Hwyl Ceremonies Interview

I spoke with Vicky, about all things Romance, Unique Stories, and Sambuca Shots..

Vicky – Hwyl Ceremonies

Dan: Hello. I’m Dan of Dan Houghton Photography and I’m here talking to Vicky. Vicky, why don’t you tell me why you are here and what your name is and what your business is. 

Vicky: Okay, will do. So, hi Dan. We met a little while ago at Wedding Fair in the Margam Orangery, didn’t we? 

Dan: We did. 

Vicky: You were kindly or you were directly opposite me during that thing. You kindly sent me some photographs after the wedding fair, which had the most bananas expressions that I was making when I was talking to the, you know, the lovely couples that I met. You enjoy those? , I did enjoy. And, that was one, really one of the, the major things that, that when I look back on the kind of work that I do, that’s something I can’t, I, I just can’t help but being like absolutely in the moment.

Full of expression and passion for, for the work that I’m doing. So, a couple of years ago I retrained from, the more corporate world that I was working in, to be a celebrant. And, celebrant is quite a modern job title. Probably won’t be surprised to hear that the concept of celebrants comes from America and Australia and New Zealand.

Where celebrants are people that they’re part of everybody’s lives and they help, families and couples and individuals to celebrate all sorts of life events. So whether, you’re a fan of Kath and Kim, I’m not sure. But, if anybody else watches that, they have a celebrant that just pops up occasionally during the plot lines and she helps them to kind of like, get married, get divorced, welcome a baby, and she also does the funeral services.

Kind of like that’s exactly what I do, but with a huge amount more professionalism and a lot of warmth and celebrants, as I was saying, are people who, who help everybody to, to mark life events so classically that will be welcoming a child to the world as an alternative to baptism. Helping couples to to join a union at a wedding ceremony, or a reaffirmation of vows.

A lot of work is then when we are sort of celebrating lives and saying farewells. But our conversation is very much about what I do with the wedding industry. So,  yes, I’m a celebrant all across Wales, but further field as well if, if, if I need to. But lots of my work is, is within South Wales in particular and I work with couples to, to plan and to organise their wedding ceremony and I generally marry them in their exclusive venues. As an alternative to registrar service.

Dan: Brilliant. So why should couples, go for a, a celebrant rather than a traditional route of like a vicar or registrar?

Vicky: celebrants are individuals who can help couples to, I think, reclaim romance. 

Dan: That’s great, great. 

Vicky: And, the loving element of their wedding day. Back in the day when couples got married, it would be a case if they went to church or chapel. Down to the local town hall or their mom and dad’s friend room to have a bit of a spread and that would be the end of that. 

Then we were finding that individuals, perhaps they didn’t have a connection with church, so it wasn’t feeling representative or authentic for them to go to a place of worship to marry. So they were more, more, more than likely going to, civil venues like the registrar’s office.

And then registrars were starting to travel and come to, hotels or, special places. The difference between celebrants and registrars is the fact that. Generally celebrants will only, have one couple that they work with in any day, whereas registrars have many appointments that they must attend be because they pencils.

Dan: so I’ve been on the back end of that. Definitely where things aren’t going to plan on the day, shall we say? They’re running a little bit later and it’s been a, well, they need to get married the next half an hour or we are gonna have to go. And it’s like, okay, well that’s really that’s great to know that there’s like that kind of personal touch and you know, that exclusivity of having yourself rather than being one on the production line for that day almost.

Cause I was working in Bristol, it wasn’t Bristol registry office, it was a Bristol venue if I remember. And the registrars I was speaking to, there was a we’ve got four on today. And I was like, that’s incredible. Like how, how can you fit those in? You know? That’s almost, almost a little bit sad in a way that you do kind of go.

You know, the couples are there and then they kind of go right next, next, next isn’t, you know, it’s not fair. But no, that’s, that’s so nice to hear. 

Vicky: That is, that is a difficult thing. I mean, I’ve got lots of friends who are registrars, so no dissing them. But, they have a job to do. They, they essentially are civil servants. So there are several bookings in a day. They have to maintain the time scales and the punctuality. So it does mean that if there’s a slip of, a smokey eye with a makeup lady or a bridesmaid should spill a whole fruit shoot down themselves, there’s no room to wait.

Whereas, celebrants, you know, particularly my policy and my principal is that I, I will only work with one couple in a day because it takes my energy and my love. To be with them and them only and then it does mean that if, you know, we need to wait 10 minutes because you fancy doing a bit of a TikTok dance with a bridal party or, you know, we, we need some more photographs of their, of mom and dad are in our first look or whatever it is.

It’s fine. We wait. I’ve got a bag full of dreadful one-liner jokes, which I just chat about to, to the, do the, to the guests and we’ll, we’ll, you know, just hype them up to get ready for the excitement of the ceremony beginning. And that, talking about the ceremony, you know, they, they love stories that I very carefully create.

Yes, it’s got the stuff that you’d expect to see in a wedding ceremony, you know, where we will welcome everybody. There are definitely things like exchanges of rings and,  intentions shared.  but I bring the couple’s love story to and I don’t stand in between the couple on their wedding day.

I stand off centre, to leave them be together. I feel very, very firmly that nobody should be standing between them on such an intimate occasion. And photographers love it as well because you get the greater shots of the couple together without a random face in the background that the couple then are gonna look up on and you the camera and not remember where this, I hope they remember me.

But, that’s another thing that I feel I feel very, very strongly about. .  and I love to incorporate, Beautiful romantic rituals within my ceremonies.  So that, I work with my couples to design them and make it fit for their love story and just make sure that it’s just a sensational occasion.

Bringing back the love and the romance and then started off the day with, you know, on the right vibe for them. You know everybody’s, you know, this, the smiles, the happy tears. The expressions that people are making, if you are doing candid photography. It’s, oh, it’s a job like no other. It’s really great. 

Dan: That’s what, that’s what we like. Wonderful. Just wonderful expressions And they’re true to them. And because they’ve worked with you, obviously they know the story. They know, you know, what’s gonna happen.  But it’s still their reaction to it and their friends and family’s reaction. That makes it definitely.

Vicky: I was just gonna say, so sometimes the couples, they would like, they like to see the entire thing that I’ll be sharing. On the day. But, sometimes they, they write on, oh, I meet with them separately. So they have surprises for each other within the service.

Dan: That’s brilliant. 

Vicky: And sometimes they just want a little wire frame of what’s gonna happen and just want surprises themselves. So it is very much what the couple wants. I’ll just, it’ll just happen. What one of the best pieces of feedback I got from a ceremony last was that a couple had said, you know, how wonderful it was and, we still keep in touch on WhatsApp and stuff, which is just lovely to have that connection and to see what’s going on in their lives.

They said, one of, one of their guests had said, they’d be to so many weddings and they had been about as romantic as taxing a car!,but their wedding was just so full of joy and love that everybody was giddy through the whole thing and that was just, such a lovely compliment to receive.

Dan: That’s awesome.  I wanted to ask you a quick question because one thing I have heard and I wanna know if it’s true. Can a couple get married at the top of a mountain? 

Vicky: Absolutely. 

Dan: I love it. Or any, is it any location? Is it just anywhere that they, wherever they want. , wherever they want. 

Vicky: So, It’s important to and I always tell my couples this straight away, it’s important to recognise that for their marriage to be,  recognised by the eyes of the law, they will need to incorporate a registrar at some point to get the piece of paper.

And that’s, normally, I say, look, save yourself some cash.  Monday to Wednesday at the registrar’s office are very, very reasonable to go and because nobody else wants to go there. So it’s essentially the same as if you are registering a birth or a death. You pop along maybe with two friends.

You say 30 statutory words to one another. You get your piece of paper, go out for brunch, and a big mug of coffee or maybe a glass of champagne, and then you have your wedding day with me. Wedding reform laws are going through,  parliament at the moment, but it’ll be a good couple of years before anything really changes is how long is a piece of string okay.

But, so essentially as long as you incorporate a registrar in your world at some point in time to get your piece of paper, then I can conduct a wedding ceremony anywhere, anytime. We’ve done them at midnight with fireworks going off in the background. Kinda trick me to keep everybody on point through the day, long day to get married, midnight.

But was, and of course I’ve done several weddings, in outdoor locations, which have just been beautiful. 

Dan: That’d be a dream. Absolutely dream too, you know, out outside in an epic location and just the reactions that we are so good. 

Vicky: , Woodland, woodland stuff is, is where I want, I’d really love to go and, and that’s, that’s something I, there’s so many eco venues now, where, imagine how fabulous it would be walking down a little woodland trail and then you have a ceremony space there with sort of vintage rugs. You know, lovely flowers laid out. That’s something that’s on my vision board.

Dan: Oh, sound. Sound of the birds and everything going on. 

Vicky:  It;d be lovely. Oh, I’ll do it. 

Dan:  You must have conducted lots of ceremonies with couples. Is there any particular,  funny stories that have come out or one that comes to mind of a particular ceremony? 

Vicky: Well, they all have, like, every single one has their own personality then. Each ceremony that I’ve officiated that the couples personality is, is weaving throughout the whole thing? But one that comes to mind, most recently,  I was up at Gellifawr Woodland Retreat in February this year actually. And, the couple had asked if I would incorporate them taking a shot of Sambuca into their wedding ceremony, which is absolutely fine.

That’s their favourite drink. So, I kind of thought to myself, well, that, that’s great. I can write a little ceremony around, that’s no problem at all. I’ve done it with loads of different cocktails, more shots, and made a new tradition for them.  so I thought, oh, I’ll make this one a bit special.

I got a graphic designer to make me a, a dummy sort of prescription,  with, with the Sambuca stuff on it. I’ll send you a photo if you, if you want to. Brilliant. Yes, please nd then I thought, oh, well I’ll go set through then and, and I’ll get that printed onto a bottle of Sambuca.

So it was great. No problem at all. I had to do it myself in the end because like suppliers and stuff were, were muck me about. The night before the wedding, I’d submerged this bottle of Sambuca in hot water overnight to peel a label off. So it was really neat and tidy the next day then I’d put on my own label.

Off we went. They had their shots. Lovely. And then I put the bottle on the floor to keep it safe with the plan was that everybody else would take a shot after if they wanted to but because I’d submerged it the night before and put it on a cold floor, the bottle the bottom fell off the glass bottle and it was just like this puddle and anseed stickiness everywhere. Oh God. And then like they were thrown confetti, so that stuck in the reality stickiness and it was just like, oh, this is awkward. This is really awkward. So when the staff came back in, then I was like, I’m really sorry. We haven’t drunk that much. It’s just a spillage, but please do accept my apologies.

Dan: Oh . Sambuca and mountains. That’s what we want. 

Vicky: . But it was, it was really fun. And they, we sort of, I brought a little ceremony around popping coffee beans in their sambuca for different symbols for them that meant, and then they started, they with a shot Sambuca and it was a party which lasted, you know, until the wee hours. 

Dan: Oh, brilliant. That’s so good. In this little series of interviews that I’m doing with suppliers in South Wales, Is there any particular suppliers that you think I should interview next? 

Vicky: So, we were chatting a little bit earlier about bringing personality and warmth and, and the couple into everything about their wedding, not just generic suppliers Yes. So I’d love it if you spoke to, a designer who creates wedding stationary. Because I think from the very second that your guest opens up that path of, of beautiful information, the personality is jumping out straight away and setting the scene for what that day will look and feel like.

Dan: That’s a great shout. That’s a great shout, and one last, one last thing, Vicky. Where can couples find you? 

Vicky:  So, predominantly use Instagram as my social media. I don’t get on with Facebook very well, but Instagram’s, a lot prettier and easier to work with.  so that my identity there is Hwyl ceremonies, H W Y L and my website, is fairly easy to find as well, Hwylceremonies.com. 

Dan: Excellent. I just wanna thank you so much for your time. It’s been enlightening and hopefully we’ll work together very soon because I know I’ll be recommending to couples that, you know, let’s go down that road instead because you’ll be, you’ll have, your day will be fulfilled more than just completed.

I think it’s the best way. 

Vicky: Oh, that’s a nice way to put it. Thank you Dan. 

Dan: No worries. And it was lovely, lovely to see you and hopefully we’ll see each other soon. 

Vicky: Thank you. 

Dan: No worries. See you later. Thanks Vicky

You can find Vicky on Instagram @hwylceremonies or Online at www. hwylceremonies.co.uk

Cover image by Katy Tainton

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