What sort of ceremony is best?

What sort of ceremony is best?

What do I mean by the “best” ceremony?

Of course, no such thing exists. However, there are definitely ceremonies that will meet your needs and expectations better than others. If you have the choice – and a lot of people don’t realise there actually is choice out there – are you happy with the standard ceremony offered by your religious institution or by the Registry Office? Or might you prefer something tailor-made, that reflects your personal beliefs and desires?

Let’s look at the options, so that you can make that decision more easily. I’m going to talk about weddings here, but a lot of my remarks will apply to other ceremonies (such as Vow renewals or even funerals). I am assuming, incidentally, that you are marrying for love, rather than for legal reasons!

The religious option

There are a number of advantages for marrying in your church/synagogue/temple etc. You will probably be comfortable if you have your familiar priest; your family may well approve; you yourself may be happy remaining within your cultural traditions. On a practical level, the religious and legal parts will be combined if it’s an Anglican ceremony.

I had a religious wedding (my choice), so I have nothing against it whatever – except that it is a standard ceremony (same size fits all).

The church etc. wedding is not for everybody. You may not be allowed a full religious wedding if you are “marrying out”. Or perhaps you are uncomfortable with a religious service, especially if you opted out long ago.

What else is open to you?

Registry Office

register office wedding

The Registry ceremony comes at the other extreme to a religious service. It is quick and simple, probably lasting less than 15 minutes. It smacks a little of a ‘conveyor-belt’, but such a ceremony will suit some people well enough.

Of course, the service is standardised. But the main disadvantage is that, if you want just a little religion or ritual (either because you don’t feel happy cutting yourself off culturally or even because you don’t want to upset family or friends), that option is simply not available.

The third option

If you rule out the two choices mentioned above, you may be looking for a ceremony that appeals to you spiritually, personally and emotionally.  A civil celebrant may offer what you are really looking for on your big day.

The service will be created for you in conjunction with your civil celebrant. (It  will not cover the legal side, of course, but that is easily dealt with and your civil celebrant will be able to advise you).

Your ceremony will not be a standardised service, though it may contain many conventional elements, if you so choose. The point is that you are free to put in whatever readings, music or rituals you want (your celebrant will offer ideas) and choose whoever you want to participate.

This way, your ceremony can be a reflection of you both. It can be as romantic as you choose, and should be a memorable, meaningful experience that you – and your guests – will treasure long after the event itself.

So don’t go thinking that there’s no third option – there is. And it’s really viable. Just ask someone who knows!

Why not enjoy the “best” ceremony, after all!

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

A Wedding with a Difference?

A lot of people don’t realise it, but there is another way for weddings.

You don’t need to have your wedding in Church just because one of your parents insists! Religion may mean little or nothing to you.  Anyway, you may also prefer a rather less regimented affair.

Surely the only alternative is a Registry Office wedding, and that – let’s face it – can be sterile and mundane. Certainly not a very memorable way to mark your big day!

However, there is nothing to stop you steering the middle path. What about this for an idea?

Go to the Registry Office in the morning, in your jeans, with two witnesses, and have the legal bit done. Then, in the afternoon, when you don’t have the legal formalities to worry about any more, enjoy a celebrant-led ceremony in the venue of your choice. And when I say “of your choice”, you can actually be quite creative.

Climate may play its part, but outdoors (gardens, beaches, moors) is certainly an option. So are stately homes, boats and plush hotels or more modest, but characterful, venues.

If you work with a celebrant, you can construct a wonderful ceremony. There may be no religion in it or just  a dash (to keep the more conservative guests happy!)  or even a combination of cultural religious elements.

You can decide what readings or poems to put in – and who is going to read them. The music programme is down to you, as is the dress code. Again, working with the celebrant, you can choose to have certain rituals included (maybe drinking from a Loving Cup or burning a Unity candle, for example).

So you and the celebrant can build a most meaningful and unforgettable ceremony that guests as well as you will remember and treasure.

You don’t need to have the wedding you don’t really want!

 

Michael Gordon is a celebrant based in London.