The Non-Wedding Celebration of Commitment, Love and Unity
As The Alternative Celebrant, I will help you create a perfect, quirky, intimate, alternative celebrations of love & unity; forget all the rules; throw out others expectations and simply say , ‘I love you’ or ‘ I still love you” and affirm your mutual respect, promises and commitment to each other.
Benefits of a Non-Wedding
“OUR SOULMATE IS THE ONE WHO MAKES LIFE COME TO LIFE”… Richard Bach
No need for any ‘legalese’.
Make or reaffirm promises to each other, anywhere you want
Make pledges of commitment, unity and love, dressed however you like
Organise a celebration at any point in your relationship. EG: to renew vows, or mark an important chapter chance in your lives.
Let friends who have been on your journey with you, share their stories.
Here are a few ideas of Alternative Celebrations of Love & Unity:-
Alternative : symbolic ideas by getting crafty
“I have known Berni for many years She has a great artistic ability, which she is happy to share with others. Her empathy and encouraging nature helps even the shy and unconfident to achieve their goals. This has lead many workshops with amazing results. I can’t think of a better person I would want as a Celebrant at any important event in my life.” – Julia Harris -Artist/Friend
This can be such fun and can be done in so many ways…
- Colour a Blank Canvas
How about a blank canvas where You and your partner can splash your favourite colours of paint so they spill, run and merge together. Involve those people integral to your journey and create a beautiful abstract artwork as a permanent memento. There are various ideas and techniques I’m happy to discuss and share with you x
- Unity Sand (or salt, or spices or glitter!)
The symbolising of two becoming one… Be that two people committing to share their lives together or two families blending into one.
Separate containers of different coloured sand, one each to represent all those involved. You each pour your sands together into a clear vase to symbolise the joining of your lives..
Variations are always possible. What about salt and pepper, sugar and salt, cinnamon and paprika? The point is , once joined they are very difficult , if not, impossible to separate. Alternatively both (all) use the same element. By pouring the separate jars of salt (say) together, the grains become totally mixed. It would be impossible to ever distinguish the salt as coming from one person or the other again, symbolising that everything in your lives is shared.
- Willow weaving
In front of or along with your guests of all ages, create willow woven hearts as symbols of your entwined love and friendship. A Local willow weaver, will be here to guide you. Then each guest ties theirs onto a symbolic ribbon bringing them all together to represent your hopes and dreams for the future.
- Capture the Light
Prior to the ceremony join me in my stained glass studio and create your own entwined hearts suncatcher. You can hold it up to the light during your vows and let the light shine into your hearts.
“Berni is creative with her wonderful glass work, and art, but also in her style/appearance, cooking, gardening, and thoughts, in fact, Berni is creative in every way, and her creativity is a very attractive part of her personality.” …. Jo 2019
Alternative : symbolic ideas involving food and drink
- Tasting of Four Elements
This idea comes from African-American wedding tradition. A dramatic representation of the “Traditional” promise to love “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.”, four shot glasses containing lemon, vinegar, cayenne pepper, and honey to represent the sour, the bitter, the hot, and the sweet times in a relationship and your willingness to stand together through all. Each of you sips from each glass as the vows are made.
- Chocolate Ceremony
The perfect symbol for a celebration especially for you chocolate lovers. We can select some delicious handmade Welsh white, milk and dark chocolates to represent the dark and light , the sweetness and bitterness of life. By sharing the chocolate with each other, you promise to always be present for each other, in darkness and light, in sweet and bitter, in dismal and delicious… and a great excuse to eat chocolate!
- Wine Ceremony
The merging of two into one by two wines being blended into one (possibly a red wine and white wine). With the guidance of local agronomist and wine maker, Sarah Williams, you each select the wines which you pour together into a shared container from which you both drink. This sharing of a cup is symbolic of togetherness. This can be a follow up or precursor to a private wine tasting session for you or you and your guests.
Alternative: symbolic ideas that wax lyrical
- Exchanging Love Letters
Playing on the traditional idea of vows but with a bit of a twist. Call them vows, promises stories or declarations why not write in secret and to each other . I’ll have checked to make sure one of you isn’t being totally gushy over 10 sides paper whilst the other has jotted down a few ‘in jokes and pet names! You can exchange them on the day, read them out loud to each other
… or you can write each other a love letter and simply hand them over in a symbolic way in beautiful envelopes or scrolls;, perhaps turn back to back and simultaneously read to yourself your letter from your partner before turning back to face each other and gazing into each others eyes
Take this one step further…
- Love Letter & Wine Box Ceremony
Before the ceremony you should both have written a list of all the reasons you love each other, during the ceremony each read to each other or allow each other to read the letters. We will seal the letters and place them inside a beautiful box inside which is a bottle of wine/champagne and two glasses. The box is padlocked, only to be opened on a specified anniversary or in times of hardship.
Its very romantic, and is sometimes referred to as a “fight box” for just that reason, you open it when times are tough. Hopefully this rekindles your love, and reminds you of why you fell in love as you read your letters to each other and share the bottle of wine. (Afterward, you should write new letters and set a new date to open the box again).
- Poetry is the language of love
With the help of my ceremony collaborator, talented poet Cathi Rae; have a poem written just for you that can be recited by you or me at your ceremony. A beautifully framed version of the poem will be a keepsake to take home with you.
Cathi Rae is a spoken word and performance poet with extensive experience of writing bespoke poetry, elegies and site specific pieces. She has read and her performed her work throughout the UK. Cathi recently completed an MA in creative writing at the University of Leicester and is about to start her PHD in poetic writing
Her work can be seen here
Alternative : ideas that are even more ‘wacky’
We are only limited by our imagination. I went to a wedding once where the couple had a mock sword fight with baguettes! If you’re joining families, what about a game of twister, or a custard pie fight?! What about a game of Mr & Mrs ? Or a Q&A with friends? How about a truth or dare? Or a story hat where we guess whose story it is as we pull them out and read them aloud.
“Berni is a very special person, one of a kind. You cannot help but feel inspired and regenerated by her enthusiasm and thirst for life. Berni is both beautiful on the inside and out. I feel blessed and honoured to call her my friend.” – Catherine 2020
Alternative : Pagan symbolism
- Celtic Handfasting / Tying the Knot / Binding of Hands
Join hands together, pulse points touching and allow me to tie the (Celtic) knot around your joined hands. This is an ancient tradition to symbolise the combining (binding) of your two lives.
You can provide your own cords and ribbons or, I will provide you with beautifully woven handfasting cords. These will be and made specifically for you by creator of upcycling brand Cabbage White, Carlie Ann Griffiths. Made in the colour and style specifications of your choosing complete with a matching keep-sake bag.
Wrapping the ribbons in an infinity shape also symbolizes your eternal love for each other. Ribbons or scraps of material, that belonged to the people you want to include can be incorporated into the cords. For example a late relative who you wish to remember, or a piece of an outfit from your first date). As the knots are tied you, or I , or a combination of the two can speak your joint vows and love pledges to each other.
on a similar note…
- Red string of fate
This is a a very sweet and simple idea, based on Chinese and Japanese legend. According to the Chinese myth, the gods tie a red cord around the ankles of those that are to meet one another in a certain situation or help each other in a certain way. Often, in Japanese culture, it is thought to be tied around the little finger. Using a single red ribbon, in turn you tie each end around the others little finger as you say vows. You will then link these fingers to make a joint vow of your unity to each other. Connected by the red thread, you are destined lovers, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. This magical cord may stretch or tangle, but never break.
Alternative Celebrations: 25 Years of Happily Unmarried Bliss…
I’ve been with John for 25 years. We’re not married and have no intention in the foreseeable future. However, celebrating our love and commitment to each other is something we absolutely love to do. We have a massive celebration at 10 years, 20 years, and most recently our 25th. A celebration entitled 25 years of Happily Unmarried Bliss.
Alongside a party with live music (a band and an open mic session), cake, and (rather unusual) decorations, I wanted to make a speech. John is more of a behind the scenes man in that respect. As ‘unaccustomed as I am to public speaking…”, I was very keen to tell everyone how much I loved them all, how grateful I was to have them in my lives, and how fantastic my man actually is. John is my friend, my lover, my partner in crime, father of my children, my handyman, my sanity and the missing piece of my puzzle.
**yes we’re not married but we choose to use the terminology, daughter in law, son (even for step sons), husband… it’s just our way… What’s your way? #daretobedifferent #anythinggoes #lifeisacelebration