Alternative wedding ceremony options for free-spirited souls

Photo credit Bobbie Lee - Magical May Handfasting

If lockdown has taught us nothing else, it’s the value of love and how important it is to be true to ourselves. Now, big flashy weddings might be the right thing for some but for others this idea might fill you with dread. 

Your wedding ceremony should be one of the most important features of your wedding day as this is what you as a couple will remember forever. The words you will exchange to each other will be with your entire heart and soul. It’s crucial to make sure you both are involved in the wedding ceremony planning and ask yourself truly what values are important to you?

The Celebrant Directory member Berni B, The Alternative Celebrant, shares with us her thoughts on micro weddings and elopements along with some awesome ideas for you to think through when planning your wedding, and your ceremony that reflect your personalities as a couple.

Intimate weddings

“Is it possible to think small but have big ideas? Many couples, whose hands have been forced during lockdown, have realised the benefit of a less ostentatious celebration. Many decided to ditch their ideas of a big wedding for something small and intimate that they could do even with the restrictions that had been set. Many couples decided that the most important part of getting married was the intimate bit where they declared their love to each other and reminded themselves of what it is that keeps them together.

Post-lockdown we are seeing more and more couples wanting a bespoke and intimate way to celebrate their love and unity.  Lots of couples are realising the benefits of keeping it small and personalised. People are more aware that keeping it small does not mean keeping it boring. It certainly doesn’t mean it can’t be full of personality, ritual and self-expression.

Micro weddings and Elopements

Elopements, micro weddings and any celebrations of love and unity can operate on a budget with a little imagination. Partner a little confidence in your own uniqueness and the helping hands of a flexible Celebrant and you’ll have a celebration like no other. How many guests you choose is completely up to you, but your wedding ceremony will likely remain with the same level of detail (unless you’d like to involve your audience of course)!

The lovely thing about Celebrants is that we are open to all your ideas and many of us specialise in and thrive on offering you something unique and even quirky. Our aim is to provide an event that recognises you as individuals. And for me personally, as a believer in each of you and your extraordinariness, I want to facilitate a celebration including self- expression and personalisation to truly reflect you as a couple (or thruple) in all your unique and wondrous glory.

I’m based in Mid-Wales and I run my own guesthouse. Lockdown gave me my very own ‘ta-dah’ moments and now, my lovely little guesthouse has a tree deck, tepee and glamping boudoir allowing me to create perfectly unique micro wedding, vow renewal and elopement packages at my own home.  

Alternative and extraordinary without breaking the bank

To demonstrate how flexible a small venue can be, this styled shoot at Cerdyn Villa created four vastly different moods.   The aim was to connect with amazing and independent service and product providers; and demonstrate that a space can be transformed to provide something totally unique and personal, so it really reflects your style, personality, and passions. 

The day would not have been possible without the collaboration and professionalism of all those involved.  In fact, there would not have even been a shot had it not been for Event Planner Pixie Knowles and Event Stylist Cathy Cooke.

Sustainable and Local Blooms

I’m particularly passionate about the flowers and ensuring they are grown and sourced locally. That’s why I always head to Home – Flowers from the Farm when I’m sending flowers. For these shoots I used a flower farmer local to me; Fran Phillips of La-Di Dardy Flowers who arrived with the most extensive, colourful and fragrant car full of her own farm grown flowers.

Injecting colour

Our makeup artist, Sarah Waters is just down the road, meaning that brides coming here can call upon her services. She also provided the small wedding cakes having set up a second business during lockdown, The Crumb Company. Our local cafe supplied grazing boxes, picnic, high tea;  meaning that couples coming here can access fabulous local services from partners I trust.

Lady Lil

Playful Pink Passion was an opportunity for my alter ego Lady Lil to make an appearance… she is available to officiate your celebration instead of me! It was also a great opportunity to involve Ffloyd, my 1968 Hillman Husky.

Magical May Wonderland was just the perfect opportunity to show off how magical I think my home location is. My son Jason and his stunning girlfriend, Lottie, modelled for this one. Lottie modelled another of Zoe’s stunning dresses, more of Nicole’s gorgeous handmade lace boots and another of Rachel’s delicate and intricate headdresses.

Eco Fabrics

Bold, vibrant and zingy was created to showcase a new eco brand of couture design by Carlie Ann Griffiths. Her business, Cabbage White Fashion, specializes in creating one-off designs from ‘cabbage’, that is remnants of fabrics and charity shop up cycling. She and my middle son, Graham modelled.  

Baroque inspired Goth was just an excuse to engage with the fabulous couture designer Zoe Axford-Whitaker of Scarlet Tayla, Headdress maker Rachel Chaprunne ‘and get up close and personal to some of the handmade lace boots by House of Elliot England.

Whilst these images are from styled shoots, they represent the idea that anything is possible for any couple who want to have something unique, alternative, extraordinary and personal to them.”  


Celebrant: Bernice Benton: The Alternative Celebrant Insta | Facebook

Venue: The Cwtch Hwtch at Cerdyn Villa

Event Planner: Pixie Knowles, Plan-it Pixie Insta | Facebook

Event Stylist: Cathy Cooke, Vintage Florrie | Insta

Makeup: Sarah Waters Aesthetics | Insta | Facebook

Hair: Chris, Century Marks Salon, Builth Wells Facebook | Insta

Photography: Ann Seymour Photography: Insta | Facebook

Bobbie Lee Photography Insta | Facebook

Bridal outfit (Bold and Zingy): Carlie Anne Griffiths: Insta

Brides Shoes (Bold and Zingy): Lou Gibson, Facebook & Insta

Flowers: Fran Phillips of La-Di Dardy Flowers Facebook & Insta

Wedding Cake: Sarah Waters Insta

Tepee: Venue’s own bespoke designed by Berni, made by Sails of Merit. Fabrication by Dorian Van Braam

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Bernice Benton (Berni), The Alternative Celebrant, is based in Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, Mid Wales …
"We all reach junctions along our life’s winding road, that need marking with a celebration; a time of reflection; or some form of commemoration.
As an “Alternative Celebrant”, I aim to help you punctuate your life story by guiding you to create an event that is as unique as you are. I believe we are all ordinarily extraordinary. I specialise in Intimate Alternative Celebrations of Love and Unity, and Memorials that help express yours and your loved ones’ own personalities.
I would love to help you celebrate, commemorate, or find solace with or for a person, pet or occasion in your life.
Alongside those ‘traditional’ chapter changes in our lives: Marriages, Births, Deaths; there are so many more occasions that cause for a breather, a moment of reflection and a bit of time to celebrate.
At every crossroads in our journey we should take time to reflect, celebrate or commemorate. I can help facilitate this; whatever the occasion. There Are No Rules."

Alongside being a Celebrant, Berni is also a Guesthouse owner, Stained Glass Artist, Gardener and Lady Lily The Pink of The Official Monster Raving Loony Party.

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