…It’s time to think outside the box.
You are unique…
…and a celebrant led wedding means that you can exchange your vows and rings in front of your family and friends in a unique way, anywhere you want. It does not need to be licensed to hold weddings. You celebrant will help you create the most intimate vows, and help you put together a unique ceremony that says everything about the two of you as individuals, and as a couple. It gives you the freedom to separate the legal requirements in England, from the wedding celebration, giving you the freedom to express your uniqueness as a newly married couple.
Recently I have been in conversation with celebrant Lisa Wilson who recently led a woodland wedding, and I wanted to share with you her ethos for creating unique ceremonies
A secret woodland ceremony
When we think about our perfect wedding I wonder what springs to mind. Is it classic and traditional or something more unique and original. Do you picture yourselves inside a grand venue with beautiful art or outdoors with the sun on your face and bird song in the background. Whatever you choose, always be true to yourself. What I love about being a celebrant is empowering couples to create a wedding ceremony that is more them, truly free from the belief you must do it this way and this way only. The most incredible ceremonies happen when you are authentic to yourself.
Late last Summer I was honoured to take a different kind of booking. A rather special secret ceremony to be delivered within three weeks. A remarkable ceremony which celebrated a couple as unique individuals in togetherness. One of the many reasons this ceremony was so remarkable was there was no one other than us there to witness the wedding, just us three. No guests. No wedding party. No venue or after-party. Just the happy couple and me there to lead the wedding ceremony and share in the glory of what was unfolding.
I’ve never seen anything more magical and magnificent. M&L choose to hold their ceremony in a woods close to where they live. Being outdoors and surrounded in the sights and sounds of nature gave the couple a grounding and spiritual connection to the elements. On one of their many walks in a treasured place, they had found the perfect location for a ceremony a sweet spot near a stream right beside two trees growing from one root, the very symbol of unity.
With the canopy of trees protecting us the ceremony opened with the couple’s favourite song Roberta Flack’s The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. As the song played M&L relaxed and the nerves dispelled.
I believe the universe sends us exactly what we’re ready for when you’re in a place where everything feels right the only thing you need is each other. At its essence the ceremony celebrated vulnerability. For love to exist we each allow the vulnerability of giving love to another and be open to receiving another’s love in return. Therefore we become powerful creators of our love. Every moment of every day, we make the choice to dedicate ourselves to one another.
M&L choose to recognise their different faiths and beliefs by each having space and time within the ceremony to do so. There shared values of integrity and honesty framed their passionate belief in twin flames. A deep spiritual soul mate union. To bring to life what that means to the couple we created symbolic moments captured in a handfasting. The very act of tying the knot to symbolise an everlasting union. With colourful cords chosen to represent the four elements promises were made as each cord was laid across their hands binding their union to each other for eternity.
The beauty of a handfasting ritual is it’s personal meaning to the couple. From choosing the cords you use to the knots that will bind you. With some thought you can create a truly breathtaking moment that you’ll remember forever. I found the perfect poem by Sir Edwin Arnold spoken before the couple pledged their personal vows on an oathing stone.
Somewhere by Sir Edwin Arnold
Somewhere there waiteth in this world of ours
For one lone soul another lonely soul,
Each chasing each through all the weary hours,
And meeting strangely at one sudden goal,
Then blend they – like green leaves with golden flowers,
Into one beautiful and perfect whole;
And life’s long night is ended, and the way
Lies open onward to eternal day.
As the last vow was spoken we paused to allow for the couple to soak it all in. To listen to the sounds around them and enjoy being in this space of love. The new energy was entering their lives, changes are happening, things are getting better, everything is aligning. Sitting in silence and acknowledging this is a powerful thing.
One of my favourite moments in any ceremony is the exchange of rings. I think it might be because my husband and I didn’t do this in our ceremony I can now live out my ring exchange dreams through others.
The ultimate purpose of gifting a ring is to serve as a lasting reminder of the vows spoken. It reminds us that precious metal came from the ground as a rough ore and was heated and purified, shaped and polished. Something beautiful was made from raw elements. Love is like that. It comes from humble beginnings, made by imperfect beings.
So please remember you don’t always need a plan or to fulfil any expectations other than your own on your wedding day. You just need to breathe, trust what’s in your heart and let go, as something as beautifully rare can happen.
How to Have a Celebrant Wedding.
There are no restrictions to venue for a celebrant led wedding, however you will need to register the marriage legally.
- Choose and book your dream venue or location, with full permission of landowners if outside on private land (this of course can be your back garden!)
- Check your officiant/celebrant availability for that date. Your celebrant can work outside at anytime of year.
- Register your intent to marry. This enables the registration service to prepare your legal documentation and record the details of your marriage. You can contact your local register office and advise them of this, and state that you have already booked your Celebrant, and will just require a simple service to complete your paperwork and declarations. This is then booked in on a date nearer your wedding day, usually the day before or day after. You are free however to choose when this takes place so book your legal signing in when it suits you.
- When you attend your legal service, it is worth remembering that you can save your vows and your ring exchanges, along with all other personal details for your Celebrant-led ceremony. It is not a legal requirement to do this when you sign your papers. Just inform the registry office that you would like to do this.
- You will be required to take two witnesses for your legal vows.
- Choose which declaratory words and legally binding vows you wish to have.
- Collect your certificate of marriage.
“I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I, AB, may not be joined in matrimony to CD.”
or “I declare that I know of no legal reason why I, AB, may not be joined in marriage to CD.”
Or By replying “I am” to the question “Are you AB free lawfully to marry CD?” …
“I call upon these persons here present to witness that I, AB, do take thee, CD, to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband).”
or “I AB take you CD to be my wedded wife (or husband)”
or “I AB take thee CD to be my wedded wife (or husband)” …
Now for the creative bit
You are then free to hold your ceremony wherever and whenever you like! On the beach, in beautiful woodlands, castles, stately homes, on working farms, in rustic barns, at lakeside settings, and in fields with tipis, fire pits and cows!