When it comes to romance, a Christmas wedding takes some beating. We were about to explain why a marriage ceremony and the festive season meshed so wonderfully well when we read the introduction to Reverend Mark Lawson-Jones’s book “Why was the Partridge in the Pear Tree?: The History of Christmas Carols”.
Here, he described officiating at the wedding of a couple in South Wales the week before Christmas. Snow lay on the ground. Celebrations of Christmas were intertwined with those of a joyous union. He wondered why more couples didn’t choose to marry at this time of year, pointing out: “All the elements for a successful day were present: family, friends, food and drink. The Christmas Carols really set the scene and made the day even more special as the couple started their married life together.” As we love Christmas so much, we are in complete agreement. Noel nuptials deliver delight at the double.
A Trio of Trees
Picture three Christmas trees in a row at the wedding reception, perhaps in the hall where guests arrive or possibly on a dais behind the top table. One tree represents the bride, one represents the groom and the third represents the new Mr. & Mrs.
Each tree should have a delightful array of beautiful baubles to match the colour scheme for the day, along with twinkling white lights. But the bride’s tree should also hold decorations that encapsulate her passions and pastimes, along with small sprays of her favourite flowers. Hang ornate photo frame decorations from the branches, each containing a picture of the bride. Some can be from childhood, others from her teenage years and a few from the adult phase of her life. This picture theme can be replicated on the groom’s tree. It should also feature decorations that represent his hobbies and history – maybe something marking his favourite sports team or the school/college/university he attended.
And so to the union tree: this is tree number three, the central tree, the biggest tree. Decorate it with lights and a tree-topping star, along with a few more photo frames and beautiful flowers to match the bride’s bouquet and groom’s buttonhole bloom. This time the pictures should be of the couple in their courting days. Leave plenty of branches empty. On a side table near the trio of trees pile a selection of simple Christmas cards, all of a theme. They could be personalised with photographs of the happy couple. Perhaps they could be gilt-edged with a beautiful dove motif on the front; perhaps the cards could match the invitations or place cards. Put a crystal bowl of gold or silver Christmas card pegs on the table alongside an instruction card that asks each guest to write a personal message to the couple and attach it to the tree. The cards can be collected and read after the reception. The same principal can be applied to baubles. The decorations used must be solid enough to resist being handled and written on, plus have a large enough space on which to leave a message. Gold ink on red matt baubles or silver ink on white snowflakes will work well. Whatever the choice of decoration here, however, the key to the union tree is that it reflects glowingly on the newlyweds and delivers them joy.
Christmas & Weddings in Perfect Union
There are numerous ideas you can pull from the Christmas season to incorporate in your wedding. Here’s a selection we love:
- Have personalised baubles made for each guest to serve as their ‘place card’. If the guest numbers are too unwieldy, perhaps have the personalised baubles made for everyone on the top table, the bridesmaids and ushers.
- Employ a local choral group to serenade guests with beautiful Christmas music. If there are new guests arriving for an evening reception, have the singing group split up and mingle. Decide on a cue for one of them to start singing at a random point, mid-conversation. Then another singer can join in, followed by another until all the choir come together to complete the song. It will bring the house down.
- Use white lights and candlelight in abundance to create that special wintry glow. Wrap white lights around garlands to frame windows.
- Project Christmas images, like stars or snowflakes, onto the dance floor, walls and ceiling with clever use of light and stencils.
- Incorporate a shimmering design of snowflakes or mistletoe berries into the wedding gown and/or bridesmaids’ dresses.
- Use bunches of baby’s breath dipped in silver glitter to help create a winter setting.
- Use white branches in white pots as centrepieces. Hang tea-lights from them and also orchid petals tied in a chain by white twine to create a falling snowflake effect. Alternatively, hang tiny foil-wrapped chocolates from the branches for guests to unhook and eat. Any dramatic white centrepieces will help create a snow-covered forest theme.
- If you want to add traditional Christmas reds and greens into your scheme, use masses of red roses as centrepieces in tall vases. Stand candles in bowls or hurricane lamps filled with red berries and evergreens. Have pomegranates, grapes and apples cascading from burgundy bowls.
- Decorate the backs of chairs at the ceremony or reception with festive berries, greenery & baubles.
- Offer Christmas cocktails as well as Champagne on arrival at the reception.
- Offer mini mince pies with coffee after dinner instead of mint chocolates.
- Wrap white napkins in red ribbon and attach a jewel-effect buckle to resemble Santa’s belt.
- At each table, hang a Christmas stocking from the back of one chair containing a party favour for each guest. Put their names on each present – or for even more fun make it a lucky dip.
- Have personalised Christmas crackers instead of place cards. Consider having a giant cracker for each table filled with party favours.
- Employ Father Christmas to deliver presents to the children in attendance. He can also be in charge of the guest book and encourage adult guests to sign it. In return, they can get a Christmas photo with the big man.
- Decorate the trio of trees as outlined earlier – ensuring the third tree is filled with cards carrying personal messages from guests. This works as an alternative to a guest book.
- Wrap chocolates shaped as snowflakes, stars or Christmas characters in festive cellophane, attach a tag and ribbon. Use instead of place cards – and they double up as party favours.
- If the wedding is taking place in a snowy climate, consider a horse drawn sleigh to take the bride to the ceremony.
- Buy the bridesmaids white fluffy slippers and dressing gowns to wear as they get ready for the ceremony and to keep warm in the chill of winter.
- Consider faux fur wraps for the bridesmaids to complement their dresses and keep the winter winds at bay.
- The happy couple can capture one perfect moment on camera, perhaps in front of a Christmas tree or in a snow-covered scene outside, and make it their photograph for the front of next year’s Christmas card.
- Make turtledoves a key theme at the wedding. Turtledoves come in pairs. Perhaps have a presentation of beautiful porcelain ornaments to the married couple. If the bride owns one and the groom the other, it is a sign of love and friendship that will last forever.
- Take the turtledoves idea a step further and embrace the theme “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. This will test your creativity. You could have pear trees dotted around the room bearing chocolate pears and ornamental, glass-blown partridges. Serve a choice of three cordon bleu chicken dishes on the dinner menu for your three French hens. Dangle five gold rings from the centrepiece arrangement, illuminated by tea-light candles. Ask nine of your best female friends to provide a surprise routine for the reception and become the nine ladies dancing. Get 11 members of your family to pipe just one swirl of icing on just one small tier of your wedding cake. Take a picture of each one in action. Here are the 11 pipers piping. You get the notion.
When Wedding Gifts Make Christmas
Stick to the wedding gifts list if you want to, but if you prefer to think outside the box…buy a box. Fill it with beautiful Christmas tree ornaments and the couple will have their own ‘starter’ set as they begin life together. You could also buy a personalised bauble carrying their names and the day of their nuptials.
Songs of Love
Anyone planning a wedding knows one of the keys to setting the tone for the ceremony is music. The tune for the bride’s entrance is crucial, so too the music that accompanies the bride and groom’s exit. In between, will it be solo harp or a string quartet or music played through an MP3 player? If it’s a church wedding, will there be a choir or hymns sung only by the gathered guests? And what hymns should be sung? What hymns will people know? A Christmas wedding can take at least some of those issues out of play. Christmas carols can be sung at the church service – and everyone knows the most popular carols. “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” are rousing belters, while “Ding Dong Merrily on High” could hardly be more uplifting. A sublime tune like “There is No Rose of Such Virtue” could work perfectly as entrance music and anything from “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day” to “Joy to the World” could work to celebrate the bride and groom’s walk down the aisle as a married couple. Come the reception, Nat King Cole’s Christmas album includes a track simply perfect for a wedding smooch. It’s entitled “Nature Boy” and has the magnificent line: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”
Elf Helper: Take a look at our Christmas Television page to see how weddings and Christmas are so delightfully and humorously intertwined in the classic BBC comedy series “The Vicar of Dibley”.