An Unforgettable Year

An Unforgettable Year

Maybe 2016 is the year that you are planning to marry? You want to make it an unforgettable year.  You have so much excitement ahead of you. Choices, decisions and expenses are things you’ll have to wrestle with. You’re planning the biggest day of your lives – and that’s really pleasurable – but be aware that this often comes with pressure in its wake.


  1. Your parents may be putting financial or psychological pressure (or both!) on you to have the ceremony that THEY want.
  2. You may underestimate the timings involved or the things that need to be considered and put in place – the stress can increase as the big day approaches.
  3. Your suppliers may be a disappointment.
  4. You may have serious problems selecting your guests without causing offence.


There’s no easy answer to point four. All I can suggest is that you carefully calculate your budget and then, in consultation with your intended (it’s essential that you work as a team throughout), decide who needs to be there, as well as whom you want to be there!

In order to reduce stress, start planning early. Do ask me for my “Wedding Countdown Checklist“, which I’ll e-mail to you with my compliments.

If your parents are bankrolling the operation (or even if they’re not, but they’re putting their oar in regularly), don’t let them bulldoze you into doing what you don’t want to do or disapprove of. But you must be the best judge of how to handle them. However, it is your big day and your input deserves to be respected. If they won’t see that, maybe you can offer a compromise (eg “We don’t want a religious ceremony, but we’d be OK with a blessing, if that makes you happy.”).

Finally, you want to be sure of your suppliers.

Referrals are best (though other people’s tastes may not always be the same as yours!). Do have a look at suppliers’ websites and don’t be afraid actually to speak to them before deciding. This applies to most suppliers, such as photographers, florists, civil celebrants, etc.

For the venue, go along and also meet the events organiser. Bring a list of questions, and be sure that you see and love the room where you want to be married or blessed.

Arrange to sample some of your caterers’ output before committing yourself.

Unless you’re planning a full religious service (officiated by your priest), try and get to know your civil celebrant beforehand. You need to feel at ease with and confident in him/her.

Some stress is inevitable, I think, but there are ways of minimising its effects and I hope this advice will help you to have that great year. And that’s my wish for all my readers.

An Unforgettable Year

Helpful Hints for a Wonderful Wedding (part one)

Of course, you want things to go well for your wedding. In fact, you want a wonderful wedding! But it doesn’t just depend on you. Does everybody understand their role?

Weddings can be a time of stress, so it’s important for people to make allowances.

As a civil celebrant myself, I have to point out that the celebrant should be able to play a role in smoothing the way much of the time, but not everything will be within their control!

Here is some advice for those playing an active role in the proceedings:


  • Ensure you don’t get rolling drunk! Apart from anything else, there will be plenty of embarrassing photographic evidence to haunt you later in life. It may also not make the best possible impression on your new relatives!
  • Try and make sure you speak to all your wedding guests (they have come to see and support you).


  • Much of the stress in the run-up to the wedding day is borne by the bride. Do what you can, especially on the day, to share the load.
  • Don’t hide away with your mates; meet and make conversation with your new wife’s friends and even relatives.
  • Don’t get rolling drunk! You have a speech to deliver effectively and the comments I aimed at the bride apply to you just as much.

The bride’s mother

It is good to remember whose big day it actually is – it’s really your daughter’s. So be there early, be willing to help, but don’t criticise either other people or arrangements. This just compounds any stress being experienced.

Be prepared to play second fiddle.

The Groom’s mother

As with the bride’s mother, be supportive rather than domineering or critical. Be helpful and open and say nice things to the bride! Don’t try and get revenge for a perceived slight during the wedding planning.

The Father(s)

Just like the bride and groom, you need to be sober and in control, not least when toasting the couple’s marriage.

Don’t use the opportunity to get even with somebody who you feel has affronted you during the wedding build-up.

If you want advice on the best man, maid of honour, ushers, bridesmaids and children, please be patient, as my very next blog will address this.



Your wedding – a day of harmony?

Of course your wedding day should be harmonious!

What about the run-up to it, though?

For a start, you may not have a lot of money at your disposal. Secondly (and not unconnected, usually) you may have parents who are paying for most of, if not all, the event. Thirdly, you and your partner may come from different backgrounds and cultures.

Putting all these issues together and still producing the ceremony you actually want can be quite a challenge!

So here are a few areas to think about.


If your beliefs do not tally with those of the people (probably parents) who are financing your wedding, try and be diplomatic! It may be possible to reach a compromise which keeps all parties happy. The same may, naturally, apply to you as a couple.

The service could include the Lord’s Prayer (to satisfy a practising Christian) and, say, the Apache Wedding Blessing prayer or a love poem (for the non-Christian).  Combinations like these can be surprisingly effective.

So, as a couple, discuss what you really want – prayer, meditation, music, rituals, or none of these. Talk it over with your celebrant to customise a wonderful ceremony.


You will need to decide on who else will participate, and in what way. Will you write vows? Will there be ritual? There are many of these questions to consider, but a good celebrant will go through these with you early on, and set your mind at rest.

Don’t Leave It Too Late

You are unlikely to end up with the same ceremony plans that you started with. A lot of things look different over time. Your celebrant will offer you various drafts and you are free to tweak or even rewrite them. Just don’t hurry it.

If you’re working with a wedding planner, allow them time to get all the arrangements in place.



  • Work together as a pair (good practice for your married life!) and decide what you really want for your wedding. Remember it is YOUR day,  although it can pay to compromise a little.
  • Do work with your celebrant to come up with the ceremony you really want.
  • Start the process early.
  • Look forward to a most wonderful day!!



7 tips to get your children on your side

Survival guide:  when your child is participating in a ceremony

Major public ceremonies can be very stressful for parents and children. Obviously, I can only generalise (as each event, let alone each child, is different), but here are a few words of advice that may be of benefit for an occasion when your child is actually participating.


  1. Try and keep the changes of routine to a minimum. The occasion may involve a fair bit of travel and even hotels, but do what you can to keep mealtimes and sleep close to what she is used to.
  2. Bring favourite toys to provide comfort and, to avoid boredom, books etc. for the ceremony, according to age.
  3. Feed her healthy foods (and definitely not sugar or fizzy drinks shortly before the ceremony). Make sure sensible drinks (preferably not carbonated or very sweet) are on hand.
  4. Your cherub may well be nervous about his role in front of a lot of strangers. A rehearsal is often beneficial. If you can arrange it in the room or hall itself, then so much the better. If he can practise with props that he may need for the ceremony, better still. Take him through everything slowly, clearly and, most of all, patiently.
  5. Be relaxed – if you are uptight, you will definitely communicate this to your child, and his performance will suffer. Smile a lot and encourage her!
  6. If only one of your children is participating, make sure you show appreciation to the other(s) and make them feel valued.
  7. If your child refuses point-blank to participate, it may be best to go with the flow, accept it and warn the adults concerned. Don’t encourage a scene by forcing him to participate after all or by having a go at your child for letting everyone down.

Most guests will be tolerant of any slip-ups committed by your child, and most will be full of congratulations afterwards, even if not all will have gone strictly to plan! So relax!

If you enjoy the occasion, then your child almost certainly will too. Give plenty of praise where possible, and have a lovely time.

Remember: things are rarely as bad as you think they’re going to be!