The highly anticipated Oprah Interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry aired last night and many people were surprised to hear that the couple in fact had two wedding ceremonies. First a small affair in their back garden a few days before their grand affair in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.
"Three days before our wedding we got married. The vows we have framed," said the Duchess. We called the archbishop, and we just said, 'Look, this thing, this spectacle is for the world, but we want our union between us. The ceremony was "just the two of us in our back yard with the Archbishop of Canterbury."
Photo by ALEXI LUBOMIRSKI
Having two ceremonies isn't unique to Meghan and Harry, in fact every single couple I work with have two wedding ceremonies.
One ceremony with myself, filled with stories about them, tales of love and laughter and vows written from the heart, and the second ceremony at the register office to make their wedding legal. Typically one ceremony is a grand affair and one a more simple legal signing, but this isn't always the case.
But thanks to the Covid 19 pandemic sequel weddings are becoming a more popular choice for a range of reasons.
During 2020 many couples were forced to amend their original wedding plans and instead plan a more intimate small scale wedding, or minimony, but as restrictions begin to lift and socialising is once again on the agenda couples are choosing to celebrate surrounded by their friends and family.
Having two weddings is not a recent phenomenum, in fact many cultures have several separate wedding ceremonies.
Indian weddings for instance have traditionally been considered a marriage of two families, rather than just a marriage of the couple. The wedding can be anywhere from three days to one week long and typically includes several events and ceremonies, each with a different purpose.
So why are we so reluctant to celebrate with two ceremonies within the UK? Are we afraid we'll seem selfish or ostentatious by celebrating our love more than once? Is it the financial implications of holding two separate events, or are just deeply traditional and reluctant to move away from the legal ceremony being the only ceremony that’s seen as real.
It's not suprising to me that Harry and Meghan chose this option, as a small intimate wedding gives the couple the chance to say more private, personal vows without hundreds of guests watching over their every move.
Having two ceremonies is in fact a common practice for celebrities in the UK.
A traditional civil service is very short and the wording is generic and filled with legal jargon, not particularly romantic. It's no wonder then that celebrities paying six plus figures for a wedding want a ceremony that’s more personal, more meaningful and created specifically for them.
By choosing a Celebrant to officiate their second ceremony a couple are free to choose a location of their choice and say I do at any time, and in any way that they choose. It's all about respecting their choice for a ceremony that is meaningful to them.
Having two ceremonies is not something exclusively available to those with a huge budget, or even celebrities.
The flexibility of a Celebrant led ceremony means it's actually starting to become "the new normal" and couples are consistently stepping away from tradition to find a more modern way to express their love.
Photo by STEPH BUTT
The following is taken from the official documents by the Law Commission who are currently debating the outdated laws surrounding wedding ceremonies in the UK.
" The laws governing how and where couples can marry are outdated and unnecessarily restrictive.Currently, many couples face a conflict between how they wish to celebrate their wedding, and how the law requires them to celebrate it. Unnecessary regulation prevents couples from marrying in a place that is meaningful to them and having a ceremony with the vows, rituals and music that reflects their wishes and beliefs.
The proposals would enable all couples to have a ceremony that is meaningful to them. As part of this, the proposals could allow couples to choose to have weddings outdoors or in private family homes, and to have simpler, less expensive weddings.
Ultimately, the proposals will bring the process into the 21st century and allow the law to recognise the diverse ways that couples in England and Wales wish to celebrate their weddings."
There are many reasons you might consider having two ceremonies, including but not limited to;
Covid restrictions meant your first wedding had to much smaller than planned
You want to get married abroad
Your family don’t share your vision
Relatives who cannot travel
Just because you want to!
If you think that having two ceremonies, or more ( no one says you have to stop at two ) you might want to consider budget first. This doesn't meant your budget has to be large, you just need to be practical about the logistics of planning two separate events. Most of my couples chose a two by two civil service which is under £100, then have me lead their ceremony on their actual wedding day, but you can plan any two weddings that you like.
But isn't one wedding fake?
This is the biggest concern I hear from couples when it comes to considering two wedding ceremonies. That the non legal wedding will feel fake or staged, but I can assure you that all my couples would say otherwise.
In fact last October I conducted an elopement ceremony under a bridge in the countryside, a few hours after the couples legal wedding with their permitted thirteen family members.
The couple exchanged heartfelt vows and promises, and I spoke all about their life together and how they had come to be together here in this moment, committing to a lifetime together. After their kiss to seal the deal, the couple turned to me and said "Now we feel married"
Any special occasion holds as much value as you allow it to offer. Think about buying that first house together as a couple, you spend months completing paperwork, you sign the mortgage documents at the bank, you sign more paperwork at the solicitors office, but it doesn't quite feel real yet…
The moment you hold the keys in your hand and walk through the door together for the first time, that's the moment you will always remember. That's when it feels real.
Standing face to face, promising to love one another until death do you part, exchanging rings, sealing the vows with a kiss. That's real. It's a truly magical moment and I feel honoured to be a part of it during every single wedding.
If you got married last year and are considering a sequel wedding in 2021 or 2022, or even if you did the legal signing last year but never actually got to hold that wedding day you always dreamed of and feel now is the time, drop me a message and let's plan something truly epic.
Photo by VICKY DUBOIS