Monday 13 March 2023

Writing your own wedding vows - a guide for planning

 Should we write our own vows?


If I had a dollar for every time couples asked me this question, let’s just say I would be lying on a beach in the Bahamas sipping a cocktail.

There is really no right or wrong answer to this question and it is honestly nothing more than a consideration of what kind of person you are and if you feel confident with words and your ability to deliver them in front of a live audience. One thing that I have definitely noticed is that the ladies are always far more eager to take on this task than the gentlemen. Why? I really have no idea but for some reason it almost always seems to be the case all but for a few exceptions.

When I sit down to put together a ceremony with a couple, the vows is always the section that takes us the longest to work through. There are lots of options and different methods of delivery and it’s often hard to decide in advance what your level of confidence will be like on the day.

The easiest way to do this is to break it down into 2 sections and they are Delivery and Content.

Firstly, delivery –    Do you want to repeat them after the celebrant or priest?

                                Read them from a card or

                                Recite them from memory

Making a decision about which method of delivery you will use greatly affects your content but we will look at that in a moment.

Secondly, content –  Do you want to write something personal from the heart

                                  Choose a standard vow(modern or traditional)

                                  Adapt/reword a standard vow or one personally written by someone else

Choosing a particular mode of delivery directly affects your choice of content due to the fact that if you really want to repeat the words after the Celebrant/Priest then 2-3 lines is about the maximum length you can use. Something personally written is usually not a good choice in this instance because it tends to be longer than 2-3 lines and does not come across well to guests. Vows longer than 2-3 lines are not pleasant when repeated because as you can imagine the guests feel like they are watching a tennis match, celebrant says a couple words, bride repeats the words, celebrant says a couple more words, Bride repeats and so on and on and on and then it’s the grooms turn to do it all over again!

Repeat: If you choose the option repeating after the Celebrant/Priest, by far the best idea is to choose either a short standard Vow or a personal vow that is no longer than about 3 lines in length (including the legal wording).

Read: If you are happy to read your Vows from a card then you are free to write anything you want as long as you ensure that the approx 2 lines that the Commonwealth stipulate must be said in order for your marriage to be valid (your celebrant or priest will discuss this with you).

HANDYHINT: If you decide to write your own vows then a great thing to bring it all to life is to write your vows to each other secretly and submitted them to the Celebrant/Priest separately so that the other does not know what will be said on the day. This is wonderful and adds an element of excitement for you as the couple on the day. I have seen this leave couples sobbing when the words are spoken.

Recite: The final option is to recite your vows from memory. When I got married many years  ago, I remember the Deacon who married us saying that we MUST learn our vows because it is the one thing that we have to do for ourselves on the day. I understand his point about he fact that each person should make the effort to at least remember what they want to say to the other, but in all honesty it ruined my experience of my ceremony because I was so petrified of forgetting the vows that it was all I could think about or concentrate on rather than really enjoying my wedding day and having all of my family and friends together.

Since then I have only ever had two couples who were absolutely sure that they wanted to recite their vows from memory and they were practising right up until the last moment and ………. in both cases I ended up having to prompt them through it. It is not because they just suddenly forgot, it is because it is very difficult to anticipate how powerful it is standing up there and the rollercoaster of emotions that is consuming you as you look at each other with all of your loved ones looking on.

My final bit of info on this topic is just a small caution. If you are going to write your own vows and especially if you are going to keep them secret, MAKE SURE that you are on the same page in terms of the tone. For example I had a couple who submitted their vows separately and while his was a full page of gushing about how divine his beautiful bride to be was and how he had fallen in love with her from the instant he saw her, when I read her vows my heart almost skipped a beat. Her vows were a hilarious account of their life together and all of his bad habits that disgusted her and drove her crazy and how she loved him for it. Both were great stories, but it would have been a disaster for him to give his loving speech only for her to follow with her comedy routine.

When deciding on what to choose for your vows, talk to each other about it and try to find an option that you are both comfortable with. A good Celebrant or Priest will always have a stack of options and ideas so rely on their expertise to guide you in the right direction.

If you have any problems or questions at all, feel free to comment. We're more than happy to help you out.

The Wedding Gurus xx

Saturday 11 March 2023

10 Ideas to Plan the Perfect Hen's Night

Here are our top 10 tips for planning a Hen's night the bride will love!



1. Ask the Bride First

If you’re looking for pointers on how to plan the perfect hens night, who better to talk to than the bride herself? She’ll either leave it all up to you or she’ll have a few ideas of her own. Either way it’s always best to hash it out first. If she wants to help you plan, add a few extra surprises along the way.


2. Start Early

If you’re planning a hen’s night, day or weekend it’s best to plan well in advance. This will ensure that all the guests are available and you’ll also be less stressed come the big day.


3. Guest List

Again, you should ask the bride before sending out the invites. You might have a few ideas and want to surprise her but it’s best if she knows who’s invited first so that no one is left out.


4. Pick a Date

Once you’ve got the guest list sorted you can start hashing out dates. Have a few options handy and ask around. One of the dates will ultimately be better suited to most people. Unfortunately when planning parties it’s almost inevitable that one or two people won’t be able to make it but always choose a date that fits the bride, VIP’s and majority of guests.


5. Budget

Once you’ve planned the events you should be able to stick to a budget. You can have a great time without spending a whole lot of money. Keep in mind any accommodation, meals, activities etc. It’s a good idea to let everyone know well ahead of time if you need them to chip in.


6. Accommodation

Whether you’re all staying the night in a fancy hotel or you just need somewhere to play party games, you need to plan your accommodation and book well in advance.


7. Activities

Sure there’s the good old pub crawl but that’s not going to fit with every hen. Instead of coming up with traditional hen night ideas think about the hen’s personality and favourite things and come up with some ideas based around that. It’s hard to go wrong with spa treatments and anything that will pamper your hen and guests.


8. Gifts

The hen’s night is the perfect time to give the hen those cheeky gifts for the wedding night and honeymoon period. Why not buy some beautiful lingerie or some bedroom games for the hen and her rooster.


9. Dinner

Pick a restaurant you and the girls haven’t been to before. Ask for recommendations and always check the place out before you book. See if there’s a secluded area where the party can reside and always check the wine list.


10. Girls Night

A lot of hens would rather a girl’s night in than a pub crawl. Host a girlie sleepover, complete with pyjamas, sleeping bags, beauty kits, romantic comedies and magazines.




Special thanks to Guest Blogger, Sandra Worsley


Author Bio: Sandra Worsley is an experienced Australian writer. She often provides great tips on wedding preparations and organising special events.

Sunday 5 March 2023

Wording for a Wedding Ceremony - Pagan Elements & Handfasting

If you're the kind of couple who haven't attended many weddings, it can be difficult to come up with ideas when it comes to thinking about your own wedding ceremony. It's easy to get caught up in planning the party, the food and the cake, but many forget that it is at the ceremony they actually become husband and wife. It is the words they say to each other and the declarations made in front of their guests that will be looked back upon as the years pass.

Usually your celebrant or officiant will provide you with plenty of options to consider for your ceremony, but a ceremony that has been personalised with some of the things that are truly special to the couple and reflect who they are always leave those in attendance with a sense of connection and sincerity. 

Today we thought we would bring you an actual ceremony that was put together by a couple who wanted to incorporate some Pagan elements to their day. We hope you enjoy it and we look forward to bringing you some more ceremony options.





The Ceremony


Welcome:

(Warming of the rings) On behalf of Andrew and Kathryn I would like to welcome you here today to celebrate with them as they pledge their commitment to one another in marriage. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for being here and showing them your support.

 

Introduction:

We have come together here in celebration of the joining together of Kathryn and Andrew. There are many things to say about marriage. Much wisdom concerning the joining together of two souls, has come our way through all paths of belief, and from many cultures. With each union, more knowledge is gained and more wisdom gathered. Though we are unable to give all this knowledge to these two, who stand before us, we can hope to leave with them the knowledge of love and its strengths and the anticipation of the wisdom that comes with time.

 

The law of life is, love unto all beings. Without love, life is nothing, without love, death has no redemption. Love is anterior to Life, posterior to Death, initial of Creation and the exponent of Earth. If we learn no more in life, let it be this.

 

Marriage is a bond to be entered into only after considerable thought and reflection. As with any aspect of life, it has its cycles, its ups and its downs, its trials and its triumphs. With full understanding of this, Andrew and Kathryn have come here today to be joined as one in marriage.

 

Giving of the bride:

Celebrant: Others would ask, at this time, who gives the bride in marriage, but, as a woman is not property to be bought and sold, given and taken, I ask simply if she comes of her own will and if she has her family's blessing.

 

Celebrant: Kathryn, is it true that you come of your own free will and accord?

 

Kathryn: Yes, it is true.

 

Celebrant:  And with whose blessings accompany you. 

Bride's attendant: She’s accompanied with her father’s blessings.

 

Envoking the elements:

In times past it was believed that the human soul shared characteristics with all things divine. It is this belief which assigned virtues to the cardinal directions; East, South, West and North. It is in this tradition that a blessing is offered in support of this ceremony.

 

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the East. Communication of the heart, mind, and body Fresh beginnings with the rising of each Sun. The knowledge of the growth found in the sharing of silences.

 

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the South. Warmth of hearth and home The heat of the heart's passion The light created by both To lighten the darkest of times.

 

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the West. The deep commitments of the lake The swift excitement of the river The refreshing cleansing of the rain The all encompassing passion of the sea.

 

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the North Firm foundation on which to build Fertility of the fields to enrich your lives A stable home to which you may always return.

 

Each of these blessings from the four cardinal directions emphasizes those things which will help you build a happy and successful union. Yet they are only tools. Tools which you must use together in order to create what you seek in this union.

 

Any Legally Required Words

 

Reading: Why Marriage? - Mari Nichols-Haining

Why Marriage? Because to the depths of me, I long to love one person, with all my heart, my soul, my mind, my body .

 

Because I need a forever friend to trust with the intimacies of me, who won't hold them against me, who loves me when I'm unlikable, who sees the small child in me, and looks for the divine potential of me.

 

Because I need to cuddle in the warmth of the night with someone who is thankful, with someone I feel blessed to hold.

 

Because marriage means opportunity to grow in love in friendship.

 

Because, knowing this, I promise myself to take full responsibility for my spiritual, mental and physical wholeness, I create me, I take half of the responsibility for my marriage together we create our marriage.

 

Because with this understanding the possibilities are limitless.

 

  

The Handfasting:

Celebrant:  

Please join hands. As your hands are joined, so now are your lives.

Above you are the stars

below you are the stones

as time does pass

Remember

Like a star should our love be constant

Like a stone should your love be firm

Be close, but not too close

Posses one another, but be understanding

Have patience with one another

For storms will come, but they will go quickly

Be free in the giving of affection and warmth

Make love often, and be sensuous with one another

Have no fear and let not the ways or words

of the unenlightened give you unease for the Gods are with you.

 

Vows: 

I ask you now to exchange your vows. We’ll start with you Andrew.

 

Andrew:  I ask all present to witness that I, Andrew James Lane, take you, Kathryn Cameron, to be my lawful wife. I pledge to share my life openly with you, to speak the truth to you in love. I promise to honour and tenderly care for you, to cherish and encourage your own fulfilment as an individual for the rest of my life. I am honoured to call you my wife, my soul mate and I will love you unconditionally forever and some more.

 

And now it’s Kathryn’s turn.

 

Kathryn:  I ask all present to witness that I, Kathryn Cameron, take you, Andrew James Lane to be my lawful husband. I pledge to share my life openly with you, to speak the truth to you in love. I promise to honour and tenderly care for you, to cherish and encourage your own fulfilment as an individual for the rest of my life. I am honoured to call you my husband, my soul mate and I will love you unconditionally forever and some more.”

 

Celebrant:  Andrew and Kathryn have made their vows to each other in the presence of those dear to them; I then take this cord and bind them to those vows.

 

(Celebrant ties the ribbon around hands).

 

The Asking/Exchange of Rings

Celebrant Kathryn and Andrew, as these circles are designed without an ending, they speak of eternity. May the incorruptible substance of these rings represent a love glowing with increasing lustre through the years. Bless these rings which you give to each other as the sign of your love, trust, and faithfulness.

 

Celebrant: Andrew will you take Kathryn to be your wife and soul mate, to travel through all your lives together, to love, laugh, cherish, communicate and understand each other as long as love may last?

 

Andrew; I Will.

 

Celebrant to bride;

Kathryn will you take Andrew to be your husband and soul mate, to travel through all your lives together, to love, laugh, cherish, communicate and understand each other as long as love may last?

 

Kathryn; I Will.

 

Bride and groom say together

“Heart to thee, soul to thee, always and forever, so mote it be.

 

Celebrant: So mote it be

 

Guests: So mote it be.

 

Announcement:  Now that you have joined yourselves in marriage, may you strive always to meet this commitment with the same spirit you now exhibit. We all bear witness to this ceremony you have just performed, may the gods bless this union, and may the majesty of this earth protect you in your joined lives together. You may now kiss your bride.

 

Signing:

We will now be taking a few minutes to sign the legal paperwork. Please Feel free to take photos.

 

Presentation:

Having said that It now gives me great pleasure to introduce to you for the first time as a married couple……Andrew and Kathryn Lane.

 


Sunday 12 February 2023

Valentine's Day - What's it all about?

 


Every year, the 14th day of February sees all of us, no matter what age or sex, scurrying about organising surprises, no matter how big or small and presenting our loved ones with flowers, chocolates and whatever other treat or gift we can think of to show our love.

Every table in every good restaurant is usually taken well in advance and God help the poor boyfriend, husband or fiancĂ©e who didn’t get a chance to shop!

While we give cards and gifts and hope we have someone care enough about us to leave a little surprise the history of St Valentine's day is actually very sweet and deserves some recognition.

Valentine's day, some say, originates from a bishop named Valentine, who was stationed in the Roman Empire. At that time the Emperor was Claudius II, who took it upon himself to decide that men who were not yet married actually made better soldiers than did the ones with wives and families.

It was this belief that brought about his decision to make it a rule of law that young men could not marry. Such an outrageous decision caused distress for so many young men and their sweethearts that round 270 A.D., it was bishop Valentine who took great pity on these poor and lonely soldiers who were pining for their loves and he began performing secret marriages against the ruling of the Emperor.

Once the secret marriages were found out Claudius II was enraged and jailed Valentine. While imprisoned Claudius II began his attempts to convert Valentine insisting that he worship only the Roman Gods, but Valentine refused and Instead, he began his own campaign to convert Claudius to Christianity.

Valentine was sentenced to be executed on February 24, 270.

There is also another version of the history of Valentine’s Day which tells a more romantic side to the story (which we all love of course!)

While imprisoned, Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter. Just before his death, he sent his beloved a note telling her of his love and at the end the signature read “from your Valentine.” With the tale of deceit, romance and death, those who knew the story began to talk of the demise of Valentine and over time his fame was far reaching.

Bishop Valentine, having not only sacrificed his own life to help the young couples in love, also overcame the reality of his predicament to fall in love with his executioners daughter, became what a “Patron Saint” of love.  As time passed his legend lived on and many considered him the patron or spiritual overseer of an annual festival held on the 14th of February, in which young couples would give cards of love and affection to those they were not only already in love with, but to those they wished to date.

There are even Valentine cards in museums worldwide that date back to 1415.

We will leave you on this day of celebrating the uniqueness and beauty of love with this:

Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments.

Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

0, no! it is an ever-fixed mark, that looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

 

 Happy Valentine's Day!

 

Wednesday 1 February 2023

Wedding Rituals and Traditions - Hindu - The Seven Steps Tradition

 


A traditional Hindu ceremony, in most cases, is quite extravagant and beautiful, incorporating many different rituals and traditions. It is often filled with chanting and Sanskrit blessings dating back to a time long ago. The wedding ceremony is known as 'Samskara', and in India, it can last for days or even weeks. In the West these ceremonies have been modified, they are usually a little less extravagant, but can still last over two hours.

Requirements:  Sari, Fire, Puffed Rice

The central component of a Hindu wedding ceremony is 'Saptapadi', or the 'Seven Steps'. In this ritual the Bride’s Sari is tied to the Groom’s Kurta. Alternatively, a shawl may be draped from his shoulder to her sari. The couple then link ‘pinky’ fingers and the Groom leads his Bride in seven steps around a ceremonial fire.

While this is taking place the celebrant chants the seven blessings and vows for a strong union. These are adapted here in English from the Hindu ceremony.

Example:

1. “May this couple be blessed with an abundance of resources and comforts, and be helpful to one another in all ways.

2. May this couple be strong and complement one another.

3. May this couple be blessed with prosperity and riches on all levels.

4. May this couple be eternally happy.

5. May this couple be blessed with a happy family life.

6. May this couple live in perfect harmony… true to their personal values and their joint promises.

7. May this couple always be the best of friends.”

With each step, they throw small pieces of puffed rice into the fire, representing prosperity in their new life together. The action of walking around the fire indicates that they agree to these seven blessings. This is considered the most important part of the ceremony as it seals the bond forever.

This ancient ritual can be easily adapted into a contemporary civil marriage ceremony with the use of an ornamental pot of fire that can be placed on a small table. The bride and groom can then take seven steps around the table, while the seven blessings are spoken in English.

It is not necessary to be Hindu to incorporate a ritual such as the Seven Steps in a marriage ceremony. Rituals and Traditions are becoming ever popular, with couples all over the world trying to find a ritual that is different and unique, that will make their ceremony memorable. As long as they remain respectful of the culture to which the ritual belongs, the use of it then makes for a beautiful and meaningful experience for all.

Tuesday 24 January 2023

Wedding Rituals and Traditions - Gorgeous Wedding Earth Ritual

 This is one of our all time favourites!



Requirements: Guest participation, medium sized plant pot and seedling

In most wedding traditions, the main focus is naturally on the bride and groom, and where appropriate, their children. They seek to convey the significance and beauty of bringing two individuals together or in uniting a family. The ‘Earth Ritual’ does this, but it goes a little further by involving all of the family and friends in attendance. They not only take part, but are asked to contribute and it is this contribution that sets the foundation for the ritual.

When sending out wedding invitations a small note is included, asking each guest to bring a small container filled with some soil from around their home. (it only needs to be a small amount, especially if it is a large celebration.)

A medium sized plant pot and a seedling are placed on a nearby table. At a certain point in the ceremony, the celebrant may introduce the ritual that is to be performed.

Example:

‘Amanda and Alex have chosen to include a special ritual in their ceremony that involves all of you as their loved ones – those people that they hold most dear.

Each of you has been asked to bring a small amount of soil which was lovingly taken from your own home, filled with love and hope, and today it is hoped that as each of you place your earth into this vessel, it will retain that love.

Once the pot is full, Amanda and Alex will plant the seedling that rests beside it, ready to grow and be nourished by the love of all of you.

I would now like to invite the parents and grandparents to come forward.’

(Once they’ve finished)

‘If everyone else could now please come forward.’

(When everyone has added their earth)

‘Amanda and Alex – your pot has now been filled with the love, hope and best wishes of all of your family and friends. It has been taken from their own lives, their own homes and now passed on to you as symbolic foundation of your future life together. As you now plant the seedling, let its growth and beauty be a constant reminder of the blending of your two lives and families and the love and support that they have for you as they watch you grow together.’

(Couple finish planting the seedling and the celebrant returns to the concluding of the ceremony)

This ritual is easy to do and very effective. As long as everyone participates, its significance is beautiful and memorable. The wording can be changed and easily adapted to suit all situations.

The Wedding Gurus xx

Thursday 12 January 2023

Wedding Rituals and Traditions - Handfasting with Children




Some time ago we brought you a version of a 'handfasting' which has been very popular on the blog, so we thought we would follow it up with a fabulous way of including children in this wonderfully meaningful ritual.


Including children in a handfasting:


Celebrant
: 'When we think about marriage we immediately visualize the joining of two people. But this is not always so. Marriages unite families and as is the case in many families today who already have children, they give us a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and embrace some of the other important relationships in our lives.


During a wedding ceremony rings are sometimes exchanged with a promise. As (Bride) and (Groom) are not exchanging rings, but instead binding their hands, they thought appropriate that their children should also take part as a reminder of their promise to them on this day.


(Bride & Groom) wanted to find a way to let their children know now how special and wonderful they are, and how privileged and blessed they feel to be their parents'.


Children step forward and their hands are bound with the parents

Celebrant addresses children:

'(Insert children’s names): These are the hands that will support encourage and protect you through all of life’s ups and downs, happy times, sad times, love and we hope, great joy. This binding is a reminder of the love and respect that each of you have for the others and that which will last for a lifetime'.

You can amend the wording of any of our ritual examples to suit your own family circumstances. Check out some of the others we've shared in previous posts.


The Wedding Gurus x

 


Wedding Rituals and Traditions - The Dove Release

In this post we've chosen to bring you a look at the Dove Release which can be a beautiful and symbolic addition to any wedding ceremon...