We often feature real weddings but this is the first time we’ve focused specifically on the ceremony! It’s great to look at it from a real couple’s point of view. Celebrant Charlotte Pennefather talks us through her experience of working with the couple; from initially meeting them until the moment they became man and wife. Hopefully it will give you some tips on how to inject personality and soul into your ceremony.
The Couple: Clair & Ben
The Venue: High Barn, Edenhall Estate, Cumbria, CA11 8ST
Date: 9th June 2018
When I first heard from Clair and Ben about their wedding, they hadn’t quite decided on their venue but had narrowed it down to a couple of amazing venues in Cumbria. Clair’s initial words were ‘We are hoping to have an outdoor ceremony and are definitely looking for something more emotional and entertaining than the traditional civil ceremony!’ – I loved her immediately!
We exchanged a few emails where I discovered a little more about them as a couple and then a few weeks later, Clair and Ben arrived at a wedding fair I was exhibiting at. We chatted for a while and I think it was at that point we knew we were a good fit for each other! I couldn’t wait to get started!
I always ask my couples a few questions, like what inspires them about the other, what their biggest quirk is and most importantly, what they love the most. Clair said that Ben is one of the most kind-hearted, generous people she has ever met and that he inspires her to be a better person. Ben said that Clair is the best mummy any child could want and the best partner anyone could need. Ben used the following quote to describe her ‘you secretly inspire me like the stars do to a dreamer and the moon does to the sea’, and we used this in the ceremony.
Clair and Ben have the most beautiful daughter who, on their wedding day was around 21 months old. She made the cutest little flower girl in her gorgeous dress and mini cowboy boots! Xanthe played a huge part in Ben’s proposal to Clair, when he asked her to marry him in a hot tub under the stars on Mothers Day 2017.
Clair and Ben are such a relaxed and chilled out pair – they have a huge love of music, travelling and beer festivals, which they managed to work into many aspects of their wedding day. Clair sent me some lyrics from one of her favourite songs ‘Faith When I Fall’ by Kip Moore and they had already mentioned that they wanted to get their guests involved in a sing-along – amazing right?!! So, I took music as inspiration to start writing their ceremony.
The Ceremony took place outdoors, surrounded by woodland, at the glorious High Barn on the Edenhall Estate in Penrith. A venue with masses of scope, jaw dropping scenery and the most chilled out vibe! All the guests were camping for the weekend onsite, so before the ceremony, they all gathered on the lawn, around the firepit for drinks from ‘Ben’s Beer Bar’. As 2pm drew nearer, the guests meandered down the woodland track to a beautiful ceremony spot circled by huge trees and bathed in dappled sunlight. Clair arrived with her two bridesmaids and Xanthe as flower girl and as she glided through the trees her cowboy boots, matching Xanthe’s, poked out from underneath her skirt…fabulous!
Clair and Ben asked three of their favourite people to choose and perform a reading within the ceremony. Kate, one of Clair’s bridesmaids did a reading from the gorgeous children’s book, ‘Guess How Much I Love You’, as they met and became firm friends through having their children. Phil chose some words and adapted them to make them personal to Clair and Ben and then Reece (I was pre-warned about Reece!) read a wonderful (if a little random), hilarious story which he had written – about a maiden, and a horse, and a troll and many, many beers. All of the readings were kept as a surprise from Clair and Ben which just added that extra bit of love on the day.
Clair and Ben had an acoustic duo who played while Clair walked down the aisle. The same duo helped us get everyone on their feet and encourage their guests to sing during the ceremony. ‘Ring of Fire’ and ‘Stand by Me’ are two of Clair and Ben’s favourite songs, so to wiggle them into the ceremony and get everyone involved made for a magical moment.
I can’t even put into words the vibe and the atmosphere that was created on the day – it was chilled, it was fun and it was just utterly gorgeous! A gentle pair of souls that I just absolutely loved working with.
“Charlotte is the loveliest person and I knew from our first conversation that I wanted her to be the person to marry us…she created the most beautiful ceremony from the random bits of information we threw at her, I don’t know how she does it but it was magical, everyone commented that it was simply ‘us’…and it felt like we were being married by a friend we’d known forever…I can’t thank you enough!”
Venue: High Barn, Edenhall Estate www.edenhallestate.com/high-barn/
Photographer: Steven Rooney stevenrooneyphotography.com/high-barn-wedding-photography-cumbria/
Charlotte Pennefather lives in rural Cumbria with my family. She loves meeting new people and hearing their love stories. She adores being a celebrant.