Tolkien’s legendarium is extensive. After his death his son Christopher published The History of Middle Earth in twelve volumes. It is in the tenth volume, Morgoth’s Ring, that we get an insight into the love lives of elves. If you’re planning a Lord of the Rings themed wedding, then including elements from the creator of that incredible world could take it to the next level!
We’ll start with their betrothal, or engagement. The vast majority of elves will have chosen their spouse during their youth, that is between 50 and 100 years. Whilst there are a few exceptions, marrying late is generally associated with ‘ill-chances or strange fates’. Unfortunately, this means that everyone’s* favourite elf Legolas is probably considered a wee bit odd given that at the time of Fellowship of the Ring he is the best part of 3000 years old.
The act of betrothal is represented by the exchange of silver rings and a feast! Their betrothal is announced during the feast and both families will meet. They are betrothed for a year before marrying, if at the end of this year they decide they’re not perfect for each other, then the rings are returned to one another. This isn’t too dissimilar to ancient Celtic customs.
Time for the wedding, which of course means more feasting! During this feast the marriage takes places. The couple join hands in a place all their guests can see them (is anyone else imaging a dreamy circular table??) and the parents of the bride join them to bless the marriage. They invoke the names of Manwё and Varda as witnesses to the marriage. That is all we know about the blessings! Tolkien states that no mortal has ever heard these words, and so we shouldn’t either. The silver rings are returned to each other (and are treasured forever) and gold wedding bands are exchanged. These wedding rings are worn on the right index fingers. If you’re Noldorian then the bride’s mother will give the groom a jewel on a chain and the groom’s father will give the bride a jewel on a chain. In another hark back to the old days, the marriage isn’t complete until its consummated.
A few important notes on elven marriage; they are not parted by death; they do not remarry once their spouse has passed away (a certain someone did and it led to the collapse of Noldor). Parents have little to no say about who their kids marry – so Thranduil can cool down about Legolas fancying Tauriel (yes, I know she’s not canon!). But parents can make demands of future kids-in-law like Elrond asked Aragorn to wait until he was King to marry Arwen.
I hope this helps if you’re wanting to add another level of elvish-ness to your wedding. You could host this somewhere like Syon Park Conservatory, the arches give off a Rivendell-esque feel. Or if you’re more of a Mirkwood elf, then you could look at somewhere like Marshwood Manor – or just you local fave wooded spot!
Congratulations on your new arrival! As a new mum myself I know what an exciting and overwhelming time this can be and you may be looking for a way to celebrate and welcome your bundle of joy to your family and to the world. But a religious or formal ceremony just doesn’t sit right or suit you and your family.
A naming ceremony is a perfect way to celebrate your new arrival and we can work together to create the perfect celebration as you step into this next stage of your life.
But what is a naming ceremony?
A naming ceremony is an alternative to a formal or religious ceremony such as a christening. They can be held anywhere, the woods, a village hall or your back garden and are completely unique to you and your family.
Are they just for babies?
Not at all! They’re just known as ‘naming ceremonies’ but they can be whatever you wish. You can have a ceremony to welcome any child being welcomed into your family and can be a beautiful way to bring together a blended family – sand ceremonies go great here!
How old does my child need to be?
Any age! They can be tiny and brand new or running around like crazy. I am the very proud guide parent of a little boy who’s naming ceremony was coupled with his first birthday party.
What does a ceremony look like?
Any way you’d like it to. Naming ceremonies are just as varied as the people taking part! There can be guide parents, certificates, and promises. There could be a sand ceremony to show a blended family coming together, you could plant a tree and watch it grow with your little one. There is no restriction on what we can do!
Get in contact today to start planning the perfect ceremony for your family.
I am feeling unapologetically festive so let’s discuss Christmas weddings!
Christmas is a magical time of year and especially magical if you find yourself getting married. If you love Christmas so much that you want to bring a little festive magic into your wedding day, here’s some ideas of how you can go about injecting some Christmas cheer into your day.
Check with your venue whether they decorate for Christmas or not. Venues such as hotels will more than likely decorate public areas which is great news for you! But other venues may also put up some décor, our venue Rivervale Barn puts up the most amazing tree each year. I’m visiting Rhinefield House Hotel in the New Forest in the coming weeks, I’ll be sure to take some snaps of their décor for you all.
But otherwise think deep reds, greens and golds and plenty of warm lighting with candles or fairy lights. You could consider using candy canes as name cards which add to table décor and act as a favour.
Some florists might be able to provide mini trees for centrepieces, though expensive it would certainly look the part. Make sure they’re able to be replanted as you can use them as gifts and take one home yourself and watch it grow throughout your married (if you’re having a back garden wedding you could even include the tree planting in your ceremony).
And don’t forget mistletoe! Christmassy and romantic…
Gifts and favours:
As mentioned, candy canes make cute favours. You could also have something individually wrapped for each guest or even mini baubles filled with your favourite tipple. If you’re after something edible individual gingerbread men or mini jars with a homemade hot chocolate mix (Jamie Oliver has a great recipe). You could even get imaginative with crackers – fill them with sweets maybe.
Gifts, be they proposal or thank you gifts are always good fun. You could personalise baubles for your loved ones. Or if you’re giving flowers, picking beautiful seasonal blooms is the most sustainable and wallet friendly way to go.
Food and drink:
Arguably the absolute best part of Christmas. The most obvious food choice would be to serve a classic Christmas dinner for your wedding breakfast. But you can make changes elsewhere if turkey and trimmings isn’t quite what you were imagining for your first meal as a married couple. Instead of serving canapes and bubbly during your drinks reception you could serve mini mince pies and mulled wine. In the evening replace your cocktail bar with a boozy hot chocolate bar – any younger guests can stick to plain hot chocolate and will love feeling involved.
Let’s not forget the cake. Plain white decorated with wintry berries and pine looks lovely. You could decorate it with tasty iced gingerbread biscuits…or why not have a gingerbread house in place of a cake?!
If you’re after dresses for yourself or your wedding party think sparkles. Sparkles and deep, rich colours and fabrics. Beautiful velvet gowns in emerald, red or navy look stunning next to white or ivory. Don’t forget to get a coverup as it’s going to be chilly! Faux fur shrugs can give vintage, wintry feelings.
For anyone wearing a suit you could opt for a statement jacket. A plush velvet jacket in those beautiful deep tones mentioned earlier will carry your theme into your wedding party. If for example you’re a groom wanting to stand out from your groomsmen, you can opt to have a different colour jacket for example. Or maybe you can be the only one wearing a bow tie.
Hopefully you’ll feel inspired to plan your Christmas wedding after reading this!
Not too way back in September I was tagged in a post by a friend. The post was on the Gift of a Wedding Facebook page, and they were looking for a celebrant to conduct a wedding 15th October in Poole. As soon as I saw the post, I emailed the Gift of a Wedding team to tell them I was free and would love to help them out.
Gift of a Wedding are an incredible charity that do the most incredible work. In short, they make dreams come true. Gift of a Wedding arrange weddings for terminally ill people who have limited time left. A number of celebrants had also offered their services so I was super honoured to receive an email a day or so later saying that Ian and Louise would love to have me at their wedding!
Louise and I were in contact immediately and she and Ian filled in my couples questionnaire and got it back to me super quickly. It was fab, and super detailed…but I particularly loved their music choices! I was able to get started on their script straight away.
The script was approved first draft, and only required the addition of a sand ceremony which we did the week before the wedding after a lovely catch up on Zoom.
Roll onto the wedding day itself, I arrived just over an hour before the ceremony start time and found suppliers flurrying around – including my newfound new-to-the-wedding-industry fabulous wedding planner/coordinator Charlotte of Charlotte Suzanne Weddings! The venue was the gorgeous Italian Villa at Compton Acres which has the most stunning Japanese garden – and at this time of year it matched the colour theme of the wedding perfectly!
The ceremony space looked beautiful with a stunning moon-arch, matching chair sashes and ‘LOVE’ lit up letters. Ian arrived with his entourage which included his dad and best man Stuart, and he looked great in his suit. Ian and I had a quick chat, and then I chatted to Stuart about the wedding rings. Before long guests were arriving and it was nearing ceremony time!
Louise arrived and she walked down the aisle to For You by Rita Ora and Liam Payne and she looked beyond stunning! She wore a gorgeous black and red dress and had the most incredible veil I have ever set eyes on. It gave real Morticia Adams vibes.
We had a lovely ceremony in front of Ian and Louise’s nearest and dearest – a nice small audience for my first ever ceremony! We did a sand ceremony with purple and red sand and signed a certificate before getting everyone on their feet to cheer and clap the brand-new Mr and Mrs Kings.
A few family and friends wanted to photograph the sand jar and I was approached by a few guests who thanked me and one gentleman who refused to believe it was my first ceremony!
I left the wonderful Ian and Louise enjoying their drinks reception with their guests in the beautiful Japanese gardens, and from what I’ve seen and heard the rest of the day was just as amazing as the beginning.
It was an absolute honour and privilege to be trusted by both Ian and Louise and Gift of a Wedding to conduct this very special ceremony. Very many congratulations to Mr and Mrs Kings! I can’t wait to see the professional pictures.
The dream team:
Blushing Brides Hair Stying and Make-Up – bridal hair and make-up
A Touch of Class – decor
Dreaming of a Vintage Wedding – moon-arch + decor
Frolly’s homemade fudge – fudge
Pippa Jackson Cakes – the cake
Magical Moments Ceremonies – Celebrant
Jays Photography – photographer
South Coast Weddings – wedding planning
Ivy Alice Stationery – stationery
My Scented Home – bouquets
Cakes with Style – cupcakes
Swizzles Matlow – Love Heart favours
DJ Ricky Gold – DJ
Mon Bel Amor Cake Craft – cookies
Darren and Sarah Roberts – car
5 Minute Photobooths – photobooth
South Snap Media – videographer
Charlotte Suzanne Weddings – wedding day coordination
Having a celebrant led wedding means that there are no limitations on your wedding ceremony at all. A wedding celebrant can officiate in your favourite museum, the wood behind your grandparent’s house or on the beach. In short, a celebrant can officiate anywhere. None of the restrictions that apply to registrar weddings come into play. You can have any readings and any piece of music you want; you can write your own vows and have a ceremony as short or as long as you’d like. Your celebrant can even officiate at any time of day! A celebrant will make your wedding ceremony all about you, rather than about obtaining a legal status.
Probably one of the most asked questions around having a celebrant led wedding is why? Why have a celebrant led wedding if they’re not legal? The answer is simple because this is your wedding. A registrar won’t meet you beforehand, they won’t plan every aspect of your ceremony in minute detail, and they won’t tell your story. Ceremonies probably get the least thought of all during the planning process, but they’re the whole reason everything else is happening! So why not make your ceremony totally and completely about you? Why not have a ceremony that is as personalised and suited to you as the rest of your wedding is?
A marriage is a legal status, the wedding is the celebration. So, let’s celebrate! No more standard scripts or bored guests, you deserve the ceremony to end all ceremonies and a celebrant can give you that.
I find unity rituals fascinating. Every culture, religion and even time period seems to have its own ritual to symbolise the coming together of two people and two families. The reasons behind choosing to include a unity ritual in your ceremony maybe there’s something from your culture or religion that you’d like to include, or maybe you’d like to utilise it as a means of involving loved ones in your ceremony. The reasons behind a couple choosing a unity ceremony are just as fascinating as the rituals themselves. Here’s four unity ceremonies you could use in your ceremony:
Handtying is the binding together of a couples hands whilst exchanging vows, it is an integral part of a Handfasting but differs in that it does not include the more spiritual aspects. Handtying is believed to date from pre-Chrisitian times and of Celtic origins. It was originally used as a symbolism of betrothal but is increasingly used in wedding ceremonies as a visual representation of the vows a couple are making. Hands are bound together with ribbons. The colours of these ribbons could be meaningful to you as a couple or they could match your wedding colour scheme.
A ring warming is a great way to get all your guests involved and really hammers home that you are two people and two families becoming one. Your wedding rings are handed around your guests, who take it in turns to warm them in their palms and imbue your wedding rings with their best wishes, blessings and prayers for your future. When you exchange rings you’ll know that your union has been blessed by those you love most. Ring warming originated in Ireland.
Sand ceremonies are growing in popularity and are a great way to personalise your ceremony and involve loved ones if that’s what you’re looking to do. They consist of a few vases filled with coloured sand chosen by each of you – whether it’s just you and your spouse, or maybe the pair of you and your children – which you then take turns pouring into a larger central vase. It represents the blending together of your lives, and that just like you that sand can now never be separated! You end up with a visual reminder of your ceremony, of the vows you’ve made to one another and of the bonds between you and your family, that you can keep forever. By the end of the ceremony you have a beautiful piece of sand art. The best bit about sand ceremonies is they are completely customisable. You can have whatever sands you pick and can even have your vases personalised with your names, wedding date, or whatever you fancy!
One of my favourites and something I wanted to include in our ceremony, but the registrar said no! Oathing stones are an ancient Scottish tradition of ‘setting an oath in stone’. Any stone can be used but I would recommend a stone collected from a meaningful place, it is then washed and scrubbed and if you’d like it to have a sheen you can treat it with almond oil before drying. The stone can also be personalised by way of carving, or acrylic paint and then finished with varnish. You’ll make your vows with a hand on the stone and they are sometimes used between the palms during a handtying or handfasting – you could do this without the handtying or handfasting if you just wanted to hold the stone together. Like a sand ceremony, having an oathing stone gives you a physical reminded of your day to keep forever.
We love unity ceremonies here at Magical Moments Ceremonies, drop us a message and we can discuss how you can include one in your special day.
Congratulations, you’re engaged! But what happens next?! Planning a wedding is incredibly exciting, and addictive (you’ve been warned) but it can also be daunting. Your wedding is probably the largest event you’ll ever plan and obviously you want it to be absolutely perfect.
Where on earth do you start with planning a wedding? Here’s my guide on planning your perfect day.
Everyone hates talking about money, but your budget is the most important aspect of your day. Your budget dictates everything from whether you can have the dress of your dreams to when and where you get married. Sit down together and work it all out: how much you may have saved towards your wedding already, how much you can save on your ideal time scale and whether anyone will be contributing towards your wedding. It’s also a good idea to have those conversations early on, speak to your families and ask how much they will be willing to contribute if they’re going to do so. And of course, get it all on a spreadsheet! Another good idea at this point is to start thinking of a rough guest list so you know how many people to cater for and what size venues to look at.
Here’s a rough breakdown of a wedding budget:
Venue and catering 40%
Photography and videography 15%
Wedding attire and beauty 5%
Music and entertainment 10%
Favours and gifts 2%
2. Get inspired
Once you know what you can afford you can start hunting around for ideas, have a look at real weddings, sites like Bridebook and Hitched are great. Also look at the weddings you’ve been to – was there something you really loved? Or maybe something you hated! Of course, the holy grail of moodboarding is Pinterest…you can have boards for every detail of your wedding, a whole board of cakes…shoes…venue décor.
3. Theming your wedding
You’ve got all your Pinterest boards, maybe a few old-fashioned physical scrapbooks, you’ll see your theme emerging. A theme can be something as simple as just a colour scheme or it could be an all-out theme based on your favourite films or maybe even a time period.
The important thing to remember is once you’ve started booking and buying based on your theme make sure you stick to it: an ultra-modern gown at a medieval themed wedding wouldn’t sit quite right!
Whatever your theme is once you’ve settled on it you’ll be able to find suppliers and venues that suit that theme.
4. Booking your dream venue
Your budget, guest numbers and theme are the foundations of your wedding venue. These aren’t the only things to consider though. Sit down together and establish what you want from a wedding venue. Do you want accommodation for guests onsite? If so, how much? Is a few rooms just for the bridal party what you’ve after, or maybe you’d like to make it easy for everyone in a hotel? Consider your catering options, a growing number of venues these days have inhouse caterers and will not allow you to use outside catering or self-catering and think about things like corkage if applicable. Do you want everything in the same place? Or are you having two separate venues? Is one of you planning to get ready at your venue and is this possible?
Don’t forget to include your evening guest list in any guest numbers when you’re venue hunting.
Again, sites like Bridebook and Hitched are great for looking for the venue you’ve always dreamed of – we seem particularly spoiled with beautiful venues in England. Keep an eye out for our future blog on our favourite local venues.
Depending on how far away the big day is you might want to send out your Save the Dates if you’re doing them as soon as you’ve booked your wedding. It’s probably not worth sending save the dates more than a year in advance.
Now you can begin your countdown!
5. Wedding insurance
It’s never nice to think about something going wrong with your wedding, but especially in a time dictated by COVID-19 it’s really not worth taking the risk. Get wedding insurance in place as soon as you start booking and buying for your wedding.
Hitched have a great guide to buying wedding insurance during COVID-19.
6. The wedding party
Although this is number six on the guide, let’s be honest you already knew who your wedding party would be the moment you got in engaged and if you’re anything like me you have known for years.
But if you’re not sure don’t worry! And don’t feel pressured into decisions either; there are probably people in your life that are expecting to be in your wedding party, but it’s all about who you and your OH in the build up to and on your big day.
Don’t forget to include everything your wedding party will need in your budget, outfits, flowers, and even your proposals. No doubt you have a Pinterest board full of wedding party proposal ideas!
7. Be our guest
You no doubt have an idea of who you want to invite as this has had an impact on your budget and your venue. But there still might be some things you’re stuck on…inviting colleagues for example or you’re not sure if you want some people during the day or just in the evening.
Firstly, remember the people coming during the day will be eating at your wedding breakfast which is probably the most expensive of your food related outgoings, so just consider whether you’d buy that person dinner normally! And secondly, there’s no shame in inviting someone to the evening and then ‘upgrading’ them to a day guest if someone RSVPs no. These people are your best people and if they don’t understand that you’re working to a budget, then they’re not your best people.
A guest list also calls for another spreadsheet! You can keep track of invites that have been sent out and RSVPs that have been received back very easily.
8. Choosing and booking suppliers
Finding and booking your wedding suppliers is one of the most difficult and yet exciting parts of planning a wedding. You might pull your hair out finding the perfect florist, but as you book, you’ll be able to see your vision of your day coming together.
Research is key. You need someone that fits with your budget and your theme, so don’t just book the first suppliers you come across. You can research online, have a look at the recommended suppliers suggested by your venue and even go to a few wedding fairs is you like to meet some people in person.
These are the bog standard suppliers you’ll be looking for:
Caterer (if not using inhouse)
Hair and makeup
Celebrant (wink, wink)
Other than that, you may be after some more unusual suppliers such as food/drink trucks. Get in contact with suppliers that match your theme and venue and have a chat together before paying any deposits or making any bookings.
9. Buy your attire
Let’s start with the wedding dress. If you are after a wedding dress it is important that you give yourself plenty of time to get one. Though it is possible to get dresses off the peg these days at shops like Wed2b – who have beautiful, quality dresses for most budgets – it can still take months to have adjustments made.
Get your girls together, or go alone, it’s entirely up to you. But my advice would be go in with an idea of what you like but do try things out of your comfort zone. I went into dress shopping thinking I wanted a classic A-line dress with lots of lace, something a bit vintage looking. And the dress I ended up wearing was a more modern ballgown with a waterfall skirt and no lace! You’ll also need to consider your accessories, like veils, shoes and jewellery.
Once you have your wedding dress, you can start looking at bridesmaid dresses. You may want everyone in the same colour but allow them to choose different styles or you may want everyone the same. Either way, their dresses will need to complement your theme and your own dress.
As for suits, they’re a lot more complex than you think! The suits will also need to complement your theme and venue, for example I personally think that tails look a bit dated in more modern venues, but still look lovely in churches. So, will you have top hat and tails? Just tails? A plain morning suit, a tuxedo or maybe your theme calls for something a little out of the ordinary!
10. Gift list
Now is the time to start thinking about your gift list if you want one. There are gifting sites like Prezola, or you can do an Amazon gift list. Don’t be afraid to ask for donations towards things like honeymoons and new kitchens, its much more common for couples to live together before getting married these days so gifts to stock a home tend to be surplus.
Don’t be disappointed if you notice your gift list doesn’t appear to be being bought from, your guests may be buying the same or similar products from elsewhere so be prepared to get duplicates!
And be prepared to get a fair few bottles of bubbly.
11. Plan the day itself
Your wedding day is creeping up! At this point you may want to have a meeting with your wedding planner from your venue or sit down together if you are the wedding planners and map how your day will look.
Your venue may dictate the earlier that yourselves or suppliers can arrive, so be sure to let the suppliers know. The actual wedding day will run smoothly the more detail you have in your timings. The obvious are arrivals of vendors, arrival of one or both of you, the ceremony, the photos, sitting down to eat, cake cutting and first dance. But you can pinpoint the finer things too, such as ‘bride dressed by 11’.
Its useful for important people such as your maid of honour and best man, the photographer and others to know how the day will run. You can also now order your invites if you were waiting to include a timeline, and you can order anything for on the day that has a time on it.
A tip for picking the time of your ceremony is to consider the time of year. The time of year will obviously have a say in light for photos, if you want outside photos at a mid-winter wedding you may have to consider starting everything a bit earlier than if your wedding was at the height of summer.
12. Sending out your invites
It’s 6 months to go! Your wedding day is in sight and now things get really exciting. You can invite your guests! You’ve probably had your invites a few weeks now and been dying to send them out – by all means, send them earlier but keep in mind the longer between RSVP and the wedding date, the more chance people have of having to change their plans.
You’ll want to have your RSVP date two weeks before your venue want to know final numbers so you have plenty of time to chase people that haven’t RSVP’d – you may be surprised at how many don’t, and who those people are!
Now you can (im)patiently await your RSVPs and once you have your RSVPs you can start thinking about the all-important seating plan!
13. Spend some time together
Planning a wedding can be a little full on, especially if you’re planning it in a shorter period of time. It can also involve difficult conversations mostly surrounding money. Take the time to get away together, before or after any stag and hen parties, even if it’s just a day out to one of your favourite haunts and lunch. Just forget about wedding planning for a little while and remember what it’s actually about: spending the rest of your life with the person you love.
14. Enjoy your wedding day!
Have the best day! Take everything in, drink the drinks, eat the food, revel in every moment. It’s your day and it’s all about you! You may spend the whole planning process trying to balance your expectations and your families expectations but remember…it’s your day! There’s no reason for you to have your sister-in-law as a bridesmaid if you only ever dreamt of your best friends, there’s no need to cut a cake or have a first dance just because it’s the ‘done thing’ your wedding can be exactly what you want it to be.
I hope this little guide has helped you find some direction with planning your wedding! Here at Magical Moments Ceremonies we are passionate about weddings and passionate about giving people the wedding of their dreams, which is why when you book with us you have unlimited support. Whilst our job predominantly is centred around your ceremony, we are more than happy to help talk through – or just listen to a good old rant – about any aspect of your big day.
It’s important to remember that as fabulous as your celebrant led ceremony is, it is not a legal ceremony (yet, we are working on that one!) so at some point, if you want to be married in the eyes of the law you will need to legalise your marriage.
Thankfully, legalising your marriage is a lot more straightforward than it sounds! Here’s how it works:
The first thing you’ll need to do is to give notice. You will both need to attend your local registry office to give what is called a ‘Notice of Marriage’. You will need to take identification documents and documents that prove your address, and there is more information about this on the gov website which I have linked further down this post.
You will also need to state where you intend to have your legal ceremony. In most cases people looking to have a celebrant led ceremony will have their legal bit in the registry office itself. They will also ask you tonnes of questions that all sound a bit bizarre, like whether you know what your partner does for a living! These questions are normal so don’t think everything has gone a bit weird.
Once you have attended this appointment your intention to marry will be published in that registry office for 28 days. If at the end of this 28 days no formal objections have been raised against your intention to marry, permission for your marriage will be granted and you can have your legal ceremony. This must be done within a year of obtaining permission (applicable to England and Wales).
It costs £35 per person to give notice.
Once the 28 days has ticked over and you are free to marry you will need to have a statutory ceremony. This is a no frills ceremony where you will state declaratory words and contractual vows. Both of these are a legal requirement in the UK and are unavoidable. You should be given the choice of three slightly different wordings for both of these. You will then sign the marriage register and voila, you are married in the eyes of the law.
You will need to take two witnesses to this ceremony, but you can save all the fun bits like dresses and music and readings for your fabulous celebrant ceremony.
A statutory ceremony costs at £46 + £11 for a certificate.