Wedding tips for a feminist – tradition with a twist!
You don’t have to be female to be feminist. Feminism isn’t about marching with a placard or burning your bra. It’s about men and women having respect for each other as equals. So having a feminist wedding is about choosing to have the kind of wedding that you and your other half want. Celebrating your relationship as a couple who love and respect one another. It’s about having any traditions you want (even if you don’t like the reason they were originally introduced) and not having any you just don’t want. That’s how you can arrive at a wedding that reflects tradition with a twist. Below you will find some tips for doing just that.
Arriving at your ceremony
I’ve known feminist brides who have walked down the aisle with their dad because they knew it would make him happy – not because they were their father’s property to be handed over to be someone else’s property. I have never asked the question “Who gives this woman to be married” but if the couple wanted this I would love to hear the answer that my friend’s father gave – “No-one, she comes of her own free will”. Usually the “Father of the Bride” kisses his daughter, shakes hands with or kisses her partner and goes to his seat, having accompanied his daughter to an important event in her life.
I’ve also seen feminist brides who have walked down the aisle on their own, accompanied by their mum, both parents, their Grandma, their child or their “tribe” of friends. Some couples arrive together and make a big entrance as they do. In the end it’s important that you do what feels right to you.
I don’t think many brides today promise to “honour and obey” their spouse. Wherever you get married there is almost always an alternative to this. One of the joys of a Celebrant led wedding is that you can write your own vows reflecting who you are. And of course, for a groom, there is no need to stick to the traditions of saying his vows first before the bride.
Wedding ceremony etiquette
Over recent years I have seen more Best Women, Best Mates, Bride’s Men or Brides Mates and similarly titled people holding roles in weddings which were traditionally only ever gender specific – Best Man and Brides maids. The clothes that people wear have changed too with flower girls dressed as Wonder Woman, Page boys as Batman and vice versa as couples want their wedding party to be comfortable with what they wear.
The feminist bride can still wear a white dress if she wants to – in fact she can wear whatever she wants. It is said that the fashion for a white wedding dress popularised by Queen Victoria was more a demonstration of wealth than the label of purity which tradition has set out. I have read that in the middle ages bridesmaids all wore the same colour dress as the bride to fool evil spirits so that the bride was not cursed!
When inviting a couple to kiss in their ceremony I always invite them to “seal your vows with a kiss” rather than giving the groom permission that “you may now kiss the bride”. A kiss should be a mutual expression of love and care.
What’s in a name?
Until the middle of the 19th century a woman became her husband’s property when they married and anything that she owned became his. So changing her name to his was a way of showing this. Now it is a choice. Often both people keep their own name without either of them changing. Many couples now double- barrel their names. I have had a few couples choose a new name that they both adopted as theirs. It’s up to you what you want to do.
At the end of a ceremony I am very happy to invite those gathered to welcome “the happy couple”, “Mrs and Mr”, “Mr and Mrs”, “Mrs and Mrs”, “Mr and Mr”, by their first names or any way that they would like to be addressed.
It’s up to you!
So the choices are yours – you can still have as many traditional elements as you would like in your wedding. But as a feminist you can take those traditions with a twist, or abandon them altogether. Whatever you do – enjoy!
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT USING AN OATHING STONE IN YOUR CEREMONY
Have you heard about making your vows with an oathing stone? Or using stones to involve your guests? Using a ritual in your wedding or vow renewal ceremony is one way to make it unique, personal and meaningful.
Why use an oathing stone?
In ancient times people made their vows using oathing stones as they were seen as strong and stable (sure I have heard that phrase before!). And this is what a couple wanted their relationship to be. In this Celtic tradition, which began in Scotland, the couple each hold the oathing stone in their hands or put their hands together on it. The stone may be one from a favourite place or bought because it appeals to them. Some couples carve their names on a large stone which they use for their vows and then keep in their home or garden. Smaller stones might be used as a paper weight, in an aquarium or in some other way in the home.It is said that the use of oathing stones is where the phrase “set in stone” comes from.
Guests using stones in a ceremony
Another way to use stones is for each guest to have the opportunity to receive a stone as they arrive at the Ceremony. They are invited to hold them whilst the vows are being made and recognise their relationship with the couple. Just before the wedding vows are made they are invited to send their warm wishes, thoughts and prayers for the couple as they hold the stone. Following the ceremony the couple invite their guests to throw the stones in nearby water such as a river or lake and send blessings. Blessings made near water have been thought to be more binding.
An alternative to this is for the stones to be placed in a container such as a glass vase or a bowl which the couple take home to remind them of the good wishes of their guests. Another is for the stones to be placed together in a cairn on the ground when the ceremony is outside.
Suitable words when an oathing stone is used.
The following words are beautiful ones to use as a blessing in such a ceremony. I have heard versions of these words described as a Celtic, Apache and as a Pagan blessing. Whatever the origin they are beautiful words:
Above you are the stars, below you are the stones.
As time passes, remember…
Like a star let your love be constant,
Like the earth let your love be firm.
Let the powers of the mind and of the heart
guide you in your marriage,
Let the strength of your wills bind you together,
Let the power of love and desire make you happy
and the strength of your dedication make you inseparable.
Possess one another, yet be understanding.
Have patience with each other,
For storms will come, and they will go,
Able to dissipate in the light of your love.
Be free in giving of affection and of warmth.
Have no fear, and let not the ways
Or words of others give you unease.
For your love is with you,
Now and always!
If you are interested in using an oathing stone in your ceremony, get in touch.
POPULAR READINGS FOR WEDDINGS IN 2018 part two
Readings which make your ceremony really “you”.
In the latter part of 2018 I have continued to love the weing readings which couples or their friends and family have chosen for their ceremonies. They have all helped the ceremony to be unique, personal and meaningful for the couple. Some readings have been romantic, whilst others have been funny or linked to the wedding theme. It’s important to choose a reading with that particular ceremony in mind. In July I shared the top wedding readings for me in the first half of the year which also included the busiest time of the year for ceremonies. Here I am looking back at the second half of the year and there are some more beauties.
Who chooses the reading and why.
It has been great to see more ceremonies where the readings have been chosen by friends or family of the couple as a popular trend. I never fail to be impressed with how much care they take in choosing. When they send them to me they always ask if I think they are alright as they recognise the privilege that they have been given. However some couples still want to choose their own readings as they may have a favourite one which they have always wanted at their wedding or it may be something which means a lot to both of them.
I enjoy adding to my collection of readings which I can share with couples as examples of what is around. However I am always impressed when they come up with something different. I will write separately on sources of readings.
I have attached a further 5 of the readings I have enjoyed this year below. If you read the earlier blog you will get my top ten. I hope they help to inspire you as you choose your wedding readings.
1 To love is not to possess by James Kavanaugh
This reading was chosen and read by the bride’s Godmother who she was very close to.
To love is not to possess,
To own or imprison,
Nor to lose one’s self in another.
Love is to join and separate,
To walk alone and together,
To find a laughing freedom
That lonely isolation does not permit.
It is finally to be able
To be who we really are
No longer clinging in childish dependency
Nor docilely living separate lives in silence.
It is to be perfectly one’s self
And perfectly joined in permanent commitment
To another – and to one’s inner self.
2 Touch the Air Softly by WilliamSmith Jay
The couple chose this reading and asked a friend to read it for them.
Now touch the air softly, step gently, one, two …
I’ll love you ’til roses are robin’s egg blue;
I’ll love you ’til gravel is eaten for bread,
And lemons are orange, and lavender’s red.
Now touch the air softly, swing gently the broom.
I’ll love you ’til windows are all of a room;
And the table is laid, And the table is bare,
And the ceiling reposes on bottomless air.
I’ll love you ’til heaven rips the stars from his coat,
And the moon rows away in a glass-bottomed boat;
And Orion steps down like a river below,
And earth is ablaze, and oceans aglow.
So touch the air softly, and swing the broom high.
We will dust the grey mountains, and sweep the blue sky:
And I’ll love you as long as the furrow the plough,
As however is ever, and ever is now.
3 All of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in Nursery School. Based on the poem All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten by Robert Fulghum
This reading was chosen and read by the Groom’s sister bearing in mind that the bride was a teacher.
Wisdom was not at the top of the school mountain, but there in the sand tray at nursery. These are the things I learned…
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Flush. Biscuits and warm milk are good for you. Give them to someone who feels sad.
Learn things and think things and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day.
Take a nap every afternoon. Be aware of wonder.
Remember the little seed in the plastic cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.
4 Marriage (Anon)
This reading was chosen by the mother of one of the grooms. The other mother chose a more serious piece and so this gave a lovely contrast.
Marriage is about giving and taking
And forging and forsaking
Kissing and loving and pushing and shoving
Caring and sharing and screaming and swearing
About being together whatever the weather
About being driven to the end of your tether
About sweetness and kindness
And wisdom and blindness
It’s about being strong when you’re feeling quite weak
It’s about saying nothing when you’re dying to speak
It’s about being wrong when you know you are right
It’s about giving in, before there’s a fight
It’s about you two living as cheaply as one
(you can give us a call if you know how that’s done!)
Never heeding advice that was always well meant
Never counting the cost until it’s all spent
And for you two today it’s about to begin
And for all that the two of you had to put in
Some days filled with joy, and some days with sadness
Too late you’ll discover that marriage is madness!
5 Bob Marley on love:
This reading was chosen by the groom’s mother who changed the gender a little to address it first of all to her son.
She is not perfect – you aren’t either, and the two of you may never be perfect together – but if she can make you laugh, cause to think twice and admit to being human and making mistakes, hold onto her and give her the most you can.
She may not be thinking about your every second of the day, but she will give you a part of her that she knows you can break – her heart. So don’t hurt her, don’t change her, don’t analyse and don’t expect more than she can give. Smile when she makes you happy, let her know when she makes you mad and miss her when she is not there.
If you want to see the earlier blogpost on readings from 2018 follow this link
or click here to get in touch for your unique, personal and meaningful ceremony
ARE DOGS OK AT MY WEDDING CEREMONY?
Absolutely. Fur babies are very welcome at Ruby B Ceremonies. Dogs can have all sorts of roles too – or they just come as a guest. Of course, it does depend where your wedding venue is. You will find dogs are often more welcome at outdoor weddings than they are at a five star hotel. However my sister and her husband had their dog take part in their wedding at a Scottish Castle hotel so it is definitely worth asking the question.
Your dog as a bridesmaid or groomsman
Dogs are often part of the wedding party and may come down the aisle as a bridesmaid or groomsman. A little like flower girls though, you need to make sure that they don’t steal the show from the happy couple.
Your dog as a ring bearer
Well behaved dogs make good ring bearers. Particularly if they respond to commands and can be called to the front of the ceremony space on their own. If not it can often be the role of the best man or maid of honour to bring the dog forward so that the rings can be retrieved.
Your dog as a guest
Dogs are sometimes the best behaved of guests. They can also bring some interest to the photos. I have also had some dogs at ceremonies who have fabulous outfits of their own, definitely competing with the happy couple in relation to best dressed at the wedding.
Useful things to consider
- You may really want to have your dog at the wedding but will s/he be happy to be there? How does your dog feel around crowds? How does your dog react to music being played? Will your dog want to jump up on you whilst you are saying your vows?
- Has your photographer got experience of working with animals? Do you want to have your dog in just one or two casual shots or do you want to ask for something very specific including your dog?
- Will your guests be comfortable with your dog around? You may think that your dog is wonderful but some people are scared of even the fluffiest little dog and if your dog isn’t small and fluffy might it cause difficulty for some people?
- Do you need someone to act as dog – sitter during the day or maybe even arrange for your dog to be taken home or to a dog – sitter once the food arrives or whilst the disco is on or before fireworks are set off? And do you really want to be poop- a – scooping in your wedding outfit?
- Is your venue dog- friendly? Don’t just look on the website but speak to them in case dogs are allowed everywhere but the areas you are using for your wedding.
If you have really thought it through and know how the day will be for both you and your dog then it can be fabulous to have your dog at your wedding as it might feel really sad to have this key member of the family missing.
If you would like a chat about including your dog in your wedding, get in touch.
TOP WEDDING READINGS IN 2018 part one
Sources of wedding readings
I love to see the wedding readings that couples choose for their ceremony. Sometimes they ask me to suggest a readings and sometimes they choose readings which are totally new to me which is great. This year has been a combination of these plus the wedding readings written especially for that wedding by one of the couple or by friends of theirs.
Allowing other people to choose or write wedding readings for you that you don’t hear until the day is a way of allowing others to give you a special gift and means that there are some surprises on your day. As Celebrant I get the readers to send them to me in advance – I would hate two readers to have chosen the same reading at a wedding! Also it means that we can put the reading at the right place in the ceremony.
So here is my first selection (in no particular order!) from this year’s busy wedding season. I haven’t used the personally written ones as they tend to refer specifically to that couple and things about them. I will have to write another blog post on writing your own wedding readings! I have made a note about who read the readings as that may help you to decide who to ask.
1. I belong in your arms by Deborah Brideau
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when the groom read this poem to his bride. It was fabulous.
I belong in your arms.
Finally, I have found a place
Into which I fit Perfectly, Safely
And securely with no doubts,
No fears, No sadness, No tears.
This place is filled with happiness and laughter
Yet it is spacious enough, to allow me
The freedom to move around,
To live my life and be myself.
This wonderful place, which I never believed really existed,
I have found – finally
Inside your arms, Inside your heart, inside your love.
2. From Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
This was read by the bride’s brother in law. It linked beautifully into the tree planting which the couple did as part of their ceremony. His daughter, the flower girl, had fallen asleep in his arms ?
Love is a temporary madness,
it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.
And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together
that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement,
it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion.
That is just being in love, which any fool can do.
Love itself is what is leftover when being in love has burned away,
and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
Those that truly love,
have roots that grow towards each other underground,
and, when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches,
they find that they are one tree and not two.
3. The One (Author unknown)
This short and simple wedding reading has been very popular this year – read at different times by a brother in law and two bridesmaids- it seems to sum up what many couples feel is what their wedding is all about.
When the one whose hand you’re holding
Is the one who holds your heart
When the one whose eyes you gaze into
Gives your hopes and dreams their start,
When the one you think of first and last
Is the one who holds you tight,
And the things you plan together
Make the whole world seem just right,
When the one whom you believe in
puts their faith and trust in you,
You’ve found the one and only love
You’ll share your whole life through.
4. “The Promise” by Eileen Rafter
This wedding reading was chosen and read by the groom’s sister.
The sun danced on the snow with a sparkling smile,
As two lovers sat quietly, alone for a while.
Then he turned and said, with a casual air,
(Though he blushed from his toes to the tips of his hair)
“I think I’d quite like to get married to you.”
“Well then,” she said, “well there’s a thought,
But what if we can’t vow to be all that we ought?
Can you promise me, say, you won’t grumble and shout
If I’m late yet again, when we plan to go out.
For I know I can’t say that I’ll learn to ignore
Dirty socks and damp towels strewn all over the floor.
So if we can’t vow to be all that we should,
I’m not sure what to do, though the idea’s quite good.”
But he gently smiled and tilted his head
Till his lips met her ear, then softly he said,
“I promise, to weave my dreams into your own.
That wherever you breathe shall be my heart’s home.
I promise, that whether with rags or with gold I am blessed,
Your smile is the jewel I will treasure the best.
Do you think then, my love, we should marry, do you?”
“Yes,” she said smiling, “I do.”
5. Love Is the Greatest from I Corinthians 13 in the Bible
This reading was read by the mother of one of the grooms. It is a version of a very well known wedding reading from the Bible. The couple would have been happy to have a Church wedding but the local Church didn’t yet allow it. So we were able to include this reading, some prayers and two hymns as well as other readings and music to make the ceremony just as they wanted it to be – a real mix of fun, faith and the seriousness of making promises to each other to last a lifetime.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love,
I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even die for my faith, but I don’t love, I’ve achieved nothing. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude.
Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong.
Love is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out.
If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.
All the special gifts and powers from God will someday come to an end, but love goes on forever
But for right now, until we are complete in God, we have three things to do:
Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.
And the best of the three is love.
if you are planning a wedding and want all the possibilities that a Celebrant led ceremony offers get in touch for an initial chat.
THE FIRST KISS – MAKING IT SPECIAL IN YOUR WEDDING CEREMONY
“And now I invite Chris and Brook to seal the vows they have made to each other with a kiss”.
I love this moment in a wedding ceremony where the couple come close for their first kiss to celebrate what they mean to each other. Usually they just put their arms out towards each other, hug and kiss in a really natural way and everyone applauds. Occasionally as the wedding day comes closer and a couple are looking at the outline of their ceremony, one or both of them will express their nervousness about this very public display of affection.
So here are a few tips for your first kiss.
1 Take your time
Don’t rush towards each other – that is the road to banged heads, lost veils, smudged lipstick, squashed toes and even falling over onto the floor. Move slowly towards each other, focusing on your partner and put your arms around each other – as if you really want to be in there.
2 The height of passion
Every couple will have their own feelings about how passionate they feel comfortable being in front of their guests. So don’t feel that you have to hold back if you want a long and passionate first kiss (although be prepared for some bright spark shouting “get a room”). On the other hand if kissing in public makes you feel uncomfortable just hold each other close with your lips together and eyes closed and save the hot passion for later. Be true to yourselves.
3 No surprises
I love surprises in a wedding ceremony – especially where one of the couple has added something in as a gift to the other. However, if you might have different ideas about your first kiss in public as a married couple then this probably isn’t the best place to have a surprise with you raised above the guests on a zip wire and one of you holding on for dear life. Especially if one of you is a little shy it can be helpful to know what is coming for your first kiss – a loving short kiss or being swept off your feet.
4 Another way
If you or your partner do really feel uncomfortable with that first kiss in public then leave it out. It’s your day so do it your way. You might be happy to hug or do double kisses on the cheek or kiss each other’s hands or just squeeze each other’s hands. Do what feels right for you. But don’t forget to tell your Officiant if you have decided not to kiss in case they announce it – awkward!
5 Don’t overthink
The first kiss is special but however it goes (or doesn’t!) it is just a moment in your special day which is all about showing your love to each other. Just enjoy it!
If you want to talk about anything Wedding Ceremony or to arrange a unique, personal meaningful ceremony – get in touch!
RENEWING YOUR WEDDING VOWS – WHY AND HOW!
Vow Renewal Ceremonies are very special and they really are unique, personal and meaningful for each couple. Recently someone asked me why people renew their vows. They added – I made my vows 20 years ago and nothing’s changed so I don’t see the point! If that’s how you feel you can stop reading now. There’s nothing to see here for you. But if you have ever thought about renewing your wedding vows then stick with me as we think about the why and how of Vow Renewal.
There are a number of key reasons why people want to renew their wedding vows – as well as some totally individual ones. The purpose of a couple renewing your wedding vows is to express your love and commitment to each other again, often with family and friends.The main reasons that I have been asked to conduct a vow renewal ceremony come under the following 4 categories:
Our original wedding wasn’t as we wanted it to be.
There are a number of reasons why this may have been the case:
- parents were paying for the wedding and so decided how everything had to be
- it was done on an incredibly tight budget which didn’t allow for much in the way of sparkle in the arrangements
- you decided to have a destination wedding and many of your friends and family hadn’t attended
- someone close to you had died just a few days before and it was difficult for you to enjoy the day
- you had just started a family and had to give all of your attention on the day to the new arrival
- one of you wasn’t well and you couldn’t focus on the day.
Our wedding day was so fabulous we want to experience it all over again.
Recently I conducted a ceremony for a couple to renew their vows who had said on their wedding day – This was fabulous – let’s do it again in ten years time. So they did! Back at the same venue, with many of the same people involved.
We have been married for some time and want to celebrate a milestone moment.
This is a popular reason to want to celebrate with family and friends as well as renewing your vows for the years to come. Wedding anniversaries such as 5, 10, 20, 25, 40 and 50 years give an excellent framework for a vow renewal ceremony and celebration.
We have overcome some obstacles and want to celebrate our ongoing love.
Obstacles can include sickness, family difficulties or marital breakdown. When a couple decide that actually they still want to go forward in life together This can be a compelling reason to celebrate.
And of course the why might be any combination of these or something else entirely.
There are so many ways you can choose to renew your wedding vows. You should make the celebration exactly as you want it.
Some couples have a ceremony and celebration which is even bigger than their original wedding. The couple don’t see each other on the day until one or both are walked down the aisle, they have best men and/or bridesmaids, a certificate signed by the couple and some witnesses, a large guest list, a sit down meal in the afternoon and then more guests and food with music and dancing in the evening. Their ceremony includes new or rededicated rings, readings, music, singing and meaningful rituals such as a sand ceremony or handfasting.
Many have a simple ceremony followed by a party that reflects who they are now. Although the ceremony may still include elements such as readings and Handfasting. It may also involve their children or grandchildren, their parents or siblings or friends and even their dogs – anyone who is special to them. For some couples their guests are mainly friends, whereas others mainly invite family members.
A couple might hold the gathering in a stately home, a local pub or restaurant or golf club, some place that is special to them, or even in their own home and garden. Anything is possible.
Often guests gather informally and share drinks before being seated formally or informally for the ceremony. The couple will have set the vibe for the day and the Celebrant will try to ensure that is captured.
And of course you don’t need to have any guests at all. I was once invited to help a couple renew their vows in an intimate ceremony just for the two of them in their favourite forest glade. After the ceremony they went on to share a picnic together.
Reflect your original wedding or do something completely different
You may want to include elements from your original wedding such as music, decor or the actual vows. Or you may want to do things completely different. Often you would have been limited about what your vows could include on your wedding day. You may want to repeat them, tweak them or write totally new vows which reflect your relationship now.
Because there are no legal requirements for a Vow Renewal Ceremony you can have whatever content you want. You can also hold it wherever you want and invite whoever you want..
So if you are considering renewing your wedding vows do get in touch. We can ensure you have a unique, personal and meaningful day. If you have the why, we can help you work out the how.
HOW TO INCLUDE CHILDREN IN YOUR WEDDING OR VOW RENEWAL CEREMONY
You may have your own children as a couple or you may have children from earlier relationships. Or you may have grandchildren or other children who you are especially close to in your wider family or friendship group who you want to involve in your Ceremony. I am often asked for ideas and we can always find something which works for you and the child involved.
Here are my ten favourite ways of including children in your wedding or vow renewal ceremony – but there are lots more.
1 Mention children in the Ceremony.
This is the simplest, but often most important, way to include children in your Ceremony. Especially if you are bringing together a blended family. It’s important for children to know that they have not been forgotten and that you recognise that your commitment includes them too. Make sure your officiant recognises how important this is to you. Even the silkiest teenager who won’t get involved in any other way will appreciate a mention. Just don’t expect them to say so!
2 Have children as ushers.
Even relatively small children can hand out orders of Service, tell people where the toilets are and ask guests to take a seat in their own way. Two gorgeous little sons of the bride at one wedding interpreted being told that they should tell people they could sit anywhere in Church handed everyone an order of Service with the words “Sit where you like”. This role can also be one of holding a sign for smaller children. Older children could be given the role of playing the music during the ceremony as an extension of the usher’s role.
3 Include children in the wedding party.
A traditional way of including children in your wedding is to have them as flower girls or Page boys. These are still ideal roles for small children with older ones as bridesmaids or groomsmen. However nowadays children also can be found taking on the roles of bridesmaid, groomsman, chief bridesmaid or best man. The role of ring bearer or bouquet holder are ideal for quieter children who may not want to or be able to walk down the aisle. An adult should be given the job of keeping an eye on them so that the rings and bouquet are passed on at the appropriate time.
4 Make vows to your children.
Becoming part of a blended family can be worrying for some children. It is important to reassure them that they are loved and that this Ceremony should mark positive commitment to them as well as between the Happy Couple. Making vows to them as well as to each other is one way of doing this.
5 Present gifts (often after the rings have been exchanged).
The Happy Couple can present the children with symbolic gifts. These might be the gift of a rose which can later be pressed and kept, or a piece of jewellery such as a ring, bracelet, necklace or watch. Or it might be a badge or medallion made especially to commemorate the day with a symbol to represent the inclusive love of the family.
6 Sign a family certificate
Inviting all of the children to sign a commemorative family certificate is a way of involving them which does make them feel too awkward. Not all children like to be the centre of attention but I have found many are happy to quietly take part in a certificate signing.
7 Share their talents.
If one of the children has a talent such as being a good singer or plays a musical instrument or dances beautifully and they are happy to do this in public then let them have a spot in the ceremony. This could be done during the signing of the register/certificate or another appropriate time.
8 Ask them to do a reading.
There are many readings which would be suitable for children of different ages to read in a ceremony. If the child agrees then spend time with them to make sure that they are happy with the reading. Then ensure they practice it until they are confident – but not so much that they are fed up with the reading before the day!
9 Include them in a Unity ritual.
There are lots of unity rituals such as sand and candle rituals or a “tie that binds” ritual which children can be involved in. Each person in the family has a part to play and the end result is a unity object which can be kept as a momentous of the day. You can find out more about the individual rituals elsewhere on The Blog.
10 Involve the children in a Handfasting.
Children can be involved by presenting individual coloured ribbons which are then fast around the couple’s hands and wrists. Children can also hold pre braided cords during the Handfasting words or blessing.
These are just a few ways to include children in your wedding or vow renewal ceremony. Each child is unique as each couple are unique. So it is important to find something which really suits the child and the ceremony. If you want to talk through your ideas do get in touch.
VALENTINE’S DAY CELEBRATIONS JUST FOR YOU TWO
Valentine’s Day is approaching. It’s nice to celebrate with the love of your life and you want to mark the day but you don’t want to go to a restaurant filled with other couples doing exactly the same thing over an overpriced set menu with no atmosphere. Obviously not all restaurants will be like that but you will have to check carefully beforehand to be sure. You may feel it’s all hype and don’t want to go to loads of trouble but want to mark the day. Some of my couples who are saving for their wedding feel this is an extra hassle they can do without! So what else can you do? Here are my top 5 easy suggestions for celebrating your love on Valentine’s Day.
1 Breakfast in Bed
Why not book the morning off work and have a scrumptious breakfast that you wouldn’t usually have time for? If you have school age children maybe one of you can do the school run whilst the other makes the breakfast. Who says you can’t go back to bed once you have been up and dressed.
2 Romantic Dinner at home
One of you might normally be the cook in your home – so This can be the time for the other one to show their love by preparing a romantic dinner. If you are not a great cook then you may want to make it easier for yourself by going to one of the supermarkets to see if they are doing a Valentine’s day deal on a meal for 2. These are usually simple but delicious meals put together by experts just for the occasion and come with a bottle of wine. Marks and Spencer (my go to for easy to cook, quality meals) 2018 Valentine’s Day Dine In deal it includes wine or fizz, starters, mains, sides, desserts and even a little box of chocolate hearts for £20. Other supermarkets are available!
Another way of preparing for a romantic dinner is to have a cosy evening in advance deciding what you would choose to eat and then prepare it together as well as eating it together. The anticipation for good food can get those love buds sparkling as well as your taste buds!
3 Barter a babysitter – kids’ night
This tip is definitely one where you have to wait for the “you” time but it can be worth it. If you and some of your friends have children so find getting out on Valentine’s night an impossibility you could offer to babysit in exchange for them doing the same for you on another night. Make it a special night for the children – you could even invite children from two other couples so you are getting two future nights out. Eat great children friendly food like pizza or KFC and chocolate cake. And when their parents pick them up you can breathe a sigh of relief that you are not responsible for looking after them all the rest of the time. And enjoy your day/night out as a couple or other bartered treat when you trade in your good deed.
4 Romantic evening unplugged
Light some candles, bring the duvet to the sofa and switch off the lights (and maybe heating if you want to really cuddle up). Order a takeaway so the oven doesn’t need to be switched on and open a bottle of wine. I’m sure you can think of ways to entertain yourselves but it can also be an evening to bring out the card games or board games, tell ghost stories in the flickering lights or chat. This is a great time to talk about what you want to look forward to, where you would like to go on holiday and what is important to you.
5 Soothing, sensuous Spa evening
Light some scented candles, have some clean towels folded nicely and some gorgeous bubble bath and fabulous massage oils to hand. Put the music on low. You can buy all kinds of back massage wheels and sponges and other toys so look for one that feels just right for you. Prepare a light meal of fresh, healthy finger food and fruit and maybe chocolates too with lots of drinks from sparkling mineral water to cocktails and champagne on hand. Then help each other to relax.
Whatever you decide to do for Valentine’s Day don’t let it stress you out. Try to relax with the one you love. And if you fancy finding a Love quote to write in your card, why not have a look here.
If you are planning a wedding or a ceremony to mark another milestone in your life, you can find lots more information to help you On The Blog. Or get in touch.
5 THINGS YOU NEED TO DECIDE NOW YOU ARE ENGAGED
Congratulations – you’re engaged. Maybe you have been talking about your wedding for years and know every detail of how your big day will be. But if not, here are some big questions to ask yourself before you get down to the detailed planning.
Why do you want to get married? What is important to you about a wedding? Could you describe in a sentence or two why you are doing this? If you can then this can be your “mission statement” to measure your other decisions against.
You may well be looking at a very different wedding if your answer is “To give our relationship legal standing and be recognised as each others’ next of kin” than if it is “To bring together all of our family and friends to celebrate the amazing life long love which we have found” or “To make a public declaration of our love, building on the traditions and culture of our families and providing a stable basis for our own children”.
One couple in the USA had “Our wedding will serve as a time for our friends and family to reconnect with us, get to know one another, and enjoy a happy weekend in the Texas Hill Country.”* A “Mission Statement” by one of my couples is in the picture above. Don’t overthink this but go for a walk or curl up on the sofa and decide why you want to have a wedding so you can avoid getting caught up in too many other people’s expectations.
Who needs to be there for your wedding to be the occasion you want it to be? If you just want to be legally married then it may be that just the two of you will be there with two witnesses who may be friends or just a couple of random people you persuade to help you out. You may just get married at your local Registrar’s office and let people know by posting it on Facebook. Or you may “elope” to Gretna Green or go abroad combining your wedding with a holiday.
If you want a big family wedding make a note of all the people you would want to have there. It can be helpful to have 3 categories – maybe, must have, love to have, happy to have if we have room. (Think about friends of your parents or children – are there any people you need to consider even if they don’t make the final cut?) Think about friends who you are both close to who you want to celebrate with you and others who one of you may know or the people you work with.
You may want to think about who you want to invite to be a part of your wedding such as Best Man or Bridesmaids – you may want to ask longstanding close friends at an early stage but you don’t need to do this straight away. You may find it easier to identify who shares your excitement once you have had a few conversations about the wedding, especially if the wedding is a couple of years away.
Now you have ideas of your why and who you want to be there you will have a clearer idea of what you want to plan. Is it going to be a very private affair where you go off to somewhere like Gretna Green or Las Vegas or a beautiful deserted seashore or in your own garden? Is it going to be a traditional wedding which will include cultural or religious elements? Is it going to be a small personal ceremony with close family and friends followed by a meal with lots of chat? Is it going to be a festival style celebration with tipis and bands and camping? Is it going to have some elements of tradition but with your own personal twists? Do you want the ceremony and the reception/party to be in the same place?
A good way to think about what you want is for each of you to write down 3 things that you would really like to have as part of your wedding. Then show these to each other and try to get a top three that you both agree on. When we got married my husband’s big ask was that we have live music with a band so we made sure that happened.
Another element to include here is what kind of budget will you be looking at and whether you will be paying for it all yourselves or can expect some help from family. Remember that when others are contributions they may want a say in what kind of wedding you have and what you spend their money on!
Now you have some ideas about who you would like to celebrate with you and what things you want to include, you can start to think about where you want to hold your wedding. If you are going to get married in another country you need to find out if there are any legal restrictions and you may want to get a travel agent or a destination wedding planner to help you.
If you want to get married nearer home you should consider what is important to you. Do you have a dream of a fairy tale castle or of a Glastonbury style vibe. If you have elderly people attending or those with disabilities or children – are there things you need to take into account? Are there any unusual places near you that host events such as art galleries or museums but aren’t licensed for weddings? If you still want to have your Ceremony there you can do the legal bits with a Registrar or a Minister of Religion and then have a Celebrant to take your Ceremony anywhere. (Including licensed premises).
Your numbers will affect what is possible for your venue as will your budget. So will the availability of your venue so it is good to ring and ask how far in advance they are booked. And in turn this will affect the next question – when?
You may want to enjoy being engaged and just save a little before setting a date. People will ask you when you are thinking of so have an answer you both agree on even if it is “not for at least three years”. Factors like budget and how determined you are to have particular things as part of your wedding can affect when your wedding will be. But you may also have an elderly grandparent who you would love to have there and so not want to leave the wedding too long. Popular venues and suppliers often get booked up well in advance so that can also affect decisions about dates. You may have a special date that you would love to get married on. Or you may have other circumstances that will influence your decision.
Weddings are often on a Saturday as fewer people work on Saturdays and they also get Sunday to recover and/or travel. However it can make a big difference to your budget to go for a weekday. If you are considering that you need to recognise that if you have teachers in the family or school age children you want to involve, you may want to look at school holidays. Sundays can be good, especially in front of a Bank Holiday Monday. Your venue of choice may have limitations. If you want your wedding ceremony to be outside it is best to avoid the winter months (although a plan B is always helpful for the weather any time of the year in the UK.
This list isn’t exhaustive of course but gives you a good base for questions to ask yourself. Once you know the answers to these you are well on your way to planning your wedding. Enjoy!
For more advice on all things wedding ceremony see The Blog.