When (soppily) romantic isn't your thing

by Jennifer Cram (23/01/2020)  |  Categories: | Wedding Ceremony |
                      and groom with herd of sheepMany of my couples tell me that they are down-to-earth people who don't do soppy. And that they initially decided to have a Registry Office Ceremony because they were under the impression that celebrant-led marriage ceremony, by definition, had to be "romantic" and the Registry Office ceremony  it was the least "romantic" ceremony they could think of.

I don't know where the idea that a personal ceremony officiated by a marriage celebrant by definition has to be "romantic" came from. Perhaps because there is an assumption that the ceremony will always include mushy readings that wouldn't be out of place on a Valentine's Day Card. Whatever. Be that as it may, it is just not true.

So if, like many couples, you don't do soppy, don't feel comfortable with lovey-dovey poetry or extravagant vows, I get you. And most of all, I get that a ceremony doesn't have to be dripping with sentimentality to be meaningful, and special, and a real reflection of the commitment the two of you have to one another and to your marriage.

Can you be romantic without being "romantic"?


Yes. Yes. Yes.  If Gary Chapman's best-selling book The Five Love Languages demonstrated anything, it demonstrated that not everyone expresses their love in words - which is what "romantic" in a wedding ceremony is usually taken to mean.

Chapman categorised five ways of expressing love, all of which can be reflected in your wedding
  • receiving gifts (wedding rings in the ceremony for example, but we can mention things that you have gifted one another with, and what those gifts mean to you)
  • quality time (time spent preparing for your wedding together, for example, and definitely, the half hour or so of the ceremony can, and should be, quality time spent together)
  • words of affirmation (these do not have to be "romantic", they can be statements of what you value about one another)
  • acts of service (things you do to care for and help one another - we certainly can mention these)
  • physical touch (holding hands, hugging, even kissing if you wish, are all part of a wedding.
In the process of designing and developing your ceremony, we will work through what you want for it, and focus on making sure the ceremony feels right for you. And what that means is that you don't have to have a "romantic" ceremony. Down-to-earth is good!

Does your celebrant have to use sentimental and "romantic" words?


Absolutely not!  Actually, many of the so-called romantic things said in wedding ceremonies are tired and overused clich├ęs . There is, in fact, something very powerful in straight-forward language.

Do our vows have to be "romantic"


Absolutely not!  In fact, I swear, if I see one more YouTube video or read one more ceremony on the net where the couple makes vows that include "My heart will be your shelter and my arms will be your home", I'll throw up.

To legally marry in Australia, each of you has to make a very simple statement.

I ask everyone here (or I call upon the persons here present) to witness that I, [Name] take you, [Name], to be my lawful wedded husband (or) wife (or) spouse (or)partner-in-marriage.

And that's sufficient to marry you.  Of course, you can add personal promises to those, but they do not have to be soppy, and they do not have to include statements about why you want to marry this person, how this person makes you feel, or a whole raft of promises couched in soppily "romantic" terms. And they definitely do not have to include quotes from poetry. Honest vows made using simple words will melt the hearts of your guests and bring tears to your eyes better than any second-hand sentimental phrases that everyone has heard a gazillion times.

One of my couples couched their personal promises as Key Performance Indicators, which they recited in unison, starting "We commit to the following KPI's". It was so them. Everyone got it. And it was magic, without being in the least bit soppy.

Another of my couples - a really quirky pair with a shared and wicked sense of humour - wrote vows as their 8 year old selves. Again they were powerful, honest, real, and a lot of fun.

What about "romantic" readings?


There is no rule about having readings, or about what type of readings you choose if you decide to include them. The idea of three readings comes directly from the Church of England marriage ceremony. Once you take the wedding out of the church, you can take the church out of the wedding and have no readings, or one or two. And,if you do decide to include a reading, it does not have to be "romantic" or a poem. I explore this in 7 Things to Read at your Wedding instead of a Poem.

And lastly, what about "romantic" music?


Choose what makes your toes tap, your lips curve upwards, or your hips move to the beat. It's your wedding. So the sound track should reflect your personalities and the feel of your ceremony.

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