Real Life ” I Do”! Rachael’s Scrap Book Proposal

Continuing our proposal inspiration, we asked real-life bride to be Rachael how she popped the question to her intended, Neil… She had to get creative because lockdown scuppered the original plans, but we think this is beautiful! This is what she said…

THE SCRAPBOOK PROPOSAL

I had already decided in December 2019 that I was going to propose to my partner. I knew he wanted to get married, as did I, but was being a bit slow about proposing. He’s not really a jewellery or big spontaneous gesture kind of person, so flash mobs, public proposals and engagement rings were out of the question.

We’ve always referred to each other as adventuring buddies both think Up! is romantic (the first bit) and I like crafts. So I decided to make him a scrap book to propose with. We have an in joke, and 15a means ‘I love you’. So clearly sections of the scrap book needed to be numbered up to 15b being ‘marry me’. I set about the book in January 2020, including lots of tickets, photos, napkins, cards, anything to spark a joyous memory.

But when to propose? On a nice weekend away was obvious. We had two suitable trips planned, the last weekend in February and then in May. We’ll, there was no way I was proposing on the only day in 4 years where women are traditionally allowed to (29th Feb), so May it was. Then covid, ill health, furlough and all sorts of things hit. Needless to say the trip in May did not happen. But I couldn’t wait for all this to be over as it dragged in into August with no end in sight. So, with the scrap book ready, I ordered a wonderful set of cheeses from our local cheesemonger, as it was something special. I tidied the dining room (we rarely eat in there, so it felt like being somewhere other than the house we hadn’t left in 4 months) and set it up to look like a Parisian restaurant (our last holiday was Paris) with Moulin Rouge on the lap top (a film we both adore and have amazing memories of the Secret Cinema version). We ate. We drank. I gave him the book and got very nervous! He beamed looking through all of the sections and memories and when he got to 15b, grinned at me, said yes, gave me a kiss, and ran off!

He returned with a little box with a ring and asked me the same question! He had been planning to propose on the May trip too! Of course I said yes! We then video called parents and announced on social media. I was so pleased that it managed to all feel magical despite being at home. It was a very ‘us’ proposal.”

I Love the way Rachael proposed to Neil – thanks so much to her for sharing this fabulous and inspiring proposal! It really sums up the story of their life together so far… They get married in October 2020 ❤

All pics by Rachael Eyre

Why the heart?

As St Valentines Day approaches, I thought we would have a look at what is it, and why we use the symbol of a heart as the universal sign of love…

The heart symbol has absolutely no relation to the heart we have in our bodies, aside from the fact that people in historical times thought that the heart was at the centre of the body, and that it drove our feelings. The heart shape itself has its origins in foliage, fruit and seeds. In ancient Greece, they loved this massive fennel-type plant called silphium. It was the wonder ingredient of its time, the greeks and Romans loved it so much that they consumed it to extinction. Not only could it be used to flavour foods, it was also medicine and used for birth control and its seeds were heart-shaped. Others believe that the fig leaves used to cover the modesty of Adam and Eve were the origins of the heart shape (as are ivy leaves…). Later, in the 13th Century (Tom, that’s for you) a famous French manuscript, ‘Roman de la Poire’ shows a pair being handed to a lover in a title page illumination. Nothing whatsoever to do with a heart – but the shape is similar and the pear represents love and fertility in many different cultures.

It also has its origins in the naive anatomy drawings that started to come out in the middle ages. The artist would base their drawings on the written descriptions of Galen and Aristotle without actually basing it on the real thing!

Deck the Vows with Bells And Holly, tra-la-la-lala!

While 2020 has pretty much been cancelled when it comes to weddings (and if this has happened to you, I am truly sorry) 2021 is just around the corner. If you have had to re-book your ceremony, and were unable to hold it over the summer, then fear not! As Christmas can offer the most magical wedding, with a little sprinkle of imagination (and Yuletide glitter). Here are a few ideas for you…

A Marry Lwyd!

Here’s an idea that merges one of the best and oldest Welsh seasonal traditions with your ceremony (and possibly one of my favourites, since I am part of a Mari Lwyd troupe!) The Mari Lwyd is a Welsh custom to bring good luck upon a household – so why not twist this for a wedding. Traditionally, around this time, the Mari Lwyd, her ostler and an accompanying band of people, including musicians, knock on doors and enter into a singing battle to be invited in. The occupants have to sing a reply, stating why they will not let this creature into the place, and the creature sings again. This goes on until the household invite her in and there is dancing, singing and the Mari and crew are invited to enjoy some food and drink.

So why not incorporate this into your ceremony! There are a lot of troupes across Wales now reviving this tradition. Your ceremony could involve the couple entering into the ‘word battle’ with the Mari, before the Mari comes in to witness the exchange of vows, and then everyone joins in with the songs and enjoying the food!

A torch-lit wassail ceremony

Again, why not combine an old tradition with your ceremony and have a wassail blessing! In days gone by, a wassail was performed to bring good luck to the coming year – but you could have one to bring luck upon your union. And you could do this as an early evening ceremony, too! You can do this inside – think how cosy your ceremony would be with a roaring fire, candles, festive decorations and evergreens – or even outside, weather permitting, with your venue or garden space festooned in evergreens and swags of twinkling fair lights, everyone wrapped up warm (ask your guests to bring cosy blankets with them), with some flaming torches to light your way. After you exchange your vows, the wassail bowl (which for modern hygiene sake, can be a big saucepan of warming hot cider or mulled wine, which everyone ladles a cup full from) is passed around and everyone says a wassail to bless the wedding.

An Evergreen Ceremony!

This pic is part of the Mari Lwyd crew, but can just demonstrate how cool an evergreen, folkloric ceremony can be! You can even have a green man (in this case, the legend that is Bob) entertain you with his zither! Decorating your venue with evergreens such as holly, ivy, mistletoe, pines, plus swags of ragged ribbons in festive colours can really add a festive flavour. you can even incorporate some old customs such as jumping the broom and pouring of the wine into your ceremony

I’ve got plenty of festive ideas – which also work for renewal of vows and naming ceremonies, so if you need a bit of inspiration for your big day, get in touch!

An Alternative Wedding!

So you have met the love of your life, and you both have a love for rock, metal, goth, punk – any and all of the above… Excellent! It sounds like you’ve met the person of your dreams (which certainly solves the problem of someone you share you life with telling you to ‘get that rubbish off’ when you play your favourite album at full blast!). and now you want to get married, but the trouble is, you want a ceremony that reflects who you are – that says what you want to say to one another and where you can actually walk down the isle to Rammstein if you really want to!

That’s why choosing a celebrant to officiate your marriage will be an excellent choice (even if i do say so myself!) A celebrant will work with you to create a ceremony that not just reflects your love, but also your life. If you want a ceremony that is more like a gig, then why not (I’ll tell you what – I’d love to go to this sort of gig!)? As celebrants we can create meaningful vows (and i don’t just mean, “I promise to love your black metal collection – even those Watain records”) and it will be memorable forever!

I’ll tell you a bit about myself. Aside from being a history/folklore buff (I really do love all those weird history things, you know!) I have been on the music scene for many years – if I told you how many years, you would guess my age. And yes, I am old. Old enough to be part of the first wave of the riot gggrl movement. I’ve written for music magazines including rocksound and Terrorizer – and currently Metal Head. I’ve interviewed everyone from members of Black Sabbath, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Ministry – and yes, even Watain and other bands on the black metal circuit. I even had a pretty metal wedding party myself, when me and Stu came back from the ceremony in Sri Lanka, we had a party in Craig Y Nos in Wales, and all our friends who were in bands, artists, and alternatives, joined us. Our first dance was to dueling banjos (that song from Deliverance). And we felt great, because it was something that represented us! Even the flowers and table decs reflected who we were, with skulls, roses, ivy and black stuff (I made them myself, I was quite chuffed!)

What I’m trying to say is that I would like to give you couples out there the same, authentic, experience that we had. It was definitely a night to remember – for all the right reasons! Coming from the same scene as you, I understand where you are coming from (and may even know a little bit about the bands you like!). We can even talk to some gig venues, if you really must turn your ceremony into a gig – because with a celebrant officiating, you don’t need to be in a licensed venue, as your legal papers would already have been signed.

A Clean Sweep And Weddings

No, the venue wasn’t behind on preparations, and the chimney sweep was caught in the act of, er, sweeping… In days gone by, having a chimney sweep at your wedding – and the first to kiss the bride – was good luck!

The tradition is over 200 years old, and may seem a bit random today, but, like a lot of great old customs, inviting a sweep to a wedding for luck is being revived.

The tradition starts in the reign of King George II, when a chimney sweep saved his life by stopping his runaway horse and carriage. The King was so grateful that he issued a Royal Decree that chimney sweeps should be treated with great respect (at a time when thry were considered one of the lowest of the low) and were lucky! Well, they were certainly lucky for him! After this time, every one who wanted to bring luck to a situation – like a new house and definitely a new life as a couple, would invite a chimney sweep to bless the occasion. They had never been so in demand! Some people even considered touching a sweep good luck!

Apparently, May 1 is a particularly lucky day – as it’s national chimney sweep day!

Incidently, did you know that sweeps wore top hats to help them feel good about their status? Some started their vocation as young boys, climbing up inside the chimney breast, and to make them feel taller in a world of grown ups, they were given top hats and tails. The hat was a status symbol throughout their working life – no matter how battered it got…

Anyway, you can hire a sweep for your wedding and there are plenty around who offer this service – just make sure they don’t get soit on the dress!

Jumping The Broom Ceremonies

Seeing as though it’s Hallowe’en, I couldn’t resist sharing this tradition that has been interpreted in a number of years over the centuries.

When we think of jumping the broom ceremonies, there are usually two different types of ceremony that come to mind in modern times – a neo-pagan wedding and hand fasting in Europe and in the USA, jumping the broom has become a popular part of the ceremony for people of colour. Interestingly, there are two paths that have led to these ceremonies. If you are considering jumping the broom, I think it is important that you research the background and what it means to you, personally.

The broom is a sacred thing in some religions and folklore – certainly for centuries, the broom is an important part of ceremonies and ritual, to sweep out negative forces and clearing away old energies, and here is Wales, it us used to ‘sweep out the chaos’ after the Mari Lwyd and her assistants have visited – the last member of her troupe carries a broom and sweeps the negative energy, attracted to the chaos that the Mari Lwyd drums up, over the threshold, paving the way for good luck.

There is also the obvious significance in the broom – sweeping out the old to prepare for the new.

In some African cultures, when a couple got married, they jumped a pile or line of sticks which signified their building a home together/jumping over the threshold and some say that it was this tradition that led to the jumping of the broom ceremonies that took place centuries ago. Jumping the broom has links to the slave trade, and one of the reasons I urge couples to do a bit of research on this as without knowing the background, incorporating this tradition into your proceedings could be problematic. Among other atrocities, enslaved people were denied ‘legal’ marriage so performed their own rites and as recognition f marriage, couples jumped the broom, which took on different forms from plantation to plantation. In some ceremonies, two brooms were laid out in between the couple and they jumped over the broom nearest to them into the space in the middle, where they joined hands, thus symbolising their joining in matrimony, in other traditions there was a build up of drums, voices and other instruments before the couple jumped the broom together. Interestingly, there is another tradition that almost mirrors the ‘jumping of the church wall’ of English tradition (popular in Chaddleworth – whoever sets foot first over the wall without touching it will be master for life), and that is jumping backwards over the broom without touching it. Whoever jumped clear of the broom would rule the household, but if the couple both cleared the broom, there would be on ‘bossin’.

In Europe, it would probably be more accurate to call this tradition the jumping of the besom (a broom which you might call a ‘witch’s broomstick’) and origins of this also go back centuries; it is one of the oldest marriage traditions, even pre-dating the hand fasting cord (although the actual act of hand fasting goes back to the time of the Celts, and 700 years before the year 0). In Celtic traditions, a broom was used to define the home – homes were made on dirt and the dirt was swept aside (many times a day) to define the boundary of what was the home and what was outside of that. The broom was a home-maker for sure, literally marking the distinction and separating domestic life and the wild. Jumping the broom meant you were jumping into the home and leaving your untamed ways behind!

In Wales, in the 1700s, besom weddings were made popular by Roma gypsies, who would place the besom in a doorway and the couple jump over it and into their new life. It is unclear if the gypsies carried this tradition with them from other parts of the world (as they often did, like gathering stories, dances and music) or if Welsh people were already doing it.

Lastly, there is the tradition of jumping the bench, an ancient fertility rite which the couple do together to mark the severance of their old lives… Creating what is now known as the bench mark!

In modern jumping the broom ceremonies, a couple is encouraged to buy a new broom, so it doesn’t carry the energy of any other force. A broom or besom can be decorated how the couple wish – some like to bestow their broom with different crystals, which acts to empower the union with whatever quality the crystal delivers, some like to entwine it with significant or symbolic coloured ribbons and some will carve initials and other symbols into the handle. However you decorate your besom is up to you and the celebrant can incorporate the message and symbols in your ceremony – or they can just be kept secret for only the couple to know! and a broom can be kept as a special wedding day memento.