Joy with the brakes on

Be happy, but not too happy.

Congratulations, but

That’s great, now what about...

Not to put the dampers on things but

Joy with the brakes on is a phenomenon that can plague both preparation for marriage and having a baby. You might recognise it in well-meaning warning comments designed to check you know what you’re getting yourself in for. Checking that you’ve thought it through. That you’re not rushing into something. That you’re ready and prepared for reality.What is well-meaning about these bubble bursting comments is that they are often based in care. Some people can’t help but worry on the behalf of others. Some can’t help but project their own cautiousness, regrets or misgivings onto a happy couple. Some can only express their urge to protect a happy couple from surprised disappointment by preparing them for the worst.

Entering marriage and parenthood are both, should be, life changing events. There’s the romance and magic of both. There’s also the lived experience of both which doesn’t always live up to the fuzzy disney happily-ever-after ideal. While we enter into these new beginnings full of love and hope and optimism we generally have our eyes open to the ups and downs that will no doubt come our way. Surely that is why we vow to love and support our partners in sickness and health, and for richer for poorer? In our wedding ceremonies we acknowledge the risks and increased responsibilities marriage can bring, through our vows. More importantly we call upon our guests not only to witness our joining but to pledge to support us in our marriage from that day forward.

If listening to the scare-mongers, those well-meaning warners is a rite of passage into marriage and parenthood do we feign appreciation, nodding and smiling politely or do we fight back? Clearly ‘ignorance is bliss’ would be the polar opposite view to take here, but not a very mature thing to enter a serious committment with your eyes closed. How about rose tinted glasses are nature’s way of propogating the species? What’s so bad about entering into these new life states with positivity and optimism anyway? I believe that negativity begets negativity and positivity begets positivity. Not that you can stop awful things happening by thinking happy thoughts, but that you will find whatever you are looking hardest for.

This explains why when the forewarned couple actually doesn’t complain about the baby crying, about the sleepless nights, about their kids bleeding them dry, or about being hen-pecked, under the thumb, their sex life becoming non-existent – the scare-mongers will cope with this challenge to their world view by insisting that it’s only a matter of time. That so far they’ve been lucky. That the baby must be a good baby. It can’t possibly be because the couple have worked hard to communicate well in their marriage, chosen to be completely honest with each other, are actually in love, or have chosen to parent in a way that makes them and their child happy.

Joy with the brakes on has no place within a Humanist ceremony because there is no place for a joy-sapping anti-human potential attitude in Humanism. Not all Humanist Celebrants are Humanists and so although you will find Celebrants whose natural styles embrace self-deprecating sarcasm, if you are looking for a ceremony that focuses on the harsh reality of marriage, or parenthood, sorry but I am not the Celebrant for you. I believe in unbridled passionately romantic love shining through my ceremonies above all else. If I don’t well up with at least one tear when I read your ceremony script back to myself, it’s not good enough.

We can all appreciate worriers in our circle of friends and family, but I think I can say on behalf of all engaged couples and expectant parents: Please… trust us, and let us, as adults should, learn from our own mistakes. Be happy full stop. Congratulations full stop.

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Destination Weddings & Dream Honeymoons

When we were planning our wedding I seriously considered holding it abroad. I knew I didn’t want the conventional form of CeremonySitdownmealDJ and wanting an outdoor ceremony I was drawn to the idea of marrying in France or Italy instead of beloved England. It would of course have meant sharing our day with fewer family and friends, but this too would have made sense for us – we had to either invite everyone, including children and spouses (I have 13 cousins) which meant a minimum 100 person guest list; or draw a line around immediate family and close friends which would enable a much more intimate feeling day. In the end, we achieved the intimate feel despite our 100+ guests because of all the style, venue, format choices we made. Because we were on a budget we then held an evening meal for just 15 of our closest family.

If you did choose to marry abroad, with a small number of witnesses, you could hold a reception for everyone else on your return. I love this idea of two weddings. By using a Humanist Celebrant you could even have two wedding ceremonies! If you love the idea of marrying abroad but are bewildered or just a bit nervous about navigating the legalities and cultural rules of marriage abroad, why not legally register your marriage in an English Register Office and have your Celebrant perform both symbolic ceremonies abroad and then again at home? You could also split the ceremony and save parts like the Blessing for your home ceremony so that your guests can be truly involved.

A Room with a View

Had money been no object, I would have flown our guests out to Tuscany for our wedding long weekend, and then have had a split destination honeymoon. I have always wanted to go to Florence, not Venice or Rome, but Florence. I have made my husband promise that the one thing we will do before we die is to be able to say ‘We have a view’ in Florence. So that would be one half of my dream honeymoon, a city adventure taking in the sights and sounds and smells. I’d like to go sufficiently out of season to feel we had it relatively to ourselves. You cant beat that. For the other part of the honeymoon, a luxurious, private villa in the Tuscan countryside. We would do nothing but swim, lounge, cook, and make lurve. Perfect I think!

I adore Europe, so while I admit to hankering after a tropical paradise with unlimited cocktails, warm sea water and amazing exotic animal spotting, I can live without it. Give me the South of France, give me Catalonia, give me the Greek Islands any time. I’m a believer in exploring hidden gems close to home, and hope I’m fortunate enough in my lifetime to visit Jersey, return to Belgium, and Germany, and see more of Scandinavia. I love that we will be able to take our children on holiday to the Isle of Wight, where we had a most romantic and nostalgic English honeymoon in June 2011. I have a theory that the less overtly dramatic a place is and the less expectation of grandeur there is, the more you will appreciate the subtle magic in the details of a place.

Of course we choose holidays which suit our needs, or what we think are our needs. I don’t have a stressful job or a stressful life so I dont hanker after two weeks of doing nothing but reading books and sunbathing because I need a break. I want to do the opposite to escaping life when I holiday. I want to explore and engage. I want to see as much as possible. But I dont seek out high adrenalin holidays either. You know how they say a change is as good as a rest? I see holidays as opportunities to break out of whatever is normal for you. If you usually cope by zoning out in front of the TV, why not try a different approach to relaxation, and find a non-stressful way to actively engage your surroundings. Your honeymoon should be as memorable as your wedding and although it WILL be memorable because you’ll be on your newlywedded high throughout, we should make sure we take every opportunity to make memories.

On honeymoon we were both floating on a cloud of bliss left over from the fact that we had married each other and had shared a most emotionally beautiful day with our family and friends. Sure we had a few deep and a few awkward discussions, all part of adjusting to the newness of our lives together. It was a unique chance for us to engage with each other, with our usual routines out of the way of getting down to what we needed to say to each other. Our honeymoon was the start of so many things in our lives. It provided my husband with inspiration for a new novel, and prompted us to decide to look for a new place to live as soon as we got back to Oxford. You’ll inevitably buy souvenirs on honeymoon. If you can, bring home something that will be in your lives every day, whether it’s a wall hanging or a pair of mugs. His and hers items are the cutest. Here’s to you, honeymooners, you lovebirds, you newlyweds at heart everywhere.

Marriage: a name-changing event?

One of the things you’ll want to decide in the run up to your wedding day is what to do with your names.You don’t need to decide so that you can tell the Registrar what name to enter on your marriage certificate, because no married surname will be entered on the mariage certificate. A marriage certificate changes your legal marital status only and not your name at all. Your legal names will remain as they were before the ceremony, on your marriage certificate. You will want to decide on your names however, so that your Wedding Celebrant knows what to announce you as at the end of the ceremony. Your guests will want to write your new married surname on cards and cheques. It’s a really nice idea to let them know your intended surname on the wedding invitations.

It’s no longer just the Bride who must decide to keep or lose her maiden name. You both have several options, but what are they?

No change. If you love your surname, and don’t mind it differing from your partner’s, you can opt to keep your names as they are. I wanted our children to have the same name as both of us so we didn’t go down this route even though I love my maiden name.

You both take the Groom’s name. If the Bride isn’t that attached to her surname, and the couple want to go with the most traditional name option, the Groom can keep his name, and the Bride can take his.

You both take the Bride’s surname. If like us, one of you has a relatively common or boring name and the other has a name that means alot to the family, you can both take the Bride’s surname. A good alternative to the traditional option if you want to share your surname.

Double-barrelling. If your names are equally important to you or you want to emphasise the joining of two families and you two as individuals, consider double-barrelling. The order is up to you and you can hyphenate or not bother. We went with the order that rolled off the tongue best and had the nicest ring to it. I also got to keep the familiar transition from first names to surname instead of it being interupted by the other surname. Win for me! We went with the double-barrelling option despite it resulting in quite a long name. One compromise is that we will run out of space for our names on certain forms and we now have to be more considerate when naming our children, but it’s worth it for the other reasons.

Meshing. A way around a really long double-barrelled name for those couples who dare to break the mould is meshing the two surnames together in an order that works. Half the surnames and butt them together and see what works. For us it would have meant CATLEY + RICHARDSON … Catardson? Richardley? Catlerdson? Richley? You can see why we double-barrelled!

What’s the deal with Deed Poll (UK)?

Deed Poll is the only way to legally change your name, whatever you choose to call yourselves. In theory you could refer to yourselves socially as your new married surname without changing your name with your bank, without changing your passports, without notifying companies you use, of the name change. The important thing to remember is that your passport must match the name you are travelling under. Your passport does not need altering just because you have married. Only if your name has been changed must you change your passport. What this means for us is that if we travel abroad our trip will have to be booked in our unmarried names until we change the passports. Banks will generally change your name if you present your marriage certificate, contrary to what the Deed Poll website tells you. If you want everything to match your bank account name, then your passport will need changing at some stage. This can be done without Deed Poll too, although the cost of a new passport could put you off by itself. The DVLA will accept just your marriage certificate to change your name providing that a clear link can be seen between the names on your certificate and what you are trying to change your name to. If you are meshing your names, you might have more trouble than if you are double-barrelling. As far as I can tell, you can name your children after your chosen married surname on their birth certificate without ever having legally changed your own surnames to the surname you give your children. And finally, because children (even babies!) now need their own passports, having a different surname to yours will not complicate your passport situation.

Ms. or Mrs.

Ladies, it’s up to you. While Mrs is the traditional title for married women, Ms might be more appealing to you and still set your status apart from the pre-marriage Miss.

Monograms

The nice thing is, no matter what you decide to call yourselves after your wedding, you can use all of the initials from your names in a monogram which can be used throughout your wedding. Your wedding day is that unique cross over moment of past, present and future. You are at once celebrating your former singles lives, and so your former single surnames; and your new lives together and your new married surnames. Monograms elegantly combine one or more initial into a coherent symbol. So you could try combining the initials of your first names or your old surnames, or choose to use the initials from your new shared surname combined with your first name initials. If you like the idea of a monogram, there are lots of monogram generators online. Do use them, instead of giving up (like I did) when my freehand efforts failed to impress my own exacting standards. Monograms can feature on all your wedding stationary, favours, your cake, and even in your flowers and are a lovely symbolic expression of the meaning of marriage.

With this ring I thee wed

Your engagement ring will probably be the first wedding-related purchase you make as a couple, whether you or your partner choose and buy it or you do it together. The ring can be a first chance to prove how well you know each other, if you’ve particular tastes or expectations. Or it can be a haribo jelly ring, hula hoop, or ring-fashioned tin foil to fulfil the role of ‘ring’ and be all you need. The engagement ring can set the tone for the wedding to follow. Much like the invitations, your ring will give your guests an idea of what to expect from the wedding. Is it contemporary? Antique? Traditional? Restrained? Elaborate? They will be looking for clues!

The choice of engagement ring will probably have most bearing on your choice of wedding bands. Do you intend to keep wearing your engagement ring after the marriage? Will you keep it on the same finger or move it to the other hand? Will you want to wear it alongside your wedding ring on special occasions or keep it in a box to hand down to the next generation? If your partner will only wear silver coloured metals or only yellow coloured metals does this mean your wedding rings will now not match? Do you need to consider a multi coloured gold band to tie the three rings together?

Jewellery is pretty. We love the decadence of it. It is never needed. This makes it all the more desirable. Getting married gives you a great excuse to buy not one but two rings plus jewellery to wear on the day! But spare a thought for your other half. The Groom will generally get a nice new pair of cufflinks out of it – if he’s lucky. After our engagement I decided to buy my fiance a watch. Not just a functional watch, but one that was special. One that was a bit over the top., a bit ornate. One that really spoke to him and spoke to me of him. He adores it to this day and wears it every chance he gets (whenever not at work). It’s a ‘for best’ piece, and because it was frivilous, because I told him to choose whichever one he wanted, instead of weighing up pros and cons or thinking of the watch as a practical purchase, it’s basically his most prized possession. A true gift, a treat, not a concession.

When we were shopping for his wedding cufflinks we were so bored by the masses of jokey modern Groom offerings. We eventually came across a pair of cheeky vintage links. My top tip: don’t search under the Groom or Wedding category for cufflinks. Think about the kind of design or look that would work with your theme. While we’re talking about thinking outside the box, there’s no rule that you have to have wedding rings. If you’re not really a ring person why not go for something more you – jewellery or otherwise? The purpose of rings in the marriage ceremony is firstly to symbolise your first gifts to each other, so you could opt to exchange pretty much anything instead, eg. roses, garlands, tokens, coins. Secondly, rings symbolise infinity. This could mean to you your unending love, your unending support for one another through live, or your unending bond together in marriage. Rings symbolise these things because they are circles so have no end. You could replace rings with any other circular object, for example, a bracelet.

With my own wedding jewellery, I thought about what I’d like to wear every day after my wedding around my neck to remind me of the promises we had made. I had been coveting a chunky heart pendant for ages but not being able to afford a gold one, I fell in love with a Murano glass range and ordered some bespoke earrings to match. This way for very little money, I got a necklace and earrings I had designed myself, having chosen exactly the perfect beads and fittings to go with my dress and my wedding theme. I ordered brooches for the Moms and pendants for the Bridesmaids from the same jewellery maker so that everything was in Murano, but as individual as the girls I was buying for. I ended up wearing my other Nan’s pearl necklace on my wedding day instead of the pendant, but I wear my Murano wedding jewellery all the time. It was really nice to have things to keep wearing on the honeymoon that reminded me of the wedding. It was one of those things you don’t plan but then just really appreciate at the time.

As for my rings, well I wanted an old ring that resembled one I had admired on my late Nan’s finger. When she died, I inhereited the ring but discovered it was damaged and not worth repairing. We scoured Oxford for something similar or reminiscent, and finally found ‘the one’ in Birmingham’s jewellery quarter, which meant a great deal to me, having a long line of ancestors from the city. Ben was very easy to please with a plain yellow gold band, but I wanted a design that symbolised our union and set about getting quotes for a bespoke ring with entwined threads of rose and yellow gold. Rose to symbolise me and the yellow to symbolise Ben. Our budget just didn’t stretch that far so I found a half diamond crossover design that would represent our differences and our joining well enough although I’d still love to get the ring of my dreams made some day. We had our rings engraved with words that meant the most to us. Ben’s ring says ‘Whole’ because he feels that our relationship has made him a whole man, ready for the rest of his life as his true self. It’s really nice that our words make sense when they are put together too. My ring says ‘Life’ because that is what I feel Ben gives me. The real start of my life, as a wife, we are a new family, setting out on a new adventure. By giving my heart and soul peace at finding him and knowing that he will always love me, Ben gives me the grounding to fully live and enjoy my life.

Jewellery and especially rings can be far more than just pretty. When it comes to your wedding, it’s up to you to take the opportunity to inject meaning into everything if you want to. There’s no reason why everything you choose to be a part of your day should not hold a special (and secret if you want) meaning to you and your beloved. How often do we get this chance? The world is your oyster. Happy shopping, and remember: the only limit to possibility is your imagination.

 

Engagement: the long and short of it

The length of an engagement can be decided before the proposal even takes place. Indeed you might see this kind of agreement as a prerequisite. Say you’ve got your heart set on a short engagement. You might want to insist that no proposal takes place until the time is close enough to your preferred wedding date. If the proposal comes ‘too early’ for whatever reason – practical, emotional, financial; you might be stuck with a really long engagement.

The average engagement is for 18 months. This strikes me as a long time. Too long? While it’s pretty obvious that a short engagement could cause you problems in hiring all the suppliers and goods for your wedding, or mean that you have to compromise on the exact date, venue, or supplier; it’s less so why a long engagement would cause a problem.

Ways an engagement can be too long:

Wedding planning doesn’t necessarily become less stressful or less complicated the longer you allow for it. Quite the contrary. When you’re planning a wedding, you have to hold lots of information in your head at the same time to retain an overall picture of the event as well as every individual detail. I can tell you from first hand experience that this is remarkably similar to how a PhD student feels throughout their three or more years of project management and thesis writing.

The experience can be intense and can take over your world. You might find it hard to think of much else besides the wedding. you can fail to see the wood for the trees, with details multiplying with the time your brain is given to imagine the infinite possibilities of what could be. If you put the wedding planning to one side for a number of days or weeks, when you try to pick it up again, it can take you ages to become reacquainted with where you are with the different strands of planning. It can soon become overwhelming, even with elite organisational skills, folders, lists and multi coloured page markers and post its. 🙂

You can end up spending more money. Chances are if you limit the planning time, you’ll limit the options you allow yourself to consider. The more options you expose yourself to, the more you will stretch the budget to acheive your dream day. If you are bargain hunting online, don’t be fooled into buying things you don’t actually need or have budgeted for, just because they are a bargain. This is easily done when you have wedding shopping fever. You see it on house building shows all the time. In an attempt to save money, online bargain hunting goes mad and impractical purchases end up costing much more because they have to be somehow blended into the scheme by yet more purchases, or adjusted to fit. You might not want to return items that aren’t quite right if the postage costs as much as they did.

Indecision sets in. If you’ve got loads of time, you can put off making decisions. Confronted with so many ways to go, you may find yourself unable to make decisions. This loss of momentum or sense of urgency can get you down, you can lose connection with your wedding, it can seem so far off it becomes ethereal, unreal. Ever watched paint dry? That’s what it would be like for me, as I just like to get on with things. I’m very impatient. If you are this way inclined, why put yourself through the wait? List your reasons and think about whether it adds up. Or are you putting it off to give yourself time to do all those things you think you’ll lose once married? Are you giving yourself time to get used to the idea of marriage? Are you giving yourself time to get to know your partner better, or to see if any cracks appear? It’s a good time to ask yourself the hard questions, and to be honest with yourself.

Your ideas can change. I found that I wanted to combine a few different styles in my eclectically vintage wedding. However, even within my fairly short 9 month engagement my ideas evolved so much that I wish I had had even less time so that I would be more likely to pick my theme and stick with it. When you are conceptualising the wedding at the beginning of your engagement you might be onto a fairly unusual theme or look, and by the time your wedding rolls around, you could have been to 10 weddings with the same theme as yours, and the mags could be proclaiming it the ‘in’ theme. Wedding trends come and go. If your engagement and wedding span more than one fashion season, you could end up oh-so-last-season. What may have been widely stocked a year ago might now be near impossible to find. The wedding industry is fickle.

Your life changes! Take any 18 months of your adult life and consider the changes that occured from the start to the end of that time period. Will your guest list be the same? Will your tastes? Will your priorities? Will your location? Will your family have seen new additions, or sad losses? Think about changes that might occur in other people’s lives. In the lives of your suppliers and the businesses you are depending on. They may go out of business, see a change in management, or direction. Their standards may change.

When you’re thinking about the length of your engagement, think about what would work best for you and your partner. Forget about the norm, the average and what your parents expect. While an engagement of 9 months is perfectly adequate, the benefit of a 12 month engagement is that you will get to see things at the same time of year as your wedding date. This can give you a much more accurate picture of how things will look and what will be on offer when your big day comes. Having said that, if you just cant wait to tie the knot, I’d advise no less than 3 months to plan your wedding. It can be done, but I’d stick to these rules to see you through.

Rules for a successful short engagement:

  1. Choose a theme/style/look/concept and stick with it. Do not hesitate. Things will jump out at you. Go with your gut instinct.
  2. Draw up a battle plan. You will need a schedule so that you don’t leave vital jobs too late. Pin down deadlines for EVERYTHING.
  3. Delegate. You can be Head Planner AND have as many little helpers as you like! Give your nearest and dearest specific tasks. Whether it’s sourcing a good band, doing a price comparison of florists, or picking up the invitations. Give your assistants a brief, so that they know what you expect.
  4. Prioritise. With a short engagement you might have to trim down the list of to dos. Think about what matters to you both. What can your day do without? Simply strike things off that list rather than stressing over compromises, and you’ll feel relieved and empowered.
  5. Enlist the help of professionals. I don’t mean a wedding planner. Your team of suppliers need to be professional, trustworthy and helpful. You may find an indispensable venue coordinator, celebrant (me!), or caterer who goes above and beyond to help see you through the planning process. If you can leave them to it in the run up to the wedding and on the day, great. If you are finding yourself chasing them, and picking up their slack, replace them.
  6. Be prepared to compromise. I mean really compromise. If you can take a more laid back attitude to the specifics, you can still get exactly what you want. It’s all about the overall effect, the essence of the day, the feel of it. Keep these things in mind rather than brand names, bestsellers, or expense as a guide to what’s right for you.
  7. Keep calm and carry on. If you get super-stressed you’ll become indecisive and snappy. Take time out from the planning to relax, and reconnect with your partner about why you are getting married. Keep perspective, take a deep breath, eat some cake, and get on with it. It’ll all be worth it.

And finally… Don’t be a slave to must have and must do lists, budget sheets, or timelines set by wedding companies. Every wedding is different so draw up your own lists and charts. If it seems overwhelming, change it, until it no longer does.

A season to wed

There’s no question, July and August are the most popular months for weddings. 6 out of 6 of my first wedding enquiries this year have been for those two summer months. If you’re hankering after an outdoor humanist wedding, or are hoping to serve a hog roast in the balmy evening at your reception you might think you HAVE to choose one of these 8 weekends most likely to guarantee warmth and sunshine. You might just LOVE summer, the brightly coloured exotic blooms, the long days, the happy childhood memories of frolicking through long grass and jumping on hay bales. Your choice might be practical and connected to your honeymoon dates. I’ve nothing at all against summer weddings, but here’s some food for thought about the more neglected seasons.

SPRING

If you ask me, seasons in Britain are a matter of personal taste.I adore the spring. For me, there is nothing that beats that feeling of gardens coming to life, the relief and excitement shared by the birds, the bees, and the trees. Nothing beats the fresh smell of spring air, the urge nature gives you to clear out the clutter, and to start exercising more. I love the spring weather. Being an April baby my birthday has known snow, amazing sunshine, and many rainbows.There is something quintessentially English that is captured by springtime. Particular garden flowers, a particular air, a particular call to nostalgia, as if spring was the fuzzy round cornered 80s snap to summer’s pristine and crisp high definition shot. While every summer we heap our hopes up of mediterraneanesque glory only to complain when the British weather doesn’t live up to our dreams (or that it’s too hot); spring encourages us to roll with the punches, take it like a Brit, and come rain or shine, wed outdoors, party like its 1999 with wellies and umbrellas. Chances are, if you pick a day in spring for your wedding you will get a mix of sunshine and showers. To my mind, this is less depressing than an August day promising non-stop sun and delivereing non-stop drizzle and grey skies. If you’ve got your heart set on marrying outdoors, you have two options: draw up a contingency plan for wet weather; or screw up Plan B and get wet. Getting drenched might actually be the most romantic thing you’ve ever done.

AUTUMN

We all love the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot, and the auburn beauty of avenues of turning trees. Autumn gives us some of the most gorgeous late afternoon dappled light when those last rays of sun hit your face to remind you that it’s still there. As the weather changes, what could be more romantic than cosying up with your new spouse, snuggling red-cheeked in front of the first open fires of the year. Autumn is the season of plenty, of bounty, of harvest – the perfect recipe for a wedding feast. If you’re not overly keen on a strapless dress anyway, why not consider the vastly enhanced options for autumn and winter brides? Shrugs, fitted bridal coats, long-sleeved dresses, wedding boots. Don’t try to conform to the cliches of a summer wedding if you’re marrying out of summer. Think about what is appropriate to the weather, and the changed natural scenery.

WINTER

If you’ve seen Love Actually you’ll know what I mean by winter romance. Falling snow, candles and fairy lights twinkling and reflecting and glistening pure angelic white, ice sculptures, vodka ice bars, ice hotels, eskimo hats, ice skating, everyone in the christmas spirit of giving, hugging, eating and dancing. Sparkle sparkle sparkle! Lots and lots of couples get engaged over Christmas and New Year because it’s a very romantic and momentous time of year. Things come to a head. You are filled with a sense of hope and possibility. It’s a natural time of change in our lives, when you wouldn’t just be entering a symbolically new beginning with each other once as husband and wife, you would be entering a really new beginning, by entering a brand new year. The brilliant thing about this earth is that where there is winter there is also summer. You just have to go down under. So why not consider a honeymoon in the lower hemisphere? South Africa, South America, New Zealand? Likewise, marry in the autumn and you can honeymoon in someone else’s spring.

I hope I’ve shown that giving a bit more thought to which season to marry in can throw up some really fun wedding theme ideas. There are also practical reasons to get married out of summer. It might save you a lot of money. This goes for venues, all suppliers, and honeymoons. It opens up food options – choose the food that’s in season and can be sourced locally for a feel good, top quality, interesting twist on the trad wedding breakfast. Your flowers will look better if you opt for those in season and grown in Britain. Much better to have healthy, affordable, blooming flowers than poor, drooping, not quite right imported flowers. The beauty of wedding planning is in seeing the different elements blend together in perfect harmony. This is easy to achieve if you follow this one golden rule and go seasonal and go local! Choose food and drink that is in season and it will never look out of place. These guiding principles can help you acheive a really stand out wedding. Guests love to be surprised by difference, by the little touches. Consider commissioning small pieces for your wedding by local artisans. Be it rings made with local metal or stones, the wedding jewellery, or gifts, the Bride and Groom’s glass charms, a sculpture, carving, or stained glass piece. You will treasure bespoke one off pieces that featured as part of your ceremony or reception long after your wedding, far more dearly than items any Bride and Groom can buy at wedding shops on the High Street. Give some thought to the little things, and they might turn out to be the things that really matter. You might go to 6 weddings during the ‘wedding season’ so make yours stand apart from the crowd. Choose your season, and then choose your date.

Congratulations to all those newly engaged couples who are just setting out on their wedding planning adventures!