Being in a woodland is a quite magical experience. Depending on the season, it will hold many wonders for your senses. As I write this, it is early June here in Carmarthenshire, and our woodland smells of honeysuckle and elder flower. A woodland wedding, surrounded by the trees and many plants that make their home among the roots and mosses, is about going back to nature for nurture, grounding and joy.
Living here, surrounded as we are in our little Welsh long-house, by the sounds of our woodland home, I am grateful everyday for the peace, balance and harmony that being here has brought to our lives. Having the chance to share that with couples who want to celebrate their relationship is so beautiful. John and I have been together for 37 years this month and I have never felt more connected to each other than we are here. It’s truly been like coming home.
Renewing our vows in our woodland was really special
We renewed our vows to each other here. There was no fuss, no guests or party. Just us and the trees. The birds filled the woods with song and we could hear our little woodland stream behind us. Under the shade of an Oak, we held hands and promised each other that the best is still to come. That we will continue to support each others dreams and respect our differences. We agreed that the sense of connection between us was stronger than ever and continued to grow in this part of our lives. We spoke of our pride in our daughter and the joy she brings us each and every day.
And all the time, the trees gently seemed to whisper their approval. I felt as though they had leaned in, putting their limbs around us to hold us in a sacred and spiritual space. I felt their strength and their empathy. A real sense of community and being surrounded by love. It is a powerful experience to live your daily life among trees.
Trees have been part of ceremony for thousands of years
Back as far as pre-history, long before the written record, people have held ceremonies among the trees. From the ancient Egyptians to the Celts, the tree (and in particular the Tree of Life) have been central to unions for marriage and even for peace treaties. Trees have been at the center of religious and tribal stories and ceremonies for many centuries and continue to be of great significance to many faiths.
Planning a woodland wedding poses many opportunities and a few challenges, so consider the following before you decide what type of woodland ceremony you want:
- Visit the woodland at the time of year you hope to hold your wedding. A broad-leaf woodland will look very different in each of the seasons so go and spend some time in one before you decide.
- Don’t change the woods to accommodate you, do things the other-way round. I must confess that the very first enquiry I every had about hosting an intimate woodland blessing here, almost put me off the idea. I was asked if we’d consider cutting down three large Oaks as they were ‘going to block too much light for the photos.’ The trees were here first, so work with them. If they seem in the way, perhaps a woodland wedding isn’t for you.
- Consider who you want at your ceremony. Woodland are not great for access and the more ‘back to nature’ you want to go, the more this is the case. If you have access needs then you need to do your homework and ask about accessibility at the start. There is often a way round the obstacles and, if it is possible, most woodland owners will help create a workable solution without impacting the environment.
- Day or night? A night time ceremony in a woodland is very special. Here, in our Myddfai woodland, we are in a dark sky area, so there is very little light-pollution and this means you can see more of the detail in the night sky. The atmosphere in a woodland at night is like nothing else I have experienced. And with the wildlife that visits our pond here at night, you are often able to see otters, owls, rabbits, foxes and other animals at the pond’s edge.
- Footwear is going to make or break your day. I usually suggest to couples that they wear walking boots for a woodland ceremony, No matter what the season, the woodland floor is alive and you don’t want to spoil your day by twisting an ankle or being stung. And besides, wellies with a wedding gown look sensational!
- Provide comfort for your humans. If you’re holding a ceremony with guests, then you need to provide them with some comforts that ensure they enjoy the whole experience. Sitting on big comfy cushions, offering a blanket and even creating hay-bale seats (which get really warm) will all help. In addition, consider a natural insect repellent for decoration (seasonal) and remind guests in the invitation to wear suitable clothing and shoes.
What about the weather?
Remember too, that here in the UK we always have to consider the weather. The rain may not stop you if you provide umbrellas or can organise a covered area for your ceremony. Alternatively embrace the British weather and ask everyone to wear wellington boots and bring a mac – it can be stunning in the woods when it rains.
If you’d like to discuss ideas you’ve got for a woodland wedding, why not get in touch and book a 30 minute coffee and zoom (no charge). I’d love to hear your plans and see how I could help you create the woodland wedding you’re imagining.
From my heart to yours,
If you’re interested in finding out about the career of an Independent Celebrant, take a look at the Celebrant Coaching and Training Academy. All our courses are created to help you become an exceptional Celebrant. Wedding and Vow Renewal Courses and Life Celebration Training.