How many ways can you say “I do”? A lot!

This may sound crazy but there are so many exciting things to think about when planning your wedding that deciding what kind of ceremony you’d like can sometimes get pushed way down the list.  There are quite a few different options to choose from as well as some important issues you’ll want to address – and you don’t want to leave these until the last minute.  In this post we provide a few pointers that should help you make the most of the “I do” bit of your big day.

Church or civil?

This is probably the first question to ask – do you want to get married in a church, or have a civil ceremony?  This may sound like a relatively simple choice, but that’s not always the case – it raises loads more questions.  Are you and your partner both religious?  Is one of you religious and the other not?  Are you both religious but of different faiths?  And what about your respective parents – do they have certain expectations or wishes based on their particular beliefs?   These are always sensitive issues that are better discussed early in the planning process!

If you go for a civil ceremony do you want religion to play any part at all?  Maybe you want to have some mention of God, or none at all?  Are you and your partner from different cultures or backgrounds, and if so to what extent do you want to honour your heritage and give due respect to the feelings of your respective families?

How traditional do you want to go - and what does that mean for you and your partner?  Do you want the emphasis to be on romance, or would something fun and offbeat be more your style?  The most important thing is to create a ceremony that’s right for the two of you, rather than just trying to please others.  

If you go down the civil route you don’t have to settle for a conventional register office.  You can get married anywhere that, like Clevedon Hall, is licenced.  As well as holding the ceremony in one of the stately rooms on the ground floor of the house you can also say “I do” under our specially created gazebo, against the gorgeous scenic backdrop of the gardens and Clevedon Bay.

Love and the law

Your wedding, as well as being a hugely romantic occasion, and a massive celebration, has its serious side.  It is an arrangement recognised and governed by the law.  Whether you have a civil, religious or humanist ceremony there is a legal requirement that the marriage must take place in legal premises: a register office, a religious building such as a church or synagogue, or a licensed venue such as Clevedon Hall.

The marriage must also be officiated by a registrar or, depending on the couple’s faith, an authorised person such as a vicar, priest, rabbi or pastor.  In the unlikely event that you decide to get married at sea the ship’s captain can act as registrar!You do need two witnesses for your wedding in addition to the person legally officiating.

Some aspects of the ceremony are more traditional than legal. For instance, you don’t have to exchange rings, the bride isn’t obliged to wear white, nor does she have to walk down the aisle ready to be ‘given away’.

You must book your wedding at a register office at least 28 days in advance, but you can’t book it more than 12 months in advance. With a Church of England ceremony, you must announce your intention to marry through the reading of banns.  Your minister will read these on three Sundays in the three months before the wedding. They must be read in your parish church, as well as in the church where the ceremony is to take place.

Decisions, decisions

You can create whatever kind of ceremony you’d like but to help you decide what will work best for you here are the most popular approaches:

  • Traditional.  Faith-based in line with the religion that the bride and groom were born into.
  • Non-denominational.  A spiritual ceremony with reference to God but not linked to any religious faith.
  • Inter-faith.  Blending two or more faiths by including religious rituals or readings that are symbolic of each faith.
  • Non-religious/humanist.  A ceremony where there is no mention of God or faith.
  • Intercultural. This is a blending of cultures but can also blend religious aspects.

Vows that wow – adding a heartfelt personal touch

The Church of England requires that the statutory words must be used in order to make your marriage legally binding, so in traditional religious wedding services it is not possible to write your own vows.  However, you can personalise your ceremony in other ways by choosing readings, hymns, or poems that have special meaning for you.

In a civil ceremony you can create your own vows to make the words truly personal to you as a couple.   Having said that, talk to your Registrar first before you get too carried away - some ceremonies will require you to stick to the traditional vows. Your Registrar will tell you what is and what is not allowed!  

If you want to write your own wedding vows then it’s probably best to start with the traditional vows to provide a basic structure, then go wherever your feelings take you.  Speak from your heart but don’t go over the top as some of your guests may become uncomfortable if you get too carried away.  

Clevedon Hall – perfect for your ceremony and your celebration

As well as providing a wonderful setting for your reception we are also licenced for conducting the ceremony for weddings and civil partnerships. Most of the ground floor is licenced, as well as our beautiful outside gazebo.   We partner with North Somerset Registry Office and their staff conduct all the ceremonies at Clevedon Hall.

However, although many couples love the fact we can host the ceremony and reception together this is not obligatory.  If you want to wed in a church, then come to us for your reception, evening celebrations and overnight accommodation, that works brilliantly too!

If you have any further questions about creating a ceremony that’s perfect for you our event management team will be only too happy to help – just give them a call.