Personalised Weddings

Personalised Weddings

Most of the ceremonies I conduct are reasonably conventional (although all are personalised weddings, tailored to the couples or individuals concerned). Every so often I get asked for something a bit more way out.

Of course, “way out” means one thing to some people and something quite different to others. So perhaps it would be easier if I defined what I had in mind by the term “conventional”.

church wedding - 22


A “conventional” wedding will contain most, if not all, of the following:

  • an introduction or welcome;
  • readings, sometimes delivered by friends or family – these can be prose or poetry, and can be chosen specially by the couple or suggested by the celebrant;
  • music – this is unlikely to be “traditional” – although there’s nothing to stop people throwing in a hymn or the like. It may well reflect the couple’s personal preferences or a significant moment in their relationship;
  • the vows – these may be written by the couple (with or without celebrant input) or simply suggested by the celebrant. They may be memorised or (more advisable!) read from a card or repeated after the celebrant;
  • a ring blessing;
  • a celebrant address – this may be something on the importance of marriage combined with the couple’s ‘story’ ;
  • maybe, a ritual or two – for example, lighting a unity candle.

Such weddings may feature the bride in white; several, many or no religious elements; and a variety of choices of music and texts.

Venues can be just as varied, of course. Provided the legal part of the wedding has taken place (ie is registered), imagination or budget would seem to be the main limitations as to where you hold the ceremony.

More ‘way out’


However, I am occasionally asked to do a couple of less middle-of-the-road ceremonies. One was a naturist wedding (I’m afraid, I have no photographs!) and, almost a year ago, a pagan wedding with a difference.

This wasn’t an ‘ordinary’ pagan wedding – if any can be thus termed – as the pagan was marrying a (half!) Jew, so elements from both cultures had to be combined (and explained to guests).

It was a handfasting ceremony, so that also set this apart.

The venue was certainly striking, as we were on top of Old Sarum, near Salisbury. This was of particular significance, as this iron age fort is very exposed, as the photo above shows – and we were holding the ceremony in January. January 2014 was a time of serious floods, as you may recall, and the chances of a dry wedding were very poor. However, whether it was due to the combination of cultures, or mere coincidence, the sun actually shone (briefly) on the ceremony, and all went – forgive the pun! – swimmingly.

So you have choices. Weigh them up and decide wisely. Bear in mind that a personalised wedding can be so special. Do give it consideration!



The Changing Face of Matrimony

The Changing Face of Matrimony

Matrimony may have declined somewhat in popularity, but it is still high in people’s consciousness. And there’s little doubt that changes are afoot in the UK wedding industry.

Some developments

Weddings do not have to be held in a religious building or in a registry office (although of course they do have to comply with legislation). You can marry in a hotel or stately home. You can celebrate your wedding on Waterloo Bridge, at Stonehenge, on a mountain top, on the coast, underwater (apparently!) or in a hot air balloon. Indeed, the sky – pardon the pun – is the limit!

You can have a conventional ceremony – or maybe a handfasting at Old Sarum?!

You can have a part-religious ceremony or a pagan handfasting. You can include a combination of rituals. It’s really up to you.

Single-sex weddings will be here by the end of this month, which extends the range of choice still more.


Then there are changes brought about by the feminists. The bride doesn’t necessarily wear white. She might not take on the husband’s name. She may refuse to be given away.

The couple may eschew wedding vows and not bother with the honeymoon. Some will have done away with the engagement ring too.


Most of these changes, arguably, benefit the woman (especially, dropping the need to promise to “love and obey” the husband). However, they may well have other benefits. Some of these will save the couple money, possibly at a time when expenditure is high (they may be buying a home, for example). More than that, there is something to be said, I think, for couples dropping traditions that actually don’t mean much, or anything, to them. Sincerity counts.

Personalising their wedding, so that it contains just what the couple chooses and matters to them, is sure to be something that they will always gladly remember. And, because it’s sincere and unique, the guests will enthusiastically recall such a  ceremony too.

Personally, I like a traditional wedding (indeed, I had one myself), but I also love creating bespoke ceremonies for others,  enabling them to make the most important day of their lives memorable, significant and, simply, a delight.

What do you think about these changes?

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