There are always certain questions that people tend to ask me…and some I don’t expect but are nonetheless essential.
Over the new year, I was taking your questions and you can hear me answering them on the facebook page video…but here they are in print too – just for you.
So, without further ado, let’s find out some stuff!…
What does a Celebrant do?
This is a really great place to start. A perfectly legitimate question, if you don’t know much about us…and actually it can be a bit confusing. Confusing because there are lots of different people who conduct ceremonies – but not all are Celebrants! There are vicars, priests and religious ministers who conduct religious ceremonies; there are Registrars who act on behalf of your local authority who carry out civil wedding and civil partnership ceremonies at licensed venues; there are groups of celebrants who are affiliated with particular belief systems such as Humanist Celebrants; and there are Independent celebrants (that’s the category that I fall into). As an Independent Celebrant, I can conduct a ceremony for you, whether it be a wedding/civil partnership celebration, a celebration of life (when someone has passed away), a naming ceremony for your child, renewal of vows ceremony, commitment ceremony, I also offer support services and a ceremony around early pregnancy loss. So there’s lots of different things and lots of different events that you could choose to celebrate in life. And a celebrant is there to help you create a wonderful, beautiful ceremony; create the content for you and deliver that content on the day in a really beautiful way. So that’s essentially what a celebrant does – I will work with you to create your ceremony and then deliver that on the day for you.
What does a celebrant wear?
Again – brilliant question. Typically, religious ministers usually wear ceremonial robes, and you may think that a Celebrant has some kind of uniform too. But there’s no set dress code for a Celebrant – no robes or other ceremonial dress. We will just come along as we are. I will normally be dressed smartly – because I always liked to present myself in a smart, professional way. At the end of the day, as your celebrant, I’m performing a professional service for you. For a wedding I might wear a dress and a jacket or something that you might expect a wedding guest to wear. Whatever the ceremony I will be dressed appropriately for the location and the weather (if the ceremony is outside). If you were having a ceremony that had a particular theme, and you wanted me to wear a particular colour or special type of accessory, then that’s a possibility and we can absolutely have a chat about it.
Do I still need a registrar if I have a celebrant ceremony?
For most ceremonies, you do not need a registrar – apart from a marriage or civil partnership. As I write, the curent law in England and Wales means that to have a legal marriage or civil partnership, this must take place in a licenced venue (i.e the Register office) with a Registrar.
I tend to think about it in a similar way to registering the birth of a baby. When a baby is born – that’s the ‘event’, afterwards you go along to your local Register office to legally register the birth of that baby. So in a similar way you can have your celebrant-led wedding/civil partnership celebration ceremony, and that will be your event – your wedding day. And then either before or afterwards you can pop along to your local register office with just 2 witnesses, to perform the legalities really quickly (a basic ceremony can be just 5 minutes), easily (you can do your jeans and T shirt if you want) and cheaply.
“I’ve heard of Handfasting and hand tying, but I’m open to suggestions of what else I could include in my ceremony. What do you recommend?”
Handfasting and hand tying are essentially the same thing. If you’ve not heard of Handfasting before, that’s where a couple have their hands and wrists bound together with ribbon or cord (or any other materials that you might choose to have) symbolising your union and unbreakable bond. It’s a really lovely thing to do for wedding ceremonies, couple ceremony commitment, Renewal of Vows ceremonies. It can be done so all of your guests are involved in tying of your hands; or it could just be something that is literally just about you and your partner, with your celebrant doing the tying for you. Both are equally great options.
In terms of what will I recommend and any suggestions for alternatives? There are loads and loads of alternatives that you could have. There’s lots of different what we call symbolic actions that you can choose to do. The very traditional example of a symbolic action is that in a wedding ceremony, take the exchange of rings. That is a symbolic action obviously Handfasting is a symbolic action. And there are lots and lots of other things. And you if you go to my blog, or you go back and look at some of my previous videos, you’ll see me talking quite a bit about symbolic actions and what they are and some different examples of them. And indeed if you’ve signed up to my newsletter, you will have seen in the past me talking about different symbolic actions throughout that so if you want to get some tips and advice on that, do sign up to the newsletter. Just go to the website and sign up and you’ll get some suggestions. But there’s lots you can do.
What is a naming ceremony? What are they for?
So a naming ceremony. I think traditionally people associate that with when you’ve had a baby, but it can be for a child of any age or indeed even an adult essentially. So the idea of a naming ceremony is that it’s it’s an alternative to a religious ceremony. And the crux of a religious ceremony is usually about welcoming that child into the religious community. There a naming ceremony is more about welcoming your child into your family, your extended family and maybe your wider community. So there can be elements of religion in a naming ceremony. That’s that’s absolutely fine. But it is an alternative to a purely religious service, such as a christening for example. You have a naming ceremony again, you’ve got the choice of locations you can have that ceremony in your back garden. You could have it in your local village hall. You know anywhere you wanted. You could have it if you know if you live on a farm and you want to sit in the middle of the farmyard. Absolutely fine, we can do that. And so naming ceremony is all about welcoming your child into your family. And it could be that you have you’ve just had a new baby, but you have some slightly older children and you want to include all of them into that naming ceremony because maybe you didn’t have christenings are ceremonies for your older children that can also be accommodated. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be just about one child. It can incorporate wider, wider children, family members, and I referenced maybe you know it could be appropriate for an adult as well. It could be the you know, in life, you’ve been through some particular changes in your lifestyle or your circumstances and you want to have a ceremony to recognise. You know, maybe you’ve you’ve never had something like a naming ceremony. Maybe you’ve changed your name for whatever reason. Whether it’s your first name or your second name. And you want to have a ceremony to actually really cement and mark that moment and that change and going forward. You are a new person. So you know, a staining ceremony could work in that instance as well. What else have I got?
“I want to have a naming ceremony in my garden. Is that possible?”
Yes, it absolutely is possible. You can have it any way you like. And it’s I will just say in terms of location. Whenever, as a celebrant, Whenever someone’s telling me about the location of their ceremony, I will always do my sort of health and safety sort of assessments myself to make sure that the location that’s being proposed is, is adequate for having guests there is going to be safe for everybody. So I will talk to you about that as well as as we went along in our process.
What is the process for you to create a ceremony?
- The first thing to do will be to have that very first initial chat for you to make sure that you’re happy that I’m the right celebrant for you, and for me to get some basic details about dates/location/how many guests and if you’ve got any initial thoughts about what you want out of your ceremony. If you don’t know any of that info yet, that’s absolutely fine – don’t feel that you have to know all of that before you even make an enquiry. I can support you with all of that.
- Once we’ve had that initial chat, and we’re happy to move forward, there’s some simple form signing and deposit payment to secure your date in my diary.
- We’ll then have another get together, so that I can start to get to know you – your journey to where you are now, what makes you tick and which elements/actions/readings you might like to include in your ceremony. (By-the-way, if you’ve got no idea at all, what kind of elements/actions/readings you want in your ceremony – that’s absolutely fine, don’t panic! I will make suggestions and support you. But if you do know what you want, or you’ve heard about a certain thing, let’s chat about it and see how we can incorporate it.)
- Armed with all this information, I will create a ceremony that is authentic and individual to you.
- You will be able to see a copy of the ceremony well before the ceremony day, so that you can understand what’s going to happen and of course be happy with everything.
- Ceremony Day! I will arrive with plenty of time to spare to ensure everything is ready to deliver that ceremony for you, with love – it’s my mission is to create a beautiful and authentic experience for you.
- A few days after the ceremony I will be in touch with you, to check in on how it all went and I send you a gorgeous souvenir copy of your script as a keepsake*.
If you still have questions that you need answers for, you can ask me by commenting on this blog post, or get in touch in various ways via the get in touch page on the website.
To take a look at how we can work together, pop over to the Services page of the website www.theauthenticcelebrant.co.uk/services . You can also sign up to the newsletter for tips, advice and ideas at www.theauthenticcelebrant.co.uk . Or just get in touch for a free, no-obligation chat to find out what the possibilities could be and how we can create traditions that truly reflect your personality and style – let’s do this!
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*souvenir script copies and other elements included in the ceremony are dependant on the ceremony package booked