Here is a selection of Q&As from Your Cheshire & Merseyside Wedding magazine whether it be about flowers, hair and makeup, fashion, wedding themes, health & beauty, cakes, stationery, legal advice. If you would like your question answered by our experts, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
To view more expert advice on a different topic, please select one from the list below.
Tailored to you
Q. What are your top trend predictions for 2023?
A. Gill Collins says: I find that couples really want the emphasis of their ceremony to be totally specific to them, as well as a day that everyone will remember as theirs, not one that's the same as any other wedding guests may have attended. Indeed, there seems to be an increased interest in celebrant-led ceremonies outdoors, at locations that have special meaning for them as a couple. For example, I've recently taken bookings to conduct ceremonies in couples' own homes.
There's also been a big interest in having animals involved, the family dog being a big hit as bridesmaid or ring bearer! A major benefit of having celebrant-led "I dos" is that in addition to writing a bespoke ceremony, we can accommodate couples' individual requirements and requests, resulting in a unique, special and memorable experience.
Gill Collins, Gill Collins Ceremonies
Q. How can we make sure our ceremony is a unique reflection of our personalities?
A. Jennifer Walker says: I don't just learn about your love story, I learn your entire life stories! Every experience, good and bad, not only put you on the path to meeting, but also to being the perfect match for one another. The end result is so worth it. In fact, the greatest compliment I've ever received is when a couple's congregation all assumed I was one of their lifelong friends.
Twelve weeks before the wedding is when I send out your Couple's Workbook. It's a great date-night opportunity, allowing you to reminisce about all those relationship and milestone moments. It was designed with a relationship psychologist to be purposefully emotionally triggering but in the most wonderful way. Eight weeks before the big day, we design the ceremony running order and four weeks ahead we write vows. It's also at this point I'll send out some self-care treats and arrange a wellness session if you're feeling the pressure of planning.
Your ceremony will set the tone for the rest of the day. A wedding will likely be the one and only time in your lives that you'll have everyone you care about in the same place at the same time. It's so important to evoke emotion, excitement and a happy mindset to ensure everyone has the time of their lives; and that starts at the heart of your day, your highly-personal ceremony.
Jennifer Walker, JW Ceremonies
Q. We've got our hearts set on saying "I do" on our favourite beach, it's somewhere that means a lot to us. But we aren't sure of the legalities now that more outdoor ceremony spaces are licensed. What does it all mean and can we do this?
A. Sheila Duncan says: Let me first assure you that yes, you can absolutely have your wedding ceremony on a beach. In the UK, you can easily make this dream a reality. Once you've completed the statutory marriage at your local registry office, you're free to have a celebrant-led wedding anywhere you like.
The sky really is the limit when it comes to celebrant-led weddings. Whether you're planning a ceremony by the sea, in the mountains or even in your own backyard, the options are endless. The recent changes to the law around marriages outside only apply at licensed venues. Although the UK government is considering recommendations from the Law Commission's review of marriage laws, whereby celebrants will hopefully be able to legally marry couples in outdoor locations other than licensed venues. So, we can't wait to see all the beautiful weddings that will be taking place in the months and years to come.
Sheila Duncan, Pure Silk Ceremonies
A matter of faith
Q. I'm a Christian, but my husband-to-be isn't and we're struggling to decide what sort of ceremony to have to make sure we're both happy and feel married. Can you help?
A. Jennifer Walker says: I see this dilemma between couples often and it's not easily overcome without guidance. Any compromise would leave the other feeling like they've sacrificed their values and beliefs, which can lead to resentment – not the best start to married life!
Your differences should be celebrated and not be a reason to clash, but the strict rules for officiants are what causes the problem. Opting for a member of the clergy to officiate will mean a full religious ceremony. Opting for a registrar or a humanist celebrant will mean a stricly non-religious ceremony, but there is another option.
An independent celebrant has the complete freedom to include anything in your ceremony. Incorporating some religion can be a happy medium and you'd be surprised how easy that actually is. Some popular wedding poems are actually based on the scriptures. For example, 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 (Love is patient, love is kind...)
Remember, you are two individuals coming together to share your lives. Your beliefs and values are a part of who you are and will also contribute to why you love each other so much.
Jennifer Walker, JW Ceremonies
United by love
Q. We've heard about all of the different rituals we can have during a celebrant-led ceremony from hand-fasting to candle-lighting, but what's the difference and how do we know which is right for us?
A. Sarah Nelson says: There are indeed many ways to enhance your celebrant-led wedding ceremony. To choose the one for you, you should begin by asking yourself what the purpose of the ritual is or consider what you're showing your guests with it. Most rituals emphasise the joining together of two people into one couple. However, you can change a sand ceremony (where you pour different coloured sands into one larger container to show your union), to include your children and show the creation of a new family.
Hand-tying or hand-fasting is where the couple's hands are bound together with strips of cloth or ribbon to represent the promises made. This too can easily be altered to include children or other close family or friends. Each person can place a ribbon with each vow to feel included in the ceremony.
Candle lighting involves each of you using individual candles to light one larger candle. This can be used to remember those guests who have passed away. With the candle remaining alight during the ceremony, it's as if the friend or family member is with you.
The most important idea behind choosing an additional ritual is to find something that resonates with you. Alternatively, work with your celebrant to create one that's unique to you.
Sarah Nelson, Moments To
In the driving seat
Q. Our wedding planner has suggested we hire a celebrant for our big day, but we're not sure what the role of a celebrant is. Should we book one, and what are the benefits?
A. Jennifer Walker says: The best part of having a celebrant-led ceremony is that you're in complete control of your entire wedding day. Having a ceremony that reflects you and your style, including incorporating any cultural, religious or family traditions can really set the tone for the entire day, so its important to get it right. Being able to choose something as simple as what time your ceremony will start or what venue you choose can have a hugely positive impact on the flow of your day as well as your budget.
All celebrants work differently and have their own style, so I'd suggest meeting with a few to make sure you choose the right one for you. I get to know my couples over a period of months, sometimes years, in order to design their perfect ceremony. Less traditional doesn't mean less special or structured and I'll ensure your "I dos" run smoothly with everyone knowing where they need to be and what their role is. I'll then deliver your personal ceremony including special milestone moments of your life together.
Ultimately, this is a time of your life you'll remember forever and I want to make sure your experience is as special and stress free as possible. Your nuptials are a fabulous celebration of your happiness; making promises to look after each other forever is extremely special – it's the heart of your wedding day after all!
Jennifer Walker, JW Ceremonies
Q. We're both obsessed with Christmas! How can we tastefully incorporate it into our ceremony?
A. Sarah Boalch says: Christmas is such a magical time of year, so it's no wonder you love the idea of incorporating it into your nuptials! With a celebrant-led ceremony there are so many ways you could include your favourite holiday to suit your personalities and style. If you're outgoing and fun, perhaps you have a favourite Christmas song you'd like your congregation to sing and dance to during the festivities? If you're looking for something more discreet though, why not consider an adaptation of a symbolic ritual known as a handfasting? This old Celtic tradition was historically seen as a legally binding contract of marriage, but today it's used as a symbol to reflect how a couple's lives are to be bound together. During this ritual, a blessing of your marriage will be read aloud and a beautiful handfasting braid will be tied around your hands. To incorporate your love for the season, the ribbons could feature your favourite festive colours. Why not add some delicate bells too, bringing a touch of sleigh magic to this visual and special moment in your wedding ceremony?
These are just a few ideas, but with the help of a celebrant, the only limit is your imagination so your ceremony could be jam-packed full of Christmas magic!
Sarah Boalch, North Wales Celebrant
Especially for you
Q. We've waited so long to get married due to the pandemic and are now rethinking our registrar-led ceremony in favour of something more meaningful. What would you recommend?
A. Sarah Nelson says: This sounds like a great idea! A celebrant in England and Wales writes and performs a non-legal wedding ceremony. It's written entirely for you, so there'll be no other like it. You can ask friends and family to take part as well, making it that much more meaningful. The legal admin side of your marriage can be sorted out with a couple of short visits to the registry office, so no worries there.
Your celebrant should meet with you to find out more about you both and what you envisage for your wedding. They'll use this information to structure and write a script, which you should be able to check along the way. Most celebrants will also help you create your own vows.
Sarah Nelson, Moments To