Great Ways To Personalise A Wedding Ceremony! A round table Hot Topic discussion with Yvonne Beck Celebrant, Mark Fenn Jewellery and Tim Podesta MC.
Listen to Yvonne, Mark and Tim on the Wedding Espresso Awesome DIY Wedding Planning Podcast…
Recently I was reminiscing again about our wedding. And I was thinking of all the ways that we we kind of personalised our own wedding ceremony, and made it unique.
Now I think going back a few years we might have been slightly ahead of the curve choosing a celebrant led ceremony, so we’re leading the charge there. Not as popular as they are now. We were fortunate enough to have the option of a humanist ceremony because we got married in Scotland. Which meant that we obviously had the legals tied in with the actual ceremony itself. But one of the key things for us was we chose a really beautiful venue, it had stunning gardens. And we thought you know wouldn’t it be special and unique if we could just have that wonderful kind of country garden, sun shining down, floral archway beautiful setting. And of course, you know what’s coming next, it rained. So that was kind of just dashed against the Bricks, you know, it’s over guys. That’s not going to happen.
But the fantastic thing was, because we had worked with our celebrant to personalise our ceremony, it was so easy to pick it up and take it and transplant it, and put it inside. So we had the whole thing run like clockwork as we planned.
It was inside instead of outside. And once it kicked off it really wasn’t… we just got lost in the moment. You know, the emotion of the event just took over. It wasn’t a big issue. But the key thing there is that, humanism aside, which is a different rule for Scotland than it is for England and Wales obviously, but humanism aside, the celebrant led ceremony is magic. Because like I said, we had planned a garden wedding, and if the sun had been shining, that would have been OK.
And so one of the best ways to personalise a wedding ceremony, from our perspective, is to go with a celebrant led ceremony, because you can literally hold it anywhere.
And I’m sure, you know, Yvonne will sort of attest to this, that you can pick some absolutely incredible locations. And if there’s something out there that is absolutely you as a couple, then a celebrant led some ceremony is going to let you go and do it in the location that best suits your personality and your style and your dreams and your hopes and your vision. So that’s a fantastic, fantastic way to personalise the ceremony.
James: [00:02:31] And I’ll also just throw in that sadly we didn’t know Mark at the time, but we did have our rings handmade bespoke. So Rachel did have a ring that fit around her engagement ring. So again, we brought a little bit of this sort of personalisation to the event with that. And we also did have a master of ceremonies And we found him incredibly useful. Sadly, again, we didn’t know Tim at the time, but we did have a master of ceremonies and he was absolutely integral to our ceremony because he was running around organising everything. Without us having to ask or say or do. And just knowing that there was someone pulling the strings during the event, getting Rachel sorted out to come downstairs on time. Fantastic. Absolutely flawless. So those are, funnily enough, I mean this group of people here are all amazing ways to personalise your wedding ceremony. So yeah that’s my little bit guys. What have you been thinking about this hot topic?
Tim: [00:03:31] I’ve got three quick ones.
Yvonne: [00:03:33] Shall I go first?
James: [00:03:33] Sorry Yvonne, I think Tim’s jumped in there.
Tim: [00:03:40] I’ve got three quick ones that come straight to mind around civil ceremonies, which are very common in venues.
And as a Toastmaster I’ve been involved in quite a number of those. The entrance of the bride, the bridal party, they’re all very different. Particularly if you’ve got youngsters involved.
That can add a little bit of “how’s it going to go”. But it normally works beautifully. There’s the music. I think live music makes a big difference. And then the third one is the readings. Very interesting, very different readings people bring to those events. So those are the three that I would have noticed.
James: [00:04:18] It’s nice that you bring this up actually Tim because I had my niece. Or we had our niece do the whole “Here Comes the Bride”, with the flag. She was a flag bearer. So I mean that was a really kind of cute element.
The music, we didn’t have live music, but being a massive music nut I did arrange all the music for the ceremony.
So I gave the sound guys a playlist. I was like this is the music for Rachel coming in and this is the music for signing and we had a big long list. So yeah those are very, very good points.
Mark: [00:04:51] I think Yvonne you can go now!
Yvonne: [00:04:53] Oh right okay. I was just thinking about some of my more unusual ceremonies and how people have personalised those. And the one that always comes to mind was one of the early ones that I did which was for a couple who were animal welfare lovers. And so they loved animals and they wanted animals to be part of their wedding ceremony. They found Huglets animal sanctuary. They had raised, over 30 years, a herd of cows and bulls and they introduced me, the week before the wedding ceremony, to all of these individual animals, and told me their story and how they cared for them.
On the day I was in the field with 30 cows and bulls behind me. As I started speaking to the guests they became, being very nosy animals, came up behind me, and there is a picture of the wedding ceremony and how one of the cows decided to eat my dress as I was speaking.
So that was probably the most unusual, and also one of the most memorable. Because for Jenny and Mark, their wedding day was all about sharing their love of animals and they both had written poems, instead of readings, that they read out to each other. Family and friends helped to feed the animals afterwards. We were given ginger nuts, which apparently are a great favourite of cows and bulls, and also carrots to give to them. And then that was followed by a beautiful vegan wedding breakfast.
Yvonne: [00:07:00] From their point of view, it couldn’t have been more about this couple. And…
that’s what I encourage my couples to do. To include their values and beliefs and their lifestyle, and make sure that they include all the little and the big things that they really want to have included.
And that would be the location, the meaning, the rituals, the people that they want to ask to come up and help them. Many people are very proud to be part of your wedding ceremony, and I think that there are no rules with a celebrant led ceremony. So virtually anybody can be asked to do something.
James: [00:07:43] Yes very, very true. So what do you think Mark?
Mark: [00:07:52] Well Tim and Yvonne have touched on a couple of things that I’ve got listed down. I say I’m not a ceremony supplier. I see the couples normally before they get married. There is a bit of a trend at the moment.
I’m getting couples coming to make their wedding rings after they’ve got married. But that’s a bit different, a bit new for me.
Mark: [00:08:17] For me, what our couples can do is… What I offer is to make each other’s wedding rings. Even if they don’t, even if they go and buy wedding rings, they can personalise those. They can have the inside engraved and that’s done a lot. And it could be anything. One of the trends is they have each other’s initials, and then the date of the wedding. I’ve had couples do a part of their favourite song. A bit of a line of poetry. So the couples know that it’s there, no one else does. Because once the rings are on, they don’t take them off. So that’s one way that they can personalise the rings.
Mark: [00:09:12] The ceremony, like I say, I’m not there, I don’t have an input to that. But my own thoughts were as Tim said about the vows, and the celebrant, Yvonne, is they can write their own vows. Okay. Poetry. Make your own Wedding invitations. I suppose that’s okay. And if they’re crafty, if they want to do something at home in the evenings. They can make things for that. And if they’re really good, make something for the wedding day like a waistcoat. Even the flowers, so there are lots of ways that couples can have an input to their day that makes it their own. And as I say, all of us here who are in the wedding services, we’re here to help the couples. The clients have a request, I do it. And I presume Yvonne and Tim do the same thing. That if a couple comes to them, and wants a particular thing for their day, and that’s the thing, it’s their day. It’s not mine. It’s nobody else’s, it’s their day, and they want something, I do my utmost to help them get what they want. Because as I say, it is a big day, and they want it to be memorable for the right reasons. So that’s my little input into some of the things that they could do.
James: [00:10:43] Fantastic. Now that we’re actually talking about it, a couple more things spring to mind actually. I remember that throughout our very, very illustrious career filming weddings, we saw, as you can imagine, just about everything. Anything going, we’d seen it somewhere. And I kind of tried to try to incorporate as much of it as I possibly could. And…
I thought I’m gonna have a crack at writing a poem. I’m gonna have a crack at writing a song. And so I actually asked my sister “will you sing this song if I write it?” And she said “yes, I’m terribly nervous, but I’ll give it a go.”
So that was written for Rachel, which obviously was kind of a personal gift from me I suppose, an effort. It was okay. The poem, I gave to my mom to read out. Because I knew that she would be kind of proud as punch to take this poem that her son had written. Very, very average poetry I might add. But because I had written it, she was so proud to stand up there and deliver it. And I think when you just think slightly outside the box, and you think, you know, who can I give something a little bit more personal to, to do this, then they are going to feel so energised and proud to be there for you. And that’s another way of just really making it yours. And again, you know, not to sort of wax lyrical about it, but celebrant led ceremony, that’s going to allow you to do that. So that’s a fantastic, fantastic way of incorporating your family and friends.
I’ve had someone have a dog with a little bag with the rings in it. So their pet dog came down the aisle for them. They even included their pet.
So I think that was a nice touch. It’s not something you see every day. Or maybe you do now. Back in my day, when we got married, it was like everything was more regimented. If that’s the right word? It was like a registry office. You went there. Church, it was the vicar. So it was bit more… You didn’t have the freedom. It seems that nowadays couples have more freedom to personalise their ceremony. Back in the day, I’ve been married for 34 years. It wasn’t done, you had the wedding most probably your parents most probably had. So nowadays I think couples can really make their own mark, make their own day of it. That’s special to them. So yeah. So that’s what looking back, to now, I think it’s great that these couples can personalise their own day.
Tim: [00:13:37] And I celebrated 34 years of marriage this year and my wedding was organised by my mother in law.
James: [00:13:48] Oh wow!
Tim: [00:13:48] But that’s the way it was. What I notice today is huge variety of types of arrangements that you can have. Which is great! But you still have to…
A lot of weddings have to cater for families and all the generations. And so it’s a balance between having some traditions, some formality and new stuff.
That’s where I find I try to be as helpful as I can. I can hopefully bring that balance.
James: [00:14:24] That’s brilliant! I think the other thing that Rachel and I were very, very, very keen on doing is, because kind of our heart belongs half in Scotland and half in Yorkshire. We’re kind of like, you know, torn between the two really. And we wanted to take Yorkshire to Scotland somehow. And at that time… Yvonne’s probably heard of it, the peace Hall in Halifax? Was closing down.
Yvonne: [00:14:49] Yes.
James: [00:14:49] Europe’s largest old cloth selling “place”. It’s enormous. And it’s full of little shops. And there were little boutique shops, and it was closing down for refurb, and there’s a very, very old bookstore in there.
So Rachel and I went in and bought up as many interesting kind of old books as we could find. Because we thought we would put books on the tables as part of our decorations. Because reading is one of our things.
And we found this book called old Yorkshire songs. And in it was a very, very old, old Yorkshire song, written in the Yorkshire dialect. So you couldn’t understand half of it. But we thought it was fantastic. And it was called “I went a courtin’ t’other n’ght”. You know, I went out on a date the other night. So we thought “you know what, this is really funny”. It’s Yorkshire and we love it. And my brother is a bit of a character. He loves performance. And so we thought if we give this to Matthew, you know, what’s he going to do with it? So I sent it to him. He lives in Australia. So I sent it to him and said Matthew can you read this at our wedding? And he said “Yes sure. Leave it with me.”.
James: [00:15:58] And he turned up with the entire song in his head. So he didn’t have any paper to read it from. And he just delivered it in pure Yorkshire dialect. Just from the top of his head. The video actually is up on Wedding Espresso. So if you actually look for the blog post under J&R stories, which is “I went a courtin’ t’other n’ght” then you will find Matthew’s rendition of that Yorkshire song. And it is something to see. So yeah that’s another way…
I think places matter to people as well. And I think if you can bring in the places that are important to you, and incorporate them in your ceremony, that can be huge. People are very proud of where they’re from.
Tim: [00:16:43] Yes. It springs to mind, a question about personalising events, which is really a question for Yvonne, related to multilingual events. I have experience of being involved with Franko-English type events where actually there has been both languages at play, and with that skill of being able to speak both, I found I’ve been very helpful, and it’s been much appreciated. But I noticed Yvonne, you do German and other languages like that. What’s your experience of using those and how people specialised events?
Yvonne: [00:17:20] Well it’s really interesting because I moved to Germany a year ago with my husband’s job. And I haven’t spoken the language for 50 years. So I had the basics and the grammar, and I could speak in conversation and get around the shops. And you know, all the technical things you have to learn. Opening a bank account and everything. I was actually developing my language quickly enough to offer bilingual ceremonies.
And hey presto within a month of me changing my website to Bilingual, I had several bilingual ceremonies booked in. You know it represents about a third of the ceremonies that I do.
[00:18:27] Because I think people meet each other in different places nowadays. And quite often want to hold a ceremony that actually respects and honours their heritage, and their background, and language is sometimes part of that. So I do know Spanish and Italian celebrants who work in both languages. There’s also a request for Greek and Russian and Portuguese languages. I’ve had my ceremonies translated lately into Mandarin. And I think that you being bilingual or trilingual now, is a real skill set to have and to offer to a couples and their families because it makes their ceremony so much more inclusive to the generations that are there.
Yvonne: [00:19:31] Because obviously in Germany now, the younger generation all speak English perfectly, probably better than I do. I’ve got a bit of Yorkshire still in there. But the older generations… And where I live now in Potsdam, which is the old east part of Germany, people of my age don’t speak English very well, and they struggle with that. And so yes it’s hard to have a ceremony where everyone feels included. And my ceremonies that are bilingual, that I’ve experienced, took only a welcome or introduction in the language, all the way through to complete translation of every word. Which obviously some times makes the ceremony a bit longer.
Yvonne: [00:20:22] But it’s a lovely surprise for those guests who were just expecting to hear it all in English.
As soon as they heard me start they all say “this is so awesome”. And it is for me too, it makes me feel very proud.
My French isn’t good enough to be able to fulfil that. But I know plenty of celebrants now who are using their language skills, that they haven’t maybe used for years. And one of my friends who is a celebrant, is Dutch, and she’s been using her skills in Holland and in England and we get to choose. So I think that it’s something that we’re open to. We’re open to traveling to help with the ceremony in the most meaningful way to the couple. And that could be for me, England, Austria and Germany. Europe.
James: [00:21:38] There’s certainly room in the market for an old Yorkshire dialect speaking celebrant. Should anybody find a copy of that book that we’ve got.
Yvonne: [00:21:58] Of course!
James: [00:21:59] Thanks a lot guys, that was great. Lots of great information shared there, lots of good ideas!