Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Role of Children in Your Wedding Ceremony

As a mother and grandmother, I must admit I like to do wedding ceremonies which include blended families, and I try to write the children into the ceremony whenever I can. This little boy was the ring-bearer at a wedding earlier this year, and carried the rings in this conch shell I provided. We took this picture so he could use it for "show and tell" at school.

A beach wedding on Seven Mile Beach is ideal for a casual wedding with children. They enjoy playing in the surf and searching for shells and other stuff. One of the easy ways to involve children in a beach wedding is to use "the blending of sands" ceremony. This is appropriate and meaningful, instead of the "unity candle" ceremony.

Sometimes parents choose to give the children a small token like a bracelet or a pendant on a chain, immediately after the exchange of rings. This makes them feel a part of this new family, and establishes their important place in it.

Traditionally we use flower-girls and ring-bearers, but if the children are bigger than more thought needs to go into an age-appropriate role, including getting them to actually have a speaking role in the ceremony. Since I give my couples a personalised script of the ceremony, this becomes anotheer memento of their very important day.

Monday, November 26, 2007

What's in a Name?

In January 2007 I was appointed as a Civil Registrar of Marriages for the Cayman Islands. I had been a Deputy Civil Registrar for 12 years, but this meant I would have my own Register. This is a picture of me receiving my certificate of registration from the Honourable George McCarthy, OBE, JP, the Chief Secretary of the Cayman Islands, while his office manager, Mrs Christine Wright looks on. I am one of two Civil Registrars in the Cayman Islands, my mother, Francine Jackson was the first Civil Registrar appointed.

My position is also known as Marriage Officer, Wedding Celebrant, or Wedding Officiant. What it means is that I am registered in the Cayman Islands to perform marriages.

Once I have officiated at a wedding, there are 3 copies of the Marriage Certificate. One certified copy is given to the couple, one is kept in my office in what is known as a Marriage Book, and the other is filed with the Registrar of Marriages. I always encourage couples to get a copy of their Registered Marriage Certificate. This is the legal document they must have as proof of their marriage when they go home. Usually I mail it to them within 5 days of their marriage, but sometimes if they are staying in Cayman for a couple of days, I drop it off at their hotel or condominium.

European couples often find they have to get an Apostille stamped on their Registered Marriage Certificate. This is a form of authentication which is only issued by the Governor's Office. Most times I arrange this for my couples.

Some of my local couples call me "Judge", this is because in their country a judge, or magistrate is allowed to perform marriages. I am a Justice of the Peace, which is a lay magistrate but I don't sit on the bench in our courts, although I could sit as a magistrate in some of the courts like Juvenile Court, or Traffic court. I am also a Notary Public, and I find this useful in my work as a Civil Registrar.

Lastly, I have an MBE (Member of the British Empire). This was awarded by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for services to the Cayman Islands.

Quite often I have potential clients ask for my credentials. I think this is fair. The other thing I get asked is how many weddings I have performed. So far this year (as of 11/26/07) I have done 71 weddings, by the end of the year I will probably have done 100 or so.

What you might not know is that my mother and father are also Marriage Officers. As the owners of Cayman Weddings, they were the first wedding planners in the Cayman Islands. Between them they have done over 6500 weddings in 23 years! So you see, I am carrying on a fine family tradition, and one which I enjoy very much.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Vow Renewal Ceremony at Morritts Tortuga, Grand Cayman

This week I performed a vow renewal ceremony for a US couple, who were visiting for a week at the Morritts Tortuga timeshare complex in East End, Grand Cayman. Like many of my couples, they were accompanied by their children (13) and (6). As a wedding celebrant, and probably because I am a mother and grandmother, I love to do vow renewals which include a couple's children. When you think of it, this is such a special occassion to share with your kids, and creates such a good memory for all the family.

My bride M, knew exactly what she wanted and was a delight to work with. I was a little anxious, because the ceremony itself was to be a surprise for her husband C, but the children were in on and I do think C suspected what was going on. He was superb, even when he got handed the renewal vows he was supposed to say, and he said them with meaning!

M was very enterprising, and used her original wedding dress, not many women can pull that off! Her 6 year old strewed her path with flower petals, and her brother held the rings as they repeated their own vows in a ceremony full of meaning. The "boys" were casually elegant in melon coloured silk shirts and boutonnieres, while the little girl wore a wristlet, and her mom carried a hand-tied bouquet of brightly coloured gerberas accented with yellow roses.

They had booked a photographer to capture the ceremony, as well as to take posed shots for family and friends.

After the cermony there were toasts all around with sparkling cider, and M and C cut their cake and fed each other. Their cake was topped by a Lennox topper depicting two entertwined swans...very appropriate, as swans mate for life!

Then their white stretch limo arrived to take them to dinner at one of their favourite restaurants overlooking the water, the Lighthouse Club.

Is a Wedding Vow Renewal Ceremony for You?

Destination weddings have increased in popularity over the past five years, as the children of the “baby boomers” reach marriageable age. But what of the “baby boomers” themselves? The Destination Wedding industry is now experiencing a new wave, as older couples seek to renew their wedding vows, and make a recommitment to their partners. What better than to have a “Destination renewal of vows” often with good friends, or with grown children and grand children?

Grand Cayman is an excellent destination for vow renewal ceremonies. There are three main reasons which make this location popular. The first is its proximity to the US mainland, and the ease of air-travel to the island. The second is its beauty, and reputation as a safe and friendly vacation destination; and the third is the professionalism of its wedding services and vendors.

Most couples are looking for a fairly small event, very tastefully done, elegant, rather than elaborate. Grand Cayman’s wedding vendors meet all these requirements admirably.

A wedding vow renewal ceremony has three parts. First, the preparation… if you are very lucky, you might still fit in your original wedding dress, but most ladies will opt for something light and simple, befitting the tropical climate. Most gentlemen will want to chose something light and tropical as well, a crisp white shirt, worn outside the trousers, or perhaps something gaily coloured. Whatever you chose, flowers will enhance your outfits and make the occasion even more special.

For wedding renewals, tropical flowers, especially orchids, and perhaps a few roses for accent are popular nowadays, with strategically placed exotic blooms on lapels, or in the table decoration. Wristlets are currently more in vogue than the traditional corsages. Simple hand ties posies rather than cascading blooms catch the spirit of the event.

The second part of the renewal is the ceremony itself. Perhaps even more than a wedding ceremony, you should work with a wedding celebrant who is sensitive to your needs and your wishes, and who will prepare a ceremony which has special meaning for you as a couple. Some couples make their renewal ceremony a time of thankgiving, and therefore want it to have a spiritual bent. Most couples want a blessing on their marriage and their home.

Your ceremony can include contributions from a friend, a family member, or a child. This personalisation will make your renewal ceremony unique to you as a couple.

It is up to you whether you want to have your original wedding rings re-blessed, or use new rings, couples use either option. Some couples choose to write their own vows, or use the words of a song or a poem which has particular meaning for them, or you can ask your wedding celebrant to show you a selection of his/her standard wedding renewal vows. Most often nowadays, these vows are modernised versions of the standard wedding vows, which mention the need for listening, respect, and caring.

Most wedding celebrants will give you a renewal certificate which records the event, and which is witnessed by at least two guests, and signed by the wedding celebrant.
Your marriage renewal certificate is not a legal document, in that it does not have to be registered as a contract the way a marriage certificate does. Rather it is a symbol of an earlier agreement, in which two people renew their choice of a life partner.

Done well, a marriage renewal ceremony can be a very uplifting occasion for all involved, an outward symbol of a recommitment to a relationship which has weathered the ups and downs of life and remained strong and triumphant. In many ways it is often a sign that a relationship has entered a new, even stronger phase. Perhaps this is why so many couples are feeling the need to celebrate important milestones in an enduring relationship.

If you have been thinking of making a public statement to your friends and family, or just to your partner, you might want to consider renewing your wedding vows in the beautiful Cayman Islands, and of course, you’ll already be at one of the world’s favourite destinations for your Second Honeymoon.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

What is a "Wedding Blessing" Ceremony?

Can we have a wedding ceremony although we're already married? I get this question from couples all the time. Of course you can, only it's not a wedding, or a renewal, but a blessing ceremony.

Sometime couples will have a civil ceremony in their own country, but they want the frills, the photos, the dress etc. as an exotic location like the Cayman Islands. My own daughter did this a few years ago. I wrote a special blessing ceremony for her which had contemporary, spiritual vows, readings etc. but which honoured the fact that her "real" wedding had taken place two weeks earlier. Her father walked her up the aisle, but he did not "give her away" he simply gave her the benefit of his arm and his protection on the way to meet her husband.

So, the rings, which they had been wearing for a few weeks? Each took off their wedding ring and handed it to the wedding celebrant (her grandfather!) who blessed them and handed them back so that each could place them back on the other's finger while repeating promises which they had composed.

Now the only thing they have to decide is which date to celebrate as their wedding anniversary.
Knowing my daughter, she'll celebrate both!

Your relationship is very precious, and your wedding ceremony should honour that. So if you want to have a traditional ceremony, or an un-traditional ceremony, find a celebrant who will treat you like the individual you are, and take your wishes into account.

"Mini-moons" popular with younger couples

It seems that the two or three week honeymoon is becoming a thing of the past, with many younger couples wanting to combine their wedding and honeymoon over a 5-7 day period. One easy way to do this is to have your wedding while you're on a cruise.

Grand Cayman is a popular cruise destination which offers "same day" weddings, and it couldn't be easier. In order to be married you will have to have a "Special License", your wedding celebrant can organise this while you see some of the sights or do some shopping in down town George Town.

Just because you want something simple, doesn't mean that you can't do a stylish and elegant wedding with a minimum of fuss. Fortunately the island has many professional wedding planners and excellent vendors.

Typically you will have about five hours on the island, so you want to be sure everything is decided and arranged before hand. So its important you plan your day to get the important things done first.

I tell my couples to arrange with the ship to get off on one of the first tenders. A tender is the smaller boat which will bring you from the cruise-ship to the dock, as there are no cruise-ship docking facilities on the island at the present time. Once you are on terra-firma, you meet with your wedding celebrant/planner first, so your documentation can be taken to the Government Administration Building and your Special License can be processed.

If you have been married before, you MUST bring your original divorce papers. If you have been widowed, then the government needs to see your former spouse's death certificate. You must also bring your passport and the ship's card you are given for re-boarding.

Ladies, if you want to get your hair done, I suggest you do this on land. I have had brides opt to get their hair done on board ship, and this hardly ever works out. Your hair might look good, but you will be frazzled if there are any delays. Far better to get your planner to recommend a hair-dresser near the wedding site.

When you're planning what to wear for the ceremony, remember you're on a tropical island, where most cruise weddings take place outdoors. Wear light, loose clothing which will keep you cool, but still look attractive. Bring your wedding outfit with you, don't think you will find it here, and then get disappointed. Don't dress on the ship, most planners will have facilities where you can dress and do your make-up before the ceremony. If you want to go back to the ship in your wedding finery, fine...looking picture-perfect for your photographer is less important then.

After your wedding, make sure your celebrant/planner will send you the Registered Copy of your Marriage Certificate. This is the legal document you will need when you get back home, so you want to be sure its taken care of in a timely manner.

So, it's 3 pm local time...you'll be boarding your tender to get back on the cruise ship, let the honeymoon begin!

Friday, September 14, 2007

More People are renewing their wedding vows

It might seem rather odd, for me to start this blog talking about renewals, but more and more people are choosing to renew their wedding vows while on an exotic vacation.

I have noticed this trend increasing in my business over the last two years. I think it is becaause us "baby boomers" have more disposable income, and have reached the point where we can relax and enjoy ourselves by doing something different and something fun.

In the wedding industry we hear about "mid-life"brides and "encore brides" and I will be talking about these in due course, but for now, I say hats off to those couples who want to mark something significant in their lives by renewing their marriage vows.

In my experience, long-married couples are much more likely to pay attention to the renewal ceremony, and carefully choose the words they say.

I really enjoy working with a couple on a renewal, and writing a special ceremony which has particular meaning for them. Sometimes I write parts for their children or grand-children to say, so that they can feel included.

A renewal is wonderful opportunity to spend time with friends and family, in a relaxed and safe environment like the Cayman Islands.