Jane Barbeary, Member of the Associations of Independent Celebrants, shares what's new in this increasingly popular service

Let’s celebrate!: Image 1 You've named the date, booked the venue, and decided what to call your twitter hashtag for the big day... but the important bit, the actual promises you make to the love of your life, are pretty much the same words used by every other couple getting hitched.There's not a lot of wriggle room for clergy or registrars to really personalise a ceremony to reflect you, as a couple. The laws that govern marriage date back to 1836, and the language used in ceremonies remain in line with those traditions. There's something comforting about familiar wording and ceremony and, if that's what you prefer, then that's a great choice. But if the words don't feel personal and relevant to you, there is an alternative. Modern Celebrants write and deliver bespoke ceremonies that tell your story as a couple. We can't legally marry you – yet – the law commission are currently looking into that – but what we can do is give you a truly unique and personal ceremony that you, and your family and friends, will remember and cherish for many years to come. We can also write and deliver civil partnership ceremonies, wedding vow renewals and baby naming ceremonies, to your specifications.

It's worth knowing that the Law Commission have decided that the marriage laws are notkeeping pace with modern Britain, and need to change. They're looking at making the system simpler, fairer and cheaper. As it stands you can only marry in a church, register office or approved venue. The commission says this can be restrictive and expensive, and it's looking to remove some of the red tape to give couples more choice, whilst still maintaining  the dignity of marriage. If the changes go ahead, you could get married on water, in a field or in your own back garden!They're also considering changing the rules to allow humanists and Independent celebrants to conduct legally binding ceremonies in England and Wales. That's hopefully to come, but right now, once you've done the legal bit, - which can be inexpensive at a register office midweek – you can go ahead with your ceremony – your way. It's also not a requirement to exchange rings when you complete the legal formalities, so that can also be done with your celebrant.Your ceremony can be as simple or as extravagant as you'd like it to be. If you're stuck for inspiration, Celebrants have lots of it. You can have guests giving readings, live music or favourite songs played. You might want to include children, pets or join the latest trend of hiring in Alpacas as ring bearers!We will write your entire ceremony, including your  vows or promises to each other, once you've told us all about your story.  Some couples  prefer to write their own vows, but would like the celebrant to read them aloud.  It's entirely up to you, there are no hard and fast rules. We can  deliver a ceremony anywhere that's special to you both. It could be a forest glade, a stately home, or the pub garden.There are many 'symbolic actions' you can include in your ceremony, if that'swhat you'd like. These are becoming increasingly popular and are a great way of getting your guests involved too. Here are just a few examples you might want to ponder over......

Let’s celebrate!: Image 2 Jumping the broom
This is an ancient tradition used in many cultures in past centuries, when couples literally jumped over a broomstick together to marry. The 'leap of faith' symbolises how much you love each other, as you jump into your future together. Two guests can hold the broom a few inches off the ground. The couple close their eyes, everyone counts to three, and the guests lower the broom to the ground as the couple jump over it.

Sand ceremony
This symbolises the coming together of two individuals to make one loving couple. Two glass vases of coloured sand are poured  into a third vessel to symbolise the blending of your lives together. Just as the coloured grains can no longer now be separated, so your lives are now as one.

Hand fasting
This is a traditional Celtic ritual and it's the origin of the expression to 'tie the knot'. You hold hands, usually at the pulse points, and the celebrant ties them together, loosely, with ribbons or braids. This signifies the binding of your lives together. The type of braid used can be very personal, so for example if you met at school, you might want to use an old school tie, or  particular colours that have significance to you. This can be a good point in the ceremony to make promises or vows to one another.

Love letters
You put your feelings for each other on paper. You then read it aloud or give it to your partner or celebrant to read. Alternatively, you could put them in a memory box, seal it, and open it on your first anniversary. A lovely way to remember your special day.Subhead: Ring warmingBefore rings are exchanged they can be passed around your guests on a small cushion or in a box. Each guest holds them for a few seconds and makes a silent wish for the couple. When the rings are returned, they hold all the love and hopes for the future from family and friends.

Stone ceremony
In past centuries couples couldn't always afford wedding rings, so they cast a stone into a nearby river or ocean to symbolise staying together as the water ebbed and flowed throughout their lives.In the absence of any handy water nearby, you can toss stones with your names etched on them into a bowl of water. They can be retrieved later and taken on honeymoon where hopefully you'll find some water!

Unity candles
Candles represent light and hope, and lighting one together symbolises your union, and hopes for the future.

Let’s celebrate!: Image 3 So it really is all up to you. Working together with a trained celebrant can make your day unique, personal, fun and best of all a memory to live with you, your family and friends forever. The Association of Independent Celebrants list celebrants across the UK. Most will be happy to talk through your ideas free of charge before you make your decision.
Let's do it.......let's celebrate

Contact: Jane Barbeary - Member of the Associations of Independent Celebrants.
07821 187 193 | Jane.barbeary@outlook.com | https://www.nuptials-and-naming-ceremonies.co.uk

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