Why every ceremony needs a focal point

Have you ever thought about the focal point of a wedding ceremony? As a celebrant, I’m a bit obsessed with them and I definitely think every ceremony should have one. The reason is this: a focal point attracts and directs the audience’s attention to where you want it to be. Actors refer to being centre stage or in the spotlight. The same principle applies to ceremonies. We want your audience, guests or congregation to focus on what’s important. A focal point helps to frame the action and the key people in your ceremony.

What does a focal point look like?

Focal points come in all styles. Shape-wise, we humans seem to prefer arches and rectangles, which are basically squared-off arches anyway. When you look at an event venue, whether it’s a castle, hotel, church, theatre or barn, you will nearly always see these shapes. The rest of the focal point could be a raised area like a stage, somewhere set apart such as a gazebo, something high like a garden pergola or a balcony.

These places all share a sense of separateness, which also helps to direct our attention and makes us feel that something special is going to happen there.

Focal points aren’t new. The Romans loved arches and using them to create a bit of drama.

Old archway

And Nature can create the perfect backdrop without even trying. This is Dorset’s Durdle Door.

Durdle Door in Dorset

Wonderful wedding focal points

At a wedding, the focal point should always be the couple getting married. Looking at the pictures below, it might look as if the main feature of the focal point is the strategically-placed table! In my view, that space should be strictly reserved for the wedding couple. I don’t want it filled with a registrar, or a celebrant and certainly not a table. And I always make sure the couple are either facing out towards their guests or facing each other, depending on what’s being said. It may be traditional to look at a couple’s backs but tradition is only worth it when it works well.

Focal points can be grand, or minimal, subtle or full-on. Here are a few examples of different scenes and styles.

Outdoor wedding ceremony

A beautiful, natural scene benefits from being framed by a simple curtain, billowing in the breeze. 

A garden space such as an orangery or pergola offers a wonderful mix of structural and natural features.

Archway into garden

 I really love these contrasting colours and the natural aisle created by the hedge and stone path.

Inside venues capitalise on their style and character. This sleek, modern space suits an elegant  contemporary style.

Elegant formal room

 The fireplace is the ideal backdrop for an intimate wedding or renewal of vows. 

Barn weddings are really popular and their relaxed vibe allows you to get really creative.

Rustic wedding venue

This is full-on rustic drama. NB the central table is once again stealing the attention.

Indulge in the Gothic drama of an English country home. Just perfect – without the table.

To me, a double rainbow is the perfect focal point. It doesn’t matter how many rainbows I see in my life, I will still be amazed by one. If I could produce a rainbow at the perfect point in a  ceremony, that would be my ideal scenario!

Double rainbow

Find your favourite focal point

If you’re looking for slightly more achievable options for focal points, I’ve put a few of my favourites on Pinterest

And if you’re planning a wedding (congratulations!), there are brilliant stylists such as www.fundooweddings.co.uk, who will create a show-stopping backdrop for you. Alternatively, if you’re crafty, the inspiration and know-how is all out there, ready to be plundered.

Your ceremony space can be as simple or as OTT as you want. I hope you have a lovely time making it just right.

And don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like a bespoke ceremony to match!