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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!

Gay Marriages

 

Gay marriages are now legal and I don’t mean the Civil Ceremonies but proper marriage between same sex couples.  Given this it is very sad that when you have a stand at Wedding Fairs you see too few gay couples attending.

I have had a couple ask about Handfasting and both were up for it, even though it is not an actual marriage ceremony but again the sad part for me was that one of them felt she had to ask me if I was ok with performing a ceremony for gay couple.   Another time there was a couple that were attending a fair but obviously felt ill at ease and they had a third person with them that they were following, could have been a friend or a wedding planner, but the speed that they whizzed by there was no way anyone could have spoken to them if they themselves had wished to talk and again I felt that was very sad.  Surely our fairs are for all couples not just those hetro-sexual couples.  I don’t think any exhibitor would be prejudiced, none that I have ever talked to and certainly I am not, quite the opposite I would love to have more ceremonies for Gay couples be it wedding, vow renewals or even baby namings.   Why oh why do they feel so uncomfortable going around the fairs,  how can we make them more comfortable for them?   All the exhibitors are displaying wares that ALL couples would wish for at their wedding or reception but is there more that are needed?   At the fairs that I have attended there has always been dresses but also suits too.  So if Gay couples do not attend the fair that I attend, where do they go?   Do they arrange everything on line?  Do they go to the unusual wedding fairs because they feel more comfortable?  Do they go looking for those ‘quirky’ exhibitors?   I really would love to know because I would love to work with them and help them produce a ceremony they would love,  I know being a celebrant I am up against it because now they can have a ‘proper’ Registrar marriage, and they may well wish to take up that offer just because they now can. They have fought hard to gain that privilege so I do not blame them for wishing to go down that route, however they still have that options just the same as all other couples and then have a ceremony that is scripted just for them.

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So if you know the answers to the many questions I have posed please do let me know, I really am interested in helping to make things more accessible

Kent County Cricket Ground

Kent County Cricket Ground is the nextKent Cricket 3 April 2016 venue for a Wedding Fair that we will be attending, fingers crossed that nothing stops us again.  We have attended this Fair before and found it was lovely and because it is one of the largest Wedding Fairs in East Kent it does have lots more vendors than normal, great for you and great for us for networking.

 

 

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View from our stand at the lat Kent County Cricket Ground wedding fair

The last time we were there we have gorgeous views over the Kent County Cricket Ground and the sun was shining, which always makes it better.

We do enjoy going to the Wedding Fairs and meeting couples who are starting to think about and organise their wedding ceremony and reception,  most are very open about having a Celebrant led ceremony and totally realise the freedom that it gives them and are not phased by having to register their marriage beforehand and we are definately for these couples and are very happy to talk through all their new options.

Never be afraid to talk to vendors at Wedding Fairs, that is why they are there and they are all happy to answer any questions you may have and if you go ahead and book them or at least add your name to their list for more information it makes going to the Wedding Fairs for them and you worth while.

On that note I look forward to meeting and talking to you all at the Kent County Cricket Ground and after that date there are a few more that I have booked so watch this space!

So sorry I was not able to attend

So sorry I was not able to attend todays wedding fair at Port Lympne, I was so looking forward to it but late last night it was becoming obvious that I had succumbed to a cold!

This morning was even worse than the night before and I was not only feeling very rough, and according to my partner, looking rough but I was sneezing and sniverling all the time.   We also had visitors over the weekend so the original plan was that I would leave for the venue and get the stand ready and David would stay behind to look after our visitors, which were his daughters, partners and grandson, until they left around lunchtime.   However, everything changed when I got up feeling very much under the weather.   We, or rather David, took the decision to go to the wedding fair and set up the stand while I stayed in bed.   Well that never happened because you can’t stay in bed when you have visitors no matter how close and familiar they are with everything, so I did get up and dressed and stayed up.

David went to the fair and duly set the stand up and stayed for a while talking to couples and networking with other wedding fair vendors before then leaving to come home in time for a lunch with the visitors before they left.  Actually we went out for lunch.   Afterwards we went back to the venue at Port Lympne Mansion and I stayed in the car while David went back in and took down the stand at the end of the wedding fair day.

Before leaving in the morning David had left a message on the stand apologising for us not being in attendance and requested that people took a leaflet.   To our surprise people had been taking leaflets and not only that a few had actually taken the time to write their details on our list for more information.

I had contact with a friend who was also at the fair and said that it was a really good fair and very busy.  Not the best thing to hear when you have had to miss it but I hope all those that stopped by will appreciate my not being there and passing my cold onto them.

There are more fair to come so please do keep an eye on either this blog or my facebook for information of where and when they will be and I hope to be able to catch up with you all soon.

Thank you again to those that stopped by today.  xxx

Clocks go forward

Clocks go forward at the end of the month but already we are experiencing lighter nights and warmer days, well were I live anyway.   I love the fact that I don’t realise what time it is because it is still light outside and also that we can be outside longer.  Plus the mornings are a lot lighter too, another bonus when you have to get up at an unearthly hour to attend a breakfast club.  It was far worse when driving in the dark but now with the light it at least feels as though you should still be awake!

With the warmer days we already have frog spawn in our pond and you can see the small tadpoles growing day by day.   I am hoping there is no fierce frost that will freeze the pond and maybe kill the spawn.    I am also enjoying all the spring flowers growing in the garden too.  I do love spring not just for the new life growing all around us and everything coming back to life but because it is also the gateway to the lovely hazy summer months.   I am a real summer person.

I am also looking forward to all the ceremonies that are being held during the spring and summer months.   I have a last minute booking for a Handfasting at the end of next month, so yes I still do have days left that I am not booked but I am getting more coming in so please don’t delay if you don’t want to be disappointed, plus I hate having to turn anyone away.   I do have a colleague who is  a brilliant Celebrant, and we do work together for couples by passing on any couples that contact us too late for their preferred date.   We know that we both believe in giving our couples the very best ceremony and everything and more that they wish for in their ceremony and with this in mind we have no hesitation in recommending each other.

Having said all that I still have a few Wedding Fair that I shall be attending hoping to spread the word of Celebrant led ceremonies and how magical they can be.   I have already started to get bookings for 2017 and enquiries for 2018 which is great but don’t be put off as I have said there are still days left in this year’s dairy to be filled so come along and talk to me at the next and following Wedding Fairs.   I shall be advertisPort Lympne 20 March 2016ing them as and when they are coming up so keep an eye on this Blog.   So my next fair is at Port Lympne Mansion, which is a gorgeous building with gorgeous grounds and where I shall have the privilige to conduct a ceremony in July, so looking forward to it too.  Do come and look at the building and rooms if for nothing else!

Anniversaries and Birthdays

Anniversaries and Birthdays where the subject of two ceremonies that I conducted at this time last year.   They were held on the Saturday and Sunday but due to the leap year their Anniversaries were this Monday and today Tuesday.

The first ceremony wasHugh and Jill 2500 x 2000 for Hugh and Jill, who wanted not only to celebrate their Wedding Anniversary with a Vow Renewal but also have a party for Hugh’s final retirement.   We did managed to incorporate the retirement into the ceremony as well as their Anniversary.   The ceremony also included all their children and grandchildren.  Two of the grandchildren read out a poem to their grandparents.  At the end the whole family were involved in a Sand Ceremony.   It was a lovely and touching family ceremony with tears and laughter.

 

The second ceremony of the weekend was so very different.  It was a Baby Naming for Alfie.   Like Hugh and Jill’s ceremo20150308_230ny there was also another celebration, this time it was Alfie’s first birthday!

Alfie’s parents wanted a very relaxed and casual ceremony so that is what we created.  The ceremony was full of fun and laughter with all their friends and relatives.   Alfie had a lot of guardians who all wrote their own vows which they read out to Alfie .  They too were very moving and amusing.   After the ceremony it was time for Alfie to enjoy his birthday party.   In spite of being early March I remember that it was a gorgious sunny and warm day, I was glad that I had worn a short sleeved dress!

So Happy Anniversary to Hugh, Jill and Alfie, I hope you all enjoyed celebrating another year.

If you are looking to celebrate your Anniversary and want to know more about Vow Renewals or want to know more about Baby Naming please do contact me.

Old Wedding Dresses

Old Wedding Dresses and what stories they could tell us? While scrolling through Facebook, as you do, I came across this old wedding dress for saleOld Weddding Dress and although I really am not on the look out for old wedding dresses it did throw me back in time. Old Wedding dresses are something that I really love, they have stories to tell and sometimes you never realise until they have aged and maybe passed down to the next generation of the family. Some are sold as soon as they have served their purpose and been taken up by a new bride or even bought to be cut up and made into something else. Other things that are done with Old wedding dresses are given to the little girls for dressing up or made into a christening gown for the first child and then used by succesive children and maybe grandchildren.

But in thinking about old wedding dresses takes me back to the year 1986 when the Duke and Duchess of York were married, at the time I was the President of our village WI (a very small village and I was a very young President). Long before the engagement and marriage was announced of Prince Andrew to Sarah Ferguson the WI needed to raise funds and even then I had a fasination with old wedding dresses so I suggested we have a display of old wedding dress, and in particular those of the people who lived in the village. The whole exhibition was a nightmare to organise mainly because I more or less had to do the whole on my own and only at the last minute, which was staging the whole, did I have my fellow WI members come and help me. At the end of my search, cajolling and reminding everyone we had 8 or 9 old wedding dresses, which included mine.

The old wedding dresses dated from the 1800s to Prince Diana wedding era. I arranged them in date order so those coming to see the exhibition walk through time and  into the present. Each dress had their own story, which was lovely, and what was more amazing was the timing of the said engagement and subseqent wedding of Andrew and Sarah, which highlighted our little display so much so that we were asked if our local radio could come along to the opening of our exhibition and interview me and some of the brides. Under instructions I did manage to rally some of the owners and brides of the old wedding dresses, most were very reluctant to talk with the radio people and froze when asked questions so I had to step in and tell the dresses story for them. Here are some of those stories, I am just sorry that I have no photos to show those dresses to you.

The first in line was the dress from the 1800s and unlike most wedding dresses was not white, but green. Back in the early 1800s you bought a very best dress for your wedding and didn’t think about the colour. There was no money for special ‘one day only’ occasion dresses so the wedding dress becomes the Sunday best dress for the girl/woman. This particular dress had been well looked after, as you realise being so old it had to have been to survive. But also this dress had in those years been loaned out each year for the Walkington Hayride possession. Hopefully the dress is still going and still being used, that first bride should be proud of their dress, how many other brides could say that their dress was still in use over a hundred years after that first purchase.

The second dress was very much a twenties dress. it was bought and worn by a lady in the village who bought it as a long white dress but knew that it would and could also be worn for dances, again being a multi purpose dress after the wedding. The dress we displayed was Red! The lady had cut the hem to shorten the dress and then dyed it red so she could go dances with her new husband in it. It was a lovely silk dress and dying and cutting the hem did no injustice at all.

Our third dress again had been bought and worn by a lovely lady in the village who had married later in her life, and I suppose would not be late in life nowadays. The lady also knew one of the dressmakers that worked for Norman Hartnell and she made her dress for her. The dress was not white, if I remember correctly it was pink and embrodaired. The front of the dress was very plain but elegant but it was the back of the dress that had all the detail, and quite rightly so because in the traditional wedding it is mostly the back of the dress that the guest see throughout the ceremony. This particular dress had a very large bow! Which again was a great co-incidence because if you remember Sarah Ferguson’s dress also had a very large bow on the back too.Sarah furguson wedding dress

the next dress that I can remember was a sixties stlye dress very straight but again very elegant with a pillow box head dress with a veil very sixties

Then there was my wedding dress, early seventies and unique in the fact that in amongst all the lovely long elegant wedding dresses mine was actually a mini dress! We were getting married in a registrar office so I was going to wear a very uptothe minute lilac trouser suit but there were so many comments about me not wearing white that my mother was a bit upset so I decided to make my own dress which is what I did with the help of my sister we hand sewed it all apart from the front zip, which we took home and did using my mother’s sewing machine. I have to say that I never regreted making or wearing it, it fitted the wedding and I still have it hanging in my wardrobe, although it is now more yellow than white, and I occasionally bring it out to show todays youngsters not just how slim I use to be but also how short our skirts use to be, they are always shocked on both accounts and wonder how I dared wear such a short dress. Sadly I don’t have any wedding photos but I have photoed the dress but it does not do it justice on a hanger.DSC00054

After my dress there was an eighties wedding dress again very elegant and I have to admit that the only thing that I can remember is that the lady who owned it apologised because the dress had had red wine spilt on it at her wedding and she had never bothered to have it cleaned, so the red stain was now a brown stain but it added to the life of her wedding dress.

There were other dresses that I have to admit I cannot remember most but the last one belonged to my neighbour, a young girl who had been married the year before and had a typical Princess Di wedding dress, all puffy sleeves and belling skirts. We were honoured to be invited to their wedding. They moved into the cottage next door to us and we became good friends immediately so were given the invitation to the wedding. A few years afterwards her middle sister got married and wore the same dress and she wore the same bridesmaid dress that her sister had worn for her wedding!

So there is my story of Old wedding dresses and I have to thank the Duke and Duchess of York for getting engaged and married that same year and gave me a rare opportunity to be on local radio, one of my claims to fame, along with being in the audience of one of Terry Wogan’s show where we were televised and knowing Keith Baron’s sister……………I know I hear you all saying ‘Who is Keith Baron!?” Well here he is…………Keith Baron

Discovery Park Sandwich

Discovery Park Sandwich is were we where today.   This was a new venue for a wedding fair so we thought we would give it go.   It is a little awkward to find if you are unsure of your directions.  The fair organiser did say that next year he would be putting large posters indicating which way you have to go at the roundabouts.   But in spiteof  people getting lost and ringing up for directions there was a very steady flow through the fair.

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The Discovery Park, Sandwich

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Discovery Park Sandwich, a steady flow of couples

For us in particular we found it was one of our best fairs so far.  A lot of couples leaving their details for us to contact them with a reminder of who we are and our offer at the fair.   Lots of couple were really delighted to find us there because they really didn’t wish for a Church/Religious or Registrar wedding, which is good for us because we can offer them the best alternative.   Other couples had already booked their wedding with a Registrar not knowing there was any alternative for them and then being disappointed.

Another interesting person I spoke to was an ex Registrar Celebrant who said that she wondered if there was an alternative and now she knows that there is.   Apparently she decided to leave the Council’s employment when she knew that they made a profit on all the weddings that they conducted but had told all their celebrants that they were reducing their pay!   I am not sure if she was delighted to find us because she didn’t want a Registrar Wedding or because she was actually looking for an alternative in which to be employed!   Maybe we will have more competition in the future, who knows but the best thing of the day that couples realised they had more choices then they previously knew about and that has to be good.

 

 

Broome Park Wedding Fair

Broome Park Wedding Fair near Canterbury was a great fair with lots of couples popping in and having a chat. Surprisingly a lot of them were aware of Celebrant led wedding ceremonies and very open to having one of their own. We do have a special offer for all the Wedding Fairs that we are doing this year and if couples wish to take up our offer they wrote their details on our form, this ensures that we actually contact those couples really interested in what we are offering. The organisers do send us a database of all those who registered to attend the fairs and we do send out generic emails to those without venues to see if they are interested but it does not really sit easy with me because they probably get lots of emails from all the suppliers and most will go straight into their junk boxes, and who blames them for that!

So if you are attending any Wedding Fair that we are attending and wish to know more or are interested in what we offer and our offer for the year we can assure you that you get a personal email from us that confirms what we have spoken to you about at the fair and nothing more. Of course we are there to gain business but it is a lovely way to connect to couples looking for the usual or unique wedding ceremony and believe me we met quite a few this weekend and we hope we will meet others over the coming couple of months.

We do have more Wedding Fairs booked for the next couple of months and then there is a break until September when the Fairs are in full swing again.

Next Sunday 28th February we will be attending the Wedding Fair at The Discovery Park, Sandwich. If you are going please come and talk to us and find out what we can offer you.

Sandwich 28 Feb 16
Now there was one couple at Broome Park Wedding Fair that had asked me about a Baby Naming Ceremony, unfortunately they didn’t leave their names and emails and all I know is that they live in London and wanted to know about venues for the baby naming. If you are reading this, please do contact me so we can discuss what type of venue you would be looking for and where abouts you would like. I do have venues in mind but it is what you would prefer.