Over the past couple of months, there has been lots of advice, for couples due to be married in 2020, from many sources. As with most advice, some has been REALLY good and some, unfortunately, less than helpful. Lots seemed to be telling people EXACTLY how they should be feeling and reacting and PRECISELY what they need to do. As anyone who knows me will know: I don't do that.
So, I did what I always do. Kept in touch with my couples. Reached out with, and responded to, emails and calls. I listened and replied with kindness, fairness, and honesty. I offered emotional and practical support. I gave couples the option to add Plan B dates (in the hope that Plan A might still happen as planned) and, when required, provided fuss-free (and cost-free) rescheduling. As has always been the case, I generally, and genuinely, wanted to help in any way that I possibly could - and still do (and always will).
I have also kept in (virtual) touch with my Celebrant and supplier friends and we have been supporting, sharing ideas with, and learning from, each other. The emerging movement of 'Community over Competition' within the wedding industry has been a really welcome and positive thing to come out of this situation.
I am part of some fabulous, strong, online networks of like-minded professionals, and we are growing and getting stronger. The bonds feel so positive and authentic that I honestly don't expect the connections will fall apart when the current crisis is over. We're still working as small independent businesses, but also have a sense of belonging to something bigger, safe and supportive - the best of both worlds!
My supplier friends and I are also sharing some of the despicable horror stories that our couples have suffered from some less scrupulous quarters. Rest assured, individually, and together, we are doing everything that we can to support those couples.
Eventually (if not sooner!) the truth will out, the greedy and mercenary practices will be publicised, people will remember, and I have no doubt that those businesses will ultimately suffer for their attitude and actions!
Rant over, on to the purpose of this post...
Now that some of the initial shock has subsided, some couples have told me that they are are looking for ways to mark their original wedding date. So, with the sole objective that it might assist others, I have decided to share a few ideas that my couples have told me were helpful to them.
The following won't change what is happening, it definitely won't help everyone, but in the hope that it will help someone, here goes:
This is an extract from one of the emails that I have sent to couples who were due to have their wedding, with me, in Spring/Summer 2020. It also includes a short video of what one of my lovely couples did on their ‘should have been’ wedding day - shared with their permission...
✪ Grieve, if you want/need to...
This may sound a bit over-dramatic but don’t treat your feelings so flippantly. You have put time, energy and emotion into planning this day that, for reasons outside your control, will not happen (at least not when you thought that it would).
More crucially you have been preparing mentally and emotionally (as well as financially!) for an important milestone in your life and to have that process ground to a halt is most likely to be upsetting and it is hardly surprising if it feels like a deep loss.
Having said all of that, you may not be feeling like this, and that’s OK too. We are all different. At this time, perhaps more than ever, we have many things to be grateful for (and, let's face it, possibly to worry about).
We all deal with things in our own way and it may be that you are feeling relaxed, relieved, or any one of a myriad different emotions at different times - including feeling numb, or perhaps you feel nothing at all?
It may be that within the context of everything else that is happening with you, and around you, you feel that postponing your wedding is not that big a deal. It doesn’t mean that you don’t want to get married, it’s simply a positive way of regaining some control over the situation and looking to the future - on your terms.
So, however you are feeling, please be gentle with yourselves and each other; get in touch with me if you want to talk anything through – I’m not only here for the good stuff!
✪ Mark the day with a mini pre-wedding Ceremony...
If I don’t have anything else booked in on your ‘should have been’ date (which, let’s face it, is highly unlikely!) I would love to help you do this. We can do it via any video calling facility of your choice - you name it, I’ll have it (or get it).
So, if you want me to create a mini pre-wedding ceremony, just ask!
It could be as simple as lighting a candle, or you may want to consider making promises or saying your vows to each other.
If you would prefer to keep the vows that you have chosen for your new date, I can suggest alternatives, or of course, you can write or select something yourselves. If you would like me to, I will send you a commemorative copy of your vows to keep.
Although social distancing rules will put a stop to gathering guests from other households, we could set up a WhatsApp group (it allows up to 8 devices), or use Something like Zoom to include as many of your family and friends as you would like – or we can keep it intimate and just between us (think of it as a mini virtual elopement!)
It is a way to still honour the date that you had been planning for and, hopefully, a way to celebrate your togetherness and/or ease some of the sadness that you may be feeling (as I’ve already said, I’m not suggesting that you have to feel sad or that something is wrong if you aren’t feeling a sense of loss!)
This couple decided to give their daughter the opportunity to wear her Flower Girl dress, on their original date, and had a celebration for three at home. I was delighted (and a little tearful) when they sent me this little video. I'm really looking forward to when we can finally celebrate together, with the rest of their family and friends, it's going to be amazing!
✪ Have a ‘Not the Wedding Reception’...
If you’re having an online get together with family and friends, on your original wedding date, maybe share a Spotify playlist, have a ‘not the wedding speech’ (or even a few), let your guests raise a glass when you share some cake or have a dance.
However, just as I would never dream of telling you what you could, or couldn’t, have had when we were planning what was supposed to happen on this day, I wouldn’t dream of telling you now – basically, do whatever feels right for you (including nothing, if that’s what you prefer!)
✪ Make a Time Capsule...
Write a love letter to each other and maybe include a copy of your wedding vows and pop in a nice bottle of something fizzy (if that’s your thing?) Maybe make a pledge to open it the week before your new wedding date – or you may want to choose a different time?
✪ Design a Cocktail...
Take your time and enjoy making, and naming, a bespoke cocktail, based on your favourite drinks. Write down the recipe and when your Big Day does come around, make a batch and serve it to your guests, either on arrival or perhaps after the ceremony? For an idea on how to include a cocktail in your ceremony, click/tap the picture above.
✪ Plant a ‘Seed of Hope’
To mark your original wedding date and the certainty that your new date will come around (just as the wheel of nature keeps turning), why not plant some seeds with your partner.
If you have no, or limited, space outdoors you might plant a few seeds in a pot that can be cared for indoors or on a windowsill.
One of my Cheshire based couples, who were due to get married in April, had made favours, for their guests, with British wildflower seeds. Once they knew their wedding wasn’t going ahead, as planned, they posted the envelopes out to their family and friends (only within the U.K. - because, for lots of reasons, it’s not good to send seeds/bulbs/plants abroad). The nearly weds are delighted to be getting photo updates on the progress of the new plants, as they push their way through the earth. Their guests are hopeful and excited about seeing the plants flower and are going to keep petals to use as confetti. When the new date comes around it will be a lovely way of linking to two dates - and will obviously be getting a mention in the wedding ceremony!
I hope that the above has been of some help, even if it’s to reassure you that you’re not alone.
So, today, tomorrow, and every day: please take care, love and look after each other. Stay safe and look forward to the future, it’s definitely on it’s way - see you there!
Hi, I am Lorraine Hull, an award-winning Independent Celebrant, based in Liverpool.
I am most usually asked to conduct ceremonies in North-West England and North Wales but I am happy to travel anywhere within the U.K. or abroad.
At the risk of shouting (and sounding extremely cheesy) "I LOVE MY JOB".
I love to create and conduct personal and personalised Wedding, Partnership, Commitment, Naming, and Celebration of Life ceremonies; anyone, and everyone, is welcome to ask me to work with, and for, them.
I believe that all people (and animals) should all be treated kindly, fairly and with respect.
We are all unique and we all matter.
I advocate kindness, fairness, respect and equality for all through everything that I say and do: Love is Love, Family is Family, Life is Life.
You may also like to know that I hold Public Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance, I adhere to a strict code of conduct and I am committed to developing and sharing best practice with my Celebrant colleagues, so that we can all be the best Celebrants that we can possibly be.