When’s a Good Time to Marry?

When’s a Good Time to Marry?

 No, no! Not “when you’re totally tanked up with booze”!

What I’m actually referring to is the most advantageous time, day and type of ceremony for you.

Of course, depending on the type of ceremony you have in mind and the venue, there are major decisions to be made.

Register Office

If you choose to marry at a Register Office, you need to make an appointment and go down (with two witnesses) on a working day.

At the time of writing, most (if not all) registrars conduct the ceremony from their base, rather than attending a licensed venue. (If they come out, they require certain criteria to be met, such as venue specifics and timings. They also charge quite a lot for this service.)

A bill is going through Parliament (slowly!) to allow certain celebrants to conduct legally-binding weddings, which may obviate the need to involve the registrars.

Which brings me on to your next possible choice.

Less Conventional Ceremonies

If you want a unique, tailor-made service, then, once your marriage has been made legal by the Registrars, you can use an independent celebrant. Such a ceremony can take place at the venue of your choice, be it a hotel, an iron age fort, a canalside, or wherever (subject to permission). It can also take the form you choose (eg personalised), which is where the celebrant comes in.

When to Marry

As a rule of thumb, you may be able to make savings, if you avoid high season. That may also suit your guests better. If you choose New Year’s Day, for example, there might be problems for those travelling by public transport or indeed for those nursing hangovers!

Valentine’s Day makes sense at one level, but suppliers often raise their prices for a day like this. You often need to book such a date very far in advance.

Summer is popular, but is not always the best bet. Prices are usually higher. Moreover, weather (as we are seeing this year!) is not guaranteed, and you may be safer booking Spring or Autumn. If you leave it too late to book for the Summer, you may find that many of your potential guests have already reserved their holidays and can’t attend your wedding.

Destination weddings also need considerable notice for most guests.


It’s often worth investigating possible discounts with your supplier. The worst that can happen is that they refuse!

Possible bargaining levers are holding the wedding out of season (as mentioned), holding it in the morning or afternoon, and choosing a Monday through Thursday.


There’s plenty to think about, then, but I hope that these remarks shed some useful light, at least. You may need to be flexible and should certainly do some research, but the results can be so worthwhile.

Never forget that it is your big day, and you deserve to get it right.

Do speak to me, if I can help you further.

Funeral on “Coronation Street”

I know I don’t blog on Thursdays. I know I don’t watch “Coronation Street”. But sometimes rules have to be broken. Even by me.

I saw the part of last night’s “Corrie” episode when Roy is visited by a (humanist) funeral celebrant. She didn’t know – and couldn’t – what emotions Roy was actually experiencing. As a result, his behaviour seemed incomprehensible, and she could make little progress with planning the service.


As you will know, I am an Independent Celebrant (not humanist, although I often create and perform non-religious ceremonies). When it comes to funerals, I too make home visits. I too have no idea of the state of mind of the people that I am visiting.

This is common to all types of celebrants. Even the parish priest, who may know the family already, can’t be certain of the reception he or she will encounter. As an independent celebrant, I will be meeting the family for the first time (with no preconceptions).

The type of death may dictate the emotions that are triggered, but there is simply no hard-and-fast certainty. The family that mourns the sudden death of a toddler will surely be in shock; they will not understand why or how it happened; they will probably be angry; they may blame themselves or God – the list goes on.

What about a teenage suicide? What about an elderly, cantankerous relative? A motor accident victim? Or a beloved life-partner? They will all evoke different emotions. Some people will master themselves better than others. Roy didn’t mean to be rude, but uncontrollable feelings were in play.

Home visits

When I pay a home visit, I aim to be friendly and professional. I don’t pre-judge; I try to respond to each individual. It is important to listen. At some point, I may ask a question like “How can I help you?”, although, in certain cases like Roy’s, that may not have any real relevance.

What I do is to listen sympathetically and engage with the mourner. I understand that they may be confused and, very often, unfamiliar with funeral procedure. I give them plain information and allow them to make choices. The choices will be quite wide-ranging (the degree of religiosity, readings, music, entry, participants, ritual), so I explain these carefully. They usually want me to deliver a eulogy, so I need to ask appropriate questions about the deceased.

It all takes time, but this is a crucial stage.

When I go, I always leave my contact details. I try and work on the draft service within 24 hours and e-mail it to the family for them to amend, as necessary, and eventually approve. By the time I meet them again on the day, we will have a meaningful service for me to conduct, every word of which has been agreed by the family. I hope I will be no longer be a stranger to them,  but somebody they like and feel they can depend on.

It’s a very rewarding task, but, as Hayley’s celebrant would realise, it can also be very challenging.

Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made life-cycle civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.

Hayley’s funeral

My spies tell me that the current talk over the “Coronation Street” sewing machines is about humanist funerals. Almost none of the characters know what is meant by this. Someone is able to explain that, essentially it will be a funeral service without any religion in it.

Surely you have to have a religious funeral?

The script-writers are right.  Humanist funerals are an option. And, if it’s a true Humanist service, there can be no religious references whatsoever.

So, if you want a religious service, you go to your Church, Synagogue, Temple, Mosque etc. If you want no religion at all, you approach the Humanists. That’s clear enough, but might there also be people wanting something in between?

Is a compromise possible?

People often want something that includes references to God, even if it’s not the God of the conventional religions. Maybe they want a dash of religion (to placate a member of the family, to be ‘safe’ or because the deceased had some affection for one particular religion – or possibly, the deceased was part of a mixed marriage.). There can be many reasons for wanting a compromise service.


Fortunately, although not really in the public consciousness (until Friday?!), there are independent celebrants out there, whose main aim is to work with the client (next-of-kin usually) to create a service that absolutely reflects the wishes of the client (usually, respecting what the deceased would have wanted). In order to build a suitable service, celebrants will borrow from various traditions, suggest poems, readings, songs, hymns, rituals and participation by family or friends – whatever will make the ceremony meaningful and memorable.

The independent celebrant will strive to ensure that not only will there be an opportunity to grieve, but the life of the deceased will be celebrated.

Is this legal?

Just as you can choose the where, when and how, if you are celebrating a birth, as long as it is legally registered; just as you can marry where, when and how you choose, so long as the marriage is legally registered; so you can have the funeral that you choose, as long as the death is legally registered (and you dispose of the body according to regulations).

Why shouldn’t the funeral be just as you want it to be?

A little bird tells me that the “Corrie” funeral will be shown on Friday. I shall be interested to see how it is done, and, of course, whether I  could have written and conducted  it better!

Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made life-cycle civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.