Me, James and Nick took a calculated risk. Based on personality, reading people and experience!!
James and Nick wanted a Humanist wedding ceremony, and when they contacted me in early May at first I misheard, when they said ‘July 15th 2022’. I thought they’d said ‘July 15th 2023‘ and so I joyfully said ‘yes of course you can book right now’. However what they really meant was ‘July 15th in 9 weeks’ time’!!!
I met them for breakfast, stayed nearly four hours, with their dogs under the table and James doing his thing on the griddle. We talked and talked and laughed and found many connections. I said if I were to do this, you’d have to be prepared to run on the risky side of the track. Normally I prepare at least 6 months in advance and I was approaching a very busy May, June and July. Time to produce a wedding with many elements and key players was at a premium.
But I sensed they were adventurers (I am too) and my suggestion was that I write their ceremony in one take. None of this ‘three-drafts and lots of comments from the couple’ mularkey. They’d have to trust me to get the content right, the story right, the friends and family contributions pitched sensitively. They’d also have to trust me to reflect who they are – which was the most important benchmark. Because their wedding wasn’t just a commitment to one another, it was a bold statement to the world about who they are!
They said yes.
And this is the thing. When the vibe is right (and we caught one anothers’ vibe instantly, which was why I drove for an hour an a half on a Sunday for breakfast) – when the vibe is absolutely spot on, then anything is possible.
James and Nick’s ceremony was held at the magnificent St Michael’s Manor, St Albans. We had a wonderful MC – Howard Robbins – a brilliant photographer in Hannah Mia and everything was topped by the surprise element – the magnificent Big Gospel Choir. The key to pulling all this off was COMMUNICATION and the MC, the wedding organiser at St Michael’s, the photographer, the choir and me made certain that we took time to check in with one another before the ceremony so it would be seamless. What a team!
Nick and James entered to a ‘flash mob’ performance of And I’m Telling You – with the singers planted amongst the guests. Before the couple were half way in, the guests were stamping their feet and whooping! What an entrance.
When writing a ceremony – and when delivering it – it’s important to change tone and pace. The excitement of the entrance and the humour mixed with poignancy of the couple’s love story was balanced by a moving recording of Sir Ian McKellan’s reading Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City and Michael Tolliver’s letter to his parents telling them he was gay. Take a look and I challenge you not to be moved. Then we moved on to memories and funny stories by family and friends. And then the vows and ring exchange.
The finale was a veritable whooping hollering love-fest with the couple leaving to the choir singing the Jocelyn Brown number Always There , me joining in, and everyone else dancing, as the couple left with their dogs!
We did it! From nothing to simply everything in nine weeks. It took my breath away! And everyone elses’ as this video clip will show. And what’s more, I now have friends for life in Nick and James. So much love. And after a humdinger of a receiption, I took my Blahnik’s to bed!
So if you want something different, don’t be afraid. If you want to take a risk. Don’t be afraid. Talk to me, we can do it! So long as we have the vibe, we can do it!