Managing Family Worries About Your Celebrant Led Wedding

You’ve set your heart on a celebrant led wedding, the personal and relaxed style is just what you want and it’s a perfect fit for your venue. But how are going to convince your family that it’s every bit a proper wedding ceremony?

The majority of over 50s probably aren’t aware that celebrant led weddings are an option, and very few will have been to one. After all, they have only really gained in popularity across England during the past 10 years, although they have been available for decades for those seeking an alternative path to a church or registry office wedding if you knew where to go.

I’ve enjoyed many conversations with great aunts and uncles over a glass of fizz after the ceremony who’ve told me: “We’d never been to a celebrant led wedding before but it was the most wonderful wedding ceremony ever!”

What to Tell Fact Lovers About Your Celebrant Led Wedding

So, you could just tell your sceptical relatives that they’ll have to come along on the day and see what it’s all about but it would be great to get them on side and excited for your big day. For those practical relatives you want to fill them with facts:

  • Over 1000 couples in England choose a celebrant led wedding each year
  • Those who choose a Humanist celebrant to led their service are the most likely to remain married!
  • There are no rules about what has to be included in your wedding ceremony so it’s much more flexible than a religious or registry office service
  • Celebrant weddings can still include vows, exchanging rings, poems and readings, and a certificate singing with witnesses,. But they are more personal than the other options available and you can add symbolic gestures or cultural elements to your ceremony just as you choose
  • No, it’s not legally binding in England at the moment but it’s important for the two of you to celebrate your special day in the way that suits you in the place of your choice. The commitments you make to each other on the day are real, these are your promises to each other for life

What to Tell Romantics About Your Celebrant Led Wedding

And for those relatives who have a romantic side, they’ll be swooning if you weave these suggestions into your conversation:

  • Celebrant led weddings are so romantic as they are designed and written around the two of you, your love for each other and what’s important to you
  • You get to write your own heartfelt vows that you can surprise each other with on the day, with a bit of writing help from your celebrant if needed!
  • Ceremonies usually include your love story so your guests will get to relive the anecdotes from your early days together and that romantic proposal all over again
  • You could include romantic symbolic gestures such as a ring warming where they will get to hold your wedding rings and warm them with their love and wishes for you both during the ceremony. This can be coupled with with the more traditional exchange of rings and certificate signing which will make for gorgeous photos
  • Your wedding ceremony will be in the exact spot you choose, maybe a woodland copse, a beach, or your parent’s back garden. A setting that is special to you brings extra meaning and emotion to the day

The Final Word

But probably the most important thing to tell anyone who has reservations about your choice is that your celebrant led wedding is something you’ve got your heart set on. You want a personal wedding ceremony that’s been written just for the two of you. And it includes everything you want – whether that’s singing, poetry or a hand fasting – while you commit to your future lives together in front of the people that mean the most to you. Surely that will win them over!

Good luck with your conversations and let me know how you get on in the comments below.

If you’d like to find out more about my wedding ceremony services visit my weddings page for some inspo and check out my FAQs page too.

Creating Your Own Small and Intimate Wedding

It’s fab news that weddings and receptions can now take place again with up to 30 people being part of your celebrations. So small and intimate weddings, or minimonies as I’ve heard them called, are of the moment. But how do you create a wedding like this and would it work for you?

Managing your guest list

Well let’s start by breaking it right down to basics… who are your show stoppers? Whose absence would stop you from having your wedding day? Really. There aren’t many couples who would come up with an honest list of over 30 people, and it gives you an opportunity to think about what’s really important too. Your wedding day is about the two of you committing to spend your lives together, it’s the promises you make to each other in the company of your nearest and dearest, if you’d like them to be part of your day.

Choosing a small wedding takes the pressure off having a ‘big do’ and moves it away from being all about the numbers. Your wedding day then moves into a really special place where you can enjoy being in the moment with the few people who are the most precious to you. And if you’re still pining for the evening do you’d conjured up in your mind’s eye of you tearing up the dance floor with one hundred of your best mates then throw a separate party for them that your parents won’t have to endure, when rules allow!


Making your wedding ceremony intimate

That’s your guest list sorted for your small and intimate wedding, so on to the ceremony itself. Having a just few close friends and family at your wedding allows everyone to be involved in your ceremony if you’d like them to be. You could seat all your guests in a horseshoe style layout so everyone is on the front row, it’s going to be intimate so expect emotions to be running high! A ring warming ceremony is great for small numbers where you don’t need to socially distance; each person holds the rings in their hands and infuses them with their love and wishes for you both and by the time the rings have been round all of your guests they are ‘warmed’ with all that love.

Your celebrant could gather wishes or anecdotes from each of your guests before the ceremony and weave these in to the service, which would add a fab surprise element to the ceremony for you both. Those of your guests who are comfortable with public speaking could share readings or poems with you all, and you could ask everyone present to sign your wedding certificate as your witnesses with their own pens. You can still have a confetti moment at the end of your ceremony with everyone making a distanced walkway for you both.


Reception ideas

With a small and intimate wedding reception you can truly enjoy spending quality time and having fun with all of your guests, and there a whole heap of games you could choose from. It would be great to hear from all of your guests at your wedding reception with each of them telling a short anecdote or story about the two of you, or sharing a message you’d sent some years ago when you announced that you’ve finally met ‘the one’!

Lots of venues have smaller spaces that work just perfectly for small and intimate weddings such as the stylish Bingham on the banks of the Thames or the stunning Pennyhill Park, and with all the money you’ll be saving you can splash out and really treat everyone or just save yourself the enormous bank loan.

If you’d like to find out more about planning your celebrant led wedding, visit my weddings page for lots of inspo or give me a call on 07786 268446.

Handfasting Explained

A handfasting brings visual intrigue to your wedding ceremony, and for many of your guests it will be the first time they have seen this ancient tradition.

If you step way back in time to 12th Century, handfasting was part of every marriage and the couple’s hands were bound together using ribbons or cord. This is where the age old phrases of tying the knot and binding agreement originated, and today there are plenty of modern twists on this very special symbolic act. My favourite options are the Celtic Love Knot and what I like to call the Ribbon of Promises. Let’s look at each of these in a bit more detail…

Celtic Love Knot

The Celtic love knot involves the bride and groom clasping their right hands together, with pulse points touching, and two ribbons are wrapped around their hands to bind them together. I then like to say a hand blessing, describing how these are the hands of the person who will love you and hold you, and wipe away the tears of happiness as well as sadness, and still be reaching for your hand when you are old and grey. Once the blessing is complete, the couple pull their hands from the ribbons holding onto the ends and a Celtic Love Knot is created to bring the two ribbons together.

I recently conducted a ceremony for Sarah and Andy where we used four different coloured ribbons for the Celtic Love Knot. The colours for each of the ribbons were chosen by school friends of the bride for their symbolism such as green for honesty and independence and indigo for trust and respect. Each of the friends bound their chosen ribbons around the couple’s hands and explained their symbolism; it was a really special and somewhat emotional part of the ceremony!

Courtesy of

Ribbon of Promises

If you would like to involve close family or friends in your wedding ceremony then the Ribbon of Promises is a great option. I love to include it when existing families are coming together and the children of the bride and/or groom make the bindings. In this version of a handfasting ceremony the couple clasp their right hands together, once again with pulse points touching, and a ribbon is placed under the thumb of each. The ribbons are then gradually wrapped around the couple’s hands as they make promises to each other. After each promise, the ribbons are passed over their hands and a knot is tied underneath, this is repeated for each promise – four times is perfect. The groom then holds the ribbons where the final knot has been made and the couple both pull their hands away for the ribbons to create a chain where the knots have been made after each promise. As well as making those close to you a special part of the ceremony, it’s a bit of theatre for your guests too!

Last year Shelley and Emma had a small registry office wedding in the early afternoon followed by a surprise handfasting ceremony for a much larger group of family and friends, who thought they were just attending the wedding breakfast. Shelley’s daughters bound their mums’ hands as they made promises to each other and to their daughters, a really lovely moment in their day.  

Beautiful brides!

So there you have it, my brief guide to including a handfasting as part of your wedding ceremony. You can read more about my wedding services on my wedding ceremonies page, or drop me a line at if you’d like to find out more.

Are Virtual Ceremonies and Celebrations for You?

Lockdown has certainly made us more aware of connecting with our friends and family virtually – sharing dinner, quiz nights, and fun online – and this is something that we may well see playing a much larger role in celebrations and ceremonies going forward.

People have been taking part in virtual wedding ceremonies and live streaming funeral services to those who would ordinarily be there in person. No-one wants to miss these important life events, and we still need to celebrate the special moments in our lives, maybe now more than ever.

Virtual wedding ceremonies or funeral ceremonies are not for everyone but there are alternatives that mean you could still be part of these special moments with offerings like that from The Video Message Company. I love the idea that with their help you can create video messages for people anywhere. You just need to send your videos and messages that you’ve shot on your mobile, other photos you may have, a few details about the person or couple you are celebrating, and their favourite music and they pull it all together into a professional video!


It’s such a great way to surprise a wedding couple, maybe to cheer them up as their big day gets shelved, or to send a personal message to a member of your family or close friend you haven’t seen for 8 weeks and counting. And once we’re through with social distancing, it’s a perfect way to still be part of a wedding or naming ceremony if you can’t be there in person. 

Later this year we’ll be seeing lots of memorial services taking place to truly celebrate those who have died in recent months and a video message could be a lovely addition to memorial services, with messages to the family and anecdotes about the person being celebrated. I’m looking forward to embracing such fun and heartwarming technology into my ceremonies!

But if you’d rather wait until everyone can be together in person, that’s fine too, I’ll be here to help you celebrate when the time comes.  

Find out more about The Video Message Company here:

Involving family and friends in your wedding ceremony

There are plenty of ways you can involve your family and friends in your wedding ceremony so they feel part of your special celebration. Here’s a snap shot of some new ideas and those which are steeped in history but with a modern twist…

  • Having your Dad ‘give you away’ may seem like a thing of the past but many Dads still like the idea of walking their daughter up the aisle – and you might like Dad’s supporting arm too! Dad can give a commitment, rather than giving you away, like bestowing his love and warmth on to you as a couple and wishing you every happiness in your journey through life together
  • Couples often have divided opinions on including songs during wedding ceremonies for all your guests to join in, but this can be a real winner. Arrange it karaoke style so you have the song playing for everyone to sing a long to, with song sheets provided, pick an easy song that everyone will know and prime those guests beforehand who you know will enjoy getting involved
  • Ceremonial fires are fab for woodland/festival vibe weddings and can provide a special closing feature to your ceremony. You and your partner are passed flaming torches and you walk around your prepared unlit fire, words from your celebrant are optional here. Then you light the fire and invite your guests to add a wooden disc with your initials stamped on to the flames, making a wish for the two of you as they do so. Thanks to Tash and Laurence for the inspiration for this one!
  • A ring warming ceremony is a great way of involving all your guests, assuming you are exchanging wedding rings. At the start of your ceremony your celebrant will introduce the concept of the ring warming ceremony and ask for the rings to be passed amongst all guests. Each guest takes the rings in their hand and privately bestows a wish or their love onto the rings. Once they have been around all guests the rings are warmed ready for your ring exchange
  • Readings and poems can create real poignant moments in your ceremony, or add a bit of fun, depending on the reading selected. Asking the person giving the reading to select something of their choice works well as they will read something they are comfortable with and they have chosen for you. Two or three readings incorporated into your ceremony is just right
  • I like to ask guests to make a declaration as part of the ceremonies I deliver. This will come towards the end of the ceremony and guests can either respond ‘We do’ to a question asked, or read together a short declaration from a printed sheet. They are giving their commitment to support you both as active friends and families in your future lives
Hand fasting ceremony, humanist wedding, symbolic wedding gestures, sand blending
Hand fasting ceremony
  • If you would like to involve a small number of close family members in your wedding ceremony, maybe children or your siblings, you might want to consider hand fasting or sand blending. These symbolic gestures, which can involve you making promises to each other and your family, have great visual impact and provide keepsakes of your day. Find out more about these in my symbolic gestures blog
  • A candle ceremony can be a gorgeous way to involve everyone towards the end of your wedding ceremony. Everyone is given a small candle when they take their seats for the ceremony and when the time comes, the celebrant lights the candle of the first guest, they in turn light the candle of the next guest and so on. Once all of the guest candles have been lit the last person comes up to light a single unity candle for the happy couple. Guests then form a lighted walk way for the couple to pass through. Fab for evening weddings