Francesca & Alex | Bilingual at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat Saison

Francesca and Alex were married in an outdoor ceremony at
Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat Saison near Oxford
on Sunday 3rd June 2018

…and it was a multi-cultural affair, to say the least!

When Francesca met Alex in 2012, settling in to a new life in a new country was not unfamiliar to her story. Only a few years before this, Fran had left her family in Italy in search of a new life in Oxford, where she learned to speak English before completing her degree and moving to Aberdeen where she now worked and lived.

But little did she know that her life was about to move across oceans once again, this time in pursuit of love!

Alex lived and worked in his native home of Edmonton, Canada, and so for the first 3 years of their relationship they endured a long distance love set apart across two continents. It certainly made for some interesting new methods of dating, as they tuned into Skype daily to sit with one another at meal times, face to face across a computer screen – one person eating dinner, whilst the other munched on breakfast; or else sometimes simply relaxed together on their individual couches watching a film ‘side by side’ – laptop to laptop.

It was not always easy, as you can no doubt imagine! But it does mean that Fran and Alex have now come to appreciate the time that they do share together even more than most.

Three years after that first meeting, Fran finally packed up her bags once and for all and left her home in Scotland to be with Alex permanently in Canada, where the couple now live. But in doing so, she took herself even further away from her close family back in Italy, and so this wedding was not just a celebration of Fran’s and Alex’s love, it was also recognition of the lengths that they had gone to for the success of their relationship, and the coming together of their two families for the first time and in one place at last.

“Oh my goodness, Samantha, I have just read the first draft you’ve sent us and I am sooo emotional!!! It is perfect!! I really love it. Thank you sooo much!!!! I still have goose bumps as I am typing this message to you!! I really love the ceremony you have written for us!! It strikes the perfect balance: it is extremely meaningful without being heavy and it truly reflects who we are. Thank you!!!!”

But for me as their celebrant, this is where things really got interesting. You guessed it – Francesca’s family do not speak a word of English! That is except for one cousin, the very lovely Maria-Teresa who, with Fran’s careful help, became our translator for the afternoon.

Fran, Alex and I worked together to write a ceremony that truly encapsulated their love and the origins of their story. But it was Fran herself who worked even harder, translating the whole service and all four readings into Italian as well, so that Maria-Theresa could help me share their story with everyone who attended on the day.

The ceremony itself took place in Oxford, where Fran had first learned to speak English (thus beginning her journey to finding Alex!) in Raymond Blanc’s exquisite French-inspired chateaux, hotel and restaurant venue, Le Belmond Manoir aux Quait Saison.  We stood half indoors allowing the guests to spill out into the garden as the sun shone brightly down upon us. It was simply divine.

Fran and Alex chose to keep their ceremony simple and traditional, with an exchange of vows and accompanying wedding rings, plus a certificate signing to include the Best Man and Maid of Honour. Fran chose three readings, which were all read out by different friends and family members in both Italian and again in English, and her Italian Aunt read out a personal prayer which she had written in honour of Fran and Alex’s love and the role that the Roman Catholic Church will play in their marriage.

After the ceremony, guests mingled with strawberry lemonade and glasses of champagne whilst photos were taken with the bride and groom (which in Italy, means that everyone gets a go posing with Fran and Alex!) Italian cousins giggled and took selfies with Scottish friends who had travelled down to wear their kilts proudly, and the Canadians waved their arms expertly with exaggerated flair, in an attempt to make conversation with their new foreign relatives. Everyone smiled, laughed, clapped and threw their arms around each other in an expression of joy, appreciation and togetherness, regardless of language.

Samantha, we are just starting our honeymoon but I just had to send you a note to say thank you celebrating our marriage in such a fantastic ceremony on Sunday! Everyone loved it! Even my father (and trust me when I say that’s a pretty fantastic compliment!!) My mum LOVED YOU!! Not only for the beautiful ceremony you wrote for us but also for the way you delivered it. Alex and I were so happy we chose you for our celebrant, you really made it special for us!!

I had such a wonderful time sharing this day with Fran and Alex. The friendliness and warmth of them both shone out in every email they sent in the lead up to their day, and our fun catch ups over Skype always left us laughing for hours after. So much so, that when Fran and I finally met face to face on the day of her wedding, the make up artist thought that we were old friends from long ago, so tight was our hug!!

Fran and Alex, I wish you all the best for your life together – now permanently side by side, without need to time a dinner with a FaceTime ever again!
Auguri… to you both, and all my love xx

Thank you to Barker Evans for the glorious photography.
A pleasure as always to work with you both!

For more information about having Samantha as your Wedding Celebrant
Twitter: @SamanthaKelsie
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Nathalie & Anthony | Family Ceremony at Lake Lungern, Switzerland

Nathalie and Anthony celebrated their marriage with a combined wedding ceremony, family blessing and naming ceremony for their sons at Lake Lungern in Switzerland on
Thursday 2nd August 2018.

Living in Switzerland and being of dual-nationality, Lake Lungern proved to be the perfect location for Nathalie and Anthony to escape their home in the city and embrace a week-long celebration with family and friends in the mountains; all of whom had travelled in from the UK, France and Switzerland to join them.

“Welcome to the commune!”

…were the words I heard as I made my way up the drive to Bruder Klaus Haus, our residence for the next few days, and the location for the ceremony as well. It could not have been more appropriate a description…

EVERY last person was busy preparing for the big day itself, and each one with a great big grin on their face too. In every direction friends were busy either pruning flowers and crafting decorations; stringing up paper lanterns and laying the tables; or else assisting with the great big communal lunch that was about to be served, and minding the children… and my word, there were a lot of children! 

It was a hands-on affair for sure, but the bubbly was flowing and it was clear to see that everybody wanted to play a part in making this celebration so memorable; and they did.

The next morning followed with a sunrise over the mountains, and after a swim in the lake it was time for the wedding. Guests gathered together in the shade along with the company of a local cat, and we waited for our bride to arrive with her dad. Nathalie had spent her childhood years playing all summer long in Lungern village with her brother, going on long walks in the mountains, and swimming in the crystal clear water next to her parents’ cabin. It was an incredibly nostalgic day, as we were able to share her childhood holiday home with so many of her friends and with Anthony’s family too.

The order of the day was ‘colour’ and Nathalie certainly didn’t disappoint in her choice of outfit – she looked utterly resplendent in a bold jewel coloured two piece with leopard print accessories. This was definitely one of the brightest weddings of the summer for me, and a good excuse to adorn myself with hair flowers! We even giggled together over our matching sparkly nail polishes!

The ceremony began, and we shared the story of how Nathalie and Anthony had first met over 20 years ago in London. It was a tale full of cheekiness and laughter, but accentuated with the honest and endearing sentiments that they had shared with me during in our first meeting over Skype. After 20 years, N&A had certainly been on a journey through life together, and had learnt so much along the way. It was wonderful to reflect on the changes that had inspired their growth as a couple, and to look back on the moments that have now shaped them both as individuals too.

Part of that journey included the welcome arrival of their two gorgeous sons, so we were keen to involve them in the blessing. Eldest son, Leon, helped with binding the hand fasting chord around his parents’ hands, before Nathalie and Anthony read out their personally written marriage vows, and exchanged their wedding rings. It was a very special moment as Leon tied the chord and then held it up proudly for everyone to see! The four colours chosen for the ribbons represented each member of the family, bound together now as one.

After the marriage blessing, we took a quick break (for more bubbly!) and then returned to the clearing for the next part of the service – Leon and Etienne’s Naming Ceremony.

This time, we shared stories of Leon and Etienne’s journeys so far, and the qualities of their character that make them both so unique. We discussed the origins of their names and the bond they share as brothers; before each chosen ‘Guide Parent’ gave an individual reading telling of their own commitment to the role they now play in the boys’ lives as well.

It was an incredibly emotional moment in the ceremony, as each Guide Parent declared their love for the two boys, and made a promise to share in the life of them all as a family. There were a lot of tears and hugs shared throughout!

At the end of the service, everybody gathered for the final symbolic ceremony of the day – a sand blending.

True to form, it involved lots of colour too, as Nathalie and Anthony, Leon and Etienne, and all four guide parents were assigned a bottle of brightly coloured sand, which were then all poured into one great big hour glass together.

The 8 layers of coloured sand symbolise how all eight people have been joined together forever in this moment, and each year on the anniversary of their ceremony Nathalie, Anthony, and the boys will turn the hour glass once again.

With every year that passes, the  eight coloured sands will continue to blend more intricately, and the pattern inside will become more complex, and more beautiful; just as their relationships will continue to evolve, and the bond between them all will grow stronger with every new memory that is shared…

Congratulations to Nathalie and Anthony, Leon and Etienne!

With a great big thank you and full photography credit to Mindy Coe Photography for the use of these images, which I am sure you will agree are just a little bit marvellous!

Follow the links to find out more about the different types of ceremony that Samantha offers, or get in touch to find out how you can have Samantha join you for your destination wedding abroad!




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Laura and Nicky | Destination Wedding in Croatia

Laura and Nicky celebrated their blessing of marriage on the beautiful Croatian island of Brac on Wednesday 14th June 2017

… and, oh my, what a treat it was, too!

I absolutely adore an intimate wedding, but a small and intimate gathering in a tranquil little Croatian village… well what could be more perfect?

Laura and Nicky made a conscious decision to hold a very small gathering indeed – just 16 guests in total, including the bride and groom! They invited their absolute nearest and dearest relations, plus a tiny few friends, to join them for a week away in the sunshine… with a little wedding thrown in for good measure.

All of the guests had travelled from the same little town in Scotland where Laura and Nicky grew up, with the exception of Laura and Nicky themselves – they now live in London.

This was one of the reasons why they had decided to take their family away for the week. Family is hugely important to them both, and by getting married abroad they had found an opportunity to spend some extended holiday time with everyone together.

They hired a large luxury villa in Pucisca called The White House, where they could accommodate the whole wedding party for the duration of their visit, and we held the ceremony on the terrace in the early morning sunshine, alongside the pool.

It felt almost quite the risk only being able to rely on pictures before their visit to plan the day, but the villa turned out to be just perfect! It was cosy, yet specious; welcoming, yet free from bother.

The bride and groom, and their guests had the whole place to themselves for the week with self-catering accommodation, so they were able to really feel at home when preparing for the ceremony.

They stocked the fridge full of fresh fruits and Prosecco, and the girls set to work making paper pompoms between sunbathing sessions, whilst the lads were given the task of stringing them up around the pool before heading to the town to pick up fresh cherries and pizza!

Destination Wedding in Brac Island Croatia Destination Wedding in Brac Island Croatia Destination Wedding in Brac Island Croatia

We held the ceremony in front of an incredible backdrop of mountains that came together to frame Pucisca’s Harbour, with mainland Croatia sat silently in the background underneath a pure blue sky…

…it was just divine!

Laura and Nicky’s service was incredibly sweet and sentimental. We had spent a few hours together back in London over brunch one Sunday, discussing their relationship and the story of how they got together.

The service included anecdotes and details of their story, and had us all giggling over Laura and Nicky’s humorous approach to love. It was incredible personal, and I’d really come to know my couple so well by the time we reached the wedding day!

Destination Wedding in Brac Island Croatia Destination Wedding in Brac Island Croatia Destination Wedding in Brac Island Croatia

A an adapted reading of ‘The Lovely Dinosaur’ was given by Laura’s bridesmaid and best friend, Stephanie…. it has us all in both tears and stitches with it’s references to Laura’s love of hiphop music!

Laura and Nicky had decided to write their own wedding vows, but the thought of reading them out loud made the bride feel incredibly nervous.

We met together the day before the wedding to have a little rehearsal, and Laura shared with me her fears of speaking the words that meant so much to her on the day.  Together, we sat on the balcony and practised her reading. It was tough, and tearful, and I’d promised to step in if she needed me to, but I knew she could do it…

Destination Wedding in Brac Island Croatia Destination Wedding in Brac Island Croatia Destination Wedding in Brac Island Croatia

…and on the day…. deep breath, big gulp of air… take your time…. she made it!

It was one of the most beautiful moments of the ceremony, knowing how difficult Laura had found it to express herself, and knowing that she had done it all by herself in the moment just made it all the more magical.

Next up came the exchanging of wedding rings. Since it was such a small gathering, we decided to make this moment even more personal by including a ring warming ceremony.

The rings were placed in their pretty Tiffany pouch and passed from guest to guest as we listened to Perry Como singing Catch a Falling Star on the speaker by the pool. This song held a lot of significance to Nicky’s mother – it was an emotional moment for the whole family, and one which was cherished by them all.

Destination Wedding in Brac Island Croatia Destination Wedding in Brac Island Croatia

After the ceremony, we grabbed the confetti and bottles of bubbly and headed up to the roof top terrace, where we showered the bride and groom with petals and cheers of joy and congratulations underneath the glorious Mediterranean sun!

Destination Wedding in Brac Island Croatia

Once all the champagne had been finished, everyone took to the steps and we began a descent down into the Brac village of Pucisca…

Destination Wedding in Brac Island Croatia

Walking through the village with Laura and Nicky was such an incredible experience – local people clapped and cheered and yelled out their blessings as we passed by them in restaurants and sidewalks.

The sun shone bright and the water in the harbour twinkled at our toes. It could not have been more idyllic!

Destination Wedding in Brac Island Croatia

Finally, the bride and groom and their wedding party boarded the boat that was waiting for them in the harbour, ready to take them off to the next part of their day – a private dinner party in a Dalmatian vineyard on the southern side of Brac Island.

I waved off my couple and blew kisses from the quay side, then headed back to the village to have some lunch of my own and a glass of Dalmatian Wine, before a quick explore of the town…

…well, when in Croatia!

Destination Wedding in Brac Island Croatia

I’d like to wish a huge congratulations to gorgeous couple Laura and Nicky for planning such a perfect destination wedding in Croatia. The whole celebration was simply sensational, and it was a joy to have been a part of it.

Huge thanks to photographer Dalibora Bijelic ( for being such a wonderful person to work with, and for assisting Laura and Nicky so much with help and advice whilst planning their wedding in Croatia. All photos in this post are courtesy of Dalibora Bijelic.

Thank you also to Karlo of Capture Pi ( videography for this stunning video of the day as well…. (Please note the beautiful Scottish tones are that of bridesmaid Stephanie, reading The Lovely Dinosaur on Laura and Nicky’s special day).

For more information about how to get married abroad, or to plan your destination wedding blessing with Samantha, visit our page Destination Weddings or contact Samantha direct to discuss your plans and ideas:

Weddings Abroad Guide Destination Wedding Directory MemberPhone: 07783 141 202
Twitter: @SamanthaKelsie
Instagram: @SamanthaKelsie

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Laura and Nicky’s Wedding Film by Capture Pi

Nicky and Laura celebrated their destination wedding in Croatia on the gorgeous island of Brac, on Wednesday 14th June 2017.

Fourteen of their closest family members and friends joined together with them and me in a truly breathtaking ceremony which took place infront of a backdrop that could make your jaw drop! There were tears and laughter, and high emotions right the way through.

The party then journied on foot through the streets of Pučišća to make their way towards the boat that was waiting to take them onwards to enjoy the rest of their day.

Wedding in Croatia Capture Pi videographer brac wedding film

The day before the wedding, Laura and Nicky visited the highest point in the Croatian Islands to watch the sunset over the sea. Their videographer, Karlo Cargonja from Capture Pi has captured this moment just perfectly, and the story of their ceremony and onwards journey, which I’m so delighted to be bringing to you in this short wedding clip below.

Thank you so much to Capture Pi for sharing this moment, and to Laura and Nicky for involving me as their celebrant on this most brilliant of days. The voiceover adaption of ‘The Lovely Dinosaur’ is being read by their fabulous bridesmaid, Stephanie. Stay posted to my blog for the full story and photos of Laura and Nicky’s Wedding in Croatia to follow soon…

laura & nicky // wedding shorts from CapturePi on Vimeo.

Claire and Dave's Intimate Garden Surprise Wedding Ceremony in Beaconsfield Samantha Kelsie Celebrant

Claire and Dave | Secret Garden Wedding

I first Skyped with Claire and Dave back in January this year. I was visiting Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, at the time, and they were at home in Boston, USA. We discussed their plans for an intimate and informal surprise wedding ceremony, to be held in Beaconsfield, England.

A few months later, we Skyped again. This time, I was back home in London, finishing my lunch, and they were perched ready with dressing gowns on and large coffees in hand, up early before the working day began over in America.

Several Skype meetings and a heap of emails sent at all times of day and night later, we had a plan… and we had a ceremony! Claire and Dave were ready to travel for the US and get married in England. But nobody else knew about it…

Claire and Dave's Intimate Garden Surprise Wedding Ceremony in Beaconsfield Samantha Kelsie Celebrant
So, yesterday afternoon, on one sunny May Sunday, Claire & Dave and I finally met face to face at the beautiful Brook house in Beaconsfield, along with all their closest friends and family.

The couple had flown in to the UK only 2 days earlier, with the promise of bringing their dearest relatives together for a weekend BBQ at a beautiful country house they had hired for the Bank Holiday. But – there came with them a surprise. On Friday evening, Claire and Dave announced to the guests the true intentions behind their gathering…. they were also here to say ‘I do!’

Claire and Dave's Intimate Garden Surprise Wedding Ceremony in Beaconsfield Samantha Kelsie Celebrant
One thing which truly unites this couple is their mutual love of family – and not just their own family, but each other’s as well. They wanted a small, simple wedding, with no fuss, and no anxiety for anyone involved. But rather than run far away and get married alone together somewhere else in the world, they came home instead, to celebrate their day with their most treasured family and a select few friends.

The ceremony was sweet, sentimental, and so emotionally charged, it was difficult not to be moved by the love between them. They demonstrate a love which was so perfectly reflected in their style of day – true, honest, touching, endearing…. a modest wedding, for a modest pair, who share a bond so unassuming and so pure.

Claire and Dave's Intimate Garden Surprise Wedding Ceremony in Beaconsfield Samantha Kelsie Celebrant
I was so thrilled to be such a special part of Claire and Dave’s wedding day, but more so, I was truly honoured to have been their secret keeper for the last 5 months as well! What a priviledge, indeed.

Here’s wishing you both all the best… wherever in the world you may end up next! x