Where you marry may depend on the current governement regulations. As they are unpredictable, perhaps I can leave them out of the equation.
The decision as to where you hold your wedding is likely to be vital. The atmosphere is going to matter to you both.
So where can you marry?
The obvious choices
- The answer is simple, if you go down the full religious route. You’ll marry in your religious building.
- Should you opt for a Register Office affair, it’s no less simple. You make an appointment to attend the office, with two witnesses, and that can be it.
There’s another choice
You don’t have to be bound by those two alternatives. You can opt for the civil celebrant route, and then it’s a potentially more rewarding ball-game.
You’ll still need to attend at the Register Office. That’s how you will get legally married first. (The legislation may be changing, but that’s for another day!) You’ll need to make an appointment before the ceremony (as above).
The difference is that now you can additionally have your personalised service. That’s where you stammp your personalities and beliefs on the occasion. Your civil celebrant will help you create this dream ceremony and then conduct it beautifully.
The ceremony can take place in the venue of your dreams,
And that means almost anywhere that your imagination (and COVID-19 regulations) allow! Indoors or outdoors (or even underwater!). It could be in your back garden or (with permission, of course) in a field next to a canal, up the Shard, at Stonehenge, by the seaside, in the Ritz Hotel, in a hot-air balloon … – well, you get the picture!
If you’re arranging the ceremony yourself, you’ll need a celebrant, and probably suppliers such as florists, photographers, make-up artists, caterers, etc.
You may want to hire a wedding planner. For the extra cost, you get peace of mind. Depending on the package you agree, every detail can be organised and overseen for you.
Regardless, you need to get permission and/or pay for the venue you may be using.
All this should be arranged well in advance – generally, at least a year ahead, as some of the suppliers get booked up quite early.
With all suppliers, try and get first-hand reports from people who have used them. This may be word-of-mouth or website reviews, but speaking to them directly is important. You can ask your questions and get a feel for the supplier’s attitude.
Remember good old health and safety – especially if you’re organising everything yourself. (No trailing wires; ensure there are sufficient toilets; check signposting etc. etc.)
The bottom line is that you really can choose where (and how) to mark your big day. Just remember to ensure you are COVID-19 compliant (whatever the current regulations may be).
Of course, if you need any advice on the ceremony, just contact your friendly neighbourhood celebrant!
I actually heard this question on Sunday, just before the start of a wedding I conducted. It was said with a smile, but there was a half-serious undertone! But no, let me assure you at once that no one there was planning to marry a dog!
The bride, Cathy (not real name), normally highly punctual, was late – already 15 minutes late. We knew there were road closures in the area, but nobody had any idea of her whereabouts. Somebody (not terribly tactfully, I thought!) suggested that Cathy might be going to leave James (also, not real name) at the metaphorical altar.
The next thing was that James’ dog, Blue (real name!) sprinted up and made a huge fuss of James. Lots of love and affection evident there …. Hence the question that I began with!
The end of the story? Well, a few minutes later, with no fanfare or warning, Cathy arrived. (Just as I had left my post to fetch the nervous groom some water!) I’m pleased to say that, despite tears of emotion (from the bride, not me!), the rest of the proceedings went really successfully!
Incidentally, Blue had originally been intended to participate as ring-bearer, but his appetite was such that it was considered unwise to entrust this role to him. He still managed to steal the show!
I have never conducted a wedding in which fauna were involved. I have stroked a barn owl trained to deliver rings, as Blue nearly was, and I have seen pictures of releases of doves. I have no problem with these (provided no cruelty to the creatures is involved), although I guess that the risk of something going wrong is quite high!
Actors are surely right to say: never work with animals or children!
What I do like, though, is the fact that people have the choice to personalise their wedding (or ceremony) in whatever way they wish. It doesn’t have to include animals or birds, of course. The choice of venue may individualise the ceremony sufficiently. The venue could be the sea shore or a mountain top, a canalside or up the London Eye. Your back garden. A plush hotel. The list is as extensive as your imagination.
There are some lovely rituals you can include that will make your wedding really stand out. A handfasting is just one example. Other possibilities include Unity Candles, a Sand Ceremony, the Loving Cup, Jumping the Broom, and more. Your civil celebrant can explain these or suggest others.
Personalising the ceremony
Other ways of ensuring a tailor-made ceremony might encompass the choice of music and also readings; including the couple’s “story”; using selected participants (such as Blue!). Or even including something unusual (as we did on Sunday). Mid-ceremony, after the couple had drunk from the Loving Cup, everybody was served some drink (remarkably efficiently) and then rose to drink a toast to Cathy and James, which went down a treat.
So there are many features you can incorporate or amend to make your big day really stand out. If you need ideas, your celebrant should be able to help you, but the important thing is to do what YOU want to do!