After 17 months of planning, excitement and anticipation, I can’t believe our wedding day has been and gone. Michael and I are married! I’m a wife! 08.08.18 was truly the best and most special day of our lives. We were so lucky in many ways and truly felt the love from our friends and family on the day. It was incredible and we couldn’t have asked for anything else. I can’t wait to share more with you, so I am calling this week “Wedding Week” on the blog and each day I’ll be sharing details about our big day. Whilst I was planning our wedding I found these types of posts so helpful, so I hope I’ll be able to help some of you plan your day in some way too.
For my first Wedding Week post, I thought I’d start with the ceremony as we put a lot of thought into it and it was probably my favourite part of the day. Our ceremony was incredibly special and emotional and we’ve since been told it’s the most personal and unique ceremony our guests have ever been to! We’re so in love wih the photos we’ve received so far by our amazing photographer Katrina. She made us feel at ease and just blended in with our guests effortlessly. I searched far and wide for the right photographer for us and was so happy she travelled to London to capture our day for us. I can’t recommend her enough!
Photos by Captured By Katrina
A celebrant ceremony
I was brought up to be Catholic, so I always imagined I’d be married in a Church. However, Michael isn’t religious, my childhood Church isn’t easy to get to so logistically would have been complicated and on top of that, my Priest had retired. We thought the only alternative was to have a registrar come to our wedding venue to marry us. However, I didn’t like the idea of a stranger marrying us since I’d grown up thinking my Priest, someone I’d grown up with, would be the one to do it. Also, when you have a civil ceremony led by a registrar, you cannot make any religious references and although we weren’t marrying in a Church, I still wanted to include my faith in some way.
Then I discovered celebrant/humanist ceremonies and realised it meant we could get married exactly how we wanted, making it incredibly personal to us. Instead of working with a celebrant, I loved the idea of a friend being the one to marry us. There was just one friend we had in mind and although it was a huge ask, we just had to see if she would say yes, and she did! You see, our friend Bakita Kasadha is the reason Michael and I first started hanging out at lunchtimes in College. She’s an amazing Poet, Creative Writer, Keynote Speaker and has even given a TEDx talk at Leicester Square! Bakita wrote our whole ceremony from scratch, making it unique and personal to us. It’s just so special to me that she brought us together all those years ago in College and now she’s united us as Husband and Wife on our wedding day.
On the day
We married at Trinity Buoy Wharf, a beautiful industrial warehouse and lighthouse in East London on the riverside. The venue is dry hire, meaning we got it completely empty, so all morning our event-coordinator, florist and caterer worked tirelessly to dress the room and ensure all the furniture etc were delivered on time. I had such a clear idea in my head of how I wanted it all to look, I’d created floor plans and mood boards and gone over every detail with our coordinator. The first time I saw the venue fully dressed was when I stood at the top of the aisle, arm in arm with my Dad and all our guests turning back to see me as our bridesmaids and groomsmen walked before me. I can’t even explain how many thoughts and emotions ran through my head at that moment, it was so, so special.
I walked down the aisle to I’m Kissing You by Des’ree. I fell in love with that song when we watched Romeo + Juliet in an English lesson in Secondary School and I said to my friends back then that I would walk down the aisle to that song someday. It’s a beautiful song and I half expected to start crying as soon as I heard it playing, but as I stood at the top of the aisle I was just so happy. Walking down the aisle with my Dad was incredibly special. I’d asked him to wear something traditional from Ghana as that is where we’re from and I really wanted to include mine & Michael’s African roots in our wedding. I think you’ll agree, my Dad did not disappoint!
The first thing I saw was the copper arbour that Michael and I had made ourselves and it was decorated so beautifully by our florist RB Floral Design. We’d asked everyone to not take any pictures during our ceremony and I’m so glad we did. When I looked around at our guests the look they all gave me was so warm and loving, I can still remember their faces now. I just know that moment wouldn’t have been as special if I’d looked out at cameras and phones. Then I spotted Michael and wow, just wow. His face was just priceless and I could tell he thought I looked beautiful. When I reached him, he was almost speechless. I don’t think either of us could believe our wedding day was finally here, it was happening!
Bakita started the ceremony and she was amazing. She said it was an honour for her to marry us and you could tell she really meant it as it came across in the way she delivered our ceremony. I will forever be grateful to her for giving us the best wedding ceremony we could’ve asked for. She even surprised us by reading out some loving words about us that she’d gathered from our friends and family in secret. It was a lovely way to include our nearest and dearest in our ceremony and I’m so happy that Bakita thought of that.
We had two readings during the ceremony. I really wanted a verse from the Bible as a way to include my faith in the day so our friend Nina, who attends my same Church, read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. It’s a short reading, but I feel it perfectly sums up what love is and is a reminder for how we should be towards one another in our marriage. Then our friend and my Maid of Honour, Jenny read Union by Robert Fulgham, which is just a beautiful reading and I love that it represents all the years and promises that Michael and I have already shared together. A key thing for us was that our wedding wasn’t a new beginning, but a new chapter, building on the strong foundation we’ve already created together over the last decade.
Our personal vows and declarations
We both decided we wanted to write our own wedding vows, so we sat down and agreed what we wanted for our marriage and wrote them together. I also wanted us to write a short paragraph describing our love for each other. I’d seen a few couples do this in wedding videos I’d seen on YouTube and thought it was just beautiful. I didn’t really know what to call this, but when watching the Love Island final (naturally) they did something similar called a ‘Declaration of Love’, so that’s what we’re calling it now haha. The first time we’d heard each other’s declarations was during our ceremony as we read them out to each other. It was incredibly emotional, in fact Michael cried when reading his out to me and he made me cry and I could hear our Mums sniffling behind me. He definitely outdid me with his declaration! He’s not often romantic and I’d never seen him cry before, which makes that moment and his declaration even more special.
Even though this is incredibly personal to the both of us, I thought it would be lovely to share our vows and our declarations of love with you. It also means our friends and family can look back and always remember this part of our wedding day.
I (name), choose you (name) to be my husband/wife.
I promise to always be your best friend and your biggest fan, to encourage your dreams and respect our differences.
I promise to laugh with you, cry with you and grow with you.
I promise to always be open and honest with you, to love, honour, trust and respect you.
I promise to support, comfort and strengthen you through the good times and the bad, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, from this day forward for as long as we both shall live.
My declaration to Michael
Michael, I’ve fancied you since the first time I saw you. You looked up at me & smiled from across the classroom with that big, beautiful smile. Once I got to know you I realised that you were something special. I instantly felt comfortable around you & we just clicked straight away. It wasn’t long before my feelings grew deeper. I remember messaging Jenny on MySpace saying “I think I love him”. It was the first time I’d ever said those words about anyone and I’ve not said them about anyone else since. Only you Michael. It’s always been you & I know it will only ever be you.
You’re my best friend. You always know what to do to make me smile & I have the best times with you. We’ve grown up together, explored together and shared a lot of firsts together. Not many people get to marry their first love but I’m so glad I am. It’s so special to me that I’ve got to share this much of my life with you already & watch you grow into the man you are today. I love you so much.
I love how you make me feel. You make me laugh and smile everyday. Even when you annoy me you make me laugh. I love your determination and how once you put your mind to something, you do it, no matter how difficult it is. I can’t get my head around some of the challenges you’ve done, I’m in awe of you. I love how you’re such a people person. I can introduce you to anyone and know that you’ll get on with them. I even love how we hang up our laundry together, we have our little system and we do it as a team. I know that we’ll be fine in this next phase of our lives, we’ll handle marriage as we do everything else, we’ll do it as a team.
People asked me if I was nervous about today, but I haven’t been nervous at all. I’m so excited to become your wife and have you as my husband. You’re my best friend, my partner in crime, my team mate and the love of my life. I fancy you now, just as much as I did when we were teenagers, if not more. I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to share the rest of my life with and I will forever be thankful that I get to call you mine. I love you today, I’ll love you tomorrow & I’ll love you forever & always.
Sidenote: ‘Forever & always’ is something my Grandad always said to my Nan and they were married for 60 years. Theirs is a relationship I’ve always looked up to and ending my declaration like that was my way of keeping them close during our ceremony.
Michael’s declaration to me
From the very first moment I saw you way back in college, I can remember thinking ‘Ohh she is the most beautiful girl here!’. Even though I may have forgotten your name and tried to slyly lean over to read your ID badge to make sure I got it right, I ensured that was the last time I ever forgot anything about you.
I love the way you know exactly what you want and how to go about getting it. Even when it came to me, you found a link in the people we knew individually to ultimately draw us closer together and end up hanging out with each other every single day during college. From inviting me out to your birthday, to the way you got my number for the first time, you always have a habit of getting me right where you want me.
From college to university, it’s so rare for me to spend so much time with someone and love every second of their company. Your presence makes me feel warm and I honestly couldn’t see myself without it. Our journey together has filled the best part of my life and I wouldn’t change a second of it for the world. From the age of 16 I have never met someone who could calm, excite and make me smile consistently each and every day and for that, I thank you.
You are beautiful inside and out. No one has ever had a bad word to say about you and that’s because you’re honest, helpful and for some reason, always right.
The strangest thing is that I have always hated asking people for help or advice, just because I grew up as the man of my household and always felt like I needed to have all the answers. Being with you has taught me that I don’t need to be that person all the time and that I have in you, a safety net that has my back no matter the situation. I never hesitate to come to you because you have always been my biggest teacher and always have a habit of being able to pull me from whatever rut I find myself in.
With the 12 years that I have known you, you have never changed the person that you are and that is the reason I am marrying you today. There was once a time I said I wasn’t interested in getting married and it would take 1 in a billion to change the way I felt about it. You are that 1 in a billion. I know from the bottom of my heart that it’s impossible to find someone like you, and I know that amazing people are meant to be cherished, taken care of and never let go.
I will love you for the rest of our lives and marrying you is how I wish to show you that I also have your back, no matter what. This is a big step in our lives and one in the direction of us having a beautiful family of our own one day. I love you Cantara!
I don’t know about you but I’m tearing up again just reading Michael’s declaration. He really surprised us all and I will treasure these words forever. I made us personalised vow books using white Moleskine Cahier books and I wrote on the front in copper pen to say ‘His Vows’ and ‘Her Vows’, along with our initials and wedding date. We wrote our vows, declarations and speeches in these and I love that we can keep these books forever and one day show them to our children to share how in love Mummy and Daddy are. OK, I need to stop as I’m tearing up again! Getting married is emotional, I can tell you that for sure.
I hope you’ve enjoyed getting an insight into our ceremony. Check back here tomorrow as I’ll share more insights into our wedding day. I’m loving reliving it all!
Photos by Captured By Katrina