Wedding Ceremonies for Blended Families – how to boss it for your tribe!

Every couple wants their wedding ceremony to be just right for them, and when children are becoming part of new, blended families there’s even more to consider. So, what’s the best way to include them in your wedding ceremony? Here’s some ideas to get you thinking…

The Processional

The entrance for your wedding ceremony sets the scene for everything that follows. Assuming one of you will be waiting nervously in front of the guests, while the other walks down the aisle, there are quite a few options to get the kids involved. Maybe any little ones could be flower people scattering petals along your path. Or a ring bearer with your rings, securely fastened to a cushion! Or carrying your train if you’ve got an impressive trail in the making.

How about one of your children accompanying you down the aisle, arm in arm, showing you their support on this big day for you all? Or one child on each arm? Grooms could opt to have their children stand with them at the front along with their best man. Unless of course your son or daughter is going to be your bestie.

If you have budding musicians or singers in the family, they could perform for you as you walk down the aisle. That’s a big ask though, so they need to be well and truly up for it!

Symbolic Gestures for Blended Families

Getting your children involved in the ceremony itself can be a lovely touch to make them feel part of the family. There are plenty of symbolic gestures you can include but here are three that I think work really well…

  1. Handfasting. Your children can each pick a coloured ribbon and then choose words associated with that colour which describe their wishes for the family. Eg blue for kindness, orange for happiness (hit me up for the colour wheel). Then they take turns to bind your hands together with the ribbons. Once the ribbons are in place, I’ll read out a hand blessing. As you draw your hands out from the ribbons, it creates a Celtic love knot. It’s a lovely visual element for all the guests to enjoy too, and a keepsake from the ceremony.
  2. Blended family unity circle. I love this for younger children or if you’ve got kids of a varying ages. You all get together in front of the guests and create a circle, holding hands. Then your celebrant, talks about what family is for you… “this is a safe place full of love and strength”… “it’s where you are accepted for who you are”… v cute. I like to close this with a family hug.
  3. Sand blending. Each of you has a container with different coloured sand to represent everyone’s unique place in the family. You, the couple, pour some of your sand into a vase to create the foundations for your family. Then your children pour their sand on top and the grains of sand become blended. This represents your new blended family. You and your partner add the last of your sand over the top sealing your family’s love and friendship. Pop a stopper in the top and you’ve got a gorgeous reminder to keep forever.

Words from Your Celebrant

I love talking about the kids as part of the script that I create for wedding ceremonies for blended families. Adding a special moment about becoming a family and what that means for everyone is great. Giving each of the kids a specific shout out in the welcoming words is a must, even if it embarrasses them! For something more low key, including family anecdotes in your love story is a fun way to bring your children in.

I often ask your guests to make commitments to you as a family towards the end of the ceremony for blended families. This is another way to recognise your new family unit without the kids having to do anything if they’d rather not! But if they’re up for getting involved they can stand with you during the guests’ commitments.

They could of course read a poem, there’s lots for kids to choose from. They might even like to write their own poem for the two of you. And a trusted aunt or friend could work with them so it’s a surprise for you on the day.

The Recessional for Blended Families

If your wedding ceremony is as much about your new family as it is about the two of you, then you might want to do something different for your recessional. Instead of being introduced as ‘The Happy Couple or ‘Mrs & Mrs Jones Smith’ you could be introduced as ‘The Jones Smith Family’. Your children stand with you for the closing words so you’re all ready to be introduced at the end. Then you all walk or dance down the aisle as a family to your favourite song. Or the kids go first and then you follow on while your guests shower you all in confetti or maybe bubbles.

Charlotte & Tony’s family wedding

There are plenty of options for your wedding ceremony to involve your children so they feel part of this new beginning. Getting them on board might be tricky, especially if they are teenagers. But secretly they’ll be glad you did!

Most of all, have fun with it and do what works for your tribe. Find out more about my wedding ceremony services on my wedding page.

Garden Wedding Ceremonies – how to smash your own garden ceremony

Garden wedding ceremonies seem to be the thing since lockdown. Choosing a garden wedding gives you so many options to celebrate your day in just the way you want. Whether you’re looking to create a laid-back party vibe or a glamourous alfresco affair. There is plenty of inspo out there to draw on but here are my top tips and ideas for garden wedding ceremonies…

  • If you have space, create a separate area that’s just for your ceremony. An enclosed area gives you an intimate feel with a ready-made backdrop. And you’ll be surprised how many people can fit into a relatively small area! If the garden is more open, define your space with low level bunting and natural flower displays.
  • Create a focal point for your ceremony which you and your celebrant will stand in front of. This could be an existing tree that you can up-style, or a pergola that can be adorned with artificial flowers if there aren’t any in bloom at the time of your ceremony. Alternatively you could hire or make your own wedding arch or order a flower hoop backdrop – the photos will be stunning.
Courtesy of Katy Holland Photography
  • So you’d love a garden wedding, but don’t have a garden, or can’t bear the thought of using your own – no problem. There are gorgeous houses that you can hire that have gardens just perfect for garden wedding ceremonies. Search for venues in the location where you want to marry. Some will provide you with a blank canvas for you to dress as you wish and others will provide a partial or full service, so you can let someone else do the organising. The Copse at Kidmore End is just dreamy. While The Old Rectory Estate near Reigate has fabulous different garden spaces to use as your day unfolds.
  • Having a garden wedding ceremony gives you the opportunity to add some unique touches to your ceremony. If you are getting married in your own garden, or your parents’ garden, you could include a tree planting to commemorate your nuptials. Having a wishing tree is a lovely way of involving all your guests. They can add ribbons, ornaments and wishes for you both to an existing tree before the ceremony starts. A flower exchange is also perfect for a garden wedding. You and your partner exchange a flower at the start of the ceremony and then place this in a vase. Roses are often used to represent love but you could choose your favourite flower from the garden. Family members can also join in by adding their flowers to the vase.
Wishing Tree
  • Live music is a gorgeous addition to any ceremony. Think acoustic guitar and talented singer performing your special tracks as you walk up the aisle and as you sign your marriage certificate. Check whether they will bring their own PA system with them, most artists will. And whether they’ll need a power supply. It’s also a good idea to talk to your celebrant about microphones. If your space is quite open then using mics ensures no-one will miss anything. Your celebrant may have their own wireless PA system that they will be happy to bring along.  
  • Including your family pet in your garden wedding ceremony is a must! Naturally this works best with dogs. They can take on the role of ring bearer or bringing up the ribbons for your hand fasting. Arrange for a friend or member of your family to be responsible for your pet during the ceremony. They can also steer them in the right direction when the time comes. Even if your pets can’t take an active role in your ceremony, you can dress their cage or treat them to a wedding collar so they are part of the celebrations. Don’t forget to include them in the photos too.
The gorgeous Ghost at Laura and Sam’s wedding
  • Be prepared to embrace nature! Garden weddings are gorgeous but bring some elements that you can’t control. Insects are part of outdoor life. So be ready for a bumblebee to take a liking to your bouquet or an ant to crawl up your trouser leg. I had a tiny spider crawl into my ear at one of my ceremonies this summer! We might also encounter a nosy flock of geese flying over just as you are about to exchange your vows or a gust of wind that takes your words away. But it’s all part of the fun, so we’ll pause for a moment and carry on.
  • We’re in England, you know what’s coming next – make sure you have a wet weather plan. In case the weather gods aren’t with you on the day, you’ll need a space for your ceremony that can accommodate all of your guests. Your reception marquee or tipi would be a great back up plan. Using your dance floor is the best option and the chairs can quickly be rearranged to seat everyone.

Find out more about my wedding celebrant services, and how to make your wedding ceremony the highlight of everyone’s day on my weddings page.

Choosing the Right Wedding Celebrant

You know that you want a wedding celebrant to lead your ceremony for your special day, and with the personal nature of celebrant led ceremonies why wouldn’t you? But finding the right celebrant can feel like a difficult task as there are plenty of us out there!

So here are my quick tips to help you find the perfect celebrant…

  •  A great place to start is on the wedding website directories. There are a few dedicated sites for celebrant searches, The Celebrant Directory and Humanist Ceremonies. While sites like Hitched and Bride Book have great listings for celebrants too.
  • Search for wedding celebrants who live reasonably close to you or your venue. Many celebrants will travel long distances but you’ll pay extra for this and there will be someone local-ish who will be right for you.
  • Come up with a longlist and do a bit of stalking! What do you think of their own website and social media presence? Have they got plenty of testimonials and endorsements? Who are they accredited by? Does their style match yours?

Arrange a consultation with your chosen few

  • Select 3 or 4 celebrants who you like the look of. Drop them a line to check their availability for your date and ask for a Zoom consultation. Most celebrants will be happy to arrange a free no-obligation chat, and they know you’ll be chatting to other celebrants too!
  • Use your consultation time to see how you get on and whether you’ll be a good fit for each other. Have they left you with some great ideas and feeling excited about your ceremony? Have they listened to what you want and guided you when needed? If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions then you’re on to a winner!
  • Also check out how they work, and what future meetings you’ll have as part of their fee. You should see a draft of your ceremony script so you can agree everything your celebrant is going to say. And talk to them about your vows too. How will they support you with creating personal vows that mean the world to the two of you? I have a ‘how to’ guide for my couples to set them in the right direction, plus extra help for those with writers’ block!
  • Finally, your wedding celebrant should be suggesting a rehearsal for your ceremony. This helps everyone who is going to be involved in the ceremony to know what’s expected of them. You can step through each stage together and practice your entrance. It’s great for settling everyone’s nerves and I like to do this the day before the ceremony if possible.  

Sealing the deal

  • If you think you’ve found the right celebrant get them booked ASAP. The date is only secure in their diary once you’ve signed your agreement and paid the deposit. Although most celebrants will hold the date for you if you express your intention to book, it’s best to get everything firmed up as soon as you’ve made your decision.
  • And you’ll want to check their agreement feels reasonable too, what is their policy around changes due to events such as COVID-19? Because you just never know what’s around the corner!

And that’s it. Good luck with your celebrant search and have some fun with it too.

If you’re not really sure why choosing a celebrant led wedding is the best choice you’ll make for your wedding day, check out my Celebrant Led Weddings blog for all the deets.

Celebrant Led Weddings – Why Bother?

Currently in England celebrant led weddings aren’t legally binding. So why do thousands of couples every year choose to have their wedding ceremony officiated by a celebrant instead of a registrar?

There are of course numerous answers to this question. Here are a few of the main reasons couples choose to tie the knot with a wedding celebrant leading the proceedings.

Getting personal

Celebrant led weddings dispense with any of the ‘must have’ elements. So your ceremony can include anything you choose and couples love the personal feel celebrants bring to ceremonies. One of my favourites is to include the couple’s love story. Telling how you met, early dating anecdotes, that romantic proposal and your hopes for the future. And reading out secret words you’ve written previously about each other is a really special moment.

Adding symbolic gestures into a wedding ceremony is also really popular. And I love conducting hand-fastings for my couples. Here your hands are bound together with ribbon while a blessing is made. Did you know this is where the phrases tying the knot and binding agreement originate? It’s a gesture steeped in history too. If you’re bringing families together a sand blending is a visual treat for everyone. Or you may like to involve all your guests in a ring warming. They take it in turns to imbue your wedding rings with love and wishes and the rings are ‘warmed’ when you come to exchange them.

Naturally you can include poems, readings, songs, exchange of your wedding vows and your wedding rings. But these can all be in any format you choose and you can write your own vows to share with each other. Your celebrant can help if the thought of having to write something fills you with panic!

Image courtesy of This and That Photography

Time is on your side with celebrant led weddings

There are no time constraints with celebrant led weddings. You won’t be rushed through for the next booking. So, without making it so long that your guests get fidgety, you can take as long as you like. I’d suggest that 45 mins is long enough with 35 mins being about right. Plenty of time for lots of personal and memorable elements without everyone straining to get to the fizz and canapes!

This means you can add extra elements to your ceremony that might take a bit of time. How about getting everyone on their feet to sing – karaoke style – to your favourite song. It’s an amazing moment with everyone singing their hearts out and sounds fab. You’ve also got time to involve friends and family more in your ceremony. There are lots of options here. Your parents could give you a blessing or your friends could share a memory or marriage tip for the two of you, which can be quite entertaining.

Location, location, location

Aha, the reason most couples choose celebrant led weddings – ‘cos you can marry anywhere you choose! There are no constrains as long as you have the land owner permission. I’ve conducted ceremonies in a woodland copse (so romantic), a family farm which added to the many memories already held on the land, country estate hotels like the stunning Wotton House near Dorking in Surrey, a private island on the Thames where the groom arrived by speed boat, a trendy wine bar in London, and numerous back gardens. I’m still waiting for an invitation to conduct a ceremony on a remote mountain pass or a vineyard in the Dordogne, but I am sure they will come!

Most couples have a single venue where you have your ceremony and celebrations together. This makes it easy for all your guests and great fun too. If a festival style wedding in a field with a festival bar and food, billowing bell star tents and dancing under the stars appeals, then a celebrant led wedding is certainly for you.  


You’ve done the legal bit already

Maybe you married abroad or during lockdown without all your friends and family with you to celebrate. Having a celebrant led wedding followed by a wedding breakfast let’s you share your wedding with everyone you choose. And no-one has to miss out on the special moment that you say ‘I do’, or the after party! It doesn’t matter when you did the legal bit. You can re-create your ceremony or create something completely new for your celebrant led wedding. Read more about this in my Re-weddings blog.  

But most couples who decide on a celebrant to lead their wedding do so because their ceremony will be just as they want it. Your legal wedding could take place in the days or weeks beforehand at the registrar office. Invite just a few of your nearest and dearest sharing the day with you. You can save exchanging your wedding rings for your celebrant service, and just do the legal bit. This can cost as little as £50. Or you could opt for having the registrar marry you at your wedding venue, assuming there is a licenced area, after your celebrant led wedding.

The choices are endless really, and that’s why you should bother!

Conversational Funeral – is this the ‘new black’ for small funeral services?

At a time when small and intimate funerals have become more popular, opting for a Conversational Funeral seems like a really warm and inclusive way to celebrate a loved one’s life. Let’s unpack it a bit further…

What is a Conversational Funeral?

Although there appears to be a fairly set structure for a funeral service, you can actually spend the time in any way that you choose. Your Funeral Director may have a strong view that you need three pieces of music, a eulogy, tributes and some poems or readings to fit into the 30-minute timeslot allowed in most crematoria. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

If there is just a few of you attending the service who knew the person well, you might want something more relaxed. This is where Conversational Funerals come in. The time you would normally spend in a ‘service’ is instead filled with chatting about the person, relaying some of your favourite anecdotes and memories. By sitting together in a round or a horseshoe shape you’ll be inviting eye contact and encouraging conversation between you.

You can choose to have a celebrant assist you with the service. They can manage the time and ask questions to get the conversation rolling if needed. Such as “What was Donna like a school?” or “I gather Donna was a real sun worshipper, where did she go on holiday?”.

What should it include?

The short answer is, it can include anything you like. But setting a structure to the conversation can help get things going. It can also bring in everyone present who might have known the person at different times in their life. You could talk about childhood stories they used to relay, their working life, their family life, and their passions with each person adding their own nuggets of information. Or you may opt to just talk about the memories that come to mind when you think of them and let the conversation take its own course. Objects you associate with the person can be great conversation starters here. Try: “Whenever I think of Donna, sherry and Christmas dinner always comes to mind.”

You may want to include some music during the conversation and this can also invoke lots of memories if they were a music lover. And I’d probably still opt for some music at the start and end of the service. It sets the scene and cuts through the otherwise often silent moments. You might choose some of their favourite songs or a gentle instrumental as background music. Another idea is for everyone to choose a poem or reading that either reflects the person you are celebrating or you think they would have enjoyed.


Where could I have a Conversational Funeral in Surrey?

Generally a Conversational Funeral would replace a standard funeral service, so if the person is being cremated you could have the conversation in the chapel at the crematorium. However, some chapels have limitations on how you could arrange the furniture, particularly if they have pews. So you would need to check the suitability of the space first.

It might be nice to have your Conversational Funeral in a less traditional setting. You could choose somewhere like The Pavilion at Clandon Wood Natural Burial Ground in West Clandon, Surrey. Here you could place the coffin in The Pavilion and lay out the chairs as you choose. The conversation could either be followed by a burial or a direct cremation at a local crematorium. Or why not hold it at your loved one’s golf club, or even in a small function room in their favourite pub?


What do I need to consider?

Conversational Funerals really only work for small numbers of people, 15 would probably be the maximum. It’s lovely with just 3 or 4 people who knew the person well, while 6-8 is the ideal number. So, if you have lots of people planning to attend, I would recommend deferring the conversations. Wait until you are able to get together at a memorial service in the future and let the conversations flow.

If you do choose to hold the Conversational Funeral in a crematorium, you’ll be limited to their usual time allocation. This is generally 30 minutes including entrance and exit time. It would allow you around 20 mins for conversation. You can say a lot in this time but it may go quicker than you think! You could decide to take a double slot at the crematorium which would give you around 50 minutes. Or choose a venue that doesn’t have the same time constraints.

Finally, I would recommend you consider whether you are happy to manage the Conversation yourself. Often it’s helpful to have a Funeral Celebrant with you to lead you through the time together. They can also manage the music for you, and conduct a committal if you would like one.

If you would like to talk about arranging a Conversational Funeral further please do give me a call on 07786 268446. You can find out more about my services on my funerals page.

Re-wedding, getting married all over again!

‘Re-wedding’ is a word made for Humanist wedding ceremonies!

If you chose to have your legal wedding abroad or witnessed by a few of your closest family then a re-wedding might be just the thing for you. Celebrate just the way you choose with all of your family and friends at the centre of your plans.


Your re-wedding venue

This can be anywhere you choose. Whether that’s a festival style wedding in a summertime field, a rustic country barn setting, or a gorgeous hotel on the banks of the Thames, and everything in-between.

Celebrate in your own style

I suggest taking a bit of time out to think about what you’d really like for your re-wedding. Consider the sort of venue that feels right and the atmosphere you’d like to create. Maybe your guests would love a relaxed party vibe with some games the best dance tunes rather than a formal wedding breakfast.

Your re-wedding ceremony

And what should you do about your wedding ceremony? You are married, and you’re wearing your rings to prove it. But you’d like your family and friends to share in the special moments when the two of you make promises to each other. To make up for this, many couples plan a celebrant-led wedding ceremony for their re-wedding. And these promise to be even more special than their legal service.

Image courtesy of This and That Photography

You can choose exactly what you’d like included in your wedding ceremony and involve your family and friends . You can create your own wedding vows centered on what you’d like to promise each other, and choose your own words for your ring exchange too.

You might like to add some symbolic gestures such as a ring warming ceremony. Here your guests take turns to hold your wedding rings and charge them with love and wishes for the two of you. Or maybe a handfasting with ribbons tied by your family as you make promises to each other would bring a fab visual element to your ceremony, you can read more about handfasting here. Another great way to involve all your guests in your re-wedding ceremony is to get everyone on their feet singing. Pick an easy song that everyone knows like ‘It Must Be Love’ from Madness and do it karaoke style! I guarantee everyone will get into it and you’ll create a really magical and fun moment.

If you’d like your re-wedding to feel like ‘the real thing’ you can also sign a marriage certificate with witnesses signing with you. This is a great moment for some fab photos too. And don’t forget to think about how you’d like to be introduced at the end of the ceremony. Are you going to be ‘Mr & Mrs’ or maybe you just want all your guests to ‘big it up for the happy couple’.

Choosing a celebrant

Your celebrant will be happy to talk through ideas and suggestions and to create a ceremony that reflects the two of you as a couple and the vibe you’d like for your re-wedding ceremony. If you’re not sure how to find the right celebrant, the Celebrant Directory will have the perfect person for you and lots of great tips too. Or you could, of course, just give me a call!

Good luck with your planning, and do drop me a line if you have any questions.

10 Tips for Creating a Fab Naming Ceremony

Naming ceremonies are beginning to grow in popularity as parents look for different, non-religious ways to celebrate the arrival of a precious new life into their world. Namings can be fun while being heartfelt at the right moments too, and they are always special. So here are my top tips for creating a personal ceremony that’s just right for you.

  1. Choose a time of day that will fit with your usual routine of feeds, sleeps and hopefully some awake time to help take the stress out of the day. This will also maximise your chances of having a smiley baby for part of the celebrations at least! Find a venue that will work well for you too, if having the ceremony at home seems like a good idea but is stressing you out then book a local community venue instead or a nearby hotel who will take care of everything. Or if you don’t want to wait until the pandemic is over, consider going virtual instead.
  2. Think about who you would like to appoint as guide parents and role models for your little one. There is no set number of guide parents, so anything from one to 10 works. They don’t need to be upstanding pillars of the community, just friends and family members who will take an interest in your child as they grow up. Maybe they have an adventurous nature and will help your child develop a sense of adventure, or they might be a great role model for their family or work ethic, or maybe they are great fun and will be a positive force in your child’s life. Whatever the reason, this can be celebrated as part of the ceremony. 
  3. Shape the commitments that your guide parents will make to your child to reflect their character and attributes. If one of your guide parents is football mad then make this part of their commitments, “I promise to take Rory to see the match on Saturday afternoons and to teach him the offside rule!” Or if their kindness is what you admire most about them, “I promise to teach by example to help Chloe become kind and generous”.
  4. Consider if you want to make promises to your little one yourself. You could do this in the form of a poem or reading – the tale of Edward hopping into life from Beatrix Potter is wonderful. Or your celebrant could ask you questions that you then respond to, either together or you could have separate commitments for each parent.  
  5. Poems or readings make a great addition to a naming ceremony, or maybe a short story would work well if you’ve got lots of young children there. Find a friend who’s great at reading stories and gather the children at the front for a quick story time with a moral, The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright is a great option.
  6. If you are music fans then why not include a karaoke style song as part of the celebrations? I love these moments, the whole room is singing the song you’ve chosen at the top of their voices and loving every moment of it. It Must by Love by Madness is one of my favourites but you can choose anything you like, although something well known that is also easy to sing is best.
  7. Make sure you tell everyone how and why you chose the name that you did for your child, and the significance of each name – if there is one. Maybe their middle name is your grandma’s first name, what attributes does your grandma have that you’d love your little one to inherit through sharing her name?
  8. Find a way to involve all your guests in the naming ceremony. There are loads of options here and you could ask them to add their wishes for your child to a wishes tree, or to add their fingerprint and name to a picture which you can frame and display at home afterwards. It’s great to ask everyone to join in formally naming your child too, they can repeat a few short sentences after the celebrant.
  9. You might want to hire the services of a celebrant to write the ceremony for you and to lead the proceedings on the day, Humanists UK has a directory of celebrants who are trained specifically to perform naming ceremonies. But you might feel comfortable doing this yourself or asking a confident friend or family member to do it for you, particularly if you’d like a very relaxed celebration. There is no right or wrong, just what’s right for you!
  10. Finish on a high! You could end with a toast, just make sure everyone has their glasses charged before you start and they know they need to keep a little back until the end of the ceremony! Alternatively, you could finish with three cheers or by singing happy birthday if the naming ceremony is doubling as a 1st birthday party. Have some music ready to play as soon as the ceremony finishes to keep the atmosphere going. 

There you have it, my top tips for creating a great naming ceremony that everyone will love and that will bring a smile to their face when they think back to it. You can find out more about naming ceremonies here.

However you decide to celebrate, enjoy welcoming your little one to the world!

Managing Family Worries About Your Celebrant Led Wedding

You’ve set your heart on a celebrant led wedding, the personal and relaxed style is just what you want and it’s a perfect fit for your venue. But how are going to convince your family that it’s every bit a proper wedding ceremony?

The majority of over 50s probably aren’t aware that celebrant led weddings are an option, and very few will have been to one. After all, they have only really gained in popularity across England during the past 10 years, although they have been available for decades for those seeking an alternative path to a church or registry office wedding if you knew where to go.

I’ve enjoyed many conversations with great aunts and uncles over a glass of fizz after the ceremony who’ve told me: “We’d never been to a celebrant led wedding before but it was the most wonderful wedding ceremony ever!”

What to Tell Fact Lovers About Your Celebrant Led Wedding

So, you could just tell your sceptical relatives that they’ll have to come along on the day and see what it’s all about but it would be great to get them on side and excited for your big day. For those practical relatives you want to fill them with facts:

  • Over 1000 couples in England choose a celebrant led wedding each year
  • Those who choose a Humanist celebrant to led their service are the most likely to remain married!
  • There are no rules about what has to be included in your wedding ceremony so it’s much more flexible than a religious or registry office service
  • Celebrant weddings can still include vows, exchanging rings, poems and readings, and a certificate singing with witnesses,. But they are more personal than the other options available and you can add symbolic gestures or cultural elements to your ceremony just as you choose
  • No, it’s not legally binding in England at the moment but it’s important for the two of you to celebrate your special day in the way that suits you in the place of your choice. The commitments you make to each other on the day are real, these are your promises to each other for life

What to Tell Romantics About Your Celebrant Led Wedding

And for those relatives who have a romantic side, they’ll be swooning if you weave these suggestions into your conversation:

  • Celebrant led weddings are so romantic as they are designed and written around the two of you, your love for each other and what’s important to you
  • You get to write your own heartfelt vows that you can surprise each other with on the day, with a bit of writing help from your celebrant if needed!
  • Ceremonies usually include your love story so your guests will get to relive the anecdotes from your early days together and that romantic proposal all over again
  • You could include romantic symbolic gestures such as a ring warming where they will get to hold your wedding rings and warm them with their love and wishes for you both during the ceremony. This can be coupled with with the more traditional exchange of rings and certificate signing which will make for gorgeous photos
  • Your wedding ceremony will be in the exact spot you choose, maybe a woodland copse, a beach, or your parent’s back garden. A setting that is special to you brings extra meaning and emotion to the day

The Final Word

But probably the most important thing to tell anyone who has reservations about your choice is that your celebrant led wedding is something you’ve got your heart set on. You want a personal wedding ceremony that’s been written just for the two of you. And it includes everything you want – whether that’s singing, poetry or a hand fasting – while you commit to your future lives together in front of the people that mean the most to you. Surely that will win them over!

Good luck with your conversations and let me know how you get on in the comments below.

If you’d like to find out more about my wedding ceremony services visit my weddings page for some inspo and check out my FAQs page too.

Creating Your Own Small and Intimate Wedding

A big wedding with hundreds of guests isn’t everyone’s idea of a perfect wedding day. If that thought fills you with dread then a small and intimate wedding, or minimony as I’ve heard it called, might be just the thing. But how do you create a wedding like this and would it work for you?

Managing your guest list

Well let’s start by breaking it right down to basics… who are your show stoppers? Whose absence would stop you from having your wedding day? Really. There aren’t many couples who would come up with an honest list of over 30 people, and it gives you an opportunity to think about what’s really important too. Your wedding day is about the two of you committing to spend your lives together, it’s the promises you make to each other in the company of your nearest and dearest, if you’d like them to be part of your day.

Choosing a small wedding takes the pressure off having a ‘big do’ and moves it away from being all about the numbers. Your wedding day then moves into a really special place where you can enjoy being in the moment with the few people who are the most precious to you. And if your partner is pining for an evening do of tearing up the dance floor with one hundred of their best mates then throw a separate party that your parents won’t have to endure!


Making your wedding ceremony intimate

That’s your guest list sorted for your small and intimate wedding, so on to the ceremony itself. Having a just few close friends and family at your wedding allows everyone to be involved in your ceremony if you’d like them to be. You could seat all your guests in a horseshoe style layout so everyone is on the front row, it’s going to be intimate so expect emotions to be running high! A ring warming ceremony is great for small numbers; each person holds the rings in their hands and infuses them with their love and wishes for you both and by the time the rings have been round all of your guests they are ‘warmed’ with all that love.

Your celebrant could gather wishes or anecdotes from each of your guests before the ceremony and weave these in to the service, which would add a fab surprise element to the ceremony for you both. Those of your guests who are comfortable with public speaking could share readings or poems with you all, and you could ask everyone present to sign your wedding certificate as your witnesses with their own pens. You can still have a confetti moment at the end of your ceremony with everyone making a walkway for you both.


Reception ideas

With a small and intimate wedding reception you can truly enjoy spending quality time and having fun with all of your guests, and there a whole heap of games you could choose from. It would be great to hear from all of your guests at your wedding reception with each of them telling a short anecdote or story about the two of you, or sharing a message you’d sent some years ago when you announced that you’ve finally met ‘the one’!

Lots of venues have smaller spaces that work just perfectly for small and intimate weddings such as the stylish Bingham in Richmond on the banks of the Thames or the stunning Pennyhill Park in Camberley, Surrey, and with all the money you’ll be saving you can splash out and really treat everyone or just save yourself the enormous bank loan.

If you’d like to find out more about planning your celebrant led wedding, visit my weddings page for lots of inspo or give me a call on 07786 268446.

Arranging a Memorial Service

The pandemic back in 2020 changed lots things about our lives, and introduced us to the idea of direct cremation. This means that you don’t have a service in a crematorium and your loved one is simply cremated, and you can then choose to celebrate their live with a memorial service. But how do you go about arranging a memorial service?

There is no right or wrong way to arrange a memorial service for someone you have loved, most of all you want to make it a celebration of their life and to reflect what was important to them. So here are a few suggestions on what you may need to consider to help you plan a personal and fitting memorial service.

Where should this be held?

Your memorial service can take anywhere you choose, so think about the places where your loved one enjoyed spending time and consider any of these for your memorial. Maybe at their golf club in one of the function rooms, their favourite pub, the day centre where they enjoyed meeting friends or at a natural beauty spot they loved such as in the grounds of Polesden Lacey in Bookham, Surrey or Richmond Park in London.

Any of these types of venue will help with catering and will probably be able to provide any audio visual equipment you might want for music or photos too. And they are great when you’re expecting lots of people. But if you are thinking of something more intimate you could always have the service at home, or at the remembrance gardens of your local crematoria and incorporate placing a memorial stone or planting a rose bush into your time together.

If they loved spending time in nature why not consider something outdoors along the banks of the Thames or at a venue such as Clandon Wood Nature Reserve in West Clandon, Surrey?

When is the right time?

Once again there is no right answer for this. You might decide that you’d like to arrange the memorial for a few months after the funeral or you may prefer to wait and hold this on the anniversary of their death but generally I would recommend you make it within six months.

Funerals are traditionally held on weekdays but your memorial can be any day of the week so if you’ve got lots of people attending who are generally working during the week you could hold the celebration on a weekend instead. Depending on the type of refreshments you’d like to offer guests you could time the service for early afternoon so everyone could share in afternoon tea and a glass of fizz, or maybe the person you are remembering loved a fish and chip supper, in which case a late afternoon service followed by fish and chips and a few drinks would be fab!

Although there are no time restrictions in the same way as there are for a funeral service, it’s best to set a time limit on the memorial. Two hours is about right but if the celebration is in full swing and people want to move on elsewhere after that time then all well and good.

What should the memorial include?

Your memorial service doesn’t have to have any formal elements, it could just be a party to celebrate the life of your loved one – and if they enjoyed a good party then why not?! But you may like to have some structure to the time you are spending together and there are lots of different ways you can do this from a full service led by a celebrant to some of your guests sharing their memories and favourite photos.


A celebrant led service might include any of the items listed below and is best held at the beginning of your memorial for up to 30 minutes, with time to socialise afterwards:

  • Words of welcome
  • Thoughts on life and death
  • Poems or readings
  • Music chosen in memory of your loved one
  • Eulogy
  • Tributes from family and friends
  • Quiet reflection or a symbolic gesture such as lighting a candle
  • Closing words and toast

You can also include visual tributes such as electronic photos projected onto a screen, prints placed on a large board or dotted around the room, or some video footage of your loved one if you are lucky enough to have this.

I hope this gives you a few pointers on how to create a fitting memorial service for your loved one. If you’d like me deliver the service for you, or you’d like to talk though some ideas please drop me a line at or give me a call on 07786 268446.

Handfasting Explained

A handfasting brings visual intrigue to your wedding ceremony, and for many of your guests it will be the first time they have seen this ancient tradition.

If you step way back in time to 12th Century, handfasting was part of every marriage and the couple’s hands were bound together using ribbons or cord. This is where the age old phrases of tying the knot and binding agreement originated, and today there are plenty of modern twists on this very special symbolic act. My favourite options are the Celtic Love Knot and what I like to call the Ribbon of Promises. Let’s look at each of these in a bit more detail…

Celtic Love Knot

The Celtic love knot involves the bride and groom clasping their right hands together, with pulse points touching, and two ribbons are wrapped around their hands to bind them together. I then like to say a hand blessing, describing how these are the hands of the person who will love you and hold you, and wipe away the tears of happiness as well as sadness, and still be reaching for your hand when you are old and grey. Once the blessing is complete, the couple pull their hands from the ribbons holding onto the ends and a Celtic Love Knot is created to bring the two ribbons together.

Sarah and Andy married at The Humble Grape in London where we used four different coloured ribbons for the Celtic Love Knot. The colours for each of the ribbons were chosen by school friends of the bride for their symbolism such as green for honesty and independence and indigo for trust and respect. Each of the friends bound their chosen ribbons around the couple’s hands and explained their symbolism; it was a really special and somewhat emotional part of the ceremony!

Courtesy of

Ribbon of Promises

If you would like to involve close family or friends in your wedding ceremony then the Ribbon of Promises is a great option. I love to include it when existing families are coming together and the children of the bride and/or groom make the bindings. In this version of a handfasting ceremony the couple clasp their right hands together, once again with pulse points touching, and a ribbon is placed under the thumb of each. The ribbons are then gradually wrapped around the couple’s hands as they make promises to each other. After each promise, the ribbons are passed over their hands and a knot is tied underneath, this is repeated for each promise – four times is perfect. The groom then holds the ribbons where the final knot has been made and the couple both pull their hands away for the ribbons to create a chain where the knots have been made after each promise. As well as making those close to you a special part of the ceremony, it’s a bit of theatre for your guests too!

Shelley and Emma had a small registry office wedding in the early afternoon followed by a surprise handfasting ceremony for a much larger group of family and friends, who thought they were just attending the wedding breakfast upstairs at The Joker in Brighton. Shelley’s daughters bound their mums’ hands as they made promises to each other and to their daughters, a really lovely moment in their day.  

Beautiful brides!

So there you have it, my brief guide to including a handfasting as part of your wedding ceremony. You can read more about my wedding services on my wedding ceremonies page, or drop me a line at if you’d like to find out more.

Are Virtual Ceremonies and Celebrations for You?

Lockdown has certainly made us more aware of connecting with our friends and family virtually – sharing dinner, quiz nights, and fun online – and this is something that we may well see playing a much larger role in celebrations and ceremonies going forward.

People have been taking part in virtual wedding ceremonies and live streaming funeral services to those who would ordinarily be there in person. No-one wants to miss these important life events, and we still need to celebrate the special moments in our lives, maybe now more than ever.

Virtual wedding ceremonies or funeral ceremonies are not for everyone but there are alternatives that mean you could still be part of these special moments with offerings like that from The Video Message Company. I love the idea that with their help you can create video messages for people anywhere. You just need to send your videos and messages that you’ve shot on your mobile, other photos you may have, a few details about the person or couple you are celebrating, and their favourite music and they pull it all together into a professional video!


It’s such a great way to surprise a wedding couple, maybe to cheer them up as their big day gets shelved, or to send a personal message to a member of your family or close friend you haven’t seen for 8 weeks and counting. And once we’re through with social distancing, it’s a perfect way to still be part of a wedding or naming ceremony if you can’t be there in person. 

Later this year we’ll be seeing lots of memorial services taking place to truly celebrate those who have died in recent months and a video message could be a lovely addition to memorial services, with messages to the family and anecdotes about the person being celebrated. I’m looking forward to embracing such fun and heartwarming technology into my ceremonies!

But if you’d rather wait until everyone can be together in person, that’s fine too, I’ll be here to help you celebrate when the time comes.  

Find out more about The Video Message Company here: