Mark and Sandie

We chose Jan to write and conduct our ceremony very early on in the planning process. We knew from the word go that we wanted an outdoor wedding, and were only too aware of the laws prohibiting this in England. For this reason we started looking in to celebrants. We also really loved the idea of having a bespoke ceremony scripted for us and unique to us. We believed this would be far more special than the standard wedding vows. While looking for possible ‘outside of the box’ venues we came across Jan Shillito. We’d not even asked her to be our celebrant yet and she got stuck right in to helping us find a venue. Coming up with really great suggestions and using her contacts in the industry to try and pull some strings to find us the perfect venue. She was as excited as we were about woods and lakes and Yorkshire at a time when everyone else just thought we were mad! She instantly ‘got’ our vision and helped us expand our ideas to make it even more unique and memorable.

When it came to choosing our celebrant we simply had to have Jan!

Initially Jan sent us a questionnaire to complete. Recommending that we sit down with a glass or two of wine. Once we’d returned the questionnaire she invited us over to her house for an informal chat. We ended up staying for hours! Chatting to Jan is like chatting to an old friend you haven’t seen for a while. We regaled her with stories of our youth, both our upbringings, how we met, adventures we’d been on together, our loves, hates, likes and dislikes. Including Mark’s secret love of the Shipping Forecast on Radio 4.
A few weeks later the first draft of our ceremony script arrived by email. Jan had managed to take everything we’d said over the course of several hours and distil it down in to the essence of us and what made us love each other. The good, the bad and the shipping forecast! Sandie cried.

Throughout the process she made it clear that although she was writing the script it was our wedding ceremony and we could make any number of amendments until we were 100% happy with everything. We made a few minor amendments but not many. The words Jan had written were beautiful and she’d incorporated some really beautiful moments in to the ceremony to make it extra special. We even had a ring warming, where the rings are passed from guest to guest, each guest says a silent prayer or blessing before passing it on to the next guest.

The ceremony was interspersed with some fantastic, if not unusual, readings. Chosen by Jan. And, despite looking ourselves, we couldn’t find anything that summed us up better!
The first reading was ‘The Shipping Forecast’ by Les Barker. Read by our Groomsman Mick Houghton. Micky is a broad scouser so he put his own spin on it and by the end had all the assembled guests joining in in chorus with “Sound As a Pound!” instead of “Good”.

Later, our other groomsman Dan Appleby read ‘Why Falling In Love Is Like Owning A Dog’ by Taylor Mail. Watched over by our lurcher ‘Dave’ who was happily mingling with the assembled guests complete with tweed bow tie!

The ceremony was rounded out by our bridesmaid Natalie Marlow. Reading ‘Lets Make A Love’ by Tony Walsh.

Jan encouraged us to write our own promises to each other. This was probably the most difficult part as neither of us are very soppy! Sandie wrote hers while sitting on a mountain overlooking a Norwegian Fjord. Mark wrote his in a panic at 2am! Either way they both ended up remarkably similar, funny yet lovely in equal measure. And a great way for us to put exactly how we felt in to the ceremony.

The ceremony was beautiful, uplifting, funny and emotional all in the right measures and had our guests and us in stitches and in tears. We loved it, the guests loved it and no one who was there shall ever forget it.

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