FAQs and expert advice about celebrant

Here is a selection of Q&As from Your Devon and Cornwall Wedding magazine whether it be about flowers, hair and makeup, fashion, wedding themes, health & beauty, cakes, stationery, legal advice. If you would like your question answered by our experts, please email it to editor@yourdevoncornwall.wedding


Small but perfectly formed

Small but perfectly formed

Q. We're considering having a micro wedding – can you give us some ideas and advice?

A. Sarah Chapman says: Meet the expert: Sarah Chapman is a professional, experienced, independent celebrant helping couples create bespoke ceremonies in a variety of different locations throughout the South West.

Sarah says: A wedding is about two people and while it's great that you'll be able to have loved ones present to celebrate with you, don't let worries over who can't be there spoil the day. With government restrictions currently in place determining the size of weddings, it's important to think of ways that you can involve guests who should've been there celebrating with you. Attending events remotely will be a common occurrence this year so reducing the number of people at your wedding to an intimate number means you'll be planning what's known as a micro wedding. They still feature time-honoured traditions that make a wedding special but on a much smaller scale.

I believe that the ceremony is at the very heart of the day. Book your legal marriage first at a register office with two witnesses present and then I'll help you write your vows and readings, finding the right words perfectly suited for you, your family and friends. I encourage my couples to write personal vows, especially when it's a more intimate wedding. Take the opportunity to share words and promises, surrounded by the people who are closest to you both. Include sentimental details, like wearing your mother's necklace or having your dog walk down the aisle with you.

We will decide where to conduct your wedding somewhere that's important to you both. This could be on a beach, in woodland, on a clifftop, in a small, boutique hotel or a rustic-inspired barn - the possibilities are endless. Open-air ceremonies are best, to avoid having to share enclosed space so take advantage of the smaller guest list and go somewhere that you couldn't otherwise!

I recommend certain venues in Devon that welcome smaller ceremonies and are experienced in hosting them:

- Tree Top Escape in North Devon is tucked away on a private estate offering the most magical setting.

- Haldon Belvedere near Exeter is a charming venue with a timeless feel, home to a spiral staircase. - Harefield Barn is offering couples a new intimate wedding package, The Leveret.

- Middle Coombe Farm near Tiverton is the perfect venue for a woodland ceremony. Collect ferns and leaves on the walk down the wooded 'aisle' for a personal flower ceremony among the trees.

- Kitley House is a historic manor house on a privately-owned estate in Devon's stunning South Hams, overlooking the tranquil Yealm estuary and a lake.

- Bovey Castle boasts stunning landscaped gardens and period architecture that offers the perfect backdrop for wedding photographs. The choice of elegant rooms lends themselves perfectly to small wedding groups.

- Brickhouse Vineyard is a newly renovated thatched roundhouse set in a beautiful vineyard, just 20 minutes from Exeter. It's ideal for a winter wedding with roaring log fires. Why not consider a romantic candlelit ceremony decorated with fairylights?

It's important to hire a professional photographer to capture your day and, if your budget allows, a professional videographer to enable you to share the memories remotely with guests afterwards. Consider inviting them to watch a live-stream through Zoom, WhatsApp or Skype and remember to interact with them throughout the day.

Lastly, you can still have fun with the finer details! Commission personalised face coverings that also double as wedding favours. They can be customised with your new married initials and the date and sent to those who are attending remotely. Inform your loved ones who can't be there about the menu beforehand so that they can prepare and eat the same meal as you from home. Instead of investing in a large wedding cake, order cupcakes for each guest and send boxed ones to those watching from home to arrive on the morning of the wedding.

Sarah Chapman,Celebration Ceremonies


Your day, your way

Your day, your way

Q. We want to book a really good independent celebrant for our Devon-based wedding. Can you advise us on the types of ceremony we could consider, and some great locations for it?

A. Sarah Chapman says: Meet the expert: Sarah Chapman is a professional independent celebrant based in the South West. She helps couples create their individual ceremony by guiding them with their vows, readings and word choices. They can include symbolic and traditional rituals and spiritual or faith-based beliefs.

Sarah says: Choosing a celebrant to deliver your wedding ceremony gives you a range of options that a registrar can't. Firstly, you can hold your ceremony anywhere, not just in a licensed venue. I have performed them in couples' favourite places, for example on the beach, in the woods, on a boat and cliff top, and even in their own garden.

I do also work with wedding venues. For great flexibility and a good choice of areas to hold a ceremony I often recommend Middle Coombe Farm in Tiverton, The Barn in South Milton, Putsborough Beach in North Devon and Bovey Castle in Dartmoor.

Secondly, your ceremony can be bespoke to you both, from the giving and blessing of the rings, exchanging of vows, lighting candles, a personal choice of poetry, and religious or spiritual words. Symbolic Rituals to unite you both can include a Rose Ceremony, Sand Ceremony, Hand-Fasting Ceremony and Jumping the Broom - often couples choose all of these! I have even written Cocktail Rituals and Chocolate Ceremonies to make the wedding personal. Part of the fun is choosing which ideas suit you both best.

Sarah Chapman