Congratulations Pope + Shontell!

Last month I had the honour of performing Pope and Shontell's wedding ceremony. It was an afternoon full of family, laughter and love as these two brought together guests from across the globe. Their ceremony included words of love and affirmation together with a Sand Ceremony honouring their new family.

Pope + Shontell - Thank you for including me in your day and thanks for your kind words afterwards too!

#celebrant #wedding #celebrantlife #celebrantled #love #weddingceremony #unique

 

 

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Your Day, Your Way!

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I really enjoyed this article in The Guardian today. While I'm not a humanist celebrant (independent without restrictions), humanist celebrants are seeing great progress in parts of the UK where their ceremonies are made legal and all celebrants hope to see the same progress soon.

Weddings do not have to happen in a church or with a registrar. The beauty of a celebrant-led ceremony is that you can have YOUR day - YOUR way - without a 'template' or restrictions.

Most of all, celebrant-led ceremonies truly reflect who you are as a couple with words and symbols unique to you. Every wedding I've had the honour of performing has been unique, moving and written with the particular couple in mind - their story, hopes, dreams and how they see the world.

Above all - it's about love! So if you're looking for a wedding ceremony unique to you - get in touch. I'd LOVE to hear your love story!

#celebrant #celebrantlife #yourdayyourway #wedding #ceremony#weddingceremony #unique #yourlovestory

My Top 10 Tips For Your Stress-Free Wedding Day

You’ve planned your perfect wedding day and now the big day is here at last! I’m sure you’ve already been given lots of hints and tips on how to make your day go smoothly.

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You’ve planned your perfect wedding day and now the big day is here at last! I’m sure you’ve already been given lots of hints and tips on how to make your day go smoothly.

However, this can sometimes be the time when the best laid plans can fall apart. The little details get forgotten and you panic. That said, with a little planning, this doesn’t have to be the case. Here are my top ten tips to help your wedding day go with a bang (not literally!):

 

  1. Hire a Co-ordinator or assign a friend to manage the day. You may have done all the planning and preparation up to this point by yourself. The last thing you want to do on your wedding day is run around like a headless chicken making sure everything that needs to get done, gets done…when you should really be enjoying your last moments before the wedding! I speak from experience. When I look back at our wedding day many moons ago, my biggest regret is that I did it all myself. I did indeed run around the venue like a headless chicken both before and during the wedding! One of the first things I did after the ceremony was snap at my new husband because I was so stressed out and hot (yes we married on the hottest day that year!). Something I deeply regret to this day. I wish I let go of control and asked a friend or family member to help out on the day instead. Believe me - it makes a difference!
  2. Ask a family member to help with the photographs. Gathering people to take those all important photos can be like herding cats. That said, I’ve never herded cats before! Your photographer will love you if you have a family member or two (who know the cast of characters needed for photographs) help gather people. Doing so eases stress and most of all reduces the time needed to take group photos….which means you all have more time to party!
  3. Be on time. This is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of the day for some. But believe me, being on time is necessary. The more on time you are, the more the day will run smoothly and the more time you have to be with your loved ones. Being horrendously late is not only disrespectful to your guests but also to those vendors who have usually put in that extra mile to make your day special. A bride at a wedding I recently officiated turned up two and a half hours late by which point many of the guests were uneasy, hot and a couple of them even left! In addition some celebrants and registrars will, at the height of wedding season, sometimes have more than one wedding to officiate. Where possible I do not book more than one wedding a day but that doesn’t mean you can take your time getting to your wedding! Being on time is a sign that you’re eager to get married and you honour and respect your guests for being on time and joining you for your special day! 
  4. Take a moment for yourselves. No doubt you’ve heard people say this over and over again. It’s worth repeating! Your day will fly by! One of the things Mr Ash and I took time to do was just sit back and watch our reception unfold, drink in the moment and be grateful for the amazing day we had. Looking back, it’s one of the moments we remember the most. 
  5. No Drama. Such a special day can also be a catalyst for drama. You can plan for all eventualities but sometimes things happen. Just go with the flow, don’t worry about when things don’t go to plan and relax! There have been times when I’ve worked with couples who have experienced a lot of drama in the run up to their wedding. One of the ways to mitigate this is to make a conscious decision not to put up with any drama. Doing so helps. It really does!
  6. Keep speeches short and sweet! I know you want to honour and give thanks to everyone who has helped get you to your wedding day. Keep your speeches as short as possible AND waffle free! I was recently at a wedding on one of the hottest days of the year in a very hot marquee. The speeches were fun and heartfelt but went on for over 45 minutes by which point we were all melting! People were actually getting up from their chairs to leave the tent and get cool drinks outside! Besides, keeping things moving means you have more time for dancing afterwards!
  7. Stay hydrated. This summer has been one of the hottest on record. Even on the coolest of wedding days, we can often forget to keep hydrated. Doing so keeps you at your best and means you’re in tip top condition! 
  8. Pack an emergency kit. There is nothing worse than a slight wardrobe malfunction or an accident on your big day! Carrying a small emergency kit which includes a sewing kit, safety pins, scissors, band aids, anti perspirant and tissues will come in useful for those sudden emergencies. 
  9. Give Thanks. Your family, guests and your vendors have gone out of their way to participate in your special day. Be sure to thank them. As a paid vendor, I don’t expect to be thanked but when I am, it really means a lot to me. It shows that I’ve done a good job and helped make your day special. And I know it’s the same for everyone who is there to support you. I remember a mother telling me how much it meant to her when her new son in law went out of his way to take his new mother in law aside and thank her for all her help with the wedding. It had been a stressful time and his thanks just made the day all the more perfect for her. 
  10. Have fun! After all the planning and preparations you’re here - it’s your day! Don’t stress. Don’t sweat the small stuff! Just have FUN and enjoy your first moments of married life! 

Hopefully these tips will help your day go smoothly but if you’re worried, get in touch, I’d love to help! And if you're reading this and you've got any tips, feel free to comment below. 

WedFest in the Surrey Hills

It's been a whirlwind month or so. Literally the day after this wedding I sped off to the South of France so I'm very behind on blogging at the moment! 

The UK experienced a great start to the Summer with unusually gorgeous and hot weather at beginning of June. So Kevan and Laura's WedFest at High Billinghurst Farm near Dunsfold was on a glorious day! These musical globe trotters put their heart and soul into their wedding day. There was fantastic attention to detail from the table plans and design of the venue to the care of loved ones. 

Laura and Kevan had their wedding ceremony in a small woodland adjacent to their wedding reception area. The giant teepee looked amazing. On top of that bell tents were set up for guests to sleep in overnight, music stages and a fire pit. 

It was the first time the woodland had been used for a ceremony and it provided a stunning canopy and some much needed protection from the sun and heat of the day (unfortunately I'm not a hot weather person!). To me it felt ethereal and as if we were in a Midsummer Night's Dream!

One of the best parts of my job is getting to share couple's love stories on the day - sometimes wedding guests aren't even aware of many details so it can come as a lovely surprise! Laura and Kevan met at their uni laundrette! And having travelled the world they returned to the UK where Kev proposed....in a beach hut on Brighton Beach! I love how Kevan told me he now views the world map as wine regions thanks to Laura's expertise and he's also learnt some seriously impressive cleaning skills from Laura too! 

After the ceremony guests processed back to the teepee for bubbly, games, fabulous music and food. The set up looked stunning - every wedding I've had the honour of helping with at this venue has been different. 

Congratulations Laura and Kevan! It was such a pleasure to work with you and I wish you well on your new journey together! 

Family politics and your wedding!

 We did it! Our day, our way and walked down the aisle together! 

We did it! Our day, our way and walked down the aisle together! 

While a planning wedding is the happiest of occasions, for some it can also be really tricky due to family politics. This week in the news there has been a huge amount of interest about Meghan Markle’s Dad and whether or not he is going to be coming to her wedding on Saturday to walk her down the aisle. That is stressful for any bride or groom, but can only imagine how tough it is for Meghan given the additional media scrutiny. 

When Mr Ash and I were preparing to marry many moons ago, family politics reared their head on my side of the family. At the time it was deeply embarrassing but I was fortunate that those around us supported and loved us. My parents divorced when I was a teenager. My mother raised us but I still tried to maintain a relationship with my father. At the time when Matt and I got married my relationship with my father and his family wasn’t great. It felt right to have my Mum walk me down the aisle but I didn’t want to upset my father further. 

Also in some ways I am fiercely independent and challenge convention. I couldn’t get my head around the fact that traditionally the father gives his daughter away. While that feels right for some - it just didn’t feel right for me. I’m my own person and no one can ‘give me away!' So instead, Mr Ash and I walked down the aisle together! In the end I don’t know why I stressed over walking down the aisle because us walking down together turned out to be so sweet and just right for us. 

Over the years I’ve come across similar challenges for some of the couples I have had the honour of working with. Keep in mind that while you still love your parent etc, this is your day. Don’t be afraid to be non-traditional if you can’t or don’t want to do the conventional thing with regards to certain traditions such as who will walk you down the aisle. Don’t stress over it either. This is just one small part of your day, your way! By the way - there is no rule book…you could even walk yourself down the aisle!

 

Choosing the right Wedding Photographer!

When Mr Ash and I were preparing to get married (many moons ago now!) I admit I turned into a little bit of a bridezilla...particularly over who was going to photograph our wedding. You see - I'm a photography fan and while I may not be great photographer myself, I do believe in good quality photos that reflect those special moments in your life. We spent days interviewing photographers until we found the right one! 

Here are my top tips for choosing your wedding photographer:

Image quality/style. The quality of a photographer's portfolio should be the first thing that captures your attention. There are so many styles of photography - find the one that works best for you. Some photographers are more journalistic in style and less formal. 

Personality. As a bride and groom, you put a lot of trust and faith in your wedding photographer. Make sure that you meet each photographer you're considering - get to know them. Not only do they need to have a fabulous personality, they also need to understand the dynamics of dealing with taking photos of so many people while keeping upbeat and getting the job done. My guess is that giving a photographer a list of 100 formal family photos must be their worst nightmare!!

Value for money/cost. Do they fit within your budget?

Experience.

Recommendations/Word of Mouth.

As a celebrant I've met and worked with numerous photographers over the years. Recently I spent the day manning my exhibition stand at a local wedding fayre. It's here that I met the BRILLIANT Hana Laurie. Hana calls herself an 'alternative' photographer. She has such a fun personality with a fantastic portfolio to boot! I would LOVE to work with Hana on a wedding one day because her approach makes everyone feel at ease! Plus she rocks a camera holster!!! 

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Country Wedding Fayre in Selbourne

A huge thanks to everyone who braved the good old British weather yesterday to join us at Gilbert White + Oates Collections in Selbourne for their annual Wedding Fayre. The weather gods may have been against us but it certainly didn't dampen our spirits!

I had fun meeting and greeting many couples and families looking for wedding inspiration. Each had their own story to share and it would be a honour to be able to weave those stories into wedding ceremonies in the future. The event organisers had asked me to conduct two 'mock' weddings where we were able to show off some great dresses and suits, share some poetry and listen to the incredible voice of singer Tobiah - as well as share a little about what is involved in a celebrant-led wedding. I loved collaborating with others as well as learning to 'go with the flow' and deal with the unpredictable - which can sometimes happen at real weddings! We had planned on doing a handfasting ceremony underneath the 280 year old oak tree in the garden but it was far to cold in the end. So within minutes we moved the ceremony indoors to the parlour room in the main house....together with a model of a rather petite Gilbert White...he made a great best man! And I think we were all grateful to be somewhere warm for a few minutes! 

I also enjoyed networking and connecting with the many wedding suppliers who were there. Each had been carefully selected for their exceptional passion for and excellence in their craft. And, each was selected in order to compliment the unique setting. From vintage wedding and bridesmaids dresses to straw bail hire, from florists to incredible cake makers and from make up artists to a fabulous vintage VW camper van - there was so much to explore. Personally, I really enjoyed getting to know the other suppliers, sharing tips and learning about how to create some buzz at these sorts of events. 

Some wedding events these days can feel overly 'corporate.' But this one was small, relaxed and intimate enough to create the right conditions for great conversations. I hope to be back next year! A big thanks to Amanda, Hannah and the team at BWOC for organising a great day! And special thanks to my long suffering husband - Matt - for helping me set up and clean up!

Interested in learning more about what is involved in a celebrant-led wedding? Well give me a call! I'd love to have a chat about your hopes and dreams for your day...your way! 

Wedding Fayre at Gilbert White + Oates Collections

I'm preparing to exhibit at my first Wedding Fayre next month...and it's in a truly inspirational location! 

The Gilbert White and Oates Collection is housed at a beautiful country house and park in Selbourne, Hampshire. A quintessential English village, Selbourne place is brimming with charm. The property is surrounded by gorgeous landscape with scope for several wedding locations from a beautiful 16th Century Oak Timber barn to a parlour in the house or underneath an ancient oak tree in the garden. If you're looking for a venue for your wedding - this one is well worth a look. 

The Wedding Fayre is on Sunday 29th April. Come along to meet with lots of wedding vendors who will help you to plan your day. I'll also be facilitating a couple of 'mock' ceremonies designed to showcase not only the location but what a celebrant-led wedding can look like. Admission to the fayre is free. If you're planning on attending, do come by my stand and say hello!

 

 

Love stones

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Created this for a seaside wedding a few years ago - Love Rocks for the Bride and Groom. These formed an altar piece for the ceremony and were then spread around their garden afterwards for the couple to enjoy for years to come. 

The Oathing Stone Ceremony

Looking for some unusual symbolic elements for your ceremony?

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Embrace the old European tradition to add a meaningful highlight to your wedding ceremony. The Oathing Stone is an old Scottish tradition where the couple place their hands upon a stone while saying their wedding vows. Called the oathing stone, it was thought to be the best way to express your solemn promise in physical form. Taken from the ancient Celtic custom of setting an oath in stone, inclusion of an oathing stone in the vows can be deeply moving. Etching your vows in stone is a sacred symbol across cultures.

In the Scottish tradition an oath given near a stone or water was considered more binding. In some areas of Scotland, the couple would carve their names on a tree or a stone. During the reading of the couple’s wedding vows, they hold an Oathing Stone in their hands. It is believed that holding the stone during the reading of the vows casts them into the stone.

In a more modern version, the Oathing Stone can be engraved with the couple's initials in the middle, accompanied by the groom & bride's initials and date of their wedding. The source of an oathing stone, what minerals are in it, it's color, or other characteristics are less important than what is said over the stone.

 

2018 and beyond!

 

2018 has started well! With weddings, commitments and naming ceremonies already in the diary it's gearing up to be a busy Spring and Summer. I've had enquiries from as far away as Greece and am looking forward to helping couples and families create the ceremonies of their dreams! 

I love how every ceremony is unique from a simple yet meaningful ceremony to a ceremony with symbolic elements such as a handfasting, each ceremony is a gift to the imagination and a celebration of love! 

Chloe + Mark's Big Day

A few weeks ago I returned to High Billinghurst Farm to perform Chloe and Mark's Wedding Ceremony. What a sweet love-filled afternoon it was. It was very clear that this wedding was a long time coming for this gorgeous couple. Chloe had planned the day down to the most minute detail....the groomsmen took great pride in showing me their personalised 'to-do' lists!

Every detail of the day was so well thought through from the gorgeous flowers and candles in the ceremony barn to the flip flops for tired dancing feet. The gorgeous country flowers were stunning. And the enticing smell of curry wafted through the barn as the dinner was the couples favourite food. 

After dinner and dancing the more intrepid guests were due to camp in huge bell tents which were erected in a nearby field. Honestly this venue offers SO much scope for the imagination and the wonderful owners - Tom and Sally-Anne - really do help bring couples dreams to life.

It really was enjoyed working with Chloe and Mark to bring their day to life and fulfill their dreams! Congratulations to the happy couple!

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High Billinghurst Farm

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One of the many aspects of celebrancy work that I love is being able to perform ceremonies in at incredible venues. Whether it's your own garden or a stately home, each venue comes with it's own character with augments the ceremony.  

Recently I went to check out High Billinghurst Farm in Dunsfold where I'm doing a wedding ceremony later this month. The venue is incredible. With two recently restored barns, a walled rose garden, a stone circle and lots of fields there ample room for your event! This really is a hidden gem. Moreover the family that have lovingly restored this venue are fabulous. I hope to be able to do lots more ceremonies here in the future