Sometimes people ask me why a ceremony can be so expensive. The short answer is that really it is priceless! To create a thoughtful and meaningful event, uniquely personalised and tailored for you, takes time and requires particular skills – skill to read and understand you and your partner, and what ‘makes you tick’; skills of writing and creating the ceremony script itself; and, on the day, the skill of presenting and articulating, and also of being present – both to you, the couple being married, and to everyone there, so that the event also contains a measure of spontaneity.
The best ceremonies are created after spending a bit of time getting to know you, finding out about you and what your interests and values are. And it also helps for us just to chat – that way you get to know a bit about me too, an atmosphere of trust is created and this sense of ease and mutual respect is subtly conveyed during the ceremony itself, making it feel much more personal and ‘real’.
It happens sometimes that couples have not really budgeted for the cost of a bespoke ceremony such as I am describing above, so for these cases I have devised a tool in the form of a questionnaire for couples with whom I am unable to meet in advance. Perhaps the most important of these questions relates to whether your preferred style is ‘religious’ or ‘humanist.’ What this really boils down to is whether you would like to make your vows ‘in the presence of God and our families and friends, …’, or simply ‘in the presence of our families and friends’. Some people’s style is clearly ‘religious’ – they may not be regular churchgoers but still consider themselves Christian; or they are not clear what exactly they believe in but feel that there is definitely ‘something’; while in other cases people are absolutely clear that they do not want any mention of God or any religious language at all. In some cases one partner vows ‘in the presence of God’ and the other does not, and of course you might equally prefer to use other words or names than ‘God’ for the Divine. Finding the right language for the important moments of the ceremony can be a very important part of our conversation, of course, if you choose to go for a more tailored version of your ceremony. In particular, this can be something of huge importance where the couple are of different faiths or faith backgrounds.
Another important consideration is that of the qualities to be included in the blessing of the rings (for example, honesty, compassion, fairness), the qualities that are important to you. Whether you go for a bespoke ceremony or one that is more straightforward, there is always a choice to be had in the reading/s, the form of Marriage Blessing, the form of vows, and options to offer your thanks to family members/friends, and to remember those who can’t be with you. And with a little more personalisation you can choose something a little bit special in the form of a unity candle, a quaich or handfasting ceremony. These all have options within them, for example, having family members to light the candles; what to drink from the quaich and who to include in this ceremony; or whether to make the handfasting a simple one with with one cord and one vow, or to include the traditional seven cords with seven blessings, perhaps with family and friends coming forward to give their blessing to your union by tying one of the cords. All these might include further special blessings which relate the ceremony to you personally, to your values and to your hopes and plans for the future.
My aim for this blog is to give you a feel of what might be involved in creating your wedding ceremony, and I hope you will see that the ceremony is a work of love and commitment in itself and something to be valued as an integral part of the vows and promises made within it.