Ticking all the boxes – and more

Ticking all the boxes – and more

When Judy contacted me to explore the possibility of creating a memorial service for her father, I don’t think either of us anticipated the journey that we were about to embark upon. We had connected, Judy introduced me to her brother Anthony and over the weeks that followed we jointly began to piece together the story of their father’s life. After the ceremony Judy contacted me with a beautiful piece that she  had written about her experience which says far more than I ever could, sit yourself down with a cuppa and enjoy.

Learning to Accept

As his life drew achingly slowly towards its end, my father spasmodically addressed what might happen ‘’afterwards”. While never referring to his actual passing, he did talk in an almost sanguine manner about a time when he would be no longer with us. An understandable and characteristically theoretical approach, a slight distance from the practical and emotional reality. In his customary manner he was clearer about what he would not want in the way of a funeral and unforthcoming about what he did. “It’s up to you.” The ‘would not wants’ included a priest and any form of showy celebration. He added, “and don’t talk about me too much.” I agreed to the first two stipulations and openly and humorously declined the third using just one word, “tough.” Just as well as things turned out!

His approach to discussing his end was at one with his lifelong reluctance to talk about anything remotely emotional or spiritual and of course death embraces both. This was a challenge for me as a priority of the second half of my own life has been about addressing this area of my own development and of course part of that was learning to accept that I could not share any of that with him. I smiled inwardly when people commented on how close we were since in reality there was a sense of almost semi-detachment in our relationship where we were indeed close in the sense that I met all his specified needs but was not able to approach his unspoken concerns. On reflection I feel that this left us both lonelier than we needed to be.

It is strange how often this happens in families. The tie of blood is inexpressibly strong and yet many of us find closer and deeper bonds with friends who we meet through shared interests. I was grateful to learn that my father found it easier to share his concerns with his doctor and with selected members of staff. Maybe it is the very strength of family ties and the indescribable pain of loss that sentences us to silence and evokes a need to seek a compensatory connection elsewhere. It was at this relatively safe and superficial level that we talked about holding a lunch party in lieu of a funeral which would bring those of us from his family together with those of my stepmother for the very first time.  “Make sure it’s a good meal” he said! His only other advice was to keep anything else short.

Faced with a sense of dissonance, I started a somewhat guilty search for a celebrant. Thinking back to the almost irrelevant ceremony come endurance test that marked the end of my mother’s life and anticipating the feelings of disablement that might accompany the loss of my Father, I was already on a path of preparation. I consulted the internet and discovered that just one person stood out from the rest. Her website spoke my language: “I will work with you to create a service which is personal and uplifting, respecting your beliefs and values and those of your loved one. Your loved one’s funeral service will be as unique and individual as the person themselves.”

Active Hope

Hallelujah. Further research into the furthest corner of her website led me to uncover her interest in deep ecology, personal transformation and the work of the celebrated author and Buddhist scholar, Joanna Macy. Relief flooded through me as I pictured the front cover of one of Joanna’s famous books, ‘Active Hope,’ which of itself formed a suitable title for my quest. I immediately experienced the warmth of connection, we were on a similar path. I had no idea what we would create and how we would go about it, but my sense of isolation lessened. We communicated by email and she totally understood and commended my need to have her in the wings. She also empathised with our current situation.

I felt as though I had at last found a toehold in the shifting sands of this situation, I placed high hopes on this woman, and I was not disappointed.

When my father slipped away, it was simplicity itself to send off an email to Liz, the celebrant, and she responded with an ease and a sense of professional and personal assurance that was deeply reassuring. In the back of my mind I discovered a half-drawn plan of the way in which we could celebrate the century through which my father had lived. It also occurred to me that this was the opportunity to revisit my mother’s funeral and pay her due honour. Furthermore, my stepmother’s funeral which took place only thirteen months earlier was also brief; my father’s primary focus had been his wish to walk like the soldier he once was unaided both in and out of the church which meant he pressed for something short. Indeed, the service was relatively brief and more devoted to doctrine than my stepmother. Here was our one chance to unite the different and meaningful aspects of his life and celebrate his most significant relationships and achievements.

Untying the Knots

I was buoyed up by this possibility but had yet to discuss it with my brother. To his great credit, once he understood the pre-agreed wishes and was introduced to Liz on Skype not only was he on side but offered to write and ultimately read an account of the first half of his father’s life, covering the period between1917 to 1971 when our mother died. It so happened that holiday plans relating to key players in this event meant a delay of four weeks. My father’s cremation took place much earlier without ceremony, reflecting his wish. As his remains arrived at the crematorium in Cheshire, I walked quietly by the River Dart in Devon, holding a slender twig in my hand. It was also the fifth anniversary of the death of our nine-year-old grandson, Charlie who was named after his great grandfather Charles. The sense of discomfort in my insides reflected my sense of loss, the older and the younger generation now united in the mystery of death. I cast the twig into the tide and watched it float away before walking quietly home.

We were able to use time given to us to work with Liz productively to design the ceremony and write our individual pieces. My brother faithfully charted his father’s life from his early days to his wartime army life and his return to find a ready-made family. He smiled as he referred to himself as the ‘baby who would not sleep.’ This time cannot have been easy for father and son. My brother had had his mother to himself for over a year and now had to share her with my father for the first time. My arrival no doubt escalated matters as apparently, I did sleep – provided I was given enough to eat! In those days new mothers were away from home for several weeks and existing children banned from visiting. My mother said my brother ignored her when we finally arrived back home together. No wonder. If bereavement is about untying the knots of relationships, my brother’s choice gave him a great opportunity to engage in that process.

A Colourful Tapestry

The content grew organically and no longer did I hold that sense of isolation, Liz just got it and provided all the freedom and support that I could have wished for. The shared document took shape in front of my eyes and I know and valued that this was part of saying goodbye to my father in the best way I knew. Finding a venue proved more challenging and it was thanks to the advice of the helpful funeral directors that we landed in the perfect place. My brother was able to lead this part of the proceedings and he did so with thoroughness and precision. Throughout the process I was truly grateful that we were able to put this all-encompassing event together without a cross word passing between us.

My Father’s Blessing

On the day itself the celebration started at 10.30 a.m. with visitors who were unable to attend the ceremony calling by for coffee. The fresh flowers, one arrangement for each lunch table and one to act as a focal point for the ceremony, arrived just half an hour later. The woman responsible for these works of art was a friend of my late stepmother. She lovingly placed the arrangements and shared memories of the time with her. We parted with a hug; she had transformed the room. As people arrived, we greeted them individually, gave them a drink and ultimately a lunch that would have received my father’s blessing. While the luncheon guests drank their coffee, those attending the celebration started to arrive. The most touching scene took place as six members of staff from my father’s nursing home arrived. Hugs and tears mingled as we greeted one another. Over lunch, I had an uneasy feeling that the success of the service of celebration was totally and irrevocably in the hands of someone who I had not actually met other than via the Internet. When she arrived, we met with a hug and my sense of responsibility evaporated in her direction.

A Moment of Connection

When everyone was seated, she played the first piece of music, strains of the clarinet, an instrument that my father loved. I felt the grip of panic in my whole being, how would I make it through this event? Then, with a soft out breath I relaxed into what I knew was the best that we could do to honour our father. I was fully present without the need to look out of the window. I knew and had complete faith in what was about to be revealed. The afternoon unfolded seamlessly, a testament to all the planning that had taken place over the weeks. Everyone read their own work beautifully, while Liz read mine. I knew that I would not be able to express myself fully if I had to stand and read my words aloud. Liz held it all together like the professional that she proved to be. We shared a moment of connection when, at the conclusion the Brahms, she held my eye and we waited together for sufficient reflective time to elapse before she stood up to draw the ceremony to an end.

A Sense of Fulfilment

We were left with a sense of real fulfilment. We had paid due honour to a long life, well lived. We had introduced parts of my father’s life to all present and celebrated his work, his army career and more importantly two long marriages and life as a father. The contrast between this event and the one which took place back in 1971 is best illustrated by my experience with the flowers. When I first spoke to the florist, she was very keen to be involved and took great care in ensuring that I was involved with choosing the colours and varieties to be included. When it came to cost, she suggested a figure and I added a fifty percent uplift asking her to make them as beautiful as she could. I had seen the enjoyment in my father’s eyes every time I arrived in his room with flowers, these were the last ones. Thinking back to the stark reality that we did not ever see the flowers sent for my mother’s funeral it seemed appropriate that these were enjoyed by all concerned. I was even able to give the arrangements away at the end of the day to members of my stepmother’s family, the daughter of my mother’s closest friend and my brother’s wife. The circle felt complete.

When I got home there was an email waiting for me, sent by my stepmother’s niece. She and I had had the opportunity to get to know each other well since my stepmother died. She kindly informed me that the celebration had ticked all of the boxes and more besides. Her message carried such warmth and understanding, it said it all.

Copyright Judy Allen ~ December 2018

 

None of us can ever know the impact that we make in this life, my Celebrant role brings deep connection and lasting memories, for the people with whom I work and in my own life. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to work with so many wonderful people, the bonds formed leave echoes that resonate for many years. I felt as if I knew Judy and Anthony’s father, a great man who lived his life so very well…  Following  his memorial service Judy contacted me to show their appreciation with a gift that I will treasure, but more so, I will treasure the lasting feeling of having met a kindred spirit. Thank you Judy ♥

Liz Thompson is a Family Celebrant based in Manchester in the UK and working across the North West of England, Liz creates unique and personal ceremonies and services for life events such as Weddings, Civil Partnerships, Baby naming, Vow Renewal and many more. 

Jackie and Mike’s Story

Jackie and Mike’s Story

Opening the Circle

On a cold January evening a group of family and friends gathered to witness the affirmation of a very special bond. From the moment people began to arrive it was clear that there was a lot of love in the room for Jackie and Mike who had contacted me a couple of months previously to discuss a ceremony to bless their relationship. This was no ordinary couple, both a little bit crazy and crazy in love.

Love and life

They are not the archetypal lovey dovey kind of couple, theirs is a light hearted jokey kind of relationship but don’t let that mislead you, this is a love story of the most profound kind, they have been together for a long time, enjoying life and each other’s company but life has a habit of throwing us a curveball at times and they found themselves thrown into a nightmare when Jackie was diagnosed with breast cancer which led to them wanting a ceremony to celebrate their love and commitment to each other witnessed by their nearest and dearest.

The Ties that bind

She is the level headed one in the relationship, he has in Jackie’s words ‘a warped sense of humour, she’s right there!  His humour is sometimes a front for the love that he feels and even though he tries not to be ‘soppy’ his love just shines through. When we met we talked through their ideas and it became apparent that a traditional ceremony wasn’t for them. Their mutual love of nature, countryside and animals led to a conversation about old customs and rituals, they soon decided that a handfasting ceremony was perfect for them. We talked about their relationship, what it means to them and what the handfasting would bring to them. They wanted the ceremony to be fun and lighthearted, perfect for them and their positive outlook.

Feathers and Bells

Royal blue because it fits with them both. Aquamarine because Aquamarine has spiritual energy, and encourages communication to be more loving, and heart based. I used gold thread, which is symbolic of the golden thread of love and devotion that Jackie and Mike have given to each other throughout their time together. I sewed in charms, bells in remembrance of Mike’s beard when he first met Jackie  in Jilly’s Rockworld he had a fu manchu with bells on, a branch for their love of nature,  a butterfly for Mike’s tattoo and also because the symbolism of a butterfly is about acceptance and change in our lives.  A cat, cos they love em! A love sign and some hearts for obvious reasons. Some aqua gemstones for love, and fire opals for soothing, clearing and protection and finally some purple gemstones because it’s Jackie’s favourite colour and I finished it off with cobalt feathers, we won’t mention Owls! 😉 but we will mention wolves, you only needed to look around her house to see that she she loved them!

Closing the Circle

As their ceremony came to an end we joined together in saying vows to the couple, vows of love and support and the strength to hold them through the good times and the bad, finishing with the obligatory wind up from Mike, it was too good an opportunity to miss… Their handfast is framed with the copy of the ceremony and will remain in an unbroken circle for as long as love will last, then it was time to celebrate and have fun, something that they are both really good at! They are a great couple, Jackie is doing well, she is an amazing lady with so much determination, we are still in touch and I’m so happy that they will be going on a holiday of a lifetime and a much deserved break.

Thanks Liz, the ceremony was so beautiful, the laughter really lifted Jackie’s spirits and I know made me cry, thank you so much, everybody said how much they loved it, so gald you helped us celebrate our special day, Mike.

It was a really good night. Everyone enjoyed themselves, Mike and I were the last to leave and we got home about 11:45, thanks again for a brilliant ceremony, Jackie xxx

Jackie and Mike

Freedom

All of that was back in 2016 and at that point Jackie wasn’t expected to live beyond six months but she proved the doctor wrong, always a strong woman, a warrior, she never let her illness define her. She lived life, had the holidays with Mike, spent time with her family doing all of the things we do with those we love, including her pets. Her family knew she was never one for a fuss and treated her no differently, no one was safe from the family banter that was a big part of their lives, even in the hospice laughter rang out and chaos reigned. As time went on, it was becoming obvious that Jackie was struggling to stay with us, she was as always surrounded by her family who were holding her in their love as she slipped peacefully away the day before her 54th birthday.

Her funeral as you might have already guessed, was a real celebration of her life, she had been a biker and was escorted on her final journey by the biker community, everyone wore purple, tears flowed, laughter rang out,  I read a beautiful poem written by her daughter, we played the music that was the soundtrack to Jackie and Mike’s handfasting, we even did the hokey cokey! – long story… family placed Flowers on her coffin and to end I read the same poem that I had read for their handfasting, followed by the final piece of music, A long, long, way to go by led Zeppelin. 

 

I carry your heart with me (I carry it in) 

By EE Cummings 

 

i carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart) 

I am never without it 

(anywhere I go you go, my dear;  

and whatever is done by only me  

is your doing, my darling) 

 

I fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) 

I want no world (for beautiful, you are my world, my true) 

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant 

and whatever a sun will always sing is you 

 

here is the deepest secret nobody knows 

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud 

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; 

(which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) 

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart 

 

I carry your heart  

(i carry it in my heart) 

Jackie’s Last Ride

Images kindly shared by Jackie’s partner Mike 

Liz Thompson is a Family Celebrant based in Manchester in the UK and working across the North West of England, Liz creates unique and personal ceremonies and services for life events such as Weddings, Civil Partnerships, Baby naming, Vow Renewal and many more. 

Symbolic Ceremonies |by Liz Thompson

Symbolic Ceremonies |by Liz Thompson

Unity Sand Ceremony

In this image, the family are taking part in a Unity Sand Ceremony while saying their promises to each other, each colour and grain of sand can clearly be seen yet can never be separated. A beautiful representation of their family life.

Using symbolism in all types of ceremonies is becoming increasingly popular as couples begin to create their own family customs or resurrect old traditions. Different ways of thinking mean that more and more of you are not afraid to let your own unique style shine through.  Many of you are choosing Celebrant led ceremonies that blend something of your own character with tradition, celebrating those special moments in your own style by including symbolic elements that make your ceremony personal and memorable. Symbolism can be used to express your uniqueness, bringing something new and exciting to the ceremony or to pay homage to age old traditions.

Where can symbolism be included?

The easy answer to this is any ceremony or service at all! the choice is entirely yours. Perhaps you are holding a ceremony to name or welcome a new born child or children that you have adopted into your circle of family and friends?  Are you getting married? Renewing your vows? Blessing your union? Remembering lost loved ones? The list is endless. Whatever your reasons, including special elements that make your ceremony or service unique brings another dimension and richness to the celebration or service. You may have heard about the more popular symbolic ceremonies such as hand fasting, unity candles and sand ceremonies. In all honesty anything at all can be symbolic of your values, beliefs and traditions which opens up a whole world of opportunities to create a ceremony that is not only personal but is completely different to any other because it will be crafted around your unique personality or the personality of your child or lost loved one.

Want to know more?

I will be blogging regularly on many different types of ceremony so be sure to come back and have a look. You can also leave a comment or ask a question below and I will be more than happy to blog your requests.

Liz Thompson is a Family Celebrant based in Manchester in the UK and working across the North West of England, Liz creates unique and personal ceremonies and services for life events such as Weddings, Civil Partnerships, Baby naming, Vow Renewal and many more. 

Clare and Chris at The Devonshire Dome

Clare and Chris at The Devonshire Dome

When you know what you want…

What can I say about this bonkers pair? The first time I spoke to Clare she told me what she and Chris didn’t want… a ceremony that had been written for the masses which is why they chose to book me as their Celebrant to write and carry out their ceremony. They wanted a wedding ceremony that was a little bit traditional, a little bit quirky and with a lot of their personalities woven in, in short, a ceremony that was as unique and individual as the two of them, and that is what they got…

When we met it was clear that they were no ordinary couple. Both of them are a little bit crazy… and when their kind of crazy meets it’s best to fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride!  After all, who turns up on a date carrying a big bunch of flowers… in a vase! or has their photo taken naked in a wheelbarrow?! They may not be the most outwardly romantic couple, in fact they are a bit ‘Jack and Vera’ loads of banter and both having to have the last word, but they know each other inside out and would never be without each other, they are each other’s greatest challenge and each other’s inspiration.

Celebrant Manchester|Quirky Weddings|Unique Weddings|Unity Ceremonies

Image by DSB Creative

Before we talk about the ceremony let me tell you about the wedding party, everyone looked stunning I don’t know what I loved more, the horse drawn carriage, the stunning bridesmaids or Chris and Clare’s daughters who were the cutest flower girls ever, in this image Clare has just arrived with her dad.

Chris looked amazing and completely pulled off the ‘tall dark and handsome’ look but of course Clare outshone them all, she’s beautiful anyway and was totally stunning, Clare’s wedding dress and the bridesmaids dresses (don’t you just love that colour, so dramatic) were designed by Mark Lesley and came from Dream Dress Bridal in Bredbury. Clare’s bouquet and flowers were from Red Floral Architecture, more about that later…

Building on words

When we were crafting their ceremony we communicated regularly, phone calls, text messages and emails swapping ideas, sending them words for sections of the ceremony and talking through what would work for them and finally we had a ceremony that suited them down to the ground.

“His proposal was so romantic, there was Chris on the doorstep on one knee, the street lights, lighting up the softly falling snow behind him”

Chris and Clare wrote their own vows which were heartfelt, touching and funny, just as you might expect, and perfect for them. I can still feel the crackle of excitement as their guests waited for Clare to arrive and the hush that fell as the music began and they realised this was the moment.

Celebrant Manchester|Quirky Weddings|Personalised Weddings|

Image by DSB Creative

Her Dad was so proud as they walked in together and Clare’s beaming smile just said it all. Chris was almost holding his breath as he waited, turning to see her looking radiant as she stood by his side.

Celebrant Manchester |Quirky Weddings| Symbolic Ceremonies|

Image by DSB Creative

A candle, a bell and a box

When I told them about symbolic ceremonies they liked the idea so much that they decided that they would like to light a candle at the beginning to honour and remember their lost loved ones, whose flame burned throughout and symbolic of their presence during the ceremony.

Celebrant Manchester| Symbolic Ceremonies| Quirky Weddings|

Image by DSB Creative

They had done the legal bit at the Registry office so decided not to exchange rings during their big day, instead they had a truce bell ceremony, they called it a time out bell ‘for those Jack and Vera moments’.

Celebrant Manchester|Truce Bell Ceremony|Symbolic Ceremony |

Image by DSB Creative

Like a good champagne or a great whisky a great love will deepen and mature with age. Chris and Clare had captured their thoughts leading up to their wedding day in personal notes to each other. And they created their very own time capsule which contained a small bottle of Southern Comfort and a small Bottle of Champagne as well as their love letters which were sealed in individual envelopes. They have not seen what the other had written, and they will be opened on a date of their choosing. A lovely way to celebrate their relationship and to remember the feelings that they had whilst writing their notes. They can also reminisce about all of the wonderful memories they will have made over the years and of all of those yet to come.

Celebrant Manchester|Unique Wedding Vows| Quirky Weddings

Image by DSB Creative

Compliments and contributions

When I was writing their ceremony I contacted some of their friends and family who gave me the low down on them, some great stories… but what shone out more than anything is that they are well loved, in their own right and as a couple, everyone agreed that they are the best thing that has ever happened to each other. Their friends also contributed by reading poems, a romantic one and a funny one, no surprise there!

Celebrant Manchester|Quirky Ceremonies

Ladies and Gentlemen please stand to applause the happy couple as they walk down the aisle together to begin their married life, it gives me great pleasure to present to you, MR & Mrs Brown… and they didn’t walk, they boogied… 

Celebrant Manchester|Quirky Weddings| Unique Weddings

Image by DSB Creative

As I was leaving Clare had spotted a vintage bus outside the venue and in true Clare and Chris style worked the opportunity for some off -the-cuff pictures.

Celebrant Manchester|Quirky Weddings|Stylish Weddings

Suppliers on the day.

The Devonshire Dome is such a gorgeous venue, though I wouldn’t have expected anything less as Clare is a very well known Make Up Artist (Harry Jon MUA) and knows the best in the business, what really stood out were the huge floral displays that had been created by Red Floral Architecture, so striking, and the scent that they gave off was fabulous. And the images of course were from the lovely Damion of DSB Creative.

Celebrant Manchester|Quirky Weddings|Stylish Weddings

Image by DSB Creative

Matt and his team had really pulled out all of the stops to create a beautiful display that was just breathtaking. The Videographer was Tom at Silk Wedding Videos and The photographer was the lovely Damian from DBS Creative who has kindly agreed to share his photo’s with you on this blog.

Kind Words

We just wanted to say a huge thank you to Liz, we met up and waffled our way through our life in a nutshell, sharing stories and quirks with Liz like we’d known her for years. Liz asked questions and we sat quiet, awkwardly answering and came away thinking ‘do we sound like we don’t know each other!?!’ Well, Liz must be a seriously good listener and our waffle paid off. Chris and I sat, both of us crying as we read the first draft of our story – in fact Chris couldn’t speak. It was fantastic for us. It had romance, comedy and the odd tear jerker in there, Perfect. She even gave us the courage to write our own vows and I’m so glad we did. There is no stress with Liz, she’s professional and effortless, taking everything in her stride, truly amazing at her job. Absolutely worth every penny, and the perfect Celebrant to share our day. 

Clare & Chris xxx

Celebrant Manchester|Quirky Weddings|Personalised Weddings

Image by DSB Creative

Click on ~ Clare and Chris’s Video ~ for a little snapshot of the Ceremony from Silk Wedding Videos

 


About the Author

Liz Thompson

 
Liz Thompson is a Civil Celebrant based in Manchester in the UK and working across the North West of England, Liz creates unique and personal ceremonies and services for life events such as Weddings, Civil Partnerships, Baby naming, Vow Renewal and many more. Follow Liz on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram

Chloe and Paul at Broncoed Uchaf

A beautiful autumn wedding

Chloe and Paul’s wedding took place on a beautiful day at the beginning of October. I became involved when I was contacted by Patricia Harrison from Gift of a Wedding to tell me that Chloe had been told that her illness had progressed, Chloe’s Dad suggested that they get married which is when Gift of a Wedding stepped in to help. Gift of a wedding are a charity who gift wedding services to people who have a terminal or life-shortening illness. They do this by bringing together wedding professionals who are willing donate their services for free.

Chloe and Paul wanted an outdoor wedding and as many couples do they decided to do the legal bit in a quick signing at the Registry Office and have a celebrant for a personalised, more meaningful ceremony.

When Patricia asked me I was more than happy to offer my services for free because I support Gift of a Wedding and what they stand for but also because I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to have the wedding ceremony of their dreams, a ceremony that is personal and meaningful, whatever their circumstances.

“It was an honour and a pleasure to plan Chloe and Paul’s wedding. We’re delighted that we were able to fulfill their wedding dream and create some wonderful memories for their family and friends”

Patricia Harrison – Gift of a Wedding

Creating their ceremony

Celebrant Manchester| Personalised Weddings| Handfastings Manchester |Unity Ceremonies When I met with Chloe and Paul and their dogs Henry & Buddy for the first time in their lovely home, Chloe told me that she had always wanted a vintage/rustic wedding, we talked through their thoughts and wishes for their special day, I explained about symbolic ceremonies and the couple decided that they would like to have a candle lit at the beginning of their ceremony to honour and symbolise the presence of Chloe’s Mum Jan who had passed away in 2006.

Paul liked the sound of the handfasting ceremony. In the hand-fasting ritual, the couple’s hands are bound, to symbolise their lives being joined together. It is an old Celtic tradition and is where the saying tying the knot came from. The handfasting cord itself was symbolic I made it for them and sourced the Buchanan Tartan in homage to Paul’s Scottish heritage, and also wove in the pastel colours that Chloe wanted in her ceremony, pink for unconditional love and nurturing, and green for balance and harmony, I also wove through it a golden thread to symbolise the quality of their love for everyone who was sharing their day with them.

Celebrant Manchester| Gift of a Wedding|Outdoor Weddings |Unity Ceremonies

Lottie Elizabeth Photography and Claire Basiuk Photography

A wonderful wedding under nature’s canopy

So the day dawned and I set out on the drive to Wales, it couldn’t have been more perfect, blue skies and such a beautiful setting, Broncoed Uchaf in the Flintshire countryside is stunning and the perfect setting for Chloe and Paul’s wedding ceremony, all of the suppliers worked so hard to make every detail of their day perfect for them.

Celebrant Manchester| Gift of a Wedding| Outdoor Weddings |Unity Ceremonies

Lottie Elizabeth Photography and Claire Basiuk Photography

You could almost feel the crackle of excitement as the guests waited under a beautiful copper Beech Tree, Paul was very handsome (and a little nervous) standing shoulder to shoulder with his best man Chris as they waited for Chloe to arrive, and she made a stunning bride walking down the aisle of autumn leaves to the music ‘One Day like this’ with her Dad, following her gorgeous bridesmaids and Buddy and Henry too! Paul was so proud to be standing there with Chloe by his side.

the candle was lit, it’s warm glow a reminder of her Mother’s love, her dad gave her away and Chloe’s brother Richard opened the ceremony by reading a poem for them,


These I Can Promise

by Mark Twain

I cannot promise you a life of sunshine; 
I cannot promise you riches, wealth or gold; 
I cannot promise you an easy pathway 
That leads away from change or growing old. 


But I can promise all my heart’s devotion; 
A smile to chase away your tears of sorrow. 
A love that’s true and ever growing; 
A hand to hold in yours through each tomorrow.


The couple and their guests were touched and amused to hear their personal story after which, completely lost in each other they spoke their vows to one another and exchanged rings, time for another poem and then finally with their eyes locked, and hands linked, I bound their hands in a beautiful binding of love and total commitment.

Celebrant Manchester| Gift of a Wedding| Outdoor Weddings |Unity Ceremonies

Lottie Elizabeth Photography and Claire Basiuk Photography

Congratulations!

Celebrant Manchester|Gift of a Wedding|Outdoor Wedding Ceremonies |Unity Ceremonies

Lottie Elizabeth Photography and Claire Basiuk Photography

The guests cheered their congratulations as they walked back down the aisle as Mr & Mrs Tibbott, surrounded by the love of their family and friends, a truly lovely couple who will always hold a special place in my heart


I carry your heart with me (I carry it in)

by e.e. cummings

I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)

I am never without it

(anywhere I go you go my dear; and whatever is done by only me  is your doing, my darling)
I fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)

I want no world (for beautiful, you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing, is you…

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky

of a tree called life;

which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)


Check out this video of their big day – by Barry Davies at creative Videos

Kind Words

Thank you so much again for everything, it was so beautiful and lots of people have said to me how much they enjoyed the actual ceremony, Chloe and Paul


The rest of the team who gave their time, skills, services & creativity

to make Chloe & Paul’s perfect wedding day are…

Gift of a Wedding

Lottie Elizabeth Photography

Claire Basiuk Photography

Broncoed Uchaf

Creative Video’s

The Jolly Good Vintage Company,

Cambridge Event Bars,

All Undercover Marquee Ltd,

Fodder in the Field,

Di Shackson Flowers,

Cheshire Cat Cake Company,

The Flower Room Monton,

Ultimate Hair ltd,

Lovelies Delights,

Lottie Elizabeth Photography,

Wirral Tool Hire Mold.

The Owain Glyndwr Inn

Music was by a group of musicians brought together by Amy Chalmers


About the Author


Liz Thompson is a Civil Celebrant based in Manchester in the UK and working across the North West of England, Liz creates unique and personal ceremonies and services for life events such as Weddings, Civil Partnerships, Baby naming, Vow Renewal and many more

You only get one chance to have your ceremony and as ours is not yet a regulated profession anyone can call themselves a Celebrant. Any professionally trained Celebrant will be more than happy for you to check that they are qualified to do the job.  I trained with The Fellowship of Professional Celebrants, see my About Liz page for more information.