A Unique, Personal Celebration…
Have you been looking at different options for your wedding ceremony? Do you want something that is personal and reflects you both as a couple?
Well, today we have Louisa from Starr Gazing Ceremonies (who is a member of our directory) sharing some advice for couples looking for a non-traditional ceremony…
Louisa from Starr Gazing Ceremonies…
What is the difference between a tradition church marriage and an independent ceremony?
Starr Gazing Ceremonies works as an Independent Celebrant which means that the only belief that I follow is that the beliefs and wants of the couple. If a couple wants a ceremony that is non-religious, religious, pagan, spiritual, agnostic or any belief that they follow or indeed don’t follow, that is the belief that I follow too. My main belief is to ensure that the couple receive a ceremony that reflects their own beliefs, philosophies, preferences, wants and that it reflects their personalities and characters too.
What kind of flexibility is there with an Independent Celebrant? Are there any rules or regulations?
With myself, there are no rules apart from having fun and enjoying the ceremony part of the day. It is often a part that is ignored and is over and done with so quickly that the importance of it is not recognised. This is the part of the day where couples are saying to each other why they want to be married and why they love that person. The ceremony can be light-hearted and funny or more subdued and poignant depending on what the couple want. A combination of of these characteristics is what I usually try and display as this is what makes a cermeony memorable. There is no restriction on the length of time for the ceremony or place and location either.
What legal requirements have to be completed beforehand or afterwards?
I advise that the legal parts are done before the ceremony so that we are in no way restricted with what can be said and done at the ceremony. You can get legally married for as little as £50 at a local registry office which takes only about 15 minutes of your time which means the rest of your time can be taken with planning your perfect ceremony at your perfect location.
What kind of things will need to be discussed with your celebrant?
I discuss with couples, first what their preferences are, but then after meeting with them try to get to know them and engage with their personalities so I can see what sort of ceremony would suit them best. I like to find out things like their hobbies and likes and if or not these things are an important part of their relationship. For example, I have performed weddings where we have included a film quiz, a music quiz and even a cup of tea making competition! I have had a Blackadder themed wedding and pagan weddings too. There are many traditional symbolic ceremonies that people may choose but if there is not one that they like, then once I have found out more about them, I will create one suitable. For example, for a couple that spent lots of time travelling together, I created a ceremony involving filling a rucksack with items that were important to them that had been picked up along the way and were symbolic to them only. I also love to include music in the ceremonies and often work with a pianist or guitarist so that we can include a sing-a-long song for all of the guests and also include musical references if they are relevant to the ceremony.
How long does a ceremony last for?
The length of a ceremony is totally up to the couple. The average is 30mins yet I have performed ones as long as an hour or as short as 10 mins!
What kind of things have people shared during the ceremony?
I often suggest involving guests as they are an important part of the proceeedings. Readings, songs etc are often included but they don’t have to be. I have had children come and perform violin solos before as well as friends of the couple perform a little play as part of the ceremony and even film scene re-enactments!
How can couples find the right words to say to each other during the ceremony? Should they write their own words of love or can they find inspiration from somewhere?
Either. Some people find writing their own vows easy but some people do not. I had a bride once just quote her favourite song lyrics to her husband to be! I will try and help as much as a I can with this part of people are struggling and so can provide suggestions for vows if they need it but I do often suggest to people that they try and write their own so as to make it very personal. The vows can be amusing too. I have had people promise to each other that they will do the washing on a Friday and always keep the Pringles supply in the cupboard full! The point is that the vows are based on the important parts of your relationship.
Can religious beliefs be included in the ceremony?
As said before, with me that is fine. I have performed many ceremonies where one partner has been religious and the other hasn’t but we have included prayers as a symbol and recognition of their faith and to show that each partner respects the others beliefs.
How can loved ones, that may not sadly be around anymore, be included in the ceremony?
If there are people that sadly can’t be there on the day, there are many ways of including them by having photos etc around and I will talk about them so as to remember them and make it clear why they are important. I often include a lighting of a candle ceremony at the start of the service so it remains as a memory and presence of loved ones that are unable to be there.
What is involved with a hand fasting ceremony?
There are many ways to perform hand fasting. Some can involve many different colour ribbons chosen by the couple that represent different meanings and symbolism and can be tied individually in accordance with a promise for each that is related to the meaning of the colour. Some folk have just had one rope that has already been folded together with different colours and so have a general vow and promise to each other.
It is often nice in some handfasts that members of the family or friends are the ones that come and tie the knots (where the expression comes from) so that they are included in the ceremony.
How do you decide what kind of ceremony you want?
In terms of deciding the right ceremony for you, that is what a celebrant is for! We will chat and get to know each other so that I can figure out what would be best. Brainstorming sessions together often helps with this as sometimes couples have no idea where to start. From this, I can then go and think about some suggestions and go from there. The idea is that every ceremony is unique and special to the couple. I never use the same script at all for any ceremony. I always start form scratch so every single one is original.
Thank you Louisa!