Married In 2020!
Written by Kent Celebrant, Natalie Davies - www.roseandgrace.net
Photography by Trilion Productions - www.trilionproductions.com
This September I had the greatest pleasure of officiating the Kent wedding of Carly and James. From the moment I spoke to them on a video call in July I knew it would be a special day! The couple had originally planned to have their wedding in Cyprus with 25 of their friends and family but Covid, of course, scuppered their guests' holiday arrangements. However, at the point that Carly contacted me, they had already come up with another plan!
James's career in the Army takes him overseas often and for long periods of time. In fact he was already due to be overseas from the end of September 2020 for 6 months, so the couple simply didn't want to put things on hold. They decided to book a romantic holiday to Cyprus for just the two of them, where they would make their legal marriage vows, then return home to recreate their would-have-been Cypriot courtyard wedding in a just-as-beautiful courtyard setting back home.
Since they would have already completed their legal declaration of marriage they knew they would be free to have a personalised wedding ceremony created by a Celebrant and I felt truly honoured that after our video call, they asked me if I would be that person. Having spent much of the spring and summer moving 2020 weddings to 2021 I was over-the-moon to soon be officiating what would be my first wedding since lockdown! And what's more it would be for an absolutely wonderful couple.
I went to meet Carly and James for a socially-distanced planning meeting and learnt more about their relationship and journey to marriage. Covid, and the restrictions it had brought, had no impact at all on the excitement of our meeting. Carly and James were happy to keep the number present at their wedding under 30. In fact they were still able to invite the same friends and family who had planned to join them in Cyprus. And so, undeterred by the small measures we would take to make the ceremony safe for all, we began our planning.
We talked about the structure of the ceremony, which Carly and James decided would start with a modernised version of the 'giving away' of the bride by Carly's father to the song 'My Girl', which has special meaning to them both, and I must admit, nearly broke me before the ceremony had even begun! The couple also decided that they would like personalised vows that I would help them to write; a ring exchange; a reading by James's Dad and a certificate signing at the end.
All of this I was excited to go away and write into the ceremony but what I was most excited about was writing their story. I'd already gotten a good feel for the spirit of their relationship and could tell that their ceremony would turn out to be a wonderful mix of love, romance and humour. But to make sure I knew all about the milestones in their relationship, the special experiences they've shared, and of course what they love most about one another, I left them with something very important ... the Questionnaire!!
They each completed a copy individually so that I had both sides of the story and emailed them back to me in record time! And I can honestly say that reading everything they'd shared and turning it into their ceremony was a joy! Every time I write a ceremony I appreciate how lucky I am to do what I do.
Two days before the wedding I popped back over to see Carly and James for a quick run-through of the ceremony - who will be where, the timings of the music, a practice of their vows. And then we were ready for the big day!
When I arrived at the venue I had the pleasure of meeting almost all of the wedding party and most of the guests, which has to be one of the things I love most about intimate weddings. Everyone either knows or quickly gets to know everyone else. There are no breakout groups of people, no segregation, just the whole group mingling and chatting together. This always gives a wedding such a relaxed, sociable feel and it means that the couple can spend time with each and every person.
The feeling that I got from all of the friends and family was that they felt honoured, that against all the odds, and with repeated applications of hand sanitiser, they were able to celebrate James and Carly's marriage amidst a global pandemic! And I did too! With the wedding being outside in a beautifully styled courtyard, on a warm September day, it wasn't at all difficult to imagine we were in Cyprus.
Carly was finishing getting ready with her Mum and her bridesmaids and word was that everything was running smoothly and on time, which is exactly what I'd expected from the punctual and organised Carly that I'd gotten to know. Meanwhile, James went from perfectly relaxed to slightly nervous and then totally blown away as Carly appeared looking utterly stunning, finally wearing her beautiful dress!
The ceremony went without a hitch .. tell a lie, I couldn't say the word 'wholeheartedly'! I'll never be using that word again, or maybe I will as a personal challenge! The only thing I thought could have gone wrong is the music, since (and this does involve dropping James in it!) the nominated friend in charge of music didn't know he had this job until I arrived for the ceremony and mentioned it to him! But he did a stellar job! With a few nods exchanged between the two of us we had the transitions nailed! James and Carly's music choices were fantastic - something sentimental for the bridal entrance, something romantic for the certificate signing and something upbeat to finish!
When I spoke to the guests at the end of the ceremony they felt that they'd been part of something very special. Every aspect of the ceremony had been personal to Carly and James. It had been about their own hopes and aspirations for their future together and the commitment that their ceremony represented was made even more special by sharing it with just their very closest family and friends.
Thank you Carly and James for choosing me to be your Wedding Celebrant!