Jane Blackman Weddings - Wedding Wisdom

Jane Blackman Weddings - Wedding Wisdom

Celebrant-led Ceremonies

If you’re considering a celebrant-led wedding, I hope this blog helps you to understand the endless choices and possibilities that there are - helping you to create a memorable, wonderful wedding ceremony, just perfect for the two of you . . .
Feel free to get in touch for an initial chat - give me a call on 07814 208087 or drop me a text or an email to: jblackmancelebrant@gmail.com I'll be very happy to answer any questions you might have.

A Celebration Of Celebrants ~ What Is A Celebrant & What Do We Do?

CeremoniesPosted by Jane Blackman Sun, December 09, 2018 09:45:41

When I’m asked the question, ‘so what do you do for a living’ and I say, ‘I’m a Celebrant’, I’m more often than not, met with a puzzled expression or the question, ‘a WHAT?’!

If I say ‘I’m a Humanist Celebrant’ (which I am) there’s sometimes a glimmer of recognition, but generally little chance of the person knowing or really understanding what I do.

Not only is the job title ‘Celebrant’ a new one for many, but all that the role of a Celebrant entails, is still not really known about by Jo/e Public. It’s usually only when people attend a celebration or ceremony, led by a Celebrant, that they come into contact with us and begin to understand that there is an alternative, personalised option for Weddings, Funerals, Baby Namings, Vow Renewals and possibilities for other celebrations or ceremonies, such as ‘coming of age’ or even divorce.

I’ve always been used to people understanding what my job is. I was a teacher and a Headteacher before I became a Celebrant - technically I still am, although I haven’t worked in schools for a few years. I therefore often tell people ‘I’m a teacher too’; not to mislead them in any way, but rather to reassure them, that I have credibility; that I’m an educated, professional and ‘qualified’ person, and that other Celebrants are too - very much so in my experience.

Celebrants are very often people who’ve held jobs and roles that have required them to gain qualifications, perhaps to have been through further education, some kind of training - and they’ve more often than not held a certain amount of responsibility in their working life. They are likely to be people whose ‘previous life’ or maybe their ‘other job’ (because you’re unlikely to make your fortune purely from being a celebrant) is labelled by society a ‘profession’. Celebrancy is very much a ’profession’ because it’s a job that requires a great deal of skill, talent, organisational prowess, and because most Celebrants are likely to be undertaking some kind of ongoing professional development, whether it be from their training organisation or as a result of them signing up to conferences, workshops and networking sessions; they are committed to improvement and learning. After all, professional people are those who care (or who should do) about their work, and are committed to providing a high quality service and experience for the customer.


Celebrants are also (in my experience) warm, friendly, capable, confident people who strive to make a positive difference to others and who will go out other way to create and deliver ceremonies and celebrations that are personal, memorable and ‘just right’ for the client.

BUT and I make no apology for stating the obvious - Celebrants are all different . . . . with similarities of course - but the bottom line is we all have different approaches and styles - because we are all unique human beings of course! We do the same job, but in in our own very personal way, which probably varies in our job more than it does in the vast majority of other professions. WHY is that . . . well I think it’s because there are very few rules in our work . . . and a big part of the service we offer, is to work very creatively, crafting ceremonies that reflect the unique individuals that the occasions are for. So every single ceremony will be in some way different from those that have gone before - our unique selling point!

So why am I writing this blog, when what I have just said is so flippin’ obvious?! Well it’s because I’m beginning to get rather frustrated, not only for myself as a Celebrant (in my fifth year of ceremonies work), but also on behalf of my clients and potential clients - the people who are looking to find and book a Celebrant for their wedding, baby naming or the perhaps the funeral of a loved one - who just don’t have the correct information!

There are so many MYTHS out there about Celebrants - who they are, what they can and can’t do, how they can be found, where they can work, etc.

So here’s a bit of myth-busting to help clients (and also other Celebrants who may be new to celebrancy) to understand what is true and what is false when it comes to finding the ideal Celebrant.

Let’s unpick those crazy MYTHS . . .

1. Anyone can become a Celebrant, with no formal training
. Whilst this is technically true, the majority of 'good’ Celebrants choose to train with an organisation (of which there are several across the UK), attending a course, completing assessments and consequently obtaining a ‘certification’ or ‘accreditation’. Not all Celebrants are ‘qualified’ though - in fact some Celebrants have no specific, formal ‘training’ for the role whatsoever, and I know a couple who are absolutely excellent, despite this. But most would argue it is far better to commission a ‘trained’ or ‘accredited’ (or at the least a really experienced) Celebrant. Having said that, anyone can ‘train' and that training will not make someone lacking the many personal attributes required to become a successful Celebrant, a good celebrant, no matter how hard they try.

2. Celebrants are all Humanists
. I hear this misconception ALL the time and it drives me nutty! Most people don’t understand that there are different ‘kinds’ of Celebrants, broadly grouped as follows (THIS IS NOT AN EXHAUSTIVE LIST, just a general guide):

- Humanist Celebrants - lead non-religious or secular ceremonies or services (which can include hymns or readings with religious words, as long as they are not included as ‘acts of worship’). Humanist Celebrants are trained and accredited by Humanists UK (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland), Channel Islands Humanists (in the Channel Islands) and by The Humanist Society (in Scotland).

- Independent & Civil Celebrants - lead ceremonies/services that are both religious and non-religious (depending on the individual Celebrant, as there are some Independent Celebrants who are non-religious and who prefer not to include acts of worship - in my experience though, most are happy to accommodate prayers, bible readings, etc if wanted)

- Pagan, Wiccan & Druid Celebrants - lead ceremonies often incorporating spiritual,
symbolic rituals, drawn from Celtic or Druidic traditions and beliefs - many may, like other Celebrants, offer non-spiritual ceremonies as well (always best to check what the individual Celebrants themselves offers, in your initial contact)

3. Celebrants perform ‘fake’ weddings. I always respond to anyone daring to tell me that the weddings I lovingly craft and lead aren’t ‘real’ by explaining that there’s a distinct difference between a marriage and a wedding!

A marriage is after all, the legally binding ‘contract’ (and really no more), but the wedding is the ceremony that celebrates that marriage or partnership and during which genuine promises are made between two people. Therefore no wedding can ever really be ‘fake’, unless one of the parties is not fully committed to the marriage or entering into it dishonestly. Most couples who undertake to commission a Celebrant to create and lead their wedding ceremony, feel exactly the same way, and want their ceremony to be the meaningful, personalised focus of their wedding day, during which they say and do exactly as they wish, celebrating their unique relationship and their hopes for their future as a married couple.


As of Dec’ 18 only Humanist Celebrants in Scotland, Northern Island and Jersey can legally marry couples, in addition to offering a truly personalised wedding ceremony. If couples in the rest of the UK wish to have a personalised Celebrant-led ceremony (with any kind of Celebrant not just Humanist) and wish to be legally married, they are required to legally register their marriage at a register office (or with a registrar at their venue - but this is inevitably a very expensive way of ticking the legal box).

Most couples with whom I work tend to register their marriage in advance of their wedding day, simply and cheaply with no fuss; no need to book a ceremony room (even though the registration service might try to persuade a couple to pay for a room, there is no rule saying that people have to have one) - therefore saving all the special, meaningful elements such as personalised vows, ring exchange, etc for the wedding day and their wedding ceremony.

4. Celebrants wear robes. I’m often asked what I wear to lead ceremonies. Occasionally people (and this tends to be older folk) tell me they expected me to turn up in robes, similar to a priest or vicar. Some religious Celebrants choose to wear clothes that reflect their belief (e.g. a clerical collar and/or a gown-style garment) but most Celebrants wear ‘ordinary’ clothes, albeit smart and appropriate for the occasion. Some dress more formally than others but that is because, as I have mentioned before, we are all different!

5. Celebrants are rich! If truth be told, most Celebrants are working for the minimum wage, when you add up all the hours that we pour into our ceremonies and our clients. What goes on behind the scenes, before the ceremony actually takes place, is rarely considered by those looking to book a Celebrant. People will not understand (and why would they) that almost every single ceremony requires a great deal of client contact (ideally face to face but sometimes via Skype or phone), travelling (to/from the client meeting and the ceremony itself - and in the case of a wedding, a rehearsal as well), several hours of writing, redrafting, emails and phone calls; to check content, answer questions and arrange practical details, etc.

Most funerals I’m involved with will take up anything between 1.5 and 3 days from start to finish - depending on distance, travel time, contact and meetings with the family and and the complexity of the ceremony. Working with people dealing with grief, can often be very time-consuming, for obvious reasons.

Most wedding ceremonies I create and lead, take anything between 4 and 5 working days - from initial contact with the clients, to arriving home through the front door, after travelling back from the ceremony on the wedding day itself. That’s a huge time commitment for a ceremony that lasts about 45 minutes. But if the client wants a truly bespoke and tailor made ceremony, the time commitment is an essential part of getting everything ‘just right’.

The wedding ceremony is after all, an absolutely essential part of the wedding day, reflecting the people whose relationship it celebrates; setting the scene for the rest of the celebrations, so it must be spot on. It’s a huge responsibility to take on - and therefore a role not for the faint-hearted!

A bespoke Celebrant-led ceremony is actually incredible value for money, particularly when you compare the cost to other things purchased for weddings and provided by other wedding suppliers. A Celebrant will rarely charge anywhere near as much as a photographer, a videographer or a caterer - and the fee charged for a tailor-made ceremony is very unlikely to be as much as the wedding attire - the dress, or sometimes even the shoes!

The fee charged for a Celebrant-led funeral ceremony is also extremely reasonable, when you consider the overall financial burden of a funeral. When you look at prices of coffins for example (the vast majority of which are destroyed by cremation) the cost of that alone can be huge. A Celebrant-led funeral, if well-crafted and led should leave lasting, comforting memories for those in attendance - and most Celebrants charge a small percentage of the overall funeral cost, to provide that.

The majority of Celebrants are in the job for the love of it - as are a lot of other wedding suppliers. We know we’re never (in the words of Del Boy) going to become millionaires Rodney! The huge satisfaction we get from a job well-done is the motivation for most of us.

. . .

Mission accomplished - myths busted. I hope you enjoyed reading - and if this inspires you to consider the Celebrant option for any ceremony, I hope it helps you to track down the perfect Celebrant for your occasion.

. . .

If you have an enquiry, any questions about Celebrant-led ceremonies, or just fancy an initial chat about a ceremony you have in mind, do get in touch WITH NO OBLIGATION at all. Email me at jblackmancelebrant@gmail.com or call me on 07814208087.



















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5 Reasons To Have A Wedding Rehearsal

Wedding CeremoniesPosted by Jane Blackman Sun, September 23, 2018 18:39:36
As a Wedding, Naming and Funeral Celebrant, I’ve been entrusted with hundreds of beautiful and memorable occasions for clients, ensuring they are memorable, for all the RIGHT reasons - and a rehearsal is key to this - particularly with weddings!

Whether the wedding is a complex and grand affair in a country house, a relaxed wedfest on a farm, overseen by a planner or co-ordinator in dedicated wedding venue, or a simple laid-back celebration in a private back garden or village halls, I’ve come to realise just how crucial a wedding rehearsal really is. It really helps to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible on the BIG day. So when a couple asks, ‘Is a rehearsal REALLY necessary?’, my answer is always the same . . . ‘Yes it ABSOLUTELY is - and you won’t regret it - you’ll be pleased you did!’ and here are just some of the reasons why . . .

1.TO REAQUAINT

It’s a great opportunity to touch base again, with your officiant or celebrant - an opportunity to get together in person once more, before the actual day and in the very place where you’ll be on your wedding day. You may have met them once or twice before (twice is most often the case for my clients), during the lead up to your wedding, but it may have been a few months prior, and perhaps, you’re beginning to forget what s/he looks like! Also, you may be involving some close friends or family members in your ceremony, who may have only met each other briefly before, or perhaps a long time ago (or maybe never!) - it’s the perfect opportunity then, to reacquaint people or introduce them for the first time - and get them chatting and connecting before the big day arrives. Sometimes people get together for a drink or a meal after the rehearsal - a lovely way of extending the celebrations overall!
2. TO REASSURE

The most significant benefit of a rehearsal, I think, is to allay any fears and calm any pre-wedding nerves or worries, that are inevitably associated with the most important day of your life! With your celebrant there in person, you’ll have the opportunity to ask any questions you might have, discuss any last minute changes and/or work out any little problems that may have cropped up. Your celebrant will be there to metaphorically ‘hold your hand’, to advise and guide you through the ceremony, offering suggestions and solutions. Then the night before your wedding day, you will go to bed knowing exactly what to expect - where you’ll stand, how you’ll move around, when you’ll be invited to sit, face one another, hold hands, what you’ll need to say, etc. Other than the overall feeling of excitement and anticipation that might keep you awake on your wedding eve, there shouldn’t be any worries about the ceremony itself!
3.TO REITERATE

During your rehearsal you’ll be given the chance to go over things as many times as you wish (within reason!). A key part of the ceremony which often concerns people is, the entrance, understandably. No one relishes the thought of tripping up steps, treading on the feet of the person who might be accompanying them, or perhaps getting a dress caught on furniture as they walk up the aisle! So the entrance is always practised, ideally with the music that has been chosen for this part of the ceremony. I always check timing with my couples - the point at which the first person will set off and how people will arrive in the ceremony space; what they will do, where they will go next and the order and positioning of all who will be processing at the start. Other logistics are often rehearsed, such as the movement and position of the people tasked with sharing readings, etc. The layout of furniture and seating is also checked and decided, to make sure there is sufficient space for everyone to move around freely.
4. TO REINFORCE

The rehearsal provides the couple with the chance to say out loud, the words that they will speak, when they make their promises and vows to each other and when they exchange their rings. I always ask for a private moment with the couple, to run through this part of the ceremony, just the three of us (keeping these special words to ourselves until the wedding day) at the rehearsal. You’d be surprised just how many couples come to their rehearsal, having never said their vows out loud (not even on their own, let alone to each other). Quite often, the rehearsal is the very first occasion during which these words have ever been uttered and this can bring about some (often unexpected) emotion. I’ve been witness to so many couples feeling quite overcome, becoming tearful during the rehearsal, and this regularly takes people by surprise. Having said the vow and ring words out loud prior to the big day, can help with emotions on the wedding day itself - or at least it can provide a taste of how they might feel when the words are said for real! Having begun to consider how emotional you might (or might not!) be, during the rehearsal, you can be a little better prepared for how you might react on the day. My opinion is that emotions should be set free; a wedding day is of course, an emotionally charged occasion, so just embrace how you feel. If there’s crying, they’ll be happy tears - let them flow - just remember to have a tissue handy!
5. TO KEEP IT REAL AND RELAXED

A rehearsal is all about making things feel as realistic as we can - a genuine taster of how things will be on the big day. If at all possible I advise couples to have their rehearsal on the day before their wedding day. Sometimes this isn’t possible of course, particularly if they’ve booked a designated wedding venue and there are ceremonies booked in, during the day preceding. If the day before, is not available, then sometime during the week leading up to the wedding also works fine. Better to do that, than have no rehearsal at all. The great thing about having it as close as possible to your wedding day, is that it provides a much better chance of having everything set up as it will be for real - the furniture, seating, lighting, music facilities, etc. Creating the scene, so that it feels realistic, is really helpful in preparing a couple well. And if those playing a part in the ceremony can’t make the run through, then a rehearsal with just those who can, is absolutely fine (even if it’s just the couple themselves and me - again, that is far better than not having one at all). I’ve done plenty of rehearsals where it’s been just the three of us and then I’ve arrived at the venue early, on the ceremony day, to run through everything with those who were missing from the rehearsal.

I honestly haven’t done a rehearsal yet, where the couple haven’t said to me afterwards, “We’re so pleased we had a rehearsal!” It really does REASSURE everyone, and not just the couple - guests who are involved as well, and additionally, it gives a couple a very valid excuse to extend their celebrations and the time spent with their nearest and dearest! A rehearsal is always lots of fun too - there’s laughter and that lovely feeling of giddy excitement. I always enjoy the rehearsal, often almost as much as the ceremony itself.


REHEARSALS & RUN-THROUGHS ROCK!

Photos courtesy of Firefly Photographic www.fireflyphotographic.com






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Why Invest In A Wedding Celebrant?

Wedding CeremoniesPosted by Jane Blackman Sun, September 23, 2018 18:28:20
This is a question that an increasing number of engaged couples ask themselves, as they begin to consider and make plans for their dream day.

Well the answer is really quite straightforward . . . a celebrant-led wedding ceremony offers far greater CHOICE for all couples, simply because the wedding . . .

1. can take place ANYWHERE (no restrictions whatsoever on location - indoors or outside - and no need to book a venue with a wedding licence);
2. can include and say ANYTHING you wish (no limitation on content);
3. can take place at ANY TIME (if a candlelit evening ceremony is for you - then that is what you can arrange);

4. can be ANY LENGTH - as long or as brief as you wish;
5. can take place on ANY DAY;
6. enables you to include personalised, vows and promises, ANY WAY you wish to say them. Some couples like to write their own vows, keeping these a secret in the lead up to their big day, whilst others prefer to make the same promises, ‘saying after’ their celebrant. Whatever a couple’s preference, I’m always happy to guide and advise as much or as little as is needed, providing example wording to get things started, if that is wanted; and helping to balance the wording, if couples want to exchange vows that are different from each other;

7. can include ANYBODY, as celebrant-led weddings give couples the opportunity to involve friends and family members in the ceremony - perhaps sharing readings, acting as witnesses to a certificate signing or candle lighting - or other symbolic moments you might choose to include;
8. having a celebrant take control of all the detail in your ceremony, alleviates any worries or stress a couple might feel as they ask themselves, is there ANYONE IN CHARGE? A good celebrant will offer a rehearsal (something I always encourage all of my couples to take advantage of); they will guide and support you, ‘holding your hands’ metaphorically speaking, throughout; ensuring everything runs smoothly prior to and during the ceremony . . .

. . . and very often the financial investment of a celebrant alongside a legal registration, is no more or little more, than if a couple were to book a legally binding ceremony in a register office or church - or arrange for a registrar to attend a licensed venue. If a couple wishes to be legally married prior to their celebrant-led ceremony (most often the case for couples with whom I work), then the legal formalities can be arranged and dealt with easily, for a minimal fee, prior to the wedding day. See my guide to ‘Making It Legal’ on my website www.janeblackmanweddings.co.uk

Photos courtesy of Firefly Photographic www.fireflyphotographic.com









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