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  • Writer's pictureAll Things Beautiful


Why opting for a symbolic wedding ceremony is the best decision you’ll make.


First things first:


A symbolic wedding ceremony, also known as humanist wedding - is a type of ceremony that focuses on the promise partners makes to each other. This type of ceremony is a beautiful way to frame the vows in the most personal way possible, without having to worry about all the formalities a civil ceremony requires.

[read more about R&T's Vogue featured wedding on the Amalfi Coast here]


Most of the Destination Weddings you see on your Instagram, Pinterest, and wedding blogs are in fact, symbolic ceremonies.

According to the wedding industry statistics, up to 85% of destination weddings have symbolic ceremonies

You might be wondering why that is…

The reason is pretty simple actually, it allows the couple to focus on what really matters - celebrating the love between the two of them, in the way that feels the most authentic to them. It allows for the exchange of the vows to take place in some of the most breathtaking locations, where the designated government official wouldn’t necessarily be able to officiate.

[Speaking of breathtaking locations - you can find ATB's curated venues selection in Greece here & a list of some of our favorite venues in Puglia, Italy here]

[read about the details of H&D's symbolic wedding ceremony setup here]

When it comes to the ceremony itself, unlike in other elements of your destination wedding event, you really have to consider the human factor.

The fact that your caterer has, let’s say, dry sense of humor doesn’t affect the dinner served, but if your officiant lacks charisma… well, that might seriously affect one of the most important moments of your wedding.

The government official assigned to officiate your wedding might be a lovely person, but marrying people is just one of the many tasks on their list of duties. Do you really want to risk a stranger (or two, because you’ll likely need a translator) to recite to you your legal obligations? Way to kill the romance, *queue the horror music*.

symbolic wedding ceremony at La Foce in Tuscany - destination wedding planner Magdalena All Things Beautiful - photography La Dichosa
S&J's symbolic wedding ceremony officiated by their dear friends | wedding planning & art direction: All Things Beautiful Photography: La Dichosa

Isn’t it better to leave this job in the capable hands of a professional?

An Officiant is a person who lives and breathes weddings. They are someone who will make sure your ceremony is beautifully worded and delivered.

You can go even further - if you are not in a mood to have a stranger present during this intimate moment, a symbolic ceremony allows you to choose someone close to the two of you to officiate. A relative? A close friend? It’s entirely up to you.

rosie lai wedding amalfi coast - vogue wedding - wedding planner all things beautiful - photo la dichosa
R&T's symbolic wedding ceremony was officiated by the groom's uncle who married his parents 40 years prior

How to find a symbolic wedding officiant?

This is where your experienced destination wedding planner comes in.

You are perhaps still thinking - but why can’t I just have it done in one go? 

I am not saying that choosing a civil ceremony for your destination wedding is a bad idea. I’m only asking: is your wedding really the day when you want to compromise for the sake of convenience?

Symbolic ceremony frees your wedding day from the, sometimes unnecessary, formalities.

You might be thinking now:

Hold on now! formalities are important! If it wasn’t for these formalities, we wouldn’t be legally married! symbolic ceremony doesn’t feel real because we won’t be *really* married.

I am not saying the formalities are not important. The act of signing the legal documents is what makes you a married couple in the eyes of the law, but is the signing of the proverbial paper what getting married is really about?

Lisbon destination wedding - luxury wedding planner all things beautiful - photography couplet photo
D&C symbolic wedding in Lisbon | planning & art direction: All Things Beautiful | Photography: Couplet Photo

I like to use a driving test analogy here. Odd, I know, but it will make sense in a moment, I promise.

Do you remember the day you passed your driving test? I remember it like it was yesterday. I was so happy and excited, I immediately called all my friends and family to share the good news. Do you know what I shouted to my phone? I'm a driver!

Was I allowed to drive a car immediately? No. I needed to wait 3 weeks until I received the actual document. But to me, I became a driver the second my instructor said: congratulations, you have passed the exam. I assume it was similar for you, am I right? Did your proud friends and family members wait with their congratulations until you received the document itself?

I think not! Because, to both you and them, passing the test was the essence of it. You did it, and that was the reason to celebrate. 

Symbolic wedding ceremony focuses on just that - the very essence of what getting married is about: the two of you declaring your love and commitment to one another, in front of your closest friends and families. I don’t think it can get anymore *real* than that, do you?

Ask yourself this - if the main reason behind a wedding is its legal consequences, why don’t we all just go to the courthouse and call it a day? Because there is so much more to getting married, and humanist wedding ceremony allows you to choose the very best way to frame your vows.

real wedding in Puglia - symbolic wedding ceremony in the olive grove - wedding planner all things beautiful - photography adriana morais
H&T's symbolic wedding ceremony in the olive grove in Puglia | wedding planning & art direction: All Things Beautiful photography: Adriana Morais

And what about the legal aspect? I advise my couples to head to the courthouse before they embark on their destination wedding journey. It’s a great way to prep for the big day and perhaps celebrate with those who won’t be able to travel abroad for various reasons. It doesn’t have to be big - a dinner at your favorite restaurant or even just a drink in a bar - whatever feels the most *you* is exactly what you should do.

Head to ATB's contact form and I'll take it from there!

I can't wait to hear from you!

xo, Magdalena


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