I know it’s a bit woowoo, but I’ve got a real thing about the symbology of birds. It seems to me that often, when something momentous is happening or I need to pay attention to something, an unusual bird will pop up. A green woodpecker at the first funeral I conducted, crows when I’m thinking about change, it happens a lot.
So when I met Chris and Natalie for the first time at Southwater Country Park and two swans flew majestically together over the lake right next to us at the end of our conversation, I knew that this couple had a special sort of love and this was to be no ordinary wedding.
Chris and Natalie are a tight-knit unit and they are so in love. I met their gorgeous son who was good as gold (despite having to sit through mummy and daddy talking about weddings with the funny lady with the bright hair for over an hour) and they told me about their zoo of animals back home and their shared love of the great outdoors and Marvel superheroes. The pair told me they wanted to celebrate this love in their wedding but neither of them particularly like being in the spotlight. They wanted the ceremony to be a bit different and fun, but not a joke.
A few months later, I went to their house, met some of the menagerie of animals and chatted with them further about their wedding, which was to be at Tulley’s Farm Barn in Crawley. They shared lots of stories that night about their time together, including how the relationship almost hadn’t got past the night they’d met, as Natalie had eaten all of Chris’s pizza(!) Fortunately, he recognised that this woman was something special so he didn’t mind sharing (even though he likes to remind her of it now and again!)
I got to writing. I was mindful of the fact that Chris and Natalie didn’t want to be the centre of attention for too long and was keen for them not to feel in any way awkward or uncomfortable. That said, it was still important for their personalities and relationship to be reflected in the ceremony. I also wanted to rise to the challenge of getting the superheroes in in a way that wasn’t forced or cheesy!
After a laughter-filled rehearsal at Tulley’s Farm a few days before the wedding, we were all set and they were very excited.
The wedding day
As I was on my way to Tulley’s on that morning, a big car accident happened just in front of me, the road had to be closed and all the traffic was diverted. Disaster! Fortunately, I always plan to be at weddings over an hour before they are due to start, so I would still make it in time. I texted Chris to let him know what was happening and he replied ‘that’s not the worst thing that’s happening’. Uh oh.
When I arrived (still with 25 minutes to spare – phew!), it turned out that Chris’s ominous text had been referring to the fact that there had been a cake disaster and the superhero cake they had been so excited about had not materialised. Fortunately, Tulley’s had a ‘dummy cake’ which was decorated in similar colours to their wedding. But nerves and tension were running high. A bit of a laugh and a joke with Chris and his groomsmen relieved the pressure a bit and, before long, it was time for Natalie’s arrival.
We got the guests seated and I went out to meet an equally nervous Natalie and reassure her. She looked so beautiful and, as she walked down the aisle on her dad’s arm, I could see Chris’s nerves disappear in a wave of love.
The ceremony was quite short because of our couple’s dislike of being in the spotlight, but packed with personal references and woven through with their love story. And the superhero inclusion? I created a Marvel-inspired blessing just for them:
May your marriage have the stickiness of Spiderman and the super endurance of Iron Man. May you heal each other’s pain like Raven and have Hulk-like strength in times of crisis. May you be able to read what’s in your loved one’s heart with an x-ray vision like Superman’s. But may you also have ‘mortal’ times too, where you can be vulnerable with each other and feel safe to show your weaknesses. For your real superpower in your marriage and in your wider life is love, and love, as we know, will always save the day.
As Natalie and Chris walked back down the aisle to Coldplay’s ‘Paradise’ and a roar of applause and love from their friends and family, I was reminded of those swans flying together: quiet yet powerful; a real forever unit.
What they said: “We knew from the first day we met Claire from Creating Ceremony that we could trust her skills. (She) is very friendly and warm and she really listens to your vision for the big day. We did not have a clue what we wanted to say to each other on the day but with Claire’s help we came up with the perfect vows and she told our love story perfectly.”