Louise and Mick’s wedding was a joy in so many ways. First of all, they eschewed the conventional afternoon ceremony in a formal wedding venue set up, opting instead for an evening party style wedding in the bar at West Worthing Tennis Club.
Doing things differently
This pair were up for doing things differently all the way along – not just for the sake of being different, but to create a ceremony that really expressed who they were and the journey they’d been on together.
They were keen to have an informal, inclusive tone to the proceedings so, when we went together to check out the space, we worked out that we could have their friends and family standing in a circle (well, oval actually!) around them as they made their commitment to one another. This worked out really well, as it prevented us having to clutter up the space with lots of chairs, meant that everyone had a brilliant view of the ceremony and there was a much more ‘organic’ feel, as people could move around easily.
Another factor that was important to Mick and Louise was to acknowledge and include God in their ceremony. Many people mistakenly believe that celebrants only offer non-religious ceremonies, but I am very keen that all the ceremonies I create reflect the couple I am marrying and their beliefs. I was more than happy to work with Louise and Mick to make sure that there was opportunity for prayer, readings and the like just as they wanted.
We had some good giggles as we planned the ceremony together, and Mick and Louise came up with some corking ideas. One of those was having their first dance as the ceremony ended, right in the middle of the circle of their friends and family (who, by this time, had been provided with a glass of fizz to toast the happy couple).
On the day, I arrived at the venue to find that – horror! – there was a big England rugby match on. It had overrun its time, and the bar was filled with lots of people who were watching it, agog. Mick and Louise had been told that, by the time their wedding came, the bar would be empty. It wasn’t looking that way.
Fortunately, the venue staff helped out, getting as much ready as possible around the rugby spectators. By the time the family arrived, there were just a few minutes left of the game. We turned the room around quickly and the space was soon ours – just in the nick of time!
There was a lovely, warm feeling in the room as people gathered and took their places in the circle. By the time Louise arrived, looking radiant on her dad’s arm, to the theme tune from the film ‘About Time’, there was a palpable sense of connection, love and anticipation in our (not so) little circle.
We started with the classic 1 Corinthians 13 reading, which set a beautiful tone, then I told Mick and Louise’s love story. They had filled in their questionnaires and spoken about their relationship with such grace and humour, it was an absolute joy to convey it to everyone. Although they have seen each other through some scary health problems, they retain an enormous ‘joie de vivre’ and ability to laugh at life, and that really came out in their ceremony.
When it came to saying their vows (which they had written separately and sent to me), there was laughter as Louise’s son George handed Mick a stool to stand on – a friendly dig to his stature and the fact that Louise was wearing heels! Their vows were heartfelt but also displayed their personalities – especially their trademark sense of humour. By this time there was hardly a dry eye in the house!
After a ring warming ritual, where their wedding bands were passed around the circle and filled with love, prayers and blessings for the couple by their family and friends, Louise and Mick exchanged rings before reading a poem together, called ‘Today I am marrying my best friend’.
Mick and Louise wanted to include the lighting of a unity candle in their ceremony so, at the appropriate moment, they went to light their candles – only they wouldn’t light! After a minute or two of hilarity, we finally got them aflame – phew! That was certainly a wedding story that will be told again and again over the years. Sometimes, the prospect of little ‘mishaps’ like this will get couples very worried in the lead up to a wedding but in actual fact, they often provide a really lovely moment of laughter that brings people together even more. And it’s usually resolved very quickly too!
And so it was time for the fizz, the toast and the first dance, surrounded by their loved ones. Then others joined in and the party began. It was truly a magical evening.
That’s enough of my point of view! Here’s what Mick and Louise thought: