My Thoughts on Conducting a Personal Wedding Ceremony for a Family Member

As the wedding industry starts to wind down, it’s the perfect time to start reminiscing.

This summer we had a diary packed full of weddings.

But my most favourite was my big brother’s and it was epic for two reasons….

  1. Because it was my brothers and he is someone who has been devoid of romance since the beginning of mankind, and always declared he would never get married…..The power of female persuasion.
  2. Because with great surprise and great pleasure, I was asked to conduct a wedding blessing for him.

Of course I thought he was joking. He wasn’t. Holy moly!

What a pleasure, but WHAT a responsibility I had to remind them that I had NEVER done this before! lol! That didn’t seem to bother them.

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Marrying in the beautiful  Slovakian countryside, they wanted to have a ceremony that incorporated an english wedding blessing. Owing to the fact that as traditional Slovak weddings don’t follow the same ceremony format as ours in the mainstream. There are legal declarations, but there are no vows, or promises, nor do you need to exchange rings. Each of these elements were important to them, luckily we had a really kind and flexible mayor (yes, you have the mayor present at Slovak weddings, how cool is that) who was more than happy to bend the rules and allowed me to add some Nu Bride magic, and we ensured those sacred moments were included for them. with that I trundled off to put pen to paper, to study and make sure I was super up to speed on Slovak traditions and legalities!

Then suddenly I panicked the wedding was in Slovakia, which meant, half the people in the congregation won’t understand a word I am saying, or won’t understand my humour. Help!

Luckily I had access to the most brilliant translator Petra. We liaised with content about a month or so before the wedding, rehearsed the day before and moments before the ceremony so she understood my humour, when to pause for each other, how to deliver it in the same authentic way and more. Petra was such a wonderful woman with the most infectious smile who will forever have a place in my heart. I digress….

Nu BridePetra and I doing our double act!

As soon as my brother asked me to write and conduct a blessing, I also called on lovely Nu Bride reader, wonderful humanist wedding celebrant and a real advocate for encouraging couples to have personal wedding ceremonies;  Natasha of Engaged and Ready. Natasha has been a humanist celebrant for 8 years and written and conducted over 400 ceremonies, so was the perfect person to call upon. Natasha was only too pleased to help me work on various ideas and excitedly reported that it is becoming more common for family members to conduct wedding ceremonies / blessings. Natasha provided a basic outline for the and gave inspiration for some beautiful ceremony symbolic rituals . She helped me narrow down ideas and more importantly think about structure.

My brother left creative control completely up to me, which was great. But I’ll be honest, I was just slightly scared, I mean what if he didn’t like it on the day? Too late then!  Ha!

After narrowing down the format of the ceremony to include legalities and my blessing, it was time to focus on content. I knew I wanted to tell a story to the congregation. Share tales of how they met, first impressions, the good, the bad, the indifferent. Share challenges and triumphs and everything else that encompasses the making of their love story.

Now I had a slight head start with my script, because they are family and I know them, I know their story and their little ism’s. But there was still much to be told and much to learn. To help, I asked my brother and sister-in-law (love saying that!), to answer some questions I tailored for them a few months before and for them to take their time to answer them, without conferring.

Nu Bride

This was my favourite part!  They were both hilarious and heartwarming.

Reading all their little ism’s, reinforcing their sense of humour, discovering something new about them, reading their hopes and dreams, their plans for the future and how in alignment they were (it was a good job – can you imagine if they were mis-matched. lol)

With such delicious background information, it was down to me to creatively edit and share the nuggets of the story that were most palpable. To think about the elements of their love story that would resonate and translate most effectively across two different languages and cultures. To share enough of the story to keep guests interested, but not too much so I’d lose their attention.  That was the hard part. I wanted to share it all.

I also wrote something about love and what it means. About marriage. About the joy, the euphoria and the challenges it brings. About exploring and navigating the new ‘newlywed’ rules that consciously and unconsciously apply, which ones should you keep or cull or completely re-invent?

Thoughts on a beautiful personal wedding ceremony | www.nubride.com_0130

Public speaking is no easy feat, not even for those of us who are experienced. Although nervous, this was the easy part for me, it felt familiar. I subconsciously knew what to expect from my acting world. How to engage, how to take an audience on a journey, to make eye contact, to be authentic, to create a beginning, middle and an end, how to project and allow time for processing. 

Seeing the friendly warm and engaged faces throughout the ceremony and not seeing one head distracted in a mobile device was heartwarming. The language barrier didn’t seem to matter, love and all it communicates and encompasses is so universal and that was palpable on the day .

Whilst I was rabbiting on during the blessing, I knew I wanted to incorporate one of my favourite rituals, a beautiful ring warming ceremony. This went down a real treat.

A ring warming ceremony is such a fantastic way to include guests on your wedding day. My brother and sister-in-law loved it. I kept it as a surprise for my brother until the day and he was so touched! Their wedding rings are passed into the hands of each of their guests, warmed with their love, best wishes, thoughts and prayers, or hopes and dreams for the future, then passed back to them, filled with their love, just in time for them to exchange your rings. Perfect.

outdoor wedding ceremony slovakiaHere I am kitted out in Belle and Bunty | Photography KT Photography

It was such a privilege being on that side of the ‘stage’, seeing my brother and sister-in-law and all our friends and families faces filled with such joy and emotion, watching two people dedicate their love and lives to each other.

Of course I didn’t manage to get through it without shedding a tear, seeing everyone else fill up with emotion was an instant trigger for me. Plus,  of course I made sure there were some tear inducing moments featured in the blessing. lol!

Reminding each and every person to be present, to enjoy and cherish the moments we are blessed with and to hold onto them, as if they might be our last.  Not a dry eye in the house and a lot of laughter too.

KT Photography.SkPhotography KT Photography

Here’s a little snippet of my closing summary:

Love is indescribable.

It is perfectly imperfect and it can lift you to the greatest of heights.

Finding the one you want to spend the rest of your life with is a miracle.

Think about it.

Dodgy dating trauma’s aside, there are so many intricate layers to being at the right place at the right time.

Thank goodness my uncoordinated brother decided to up his game and embark on Salsa classes….And thank goodness Sasa decided to stay in England just that little bit longer and pass the time away by dancing.
Finding each other, finding that special someone out of all of the billions of people in the entire world, IS a miracle.

What a pleasure to be able to personalise such a sacred moment. It was so overwhelming afterwards. I can’t tell you enough how many people came up to me or the bride and groom, language barrier aside, saying how much they enjoyed being part of a ceremony that was so personal and meaningful. Pure magic.

We’re just waiting for the professional images, but I can’t wait to share my brother’s wedding day with you. I will also share some helpful tips about how you can personalise your wedding ceremony or incorporate a blessing too.

Until then!

Much love

N xx

The Talent

Unless otherwise stated, photography provided by guest images


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10 Responses to “My Thoughts on Conducting a Personal Wedding Ceremony for a Family Member”

  1. avril reid
    October 7, 2015 at 10:11 am #

    How beautiful – so eloquently written and takes me back to the wedding ceremony – a truly wonderful moment and proud to have been a part of the celebrations.
    Much love and congratulations on a job well done. You continue to make us parents so……proud. xx

    • Nu Bride
      October 11, 2015 at 9:39 am #

      ???????????? xx

  2. Nathalie - Buttercup Bus
    October 8, 2015 at 11:32 pm #

    Such a beautiful blog post – I love the idea of a ring warming ceremony too!

    • Nu Bride
      October 11, 2015 at 9:39 am #

      Thanks Nathalie! Ring warming ceremonies are so gorgeous! They should be a prerequisite for every ceremony 🙂

  3. Karen -
    October 11, 2015 at 9:11 am #

    Hi Nova, I have goosebumps from reading your closing summary – I can only imagine how you moved your brother, his wife, and every guest with the entire reading. What a very special family occasion…. and by the way, you look SENSATIONAL in the Belle and Bunty outfit…

    • Nu Bride
      October 11, 2015 at 9:37 am #

      Hi Karen, thank you for your kind words. It truly was a wonderful day and such a special thing to be asked to do. I shall treasure that memory. I have the itch to do more now! Thank you so much xx

  4. Meghan Fay
    October 14, 2015 at 3:23 pm #

    Nova, it sounds like you did such an amazing job. Your closing ceremony was beautiful. Maybe you have found your second calling… blogger + humanist celebrant!!! 🙂 xoxo

    • Nu Bride
      October 19, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

      Thank you kind Meghan, it was such a wonderful experience. x

  5. Cecelina
    October 19, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    Almost made me cry. Gorgeous Nova x

    • Nu Bride
      October 19, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

      Almost? I think there is more work to be done next time ;o)