Why I became a Celebrant
In January this year Mr Cartmill and I sold a flourishing restaurant business, the sole source of income for our household. You don't do something like that lightly, and we had been planning it for some time, in my case thinking about what to do next. The restaurant business is a highly creative, people orientated arena. I needed something that would allow my to continue to be with people, creating a special experience in a specific block of time, while indulging the side of my personality that wants to make people happy, or at the very least feel better. I confess, I also enjoy a bit of performance being the front of house 'face'. Mr C says all I did was talk all day!
A Seed Planted
Back in 2015 I attended the wedding of my oldest friend and his beautiful wife. His two grown up children were there and the venue was very specific to their seafaring lifestyle. They had beetled off to the local register office in secret to do the legal needful, and this was to be their 'proper' wedding day.
The groom was terrified; not of being married, more about how the day would go off. It didn't help that the celebrant was late! I was struck though, by how absolutely appropriate the wedding ceremony was for the couple. Completely different from anything I had seen before. It really was all about them and, most impressive, the blending of the family as a new unit.
In an earlier part of my hospitality career, it had been my privilege to coordinate exclusive events in country hotels, mostly in Ireland, including weddings. I loved it. Liaising with couples all the way from booking to finale, really getting to know them and holding them through their day.
This got me thinking: I loved the event management, but now in my 50s, I knew I would now find the long, long days and nights involved just too taxing. An idea was slowly forming...
3 years later in the summer of 2018, we put our business on the market and I booked myself onto a one week residential course in the heart of the Malvern Hills, with the Institute of Professional Celebrants, training to achieve NOCN level 3 in Wedding and Funeral celebrancy. In February of this year I attended.
Wow! Five minutes in and I just knew this was it! Every box was ticked, but moreover, having been training part time in counselling skills, I would be able to engage with clients on a deeper, more empathic level then ever before.
More to Celebrancy than Weddings...
You might say, “weddings is one thing, but where do funerals come into this?” It is a matter of great sadness in my life that we, as a family have had several people die at a young age, including two of my own children.
What I learned
One of the things that stayed with me during these times is how important, in fact vital it was that the ritual around each death and funeral was carried out in the way that was proper for my family, and our late loved ones. My grieving process depended on it. The right send off, that acknowledges what is important to you can mean the difference between a forward moving grief process, and a frustrated one.
I knew that my experience would give me the foundation of understanding that I needed to hold and care for grieving families. It's fair to say that I am totally passionate about getting it right. A few funerals in to my new career, I find I am learning all the time and that is how it should be. We're never “good” at this, just the best we can be for the family we represent.
Love, Love, Love!
Weddings on the other hand, are fun! Just as rewarding, there's nothing like tailor-making a unique ceremony for a special couple; crafting an event that truly echoes their individuality, culture and tradition. To see a fabulous couple embarking on a new chapter in their lives fills me with joy.
At the end of the day, celebrancy is all about love and relationships. What better things to have as the raw material for your creativity and care?