What are Symbolic Wedding Ceremonies?
Many couples opt to include a symbolic ritual as part of their wedding ceremony, renewal of vows or baby naming ceremony. You may not want to include extra symbolism - for you the vows and ring exchange may be exactly what you want to do on your big day - but if you want to explore other options, read on!
What is a Symbolic Ritual at a Ceremony?
Symbolic Ceremonies include a symbolic element which is added to a wedding, to represent your unity through the use of rituals. Symbolic Ceremonies offer an extra visual and interactive experience to the day, and often include keepsakes which you can treasure at home for long after your ceremony. They can be used not just to symbolise the union of your love, but to also symbolise your union as a family - as you may consider including children, parents or other guests in the ceremony as well.
Many of the rituals hold their origins in spiritual religion, but whatever your beliefs, a symbolic ceremony can be tailored to suit your own personal way of life, and can make for a unique and memorable addition to your day.
Here are a selection of my favourite Symbolic Ceremonies:
Wine is a universal symbol of the richness of life and sweetness of love. So it is appropriate that you toast life at a wedding ceremony or a vow renewal with this ancient symbol.
In a blending ceremony, the bride and groom each take a carafe of wine - each wine from a different grape - maybe even one red and one white wine and each pours some of their carafe into a single glass, from which you both drink. The blending represents your two lives combining to make a new and successful marriage. Then as a couple you can toast your guests - your first drink as a married couple.
One of the more recognised additions to a wedding ceremony; Hand Fasting (or ‘Tying the Knot’) originally stemmed from Pagan ritual, but is often used in modern ceremonies to represent the coming together of two people and their lives by the tying of their hands with cord or ribbon.
There are many ways to tailor this ceremony to suit the purpose of why you have chosen to include it, but generally the couple will place their palms together, and with each spoken promise or given virtue the cord is wrapped around the hands. The ceremony is then made complete with the tying of a knot to form an eternal loop in the material, before the hands are released and the loop is taken home to be kept as a visual reminder of their bond.
Couples can use multiple coloured cords plaited together to represent a combination of different promises and virtues. You can even symbolise the union of different people being brought together by the marriage, by using the coloured ribbons to represent each person within the family unit.
You could even ask friends or family members to come forward and assist in adding their own cords to the finished piece…
As the name suggests - like in ancient times - you will have literally ‘tied the knot’.
together, and the larger lit unity candle symbolises that they now light a clearer path for each other as one.
If you have children you can involve them too, by them lighting their own candles from the flame of your unity candle. This shows how together you have created a new energy and brought a new light into your life, through your child or children.
Why not light the unity candle every year on your anniversary to remind you of your wonderful day?
The container of combined sand also makes for a decorative keepsake which can be kept as a commemorative item in the home afterwards. Some couples even use an hourglass, and turn the sands each year on their anniversary.
Once the pouch has been passed around everyone, the couple can continue with placing the rings on each other's fingers in the knowledge that the rings have been ‘warmed’ with the kind wishes and the love of those friends and family they have chosen to join them.
Other symbolic rituals
There are of course other symbolic rituals some ancient, others modern and some from other parts of the world - you may wish to plant seeds or a sapling at the site of your ceremony, or in a small pot to take home with you, as a way to represent your new life together and the continued growth of your relationship here after. There are crystal ceremonies, water ceremonies, painted canvas ceremonies, love letters sealed in a box with a bottle of wine and jumping the broom to name a few.
If you are interested in finding out how we could include any of these rituals in your ceremony then get in touch - I would love to talk to you about your big day.
How to include some religion in a non-religious funeral
If your loved one was not a church-goer or a practicing muslim or a lapsed visitor to the synagogue but they were brought up in their family’s religion as a child - what are their options when it comes to their cremation or funeral?
How can we give them the send off they would want or deserve? We don’t want the vicar or rabbi to officiate at the funeral - it would be wrong as they were not actively religious - but we should have a nod to their religious upbringing! How can this be handled sensitively?
Can I have elements of religion without a full blown religious service?
I thought all Celebrants were Humanist?
A Humanist Celebrant does not support religion or spirituality - it has to be a non-religious ceremony if they lead your funeral. If you employ a religious minister - they will have very fixed impersonal scripts - it will be heavy on the religion - for obvious reasons!
Don’t panic!! Independent Civil Celebrants will write a script that honours that person’s story and beliefs - they can write a service with no mention of religion, but if it is relevant - even if it is just a mention of their religious upbringing and the Lord’s prayer, a Civil Celebrant can do that.
A Civil Celebrant will also make sure that the music they loved in life is included in the ceremony - even if it is deemed spiritual by others - yes Angels by Robbie Williams will apparently not fit the criteria if you employ a Humanist for your ceremony (they don’t believe in afterlife therefore no angels!)
How do I choose a funeral Celebrant?
You can and should choose your own Celebrant - you need to decide if they are a good fit for your family - we are all different so it is not one size fits all. Some Celebrants are fun, some are serious, some are modern, others are traditional - we reflect all parts of the community and we all have different styles of communication.
Your Funeral Director will have some information about local Celebrants they have met or have experience of and can often match you with a suitable Celebrant. Or you can choose someone yourself - maybe you have seen a Celebrant take another funeral or had a recommendation from a friend. Or google us - the more modern Celebrants will have a website and social media accounts which will give you an idea of what we are like and who we are. ⠀
A professional Celebrant will be part of an Association, they will have had training and they will hold insurance.
What happens after I have found a Celebrant that suits us?
We will meet you at your home, at the Funeral Director’s office or at a convenient location; the Celebrant will ask you questions and find out all about your loved one’s story. We can talk about music, give you some ideas on readings and eulogies and start forming a plan for the funeral.
The Celebrant will then write a really personal ceremony - hopefully one that will make you smile through the tears - (well that is how I work!)
The only rules I have as your Celebrant - make it special, make it personal, celebrate their achievements and give them the funeral service they deserve.
6 REASONS TO RENEW YOUR WEDDING VOWS IN THE UK
Why would you want to renew your wedding vows? We are all different and we have our own reasons for renewing our vows. In England there are no legal implications or constraints - you can say or do whatever you want to do (within reason)!
To renew your wedding vows is a very symbolic expression of your ongoing love and commitment to each other but it also gives you the chance to either share new vows which are appropriate for you now or re-create the vows you made on your wedding day - reminding yourselves and your witnesses what you said before and that you still mean it - (That of course assumes you remember the vows you said the first time round!)
It may be an intimate experience - just the two of you and a celebrant to officiate over the ceremony, it may be a public commitment of your love with close family and friends or it might be a massive event with many guests and a huge party afterwards. Just like your marriage and your wedding - do it your way!
You can renew your vows on a stunning mountain top, at the beach at sunset, in an atmospheric woodland glade or in your family garden; alternatively you could have a funky ceremony in a fifties diner, at the beginning of a family party (when no-one else is expecting it to happen), have the wedding day you would have loved the first time round or combine it with your child's naming ceremony in a smart hotel.
Whatever you choose to say to each other and wherever you choose to say it, what are your main reasons to want to renew your vows?:
1. Celebrate longevity of your marriage
Especially if you have made it to 2, 5, 10, 25 or 50 years together. These can be significant milestones especially if your contemporaries have not managed to reach these milestones and have ended in divorce. You have every reason to celebrate your longevity as a married couple (as every marriage inevitably has its ups and downs - marriage is not always easy). Working together and celebrating that partnership over a number of years is every reason to publicly confirm your love and respect for each other and remind each other of the promises you want to make to each other.
2. Reaffirm your commitment to each other
After a difficult period in your relationship, such as poor health, addictions, bereavement, infidelity, financial strains you may have had all sorts of pressures and strains on your marriage. It may have meant that you have had to work even harder to make it succeed - LOVE may be the one thing that has got you through these difficult times so renewing your vows is a very public way of showing your ongoing love and determination to make your marriage work.
3. Include your family in your celebration
Some couples want to include family members such as their children in a celebration - especially if they couldn't attend the original wedding or had not even been born at the time of the first ceremony! It can be a celebration of the beautiful family you have created from your union, as much as your marriage itself. Exchanging vows can be an expression of unity for you and your family.
4. Have the celebration you can now afford
You may now be able to afford a ceremony and party that was just not possible the first time round! Some weddings are created on a real shoestring especially when you are at the start of your adult life - Love and enthusiasm was all you owned back in the day - now, years down the line, you may be able to afford to splash out a bit more and celebrate with your nearest and dearest with plenty of fizz, a special meal and a shindig.
It could be a wonderful surprise - set up by one of the couple to express their love and ongoing commitment to their partner for life. What an incredible way to publicly show your love to your partner.
6. Make special memories
One or both of you could be experiencing health conditions which could be life limiting or life shortening. You want to make memories, you want to celebrate your marriage and the life you have created. What better way to mark these achievements than to have a vow renewal and be surrounded by the most important people in your life?
TOP 10 TIPS FOR AN OUTDOOR RAINY WEDDING
If you are planning an outdoor wedding - you will have one of the most magical days of your life - it will feel spiritual and natural and will look absolutely stunning. But like any engaged couple - especially in the UK , where our climate is changeable - you may be apprehensive about the weather and the impact it may have on your big day.
Here are 10 top tips to make your outdoor wedding weather-proof and enjoyable:
1. Watch the forecast & communicate with your guests
Let your wedding guests know on the invitation, that it is an outdoor venue - so they can be prepared well in advance for any eventuality. If you want them to bring umbrellas and wellies if the conditions get challenging - let them know early.
Use your wedding website, social media or email to announce the weather forecast the week of the wedding - this way, guests can make any last minute outfit changes and have their wet weather gear to hand if necessary.
2. Weatherproof the venue
If there is rain forecast before the wedding ceremony - have tarpaulins to hand which can be draped over the chairs and removed just before everyone arrives - check with the venue if they will do this, if not, this could be a job for the Best Man to organise.
If there are showers predicted on the day you may want to source hay to cover any muddy areas and have umbrellas to hand to protect everyone if you don’t have an alternative covered area.
If you are pinning your hopes on an outdoor drinks reception or al fresco entertainment, make sure there are sheltered areas available should the worst happen. A gazebo or marquee with tables and chairs can be useful on both sunny and rainy days, so speak to your venue about setting one up a day or two before the big day.
Doormats and runners should be issued by the venue or marquee suppliers for rainy days to ensure floors remain as dry as possible - so check what they will supply. If you are holding a marquee wedding, ask your supplier about flooring options to prevent any unwanted accidents. Wooden flooring is generally better than coconut matting, especially for guests wearing high heels. Also, have a pile of old towels just in case the dance floor gets wet - get the groomsmen prepped to mop it if necessary!
3. Investigate any covered outdoor areas at the venue
This can be a plan B or C - but not all outdoor venues will have this option.
4. Wellies can be funky
Bring a pair of bridal white or brightly coloured wellies or traditional Hunter wellington boots - they can look really cool and offer up a great photo opportunity.
If you are desperate to wear your wedding shoes - bring them out for just some of the photos! (remember sensible footwear can also provide a welcome break from crippling bridal shoes!)
5. Umbrellas make perfect props
Prevent your dress from getting damaged come rain or shine by opting for an underskirt which can be hooked up to avoid dragging your train. Not only will this save the day when rain arrives, but it will also minimise dirt and snagging.
Request that your photographer carry a sheet for outdoor photos, to be placed on the floor for the bride and bridesmaids to stand on. It can be easily folded and placed under your dress and is the perfect saviour in these conditions.
Alternatively wear a shorter styled dress and then all panic about hems are avoided!
7. Talk to your photographer
Make sure your photographer has a wet weather contingency plan well before the big day. Professional photographers should always have back-up ideas and a good photographer will be able to confidently tell you exactly what he/she will do when faced with rain. Pose the question early on in your wedding planning to ensure you don't get caught out.
8. Use waterproof make-up
Steer clear of any beauty product that's guaranteed to run. Have a spray tan rather than using instant tan on the day, use waterproof mascara and seal in your look with a setting spray. Your hair and make-up artists will be able to advise and prepare you accordingly.
9. Create a bridal DIY emergency kit
With wet weather comes the peril of frizzy, flyaway hair. Hair and makeup touches will no doubt be required - so make sure you put together a handy kit, complete with hairpins, hairspray, tissues and waterproof mascara AND make sure someone you trust can put their hands on it easily on the day.
10. Don’t panic
Finally, don’t panic! It’s your wedding day so enjoy it!
Whatever the weather, those special moments of your wedding day will be captured - so you won’t even remember the rain and if you do - it will be with a smile!
Whatever you're faced with on the big day, delegate all jobs in advance and just enjoy every moment of it!
HELP - I can’t book a Registrant! How can we get married?
We have been in lockdown for months are are only just seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. All weddings have been on hold for months or have taken place with hugely restricted numbers in 2020 - no long-term decisions have been made yet about when gatherings will definitely resume in a format we recognise. But how will Registrars fit every couple in? Let’s face it - 2021 only has 52 Saturdays in total - and between April and September - the peak wedding season - there are only 26 Saturdays! There are a limited number of venues registered for weddings, a limited number of Registry Offices in every county and more importantly a limited number of Registrars working on any given day.
How can we book the date we want for our wedding in 2021? We don’t want to wait until 2022!
Let me tell you how to do it - and what you will discover is that this is how it should have been planned all along!!
Call me or drop me an email to find out my availability for late 2020 or 2021 - we can create an incredibly meaningful and beautiful bespoke ceremony for you.
Let’s find a date that works!
POSTPONING YOUR 2020 WEDDING IN THE UK
Many of the brides and grooms of 2020 have had plans and dreams smashed by the covid pandemic.
Some will have had their wedding day that they planned just before restrictions were put in place but lost their honeymoon - others will have had to postpone or re-arrange their wedding plans altogether.
Hopefully all wedding couples can mark their original wedding day doing something special, like a walk to a favourite spot or a delicious home-delivered restaurant meal or even a cream tea with a glass of fizz in the back garden; some are having a virtual ceremony held on Zoom or Skype and led by a Celebrant with a plan to legalise it and have a celebration later in the year or 2021.
Others will just postpone their celebration but they may not be able to have exactly the same ceremony that they originally planned - due to availability or limitations of numbers after lockdown.
A Celebrant led ceremony could be the solution when registrar or church availability is scarce in 2020 or 2021 - maybe you haven’t considered it before? A registrar appointment for you and two witnesses to legalise the marriage in the weeks before or after the big celebration will give you the flexibility of finding a day when the venue, your guests, your photographer and all your other chosen suppliers can be available. The Celebrant can make it personal & bespoke and the wedding of your dreams. A Celebrant can be much more flexible on times as they don’t generally have other ceremonies booked in on that day - one less worry to stress about when everything else is so uncertain. Just think you also have two dates to celebrate!
This time of lockdown is now perfect for reflecting on what is important to the both of you - just think - your wedding celebration could be even better than you originally planned! It can be more intimate and more about you rather than a massive event - if that is what you really want.
Contact me if you want to talk through your options - you can still have the celebration or celebrations of your dreams - it just may be a bit different to the original dream - but it could be even better!
WOODLAND WEDDING VENUES NEAR ME IN KENT
Kent is just beautiful! - it has a long coastline which separates the UK from France, it sneaks into London in the north and has the city of Canterbury and historical market towns such as Maidstone, Ashford, Tonbridge, Rochester and Tunbridge Wells as well as numerous beautiful villages; but in between these settlements we have the most amazing countryside made up of farmland and woodland - it really is The Garden of England.
Where better than Kent to have a woodland wedding? The choice of venues has never been so great as now to tie the knot under the dreamy forest canopy - if you are lucky enough to own your own woodland or have access to one (with landowner’s permission!) - then you are laughing - I’m sure you can find a beautiful accessible glade within that woodland, with the dappled light and enchanted atmosphere you want! Fairy lights, flowers and ferns, some quirky accessories and enough chairs or benches or straw bales for your guests and you have the most idyllic venue for a rustic wedding. Imagine the two of you and your marriage celebrant standing under the oak tree or a willow arch, as you exchange your wedding vows, then have a traditional hand tying service to involve your guests and a toast with home-made sloe gin whilst your best man plays guitar in the background. Whichever details you choose to include in your ceremony - you will definitely have the rustic, romantic wedding you dreamt of.