Garden wedding ceremonies seem to be the thing for 2022, and you won’t be surprised to learn they were pretty popular in 2021 as well. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.