Is a White Dove wedding a legal marriage?
At the present time non-religious celebrants in Guernsey are not able to perform the legal formalities. This can only be completed at the Greffe, St James or at a private residence. The legal ceremony is very short and has a clearly defined format. For many couples this legal marriage ceremony does not offer them the opportunity to share their own feelings about each other and they choose to have a more personal wedding celebration as well.
When is the legal marriage done?
You can complete the legal marriage at the Greffe anytime before your wedding celebration. The legal ceremony takes about ten minutes and the marriage room at the Greffe accommodates around 20 guests. You can then arrange your wedding celebration at any time either on the same day or later and at any venue as there are no further legal requirements to be completed.
If you prefer that your legal marriage and wedding celebration are held at the same time then you can arrange for the legal ceremony to take place at certain times in either the Whittaker Hall or the Dorey Room in St James Concert & Assembly Hall or at a private residence where the ceremony must take place ‘within four walls’.
Information on the times available for legal marriages can be found here.
Does the White Dove ceremony follow a specified format?
There are no definite rules about how a White Dove wedding celebration is structured and we will work closely with you and your families to create something that right for you. Many couples do like the idea of a ‘traditional’ style wedding but simply without the religious elements while others may prefer their special day to be more unusual.
Generally we would expect to have some words of welcome, some thoughts on love and marriage, maybe a brief history of your love story, your promises to each other, the exchange of wedding rings or other tokens, the declaration of marriage and finally closing words and good wishes.
Usually one or two readings are included and these can be read by friends and family who would like to take part.
Can the bride be ‘given away’?
The giving of the bride’s hand in marriage is a traditional element of a wedding ceremony. Whilst this is usually performed by the father of the bride it can be done by anyone who will just be asked to confirm that the union is supported by the bride’s family. They may also say a few words to the groom if they wish.
Can we write our own promises?
Yes – you can both say what you feel is appropriate for you both in a way that you feel comfortable with. You may choose to write your own promises or choose from some examples that we will provide once you have decided to go ahead. Many couples like the personal touch of reading these promises and declarations themselves but if you prefer not to say too much then we can simply ask you in the form of questions. We have many examples that will help you to create something personal and meaningful that reflects how you feel about your partner.
Do you need to exchange rings at the legal marriage?
No – although this can be part of the legal ceremony it is not essential and you can leave the exchange of rings or other tokens until your wedding celebration.
Traditionally the best man is responsible for looking after the rings however this role can be given to anyone and if you have a younger ring bearer we will ensure that they are involved in the presentation of the rings.
Can other friends and family take part?
Yes of course. You may like to have poems or readings as part of the ceremony or have special roles for younger family members. The choice is yours and we will work together to incorporate any ideas that will make your day special. With a fully bespoke ceremony you can also include some symbolic gestures such as candle lighting and involve anyone who you would like to take a special part in your ceremony.
Do we need to sign anything at the ceremony?
If you have the legal marriage at the same time as your White Dove ceremony then you will need to complete the signing of the register at the end of that part. If however you complete the legal marriage at the Greffe before your wedding celebration then there is no further signing required.
Signing a record of the occasion can be a significant part of any ceremony however and we will provide a ceremonial certificate to be signed by the bride and groom and witnesses.
What about music?
Music plays an important part in most special occasions and you will undoubtedly have many favourites that you would like to use in your ceremony. Much will depend on your style of wedding – traditional classical music can give a suitable air of solemnity to the occasion especially for the entry of the bride. More contemporary pieces can make the ceremony feel more personal. Most hotels and other venues will have suitable systems for playing CD’s but you may need to arrange for someone to operate these on the day. We have a large portable speaker which can be used where there is no suitable music system available.
Live music often adds a lovely touch to the proceedings and there are various options including guitarists, harpists, pianists or a string quartet.
Can we hold the ceremony outdoors?
Yes – the wedding celebration can be held outdoors although if the legal ceremony is taking place at the same time then this part must be indoors. You will need to consider the possibility of bad weather and make sure you have an alternative just in case.
Is it possible to have a same sex ceremony?
Yes it is. Often these differ slightly depending on what you would like to include but we will work with you both to ensure the ceremony is exactly how you want it to be.
Do we have a rehearsal?
For the Bespoke and Standard ceremonies we would have a rehearsal at the venue with all the relevant people up to a week before the wedding day. For affirmations we do not usually have a rehearsal as these ceremonies only include the couple so a rehearsal isn’t necessary.
When should we contact you?
If you are interested in having a wedding ceremony then please contact us as soon as you can. We will meet with you both to discuss your ideas for your special day. There is no charge for this meeting which usually takes around an hour. If you have a date in mind we can provisionally reserve this for you until you confirm you wish to go ahead.
Who will our celebrant be?
There are now three White Dove celebrants which enables us to offer couples more flexibility on the date and time of their ceremony. It also means we have someone who can step in if one of the team is not available on the wedding day for any reason.
You may request a particular celebrant or check their availability at the time of booking. We will do our best to ensure they will be the one who will work with you to create your ceremony. We hope you will appreciate however with bookings being confirmed up to two years in advance we cannot guarantee your first choice will be possible. We can guarantee thought that whichever one of our celebrants creates and leads your ceremony you will receive the best possible guidance, creativity and attention to detail that you would expect when you choose a White Dove wedding.