Inclusive Independent Celebrant
Celebrating life and love from beginning to end.
14 February 2020
Hand fasting has a long history, dating from the Celts. Both in Ireland and Scotland there is a tradition of tying the knot and hand fasting couples as a symbol of their love.
Each part of the ceremony had a symbolic meaning. The cardinal directions (north, South, East and West) each represented different values you are bringing to your partnership. Below is a short guide to each direction and their symbolism, with tips on how to use them as part of your handfasting ceremony.
The Cardinal Directions
In ancient Celtic symbolism and tradition, the cardinal directions were
acknowledged in several ceremonies and festivals. This means the four points of the compass.
The East represents the air. Communication. New growth, Fresh Starts. The Sun rises in the East and sunrise handfasting ceremonies can be incredibly spiritually uplifting.
The South represents passion, fire, energy and creativity. You can harness this passion in your handfasting ceremony, creating a circle of light, and celebrating the flames of your love.
Sometimes we also incorporate the burning of herbs and resins such as Frankincense and Sage, to purify the space and enhance the spirituality of the handfasting ceremony.
The West symbolises water, spirituality,emotion, psyche and movement. Involving water in your ceremony can be as simple as having a bowl of water to cleanse the wedding rings. It can also involve being anointed with water, or even substituting water for another liquid (cocktail blending ceremonies can be a fun addition to a handfasting!)
The North represents home. Safety. Earth, fertility and comfort. Home can also be the perfect place for a handfasting. Back garden ceremonies are romantic and can be held withing the current legislation (up to 30 people can be present). Home handfastings draw upon the lives you have already built together and celebrate the fact that you are now each others home.
Everything you wanted to know about handfasting but were too afraid to ask!
What is a handfasting and where did it come from?
15 March 2020
Handfasting is an ancient form of promise ceremony, leading to marriage. It involves the binding of a couple's hands together as a symbol of their eternal unity. Handfasting can be found in many different cultures but in Britain it predates Church weddings by several centuries. Handfasting can be found in many different cultures.
The couple would stand before their village elders and their families and make their handfasting promises to each other. These would traditionally refer to the wisdom of the ancients and the elements.
The elders would tie their hands loosely together. They were now 'Handfasted for a year and a day'
During that year and a day the couple could go their separate ways without any blame. They were known to have made their commitment vows to each other and they would live as a married couple during this time.
Exactly a year and a day later they would stand before their elders again and this time commit to each other. This time the bonds would be tied so tightly that the couple would stay handfasted throughout the rest of the evening, symbolically feeding their guests with mead or ale and special honey cakes.
At the end of the evening they would be released, but would keep the cord with its knot as a reminder of their vows.
This is where the phrases 'bonds of matrimony' and 'tying the knot' comes from!
Handfasting has evolved over time. My next blog will describe different traditions of handfasting which you may wish to consider for your ceremony.
Hand fasting cords - their meaning, construction and uses.
writing the perfect speech
When you are asked to write a eulogy it can feel overwhelming. This article, which I contributed to, has 7 ways to help you to write the perfect eulogy. I always offer help to you if you want to write your own eulogy, and also write them for you. Comments I have had for my eulogies include "just wanted to say a huge thank you ...
I really felt that it reflected his life and spirit beautifully".
Find out 7 ways to help you to write the perfect eulogy by clicking the link below.
Celebrant Kate explains: Handfasting
Find out what handfasting is, and how it can enhance your wedding in a beautiful way, without costing the earth. Ecofriendly handfasting is explained in this 'Greenunion.co.uk article.
5 top tips - how to make your sand ceremony more sustainable
Celebrant Kate's blogs
Scroll down for blogs on a variety of topics
Everything you wanted to know about being a Celebrant but were too afraid to ask!
So, why did you want to be a Civil Celebrant?
January 15, 2019
Because I spend my days surrounded by love stories - listening to them and then writing them. Whether they are for past, lost love, present, joyous love, or the future, new baby love, it is my pleasure and joy to tell these stories in a way which reflects the truth.
My story began when I decided to train to be a celebrant.
It took me several months to study with the FOIC to gain my Funeral Celebrant Certification from the NOCN.
I then took time to consider if I wanted to train in weddings and baby naming ceremonies. I loved writing and conducting funerals and feel drawn to helping the bereaved. But then fate stepped in.
At a funeral one of the guests asked me if I would consider remarrying her and her husband, who had been ill. She felt it would be so helpful for her to have someone who linked her parents to the day to conduct the ceremony. The very next week I spoke to a friend who had been diagnosed with cancer for the third time and realised I could give her and her husband a lovely 'congratulations on recovering' treat for their 30th anniversary - and so the idea of training as a Wedding celebrant was born.
More studying, more testing and more homework ensued but I did it! And I have never regretted it. As I craft my wedding ceremonies and baby naming celebrations I find again the joy in helping people celebrate something so special.
My role as recommended celebrant for Denbies Vineyard and Riverview Manor, membership of The Celebrant Directory and Weddings, brides dresses and more means that many new couples are finding their way to me, and many more families are enjoying the chance to formally name their children in the sight of those they love and trust. What a wonderful job!
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Why should a funeral follow the same, boring, path? Funerals are sad enough, but they can leave you wondering if you came to the right one!
My funerals tell the story of the person you have lost in a way which everyone there will recognise. Their character, quotes, quirks and all that made them special will be in the ceremony. Why am I a funeral celebrant? It is a long story really. Possibly it is in my blood (my great grandad was a Funeral Director) though I never felt any interest as a child or young adult.
I think it is because of my previous job in education. My role meant that I spent a lot of time with distressed families and children. I learned to listen, and to capture a child's personality on paper in order to help the families find the help they needed. Later on I trained as a Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist and mindfulness guide and found even more pleasure in helping people in distress. I learned to hear what wasn't said, to spend time just being, and to offer the right words at the right time.
Finally I trained with grief, in order to help grieving children and their families. How to help when it was too hard. How to help them to find the words which had deserted them.
So now, when I am sitting with someone newly bereaved and in shock, my experience helps them to find the words. My creativity helps me to create a service which might be very traditional, or completely different, but is always what they want. The extras I provide, the little things which help on the day, and provide memories for the future come from our conversations and always honour the memory of those you have lost.
I am there on the phone when needed, will change anything you want right up until the service itself, and there afterwards if you ever need a chat. When I get home afterwards I gently say goodbye to your loved one, and know that I have done my best to make a dreadful time that little bit better. And that is the reason I do this job, and also why I love it so much.
29th April 2019
Many people nowadays do not want to have a Christening or other religious naming ceremony, but do want to mark their baby's birth and welcome them into the family. A baby naming ceremony is just that - a chance to name the baby in the presence of family and friends.
Just like in a christening ceremony the parents can name friends who will be there for the baby throughout his/her life. Some parents call these friends 'guides' others 'sponsors', and increasingly they are called 'Odd Parents'. The ceremony can be as simple or ornate as you wish - from simple promises and vows to unity candles, flower ceremonies and sand ceremonies - the choice is as individual as your family. Baby welcoming ceremonies can also mark the blending of several families into one. For example if there are step brothers and sisters, they can also be included in a symbolic way, so that their part in the family group is celebrated and confirmed.
Typically there are readings, vows or promises by the parents and chosen family/friends and an explanation of the choice of names. I would usually offer a formal naming speech, which could involve a religious or spiritual element, or could be completely secular, depending on the families wishes. Music may be part of the ceremony if wished, as can the lighting of candles, giving of advice and Grand Parent promises.
Naming ceremonies can take place anywhere because you do not need a licence, and can be as large or as small as you wish. At last there is a way to welcome a baby and formally name them in a creative way!
What do I do if I want to have a handfasting and a legal ceremony - can I use a celebrant?
29th April 2019
You can register your intention to marry at your local register office. This is called a 'Notice of marriage or civil partnership, and must be given in a Register
Office (separate notice must be given by both parties). This means that your details and intention to marry will be posted in a public place for three weeks. This is a legal requirement, and would be the same even if you were marrying in a register office or other approved (licensed) venue. I see it as the equivalent of the Banns being read for a church wedding. What you do next is up to you - but if you choose a celebrant wedding, you will need to have a Basic Registration of marriage or civil partnership. This is a 15 minute legal service, with only 4 guests permitted (witnesses). You are now legally married! Let your wedding commence! You are now free to have any type of ceremony you want, anywhere that the landowner gives permission - beaches, up a tree, sky diving, under water, on a football pitch ,in a Gothic mansion or your own back yard - only your imagination limits you. This is why more and more people are choosing Celebrant Led weddings, because of the utter freedom they afford.
For your information, I am attaching links to the Register office information in Kent - page 4 tells you all about the basic ceremonies - it also shows you how much more you are likely to pay for a registrar to come to a licenced venue (hotel, barn etc) - I would suggest checking just how much the venue is charging you for this service too - it can be quite shocking! Whereas if you book me, I have a flat fee, which once agreed will not change, and includes unlimited rewrites, meetings and a rehearsal, plus your own copies of the vows and ceremony, and a certificate of your wedding with me to take home.
I hope this has been useful - please do message me with any questions!
Kent Registrar office services: http://www.akentishceremony.com/assets/PDFs/Fees-2019-22-.pdf
Surrey Registrar office services: (at the bottom of the page -statutory register office wedding for 2 guests) https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/birth-death-and-ceremonies/marriage-and-civil-partnerships/ceremony-guide/fees#not
West Sussex Registrar services - https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/births-ceremonies-and-deaths/marriages-and-civil-partnerships/ceremony-administration/ceremony-fees/
Celebrant Kate explains.... Top Wedding Celebrant describes how to create the perfect wedding and baby naming ceremonies.