If you, your child, or friends of yours are planning on tieing the knot, it’s worth knowing that the traditional rules regarding wedding ceremonies no longer apply – apart from a few obligatory words. You can even seal your love with a light sabre. Yes. Really.
By UK law, only specific Declaratory Words and Contracting Words have to be said in a Registry Office or licensed venue, in order for your marriage to be recognised in law and for a marriage certificate to be issued.
These words are:
“I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I (your name) may not be joined in matrimony to (partner’s name)”
“I call upon these persons here present to witness that I (your name) do take thee (partner’s name) to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband)”
The above words, together with formally identifying yourselves to the Registrar and signing the marriage/civil partnership register in front of two independent witnesses and the Registrar, are the only legal requirements for marriage.
This means that it’s possible for couples to design their own ceremony, using personal and meaningful vows of their choice. Depending on how traditional and conventional the couple wishes to be, the sky is the limit in terms of creativity and allowing personalities to shine through.
Many couples opt for a personal marriage address, where the celebrant composes a narrative, which talks about the couple, how they met, fell in love and the adventures that brought them to their wedding day. Often couples like to choose their own readings, especially if there is a specific piece that is meaningful and personal to them.
As well as exchanging vows and rings, some couples choose to include a unity ritual as part of their ceremony which symbolizes the couple joining their lives together. It can include anything from Pagan handfasting, lighting of candles, or Apache style sand rituals, which involves the pouring of coloured sands into a bowl. Some choose quirkier rituals such as replacing candles with light sabres or glow sticks to add some humour and personality to proceedings.
There is a wealth of information and ideas online about how to put together your wedding ceremony. Before you get too carried away, however, ensure you enlist the help of a civil celebrant or humanist celebrant who will guide you through the process, and give you useful tips and ideas of their own about what does and doesn’t work.
With so much choice and flexibility at your fingertips, there’s no reason why your wedding needs to be anything like other weddings you may have attended; you can truly make your day your very own.