As one of the most meaningful parts of your big day, your ceremony should perfectly reflect who you are as a couple. Bhria Vellagel interviews Helen Williamson, director and owner of Marry Me Helley and Marry Me Helley Pets for Weddings, on the many ways in which to customise this personal experience.
As the opening act, the ceremony is no longer seen as the chore of the wedding day, but rather a chance to showcase the passion of the two soon-to-be newlyweds. While it’s important to keep any traditions you feel are required, your ceremony should be a completely bespoke affair.
By surrounding yourself with everything that describes who you are as a couple, from the song accompanying you down the aisle to the one who walks alongside you, you can rest assured it’s be the perfect beginning to the rest of your lives.
THE PERFECT GUIDE
Finding the ideal way to celebrate your love for each other can be confusing at the best of times, especially when you have differing ideas as to what you’d like to include in your big day. “Make it about you,” says Williamson. “This is your day, so it’s important you have it the way you want it.”
By spending time discussing your ceremony with your celebrant, they’ll be able to offer advice and options you may not have considered. “It’s vital for the couple to know and trust their celebrant, which is why I offer unlimited meetings and 24-hour contact,” Williamson says.
WALK WITH ME
While your ceremony is most importantly about the love you share with your significant other, it’s also about including those closest to you. For this, many couples break from convention and update the standard service to suit them. “I’ve had the bride-to-be walk down the aisle with only her mother, and another walk with a family friend, while a same-sex couple opted to walk down the outer sides of the aisle opposite each other with their respective parents,” Williamson says.
For animal lovers, leaving your companions at home instead of bringing them along to one of the most important days of your life can often feel amiss. “My favourite ceremony is one of the first that I officiated, which included the couple’s two huge dogs,” Williamson says. “They were everything to the couple and featured throughout the entire ceremony.”
Williamson is one of few celebrants in Victoria who specialise in including your furry friends in the processional, and has the experience to guide you in the best way to do so. She will even take them home for you after the ceremony, so that no one has to miss part of the reception.
MORE THAN ‘I LOVE YOU’
There’s nothing more personal than writing about the reasons you love each other, but for many couples this can be the hardest thing to accomplish. “I usually encourage the couple to sit together and agree on the style of vows they want to write, whether it be more traditional or conversational,” Williamson says. “I have written a user-friendly guide on how to write vows, which includes some examples, that all my couples are given.”
To personalise your vows, it’s important to note what you love about the individual you’re about to marry. Should your other half have a multicultural background, try incorporating a greeting in another language or include some traditional ceremony customs from both of your religions. Otherwise, if you and your close friends and family have a lot of inside jokes, make sure to incorporate them as part of your declaration of love.
If you or your betrothed aren’t great at public speaking, don’t worry – a good celebrant will prompt you and assist you with this. To avoid unnecessary anxiety, you can even opt to have a private session with nobody but you, your celebrant and your significant other before heading to the reception. Some couples even choose to forgo the typical exchange of rings in lieu of an intimate handfasting ceremony, where their hands are bound to signify their joining. By choosing the style of ceremony that feels right to both of you, you’ll know you’ve made the best choice.
TWO OF A KIND
If you and your partner are mutually big fans of anything in particular, there’s nothing holding you back from incorporating that fandom into your nuptials. This can include anything from themed décor to dressing up your guests as beloved characters, or even styling your wedding dress to correspond to your chosen influence. “I’ve conducted many themed weddings, they’re one of my specialities,” says Williamson. “It’s extremely important that the venue sets the atmosphere you’re trying to create.”
Even if you’d rather not have a themed ceremony, you can still incorporate subtle influences in a more traditional setting. If you’re a big fan of Star Trek you could include “Together, we will live long and prosper” in your wedding vows, or for Harry Potter enthusiasts, try walking down the aisle to ‘Hedwig’s Theme’ by John Williams. Whatever your shared obsession, by incorporating it into your wedding day, it will display how perfect you and your significant other are for each other.
The ideal ceremony will have a completely different definition for every couple, which is why it’s important to stay true to what makes you both unique. “Include something that really says ‘this is us’, and don’t worry about what others will think,” Williamson says.