North East Connected


Photographer ‘From the Smiths Photography’

Planting a tree can be a beautiful part of your ceremony. Photography by ‘From the Smiths Photography’

Over 40 percent of proposals take place between the 1st December and the 14th February in the UK* and that means wedding planning season is well and truly upon us. While couples prepare to arrange the perfect venue, discuss the guest list or find THE dress, are these really the details that your guests remember from your big day?

Jo Stott, award-winning bridal expert and celebrant behind Love Jo Ceremonies has revealed the ceremony details that couples and guests really remember long-after the day itself.

 Jo said, “Your ceremony is a celebration of your unique love story and no two will be exactly alike. I have had the pleasure of being part of hundreds of incredibly special weddings and it is always the small, authentic acts of love and commitment that your family and friends remember and talk about for years to come. By finding the perfect celebrant for you, we can work together to create an experience that is magical and truly personal to the couple and their story, and by getting to know each other we can make sure the whole process is incredibly fun and exciting as you prepare to spend your lives together.”  

Gestures of love

Gestures of love are a modern twist on ancient traditions and a beautiful way to celebrate your connection and bring your families together. Recently my couples have shown their commitment to each other through hand-tying ceremonies, a tradition which dates back to Celtic times and symbolises the binding together of two lives, through to lighting a unity candle with a flame from each family and even a stone ceremony where your guests inscribe their wishes for you and cast them into a body of water – which is also where the phrase ‘set in stone’ comes from! Traditionally you would hold the stone and think of your wishes for the couple before throwing them into the water, but in 2023 writing your wishes in water-proof marker and placing them in a gorgeous bowl does the job just as well and means the couple can take away the wishes afterwards as a keepsake. Plus, my feet stay dry!

In 2022 a wonderful couple decided on a tree planting ceremony. We took soil from both of their parent’s gardens, up-cycled an treasured antique trowel and planted a beautiful rose bush in a personalised planter. The soil signified the nourishment offered from each family and the roses were a wish for their marriage to be sweet. This was a wonderful way to involve loved ones and each time they look at their roses they can see their love thriving.

 A mid-ceremony toast

Alcohol is allowed during celebrant weddings and it can be a really special way to join everyone together to toast the future of the happy couple.

 I tend to offer my couples the option of a ‘Sip and Save’, where friends and family are offered the favourite tipple of the bride and groom on entry to the ceremony and encouraged to take a sip and save the rest for after the vows, where we raise a toast to their new lives together. Not only is it a great way to get everyone involved it can be a fantastic photo opportunity of the newly-weds turning to toast their loved ones and each other. Some couples have opted to have the favourite drink of a family member who is no longer with us near the couple so they can still raise a glass, especially for a parent or grandparent.

Telling your love story

 Your love story is precious and putting it at the heart of your ceremony will give your guests an insight into why you are perfect for each other. Many of them might know you as individuals and this is a wonderful way to give them an insight into your lives together and get to know you as a couple. Get to know your celebrant before the ceremony and share funny or heart-warming stories from your relationship to add a really personal touch to proceedings or invite friends and family to share their stories of you as a couple. This could be anything from the story of how you met, an anecdote from your first holiday together or even the origins of a pet name, your guests will be laughing and crying in equal measure. 

Creating a new tradition

Every tradition has to start somewhere and by incorporating a unique detail that can be passed down through generations you can ensure that your love story will be told throughout the generations. Love Jo couples have been inspired by historic customs and added a modern twist to create something completely new, such as each taking a sip of a gin and tonic, the drink from their first date, rather than the traditional whisky (the drink of life) or built in an element of their story into something which can be passed down to their children and grand-children. A great example of this was a couple who created sand art from the two beaches where they grew up, this could then be added to be each generation to come. 

Mary and Dave asked Jo to be their celebrant when they were married at Wylam Brewery in Newcastle upon Tyne in September 2022. Speaking about their big day they said, “We knew what a registrar ceremony, and a religious/church wedding looks like. When we spoke to Jo neither of us had been to a celebrant ceremony before.  It was so exciting to hear all her ideas and experiences. Our love story ran through the whole ceremony, and Jo does a wonderful job of sharing that with your guests. We particularly liked being able to involve our friends and family in surprising and unusual ways, and having some surprise elements for us on the day too!”

For more information and to contact Love Jo Ceremonies visit

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