There was a lot to love about this wedding, not least the way it started, when Woody came in with his mum and dad on each arm. In a traditional ceremony, the groom’s parents are just two more guests; this is a subtle way of saying, “I’ve got a family too, and they’re important to me”.
Keren did the same thing, moments later, and then they did two more unconventional things.
Keren stood on my left, traditonally the groom’s side, with her bridesmaid Marie Claire, while Woody stood on my right, with his best woman, Jen.
Because the couple are standing at a slight angle, looking over their shoulders at one another, I tend to suggest that their parents sit, not on the same side as their child, but diagonally opposite, because that’s where they get the best view, so that’s why Woody’s parents were in the front row on my left, while Keren’s were across the aisle.
As I reminded their guests when I told their story, Woody and Keren met at university in Edinburgh where they were both members of the university’s Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Society. I knew this of course from the homework they’d sent me, and I remember being touched by the note Woody sent with his.
I really enjoyed doing this “homework”. I loved analysing our relationship, why we are together, and then sharing my thoughts with Keren in a way that I hadn’t done before. We kicked Keren’s parents out of the house for a whole weekend, and had an entirely relaxing time together, which in itself we rarely get to do any more. On the Saturday evening we cooked a favourite meal, and talked about anything and everything. When we had finished the meal we pulled out our homework and shared, one part each until we had read all three. There was laughter, embarrassment, and lots of tears.
It was great hearing exactly how Keren was feeling about the wedding, and had felt at important junctures in our time together. I loved listening to her recall stories that I had forgotten, and I loved seeing her reaction to my stories that she had forgotten.
In keeping with their thoughtful approach, they both wrote their own vows which they spoke directly to one another. They also invited their mums to be witnesses to the signing of the Marriage Schedule – apparently, they were both thrilled to be asked.
Naturally music is an important part of their lives, so it was lovely to hear eight of their friends singing a piece called “This Marriage”, by Eric Whiteacre.
And I was delighted a few weeks later when they sent me a CD with these photos, and a card that said, “You did so much to make our guests feel relaxed, welcomed and included and to make sure that everything during our ceremony went smoothly.
The ceremony was the best part of the day. While you spoke, we were reminded of the feelings we had when we first met you and that had got a little lost in the planning and preparations. The sense of just how important and meaningful the moment was came rushing back.
The help and guidance that you offered us gave us the opportunity to reflect on our relationship and we’re convinced that this made our wedding the meaningful and inclusive day that it was. I hope you can see from the photographs how much everyone enjoyed it!
I certainly can, Keren & Woody! Thanks again, and thanks also to Caroline Weiss, who’s the photographer behind CandySnaps Wedding Photography