A gorgeous garden wedding can include both spectacular daytime elements such as flowers, fragrance, and far-reaching views — and romantic mood lighting with twinkling lights and candles – and a few sparklers for good measure!
James and Amie knew that as well as a DIY wedding on home soil, they also wanted a personalised ceremony, so they called upon the services of humanist celebrant Caroline Lambie. Amie shares her (pre-Covid) wedding story with us…
The proposal was not entirely a surprise, as we’d already bought the engagement ring. We’d talked a lot about getting married and decided to pick a ring together. It was such a lovely experience and meant that James didn’t have the worry of choosing something on his own.
On the day of the proposal, we had a gorgeous day — we went for a long walk and then had dinner in the garden with the firepit lit and our favourite songs playing. James had hidden the ring under my side of the quilt, so that by the time I got into bed, we were engaged!
Soon after we got engaged, we had a brainstorming session where we wrote down all the things we wanted for the wedding. It included the feel we wanted, but also specific things too, such as plenty of cheese!
Very early on, we decided we wanted an outdoor wedding in James’ dad’s garden as it would give us the opportunity to have the wedding we wanted, without any of the constraints of a conventional wedding venue. The bonus was that the garden is gorgeous, with views into the countryside.
We gave ourselves a year to plan the wedding and I started straight away. (I’d already started a Pinterest wedding board before we got engaged!)
The most important aspects for us were to have a personalised, special ceremony, the food and drink, and the music, and to make it a memorable event for our guests. With a garden wedding, the garden, flowers, and décor were also hugely important to me.
We’d only attended civil and religious weddings but, because we wanted a garden wedding, we needed to look into other options. And this was when we discovered the Humanist Ceremonies website.
I found our wedding celebrant, Caroline Lambie via the Humanist Ceremonies website. After receiving her warm email reply, we met for coffee and a chat. I was a bit nervous before that first meeting, as it was the first moment where we’d actually be talking about the ceremony in detail and for me, the ceremony was going to be the scariest, most emotional part of the whole day.
Caroline could not have been more kind and friendly. She went through ideas of things we could do, how the ceremony might play out, and gave us loads of things to go away and think about. We walked out of that coffee shop brimming with excitement!
We didn’t meet any other celebrants: we really didn’t need or want to. Once we had booked Caroline, she sent us over lots of homework – writing our story, what our life was like, our hopes and dreams for the future, readings, any symbolic gestures, and vows.
We got married in a village on the Essex/Suffolk border, in James’ dad’s garden, which is quintessentially British and very romantic.
It was also the perfect place for a party, with lovely views, lots of space and we just knew we would feel at home. There was enough room to have a separate area for the ceremony, garden games, bar and pizza van to park up. We had two large tipis on the grass to house tables for the meal, plus a large dancefloor. By having the wedding ‘at home’, we hope we made it feel comfortable and chilled out for our guests too.
I got ready at the local pub with our sisters and mum, and then we walked down the lane to the house, arm in arm with my dad. I was pretty nervous, so I’m sure we sprinted down the aisle!
To kick things off, James’ sister Katie read a perfect rendition of the funny, but lovely, poem ‘I wanna be yours’ by John Cooper Clarke. It was an icebreaker and hopefully made everyone relax.
Caroline went on to tell ‘our story’, which gave our guests some of the background to our life together. During a particularly teary moment, our two year old nephew Austin brought me a tissue, which had us all laughing.
Next was the ring-warming ritual, whereby our wedding rings were passed around all guests, who were asked to hold them in their hands and wish warm and happy thoughts on them. I hope our guests felt they got a chance to play a special part in the ceremony because of this and to know that their love and blessings were important to us.
I was quite certain that I did not want to write my own vows, feeling that I would be overcome by emotion as it was, without having to try and read my own vows out loud.
When reading through a book of wedding poetry, I came across ‘Vow’ by Roger McGough and thought we might be able to use the words of this as our promise to each other. Caroline was happy to tweak this and make it work, and I am so glad that we did this. Instead of each of us saying ‘I do’, we both said ‘we do’ together.
We finished the ceremony off with a singalong to ‘Stand by Me’ by Ben E King. It really was a day never to forget.
James and I both have sisters, so it was easy to pick the bridesmaids. James had his best friend Joe as his best man. My Dad and James’ Mum did lovely speeches, as well as James and Joe.
As it was a DIY wedding, many people were involved in helping things come together – James’ dad and stepmum worked hard on the garden all year to make it ‘wedding ready, our mums sourced vintage candlesticks from charity shops, my grandad made our wooden easels, family friends helped tie fabric together to make our white bunting, my sister’s boyfriend was in charge of the music for the ceremony… the list goes on.
To make things legal, we had a civil ceremony at Colchester Town Hall two days before our wedding in the garden. However, we will celebrate our wedding anniversary as the day we had our humanist ceremony in the garden, as this, for us, truly captured what ‘getting married’ means.
Our photographer Tom Humble is local to us and when we met him, he was so friendly and put us at ease, that we knew he would be a good fit for our wedding. We could see from his website that he perfectly captures candid moments, which suited us, as we did not want many staged or formal photos. He took some gorgeous photos that we will treasure forever!
Caroline Lambie has been a humanist celebrant for over a decade. She really knows her stuff! She lives in North London on the Stroud Green/Crouch End border and is available to conduct weddings and vow renewal ceremonies across London and beyond. You can follow Caroline on Instagram and connect with her via Facebook.
If you’d like to discuss your humanist wedding, you can find your local celebrant today.