Us Humanist Celebrants have been getting our knickers (and underpants) thoroughly twisted of late. Why? Well because while we continue to petition for Humanist Weddings to be given the legal status they’re so long overdue, more and more council register offices have begun to advertise ‘Personalised’ or ‘Bespoke Ceremonies’.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking we don’t like the competition. They’re stealing our USP! But no, that’s not it! It’s much worse than that. Because what they’re doing is misleading couples.
I was recently contacted by a bride who was told by her local register office, that the council now provide a ‘fully personalised ceremony’ option so they wouldn’t need a Humanist celebrant. For a moment they were almost swayed. But when they probed a little further, they quickly realised that what was being offered wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Here’s why…
Register offices are hurriedly trying to adapt and change because more and more couples are wanting a wedding ceremony which actually reflects who they are. Personalisation is in vogue (for once I’m actually on trend!) The problem with a council trying to provide that type of service is that they’re inherently inflexible! Their resources are finite. And there are rules, regulations and red tape which restrict the way they can work. Of course, celebrants trained by Humanists UK also follow a code of conduct and have to maintain their high standards. But unlike register offices, each celebrant isn’t bound by needing to cater to the masses.
A ‘bespoke wedding’ as offered by council services might mean being able to choose from an ‘extended menu’ of ceremony options. You could have your favourite song played as you walk down the aisle, add a line to say why you love each other, or in some cases, even have your pet as your ring bearer (should you so desire it!) You’re likely to be assigned a coordinator or officer who will ‘liaise by phone or email’ to plan your ceremony. And you could choose to do the legal side of things at the register office but then hold an ‘informal celebration’ at one of their ‘approved premises’. In some areas, registrars will also consider conducting the informal part at non-approved premises like gardens or marquees. But only if there’s the time and the resources to carry out a risk assessment. I know – romantic eh?
That kind of ceremony offering is an improvement on their basic formula, which can often be completely devoid of personality. But is it ‘bespoke‘? No!
Let’s Get Personal
A truly personal ceremony starts with real human interaction. It’s not about form filling or a brief exchange of emails. It’s about actually getting to know a couple. It’s about having the luxury of time to talk, to listen, to laugh! It’s about trusting your celebrant enough to lay bare the intricacies of your love, knowing that they’ll transform your words into a ceremony which will celebrate you in glorious technicolour!
“One of our favourite memories is meeting Laura in the park on a beautiful spring day to tell her our love story. It was really a lovely afternoon and it reminded us, in telling her, how much we loved one another and the reasons why.” – Jenn & Si
Next year I’ve decided to work with 20 couples – max. And, unlike with a registrar, not 20 couples who are allocated to me through an administrative system, regardless of their taste or preference. 20 couples who have chosen to entrust me, specifically, with their moment in the sun (or rain – it is England after all!) I’m limiting the number of weddings I’m taking on because I want to be able to give each and every one of you the time that you deserve.
I want to be the person who fills you with excitement and enthusiasm at the start of the process. The one who you can call in a moment of ceremony worry…or inspiration! I want to tease out all the juicy details that will set your ceremony apart from every one before it and all that follow after. And I want to be able to take as long as it needs to write a ceremony which feels like the perfect fit.
At the rehearsal, I’ll be there to fill you with confidence and remind you what your day is really about. On your wedding day, I’ll be there bright and early, making sure everything runs without a hitch…except the getting hitched part! And I’ll deliver your ceremony with warmth, humour, emotion and a genuine understanding of who you are as people. Oh and finally, I’ll still be thinking about you months and years later – because we shared a moment which really meant something!
And *that* is a personalised, bespoke wedding ceremony.
“The ceremony itself was like nothing we could have imagined. People laughed, cried, clapped, cheered and just generally had a great time. We got such amazing feedback- pretty much every guest commented on how much they had enjoyed it. A few people also thought we had known Laura for years as the ceremony was so personal to us.” – Katie & Zara
“So many guests told us if they could do it again, they’d have a Humanist ceremony. People asked afterwards how long we’d known Laura, as we all got on so well they thought we were long-time friends. And it truly felt like that in the end.” – Rhea & Ed
Hug photo from Niamh and Alex’s wedding – captured by https://www.edbrownphotography.co.uk/
Katie and Zara wedding: https://www.chloeelyphotography.com/