ISO (Coronavirus) Weddings Can Be Oh So Romantic

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant  © (23/04/2020) Categories: | Wedding Ceremony |
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Marriage Certificate with White Peony in
                        glass vase and bottle of Hand SanitiserAll wedding ceremonies are wonderful. I say that with absolute conviction because I have loved the experience of creating and performing every single one of the hundreds of marriage ceremonies I've conducted, both big and small, from the great big white wedding with all the bells and whistles to the very basic "legals only" ceremony for couples who really just want to get the paperwork done.

But I have a special fondness for officiating elopement ceremonies, and for the very particular intimacy that flows from being being able to focus the ceremony entirely on you, the marrying couple, rather than a ceremony that, in order to make sure that your guests feel included,  needs to be, in a large part, about you, the marrying couple. The distinction might sound subtle, but the ambience is chalk and cheese.

So, for me, the restriction on the number of people at a wedding brought in as part of social distancing hasn't been a challenge. However, it does sadden me that the current "Rule of Five" weddings are somehow being regarded to be very much a second-best alternative. I argue that these weddings, where the minimum number of people necessary for a marriage to be legal (five) is now the maximum number of people allowed to be at the wedding, are not somehow a diminished experience but rather just a different one. And different in a positive way.

"Rule of Five" doesn't mean legals only


It is my impression that most people in the wedding industry are interpreting the Rule of Five restrictions to mean a quickie, legals only, ceremony because the couple will be planning to have their "real" wedding and big ceremony and celebration down the track when things return to "normal". When all that is being offered is a bare-bones ceremony, the assumption becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because people needing or wanted to legally marry settle for it. And is totally unnecessary. There are no restrictions on ceremony content. And there never has been any determination that romance should be rationed!

The absence of guests allows you to be more active participants in your ceremony


Let's face it, in most wedding ceremonies the celebrant's ceremonial role is largely that of the narrator. The ceremonies are about the couple - as in you are talked about. Your story is told, in the third person. Your parents are asked if they support your marriage. You are asked whether you accept one another as husband/wife. It is the celebrant who is centre-stage for everything except your vows, rings, and kiss, the three parts of the ceremony that you are the active participants in. With no guests to include, your "Rule of Five" (aka ISO) marriage ceremony can be more of a conversation, with, if you wish, the two of you taking the leading roles.

Your personal promises can be as long as you like


When your wedding is a larger one, it is common to be advised to keep your vows short, both  to contain the length of the ceremony to allow a decent chunk of time for the telling of your story and so that the guests don't get restless. When your vows truly become the heart and soul of the ceremony, those constraints disappear.

You can include private jokes without mystifying anyone


One of the things I'm loving about ISO weddings is that couples are so much more relaxed about content because there is going to be no-one present who might judge them. One of the ways that is manifesting is the number of times I'm hearing references to private jokes. I don't understand them. I'm not sure whether the witnesses do. But that doesn't matter. Including a private joke, a word or two that only has meaning to you, or a secret hand signal, adds to the intimacy of the moment.

You can include a ritual, or two, or three, without having to explain it


When you include a ritual in a wedding where you have many guests, some sort of explanation as to what you are doing and what the ritual symbolises is usually necessary if you want to avoid puzzled expressions and perhaps the odd eye-roll. For a ritual to enhance a ceremony it needs to have some connection to you. Cultural rituals link with who you are and where you come from. Unity rituals provide a visual emphasis to the verbal statements of commitment that create your marriage. Being able to include a ritual without an explanation increases its emotional impact and symbolic potency because you are immersed in it.

You can be as soppy, silly, or straight to the point as you like


The fantastic thing about a "Rule of Five" wedding is that there are nobody's expectations to meet,  nobody to tell you that if you don't do this, that, or the other you won't be "properly" married. And no-one to guilt you into spending money you don't have on things you don't need. If you are a down-to-earth couple, there are no "romantic" expectations to be met. If you are incredibly mushy and soppy with one another in private, there is nobody present for whom you would be expected to tone it down. And if being downright silly is the way your express your love for one another, you are free to just be yourselves.

And later, if you want to ...


You can have another non-legal wedding ceremony and celebration to share with everyone you couldn't include the first time round. And that ceremony can also be romantic, and fun, and personal. Romance should not be rationed!

More useful information


Thanks for reading!

Jenny xxx Let's talk soon about how you
                      can have the best ceremony ever

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