Planning SOS: The ceremony

Celebrant Alex Hilder conducting a wedding ceremony Credit: Tash Busta Photography We chatted to Celebrant Alex Hilder about planning the perfect wedding ceremony.

We're engaged! Now what?
Enjoy that newly engaged bubble. Then, when you start thinking about the planning process, remember to take some with the deep stuff. Spend some time thinking about why it is that you've taken the plunge and decided to get married. Think about what it is about your relationship that makes you want to share it with the world. There's nowhere near the social pressure to get married that there once was, so spend some time understanding your 'why.' From here, the rest will flow easily: how you want to feel, how you want your guests to feel, where you'd like to be, what vibe you want to create, who you want to play a part... So, when you get to the next step of exploring the amazing range of talented suppliers that we have in Kent, it'll make it much simpler to find the ones you really gel with.

What's the one question you most commonly get asked and how do you respond?
“What can we include in our ceremony and is there anything we can't say?” To which the reply is always: “You can include anything and say anything you like!” Because the legal registration of your marriage takes place separately at the short appointment, there are no rules that you have to follow for your celebrant-led ceremony. You can say anything, do anything, include anyone you like! You can even hold it anywhere – on a boat, in the woods, in a restaurant, village hall, back garden, at your licensed venue.
Having said that, 'no rules' can be an overwhelming place to be. So, I always work with my couples to get to the heart of the things they'd like, the elements that are key to them and even aspect they definitely wouldn't want. Then, it's like doing a jigsaw. With all of the pieces of the puzzle, we can build an entirely unique ceremony.

How can we make our big day totally 'us'?
Book a celebrant – its what we do. We'll work together for several months in the lead up to your day so I get to know you really well. I'll find out about all your stories, the people who are precious in your lives, your hopes, dreams and values. We can talk about any spiritual beliefs – maybe you're drawn to a nature-based spirituality or bringing together two different religious backgrounds; perhaps there's a vague feeling of something or maybe it's not part of  your life at all. Then, there are the symbolic rituals, which you may choose to include. There are traditional ones, such as exchanging rings or handfasting; modern ones, such as sand ceremonies or cocktail making; and totally bespoke ones where we can find symbolism to totally represent you in objects that reflect your story – cricket ball anyone?

What's your top planing tip when it comes to the ceremony?
Don't let it be the boring bit before the party. The ceremony is the heart of your whole day. It's the very reason you're all gathered together. It sets the tone for everything that follows, so it's only right that it's truly yours from the very beginning. Draw your family and friends into your special world, get them laughing and crying, and let it be a celebration of all that's brought you to that moment.

Alex Hilder Celebrant

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