As an experienced funeral celebrant, I regularly work with families at this very sad time in their lives to create a funeral ceremony that will give their loved one the very best ‘send off! ‘
As an independent civil celebrant I am able to support all families: families who want to include religious elements in their ceremony, families who do not want any religious content at all and the families who are not yet clear what they want.
So, what is the process you go through when preparing for a funeral ceremony?
As soon as you contact me through the website, or a Funeral Director has contacted me with your details, I ring and offer to visit you at home and book in a meeting at a time that is convenient for you and the other members of your family.
I always give as much time as is needed, at least an hour, maybe more, as every family reacts differently. Together, we start to create a personal and unique funeral ceremony for your loved one. Also, if some family members can’t get to the meeting then I’ll contact them by phone or email so that they too can share their memories.
The Order of Ceremony
On arrival, I will get to know you, make you feel comfortable and , over a cuppa, we will have a chat and start to talk about your loved one. We will discover their life story, talk about their character and what made them laugh, their hobbies, memorable family events, favourite holidays: gradually I will build up a picture of your loved one and the milestones of their life.
Sometimes, a family member may be so grief-stricken that they find it difficult to talk and discuss any details. This lessens as the meeting advances and they feel more able to talk with me as they get to know me. Sometimes , I find it easier to ask what you don’t want in a ceremony rather than what you do want, in order to make you feel more at ease: whilst being sensitive to your feelings and giving you time to share your thoughts and memories.
When I visit, I bring along a collection of poems, readings and prayers as well as a list of hymns to share with you. You can choose one or two poems or readings, or you may have already chosen your own in advance. We also discuss music and songs and when this is finalised I share this information with your Funeral Director.
You may ask me to write and speak the Eulogy in the ceremony or you may decide to write and speak it yourself or, alternatively, ask me to do that on your behalf. Often, families choose to write and read their own Tributes as well . You can choose to do that. It always amazes me to see the love and the thoughtfulness of young relatives who stand in the Chapel and read their amazing poems in memory of their grandparents or even great grandparents!
I then confirm the Order of Ceremony and write the Eulogy and share these both with you in the days that follow. In return, when reading the Eulogy you may sometimes change a name or date or add extra details, such as a funny story that often reflects your loved one’s character and approach to life.
This is what makes the Eulogy such an important part of the Ceremony and family and friends often say afterwards –
‘ It was like you knew him!’
The Script for the Ceremony
The rest of the script is then written for the ceremony around your chosen elements. You may prefer a hymn because this reflects your loved one’s choice or want to include ‘The Lord’s Prayer’. You may prefer to listen to your loved one’s favourite songs.
I will then share the full script with you. At this point families often feel relieved that this part of the preparations has been completed. As one family recently said:
‘That is absolutely beautiful. We are very happy with it and wish you to go ahead with this as the final script.’
it is my privilege as a celebrant to create a ceremony that reflects the true personality of your loved one in a respectful and meaningful way; supporting you in the process of writing the script in preparation for when you finally attend and participate in their funeral ceremony.
Already being married at the Register Office some months before, My husband Chris and I decided that we wanted to celebrate our marriage and my 60th Birthday with fifty family and friends and have one big party this summer. We wanted to keep to a reasonable budget as we were planning a much-needed extension to our house and also wanted to make it as sustainable as possible. So we decided to have an outdoor wedding!
We held the Wedding Party, as it became known, in my mum’s garden which had been the venue for many happy family occasions over the years!
The venue: the garden and the ‘Bar’
So, with my mum’s blessing , we already had the venue which saved us a major expense. We did have some minor jobs to do to bring the garden up to speck but the main job was to turn the run-down garage into a Bar! This was furnished with a lot of the leftover wooden boards and planks by the super recycler, who is my husband, then painted and decorated with some of the old items left there which had family memories. I also trawled local antique shops in Leicester and Market Harborough for other key ‘Outlander’ and Bar items, some of which I ended up hiring .
Choosing the photographer and other suppliers
One of the first decisions we made was to have the same photographer that we had had for our Register office ceremony. So Sammy got the job! She had been awesome on that day and had got to know us both well! Sammy, like the majority of our chosen wedding suppliers are members of the Leicester Wedding Network which means they are locally-based professionals. As I am also in the Network in my role as celebrant I felt sure that I had chosen the right people for the job!
I went to Bridal Reloved Leicester for my wedding dress. I knew that Mel always has a lot of wonderful dresses to choose from and she is so knowledgeable and professional. I went there with my mum and decided on a beautiful new dress that reminded me straightaway in style to the dresses worn by Claire the character in ‘Outlander’ and with Chris being a Stuart – the ‘Outlander’ theme was born! The very talented Roisin added a bodice to the dress and I also bought a pretty lace-trimmed veil which matched the dress so well. My shoes were from Irregular Choice in Leicester. I was so pleased with them as they are pink and they had just the right heel shape I wanted to match the 18th century theme! I also still had my lovely blue garter from Extra Special Touches to wear!
The Kilt and the Bridesmaids
The kilt with all it’s accoutrements had been bought on holiday from a charity shop in Edinburgh as well the super highland dress which my sister-in-law had had made for herself there. The kilt was a purple, blue and black tartan. I bought a similar tartan ribbon called ‘Pride of Scotland’ for the bouquets and to decorate the garden. I’d been away on a Hen Party to Cardiff with bridesmaids or as I called them ‘Dishonourable Matrons! So, they’d all got to know each other. They were dressed in their own favourite dress to match the overall colour theme of pink, lilac, purple and dark blue.
The Flowers and the Confetti
The flower bouquets and the confetti were absolutely gorgeous! My hand tied bouquet was in a rustic style with pale pink peonies, mauve clematis, cream rosebuds, white thistle, white stocks and foliage. The bridesmaids bouquets mirrored mine and the button holes had cream rosebud, white thistle, purple clematis and foliage. The piece de resistance ; my mum’s thank-you bouquet was just amazing!
Chris and I were able to delegate on a grand scale! We were very lucky to have a lot of support and help from family and friends in the weeks and days before the event and afterwards as well to help tidy up! I planned everything: the colours, themes and items for the different outdoor ‘Rooms’ and shared this with close family, bridesmaids and the key suppliers on a private Pinterest board. We also had a private Facebook Guest Page where we organised the finer details of the Day and asked for help decorating the garden and laying out tables and benches the day before and managing the Bar, the tea making, and requested ‘Photo Booth’ accessories for the day!
Chris and I had decided that we wanted to experience a celebrant-led ceremony ourselves. I chose Evelyn Silver as we had met , both being celebrants, on a number of occasions, so I knew what an enthusiastic and creative person she was and that we would be in safe hands. We talked through our Reasons for Marrying with her and decided to include a Handfasting using the tartan colours with my daughter and Chris’s two other sisters also taking part. As well as a Key ceremony based on an old Viking tradition of marking the joining of two ‘Families’ on the lines of ‘Game of Thrones’ , together; using a giant key.
Dog Ringbearer Splendida!
Chris and I personalised and read our vows. Chris wrote his own and I chose the poem to read ; ‘Why Marriage?’ by Dena Acolatse which I felt matched me to a T! We also wanted to include our dog Storm in the occasion. She was the star of the show! Afterwards, she enjoyed a few sandwiches, in between getting her strength back for the rest of the day! We also enjoyed our daughter -in-law’s super reading of the poem ‘How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog’ by Taylor Mali.
The Afternoon Tea was organised by myself and my son, who also prepared it all except for the cakes which were made by talented local cakemakers, Debbie and Tracey . Tracey baked the delicious cupcakes and Debbie created the awesome wedding cake! The scones came from Occasion’s Teashop as well as a surprise cake from the neighbour next door. We were so lucky to be able to put together a cracking afternoon tea which everyone enjoyed. We had gradually bought a stock of alcohol and mixers in the months beforehand for the bar: mainly Pimm’s, prosecco, gin, cider, beer and juice. We followed the ceremony with a Pimm’s and then had a prosecco toast for the cake cutting.
The Bar was one of the favourite places for all the guests, not just because of the alcohol! There was lots of chatting as well as catching up on old family photos and stories!
Cutting the cake and the speeches
The wedding cake did well in the heat and there was plenty to go round. There was a lemon buttercream one and the other tier was vanilla. We had a special rendition of ‘My Brother’ from Chris’s sisters and then we had the bouquet throwing We didn’t have any speeches as such which suited the day very well.
Presents and Favours
I had lots of fun giving out thank-you presents and then
when the guests started to leave, they all had a super cute succulent plant to
take home with them.
There was plenty for the guests to do. It was great for everyone making friends and catching with each other and having photos taken at the Flower Wall – the basket of hats went down really well! There were lots of places to have a chat or relax around the garden and in the Bar. Then there was the Silent Disco with three different tracks to choose from. Adults and kids thought this was great and had a lot of fun dancing and singing together!
It was a real success!
It was a truly amazing day! Chris and I were both ecstatic!
The Day had taken a lot of preparation and organisation and it went off with hardly
a hitch. We did lose my hair comb but thankfully another was fetched!! All the
guests said that the day went really well and that they were so pleased to have
met up with family and friends that they hadn’t seen for years.
All the guests said that the wedding ceremony and party were
very different from anything they’d experienced before. It was very relaxed and
laid-back, and they really liked it! The Day was a real success!
A massive thank you to all the suppliers and shops!
Having a Naming Ceremony is a wonderful idea to introduce a new baby into the family. It is a meaningful and unique celebration for all concerned where the child is named in front of family and friends.
‘Susan – a big thank-you for making it so special!
Time to Celebrate
A ceremony that I conducted recently, was a celebration to welcome the new baby and his family back to England from another country, in this case, Australia. Only the immediate family had spent time with him abroad and this was an opportunity for everyone to meet up and renew family links and for the other children to get to know their cousin or family friend.
”The ceremony was beautiful!‘
The Celebrant and the Family together create the ideal ceremony
The creation of a ceremony is a joint effort. I work closely with the parents to ensure that they are happy with the script and that we all see the whole ceremony as a collaboration between us all. I furnish the family with a questionnaire including questions about the child, his position in the family, his character, his pregnancy and birth and the dreams and aspirations his family hold for his future. We then discuss the type of ceremony they want and the venue and how it will be dressed. We talk about music, poetry and readings and gradually through a process of knowing what they don’t want as well as what they do want , this truly personalised ceremony starts to take shape. This could happen over a few days or weeks, sometimes months depending on the timeframe.
‘Great advice and ideas! ‘
This is a responsible time for parents and other members of the family such as the grandparents, guardians/guideparents and sisters and brothers. For this particular ceremony, the grandparents, who live in England, had organised the celebration and had met with myself on a number of occasions to share the family’s wishes and ideas and I had created it with their blessing.
The Role of the Parents and of the Guardians
The family normally choose a number of guardians or guideparents for the baby. They will make promises to care for and support the children alongside their parents. In this case, the baby’s aunt was one of his guardians as was a very good family friend who had come over for the occasion from Canada. This was in addition to the parents who had chosen to declare their love and their commitment to their child through personalised promises and hopes for his future life.
Involving the Rest of the Family
Other siblings could be involved in the ceremony depending on their age. They could sing, read a poem or play a musical piece. In this case, as she was quite young and in a strange environment, the baby’s sister sat and enjoyed the ceremony with her grandparents and at the end she came up and was very happy to be photographed with her mum and dad and baby brother.
Other types of Naming or Welcoming Ceremonies
Sometimes a family will take the opportunity to celebrate the Naming of more than one child and have a ceremony for two or more children. Again if they are older they may take a more central role in the ceremony, singing a song, reading some words or a poem about the special event.
A Naming ceremony may take place to welcome an adopted child into a family. Or if two people have or are going to get married they might decide to have a joint Wedding and Naming ceremony to demonstrate the blending together of two families into one.
Special Moments During the Ceremony
As part of the ceremony , the family may choose to light candles to demonstrate their love for their baby or family members can enjoy taking part in a Sand ceremony where different colours of sand are mixed together in a glass container to demonstrate the coming together of the new family. There are other rituals such as preparing a Time Capsule for the baby’s 18th birthday or having a Memories Book which would include a photo of each of the guests at the celebration and alongside it a personal message for the baby. There are so many ideas to choose from.
‘You were very helpful and friendly!
These ceremonies can be performed in a venue or at home as an expression of love and togetherness. Inside or outside; in a private garden or in the grounds of a venue. They can be at the weekend or during the week , the couple can choose what suits them best depending on their lifestyle, their location and whether family and friends are local or further afield.
‘Everyone had a fabulous time too!’
My role as a Celebrant is to create a unique and personalised ceremony that each family will enjoy and remember with fondness.
‘We could not have wished for a better Naming ceremony! Once again, many thanks!’
I was very happy to conduct the wedding of Sarah and Andy this summer in a wonderful woodland venue at Cotesbach in Leicestershire! They wanted their wedding to have festival vibes and it certainly had those! There was a beautifully decorated marquee, plenty of tents to accommodate the guests over the weekend and a big field, woodland glade and a treehouse to explore and enjoy!
The Wedding Ceremony
Sarah and Andy wanted a romantic and magical ceremony that involved their family and friends. We met at a super old hotel in nearby Lutterworth, the Greyhound Inn, one Saturday and discussed their ideas and dreams for the day. They decided to include a symbolic ceremony as part of the whole affair. This would be a Handfasting ribbon ceremony to seal their love!
The Handfasting Ceremony
There are many types of Handfasting ceremonies and Sarah and Andy chose to have the Ribbon ceremony in which their hands would be tied together. As the groom’s family has Scottish roots they decided to have a tartan ribbon from their Clan. They wanted their mothers to take part in this symbolic ceremony too. So the two mothers tied on their own red ribbons to demonstrate their love and support for the newly married couple.
The Colours of the Ribbons
There are thirteen colours that are used for Handfasting and each has multiple meanings! By using a tartan ribbon Sarah and Andy virtually covered the whole range of colours! In addition, they chose red for their mums. This colour represents all these qualities: love, passion, health, courage, strength, fertility and vigour!
The Different Types of Fastenings
Ribbons of different colours, widths and materials can be used for the Handfasting. If the couple prefer they can have a twisted cord made up of three or more colours which can be made in advance of the ceremony or the ribbons/cords can be made into a cord during the ceremony with family and friends each adding a different coloured cord to represent their blessing for the happy couple.
The Background to Handfasting
The photos below demonstrate the ceremony. It can take five minutes: it can take fifteen minutes depending on the loving words and poems that the couple choose to demonstrate their feelings for each other and their future live together. This ceremony has no legal status but is an ancient custom that dates back over a thousand years and is from whence the expression’ tying the knot’ originates. This part of the wedding ceremony was wonderful as the woodland setting gave the Handfasting a magical and timeless aura.
Step by Step
Sarah and Andy faced one another and took each other’s right hand as if to shake it; with plenty of room for the guests to see. Then, the 2m long ribbon was doubled up and placed over both their hands with the folded part of the ribbon hanging away from me. I then took this and threaded the two ends of the ribbon through the loop. This then tightened the loop and allowed the two ribbons to be easily decorated by the two mothers. The red ribbons were about a metre long and each was tied into a bow which everyone could see. The couple kept the ribbon on and then at the end of the wedding ceremony , easily slipped it off and passed it over to their Maid of Honour for safekeeping.
May your love and marriage be as steadfast and tightly bound as your lovers’ knot.
World-wide Paris is known as the city of love.It is one of the most popular holiday destinations for couples. It is often the place where a proposal of marriage takes place and these days you can even elope there and have a Celebrant-led ceremony next to the Eiffel Tower!
Of course, Paris is full of tourists , especially in June, however, we took advantage of this and enjoyed sitting at cafes, people watching and enjoying the local food and drinks. At other times, we sauntered in the quieter streets of the city and at Versailles walked to the Petit Trianon and visited the beautifully restored country retreat of Marie Antionette.
Even, just in Montmartre there were so many places to visit , such as Sacre Coeur and Le Moulin Rouge and so many restaurants from which to choose.
Romance is something to cherish: first as a young couple in the first flush of love or as a married couple relishing all that such a city can offer!
It’s a place that we plan on returning to soon.
As Audrey Hepburn said in the film Sabrina: Paris is always a good idea!
As a celebrant I see the wedding ceremony as all about you! The sky’s the limit! Tell me about your dream ceremony and let’s get started!
So, when you get in touch with me, my first thought is am I the best person for the job? Initially, we always meet-up, face-to-face: in a pub, at the venue or via Skype. In this way we can all be sure that we get along and we have enough interests and ideas in common to make the relationship work.
So far, it’s been a 100% track record!
It is at this first and subsequent meetings or communications that I really get to know you both! Watching you interact together and listening to you talking about your hopes and dreams for the ceremony and how you fit together as a couple.
I can learn about your feelings for each other, what you love about each other, what you have in common such as a love of travel, hobbies or a TV programme. You will have the same values and will share dreams and aspirations for your future together. It is this information that helps me create your personal and unique ceremony.
My focus for writing the script will be this meeting and the details in the questionnaire I will send to you to complete. Here you will give me your vision of what the ceremony will be like. Maybe you will talk about a ceremony you have attended as a guest in which there was a Handfasting or you want to include members of your family in the ceremony, maybe your brother to sing a favourite song or a close friend to read a poem. These ideas help me to start to create the sort of ceremony that reflects your personalities and ideas.
Sometimes, you may not be sure about whether you want a symbolic element to the ceremony such as a unity candle, a loving cup or Jumping the Broom, the list of choices goes on and on… Maybe you want to have vows and ring promises but are not sure whether you want to write them yourself or even say them on your own. I can help! We can discuss these fundamentals over time and I can share my resources with you and then focus on what you are keen on and what you feel comfortable with.
As your celebrant, I can ensure that you remember the ceremony for all the right reasons with the people, animals! elements and emotions you want to share with your chosen friends and family.
I am passionate about making the ceremony totally yours!
It was a great experience! I was so pleased to share in the Renewal of Vows Ceremony for Kelly and Henry at Stapleford Park, Leicestershire on New Year’s Eve last year.
Kelly and Henry had married in Mexico eighteen months ago and wanted family and friends to share and experience together a traditional wedding ceremony at this amazing country house hotel!
The wedding party included all of their parents and brothers and sisters who were able to attend and this made the ceremony very special to Kelly and Henry.
The Orangery was perfect for the ceremony as the candles surrounded by beautiful white flowers shone in the winter twilight. The guests were animated and there was plenty of laughter as well as some tears. Afterwards the Wedding Party returned to the main house in their golf buggies to be joined by their guests ready to party the New’s Year’s Eve night away!
Congratulations Kelly and Henry and all the very best for your future life together!
Acknowledgements: Kelly and Henry and the staff at Stapleford Park, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
It was my pleasure to conduct the wedding ceremony of Ingrid and Adam at the historical and atmospheric Belgrave Hall in Leicester!
They chose to do the short legal formalities first and then to have family and friends attend the main ceremony afterwards with myself in one of the other beautifully decorated rooms in the Hall.
Ingrid’s and Adam’s families enjoyed watching the couple say their ring promises and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. There was a lot of laughter too, especially when Adam’s ring needed a firm push onto his finger.
The afternoon light was already fading as the ceremony ended and the newly married couple, their family and friends went into the gardens to have their photos taken. It was rather cold, to say the least, but you wouldn’t have thought it! The bride looked radiant!
Congratulations to you both Ingrid and Adam! Best wishes for a fantastic future together!
Acknowledgements to Ingrid and Adam Smith and to the staff of Belgrave Hall.
In October this year, Aimee and Chris got married abroad – it was their ‘summer wedding’! Then a few weeks ago they had their ‘winter wedding’ at Wincham Hall in Cheshire and I was their celebrant.
There were tears, smiles and laughter during the ceremony. It was a joyous occasion for the two childhood sweethearts and their family and friends and they were over the moon that they were all able to enjoy the ceremony and their wedding day together!
The ceremony was unique and personal to them! We had discussed their wishes for a romantic and fun occasion and that is what we all shared together; with their mothers taking part in the Unity Candle Ceremony and two close friends reading two poems which perfectly matched the theme of the wedding which was love and happiness!
Congratulations to you both and very best wishes for your future life together!
Acknowledgements: Aimee and Chris and the staff at Wincham Hall Cheshire
This is a developing tradition here in the UK for the romantic and modern couple-to-be! It takes place before the ceremony with just the two of them and their photographer, ready to capture those precious moments when they first lay eyes on each other.
Why do couples choose this different approach to their day?
There are lots of reasons – some choose to do this to ease their nerves before the ceremony. While others want to keep that moment for themselves without interruptions, such as over enthusiastic relatives or busy phones and iPads.
Others want to develop the First Look approach to their photo shoot such as the First Look of father at daughter or child with mummy. These photos convey the wonder and love of family members and make the wedding day shoot extra special.
What do you think? Is it something you would do?
Photographic Acknowledgement – Thank you to all the Pinterest members and photographers included in this Blog.