“What does a Wedding Celebrant Do”?

Hello again – I have had a very busy year and summer full of lovely ceremonies, and one of the questions I will still be asked by guests afterwards is, ” so what does a Celebrant actually do?”  I thought it would be a good idea to refresh a blog piece I wrote a little while ago and include some lovely photos too of ceremonies in a variety of locations, which may help you to understand a little more about what I do 🙂

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Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your services?
I have a background in HR and Training, and loved helping people move into the next stages of their lives. Becoming a Celebrant was a great fit for my experience and personality and my plan eventually to work in a role that allowed me to write creatively. In 2003, I was invited to attend a friend’s wedding in Australia, which was simply wonderful – held in a beautiful Vineyard on a mountain top overlooking the ocean, at sunset. Truly magical! Their Celebrant delivered a beautiful ceremony, full of meaning and storytelling as well as allowing the couple to express themselves exactly how they wanted to. This really excited me, and when the time came for a change in career direction, I discovered the UK College of Celebrancy and in 2011 I became a Marriage and Family Celebrant. I just love creating unique ceremonies for all of life’s milestones.
How is a Celebrant different to a registrar? What are some of the advantages to hiring a celebrant?
A Registrar is interestingly a Building, and not a person. The Civil Marriage Act determines the wording and the format of a Civil Marriage, and does not allow any religious or spiritual content, extending to vetting vows, music and poems or readings. The 32 Declaratory and Contracting words are delivered the same way, whether in the local Registry Office or at a licenced Venue.
Many couples are now looking for something that is more meaningful and personal, and therefore choose a Celebrant style wedding ceremony. They will go along and sign their marriage licence at a local register office with two witnesses, a day or two before their Celebrant Ceremony, which they see as their real Wedding Day.
Choosing a Celebrant offers the couple the freedom to express themselves without any restrictions in terms of format, content, time of day, or location. The ceremony can be held almost anywhere, from elegant Manor House to the summery simplicity of your own garden and of course can be created around a “theme”. Popular themes in the past year have been Harry Potter, Disney, Game of Thrones, and Star Wars 😊.
We can include traditional or modern wording and styling, religious content, spiritual content and do not vet the content of the ceremony in any way. I have written ceremonies that include Blessings from the couple’s ministers, working with the clergy to create a ceremony that is exactly what the couple are looking for.
The Wedding Ceremony is celebratory and ceremonial – it can include personally written vows and promises, involve children and other guests in the ceremony itself, giving meaning and memories, and of course telling the couple’s unique love story, what marriage means to them, what inspires them about each other, and what they are looking forward to in the future.

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What do you love most about being a wedding celebrant?
The totally unique and personal story telling is always beautiful and emotional. Each couple’s love story is wonderful , and sharing it with their family and friends is always a lovely moment, during the writing and when I deliver the ceremony itself. I also love how a Celebrant can offer this completely flexible service at any time or place and allows the couple to really express themselves completely. After all, the wedding ceremony is why their guests are there!
What are some of the different internal ceremonies you have experience with? Do you have a favourite? If so why?

I have created many internal ceremonies, including the Rose, Beer, Wine, Sand, Candle, Canvas and Handfasting Ceremonies. My favourite is the Unity Candle as it signifies the flames of passion, the warmth of love and family and the undying love between the couple. I also love the Ring Warming Ceremony as when each guest holds and gives their warm loving wishes to the couple, every time they look at their rings, they can remember the love and support each person gave them that day.


Can you explain the process for a couple who book with you?

I like to meet them in person or on skype first, then if they are happy to choose me as their Celebrant, I send a booking form and questionnaire so I can find out more about them. After that, it is really a case of working together to create the magic. I am happy to chat on the phone, offer unlimited editing of the ceremony and also offer a rehearsal if the couple wish to hold one. On the day I am there an hour before, helping with any ushering, introducing myself to the wedding coordinator and family members who might be taking part in the ceremony. I present the couple with a Certificate of their Ceremony along with their Ceremony Script in a Presentation format and folder, as a keepsake.


How do you work with the couple to create their vision for their ceremony?

I take on board their ideas and style, the venue and size of ceremony, and we work together to create something that expresses their plans, ideas, values and beliefs, and gives them full control over this element of their wedding. Their story is unique, and even if it is traditional, it will always be “personal” for them. With my experience of over 6 years as a Celebrant I can advise on format and content, including helping couples choose readings, music, and help with the creation of their own vows and promises, or offer examples for them to choose and adapt.

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Yvonne Beck Celebrant is a Member of the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants and can be contacted for free consultations about your wedding, vow renewal or baby naming ceremony:
By email at ivvey@hotmail.com
By phone at +44(0)7800543426
Via her website www.celebrantinlondon.co.uk

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Celebrant Wedding Season is is off to a great start!!

The start of the year is always a busy one, with lots of Wedding related activities!  There are wedding venues to meet and speak to about how a Celebrant can offer them a broader service for their brides and couples – a Celebrant Wedding is unique in that it is totally tailored for the couple and offers a huge amount of flexibility in terms of location, style, content and format.

There arsilvermere-image-table-set-upe  Wedding Fairs to attend too – it is so great to meet new couples and talk to them about their own plans and ideas.  I love it when they say to me “oh I didn’t know we could do that!” when I explain just how different, flexible and personal a Celebrant-designed Wedding Ceremony really is!  It really is a lot of fun working with couples to design their own unique ceremony where we include lots of different ideas, styles and even guests!

Wedding Fairs offer the chance for me to speak to couples face to face, and to ask questions about what it is they are looking for – I really enjoy the love that’s in the room and I know other suppliers do too!
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At this time of the Year too there are the Wedding Awards – where suppliers in different categories are voted by members of the public and get shortlisted!  This is my first year where I have been nominated and it’s just such a great exciting feeling to know that someone has taken a look or even experienced one of my ceremonies and given me a thumbs up!  I have been informed recently that Bridebook.co.uk have placed me on their shortlist!!  Fingers crossed but I don’t mind what happens…… as the Celebs say at the Oscars….”it’s not about winning….. it’s about taking part! ”

 

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Christmas! What a wonderful time for a Marriage Proposal!!

christmas-romantic-benchChristmas is a truly romantic time for couples in love wanting to take the next step in to marriage. It’s a really popular time for proposals and it got me thinking about different traditions there are for engagements, and also what kind of ceremonies we can hold for these lovely romantic events!

I love hearing about the couple’s marriage proposal story as part of my preparation when, as their Celebrant, I begin to write their wedding ceremony.  It gives me a real insight into how they want their own ceremony to be -whether it’s traditional, quirky, romantic, fun, or just simple and sweet.  Every story, like every ceremony, is unique.

It’s fun to look at a few of the traditions and how these are changing.

Asking Permission:

Although it is seen as perhaps a little old fashioned and even maybe a bit misogynistic, asking for the parent’s permission to marry is can still be a really lovely gesture and will certainly mean a great deal to the family, who will be part of the intimate planning for the proposal itself!   It shows that the proposer is really sincere about the next stage in the relationship and wants to make that commitment. Marriage also means deeper ties within both families, and the “request to marry” provides a really loving foundation as two families blend and grow together over the course of the engagement and into the marriage itself.

The Proposal:

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Whilst a proposal can be held anywhere and often has an element of surprise around it – traditional proposals require the proposer to consider some fairly intense questions – the planning is very important and the execution must be nigh on perfect! There is usually quite a lot of behind the scenes work to do, and every couple I have worked with have shared their lovely proposals with me, which I weave into their wedding ceremony.

Some are of course traditional;  planned for a special anniversary perhaps, private and cosy at home after a lovely meal and just sitting by the fireside together….. others can be more elaborate, such as one couple shared with me recently where her partner created a paper trail to motivate her to go on a training run with him on a very cold and rainy morning, with clues along the way…finishing with the last 4 trees each displaying one word, which together read “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” and tied to a branch was his grandmother’s engagement ring!  She was stunned!  But of course, she said YES!

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The Engagement Ring:

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A Betrothal or Engagement was historically seen as a promise to marry, and during the celebrations the couple would exchange rings as a seal of their unity. A ring made of precious metal was something not everyone could afford, in fact the diamond engagement ring is a fairly modern concept, with it’s roots less in history and romance and more in a famous gemstone company’s clever marketing ploy!

Nevertheless, rings have ancient and modern symbolism, not only in their precious metals but also the jewels used to adorn them.   A ring is also a continuous circle, without beginning or ending, and symbolises qualities such as fidelity, unity, partnership, commitment and unending love.

Diamonds – the most frequently chosen jewel for an Engagement ring –  have long been associated with durability,  strength and consistency because it takes thousands of years to create this wonderful jewel.

A symbol of strength, the world’s hardest and most durable stone was used to embellish the armor, shields and swords of European kings and knights from England to France to Hungary.  Ancient romantic legends from Indian Hindus, Greeks, Romans, Hebrews and medieval Italians also told of the diamond’s ability to reflect the eternal flame of true love.

The cut of the diamond emphasises it’s purity and brilliance, and although there are many different styles and cuts to choose from,  the Princess Cut is still a firm favourite for modern couples, with 78 facets that create that gleaming shimmer and sparkle!

Wishing everyone a very happy and loving Christmas, and looking forward to talking to newly engaged couples in 2017 and helping them to plan the wedding ceremony of their dreams!  Contact me on 07800 543 426 to chat about weddings, vow renewals or other ceremonies to mark life’s major milestones!

with my warmest wishes

Yvonne 

 

 

 

 

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Sharing some of my wonderful weddings in 2016!

 

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Top 5 Important points to check before hiring your Wedding Celebrant

 

hensman wedding 1Weddings are probably at the top of the list amongst our happiest memories.  They are a part of the journey we take in life, whether for ourselves, or with others. They are one of the major milestones in our lives, and to do them justice, I believe we all want to mark those days forever in our minds and hearts with a beautiful and joyous ceremony.

What most couples want is to hold a ceremony that realises their most cherished desires and dreams, and today more couples choose a non-religious ceremony, sometimes as a compromise if they have different faiths, but more frequently because they are not regular church-goers.

In the past, their only other option was to have a short civil ceremony at the Town Hall, or in one of the 4000 venues which are licensed for marriages. As couples are making a legal contract, they must abide by several rules relating to content, music, readings, timing and so on.   The Registry must also be of solid construction with four walls and a ceiling, therefore an outdoor ceremony is mostly out of the question.

The Registrar will want to vet your vows and music and any readings beforehand, as no religious or spiritual content is allowed.  The cost of two officers of the council coming to the venue is usually in addition to the venue hire cost and can be in the region of £500 to £600 depending on the day and time of the marriage, as opposed to around £60 – £70 at their local Registry Office.

So what options do couples have if they want a Ceremony full of their own style and ideas, performed say at sunrise, or dusk, outside, in a beautiful romantic setting such as a country house with a beautiful garden, a favourite spot in a magical wood, or even on the beach?

Mitch and James Wedding 1 May 2015

Hiring a Celebrant is the answer as they alone can provide the freedom, flexibility and innovation that couples want, when celebrating this major occasion with their closest family and friends.  A Celebrant can provide a totally unique ceremony – be that along traditional lines or perhaps your Star Wars/Disney/Harry Potter/Game of Thrones theme, and include ancient rituals such as a Hand Fasting or Jumping the Broom element!

Every Celebrant led ceremony is unique.  Internal ceremonies such as Rose, Sand or Unity Candle Lighting Ceremonies are delightful and novel and allow couples to express themselves exactly how they wish – and frequently children can be included in this type of Ceremony too.

The paperwork can be done quietly and without fuss on a day earlier in the week, with just two witnesses at the Registry Office to say the 32 “contracting words” that form the legal marriage contract.  The cost of this is a fraction of the fees charged to attend a licensed venue.  By completing the licence beforehand, couples can then relax and look forward to their Celebrant-led ceremony.

Choosing a Celebrant is then a major part of the planning process, and here are a few tips on what to consider when making that choice

  1. Decide if you want a Humanist Celebrant or an Independent/Civil Celebrant.  Humanists do not believe in religion or spirituality and therefore their ceremonies will not allow “blessings” or any religious or spiritual content in vows, readings or music.  https://humanism.org.uk/ .  If you choose a Civil Celebrant, then they will be able to match all your wishes for religious or spiritual content, conferring blessings on the couple, on their rings and will happily advise on spiritual and religious content for vows, blessings, and readings.
  2. Check the credentials of your Celebrant ! There are a number of institutions and organisations that train and accredit Celebrants, and offer ongoing support and guidance and training so that their Celebrants remain up to date, and totally professional.  Ensure your Celebrant has up to date insurance – Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance is key.  They should also be able to show you their Terms and Conditions so that for example should they not be able to attend on your day, there is a plan in place for a substitute Celebrant from the same institution to take charge.
  3. Meet your Celebrant! Some people only meet their Celebrant on the day of their wedding.  I would advise meeting in person and talking through your ideas and style and ensure you are making a connection with the Celebrant.  An initial meeting by Skype or face to face can really help a couple to decide they are choosing the right person to work with and with whom they will be creating this important, personal ceremony.
  4. Ask your Celebrant for testimonials and reviews from other couples – established Celebrants will of course have many clients and ceremonies which they can discuss and from whom they will have received feedback.
  5. Allow your Celebrant to advise on creative ideas, themes, ritual and choreography – most celebrants are very experienced and can offer some great suggestions. In particular they will be able to advise on a number of different internal ceremonies such as Hand Fasting, Ring Warming, Wine or Beer Ceremonies, to name but a few.  Vows and Promises are key to the ceremony and a Celebrant will be able to assist with ideas and suggestions so that the couple feel they really are having their day, their way, and true to their love story and beliefs.

I hope these  top 5 tips have helped to answer some of the questions you may have had about hiring a Celebrant for your Wedding Ceremony, but should you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact me for an informal chat.  As a member of the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants myself and my colleagues would be delighted to have the opportunity to create and conduct your wedding.

Holly and James Feedback!

Much appreciated feedback from a beautiful wedding Ceremony for Holly and James at The Montague on The Gardens, Bloomsbury, London 

 

 

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Welcoming your Baby with a Special Ceremony!

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Welcoming a first or new child into your family is one of life’s major milestones and a wonderful emotional and uplifting time, full of hope,  joy and meaning.  Children always bring new experiences into our worlds, but in themselves they are travellers in time, and have within them the seeds of the past, as well as the ability to shape their future.

Historically the arrival of a new child was celebrated by not only the family but the wider community, usually with feasting and partying and also giving the child the name it would carry through life.  Many cultures take naming very seriously, and may choose names that link to the family history, such as giving a number of names, including family or ancestral names. Some cultures make offerings of precious gifts at the same time, and wish the child a long and successful life, placing sacred objects around their cradle, and also might present gifts of jewelry to symbolise good luck and beauty.

We have all probably attended a religious naming ceremony where the child is baptised and offerings and prayers are made.  However, increasing families who are not particularly religious will ask a Celebrant to create a personal Naming Ceremony, during which we will welcome everyone, appoint Guide Parents who will support the child and Parents.  All will promise to support this new child and in particular the Parents, Grandparents and Guide Parents will make their own individual promises to love, listen, support and guide the child throughout his or her life.

The Naming Ceremony can include poems, readings, songs and music and also include siblings who might give the new baby a toy, or a gift.  One of my sweetest Naming Days was when the baby’s little 5 year old brother said he wanted to make a speech, which he did off the cuff and told everyone how much he loved his new sister who he said was beautiful!  For a moment or two my ceremony script seemed to be a little blurred…..!

Guests can also get involved and be included in several ways.  One lovely way is when we have a Pebble Ceremony –  guests are asked to write a word onto a pebble that will be kept in a large bowl in the nursery and which baby can be told about in due course!  The words I often see written are “love”, “health”, “happiness”, “laughter” or qualities such as “persistence”, “humour”, “compassion”, “selflessness”.

A Naming Ceremony can include blessings and religious or cultural rituals and I have often created a blended ceremony for families who themselves might have different religious faiths and backgrounds.

It is a Ceremony based on unity, family, community and most of all created to express the love, joy and gratitude we feel for this new little person in our lives.

For more information about an exclusive Naming Ceremony call me on 07800 543 426 or email ivvey@hotmail.com

 

 

 

 

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