I just don’t know what to wear…..?!

Let’s face it attending a funeral can be difficult enough without having to worry what to wear.
Most of us associate funeral attire with something sombre, usually black and conservative.
It’s not unusual for a person who has planned a ‘celebration of life’ funeral to include a dress code in line with the style of ceremony they have chosen and to reflect their personality. I was recently asked to wear a Bristol City scarf to conduct the funeral of a keen Bristol City fan.
If you have been asked to observe a particular dress code then you should really try to do so, as a mark of respect, even if it is something like ‘wear bright yellow’ that you wouldn’t have chosen for yourself.

How have weddings changed over time?

Below is an article I read on Easier.com…..

It is talking about how weddings have changed over time.  Weddings really don’t need to be expensive and over-engineered. Just work with a Celebrant that ‘gets you’ and choose a venue to suit you.

Anyway, read what the website has to say…..

“Your wedding day is widely considered to be the best and most important day of your life. That’s a lot of pressure, right? Not only do you have your own extravagant expectations to wrestle with, but also those of your friends, family and the cultural demands of the time. When the day comes to put your money where your mouth is, you could be in trouble. A recent survey discovered that the duties involved in weddings leave one third of bridesmaids in debt! And if that’s the state of the bridesmaids’ bank account, imagine how the bride and groom’s bank accounts look! Thankfully, wedding trends in 2019 are much more budget friendly than they have been in recent years. Puffy princess dresses are out, and simpler flowing gowns are all the rage. Gorgeous wedding shoes and matching bags take brides from the day ceremony to the evening party. With ever-changing fashions, the expectation of showmanship and expenditure surrounding a wedding has altered over time. Let’s take a look at wedding expectations over the years compared to those of 2019.

Weddings through the 20th century

1910s and 1920s: With the turn of the century came the advent of the wedding gown as we recognise it today. During the 1910s, wedding dresses were more flowing than their structured predecessors. This was also the decade in which dancing became a wedding tradition.

The 1920s brought the eccentricities of the jazz age into the wedding sphere. Bouquets got bigger and dresses became more glitzy and glamourous. Weddings in this era started demanding a much bigger budget.  1930s and 1940s: During the 1930s and 1940s crisis hit the country and, in turn, wedding arrangements! Weddings had to be subdued in the 30s due to the great depression. This meant that brides favoured rayon over silk for their gown material due to its affordability.

Expectations were also relatively low for weddings over the war years. Time was of the essence for these occasions. Your wedding date was more likely to depend on your groom’s army schedule than your own desires. The dress code of a 1940s wedding revolved more around practicalities than aesthetics. Brides would often opt for a button up shirt and a skirt short enough to cycle in.

1950s and 1960s: After the war ended and the economy picked up, wedding expectations began to rise. The chosen styles were still casual however, with short dresses or tea-length gowns.

Grace Kelly’s iconic 1956 wedding set a high standard for this era. Following her lead, gowns started to get more flouncy and elaborate as the decade went on.

1970s and 1980s: The 1970s brought a wider variety of wedding styles. Brides of this decade threw expectations out the window and embraced every wedding look from floaty hippie gowns to pantsuits.

When the ‘80s came around, Princess Diana’s wedding to Prince Charles in 1981 set the bar. Her famously massive fairytale dress was the envy of brides-to-be across the country. This maximalist style would influence weddings for the rest of the decade.

1990s and 2000s: Thanks to the growing number of weddings in pop culture, weddings in the ‘90s and ‘00s became bigger and bigger events. Films such as Father of the Bride (1991), Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) and Runaway Bride (1999) all cultivated growing expectations around the big day.

Typical wedding locations began to change over these decades, with an increasing amount of couples opting for an exotic place to tie the knot. Furthermore, the rise of stately homes and country clubs as a wedding setting added a lot of money to the price tag.

With the rise of social media, weddings began to take on a competitive aspect — the bigger (and the more ‘likes’) the better!

2020 – expectations and trends

After that whirlwind of wedding day expectations over the last 100 years, let’s look at the trends in 2020. With the ‘90s and ‘00s causing lucky couple and guests alike to empty their bank accounts, 2020 has seen a sway towards more low-key events.

After towering expectations of ‘perfect’ days and luxurious events, brides have recently been opting for a more down to earth wedding vibe. Outdoor locations have risen in popularity. Think Lake District wedding venues and boho barns.

In addition, the favoured wedding attire has swayed more towards the ‘natural’ look. Wavy hair, minimal makeup and an understated dress all mean reduced expenditure on the bride’s wardrobe for the day.

Even Diamond rings have become more affordable, with many preferring alternative gemstones to the traditional diamond. Sapphire engagement rings have soared in popularity for example.

If you are looking into tying the knot but are getting anxious about the cost, fear not! In 2020 you can be perfectly on-trend on your wedding day without breaking the bank. A simple scheme can be beautiful and elegant if done right — you really don’t need all that extravagance, just a beautiful setting and a wonderful atmosphere.”

“Oh the places you’ll go” …. in 2020!

Congratulations! Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose”…….

I love this great book (and other fabulous words of wisdom) by Dr. Seuss. My children have a copy of the book which we read together from time to time. My best friend read an extract from it at my daughter’s naming ceremony 13 years ago. James (husband) and I felt it was very appropriate.

And it seems appropriate again at the start of a New Year.

For those unfamiliar with “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”, it’s all about believing in yourself as you go out into the world (so in this time of year’s case, the New Year). It may be a children’s book but it’s inspiring for people who are opening a chapter in their life, or even those who may have just closed one. This book is about taking charge of your own life, facing difficulties in your life such as loneliness, fear, and confusion, and taking on life ahead of you.

“I’m afraid that some times,
You’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win,
‘cause you’ll play against you.”

This verse is powerful for me because it is saying that there will be times where you can’t succeed, because you do not believe in yourself, you end up losing the ‘game’.

I also really relate to:

“Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.”

How true:

“And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.”

And this is true too:

“Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.”

But there are so many more positive messages too within this book.

“Oh the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all.”

“And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.) KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!”

Another favourite part is when we get to the Waiting Place – a place I’ve been to quite a few times actually. You’ll have to read that bit yourself! It is talking about how the most destructive thing people do is spend their lives waiting. Even the most driven people get distracted by the inertia of ordinary events.

So, in conclusion, this simple yet profound and beautifully written message applies both to adults and children. Let’s read the final lines together:

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”

A Moment in Time

If you are looking for an alternative to a traditional christening, Naming ceremonies are a wonderful way to celebrate the arrival of a new baby with your wider circle of friends and family.  As there is no legal requirement, you can hold the ceremony at home, in a village hall, in your garden, in a function room or at any venue you would like. Everyone can get involved; grandparents, siblings and specially nominated adults who can act as guardians. And after the ceremony, you can have a party to really celebrate!

Guests may ask you “what gift could I bring?”. Instead of traditional gifts, you could suggest that they bring something that can go in a time capsule. This will give your child an evocative snapshot of the year in which he or she was born as time capsules have been used for thousands of years to preserve a piece of the present for the future.

Photos or objects can speak louder than words. Let your guests know when you plan to open it with your child; 18 years, 21 years etc.

The sorts of things that could be included are local and national newspapers, coins, shopping receipts, poems and drawings by siblings, photos, articles about current fashion and food tastes and any examples of quirky trends that are current. You could ask some close family members to fill in a questionnaire asking what they think the future will be like in 10, 18 and 50 years.

Think about how you will protect the various items in the time capsule (individual plastic bags?) and where you will store it until it’s time to open it. It certainly doesn’t have to be buried but if you do, make sure you dig it up before you move house!

This timeless gift is fun to make, and even more fun to open years down the line. What a treasure for the future!

Digital Assets

Dealing with a family member or friend’s estate after they have died can often be a complicated process at an already incredibly stressful time.

Digital assets are becoming more integral to our lives and families now find themselves having to deal with digital assets when a loved one dies.

Digital assets are non-physical personal assets. These emcompass a range of on-line accounts including email accounts, Social media (Instagram, Facebook etc.), online payment accounts (Paypal etc.), subscription services (Amazon, Netflicks etc.) and picture and document storage (Google drive, Apple iCloud).

Digital assets owned at the deceased death form part of their estate and it is the duty of the executor to make the necessary investigations to find out if the deceased had any. It can be tricky to find any evidence of the ownership of digital assets but there are ways of tracing if they existed.

Reviewing the deceased bank account can show any payments for subscritpion accounts. It is then worth contacting those companies to see if there are any funds in those accounts. Don’t forget to cancel any Direct Debits as soon as you can.

You will also need to register the death with any social media provider the deceased was using. What happends to the deceased ‘profile’ and it’s content will depend on the particular online company’s terms and conditions. For example, Facebook and Instagram offer a service to ‘memorise’ accounts so family and friends can continue to view the deceased profile without it appearing in public searches. On the other hand, the Apple iCloud storage system has a ‘no right of survivorship’ policy which means their account is non-transferrable and any right to content (photos, documents etc.) is terminated on death.

I am not a lawyer but it might be a good idea to prepare an inventory of your digital assets in your Will and include specific instructions and passwords so that loved ones can gain access without the unnecessary complications.


A ‘punk poem’ for a wedding?

John Cooper Clarke is an English performance poet who first became famous during the punk rock era of the late 1970’s when he became known as a punk poet. I love his fun and ironic take on a classic love poem with ‘I Wanna Be Yours’. For me, it’s the definition of modern romance. It even has appeared on the GCSC syllabus! You may also recognise it from the Arctic Monkeys album ‘AM’ where Alex Turner turned it into a song, after hearing it at school. What do you think of it? Working with a wedding celebrant means you can have whatever content you feel celebrates your relationship. You really can create a personal, thoughtful and unique ceremony.       

“I Wanna Be Yours”

I wanna be your vacuum cleaner
Breathing in your dust
I wanna be your Ford Cortina
I will never rust
If you like your coffee hot
Let me be your coffee pot
You call the shots
I wanna be yours

I wanna be your raincoat
For those frequent rainy days
I wanna be your dreamboat
When you want to sail away
Let me be your teddy bear
Take me with you anywhere
I don’t care
I wanna be yours

I wanna be your electric meter
I will not run out
I wanna be the electric heater
You’ll get cold without
I wanna be your setting lotion
Hold your hair in deep devotion
Deep as the deep Atlantic ocean
That’s how deep is my devotion

Remembering a loved one at Christmas…

Are you looking for ways to remember your loved ones this Christmas?

It’s 1st December today and I always feel that once the Advent Calenders are out and being opened, it’s getting close to Christmas. My Mum died on 17th December 1996. She was only 52. I am 51 so I am feeling a bit ‘weird’ as I get closer to the same age that she was when she died. That’s another blog post!  She loved Christmas as she was so family-orientated. She enjoyed the fact that we were lucky enough, as a family, to be close which meant that we always got together over Christmas and she would definitely spoil my brother and I! She was also a Primary School teacher so the run up to Christmas for her class was always quite ‘full on’!  I therefore too enjoy the Christmas season, despite the over-commercialisation and I do recognise the pressures it can put on individuals, families and relationships.  I take the time to remember my Mum’s enjoyment of this time of year but also reflect on those less fortunate.

Whether you have recently suffered the loss of a loved one or whether it was a while ago, I am sure you are simply missing their presence. There are special ways of  honouring your loved one’s life, love and legacy at this time of year.

Candles: I light a candle every evening for my Mum. Candles are a very symbolic. They represent light in the sometimes darkness of life. You could choose one in your loved one’s favourite colour or in a fragrance that reminds you of them. She loved lavender and although that’s not a traditional Christmas smell, I do it all the same.

Presents: I know I can’t give my Mum her Christmas present any more but what I do is that I give a present in her name. It’s normally to a children’s charity (as she was so fond of children) and you can find these sorts of opportunities online. They are so grateful.

Baubles: It’s a lovely idea to create a bauble for your family’s Christmas tree that sums up your loved one. You can buy baubles in which you can place a photo of your loved one, or maybe consider a bauble that represents them in some sort of way. People say that when you see a robin, your loved one is near….

Twelve Days of Random Acts of Kindness:  Instead of the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” do “Twelve Days of Random Acts of Kindness”.  Each day, do one random act of kindness in your loved one’s name, such as paying for the coffee of the person standing behind you in line, or making an effort to talk to someone. Kindness is a wonderful way to celebrate the positive impact your loved one had on the world. I haven’t done this yet but I am starting today.

That’s just a few ideas that might help make this season more meaningful for you and not too sad. Celebrating a persons’ life and the impact that it had on yours is not just commemorating them but it can lift your spirits too and create positivity in the World.



Celebrate your relationship by renewing your Wedding Vows

Have you got a significant marriage milestone coming up? Perhaps you’ve made it to 2, 5, 10, 25 or 50 years together. Maybe you just want to reaffirm your love for each other and your commitment to each other.

A vow renewal ceremony is a fantastic way to do this. It’s an opportunity to commemorate and honour your marriage.  You will be celebrating the love which has deepened and matured between you both with your close friends and family.

Here are some examples of  ‘new’ vows that I worked with a couple recently to create….

“You make my joys greater, my sorrows more bearable, and my spirit known. I promise you nothing less than the rest of my life.”

“You are the love of my life. You make me happier than I could ever have imagined and feel more love than I ever thought possible.”

There is a wonderful poem by Wilferd Arlan Paterson. It seems to sum up perfectly the bond created when a couple are married.

The Art of a Good Marriage by Wilfred Arlan Peterson

Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens.
A good marriage must be created. In marriage the little things are the big things.
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon, it should continue through the years.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together facing the world. It is forming a circle of love that gathers the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humour.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow old.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.
It is not only marrying the right partner; it is being the right partner.

If a vow renewal ceremony feels right for you and it’s the right time, please get in touch.


Godparents or Odd parents?!

I am often asked about whether it’s ‘OK’ to have Godparents at a Naming Ceremony.  Each naming ceremony is unique because there is no set script or pattern. And this is what so many parents value about this welcoming of the child into the wider circle of family and friends. Parents can choose every aspect of the celebration, from the statements of commitment to the child’s future, to readings and music as ways of symbolising the welcome to that child. Since the ceremony is not religious, the phrase ‘Godparent’ is probably not appropriate. But parents often want to invite family members or friends to take a special interest in the child’s development, be there as a listening ear, giving advice and guidance, and also to support the parents. So what to call these individuals? Some people like ‘sponsor’, ‘mentor’ or ‘guiding adult’ or ‘guardian’. Guardian does have a particular legal meaning so maybe should be avoided. ‘Supporting adult’ is popular, as is, would you believe ‘odd parent’ for those with a particular sense of humour!

These special people in the ceremony can make a promise to the child. One I wrote recently was:

“Cathy and Kate, do you formally accept a commitment to this child, to offer friendship and sanctuary, so that she can turn to you in times of doubt or difficulty with confidence and trust?”


Their reply: A simple “We Do”.