpful suggestions. This process is usually conducted by e-mail after an initial mutual fact-finding conversation (face-to-face or by Skype).

At a wedding blessing ceremony - jumping the broom


You will be able to incorporate any rituals and little touches of your choice that would not otherwise be possible. For example, drinking from a loving cup, burning a Unity Candle, Jumping the Broom or celebrating a handfasting (an ancient Celtic betrothal ritual).


In short, this is YOUR day, and your civil celebrant, who will of course conduct the ceremony for you, will do everything to ensure that the day is unforgettable, meaningful and what YOU want.

I hope this clarifies things. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to ask me! I’ll be delighted to help.

Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made civil ceremony (including weddings, vow renewals, handfastings, ring blessings, baby namings) in or around London or, indeed, Europe.