The English Civil Ceremony

I arrived at the barns as the heavens were drizzling. The countryside was moody with heavy clouds. The hills were vibrant green. The car was quiet as we all soaked in those last minute nerves. This was it. Everything I had been planning for the last 20 months was about to happen. Everything I’d dreamed about for 30 years was now happening. I was about to walk down the aisle to the man of my dreams and make promises to last a lifetime…

We stopped outside the large barn doors. Our brothers were there waiting with my four flower girls. Dad got out the car with the umbrella, Alex opened my door, and I passed my bouquet to Jessica. I grabbed as much of my dress as I could, swivelled round and tried my best to gracefully get out of the car. I barely noticed the rain as we ran indoors, aware of how late we were.

We quickly attached a buttonhole to my Dad and I walked quickly through to the side room to meet with the registrars. Outside I could hear my bridesmaids and flower girls chatting. I was feeling a little flustered and worried with how long I’d left Raj waiting. There was a gently hum of chatter coming though the door as the guests were waiting for my arrival in the barn.

Bride with flower girls

With legal formalities completed I waited outside the barn doors with my girls. I quickly explained how the procession would work to my little flower girls, we got into position and the doors opened to the back of the wedding barn.

The music began.

I chose Tchaikovsky ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ from ‘The Nutcracker’ as my entrance music. A ballet that has become a Christmas tradition that Raj and I go to every year.

Groom waiting for bride

The flower girls went first. Being eager, they didn’t follow instructions and went ahead with walking down the aisle instead of waiting. I think they were excited!

Meanwhile I positioned myself at the top of the aisle with my youngest sister stood just ahead of me. My other two sisters set about arranging my long dress at the back so that it flowed as I walked. Once sorted they stood in front of me and paused for a moment to allow the music to play.

170 - Elizabeth and Raj

We allowed the music to play, at the correct moment in the piece I whispered to them to go. They slowly walked down the aisle as I gazed ahead and caught the eye of my husband to be. I was beaming.

Again, I paused. I allowed the crescendo to build. I began my slow but determined walk down the aisle. Just me. Walking towards the man of my dreams, my face beaming with pride and excitement. I could see the emotion in Raj’s face. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. Around me our friends and family watched as I walked down the aisle but I couldn’t move my face to smile or acknowledge them. In that moment, all that existed to me was Raj and I. I was walking to him and to our future together. I was locked on his gaze and he was the entire world in that moment.

Bride walking down the aisle

I reached Raj and the end of the aisle as music rose to its point. It was perfect timing.

I was beaming as I looked at Raj. His face full of emotion, his eyes glazed. I continued to beam at him the entire ceremony. I was unbelievably happy.

Bride and groom smiling

The ceremony began with some opening words and then a poem read out by my Auntie. We chose ‘On Your Wedding Day’ as our first reading, a beautiful piece full of advice for the happy couple.

We stood underneath a beautiful wooden structure covered in delicate fairy lights and foliage as we made our promises and vows.

Beautiful weddingGetting MarriedFairy lights and foliage

For our second reading my step-Dad read out ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go’ by Dr Seuss. A fun and inspiring piece that pretty much summed us up as a couple.

We exchanged rings, we kissed. They clapped.

Placing the ring on the fingerHolding the ring

Laughing brideBride and groom kiss

For our final reading Raj’s sister read out a poem written by Raj. I don’t think anyone other than us knew it was his creation, but it was perfect. Every word meant something deep to us both.

Signing the registerTaking photos of the bride and groom


We signed the register as Einaudi’s ‘Night’ filled the beautiful barn. Our mother’s were witnesses, something we felt was important so that all of our parents were detailed on our marriage certificate.

Once the ceremony concluded we were handed the marriage certificate and walked back up the aisle, hand in hand, as husband and wife. Both beaming with pride and overwhelmed with emotion, I was the happiest women alive.

The Married Couple

Photos by Simon Brettell