Everybody knows that I like to travel and explore and so I jumped at the opportunity to conduct a wedding ceremony on the beautiful island of Madeira. The couple contacted me in a panic as the Celebrant they had reserved for the wedding had let them down. They had booked the stunning wedding venue, Casa Velho, just outside Funchal.
So the first job was to create them the perfect wedding ceremony. The Groom was from the UK and the Bride was from Taiwan. They didn’t want a religious ceremony but wanted to incorporate the traditions from each country and to ensure that their friends and family felt part of the service. So research started on Taiwanese wedding traditions and with the help and advice of the Brides parents we decided to design the Giving of Gifts into the ceremony. After the Vows but before the exchange of rings, the Brides parents stepped forward to offer gifts to the couple, as a symbol of their love and desire to have a completed and balanced life.
For the Bride the gift was a Jade necklace. Jade represents beauty, grace and purity. It is as valuable as gold, but as the Chinese saying goes, gold has value; jade is invaluable. The Bride’s mother placed the necklace on the Bride. For the Groom the gift, offered by the Bride’s father, was a stone bracelet. Both the necklace and bracelet are circular and represent completeness, wishing the couple a full and complete life. It was such a touching moment when the Brides mother put the necklace on her.
Now let me tell you about the venue, Casa Velho. Perched high up on the cliff side (everything in Madeira is on a cliff side!!) the views were amazing. It is a stunning country hotel, nestled amongst award winning gardens and within a 5* Golf resort. The staff were amazing, really friendly, helpful and relaxed. The ceremony was set up in the gardens in front of the main hotel building and a classical duo were organised to play the music as the Bride arrived.
For this wedding the couple had chosen this location just for the ceremony, after which they were all moving into Funchal for the wedding dinner and party. However from chatting with the hotel staff, they are fully equipped to manage the whole wedding for you.
I always like to arrive early to a ceremony to ensure everything is in place. This gave me the great opportunity to explore some of the stunning gardens. OK… I didn’t take the photo of the bride running through the gardens… but it gives you a good idea!! Before and after the ceremony, the guests were given free reign to explore as well, which gave a great touch to the wedding.
I loved Madeira and would jump at the chance of conducting more wedding ceremonies there, and so am planning on returning to check out more venues and explore a little further. If you get an opportunity to visit this great island…. take your walking shoes… it is VERY hilly!!
UPDATE…. NOVEMBER 2014
From that first wedding my life has taken quite a turn. I loved Madeira so much on that initial trip that I have now moved here and have expanded my business to incorporate planning as well as conducting ceremonies.