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  • Writer's pictureLisa Flahant

Real life wedding: Jake and Kathy

Updated: Nov 27, 2019

Jake and Kathy’s wedding celebration was at Cotna Eco Retreat on Saturday 7 September 2019...

Vegan wedding on a Cornish hillside with Celebrant in Cornwall
All photos courtesy of Mandy Donneky 07903 154444

…and what a blissful day it was!

After contacting me via The Celebrant Directory, and some initial email conversation, I was delighted to have my first meeting with Jake and Kathy at the venue for their celebration, Cotna Eco Retreat, on the south coast of Cornwall not far from Mevagissey. Cotna is a truly unique and special place, tucked away in a hidden valley of 12 acres, overlooking beautiful orchards, woodland and extensive organic veggie gardens.

Home to Jake’s dad Dave and step-Mum Sara, Cotna attracts many travellers and visitors looking to re-connect with the elements – the retreat produces green solar and wind energy, the water supply is from a natural spring supplying pure Cornish spring-water, they use their own wood, recycle through compost bins and eco compost loos and produce the most delicious organic fruit and vegetables.

Food plays a big part in this couple’s lives – Jake is in the restaurant business, and so it was not a surprise that our meetings revolved around eating, as well as talking… but I didn’t anticipate that Jake and Kathy would cook me lunch at our very first encounter! And with nearly all of the produce was from the land at Cotna, I was greatly impressed. This gave me my very first insight into this couple – thoughtful, kind and generous to the core.

Jake and Kathy wanted a ceremony that was inclusive, personal and light-hearted. They had decided to have their legal ceremony in their hometown of Brighton a month in advance of their wedding celebration at Cotna. Uncertain of what a celebrant-led wedding could offer them, they were keen to explore all the options, and I was delighted to present them with all the ideas, encouragement and support they felt they needed.

Having got to know them better, I then took great pleasure in devising their totally bespoke ceremony; a wonderful couple, they had a beautiful history, full of love, positivity and strength. I aimed to capture their energy, the influences of those around them, and their unique tale from meeting, to first date, to the proposal - and how they grew to become the person with whom they each ultimately chose to spend the rest of their lives.

As the weekend of the ceremony approached, Jake, Kathy and many friends and family arrived early to organise the venue. A stunning tipi was hired and tables adorned beautifully with cuttings from the garden along with eco-friendly soya candles, and the ceremony location was created with the most stunning arch of wild flowers, with covered hay bales and Cornish hydrangeas adorning the pathways. Everything had a highly personal touch – not a planner or florist in sight here! Which did mean that methodical Jake and creative Kathy were organising everything until literally the last minute – but of course, they took it completely in their stride.

After the guests had enjoyed pre-ceremony drinks, accompanied by delicious panipuri, they were escorted on a picturesque walk to the ceremony venue. It really was a sight to watch friends and family arrive arm in arm and hand in hand on the hillside. And then after her bridesmaids, Kathy walked up the aisle, on the arm of her proud father Mark; it was a mesmerising moment.

As part of the ceremony, Jake and Kathy had opted for ‘secret’ readings; this meant they knew WHO they wanted to read, but wanted the reading itself to be a surprise! Jake’s mother, Jo, spoke first, and she chose a piece she had read with Jake when he was small boy, “Oh the places you’ll go!” by Dr Seuss, cleverly edited to reflect the great adventure Jake and Kathy were about to embark on. This was so distinctive and personal, it resulted in many tears from the captivated guests and our reader alike! The second reading was by Kathy’s sister, Jenny. She chose “A Lovely Love Story” by Edward Monkton and modified it to reflect the personality quirks and idiosyncrasies of Jake and Kathy! And on this occasion, there was much laughter all round.

The other highlights of the ceremony included the beautifully read vows by the couple, followed by the most joyful handfasting. Jake and Kathy chose nine coloured ribbons to represent the qualities of their marriage and asked members of their family to place them over their wrists, before they were eventually bound together. Even Kathy’s 2 and a half year old niece was involved in ‘tying the knot’ and it was a genuinely inclusive moment. Jake’s sibling, Charlie, then assisted with the exchanging of the wedding rings, and it was eventually my great pleasure to present the happy couple to their family and friends, for an afternoon and evening of further celebrations.

As mindful and eco-conscious as ever, the couple’s wedding breakfast was a stunning Keralan banquet of vegan dishes - plus everything from the banquet was either recyclable or compostable. Guests then danced the night away under the stars, to the wonderful world folk music of 3 Daft Monkeys, and it was the early hours when everyone eventually retired and headed off to bed in their yurts and tents.

I received this email, after Jake and Kathy returned from their honeymoon:

Thank you so much for last weekend! We had THE best day, it was absolutely perfect from start to finish and it really wouldn't have been the same without your wonderful ceremony. You got it absolutely spot on - how personal and inclusive it was, and the balance between sentiment and humour.
Pretty much every single person came up to us at some point to say it's the best ceremony they've ever been to. We honestly can't thank you enough for all of your help and organisation throughout all the planning and on the day - we're still in a cloud of euphoria!

This was such a special ceremony for me. I loved that I was able to involve so many of the couple’s family in the ceremony. I loved how personal it all felt. I loved the ethos, the environment and the spirit of this wedding. In short, I felt that I was quite at home with my tribe. I don’t think celebrations like this come along very often, so I will savour this one for a long while yet…

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