Having a wedding blessing is a lovely way to make your wedding ceremony highly personalised and unique.
Although a symbolic ceremony / wedding 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.
Benefits of a Wedding Blessing
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:
- Have your wedding ceremony in any country of your choice
- Have your ceremony take place in any location of your choice
- Choose the words for your ceremony
- Set the framework for your ceremony
- Decide who performs your ceremony
- Have your ceremony conducted in your native language
The meaning of your Wedding Ceremony
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.
Civil Ceremony vs Wedding Blessing
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.
Legalities of a Wedding Blessing
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.
If you want to have a legal ceremony in the country where you choose to marry you can find more information about the wedding abroad legal requirements here.
With a wedding blessing you can literally choose anyone to perform your ceremony, however I would recommend having a fully trained professional celebrant officiate.
An experienced and professional celebrant will 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 can find a celebrant from the country that you choose to marry or alternatively you may wish to have a celebrant from the UK or 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 highly recommend the following independent wedding celebrants:
- Samantha Kelsie is based in the UK (Apr – Dec) Asia (Jan – Mar) but will travel worldwide.
- Unique Ceremonies – Wedding Celebrants France are a team of professional celebrants who will help you create a unique symbolic ceremony in France and Corsica.
- Gaynor McKenan from Ceremonies in France is an English celebrant based in SW France
- Padre Peter is based in Spain but will travel worldwide.
- Deborah Taliani is a registered wedding celebrant and destination wedding planner who works in Italy
Whichever ceremony you choose, religious or non-religious, to many of your guests this is “the real thing”! This is where your promises are made to love each other for ever. The registry office is just what it says; registering the marriage with the local municipal authority. This ceremony registers the marriage with a much higher authority and is performed in front of the most important people, your family and friends, as witnesses. And it is a very moving experience for many. Padre Peter – Wedding Celebrant
A 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 blessing 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 an independent celebrant or 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. An additional fee may be incurred for travel and accommodation, if required.
- Samantha Kelsie (UK / Europe/ Asia)
- Padre Peter (Spain / Worldwide)
- Unique Ceremonies (France / Corsica)
- Ceremonies in France (France)
- Deborah Taliani (Italy)
- The British Humanist Association
- The Humanist Organisation of Scotland
- The Humanist Association of Ireland
Sample Wedding Blessing / Symbolic Ceremony
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 feel free to contact me.