Having a wedding blessing is a lovely way to make your wedding ceremony highly personalised and unique.
Although a blessing is not a legally recognised marriage ceremony, it is a perfect solution if you are unable to meet the residency and legal requirements in the country where you would like to celebrate your wedding.
Having chosen to have a wedding blessing for our wedding ceremony in France, I believe it offers many additional benefits over a standard civil wedding ceremony.
It allows you to:
Your wedding ceremony is one of the most important parts of your wedding day and it should be the one element of your day that is all about the two of you.
The type of ceremony you choose to have, be it religious or non-religious should reflect your outlook on marriage and the meaning you associate with it.
Although a wedding ceremony is all about the commitment you are making to each other, many types of ceremonies follow a set structure and do not always allow for individual expression.
A wedding blessing overcomes this, you do not have to follow a set structure and you can choose the words that go into your ceremony.
In countries such as Australia and the United States, a civil ceremony is legally binding if performed by a Civil Celebrant and is very much like a wedding blessing. In this type of ceremony you may incorporate your own choice of words and hold your ceremony in a location of your choice.
Unfortunately, this is not the case in many parts of Europe, where a civil ceremony may only take place in officially deemed premises and although you may include your own readings, the standard framework of the ceremony in many instances may not be altered.
A wedding blessing is not a legally recognised marriage ceremony.
If you do choose to have a wedding blessing you will need to also have an official civil wedding ceremony to ensure that the legal formalities are adhered to and to obtain a legally binding marriage certificate.
Many couples choose to get legally married in their country of residence prior to going abroad.
Couples who choose to have a wedding blessing, generally regard this as what makes them husband and wife and not the official legal ceremony.
With a wedding blessing you can literally choose anyone to perform your ceremony, however I would recommend having a fully trained professional from the Humanist Association officiate your ceremony.
The Humanist Association celebrants are highly experienced, professional and friendly people who can offer advice on the structure of your ceremony and help with preparing the words of your ceremony, as well as readings and any music you may wish to include. They will work with you to ensure that your special occasion is a success.
You may find a member of the Humanist Association in the country that you choose to marry or alternatively you may wish to have a member of the British or Irish Humanist Association perform the ceremony for you. In this instance, you will be required to pay for their travel and accommodation however you may find the cost out-weighs any "language barriers".
I also highly recommend independent wedding celebrant, Tina Bowden from Mulberry Days who can travel to your wedding destination anywhere in the world and perform your wedding ceremony.
A Humanist wedding blessing / affirmation may take place in any location of your choice and may be personalised with words and music that have real meaning to you. It may be as traditional or casual and romantic or creative as you choose.
This type of ceremony is also a great alternative if you have children and wish for them to be part of the ceremony.
Many couples have concerns that if they officially get married prior to their wedding day that it will detract from the meaning of their day.
From personal experience I can tell you that this definitely isn't the case. My husband and I opted to have a "secret" civil ceremony in the United Kingdom prior to our wedding day and then had a highly personalised wedding blessing / humanist wedding ceremony on the day of our wedding.
Aside from our witnesses we didn't tell anyone that we had been officially married and we did not consider ourselves husband and wife until we had our Humanist wedding ceremony in France.
All our guests commented on what an incredibly unique and touching ceremony it was and really appreciated being part of a personal and meaningful event.
Charlotte and Christian who got married in Provence, had a civil ceremony in France the day before their wedding and then chose to have a wedding blessing at Charlotte's family's villa on their wedding day.
They chose to have a wedding blessing so the ceremony could be conducted at the location of their choice, so their ceremony could be conducted in English and so they could personalise the ceremony to give it a very personal feel. Charlotte & Christian wrote their own vows and had a beautiful reading.
If you use a member of the Humanist Association to perform your ceremony, a fee is charged for this, and will vary from one organisation to the next. The amount is usually in line with the fee that you will pay for a religious or civil ceremony.
The British Humanist Association
1 Gower Street, London WC1E 6HD
Tel: 020 7079 3580
Fax: 020 7079 3588
The Humanist Organisation of Scotland
The Humanist Association of Ireland
Coach Road, Balrothery
Tel: (01) 841-3116
Tel: (01) 286-9870
Mobile (cell) phone: 086-086-2003
Mobile (cell) phone: 086-609-5799
Barry and Denise held their ceremony in the beautiful gardens of the villa where they chose to marry. They decided to follow a traditional structure similar to a religious/civil ceremony, however they had the freedom to personalise their ceremony with their own wedding vows allowing them to reflect their view on marriage.
Did you have a wedding blessing abroad? If so I would love to hear why you chose to have a wedding blessing and if you were happy with your decision to do so. I'm sure your experiences would be beneficial to other couples.
If you would like further information on having a wedding blessing please contact me.