Spotlight Ceremonies

“But… HOW do you have a relaxed wedding?”

Spotlight Ceremonies

"But... how do you have a relaxed wedding?" one couple asked me.

It was a good question. Most of my couples tell me they don’t want anything too formal, and yet, when we go to weddings, there can be a slight awkwardness and rigidity until the alcohol gets flowing. So when weddings are all about CELEBRATION, JOY, LOVE, why can it feel rigid? And how can we avoid it?

Having considered my experiences as a Celebrant and as a guest, I have come up with TOP 10 TIPS for a relaxed wedding day. Of course, if you read these and they make you wince, perhaps you’re not so up for a relaxed wedding as you thought you might be! You see, there is a difference between wanting to feel relaxed on your wedding day and actually having a relaxed wedding!

Before diving straight in with the tips, let’s consider the potential reasons for weddings to err on the side of formal and/or rigid. You see, if you can identify the reasons, then you’re half way to knowing what to put in place to avoid it. Some of the main factors are:

  • The guests feel, or have even been told, that there are rules.
  • Even though you absolutely love everyone in the room, your guests don’t know (or may not even like!) each other.
  •  Wedding fatigue. They know the routine, they know what to expect.
  •  Your guests are unsure of what to expect so they default to British politeness (with which comes an element of reservedness).

So, here are my top tips for RELAXED wedding day!

  1. Choose a Celebrant (You knew I was going to say it!). A Celebrant ceremony IS LIKE NO OTHER! And I don’t mean a ‘Celebrant’ who comes with the registrar, I mean an Independent Celebrant. As a true Celebrant, I work independently, get to know you, and write your ceremony script from scratch. I include everything you want, and take out all the bits you hate! There will be no ‘been there, done that’ kinda feeling, and I work with you to create something super special.
  2. Choose a venue which allows for an intimate ceremony. Many licensed venues have stunning pergolas (used to be necessary for legal weddings) but this physically separates you from your guests. The intimacy you would have with your partner in a pergola is often at the cost of feeling that your guests are part of the wedding ceremony. When guests are sat so far away, they become observers.
  3. Avoid lots of secrets prior to the wedding day. One or two surprises might be nice, but if you keep much of your big day a secret, your guests don’t know what to expect, and also won’t get excited with you.
  4. Trust your guests and avoid rules!* Trust that they know how to dress and know when it’s appropriate to take photographs. And if they don’t, don’t sweat it – they think they look great, so what do you care? And they want to take a photo because they think YOU look fab and they want to remember the moment… so again, why do you care!? *see tip 4) for the only exemption!
  5. Create a talking point so it gives a topic for small talk and/or a reason for guests to mingle. For example, your ushers could give out wedding bingo cards to everyone as they arrive, you could include a Mr and Mrs game for all the guests to play, you could get everyone up for group dancing (Bollywood style / Caelidh / barn dancing). 
  6. Pre-warn your guests that you expect whooping and cheering, and suggest you may even enjoy some heckling or wolf whistle. Also ask your Celebrant to remind guests that cheering is not only welcome, but actively encouraged. This will get your wilder friends in the party spirit from the get go, and this feeling rubs off on everyone!
  7. Choose upbeat music to play before the ceremony, and keep the energy going for the entry song. Slow, romantic, wistful music is nice, but it will certainly reverse the party atmosphere a bit.
  8. Allow drinks in the ceremony. Registrars will not allow this, and some venues may not either, so it’s worth checking. However, having a drink in hand really helps create a relaxed vibe. Also, ‘no drinks’ is another rule!
  9.  Include group vows in your ceremony. This is the best way to feel the love, support and excitement from your guests. It feels great when you get a raucous ‘YES, WE DO!’ and guests LOVE actively giving their support! The energy and love from the group vows is electric and creates such a lovely atmosphere for the marrying couple to then say their vows.
  10. Smile(!) and interact with your guests. Chat with your guests before the ceremony. If you’re making an entrance (as brides often do), smile at your guests as you walk down the aisle, fist bump your nephew or the best man, hug your granny, if you want to make a comment, make it! The moment is yours to do what you want, and your guests will instantly feel relaxed if you are.