Where to Hold Your Wedding ?
What is the most important aspect of a wedding? The place, the date, the time, the dress…..?? If you are about to marry a prince, then clearly you need a royal sort of back drop. Right now the current royal wedding is the hot topic of speculation in the press, tv, and on social media – as on this Saturday, May 19th 2018, an American actor is marrying the younger son of the Prince of Wales in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor in a story that has its own very special bit of magic. If that is the style of wedding you dream of, then it is true – this one is a bit of a fairy tale, and I wish them well.
But, if you do not want all that sort of pomp and pageantry, and indeed, would rather dispense with the formalities altogether, your choices are practically limitless. These days, if you opt to get the legal aspect of the wedding out of the way in advance, then you are not bound to hold your wedding celebration under a roof, and the premises that you choose does not even need a wedding license. This opens up all sorts of possibilities – a ruined castle – not quite in the same division as Windsor, but still pretty romantic, a converted country railway station – quaint and charming, a shoreline or a woodland glade – at this time of year this last is almost unbeatable – and there are plenty of them around.
Where I live, I could count on my hand at least half a dozen local wedding venues where the ceremony takes place outside, under the trees in a local wood, in a carefully designed rustic setting. I have just attended the inaugural day of a stunning new one locally. In these sort of settings, there is usually a purpose-built wedding arbour, crafted from boughs of wood that have been fashioned into a frame that is then covered in greenery and artful wreaths of flowers. Guests are invited to sit on simple hessian-covered forms, or bales of straw covered in gaily-coloured throws, and the nuptial pair meet under the open skies surrounded by a carpet of bluebells. A chorus of birdsong is the only music to greet the ears, with perhaps the simple accompaniment of a fiddle or flute to set the ceremony off. It is breathtakingly lovely, and the beautiful natural surroundings seem somehow to enhance the sincerity of the wedding vows in an age-old ceremony that has been reinvented for the days in which we live now.
I often include a hand-fasting in these open air ceremonies, in a custom that dates back to medieval days, when the ‘plighting of a troth’ was confirmed by the tying of a cord around the hands of the couple to signify their intention to join their lives together – from this came the expression ‘tying the knot’! The cord can be plaited from different coloured braid, or ribbon according to the colour theme of the day, or fabric from past occasions can be used to create a patchwork cloth of many colours to bind the hands of the wedding couple. It feels incredibly fitting to do this in the open air, and always has a wonderful effect.
Drinking from the loving cup is another charming element to a wedding ceremony that feels very appropriate for this type of woodland wedding. Mead has always been the traditional celebratory drink at weddings from days of old, as being made from honey, it was the way in which couples toasted their ‘honeymoon’. Nowadays it is catching on again, and there are one or two craft companies specialising in the brewing of mead, not simply for weddings obviously, but it is great to know where to find them. More and more couples are seeking out these type of individual brands to give meaning to their ceremony in a way that is both traditional and innovative.
I also have a traditional besom broom stick made of chestnut, which can give the end of a woodland wedding an unusual and surprising twist. Once the vows have been said, the rings exchanged, the hands fasted and the mead drunk, the couple may begin their journey into their new married life by jumping the broom! This signifies the sweeping away of their previous existence as they move forward together into their future. More often than not they do not actually perform a hurdle leap, but simple step over the horizontal broom, which has been decorated with ribbons and wild flowers, as they leave the ceremony arbour.
All of these elements add an extra depth to the wedding ceremony that you may have had in mind, and they complement the woodland setting perfectly. If this is the sort of special day that you have been dreaming of, then it is quite possible to make it a reality.
If you happen to go down to the woods today or any time soon, take a closer look at your local area to see what stunning natural wedding venues may be hidden just around the corner. I cannot recommend them highly enough as a truly perfect backdrop for your special day – about as far away from a royal palace as you could imagine, but no less magical for that!