Wedding Reading: Union by Robert Fulghum Image by Adam Crohill
Non-conventional wedding ceremonies | Signing the register
Non-conventional wedding ceremonies
Wedding Stationery by Bonny & Clyde. Image by Richmond Pictures
Non-conventional wedding ceremonies | Bride's sister officiating ceremony
Non-conventional wedding ceremonies
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The Wedding Ceremony – Doing It Your Way

This afternoon we’ve got the lovely Lauren C from our sister blog discussing non-conventional wedding ceremonies…if you’re planning on doing something along these lines, this is a must read.

Lauren: I’m nipping over from Rock My Style to have a good old chat about non-conventional ceremonies and more specifically those that aren’t actually legal in the eyes of the law!

There may be a variety of reasons why you choose to make your wedding vows in this way; you may want nuptials to take place in an unlicensed setting, or perhaps, as in my case you’d like a family member to perform the union. You may be planning a Humanist wedding in an area outside of Scotland or your religious ceremony may not be recognised by British law. 

I can only speak from my own experience and I’m by no means an expert but as a team we thought it might be useful to put together this post to help any of you lovely ladies planning something similar.

I became in engaged in 2010, when UK wedding blogs were few and far between. Thankfully I discovered RMW but most matrimony inspiration came from across the pond. American Bride and Grooms seemed to be leading the way with personal celebrations; brothers, cousins and friends were leading marriage ceremonies left right and centre in the middle of fields, up mountains and by the side of rivers.

We decided we wanted the same. We were inspired to write our own ceremony and asked my sister Hannah to officiate.

The Legalities

As you may have realised my sister wasn’t legally allowed to officiate weddings. Therefore in order to officially declare ourselves as husband and wife we had to get hitched and get ourselves a marriage certificate.

I suppose this was the first obstacle we encountered in wedding planning and we had umpteen discussions about it. We ruled out getting legally married the day before as we couldn’t work out who to invite to the registry office. Also I didn’t want to have to fork out for two frocks and two days of hair and make-up. My Mum also threw a spanner in the works asking which day we would celebrate our wedding anniversary too. 

Our registrar suggested first leading a short official ceremony followed by my sister’s blessing, however we were put off by the idea after she would have to have firmly left the building before the second ceremony could commence. 

My friend was recently a guest at a Humanist wedding where due to logistics the bride and groom opted to do the legal paperwork a few days after. I don’t remember ever really looking into this as an option. We both wanted people to feel they were there for our ‘big day’ and so for us, that meant just one day of celebrations, however for the couple in question it was the right thing to do. 

The Location

Luckily for us we held our wedding at Dodmoor House; one of the friendliest and accommodating venues I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. The team worked tirelessly to help with our wedding planning and suggested we should hold two ceremonies on the same day; one private civil ceremony with just our Mums as witnesses followed by a second candlelit ‘blessing’ several hours later surrounded by our friends and family.

Our registrar conducted an extremely short ceremony where we were required to just say a few formal words. We didn’t exchange any vows or rings.

Afterwards we shared a glass of champers, had our couple portraits taken and then I went into hiding with my BM’s while James went out to welcome our guests. 


As far as I can remember we didn’t make a huge thing about the non-conventional format to our friends and family. If it cropped up in conversation we mentioned Han was going to lead the ceremony, which as you can imagine resulted in a variety of responses from ‘wow, that’s amazing’ to ‘hmmm whatever floats your boat.’ 

We didn’t want guests to feel that due to the lack of legalities they weren’t invited to a ‘real wedding’ and so our invites simply requested the pleasure of their company to celebrate our marriage.

When our guests arrived at the venue we were keen to set the expectation of what they were about to witness and also didn’t want them to feel confused over whether we were well and truly married. Therefore within the order of service they were met with the following words…

A personal note from the Bride and Groom – We signed the marriage register at 2.30pm today but wanted our friends and family to be present to witness our unique and intimate ceremony of marriage. We are extremely proud to announce that today’s ceremony will be led by Hannah Moore.

The Readings

Hannah, James and I scribed every word of the ceremony taking inspiration from around the web. It was hugely personal and also recognised the contribution that our friends and family had made to nurture our relationship. Leading up to the vows we integrated an adaptation of Robert Fulgham’s ‘The Union’ and our friend Melissa read ‘We will Not Wish You Joy’ by Brian Zouch on behalf of all our guests. 

A Little Piece of Advice

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. It’s your big day and you should have it your way. If you have a bright idea then don’t be afraid to ask!

I would really love to hear about the plans you all have for you ceremonies. Is anyone intending on incorporating a non-traditional ceremony into their wedding celebrations? Where are you planning to say your vows and who will be leading your marriage? 

Lauren C x

Author: Fern Godfrey
Fern spends most of her time dreaming about weddings and trying to convince her long-suffering boyfriend to propose. Lucky enough to live in sunny Cornwall, if you need her – you’ll find her at beach.

5 thoughts on “The Wedding Ceremony – Doing It Your Way

  1. Hi Lauren

    Great post. We are planning something similar, we are getting legally married the day before our wedding ceremony at a registery office and asking our friend to perform the ceremony/blessing. I was wondering if there’s anything your sister had to do to officiate your wedding? Or can you literally do whatever you want? Thanks

  2. Thank you, great post! We’re seriously considering having a humanist ceremony too, we went to a wedding in Scotland recently that was just beautiful! Currently struggling with when we would ‘legally’ marry, same day or day before?! Really want to do it like you did, on the same day but before the humanist ceremony, but (very important question…!) did you wear the same dress for both?? X

  3. Hi. We are going away and having a small legal ceremony – but wish to follow it up with a blessing for family and friends. Walsall Arboretum is a beautiful place to do this – I was wondering what permissions are needed to hold a blessing in outdoor spaces? Does anyone have any ideas? Many thanks!

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