We often feature real weddings but our relationship with The Celebrant Directory means we can focus specifically on the ceremony. It’s so interesting to hear about the couple’s journey, from initially meeting their celebrant, right up to the day itself.
Alexandra Harrison is a professional independent celebrant. She will always go the extra mile to help create the ceremony you want however traditional or alternative.
The Initial Meeting
I met my couple one dark February evening in Lewes. I call these meetings “the discovery”. Imagine picking up a love story to read, but instead of reading it, the two main characters tell you their story in their own words. The initial meeting takes around two hours. You can cover a great deal in that first meeting, but like any good book, you can go back to it any time, check things out, make sure you have understood it correctly.
My couple love the outdoors. My groom planned his proposal to happen during a well-needed camping trip (with their beloved bell tent, which is a home away from home). The actual proposal was traditional, with him going down on one knee and simply asking “will you marry me?”. She had no hesitation in saying “Yes”. The proposal was filmed with a drone, and this not only became part of their invitation, but also set the theme for their fabulous outdoor wedding festival.
And so “Sealed in the Field” was launched…
The venue was a huge field located on Iford Estate, near Lewes – a stunning, tranquil location within the South Downs National Park, rich in birds and fauna. The field itself was a huge blank canvas, but the couple had no shortage of ideas on how to make their unique “Sealed in the Field” Wedding Weekender Festival go with a bang.
Obviously, there were lots of bell tents kitted out for the guests, and amazingly decorated marquees for the sumptuous feast and later the silent disco. Outside there were giant games, open fires and of course live music to create a wonderful festival atmosphere.
My couple are both very detail-focused. I think they should have been called Mr and Mrs Spreadsheet. It was quite clear they had big ideas. The ceremony was going to be theatrical but with plenty of romantic moments.
The most important part of the planning was really getting to know and understand each other. I made sure beforehand that I was always available on Skype, WhatsApp or phone (we still WhatsApp each other regularly!).
Ensuring the ceremony flowed smoothly was essential, with a balance between humour and poignancy. My couple were both having four ‘best people’, who would all be involved in the ceremony.
Another key element to the ceremony was working directly with the string quartet. They even wrote specific arrangements to fit with each symbolic act.
The Ceremony and the Symbolism.
For me, writing the ceremony was a little like trying to create an abridged version of Dr Zhivago! Keeping all the key elements of who they are and what their story is, was essential. The ceremony itself had to be orchestrated very carefully. Timings were critical. The groom started out by ‘bumbling’ round the field with his ‘best people’ to the tune of The Littlest Hobo. The bride was arriving by horse and carriage – so I had to ensure that the groom had joined me by the time the bride was driven across the field to the original theme tune (Danger Zone) to Top Gun.
As soon as she had dismounted and was ready to walk down the aisle with her father and four ‘best people’, the live quartet were cued up to played Elbow’s ‘One Day Like This’.
The couple sat inside the simple but elegant rose-decorated arch, on two simple wooden thrones. Now it was my turn, starting with their story, and then, following their very emotional vows and exchanges of rings and moving on to the symbolic elements of the ceremony.
The first element was the Fisherman’s Knot. A Fisherman’s Knot is also known as The Lover’s Knot because it is made of two knots and is one of strongest knots there is. The more you pull the two knots the tighter they will get. All eight ‘best people’ were included in this by holding the ends of the two ropes. Four on either side. This was symbolic of their support and love for the bride and groom.
Next came the exchanging of drinks. Each had chosen a drink they liked and a drink they didn’t, representing both the acceptance of the good and the bad in each other and the good and the difficult times ahead. This was accompanied by the string quartet at significant moments throughout the ceremony.
Finally came a performance by the groom’s best people doing a rendition of Tim Minchin’s ’If I Didn’t Have You‘. This may seem like a strange song to choose, but when you understand the meaning behind it, you know it was right for this couple. The whole ceremony was then finished off with some carefully chosen words and a beautiful exit to a specially written string quartet version of ‘Danger Zone’!
Photography: Nat Chang www.liveimagery.co.uk