A novice professional

So, this is perhaps not a particularly unique experience but I find myself in the lovely position of being newly engaged yet feeling very daunted at the prospect of planning my own wedding. It turns out that being in the wedding industry doesn’t necessarily mean that you have all of the answers at your fingertips although I certainly do know where to start looking.

Thought I might share my journey and perhaps help a few other budding brides/grooms along the way. Firstly the ceremony is covered – obvs! This is one area I have absolute confidence in and know exactly how this will run. It does also mean I am looking at things very much in reverse order!

So who does a celebrant use on their big day?  I have decided to go down the all-in-one route and have my marriage registered and use a celebrant in the same (licensed) venue. This is perfectly acceptable but just make sure you have the civil part first then follow with the celebrant ceremony. As a courtesy to the register office do also make sure you run this past them first so there are no surprises for either side on the big day.

I am also in the lucky position of knowing enough registrars to call on for the legal part too. With my background in registration I have plenty of people to look to for help on this. I will be requesting my own registrar to conduct my ceremony at the licensed venue of my choice. Do I sound like a bridezilla yet?! This is something everyone is allowed to do, again you must run this past the register office in the district that the ceremony will take place in. If (as in my case) the registrar of your dreams does not work in the same office then they must seek permission from the Superintendent of the office in charge of your venue to be allowed to conduct it. This can only work for the person conducting the ceremony, you must have a registrar from the office in charge of the venue to register the ceremony no exception.

Once that has been cleared you are set. I always think it is a nice gesture to offer the other registrar an invite to the drinks reception. They may feel a little out of sorts being without a colleague they know and it also goes a long way to ensuring there is no conflict over the ceremony or professional tensions! Some offices can get a little territorial when other registrars get involved and a little charm can go a long way to diffuse any potential problems…

Next time; venues. Where on earth do you begin if you are on a strict budget but have diva like standards?! Answers on a postcard please….


Top Tips for a Stress-Free Ceremony!

It’s the biggest day of your life; you have been planning it for months and thinking of nothing else for even longer than that. But as well as the biggest day it can be a very stressful one if you aren’t careful. Here are some things to consider if you want to spend more of your wedding day enjoying yourself and less of it getting worked up.

Communicate! Picture the scene: At a ceremony, I am going through the last minute instructions prior to the entrance of the bride. She is clutching her carefully written, heartfelt personal vows on beautiful stationary coordinated to her wedding theme. She asks me to check that her groom is happy to go first as she is nervous. On asking him this I am greeted with a look of horror as he mutters I thought we weren’t doing our own vows anymore? Oh dear.

This scenario could have been so easily avoided with a little last minute checklist and a proper discussion between both parties on how they envision their ceremony and celebrations. In many partnerships there will inevitably be one party who is taking the driving seat on the preparations (and increasingly this is the boys, bridezillas take note!) but that doesn’t mean the other partner should sit back and take the attittude of ” I just need to turn up.” It’s always a good idea to sit down and discuss (and hopefully agree!) on all aspects of the day and confirm them again the day before.  A good celebrant will ensure the ceremony goes smoothly with a rehearsal before the big day to make sure everyone is on the same page. This is also where a good best man and bridesmaid come in so useful, entrust them with these details too.

In case you were wondering, my hapless groom rose to the occasion with an improvised, spirited declaration of love and devotion and his bride was delighted. Phew.

Too many cooks. Mothers of the bride take note! This of course does go hand-in-hand with good communication but the more people involved in the execution of the day, the more chance of conflicting agendas. Keep the chain of command short, I recommend delegating to as few people as possible to avoid confusion. So choose your best man and chief bridesmaid carefully and make them your drill sergeants for the day!

Timings.  DO NOT make the mistake of assuming just because you have hired a venue for the day you can relax on timings for the ceremony. If you are combining your legal ceremony with your celebrant’s ceremony on the same day you will need to ensure you liaise with both the registrar and celebrant to confirm timings. While the celebrant will probably only be concerned with your ceremony on the day and will not be in a rush it could be a very different story with the registrar. Obviously you have booked a celebrant because their ceremony will be the main focus of the day but if you want to be legally married you will need to ensure you keep to the timings set by the registrar. Get the legal part done then relax and enjoy your wonderful (hopefully me!)celebrant’s work.

Children. This is an oft-debated topic and an emotive subject. First of all decide are you allowing kids to your wedding or not? If you are, then try not to place too many rules and regulations on your guests with kids, chances are they will be frazzled enough getting to your wedding without then having to negotiate a list of rules and regulations that wouldn’t look out of place at the latest G8 Conference. “Children welcome at drinks reception but not the main meal” Seriously?! Unfortunately it may be your special day but if your guests aren’t happy with arrangements that may impact on your enjoyment too.

If budget allows, perhaps consider one of the nannying businesses that cater for events such as weddings. This is a great idea that gives parents peace of mind and allows everyone to let their hair down too. I met the lovely Alex Zetter recently from www.mummy-sos.com who offers childcare for wedding ceremonies. Do check out her site.

Now, as the ceremony is my particular baby (no pun intended) please dear parent consider this: The ceremony is perhaps one of the briefest parts of the day but is the reason everyone is there and cannot be done again. So please try and remember this if your little one gets restless or noisy. Noone wants to miss the rings or the “I do” moment but it really is spoiled if all you hear is a screaming child. It is perfectly acceptable to leave a ceremony for a few minutes then come back in when the crying has stopped. Most venues will have other rooms to use or, hopefully you have the brillliant nanny service instead and this isnt a problem! Use of common sense is great too! Don’t bring little Oscar’s noisiest toy in to the ceremony and if he wants to bang the window or furniture loudly whilst the ceremony is in full flow please remove him from his makeshift drums not help him do it. Yes, this has happened to me!

Brides and grooms  you can help here by requesting your wishes (in a breezy diplomatic way of course) on the order of service.

Don’t overplan! This may seem an odd thing to say especially if you are undertaking your wedding day with military precision, making excel spreadsheets your new best friend and driving your loved ones to distraction with an endless list of, well, lists.

The trick is to  try and let go a little. All the planning in the world will not allow for  guests running late, a car breaking down or your flower girl getting sick at the last minute. Planning every last element of your day down to the minute ( yes this does happen I have been privy to many a minute by minute timeline) will lead to frustration when these plans have to change. Some things will be out of your control, if you accept this early on you will be able to enjoy yourself a lot more.

I have married couples that seem so worried about every little detail being exactly how they wanted that they almost forget the reason for being there.  They aren’t in the moment savouring the commitment they are making and celebrating their love. This is just wrong!

On your big day some things may not go exactly according to plan but if at the end of it you have married the one you love, witnessed by everyone you hold dear and laughed and loved and celebrated through the night then does it really matter if a few small things went awry along the way?…

Introducing The Wedding School

As well as aiming to provide the best bespoke ceremony that suits YOU, I am also attempting the revolutionise the whole preparation process by making the legal preparations easier and ensuring you have all of the facts regarding civil marriage in one easy session. Much like my work as a registrar led to my celebrant training it also gave me a passion for helping anyone planning a ceremony to be better informed. Do have a read and see what you think.

If you book a session with The Wedding School either at a group workshop or one-to-one meeting you will receive a 15% discount off your fee if you then book me to perform your wedding ceremony.

The Wedding School is an idea that has been bubbling away for over a year and finally came to life earlier this year. The Wedding School is me, Emma Richards, and I want to revolutionise how we go about getting married! The concept developed while working as a registrar and noticing how little couples knew about what they need to do to get married and what actually happens on the day. Finding out all of the details isn’t always that easy and can be time consuming. I really feel for brides who have spent so much time preparing for the biggest day of their lives then they get let down by the ceremony which, let’s face it, is what it’s all about.  I want to ensure no bride will ever have to utter the words ‘I didn’t know.’

How does The Wedding School work?

Wedding School works in two ways: the group workshop, and one-to-one sessions. If you attend a workshop you will be greeted with a glass of wine. We then have the presentation followed by a Q&A session. If you still aren’t sure about anything after the event you can contact me for a further consultation at no additional cost. Workshops are great for swapping ideas too; after all, everyone there will be in the same boat as you so perhaps someone will know of the perfect bridal shop, or that great discount at the florist. I want to create a community feel where we can all help each other.

Check the website for upcoming events which will initially take place in the Greater London area then will move further afield before finally going for world domination!!

Group sessions aren’t for everyone so, alternatively, you can arrange to meet with me for an individual session. If you are planning to visit England from another country in order to get married I can assist you via Skype and email at a time that suits you, not the register office.  http://www.theweddingschool.co.uk/individual-sessions/

We cover the following:

Giving notice of intention: how to do it, where to do it, when to do it, and what is actually going to happen when you do it.

How to avoid common mistakes at registration.

Registrar versus celebrant – pros and cons.

Civil registration law – what you can and can’t do at a civil ceremony.

The composition of a ceremony script.

Top hints and tips for music, photography and venues.

What will happen at a civil ceremony.

Advice on pre-nuptial agreements and things to remember after you marry.

Plus, anything else you can think of: I am here for you to the bitter end!

Any advice for brides to be?

For me I think the best piece of advice I can give a bride is to enjoy it! Sometimes I see brides get so focussed on all the small details they forget to be in the moment and just take it all in with the one they love.

Wedding Fairs

I will be attending a few fairs over the coming months, this gives you an ideal opportunity to find out a little bit more about what I do as well as book a session. Upcoming events are as follows:

Exceptional Events Wedding Fair, Sunday 30th June, Hammersmith.


Guides For Brides Wedding Fair, Sunday 7th July, Tottenham Hotspur F.C.


Our Wedding Fair, Saturday 7th September, Enfield


Landmark Autumn Wedding Fair, Sunday 15th September, Teddington.


Miss Vintage Wedding Affair, Sunday 20th October, Battersea.


Hope to meet you at one/all of these fab events!