What makes a wedding ‘real’?

I sometimes hear couples asking whether Celebrants can ‘do a real wedding’.

If, by this, they mean a legal ceremony, then the answer in the UK is ‘no’, we can’t. Not yet anyway.

But can we do a ‘real’ wedding?

Yes, we can - because what makes a wedding ‘real’ is not the presence of a registrar, a vicar, priest or rabbi, nor the certificate given at the end.

What makes a wedding real is simply this: two people who love each other, standing in front of people who love them, declaring their love for one another and making promises to live as a couple for the rest of their lives.

That’s it. That’s all you need.

It was only in 1753 that a law was introduced, stating that, in order to be valid and registered, all marriages were to be performed in an official ceremony in a religious setting. Registry Office weddings came even later - 1836 - when the authorities realised that not everyone was happy being married in a religious ceremony they didn’t believe in.

Before the church and the state claimed the exclusive authority to perform legal marriages, centuries had passed where couples would simply stand in the presence of their witnesses and pledge their love and intention to live as a married couple.

Of course, I understand the need to register marriages so that the state can keep track of its population in terms of who is who and how families are formed. That’s why Registry Offices are called that. The clue’s in the name.

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t pop along to the local registry office and register the fact that you are or will be married to one another, but the idea that the only place you can BE married is in a setting authorised by the church or the state lacks a good understanding of history and logic.

You can be married wherever and however suits you.

And if your preference is for a unique, joyous, creative day of celebrating your love away from the authorities, then this perspective is liberating.

And if your particular kind of love isn’t welcomed in the religious place you’d like to be married, then it’s time to be liberated and find or create your own space.The spirituality you believe in will be there - and multiplied by your authenticity and truth.

So when the question is raised, ‘Can celebrants do a real wedding?’, I say, ‘Yes, we can, because a wedding is something that you create by your love.

We’re simply helping you claim marriage back where it belongs - in the hands of lovers who intend life to be lived as one’.

Of course, for tax and legal reasons, you’ll need to go through the formality with a registrar - but your wedding belongs to you and no one else.

Discuss and share. Let’s talk about this - I’d love to know your thoughts.

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©2019 Piers Lane Celebrant