Congratulations on your engagement and thanks for looking at my blog!

Congratulations on your engagement and thanks for looking at my blog!

How to use this blog

This blog is structured as a series of questions and under each posting, I've provided what I hope will be helpful advice for you in planning your humanist wedding. All of the posts are on one page, but each one has been condensed in size, so to read the full details, just click on the post title or 'read more'. When you get to the end of the post, just click on 'home' to get back to the full page of posts (or on older/newer posts). If you're interested in a particular subject, you can also click on the list to the left or you can do your own search by using the box below.

Happy reading and happy wedding planning!

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Can we have secrets and surprises in our ceremony?


(revealing some secrets to the groom at Glenskirlie Castle. Photo by Suzanne Hodgson at naturalweddings)

The short answer is yes, of course! Naturally the actual marriage can't be a surprise to either the bride or groom (there is more information on this on the gro-scotland website), but you could make it a surprise for your guests. I've conducted several baby naming ceremonies now that have turned into weddings and no one apart from the couple knew about it beforehand! Brilliant!

Secrets and surprises can be a lot of fun and with that in mind, here's one that was revealed, in all it's glory, on a recent wedding day:



Please rest assured that it isn't a legal requirement for the Celebrant  to inspect the groom's undergarments before the bride's arrival! I think you'll agree that Stuart's were kind of special though! Yes that's me on the left - I couldn't not look now could I?! It took a while before I got my face straight again for the arrival of the lovely bride by the way (thanks to Sophia and Stuart for the laughs at The Cruin that day!)

Seriously, there are lots of ways to include secrets and surprises in your wedding and I often suggest that you consider them. The way I work is to draft the whole ceremony for you and email it to you a few months beforehand. This means that you'll be very familiar with everything I'm going to say, so it's really nice if there are a couple of wee surprises. It helps to give the ceremony a bit of sparkle for you on the day. So, how can you do this? Here are a few ideas for you:


  • When I meet couples I often set them a bit of homework. I ask them to think about why they want to marry each other, to write it down and to send their thoughts to me, but to keep them a secret from one another. I recently set one couple the challenge of doing this in less than 140 words (not quite as restrictive as the 140 characters allowed on Twitter!). Another way to do this is for you to tell me three things that you love about each other (sorry to be sexist, but note to the boys - not just three words!). I can then include it in the ceremony so that you hear it for the first time on the big day - and I usually read it out for you by the way. You might prefer to read it yourself, but most couples find it too emotional and are quite happy for me to read it on their behalf. Several couples have commented that this was their favourite part of the whole ceremony.
  • One couple had their guests send in one top tip each for a happy marriage and I read a few (carefully!) selected highlights during the ceremony. Some were serious and some were funny and it was a great way to involve everyone.
  • I've also read out messages from guests unable to be there on the day and made it a lovely surprise for the couple.
  • I once announced to the bride the destination for her surprise honeymoon. The groom, Craig, asked me to make the announcement during the ceremony and no one apart from him knew where they were going. When his lovely bride (you lucky girl Hayley!) found out that she was spending Christmas in New York, she was over the moon and super excited!
  • You might want to consider choosing a poem to read to each other (or have me read it on your behalf). If you keep it a secret until the day, it can give the words real emotional impact. 
  • What about asking a friend or family member to read for you, to make their own choice of poem and keep it a secret until the day? If you do this, get the friend/family member to email it to me beforehand so that I know what they're reading and I'll keep my lips sealed! I once had a wedding where the couple were expecting one friend to read a poem, but what actually happened was that a whole group of mates had divided it up to read a line each. They then stood up seemingly randomly in the audience, to read their line. It worked beautifully and was such a surprise for the couple! It almost felt like a flashmob and it certainly made everyone smile!
  • You can of course keep your vows a secret from one another until the day too and I can advise and help you with this, without giving your secrets away!
  • How about the bride choosing a piece of music for her entry and keeping it a secret from the groom until he hears it for the first time when she walks down the aisle? The tissues will be at the ready for this one by the way! And the groom could choose something for the end of the ceremony that he keeps a secret from the bride? (trust me on this one girls, I'll vet it to make sure it's OK!)


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