I remember the date – and time – when I first laid eyes on Mr Accent Events! It was a cold, and dark, early morning in Earls Court, London, 20 years ago.
Back in 1996 I was about to undertake my second season working for Top Deck Travel as an adventure tour leader. My first trip was departing London on 25th March 1996 from the Top Deck office in Earls Court. At 6.30am, it was still quite dark and very chilly and as I hauled my ruck sack out of the taxi I glimpsed a rather tall figure, huddled against the office shop front. Martin – Mr Accent Events – was wearing a black biker’s jacket, brown scarf and woolly hat and he looked frozen! Having arrived from Sydney, Australia, just the week before, he was naturally feeling the cold even more than myself.
Needless to say, the 5 weeks traveling through Europe, packed full with planned – and unplanned, but that’s fodder for another blog post – adventures changed my life – and his too! Just writing this, I am having a series of flashbacks…the first time Martin met my parents, it was a little like “Terminator” meets the hobbits. Martin, at just over 6ft, walking down the drive in full leathers (all black) and removing his helmet to reveal a shaved head, earrings and nose ring. And my very traditional, and not overly tall, Mum and Dad gazing upwards at the very non-traditional boyfriend of their also-very-traditional daughter. I guess this could be the secret of our success…the fact that we are so different but complement each other so well.
We lived together for two years before getting married. We had a small registry office wedding in Morden, South London – at the time Stratford, E15, did not resemble the cosmopolitan place it now is – so we crossed London on a cold February morning to be married, a group of 9 people in total, including myself and Martin. In contrast to industrial Stratford, Morden Park House, a Grade II listed 1770 house in extensive grounds, built for John Ewart, on part of the Morden Hall Estate, was extremely beautiful on that frosty February morning.
The ceremony was simple and brief, as are most UK civil ceremonies – this is one of the reasons we love civil wedding ceremonies in Italy, where it is possible to add little personal touches to the ceremony itself. Photos were taken by our family and friends and after the ceremony we crossed London again, to Stratford, for a wedding lunch in Stratford’s – then – one and only trendy style restaurant. They opened specially for our lunch. In the evening Martin and I headed into the West End to go to the theatre. On the way we assisted a cyclist who was knocked of his cycle by a motorbike rider on The Strand!
A month after the legal wedding, Martin and I flew to Australia where I was introduced to the extended family at an evening poolside party enjoyed more celebrations and a very large chocolate wedding cake.
Yesterday, the 2nd February 2016 we have been married for 18 years. In those 18 years we have traveled the globe, moved home 5 times, undertaken 6 home refurbs, owned 6 dogs and laughed lots. We laugh at our own jokes, crumple into a fit of giggles when either one of us falls prey to spoonerisms “shuit fortbread” being one of them. Martin has been totally supportive of all my idiosyncrasies, ideas and suggestions. Occasionally he will raise an eyebrow, or I will receive the “silent answer”, which usually means that particular idea is going nowhere, but without Martin I know I would not have been able to follow my dreams.
We loved our small, intimate wedding…of course it would have been perfect if Martin’s family could have been at the UK civil wedding, but timing and cost prevented this happening. As we look back on that day and the many years that have followed, we are increasingly drawn to the idea of marking that date, the time that has passed, our many experiences and adventures and our relationship. And what better way is there to mark an enduring commitment of love than renewing your wedding vows.
A vows renewal, or reaffirmation, ceremony is a chance to relive the emotions and significance of your wedding day. And a vows renewal ceremony could well be in our own future as an opportunity to say “here we still are” and, this time, with Martin’s parents present.
Since our own wedding, technology has given us so many things that allow us to share our experiences with those we care for no matter where we or they are. When we cannot always be physically present in one location, we can transmit an event such as a ceremony in real time, to the other side of the world and photos can be online in moments…with a simple #tag we can include and involve all those in our lives who are important to us.
We look back on our wedding as a dual location wedding – the legal wedding ceremony in the UK and then our pool side reception party in Australia – which all sounds luxurious, and a little celebrity, but was actually all possible on a very reasonable budget. We could have been the beginning of a trend: marry in one country and celebrate in another!
The beauty of the wedding industry is that it is ever-evolving and has seen such change, even since 1998. Church weddings are on the wane as couples are opting for civil ceremonies, marriage is no longer seen as a lifelong commitment, same-sex marriage is now legal in 21 countries, destination weddings have become a popular choice and elope weddings and symbolic ceremonies are seen as very attractive options.
Accent Events regularly receives requests for elope ceremonies from couples who wish to escape the trappings of a large wedding at home. First time wedding couples may want a beautiful wedding without the escalating budget, gathering together only the closest of family and friends or exchanging vows in an intimate moment ‘just for two’. Couples who are on to their second marriage may choose an elope wedding to avoid stressful situations or because they would rather focus on themselves, doing something that is a shared new experience for the two of them.
And vows renewal ceremonies are a wonderful – and increasingly popular – way for already married couples to celebrate their relationship. In Italy, many married couples renew their vows in church after 25 and 50 years of marriage, with the exchange of new rings and big family parties to mark the occasion. It is just like getting married again with the benefit of having your family – the family you have created – around you as a testament to your relationship.
However, a vows renewal ceremony doesn’t necessarily have to mark a landmark anniversary. There are so many reasons to renew your wedding vows and it is as acceptable and wonderful to do so after 5 years as after 50.
Perhaps you have overcome significant obstacles to health or happiness, perhaps your actual wedding day wasn’t what you wished due to budgetary or other concerns, perhaps you wish your children or grandchildren to be witness to a celebration of your bond, or perhaps you simply want to say to the person you love “Yes, I STILL do”!
Like all symbolic ceremonies, with a vows renewal ceremony your because can be simply “because”…
So what is available for life-time soulmates, that spontaneous anyone who wishes to reaffirm their commitment or to show their partner that they and their love mean the world to them? There is the very versatile, and utterly personalisable, symbolic ceremony.
A symbolic ceremony is void of any legal obligation so for couples who wish to celebrate a wedding in Italy and are required to meet complex legal requirements – that can present some insurmountable hurdles – a symbolic ceremony is a godsend. Couples who choose to commit to each other in a symbolic, or unity ceremony do so with total freedom to show and share their love in a personally designed ceremony that can be of any length, style and tone, can include very personal stories and readings and can be genuinely inclusive of those present to witness the ceremony. It can also, and very importantly, be held in any private venue or location chosen by the couple. This means you can create the ceremony you wish, in the location you dream of.
Imagine celebrating a symbolic vows renewal ceremony in a location you love in Italy. A destination symbolic ceremony can be scaled up for a large gathering – as all of your family and friends join you to celebrate your enduring bond of love, perhaps creating the event that your original wedding day was unable to be – or it can be humble and understated for an intimate event – perfect for those couples who wish to renew vows just to one another or their nearest and dearest, or to acknowledge where they are in their relationship at a particular moment in time. Picture a symbolic ceremony where grown-up children, and their own children, will see their parents commit to each other again 25 or 30 years after their original wedding day. Wouldn’t then and now photography be amazing? All of our wedding photography, due to the many house moves, has managed to remain in storage boxes – having new album of vow renewal photography to add to the original photography would be so special.
Imagine repeating your original wedding vows to one another – a testament to the solemnity of the promises you made – or perhaps writing your own vows – including much loved memories of how you met, the things you adore doing together, the hopes for the future and what it means to have everyone around you at this moment in your life – it will, I promise, have everyone tearing up or at the very least embracing the emotion. Another memory has just come forward – when Martin’s Uncle Brian passed away we were gifted a copy of Uncle Brian’s original vows to his wife Pamela, such special words that we now keep safe.
Accent Event’s symbolic celebrants are skilled professionals with many years of experience in creative ceremony design and delivery. They are also fluent English and Italian-speaking, adding to the overall Italy wedding experience you will be creating for your family and friends or just for yourselves. It will be something to treasure.
If you wish to say “Yes, I STILL do!” – we would love to hear your story for renewing your vows and reaffirming your love! firstname.lastname@example.org