weddings, partnerships, renewing vows, newly formed step families, namings, adoptions
A Wedding/Partnership ceremony gathers together the people you most wish to have share in the celebration of your love and commitment to one another. Independent celebrants have no legal constraints and can use words to craft a ceremony with and especially for the two of you.
A Marriage or a Civil Partnership is a legal contract and, in England and Wales, must be arranged either through a Church or through the Registration Service. Please use this link for a summary of the legal process.
When you choose an independent ceremony, you are also choosing an opportunity to have a ceremony that is free from restrictions /rules/ templates and instead work with me to craft your very own ceremony, one that will get guests saying,
“oh, that was so you”
The aim is to make this an exciting part of your ceremony preparations.
Start with how you have imagined your ceremony will be:
Is this something you have already planned in detail, or do you have a more vague idea of what it will all look like? Do you have ideas about the tone, wishing for a fun, relaxed, informal or festival feel? A more traditional feel? Or a combination: relaxed and informal but with enough gravitas to acknowledge the genuine awesomeness of your commitment to each other?
Talk through the details of your ceremony.
Weddings, partnerships and renewing vows may all include the following, and more.
Music: Do you already know what music you would like to be played at the beginning and ending of your ceremony? Or possibly during, too. Have you decided to have musicians playing live, or to play recorded music? You may also like to think about including a song for all your guests to sing together.
Guest contributions: As we move through your ceremony there will be several places where it will be appropriate for a guest or guests to play a part. The most obvious is to have people to come forward to share a reading (your choice or, if you are very brave/trusting - their choice) You can choose readings that you really like. You can have solemn and wise, wacky and funny, outrageous and unusual (or indeed more usual) quotes from books or films. Or lyrics from a song. You are allowed religious readings if you like them. You will choose which of your family and friends to read for you.
[Hint: most people are delighted and honoured to be asked, even if they are a bit nervous]
Some guests might like to make a small speech in one of these places or you may have someone who would like to perform a piece of live music.
Added elements: You may not already know how much freedom you have to include unity elements.
You may not yet even know what a “unity element” is!
These are additional parts in the ceremony which enhance the representation of your love for one another. Handfasting, sand ceremonies, foot washing, ring warming…. these are just a few of the very many different elements possible.
You may include religious, spiritual, non-religious, pagan rites or customs from your own heritage and culture.
You may have your own ideas and you can make things up!
Guest participation: As well as selecting your We do crew/ Your posse/ Your commitment crew (aka bridesmaids/boys, groomsmen/women and ushers), and selecting people to make a guest contribution, you can also get guests involved in elements of your ceremony, a group song and joint guest vows.
You can let you imagination loose and work out how your ideas can be achieved.
Writing your own vows: Do these words make you happy and excited? challenged? terrified?
Vows are just promises for the future, a declaration of your honest intent to do your best to make this a happy union. The special thing about writing them yourselves is that no-one else will so fully express your feelings as you can yourself. And this is a really special moment to not only make promises for the future, but also to tell your significant other how you appreciate them and what particularly you love about them. Some of the most reluctant writers have afterwards been so pleased they did manage to create their own vows and express their love in their own way.
But having said all of that.... you also need to know that it’s not compulsory to write your own vows!!
You may instead choose one of the ones your celebrant shows you; choose one from the internet to read as it is or to alter a bit to make specific to you; or take lines from several different sources. Talk to your celebrant about what will work best for you.
Giving rings or other tokens: The first thing to say is that there is no rule that you have to give each other anything.
There is no rule that it has to be a ring.
Some people don't wish to do this and some absolutely wish to do it.
Sometimes only one person gets a ring.
Sometimes one gets a ring and one something else
One of my favourite exchanges went like this:
Person1: I give you this ring, as a token of our marriage and a symbol of my love.........
Person 2: I give you this snowboard, as a token ............
Including your own children; creating a step-family, naming and adoption ceremonies more...
All couple ceremonies
Couple ceremonies with and for children: