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So, you’ve hit a major milestone on Life’s Journey. Any significant event in your life deserves to be given some attention, and perhaps a celebration. No matter what it is, this is the time for you to start considering your perfect ceremony.

Just maybe it’s an engagement or wedding celebration, or perhaps you are welcoming a new member to your family? It just might be that you are wanting to throw a graduation celebration, a renewal of vows, a celebration for your furry little ones, or maybe you are needing end-of-life services.

Whatever your major life milestone, you need to find the perfect way to commemorate this special event through a perfect ceremony designed and delivered just for you.


Where to Begin in Arranging a Perfect Ceremony

Often around this time that you will start to work out a budget: venue, photographer, caterer, florist, any important theme related materials, outfits… oh, and  you might consider a celebrant! Surely they are only a couple of hundred pounds, right? They just turn up on the day for an hour or so, speak to your guests and sign some paperwork?

Well, some do, yes. But these days, there is a whole range of talented and inspired guys and gals who are trained celebrants (and remember you should always choose a qualified celebrant!), many of whom offer a premium experience for their clients and work hard to create amazing, memorable ceremonies.

So, what does this involve? How can one ceremony be so different to another, and what makes a celebrant worth paying a sizeable fee for?

Keep on reading for Tuirenn’s tips for planning the perfect ceremony, and how to know when you have found the celebrant that is right for you.


Your Perfect Ceremony Should Reflect Who You Are

You would never go to see a movie that you were completely uninterested in, right? Good , we’re on the same page. So, why would you want some of the biggest celebrations of your life to start with something that had no meaning or held no interest for you or your guests?

Your guests are there because they care about you, and if your celebrant can deliver a ceremony that reflects who you are, your style and your life together, it can set the tone perfectly for the rest of the day.

A quality celebrant will work with you to capture your relationship (as a couple, as a family, as a community), tell your story or just make sure the vibe of the ceremony is authentically you – no matter how short or long you want your ceremony to be.


You Should Be Given Options to Create Your Perfect Ceremony

Your celebrant should always present you with a range of options for each part of your ceremony. The legal bits (if you are celebrating a wedding or civil partnership), while important of course, are very minimal in creating a special day just for you.

But for every type of ceremony, and every other part of a ceremony can be modified and altered to suit you. A quality celebrant (one who is worth spending money on) will actively insist on making your unique and special celebration personal and designed around you. If all they are doing is replicating something they have done before: they are NOT giving YOU options!

Sp, if you don’t feel comfortable walking down the aisle… You don’t have to! Start together, mingling with you guests, or even have your groom walk down the aisle with you.

Don’t like long, drawn out explanations of the beauty of love and why the arrival of a child is a symbol of purity (cue dove release) … ?! You don’t have to include any of it.


Keep it Simple, Light and to the Point, if That’s Your Style.

No matter who you are, and what you THINK needs to be included in a ceremony, one great tip is to consider each separate element of your ceremony, and ask yourself whether it is meaningful or important to you and those you are including.

If these elements aren’t meaningful, there’s a good chance they don’t need to be included. Your ceremony is entirely about what YOU want.

Your celebrant should be able to talk you through all of this, offering other options and suggestions each step of the way until they’ve created a ceremony that you feel completely comfortable with (and excited about!).


How Do They Find Out About What Makes Us Tick?

Celebrants have a range of different ways to draw out the information they need to capture the essence of your relationship, of your family, and of you as individuals.

Some will meet with you several times (often over a few drinks) and gently direct the conversation until they’ve cleverly learnt a whole lot without it feeling uncomfortable for you. This is about REALLY getting to know you. The more they know who you are, the more personal and reflective of you your ceremony will be.

Often there is some input from you required, sometimes in the form of a questionnaire for you to complete, asking questions to draw out the details as easily as possible. Celebrants are usually flexible and will work around your commitments and location, so for some people Skype conversations will sometimes be the best option.


On the Day

On the day of your perfect ceremony, your awesome, excited celebrant should turn up before the guests arrive. Here at For Life’s Journey we insist on being there at least half an hour before.

Depending on your venue, they might be armed with a good quality, battery operated PA.

They’ll chat to the photographer and the videographer to make sure both know exactly what is going to happen in the ceremony and where everyone is standing, so they can get the absolute best shots for you (this usually means they will stand to the side for most of the ceremony, so you get perfect pics without their big mug in the middle!).

They’ll touch base with the planner or venue staff, musicians, and any family or friends who are going to be involved in the ceremony.

We’ve raked twigs from aisles, moved chairs, rescued arbours from incoming tides, scattered petals, escorted grandmothers and made decades worth of excited small talk with guests!

Your celebrant will be able to remind guests to turn off phones, to ensure guests have what they need and to announce an unplugged ceremony.

A great celebrant will also of course ensure that the key players in the ceremony are comfortable and as relaxed as possible (we have been known to discreetly sit a dehydrated, nervous groom in a cool room for a few minutes’ pre-ceremony on a sweltering summers day)! And when the bride arrives, the celebrant will be there to greet her and her bride tribe, making sure everyone is completely ready and before beginning the ceremony.

And finally, a quality celebrant will deliver a professional, stress free ceremony which you and your guests can relax and enjoy from beginning to end, knowing it is exactly the way you wanted it. It will speak directly to your hearts, because it has been written about you, for you, and simply sparkles with YOUR personalities.


Should They Be Able to Help You With Other Parts of Your Special Day?

Yes! Celebrants are a friendly bunch, and we love to counter the solo nature of our role by making as many connections in our industry as we can.

Your celebrant should be able to refer you to many like-minded suppliers, as well as sharing tips and ideas to help with your planning.

We chose this job because we love celebrations… so don’t be afraid to chat (and chat and chat!) about your plans.


Behind the Scenes

As well as the obvious parts of the job (meetings, writing ceremonies, conducting rehearsals and ceremonies, ensuring you have signed your legal paperwork (if you are getting hitched)), there is a lot that gets done behind the scenes.

Keeping up to date with the legal requirements of our industry requires ongoing training, monitoring of changes to regulations and engagement with the different areas of ceremony-making in our areas.

Painstakingly researching and draughting takes a lot of time (and chocolate consumption).

We work hard to ensure our social media outlets are up to date and relevant (totally necessary to spend hours a day trawling Instagram… or at least that is what we tell our own significant others) … and we manage our own marketing plans, network, exhibit and attend industry events. It’s a dynamic, constantly changing and exciting industry we work in and keeping pace with that is excellent fun, but also time consuming.


So How Do I Choose the Right Celebrant for Me?

It’s a good idea to do a bit of research.

Celebrants work hard to create an online persona, so you should be able to get a good idea of their style and how they conduct their ceremonies by doing a bit of casual insta stalking, checking out their website and reading through any content they’ve put online.

Narrow down your list, send out emails requesting quotes and ask what their price includes – remember, not all the celebrants on your list will be available on your wedding date so at this stage it doesn’t hurt to have a few options.

Next, choose the one or two who are available who you like the most, and book in meetings.

I wouldn’t recommend scheduling in a whole lot of meetings – firstly, because if you like the person a lot based on their online presence and any communication you’ve had with them, the chances are you’ll like them in person. If you have a range of meetings scheduled in after that, it can be confusing and make it harder to make a choice from the right place (the heart, not the head!).

It sounds obvious, but the celebrant you choose should be the one you connect with, and feel most comfortable with. Trust your instincts on this one – would you want to tell your life story to someone you didn’t really like or feel you gelled with?

So, you’ve found the perfect celebrant for you…. now it’s time to begin your ceremony planning journey! It will be a fun, sometimes emotional but incredibly exciting adventure, and you’ll be in the most capable of hands. ENJOY!

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Tuirenn 'Kit' Hurstfield
About the author

Qualified to the highest level as an Independent Celebrant (NOCN Diploma), Tuirenn creates and delivers ceremonies for weddings, namings, funerals and other milestone celebrations across the North West and Cheshire region, and will travel further afield too. Irish by name, but English by birth, Tuirenn (pronounced TEER-an) is proud to be serving the community as a public speaker, writer and over all celebrant. Find out more about him here...

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for lifes journeyFor Life's Journey create unique tailor-made ceremonies for all of life's major milestones. We want to tell your story your way. Ardent storytellers and celebrators of life's journey, it's our mission to let you reflect on what's important to you...
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