Top Five Tips for Choosing Your Celebrant

Smiles all round at the start of this Barn wedding ceremony

Choosing your celebrant can seem like a daunting task when you are organising your wedding day. This will probably be the first time you’re getting married and you want to get it right. I’ve created a simple guide to help you do just that!

So many personal elements to this ceremony!

Tips for Choosing Your Celebrant

The five tips focus on your wish to find a celebrant who can deliver your ideal ceremony and is someone you both get on with. You then develop a strong and positive relationship together, which will culminate in the creation of your wonderful wedding ceremony!

A super confetti run at the end of the Handfasting!

Compatibility

Your ideal celebrant is someone to whom you can relate. Someone who you have confidence in to do an awesome job. To be YOUR celebrant! This is why initially chatting via Zoom, WhatsApp or face-to-face is so important. Maybe the celebrant has been recommended by a wedding planner or venue owner. Maybe you have found them in a Wedding Directory and then you chat, and you find that you like the same type of music, experiences, or places. I met a couple very recently who will be having their ceremony in a village where I used to work. You find that ‘spark’ and soon you are laughing together like old friends.

After Trisha and Gary’s celebrant-led ceremony

Experience

You need to find a celebrant who is experienced in the key skills which make them an awesome celebrant. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have been a celebrant for years and years, but they need to able to develop a good relationship with you, to be willing and able to collaborate with you. To create a beautifully written bespoke ceremony which they can then present, as an accomplished speaker, to your family and guests. They also need to be a listener as well as a storyteller: to take time to listen to your ‘Love Story’ and then be able to weave your back story, personalities and love for each other into the words of ceremony script.

Mark reading his vows during the outdoor ceremony!

Knowledge

This is all about being able to personalise your ceremony to make it yours so that your guests say after the ceremony that that was ‘so you!’ This comes through your celebrant getting to know you, through reading and listening to your thoughts, ideas, and your love for one another, as well as sometimes, what you don’t love! The best way to do this is face-to-face so that the celebrant can spend time with you both and sense the synergy of your relationship; pick up your pet names for each other and your personal sayings and stories that will make your ceremony so super personal and resonate to you and to your guests.  

Celebrant and bride enjoying a special moment together

Then there is the body of the ceremony, the music, the poems, the readings, the vows or the promises , the ring exchange and the rituals or mini ceremonies: all the elements that make your ceremony, so you! Of course, you may need little support in choosing any of these elements, this might be something you’ve already decided upon years ago! However, your celebrant, as a member of their own celebrant organisation, is there to listen and give advice on all aspects of the ceremony and will have suggestions galore.

So excited about the handfasting!

Creativity

Creativity threads it way through the whole of your celebrant’s role. I can say without any exaggeration that a new mini ceremony is being invented or reinvented and shared every day of the week across the celebrant world and there will be at least one that will suit each and every couple – it’s as simple as that!

Such a lovely part of the ceremony!

The ceremony is very much a performance and your celebrant is the choreographer as well as the producer. This is an important part of their role. I believe that a rehearsal is important and always suggest one before the Big Day. Then you can confirm where all the key players will be walking and/or standing , where the chairs or bales can or need to be, where the items for the Sand ceremony or the ribbons for the Handfasting will be placed and so on.  Also,  where you, the couple will stand plus your celebrant would certainly be chatting beforehand with the photographer and the videographer to ensure that they get the best pictures/film of you, the couple, as the ceremony unfolds.

The ring exchange is such a special moment

Enthusiasm

Your celebrant will be an enthusiastic and super keen person who wants to do their best for you, who will be there over the months to lend an ear and to give you support when needed. She will be there to deliver your perfect bespoke ceremony and at the same time make you feel relaxed and super happy.

 She’s got this!

Time for the celebrant to chat with the happy couple after a beautiful ceremony at Belgrave Hall, Leicester

How to Have a Very Personal Service. Preparations for a Funeral Ceremony

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?

Meeting

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.

The Eulogy

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.

Photography Acknowledgement to ‘Unsplash’