Sheila Ellis

A very busy week

It has been a really busy week this week.  We had Jon and Katy’s wedding on the 3rd September, this ceremony had been book for some time and our meetings were very early so even though we had kept in touch through emails it was lovely to meet up with them again and also meet their lovely children.   20160903_346

The wedding ceremony was not to take place at a Grand place but in the grounds of their friends pub with teepees for the party area.  It may not have everything a Grand place could offer but you could feel the love all around.   The children were so well behaved and polite, such a credit to Katy and Jon.   They all had duties and carried them out brilliantly.20160903_501

We had a rare Sunday off but then there was the general household duties and also some gardening.  Monday and Tuesday I was catching up and writing a script for a last minute wedding on the Friday.  The couple had cancelled their previous ceremony due to the Bride’s father falling ill but they decided to go ahead with the arranged Party.  However, the Groom’s mother contacted me to ask if I was free to conduct their ceremony.  Once she knew I was free she talked to the couple who were all for it too.

But before the Friday it has been a busy week with organising a CPR training session for the villages, a Healing session book in,  on Thursday we had to be up early to catch the train to London to attend The Good Funeral Awards luncheon.  David decided to wear a new waistcoat that I made for him,  I will add that he had chosen the material.   I believe due to this he caught the eye of The Independent photographer and the photo was included in an article in the Newspaper.   The actual luncheon was delayed due to late comers so we only just had time to eat our dessert before having to rush to catch the train home, throw some food at our dogs and then rush out to the new Team Vicars inaugural

Friday found us out in the morning to a meeting of friends to discuss several projects for our Reflections of death and dying side.  We came home and I was busy altering the script for the afternoon with last minute changes.

The ceremony was for 4pm so I was at the venue the Boys Hall in Ashford, for just gone 3pm and chattered with the Bride , Groom and Sue, my first contact.  The venue is a licenced Registered premises but, because they could, the couple rejected the usual Gazebo for a lovely corner of the beautiful gardens.   Again it was a small affair but that did not take away the intimacy of the ceremony and the feeling of love and support the family gave the couple.20160909_582

So back to the present, a weekend off to recover?  well that is how to view it, but it is, again, a catch up time on those household chores, making lists of things that need to be done in the next couple of days, doing them, and then Monday packing my suit case for my travels to see family and attend the funeral of a loved Aunt and then returning on Thursday to finished everything for the rehearsal on Friday and the ceremony on the Saturday.  Then the first Wedding fair of the season on Sunday a   t the lovely venue of Port Lympne Manor.  After which we will be packing up for our much needed Holiday.  But that is not the end, on the way back  from holidays we will be stopping at Leicester to conduct a hand fasting.

The Great Higham Wedding

by Sheila Ellis 0 Comments

The Great Higham Wedding was held last Saturday

Ceremony area

Ceremony area

and although very windy was warm weather, so good for an outdoor ceremony.


The Bride and Groom didn’t want a long ceremony but, both being musicians, they had a Choir singing which was truly lovely.    They walked down the aisle together followed by their four little flower girls all holding a bunch of lovely dried flowers.  The Choir sang Mo Ghile Mear on their entrance and we waited for it to finish before commencing the ceremony.

While the Bride and Groom where struggling to light their Unity Candle in the wind, the Choir started to sing The Blue Bird by Stanford, which was beautiful.  We did sit and listen to the end of the song and it was so moving.

At the end of the Ceremony the Choir then sang Brindis Chours from La Traviata by Verdi, and although the Bride and Groom walked back down the aisle they halted at the end to listen up to the end of the song, of which the Choir got a rousing applause from the Bride and Groom and all their guests!

After that the guests where served with wine and the party began.

I know I have said it before but each ceremony is so different from any other and it is so wonderful to be part of each one and know that you had helped create that unique ceremony for each special couple, it is a most rewarding job.

On other notes, as most of my ceremonies appear to be outdoors nowadays,  I have now invested in a microphone system that can be used outdoors and in woods and fields and in high winds!   The system is run off internal batteries and has a portable mic for me and hand held ones for those that are elected to speak or read at the ceremonies.   Often I have been given a portable mic but the family or friends could not use it so they were not being heard by all the guests.  I am hoping that it will solve this problem.  It will also play pre recorded music if needed but I may have to make a charge for someone to operate it for me.  My next ceremony is in a field and a week after I have one in the middle of woods and them up into a field (testing out the portability of the speaker!) so it will be put to good use straight away.

A Wedding at Port Lymne Manor


A Wedding at Port Lymne Manor was always going to be special, not because it is a beautiful venue full of lovely places to explore and that is just the house, the gardens are breath taking with glorious views out to the English Channel and then of course there is the offer of further adventures into the Wildlife park,

But I get ahead of myself, firstly after our time away at The Healing Weekend, I had to prepare everything for Louise and Callum’s special ceremony.   20160712_249

Louise and Callum's Party Ceremony

Louise and Callum’s Party Ceremony

This was a secret ceremony one that their guests knew nothing about.   The guests had been invited to a party and once everyone had arrived the DJ asked everyone to sit down because there was a special surprise and I then led Louise and Callum onto the dance floor.  20160712_291 Both were extremely nervous and I think they were glad when it was finished, they didn’t really like being the centre of attention. Once over they were crowded around by their guests congratulating them so I believe they thought it had been worth the embarrassment.   Both thanked me for helping them through it.  I do hope they partied well afterwards they certainly deserve it for being so brave.



Back to Port Lymne, David and Christine’s wedding was organised to perfection as is their way.   I was very honoured to be part of that perfect organisation, and I believe that Christine appreciated that I too liked to be super organised and that she could leave the ceremony arrangement to me and know that it would be perfect.   They wrote their own vows to say not only to each other but to each other’s boys too. Five boys between them and they were all fully included in the ceremony.20160715_439

When it was time to say those vows everyone was in tears, they were so heartfelt and delivered so emotionally, even I, who knew what they were going to say had to hide behind one of the concrete pillars to wipe my eyes and blew my nose!

Afterwards, Christine and David insisted on having a photograph with me and then we said goodbye and Christine gave me a big hug and whispered in my ear ‘Thank you’ over and over again, so many times that I was in tears again. David told me that their guests had said that it was THE best ceremony they had ever witnessed. I am so please that they got their perfect ceremony dream. Job done!20160715_561

First Handfasting at the Healing Weekend!

We have spent the last few days down in Somerset on a field attending The Healing Weekend at the Secret Gardens Animal Sanctuary.

This is our second year attending, last year was a spur of the moment, take over someone’s cancelled pitch which was on the main field and we thought it was going to be a good spot but it turned out to have people passing through quickly to get to the performances and workshops, plus we didn’t have a lot of time to advertise the fact we were actually there.   This year we were in the ‘back’ field, away from all the main hub but it was good because most people were strolling around and we did have a full field of exhibitors for them to stroll around plus the Vintage Cream Teas were on offer and drew people in.

On The Healing Weekend field

On The Healing Weekend field


Lots of people admiring the archway that we put up in readiness for Handfasting ceremonies.  Lots of interest in the ceremonies and our work, even the planning of funerals!


David took over a cancelled workshop and talked about planning the end of your life.   Some missed it and were a little upset that it was not advertised better but it was a cancellation spot, maybe next year he will have his own workshop.

On the last day, Sunday, Barbara and Phil had their Handfasting ceremony.  This was the first ever Handfasting not only at The Healing Weekend but also at Secret World too.  20160712_76Barbara was drummed into the field by her friends, while Phil waiting at the ceremony area.  Unfortunately it had decided to shower just before so we took the decision to place a gazebo over the archway.  During the ceremony the Sun came out again.

First ever Handfasting at the Healing Weekend in Somerset

First ever Handfasting at the Healing Weekend in Somerset

It was a lovely ceremony and one that was heartfelt.   Now we have had one ceremony we need to have more……….. So if you wish to enjoy a Handfasting in the fields of The Healing Weekend please do contact us.


Handfastings at The Healing Weekend


Handfastings are being offered by us at The Healing Weekend, held in Somerset on the weekend of July 8th to the 10th,

We will have an arch way for the ceremony area2016 A4 ad and you will be given a choice of vows to say, or you can write your own.  Bring along your own cake and mead/wine too but we will have an alter with items representing the elements, a horn for drinking.   Friends are welcome to come along and witness your tying of the knot.   Plus jumping the broom if you wish.

We still have time slots left if you wish to contact us and book your Handfasting.

The Healing Weekend is held at the Secret World, which is a wild life animal sanctuary.   Car Parking is free if you are visiting for the day.   There is a camp site but you will have to contact the organisors for information.

Last years camp was brilliant, although weather wise we had everything but snow it was still really vibrant.   There was truly a village atmosphere about the site all through the day and into the evening until the last workshop closed and all the visitors went home.

There are numerous stalls to walk round, lots of different therapists (including myself as a qualified Energy Healer as well as a Celebrant) and then through out the day there are workshops that you can attend and music into the evenings.   There is also a Kiddies area.

Please do come and visit and pop in and see us and have a natter even if you are not booking your Handfasting this year.

Another First

Another first for me was having a release of doves during the ceremony.

Thursday was very chilly and I did wonder if the outdoor ceremony at Swarling Manor would go ahead or if we would be in the Barn.  If in the Barn what we would do about the releasing of the doves. They were scheduled to be release at the beginning and end of the ceremony.

Ceremony Area at Swarling Manor

Ceremony Area at Swarling Manor


Because it was not raining the decision was taken to continue outside, so I set up everything and then went to find the Event’s Manager to discuss the process.   The dove releasing company arrived a little late but in good time to go through where the doves would be placed and who would be releas20160602_85ing them and when.

The Bride was lovely surrounded by her Bridesmaids all in red including all the little ones, who were all so well behaved.

The service went well, the doves released on time. Two for the Bride and Groom in memory of Grandparents. Two more by guests again in memory of passed loved ones and a whole basket for all loved ones .   At the end the Bride and Groom released two more to commemorate their love.   The only hitches were


Releasing of the doves

Releasing of the doves

the lighting of a memorial candle and later the Unity candles, the wind was not kind but it worked in the end.

At one stage I was going to place my hand on the Bride’s shoulder and then remembered my cold hands at the last minute but the Bride said to me that it would not have matter as she was past being cold, yet when you see the photographs you would not believe how cold it actually was!

Wedding Ceremonies


Wedding Ceremonies are what I do, well

mostly, I do other ceremonies too like Baby Namings, Vow Renewals and Handfasting.


But this is the season for Wedding Ceremonies and it is getting off to a good start with a Vow Renewal blessing for a 25th Wedding Anniversary.  20160521_64aIt had been arranged for some time and everyone was looking forward to it.  Sharon and Peter went for a simple but lovely ceremony telling their story of the last 25 years which also included their daughter reading out her own take on life with her parents, which had them both in tears!   Emotional as the ceremonies can be it is a lovely emotion with tears of happiness and such love, then afterward there is the party of the celebrations.   Often this is when I disappear and leave the family and friends to enjoy everything.

Sharon and Peter with their children

Sharon and Peter with their children

When you start on the journey with the family, writing their script for their unique ceremony you do become involved with them but once the ceremony is over it is a family affair, we have just been allowed an insight to a beautiful relationship and family.

After Sharon and Peter’s ceremony I settled myself knowing that my next ceremony was not for a fortnight, 2nd June, so I had some time to bring everything together for Kirsty and Roy’s special wedding.  Again a ceremony that I am really looking forward to but with some poignant moments when they light a memorial candle and release some doves to remember relatives they have lost some quite recently.  Of course I do have other scripts that I am working on too, each one unique and so different that I am really lucky to be part of them all.   As I skip from one to the other it is like talking to one friend and having a really good catch up and then chatting to another, you swop from one world to another.

However I was to be shaken from my lazy time by a text from celebrant friend on Tuesday night around 9.30pm asking me if I would be free to do a wedding ceremony the next day.  At first I thought she was kidding me, but no a Bride had contacted her wishing to have a ceremony the next day.   We chatted about whether it was possible and I decided that I would give it a go.   Generally I like to take time to get to know my couples and their story and what they would like in their ceremony and consult with them all along the way, which again takes time.    The shortest time I have had to do a ceremony was three weeks because they had found that the Bride’s mother had cancer and they did not know how long she would have and wanted to have their ceremony with her.  It was a lovely ceremony again, they are all lovely ceremonies.

I contacted the couple and spoke to the Groom and  I was then glad I had decided to go ahead with it because again their decision to have such a rushed ceremony was because they found themselves in similar circumstances.   We had a very quick discussion about what they required and he left it all to me.   The ceremony was to be held at the parents home in the garden.

I had a late night and an early morning putting together an appropriate script and gather together all that a ceremony required.   At first it was scheduled for 2pm but several texts during the night and early morning brought it forward to 12pm.   We actually manage to arrive before 12pm and found that everything had been set up in the lounge, mainly because of the cold wind.   Everyone had been very busy with flowers all over the house and banners in the lounge.   Mum was looking lovely as ill as she obviously was.   The bed had been positioned so she would be the first to see the Bride enter the room.   The Bridesmaids were rushing around getting the Bride ready and it seemed that all the men where just gathering around the Groom.

Eventually the Bride was ready so everyone gathered in the lounge for the ceremony.   Once the Bride arrived we turned round so that Mum could see the whole ceremony and I stood at the end of her bed.20160525_179

There were lots of tears and laughter during the ceremony, which is always nice and it was a lovely intimate feeling within the room.   Mum and Dad where holding hands all the way through.   Afterward Mum thanked me and said it was a beautiful ceremony and she had really loved it.    Job done!

The Kiss

The Kiss



We  had a quick sip of champagne with everyone and then said our goodbyes.   It might have been a last minute arrangements but so far one of the most beautiful wedding yet…….although I think that about most of my ceremonies but this one was really special.

The Wedding Season is upon us

The wedding season is upon us and the weather has taken a chance for the better, such lovely weather we have had these last few days and it is set for the weekend, so if you are having your ceremony this weekend you are going to be bathed in sunshine.

My last wedding fair for this season was at Abbots Barton Hotel in Canterbury, it went well and there were a few Brides who are interested in a Celebrant led wedding for next year which is all good news.   A lot of the suppliers have now finished wedding fair so it was a chance to say ‘bye’ until the Autumn season starts a new round.

So when is my first ceremony, well not long to go as it is in a fortnight’s time, but I am not sitting back and relaxing because I have a script to finish off for the 2nd June Ceremony, a script in draft format waiting for more information for a July Ceremony, one waiting for the couples vows (not necessary to write them yourself but this couple wished to), and tomorrow I am meeting up with another couple to discuss what they require in their ceremony.   All this and also have appointments booked for meetings with couple for ceremonies for next year.  You can never plan too early!

For the moment I am enjoying the lovely weather and the garden, although I am not as on top of the veggies patches this year, been so busy, it may be that veggies will have to wait until next year now.  Having said that I notice that amongst the weed we do have some lovely spring onions growing from last year and still have some parsnips to dig up.  Otherwise it is beddi20150919_12ng planting time, and looking for plants for the two pots that we take with us to the Healing Weekend to decorate our pitch.   We always take our caravan so the dogs can go along with us but this year we need a new awning so that too is on the ‘to do list’.

By the way I do still have some dates left for this year and next year so do get in touch.

Reflection of Death and Dying Show

Rosie from Natural Death Centre presenting a Certificate to Sian of Deerton Natural Burial Ground

Rosie from Natural Death Centre presenting a Certificate to Sian of Deerton Natural Burial Ground

Our Reflection of Death and Dying Show was held on Saturday 23rd April 2016, and was the first of its kind held in the whole of Kent.  Even though it was well advertised it was a little disappointing the amount of people that passed through the door.  But having said that those that did come to see us went away with lots of good information and said how good the show was.


The show was not a ‘selling’ venue but an place were information of anything to do with Death and those nearing the end of their life and what they can expect,  also we had a Solicitor for legal information and the Macmillan support group.   There was talks throughout the day on everything that you would have wished to know about dying and death and also how to arrange a funeral at a lower cost than those of the general Funeral Director.   There was the Natural Death Centre representative and the Natural Burial Ground were also represented.  So lots of information to take away.

One lady came to visit and ended up staying all day taking notes in all our talks and was so please with everything.Reflections pictures 1a

Then again there were two ladies came in with their shopping trollies and went around not really looking or stopping and when they were leaving David went to help them with the trollies only to be told by them that they had come in thinking it was the place were there was a furniture sale!  Must have been quite a shock to see coffins!

We also had a café, kindly run by the Baptist church ladies who also make some gorgeous cakes to sell too.  So a piece of lovely cake and a coffee was only £1 such a bargain!  We really appreciated what they did and volunteering to help out too.

Just2 Harpist

Just2 Harpist


The Baptist church also allowed us their venue for free because they saw it as helping the community and realised that it was not a profit making venture,  they have been so supportive and helpful and continue to be with encouraging us to hold another one next year, which we do fully intent to do and have already started planning, although we have all agreed that it will be held in the summer months.

So we hope to see you all there next year.

Busy Week ahead

by Sheila Ellis 0 Comments

We have a really busy week ahead of us. Today and tomorrow David is busy finishing off two scripts for funerals to be held during the week, Tuesday he has a meeting with a family to discuss their ceremony for their little boy whose funeral will be next Sunday at one of the Natural Burial Sites, on the evening I have a meeting with a lovely couple to go through what they wish for in their wedding ceremony. Wednesday I am travelling up to my daughters to house and dog sit while they travel up to Yorkshire to attend her Mother In Laws funeral. I should be attending my C&G dressmaking course but I shall have to take some work with me so I don’t fall behind. I will also take all my notes from my meeting so I can start scripting the ceremony while I am away. Also on Wednesday David has one of the funerals. Thursday David will attend the Maidstone BOB club to give out leaflets for the Saturday’s show and then during the day he has the second funeral plus continuing to chase and confirm everyone plus getting the Show’s programme printed.
Friday I will be travelling back home, David will be attending our Ashford BOB club. During the day David will be helping Holly’s Funerals with getting someone ready for their final journey and then transferring them to Tunbridge Wells for their funeral on the Saturday.

Saturday it is our Reflections on Death and Dying show to be held in Tenterden Zion Baptist Church, the show will open at 10am until 4.30pm but we will be there from 8am showing everyone where their stands are organising those last minute little things. We are hoping to see a good many people coming through the doors to talk to our vendors as well as listening to the many talks throughout the day and having a tea or coffee in the café. At 2.30pm we will be holding a ‘Death Cafe’ in the café area for those people who wish to just talk through their experiences. After the finish it will be clearing everything away and making it clean for use as a Church again on the Sunday. I think after that we will be in need of a good meal and drink!

Sunday David then has the funeral at the Natural Burial Centre. We then have a few days grace before I travel up to Guildford for a meeting with another lovely couple to discuss their ceremony.

On Sunday 1st May I shall be attending the Wedding Fayre to be held at Abbots Barton Hotel in Canterbury. This will be my last Wedding Fayre until September because the wedding season will start in ernest! I was contacted about a Handfasting to be held on that weekend but the couple have now put it back until October, I have also been contacted for another Handfasting around the bank holiday so waiting to hear back if that one is to go ahead.

It is at this time of the year that we (Celebrants) are contacted by a few couples that have decided, or for one reason or another, to bring forward their ceremonies and the time scale is very short. This does throw up a few problems, a) that we may be already booked, however, we do try to find someone who is not booked and refer the couple on if possible. b) it does not give us much time for the required meetings to sort out exactly what the couple require in their ceremony and we all do try to do everything possible to make sure you have the same standard of ceremony as those that have booked us months or years ahead. So please, please book your Celebrant quickly in order not to be disappointed and more often than not if you book your wedding during the week instead of the weekend you may find that we are free. Every year there is one date that everyone seems to want and last year it was August 15th. Between myself and my celebrant colleagues we could have tripled booked that date, but unfortunately there were a lot of disappointed couples. That day I had a Handfasting booked near Brighton and on the Sunday a Vow Renewal in Beckhill. I will let you know which date was the most popular this year after the season but I have already turned two ceremonies down for May 21st and I know my colleague is booked that date too.

Here to a full and wonderful Wedding season!