Lara and Ben met on social dating app Tinder in 2013. Lara was initially drawn to Ben's casual air of nonchalance, when she turned up to their first date and spotted him propped up with one leg balanced against a wall. He looked like something out of an old movie! Ben, however, was simply stood waiting and wondering whether he was about to meet a blonde or brunette – Lara’s online gallery of different hair styles had suggested it could be either!
Ben asked Lara to be his wife over breakfast. It took her a few moments to realise what was happening at first, but once she did – that was it! The excitement sank in and they started planning almost immediately!
The wedding took place in a gorgeous manor house in Devon at Huntsham Court. The couple had opted to escape their busy lives in the city for a long weekend away in the country and invited guests to join them, with exclusive use of the house and its rooms for the whole weekend. Everyone arrived the night before to pizza and prosecco, before the wedding took place on a Saturday afternoon. The venue, with its oak panelled walls and nostalgic design, was the perfect backdrop to compliment their Gatsby-esque grand house party theme.
Lara had been working for a wedding supplier website at the time she started planning her wedding, and found many of her suppliers through the online directory she managed. The Celebrant, Samantha Kelsie who was a regular feature writer for the website, had already struck up a great working relationship with Lara, and was delighted when Lara asked her to officiate her wedding as well. Samantha met twice with Lara and Ben in the build up to their wedding. She said “We did a lot of laughing at that second meeting – by this point Lara and Ben felt like old friends, and I loved how comfortable they were talking about their relationship with me!”
“Writing Lara and Ben’s ceremony came very naturally to me, as they had made it so easy to get to know both them and their relationship’s personality in our meetings. They wanted something which felt quite traditional in its format, but which held a lot of personality too. I had great fun writing in some references to their early meeting on Tinder and they gave me free reign to throw in a few jokes about ‘swiping right’ in the ceremony – much to amusement of some of the single guests!"
Samantha travelled down a day early to Devon to visit Lara, Ben and their bridal party at the venue, the night before the wedding. Together, they explored the outside ceremony space, and prepared a Plan B for bad weather – the forecast was looking uncertain but she was determined to have her ceremony outdoors, no matter what!
Lara and Ben began their wedding with a ‘first look’ which took place on the grand staircase in the main house, before making their way outdoors to enter the ceremony together. Once they had arrived, we said some hellos and thank yous, and acknowledged how far guests had travelled to be there on their day. Their family and friends had travelled from Cyprus, Dubai, South Africa, Canada, America and even Australia to be here; not to mention those who made it out of Central London and off into the deep Devon countryside on a Saturday afternoon!
We shared stories of their relationship from their first meeting, to their first trip abroad as a couple, and even moving in together. Guests gave readings from inspiring literature, including a poem by Simon Armitage, an extract from Nigel Slater, and a scientific metaphor for love and relativity. Luckily, the rain did stay away on the day, but guests were wrapped up in blankets and trooper Lara stayed shivering in short sleeves throughout.
Lara’s sister even helped add to the day as well, by symbolically cleansing the wedding rings before the exchange, and a photograph of Lara’s late brother sat by our side throughout. It was wonderful to be able to involve so many family and friends in the proceedings too.
Lara’s sister, Taryn, had asked to include a crystal healing ceremony, to add a spiritual element to the day. She had placed the wedding rings on a specially designed crystal grid earlier that morning, which included different stones strategically positioned to channel different healing properties into the material of the wedding bands. Before Lara and Ben placed the rings on their fingers, Taryn cleansed the area with incense and spoke a sacred blessing to bring them luck.
At the end of the ceremony, Samantha gathered everyone up on their feet to throw confetti and launch petal ‘push pops’ over the couple as they sealed the service with a kiss. Everyone then headed inside to find a great tower of champagne glasses waiting to be poured into in true Great Gatsby party-style!
Samantha felt incredibly honoured to be asked by Lara and Ben to stay on as their guest for the remainder of the day. “It was such a pleasure to stay on as Lara and Ben’s wedding guest afterwards, to be able to toast them in their speeches and enjoy the company of their closest friends over dinner. Lara and Ben have since kept in touch following the wedding, and even sent me some photos of their symbolic ceremony in Las Vegas, where they travelled on honeymoon. I very much hope to see them both again one day in the not too far future!”
“We are so glad we found Samantha to be our Celebrant – the day just would not have been the same without her! She did such an incredible job writing our ceremony and helping us write our vows, and also making us feel calm and relaxed on the day.
Samantha kept everything on track, so we didn’t have to worry, and delivered the ceremony so beautifully. She managed to put in to words so many things we hadn’t even thought of, and we were so grateful for her enthusiasm and patience when it came to our unusual crystal ring blessing!
The whole ceremony was relaxed, heartfelt, funny and memorable, and better than we could have hoped.
So many of our guests commented on how unique they thought it was, and how much they loved it. We absolutely can’t wait for the video to relive it all over again. It is really is tough to put into words just how brilliant you are Samantha!
Thank you so, so much for being such a big a part of our day and for making it so special – and for staying to celebrate with us!”
Samantha Kelsie is a professional marriage and family celebrant who prides herself in creating bespoke ceremonies and symbolic unions to suit couples of all different styles and personalities in the UK and abroad.View Samantha's profile
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