Returning to day-to-day affairs seems a little mundane, after the weekend we’ve just had! It’s been even harder for me, as I celebrated my birthday right in the middle of the long weekend. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the Jubilee (and my birthday!).
A few weeks ago (I’m afraid I got distracted, and put it off!) The Daily Telegraph published an interesting article. Apparently, marriages in places of worship now (as of 2019) account for less than a fifth of all ceremonies. This is the first time such a drop has been recorded – and actually represents a record low.
Religious ceremonies accounted for 18.7% of opposite-sex marriages, and same-sex a mere 0.7%.
One reason suggested was that more couples are choosing to live together, rather than marry, but that doesn’t really explain the drop in the religious option. I wonder if it is more connected with the drop in active church-going.
Incidentally, I wonder if this will get worse before it recovers. Faced with all the uncertainty around Covid and social distancing, people prefer the greater flexibility of a civil celebrant to the rigidity of the Church.
I am not going to knock religious ceremonies (especially as I chose to marry in a full religious ceremony myself!). Obviously, they appeal to those religiously inclined, and can offer a personal, meaningful, spiritual and beautiful ceremony in a special setting.
Drawbacks could be perceived to be that they are rather one-size-fits-all. The basic liturgy is followed, and will be the same – or similar – for each couple. There is little flexibility in readings, texts, ritual etc., whereas a celebrant-led service can provide all these.
There can be complications, such as a mixed-marriage, which is no problem for a civil celebrant, but which may present difficulties for the priest. Moreover, a full-blown religious service can be a bit much for people who are only lukewarm towards religion, as it is.
The Church can be a lovely setting, but a civil venue can be chosen that is equally, or even more, spectacular and atmospheric.
So each to their own, of course. There is plenty to be said for religious weddings, but they are not everybody’s cup of tea. A personalised celebrant-led ceremony may well tick all the boxes.
To find out how, a chat with me may be all that you need!
Nowadays, fewer people are choosing a full religious service to mark their marriage. But the Register Office ceremony can be uninspiring, both regarding content and delivery.
That’s why there’s increasing interest in celebrant-led ceremonies.
These specialise in letting their clients choose what they are going to include in their service (and exclude!).
So how can you personalise your ceremony?
You can choose (as long as you can afford it!) the venue that really hits the mark for you. It may be quirky (like a pod on the London Eye, an aquarium, or an old favourite like a castle or a hotel). It can be outdoors (if you gamble on our climate!) or indoors. It can be grand, modest or somewhere in between.
What you choose will reflect your personalities.
You can individualise your wedding décor. This may include invitations, signage and seating plans. You can commission this, or do it yourself (given the time and creativity).
As well as beautifying things, flowers too will reflect your personalities. They may, or may not, be seasonal, exotic, simple, ravishing, or your own themed colour(s).
The flowers can extend beyond the bridal bouquet to table and room decoration (as in the photo) and even arches.
These days, you may not choose to wear the traditional clothes. So a bride might shun white, or even a dress. The groom may prefer to dispense with a tie. You can still look original and fetching, and declare your personality.
There are lots of ways to personalise the ceremony itself. You may go for a ritual (what about a handfasting?) or a recital of how the two of you got together and/or why you stayed together! You may want to write your own vows. And so on.
Your civil celebrant should be able to help you with all this, and positively channel your affection, humour and potential emotion.
So the whole service can reflect your personalities and beliefs and be very, very special.
I’d love to be of help to you constructing this. Just contact me!
Do you fancy a traditional full religious wedding service? Many still do, although these are becoming less popular. You know what you’re getting with such a service – and that’s precisely what drives some people away. They prefer a unique, personalised ceremony to a standardised, predictable service.
The same criticism can be levelled at Register Office services. They tend to follow the same pattern. Moreover, some registrars have not been trained in public speaking and sometimes fail to deliver a memorable service.
An unexpected option
Not everyone’s aware of this choice, but a civil celebrant may be a better bet. They can offer a tailor-made order of service, which will make the ceremony very special and individual. Additionally, they will be very experienced in public speaking and can ensure that nobody is disappointed with the presentation. And what they offer does not have to be way-out or woo-woo!
Another advantage of a civil celebrant is that you can be married by them wherever you choose (subject to permission etc., of course!). So indoors or outdoors is not a problem. Conventional venues, like hotels, are available, as are quirkier ones, such as castles, marquees, beaches, warehouses, in woodlands, beside canals, etc.
You can individualise your wedding further by choosing original décor. Put your stamp on the invitations, seating plans and general signage.
Flowers are another way to personalise the proceedings. One example is the display at a Cyprus wedding I conducted (see photo above). You may choose a floral arch, unique bridal bouquets and table furnishings.
The days of obligatory formal dress have gone for many people. The bride doesn’t have to wear white; the groom might not wear a suit. They can still show originality and style, however. For example, the groom might wear coloured socks or a special cravat, the bride may wear sandals.
I’ve already hinted at this, but a civil celebrant ceremony allows you individualisation. You can write your own vows. These can be moving and sometimes very funny! You can include ritual – a simple example would be the Loving Cup.
You could also include some religious elements, if you want.
You can invite family and friends to participate in the service, and, of course, the register (ie the degree of solemnity) is something you and the celebrant can agree on.
All of this, especially preparing the ceremony, is something I’d love tohelp you with.
I’m often asked what is my role. How can I conduct a wedding? Surely, that’s got to be either a priest (or equivalent) or else the registrars?
What people often don’t realise is that those are not the only options.
As we’ll find out, there’s also a civil celebrant (like me!) who can do the job.
If you opt for a full religious service in England & Wales, then of course you go to your church (or equivalent). They will explain all that’s involved. Not every branch of Christianity is catered for here, though. Church of England, Quaker or Jewish are the only types of religion included.
For other sects, you can marry in a non-C of E church (say), but the marriage will not be legal until you have made an appointment and been to the Register Office. Without the registrars’ participation and the pronouncing of certain words, you will not qualify as legally wed.
If you choose the civil route, you need to know that the service must be totally non-religious. You can be sure that it will be a totally secular ceremony, even though the content may vary a bit from registrar to registrar.
The Register Office service will cost in the region of £100. Pre-COVID, they could come out to a venue licensed for weddings, albeit for another £500 or so. As I write, this is no longer possible, and, anyway, wedding numbers are still limited severely.
There is another option, however, which all too few people know about. It is particularly useful if:
- You may not want a full religious service
- You may want one, but are prevented from marrying in your church/synagogue etc. For example, you are a (Catholic) divorcee or yours is a mixed-faith ceremony
- You (or even your parents!) want to have just a smidgen of religion in your service
Note that, a humanist celebrant, like the registrars, will not allow any religious references. So go for an independent celebrant, and you can enjoy a personalised ceremony with as much or as little religion as you want.
Again, this is not a legal ceremony, so you still have to go to the registrars. Afterwards, you can enjoy the ceremony you actually want, compiled and conducted by your civil celebrant. It can be in the venue of your dreams, and, to all intents and purposes, be your actual wedding. It can reflect your personalities and beliefs, with inspiring spiritual – or even funny – readings, and contain personalised sections, such as self-written vows.
So don’t go thinking that your big day can’t be the way you want it! Because it can!
Have a chat with me, and I’ll show you how.
Where you marry is not something to take for granted. If atmosphere is important to you, you’re going to select your venue with care. That applies to the venue of your wedding service and to the reception venue (if they are different).
When I married my good lady back in the sands of time, we attended the local register office, which was far from attractive! Knowing that, we had booked alternative venues for the other parts of the occasion. Those choices mattered to us.
The obvious choices
If you go down the full religious route, you’ll use your religious building. It’s simple enough.
It’s almost as simple if you’re having a Register Office wedding. You make an appointment to attend the office, with two witnesses. A quarter of an hour later, it’s all over. (Incidentally, pre-COVID, Registrars would come out to some venues – though at quite a price!)
You don’t have to be bound by those two alternatives. You can opt for the civil celebrant route, and then it’s a different ball-game.
This doesn’t negate the Registrars. You still have to get legally married first. That means making an appointment before the ceremony (as above).
The difference is that now you can also have your personalised ceremony – in the venue of your dreams.
And that means almost anywhere! 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 Savoy Hotel, in a hot-air balloon – well, you get the picture! Do bear in mind dear old social distancing!
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/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. Maybe even earlier in the new world we’re living in.
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, observe social distancing etc. etc.)
The bottom line is that you really can choose where (and how) to mark your big day. Of course, if you need any advice on the ceremony, just contact your friendly neighbourhood celebrant!