Wedding Ceremonies for Blended Families – how to boss it for your tribe!

Every couple wants their wedding ceremony to be just right for them, and when children are becoming part of new, blended families there’s even more to consider. So, what’s the best way to include them in your wedding ceremony? Here’s some ideas to get you thinking…

The Processional

The entrance for your wedding ceremony sets the scene for everything that follows. Assuming one of you will be waiting nervously in front of the guests, while the other walks down the aisle, there are quite a few options to get the kids involved. Maybe any little ones could be flower people scattering petals along your path. Or a ring bearer with your rings, securely fastened to a cushion! Or carrying your train if you’ve got an impressive trail in the making.

How about one of your children accompanying you down the aisle, arm in arm, showing you their support on this big day for you all? Or one child on each arm? Grooms could opt to have their children stand with them at the front along with their best man. Unless of course your son or daughter is going to be your bestie.

If you have budding musicians or singers in the family, they could perform for you as you walk down the aisle. That’s a big ask though, so they need to be well and truly up for it!

Symbolic Gestures for Blended Families

Getting your children involved in the ceremony itself can be a lovely touch to make them feel part of the family. There are plenty of symbolic gestures you can include but here are three that I think work really well…

  1. Handfasting. Your children can each pick a coloured ribbon and then choose words associated with that colour which describe their wishes for the family. Eg blue for kindness, orange for happiness (hit me up for the colour wheel). Then they take turns to bind your hands together with the ribbons. Once the ribbons are in place, I’ll read out a hand blessing. As you draw your hands out from the ribbons, it creates a Celtic love knot. It’s a lovely visual element for all the guests to enjoy too, and a keepsake from the ceremony.
  2. Blended family unity circle. I love this for younger children or if you’ve got kids of a varying ages. You all get together in front of the guests and create a circle, holding hands. Then your celebrant, talks about what family is for you… “this is a safe place full of love and strength”… “it’s where you are accepted for who you are”… v cute. I like to close this with a family hug.
  3. Sand blending. Each of you has a container with different coloured sand to represent everyone’s unique place in the family. You, the couple, pour some of your sand into a vase to create the foundations for your family. Then your children pour their sand on top and the grains of sand become blended. This represents your new blended family. You and your partner add the last of your sand over the top sealing your family’s love and friendship. Pop a stopper in the top and you’ve got a gorgeous reminder to keep forever.

Words from Your Celebrant

I love talking about the kids as part of the script that I create for wedding ceremonies for blended families. Adding a special moment about becoming a family and what that means for everyone is great. Giving each of the kids a specific shout out in the welcoming words is a must, even if it embarrasses them! For something more low key, including family anecdotes in your love story is a fun way to bring your children in.

I often ask your guests to make commitments to you as a family towards the end of the ceremony for blended families. This is another way to recognise your new family unit without the kids having to do anything if they’d rather not! But if they’re up for getting involved they can stand with you during the guests’ commitments.

They could of course read a poem, there’s lots for kids to choose from. They might even like to write their own poem for the two of you. And a trusted aunt or friend could work with them so it’s a surprise for you on the day.

The Recessional for Blended Families

If your wedding ceremony is as much about your new family as it is about the two of you, then you might want to do something different for your recessional. Instead of being introduced as ‘The Happy Couple or ‘Mrs & Mrs Jones Smith’ you could be introduced as ‘The Jones Smith Family’. Your children stand with you for the closing words so you’re all ready to be introduced at the end. Then you all walk or dance down the aisle as a family to your favourite song. Or the kids go first and then you follow on while your guests shower you all in confetti or maybe bubbles.

Charlotte & Tony’s family wedding

There are plenty of options for your wedding ceremony to involve your children so they feel part of this new beginning. Getting them on board might be tricky, especially if they are teenagers. But secretly they’ll be glad you did!

Most of all, have fun with it and do what works for your tribe. Find out more about my wedding ceremony services on my wedding page.

Garden Wedding Ceremonies – how to smash your own garden ceremony

Garden wedding ceremonies seem to be the thing since lockdown. Choosing a garden wedding gives you so many options to celebrate your day in just the way you want. Whether you’re looking to create a laid-back party vibe or a glamourous alfresco affair. There is plenty of inspo out there to draw on but here are my top tips and ideas for garden wedding ceremonies…

  • If you have space, create a separate area that’s just for your ceremony. An enclosed area gives you an intimate feel with a ready-made backdrop. And you’ll be surprised how many people can fit into a relatively small area! If the garden is more open, define your space with low level bunting and natural flower displays.
  • Create a focal point for your ceremony which you and your celebrant will stand in front of. This could be an existing tree that you can up-style, or a pergola that can be adorned with artificial flowers if there aren’t any in bloom at the time of your ceremony. Alternatively you could hire or make your own wedding arch or order a flower hoop backdrop – the photos will be stunning.
Courtesy of Katy Holland Photography
  • So you’d love a garden wedding, but don’t have a garden, or can’t bear the thought of using your own – no problem. There are gorgeous houses that you can hire that have gardens just perfect for garden wedding ceremonies. Search for venues in the location where you want to marry. Some will provide you with a blank canvas for you to dress as you wish and others will provide a partial or full service, so you can let someone else do the organising. The Copse at Kidmore End is just dreamy. While The Old Rectory Estate near Reigate has fabulous different garden spaces to use as your day unfolds.
  • Having a garden wedding ceremony gives you the opportunity to add some unique touches to your ceremony. If you are getting married in your own garden, or your parents’ garden, you could include a tree planting to commemorate your nuptials. Having a wishing tree is a lovely way of involving all your guests. They can add ribbons, ornaments and wishes for you both to an existing tree before the ceremony starts. A flower exchange is also perfect for a garden wedding. You and your partner exchange a flower at the start of the ceremony and then place this in a vase. Roses are often used to represent love but you could choose your favourite flower from the garden. Family members can also join in by adding their flowers to the vase.
Wishing Tree
  • Live music is a gorgeous addition to any ceremony. Think acoustic guitar and talented singer performing your special tracks as you walk up the aisle and as you sign your marriage certificate. Check whether they will bring their own PA system with them, most artists will. And whether they’ll need a power supply. It’s also a good idea to talk to your celebrant about microphones. If your space is quite open then using mics ensures no-one will miss anything. Your celebrant may have their own wireless PA system that they will be happy to bring along.  
  • Including your family pet in your garden wedding ceremony is a must! Naturally this works best with dogs. They can take on the role of ring bearer or bringing up the ribbons for your hand fasting. Arrange for a friend or member of your family to be responsible for your pet during the ceremony. They can also steer them in the right direction when the time comes. Even if your pets can’t take an active role in your ceremony, you can dress their cage or treat them to a wedding collar so they are part of the celebrations. Don’t forget to include them in the photos too.
The gorgeous Ghost at Laura and Sam’s wedding
  • Be prepared to embrace nature! Garden weddings are gorgeous but bring some elements that you can’t control. Insects are part of outdoor life. So be ready for a bumblebee to take a liking to your bouquet or an ant to crawl up your trouser leg. I had a tiny spider crawl into my ear at one of my ceremonies this summer! We might also encounter a nosy flock of geese flying over just as you are about to exchange your vows or a gust of wind that takes your words away. But it’s all part of the fun, so we’ll pause for a moment and carry on.
  • We’re in England, you know what’s coming next – make sure you have a wet weather plan. In case the weather gods aren’t with you on the day, you’ll need a space for your ceremony that can accommodate all of your guests. Your reception marquee or tipi would be a great back up plan. Using your dance floor is the best option and the chairs can quickly be rearranged to seat everyone.

Find out more about my wedding celebrant services, and how to make your wedding ceremony the highlight of everyone’s day on my weddings page.

Choosing the Right Wedding Celebrant

You know that you want a wedding celebrant to lead your ceremony for your special day, and with the personal nature of celebrant led ceremonies why wouldn’t you? But finding the right celebrant can feel like a difficult task as there are plenty of us out there!

So here are my quick tips to help you find the perfect celebrant…

  •  A great place to start is on the wedding website directories. There are a few dedicated sites for celebrant searches, The Celebrant Directory and Humanist Ceremonies. While sites like Hitched and Bride Book have great listings for celebrants too.
  • Search for wedding celebrants who live reasonably close to you or your venue. Many celebrants will travel long distances but you’ll pay extra for this and there will be someone local-ish who will be right for you.
  • Come up with a longlist and do a bit of stalking! What do you think of their own website and social media presence? Have they got plenty of testimonials and endorsements? Who are they accredited by? Does their style match yours?

Arrange a consultation with your chosen few

  • Select 3 or 4 celebrants who you like the look of. Drop them a line to check their availability for your date and ask for a Zoom consultation. Most celebrants will be happy to arrange a free no-obligation chat, and they know you’ll be chatting to other celebrants too!
  • Use your consultation time to see how you get on and whether you’ll be a good fit for each other. Have they left you with some great ideas and feeling excited about your ceremony? Have they listened to what you want and guided you when needed? If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions then you’re on to a winner!
  • Also check out how they work, and what future meetings you’ll have as part of their fee. You should see a draft of your ceremony script so you can agree everything your celebrant is going to say. And talk to them about your vows too. How will they support you with creating personal vows that mean the world to the two of you? I have a ‘how to’ guide for my couples to set them in the right direction, plus extra help for those with writers’ block!
  • Finally, your wedding celebrant should be suggesting a rehearsal for your ceremony. This helps everyone who is going to be involved in the ceremony to know what’s expected of them. You can step through each stage together and practice your entrance. It’s great for settling everyone’s nerves and I like to do this the day before the ceremony if possible.  

Sealing the deal

  • If you think you’ve found the right celebrant get them booked ASAP. The date is only secure in their diary once you’ve signed your agreement and paid the deposit. Although most celebrants will hold the date for you if you express your intention to book, it’s best to get everything firmed up as soon as you’ve made your decision.
  • And you’ll want to check their agreement feels reasonable too, what is their policy around changes due to events such as COVID-19? Because you just never know what’s around the corner!

And that’s it. Good luck with your celebrant search and have some fun with it too.

If you’re not really sure why choosing a celebrant led wedding is the best choice you’ll make for your wedding day, check out my Celebrant Led Weddings blog for all the deets.

Celebrant Led Weddings – Why Bother?

Currently in England celebrant led weddings aren’t legally binding. So why do thousands of couples every year choose to have their wedding ceremony officiated by a celebrant instead of a registrar?

There are of course numerous answers to this question. Here are a few of the main reasons couples choose to tie the knot with a wedding celebrant leading the proceedings.

Getting personal

Celebrant led weddings dispense with any of the ‘must have’ elements. So your ceremony can include anything you choose and couples love the personal feel celebrants bring to ceremonies. One of my favourites is to include the couple’s love story. Telling how you met, early dating anecdotes, that romantic proposal and your hopes for the future. And reading out secret words you’ve written previously about each other is a really special moment.

Adding symbolic gestures into a wedding ceremony is also really popular. And I love conducting hand-fastings for my couples. Here your hands are bound together with ribbon while a blessing is made. Did you know this is where the phrases tying the knot and binding agreement originate? It’s a gesture steeped in history too. If you’re bringing families together a sand blending is a visual treat for everyone. Or you may like to involve all your guests in a ring warming. They take it in turns to imbue your wedding rings with love and wishes and the rings are ‘warmed’ when you come to exchange them.

Naturally you can include poems, readings, songs, exchange of your wedding vows and your wedding rings. But these can all be in any format you choose and you can write your own vows to share with each other. Your celebrant can help if the thought of having to write something fills you with panic!

Image courtesy of This and That Photography

Time is on your side with celebrant led weddings

There are no time constraints with celebrant led weddings. You won’t be rushed through for the next booking. So, without making it so long that your guests get fidgety, you can take as long as you like. I’d suggest that 45 mins is long enough with 35 mins being about right. Plenty of time for lots of personal and memorable elements without everyone straining to get to the fizz and canapes!

This means you can add extra elements to your ceremony that might take a bit of time. How about getting everyone on their feet to sing – karaoke style – to your favourite song. It’s an amazing moment with everyone singing their hearts out and sounds fab. You’ve also got time to involve friends and family more in your ceremony. There are lots of options here. Your parents could give you a blessing or your friends could share a memory or marriage tip for the two of you, which can be quite entertaining.

Location, location, location

Aha, the reason most couples choose celebrant led weddings – ‘cos you can marry anywhere you choose! There are no constrains as long as you have the land owner permission. I’ve conducted ceremonies in a woodland copse (so romantic), a family farm which added to the many memories already held on the land, country estate hotels like the stunning Wotton House near Dorking in Surrey, a private island on the Thames where the groom arrived by speed boat, a trendy wine bar in London, and numerous back gardens. I’m still waiting for an invitation to conduct a ceremony on a remote mountain pass or a vineyard in the Dordogne, but I am sure they will come!

Most couples have a single venue where you have your ceremony and celebrations together. This makes it easy for all your guests and great fun too. If a festival style wedding in a field with a festival bar and food, billowing bell star tents and dancing under the stars appeals, then a celebrant led wedding is certainly for you.  


You’ve done the legal bit already

Maybe you married abroad or during lockdown without all your friends and family with you to celebrate. Having a celebrant led wedding followed by a wedding breakfast let’s you share your wedding with everyone you choose. And no-one has to miss out on the special moment that you say ‘I do’, or the after party! It doesn’t matter when you did the legal bit. You can re-create your ceremony or create something completely new for your celebrant led wedding. Read more about this in my Re-weddings blog.  

But most couples who decide on a celebrant to lead their wedding do so because their ceremony will be just as they want it. Your legal wedding could take place in the days or weeks beforehand at the registrar office. Invite just a few of your nearest and dearest sharing the day with you. You can save exchanging your wedding rings for your celebrant service, and just do the legal bit. This can cost as little as £50. Or you could opt for having the registrar marry you at your wedding venue, assuming there is a licenced area, after your celebrant led wedding.

The choices are endless really, and that’s why you should bother!

Re-wedding, getting married all over again!

‘Re-wedding’ is a word made for Humanist wedding ceremonies!

If you chose to have your legal wedding abroad or witnessed by a few of your closest family then a re-wedding might be just the thing for you. Celebrate just the way you choose with all of your family and friends at the centre of your plans.


Your re-wedding venue

This can be anywhere you choose. Whether that’s a festival style wedding in a summertime field, a rustic country barn setting, or a gorgeous hotel on the banks of the Thames, and everything in-between.

Celebrate in your own style

I suggest taking a bit of time out to think about what you’d really like for your re-wedding. Consider the sort of venue that feels right and the atmosphere you’d like to create. Maybe your guests would love a relaxed party vibe with some games the best dance tunes rather than a formal wedding breakfast.

Your re-wedding ceremony

And what should you do about your wedding ceremony? You are married, and you’re wearing your rings to prove it. But you’d like your family and friends to share in the special moments when the two of you make promises to each other. To make up for this, many couples plan a celebrant-led wedding ceremony for their re-wedding. And these promise to be even more special than their legal service.

Image courtesy of This and That Photography

You can choose exactly what you’d like included in your wedding ceremony and involve your family and friends . You can create your own wedding vows centered on what you’d like to promise each other, and choose your own words for your ring exchange too.

You might like to add some symbolic gestures such as a ring warming ceremony. Here your guests take turns to hold your wedding rings and charge them with love and wishes for the two of you. Or maybe a handfasting with ribbons tied by your family as you make promises to each other would bring a fab visual element to your ceremony, you can read more about handfasting here. Another great way to involve all your guests in your re-wedding ceremony is to get everyone on their feet singing. Pick an easy song that everyone knows like ‘It Must Be Love’ from Madness and do it karaoke style! I guarantee everyone will get into it and you’ll create a really magical and fun moment.

If you’d like your re-wedding to feel like ‘the real thing’ you can also sign a marriage certificate with witnesses signing with you. This is a great moment for some fab photos too. And don’t forget to think about how you’d like to be introduced at the end of the ceremony. Are you going to be ‘Mr & Mrs’ or maybe you just want all your guests to ‘big it up for the happy couple’.

Choosing a celebrant

Your celebrant will be happy to talk through ideas and suggestions and to create a ceremony that reflects the two of you as a couple and the vibe you’d like for your re-wedding ceremony. If you’re not sure how to find the right celebrant, the Celebrant Directory will have the perfect person for you and lots of great tips too. Or you could, of course, just give me a call!

Good luck with your planning, and do drop me a line if you have any questions.

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

A big wedding with hundreds of guests isn’t everyone’s idea of a perfect wedding day. If that thought fills you with dread then a small and intimate wedding, or minimony as I’ve heard it called, might be just the thing. 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 your partner is pining for an evening do of tearing up the dance floor with one hundred of their best mates then throw a separate party that your parents won’t have to endure!


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; 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 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 in Richmond on the banks of the Thames or the stunning Pennyhill Park in Camberley, Surrey, 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.

Sarah and Andy married at The Humble Grape in London 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!

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 upstairs at The Joker in Brighton. 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

How to write your own wedding vows

Exchanging personal wedding vows to each other is a truly special moment in your big day. But how do you set about writing your own wedding vows?

This might seem like a daunting prospect among everything else that’s on your long to do list in the build up to your wedding, but following these simple steps will help guide you through writing wedding vows that work for you.

  • Agree at least an hour of uninterrupted time for the two of you and get comfy
  • Get Googling to see what already exists for some inspiration! There are plenty of suggestions out there and you can take ideas from different vows to create your own
  • With your recent Google finds in mind, think about the most important commitments that you want to make to each other for your future together. Don’t worry about the specific words for now just jot down ideas such as ‘to always be honest and open’ or ‘to make decisions together’ or ‘support each other to follow your dreams’
  • Next think about any individual words do you want to include in your vows? Maybe ‘sharing’ is important to you, ‘supporting’ each other or remaining ‘independent’
  • You can now start planning the structure for your vows. There are several ways you can start your vows such as:

I Joe take you Helen to be my lifelong partner and lover
Helen, I will always love and respect you

Then follow on with the commitments you have already agreed, in the form of promises such as:

I promise to support you and to help you follow your dreams
I will share my life with you, giving only the best of me to you

To finish off add a closing line such as:

I make these promises to you with all my heart
I promise to do this throughout our lives whatever our future may hold

  • Aim for 6 or 8 lines in total for your vows. Simple and sincere is the key
  • Once you have created your draft vows share these with your celebrant who can help you refine them if needed
  • Remember you don’t have to make the same promises to each other, choose what works best for you
Example wedding vows:

Helen, I will always love and respect you

I invite you to share my life as I hope to share yours

I promise to support you and help you to follow your dreams

I will try to bring you happiness and laughter

I will seek to achieve with you the life we have envisioned

Throughout our lives whatever our future may hold


Joe, you are my best friend and livelong partner

I promise to laugh with you, cry with you, and grow with you

I promise listen to you and to learn from you

I will love you when we are together and when we are apart

I will have faith in your love for me

Through all our years and all that life may bring us

Symbolic gestures for your wedding ceremony

Symbolic gestures add an extra dimension to any wedding ceremony making it more personal and memorable for you as a couple and your guests. There are plenty to choose from that work really well with humanist wedding ceremonies, here’s just a few of my current favourites…

Hand fasting ceremony

This is the best known symbolic gesture for weddings and involves tying ribbons around the hands of the couple whilst a hand blessing is read out, or the couple making promises to each other with the ribbons being tied by a friend or family member for each promise. The ribbons are then pulled by the couple to create a Celtic love knot or a chain of promises. In each case it has real visual impact and provides keepsake from your ceremony. And it is steeped in tradition, this is where the phrases ‘tying the knot’ and ‘binding agreement’ originate.


Ring warming ceremony

Ring warming is a great way of getting all of your guests involved in your wedding ceremony. Each guest is asked to take hold of the rings, which are tied with ribbon to a ring dish or wooden disc, and to privately bless the rings with their love and wishes for your future life together. This takes place during the ceremony and once the rings have been passed around all your guests they will be warmed with everyone’s blessings for you to then place on each other’s fingers. A really inclusive symbolic gesture for your wedding.


Sand blending ceremony

Particularly good for weddings by the sea, but sand blending ceremonies and work well anywhere and are a brilliant way of visually representing two families coming together. If you have children, either together or from previous relationships, this is a good way to help them feel part of your wedding too. Different coloured sands represent your families and are poured into a glass jar by each person, initially separately, and then together so the sand begins to blend in the jar. Promises can be made as the sand is poured by each family. The jar is then sealed as a keepsake of your special day.

Tree planting ceremony

If you are having your wedding ceremony in your own home or that of a relative then incorporating a tree planting ceremony as part of your celebrations leaves you with a daily visual reminder that will blossom and grow for many years. Close family and friends can be invited to add soil during the planting ceremony whilst making a blessing for your future together. You could also ask guests to write messages and tie these to the tree before the planting and then save these in a memories book afterwards.

Other ideas

There are plenty of other symbolic gestures that you can include such as lighting unity candles to bring your two families together; walking through a ceremonial arch at the end of your ceremony to represent your path together which guests then follow you through; lighting a ceremonial fire for guests to throw wooden discs into whilst making a wish; and really anything you think would work well for you. Humanist wedding ceremonies are all about making your day suit your personality as a couple.