Saturday, 13 December 2014

Snow Way | Don't Dismiss Winter As A Time To Celebrate Or Commemorate

Tranquil Pure Beautiful
Winter is as good a time as any to get married, have a naming ceremony for your child or remember a lost loved one. Why wait until the sun is shining, the days are lighter for longer and the wind and rain subside? 

There’s just as much beauty and natural drama during winter as in the other seasons that get better press.

Costs associated with celebrations and commemorations are likely to be cheaper at this time of year too and it’s easier to choose a date that suits you with less competition from others.
I can create a beautiful and truly bespoke ceremony for you, using winter’s unique ingredients as a magical backdrop, that will give you happy memories forever and make you the envy of family and friends. 
Your wish will soon come true

It got me thinking about the meaning of snow during significant occasions in our life. This is what I discovered. Snow is a name that appears as ‘an inspirational winter baby name’ on one website I found. It could be unisex but I guess fairytale’s Snow White would put paid to many ‘out there’ parents calling their son after atmospheric water vapour frozen into ice crystals.

Other winter baby names, sitting alongside Snow on said website, are Noel or Noelle, Bianca, Holly and, wait for it, December, Winter, Frostine and Christmas!

When it comes to getting married, there are many beliefs and superstitions relating to the white stuff.

I love you because no two snowflakes are alike
* When December snows fall fast,    marry and true love will last

* Snow on your wedding day is a sign of fertility and prosperity. It’s also a   prophecy of great happiness.

* Snow on your wedding day brings    money

* Falling snow is said to bless a marriage with peacefulness and warmth

So snow, whether falling or blanketing the landscape, is a very successful marriage omen. 

No wonder Billy Idol found a hit with his iconic single It’s A Nice Day For A White Wedding.

Snow could also serve as a stunning background to a memorial service. It’s tranquil, pure and beautiful and these are lovely themes to weave into any ceremony to remember a loved one lost.

Snowflakes are kisses sent from heaven
It’s also rich in symbolism when you consider that snow is often associated with the end of the year and beginning of a new one, in colder climes at least. It signifies the end of crops, warmth and sun. Snow covers the world with a white blanket and in some cultures white is the colour of death.

So don’t be afraid to embrace winter when planning a memorable occasion and I will work with you to ensure it’s as unique as every snowflake.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Be Creative | No Mourners Doesn't Mean No Funeral Ceremony

Every life is precious
I conducted two very different funeral ceremonies today. The first was for an elderly man who died alone and there were no family or friends present. He’d had a colourful and complex life both personally and professionally. Not only was it the stuff of books and films but, indeed, he had actually appeared in movies and TV series at one stage in his life. Our elderly gent also had strong military links.

But sadly there was a price to pay for his association with conflict and that brings me back around to the empty chapel at the crematorium.

Final farewell

So I addressed the coffin, as there was no congregation, created a candle lighting ceremony for the deceased and chose a poem that I believe reflected what little I knew of him.

The old man got a respectful final farewell with the same level of service as if the crem had been bursting at the seams with mourners. I’d like to think I did him justice and that if he could, he’d give the thumbs up to the care and thought that went into his funeral ceremony.

The second ceremony couldn't have been more different. There were dozens of grieving family and friends to farewell a man who was taken from his loved ones far too soon. A man who loved deeply and was dearly loved in return. He, too, had led a compelling life and achieved a very great deal.

Care, thought and respect
His family carefully chose music from his favourite artists, gave several heartbreaking tributes and provided a wealth of stories from which to create beautiful imagery.

Both ceremonies were moving, sad and sorrowful. Both were given an equal amount of care, thought and respect, not to mention time to craft a bespoke and meaningful service.

The integrity of a ceremony lies not in the number of people who attend to mourn a person’s passing, but in striving for a perfect farewell regardless of the obstacles and circumstances.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Engaged Newbies & Brides & Grooms To Be | Win A Wedding Ceremony

Daisy Competition
There's a chance to win a free wedding ceremony if you come along to the wedding fairs I'm attending this year. Alternatively, you can visit the Daisy Competition section of my website for information on how to enter. 
Chris and Chris 

All you have to do is register your details and you'll be automatically entered into the FREE prize draw which will take place on - yes, you've guessed right - Valentine's Day 2015!

The first fair kicks off at St. Augustine's, near Margate, on Sunday 14 September between 11am and 4pm. I'd love to meet you and show you how I can add value to the happiest day of your life with special ceremony elements. If you can't make St. Augustine's, details of the other venues are at the end of this blog.

Meantime, catch an eyeful of this wow wedding dress that I saw in Brussels, Belgium, recently. Surely a must have gown for the thoroughly modern bride. Details of bridal gowns and accessories, as well as other wedding suppliers like myself, can be found in Kent Bride magazine which will be available at the wedding fairs.

Daisies symbolise loyalty to love
And just because I couldn't resist, here's a pic of a quirky daisy decoration that I saw in a Bruges shop window. One of the few shops that didn't sell chocolate!

Kent wedding fairs - happy planning!

14 September | St. Augustine’s | Westgate on Sea | Nr. Margate

21 September | Dover Marina Hotel & Spa | Dover

5 October | The Astor Theatre | Deal

12 October | The Grand Hotel | Folkestone

16 November | The Bell Hotel | Sandwich

Friday, 15 August 2014

Come On Baby | Do The Logomotion

I love you
Sleep baby sleep
I've spent the last few weeks with my designer getting my logo, strapline and branding just right in time for the wedding fairs I'm attending in Kent throughout September, October and November.

The first thing to road test my new look is this fabulous, double sided, leaflet that showcases my wedding ceremony services on one side and naming ceremony options on the other. 
I couldn't be happier with the final result. 

Brides and grooms-to-be, and parents, can see at a glance what my business can do for them. 

They won't have to wade through endless words and, let's face it, we all get information overload these days. Who wants to trudge through treacle-like text to find the hows, whats, whys and wherefores? Not me and I'm certain not anyone else. I don't believe in making things complicated. Sometimes less is more and, in short, my leaflet "does exactly what it says on the tin" - to coin an iconic advertising slogan - which is precisely what clients want!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A Facelift Is On Its Way | The Importance Of Branding For Civil Celebrants

No, I’m not talking about a chin tuck, reducing the laugh lines around my eyes or having collagen injections in the lips for an “in your face” trout pout. I’m talking about my new logo and branding strategy which is being finalised by a wonderfully creative local graphic designer and illustrator.

Danny at work
Danny Michael from Broadstairs in East Kent has produced a beautiful logo for my daisy chain celebrants business and I’m hoping that her efforts will give me an even more polished look that will help me grow my business. After all, that’s what branding and marketing seek to achieve – giving you the edge so that clients choose you over your competitors.

A great logo and sound branding strategy will tell potential clients who I am and what sort of professional service they can expect from me. So they’re really fundamental to my business and just as important to me as they are to corporate giants.

Cutting edge design
Most celebrant businesses are like mine, owned and operated by one person. Some are run by couples with one focussing on weddings and the other on funerals. But it doesn’t matter if you’re small – and I’m not talking about stature. If you run a business, whether you’re one person or have 100 employees, you need to be competitive in order to make a living and pay the bills.

Get the look
I probably wouldn’t have searched for a designer for my business but I recently attended a wedding fair to get some ideas. I spoke to several industry professionals and they were all consistent in their advice to me. “Find a good designer and printer and the investment in your time and money will pay dividends.” They couldn’t overstate the importance of getting your branding and logo right and as someone who’s spent their career in communications, I do get it.

Invest in your celebrant business
So, I can’t wait to launch my new look on the world in due course after a little nip and tuck. In the meantime, check out Danny's website here:

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Arriba! | Multicultural & Themed Ceremonies Add The B To Bespoke

Proud bridesmaid at my sis's wedding
Tequila! That’s what we needed as one o’clock came and went and there was still no sign of the Mexican musicians who were due to play a mariachi version of The Wedding March at Jane and Salvador’s nuptials.

Guests had come from all over the country, and even overseas, for the long awaited wedding of gatita and gatito – that means little cat (girl) and little cat (boy) respectively. They’re the cute little nicknames the Australian bride and Mexican groom to-be gave each other when they met in Hong Kong several years earlier. And to top off this multicultural occasion, the couple was tying the knot in a lovely rural setting near Bryn Mawr, Wales.

Gatito and Gatita
The brave man conducting the ceremony had even brushed up on his rusty Spanish, excited at the prospect of injecting a little Latino into the proceedings to make Salvador feel more at home. But as the afternoon wore on, without a single guitaron on the horizon, maracas were the last thing on his mind. Getting my sister and future brother in law married before the next couple arrived definitely was!

Let me pause here, whilst we’re all waiting. You know that archetypal image of the Mexican enjoying his siesta, resplendent in colourful poncho propped up against a cactus with his sombrero shading his eyes? Well, there is some truth in that. Love them to bits but Mexicans can be manana and it was looking that way for the wedding too.

But just as guests were contemplating a distraction at the nearby Rose and Crown, the sound of screeching tyres on gravel and a cloud of dust rescued us from the prospect of uno; conducting the wedding without music or dos; rescheduling the big day (not an option!).

Getting this fiesta underway, the musicians jumped out of their people mover and started to change into traditional Mexican costume. Right there in the car park. In full view of everyone. Ignorant of all the stares (and a few glares). To give them their dues, there was a teeny sense of urgency to start with. But midway through the change of clothes, at the point where their top half was Mexican and their bottom half was, well, underpants and socks, they reached for their instruments and began rehearsing.

The unexpected blast of vihuela, accordion and castanets punctuating the natural sounds of the countryside – cows mooing, sheep baaaaaing and a time confused cockerel crowing – briefly took the edge off the fact that we were now running more than an hour late and any practice should be behind them not in front of them.

But the aforementioned brave man was a very determined, if not slightly frazzled soul, and he brought us back to the here and now with the finesse of a perfectly executed taco. He ushered the barely flustered ones complete with their traje de charro - trousers to you and me - indoors and the wedding began with a great flurry of excitement – not to mention mariachi music.

Mexican themed wedding cake
Feelings of angst and anxiety dissipated quickly as the colourful musicians bounced the relieved couple down the aisle to the festival sounds that only Mexican instruments can make. 

The beautiful and unique ceremony ended with a relieved “I do”, rings on fingers and smiles all round as the musicians contemplated a much needed rest – minus the aforestated cactus!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Civil Celebrancy Is Like DIY | It's All In The Preparation

Love is in the air
One of the most important things that underpins a beautifully crafted ceremony is the amount of preparation that goes into it. 

In that respect, civil celebrancy is a bit like DIY. Home renovators will tell you – and I’m one of them - that about 80 percent of the work involved in, say, renovating a room is in the filling, sanding, sugar soaping walls, undercoating and keying the first coat of paint. 

When two hearts beat as one
All that elbow grease, time and commitment is necessary to ensure that the final coat of colour looks flawless and transforms the room from an average to a stunning one. And so it is with our profession. Do the groundwork, invest in research, take time to get to know your clients as people and you’ll create an outstanding ceremony to be truly proud of and which your clients will cherish for its attention to detail.  
Chilston Park Hotel, Lenham, Kent

With this in mind, I'm doing the rounds of Kent wedding fairs to get some great ideas about how best to showcase my work when I attend five fairs in the autumn. Dates and locations are listed on my 18 June blog. 

On the weekend I visited stunning Chilston Park Hotel in Lenham, a 15th century Grade 1 listed country house set in 22 acres of parkland. I met many wedding suppliers from around the county and came away feeling totally inspired. Not only are the creative juices flowing but I was struck by the sense of community within the wedding industry. People were only too happy to share their experiences, give their time, help and support. 

It feels really nice, and very reassuring, to be part of a group of people who just want to do something special for others – create a bespoke, personal, meaningful day to remember for couples who just want the happiest day of their life together to be the best it can be. 
Love birds

Why settle for lumpy grey walls when you can bring them to life, and reflect your personality, with a splash of colour on a smooth surface? At Daisy Chain Civil Celebrants you can rest assured that I’ll go the extra mile to make sure you get the wow factor you want and deserve.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Calling All Brides And Grooms To Be | Kent Wedding Fairs

I Do
He’s popped the question. You’ve said “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Congratulations. And now you want to jump straight into the planning and preparation. I don’t blame you. It’s such a happy, exciting, time and you want to have fun creating what will be one of the most special days of your life together. There’s so much to get your head around and one of the best places to start looking for ideas is your local wedding fair. 

Preparations for the autumn season of Kent fairs is well underway and I’m really looking forward to meeting lots of happy couples at the five fairs I’ll be attending. It’ll be a perfect opportunity for me to explain what a civil celebrant does and how I can help to make your wedding ceremony truly bespoke and as unique as you are. 

One Of The Most Special Days Of Your Life Together
Beautiful words and poignant gestures are part of the attention to detail that will hallmark your wedding and give you something to share with each other, family and friends for years to come. I can also talk you through all the different special ceremony elements you can have such as love letter/wine box, unity sand and broom jumping. You might never have heard of them but this is your chance to see if they’re something you’d like to include on your special day.

If you’re getting married and looking for inspiration at any of the wedding fairs below, please come over and have a chat with me. I’ll be more than happy to help and look forward to meeting you.

14 September | St. Augustine’s | Westgate on Sea | Nr. Margate

21 September | Dover Marina Hotel & Spa | Dover

5 October | The Astor Theatre | Deal

12 October | The Grand Hotel | Folkestone

16 November | The Bell Hotel | Sandwich

Monday, 26 May 2014

Daisy Chain Wedding Celebrant On Tour | USA & Canada

Helen Ficalora

A daisy/business theme definitely emerged during my recent trip to the States and Canada. First up, how's this for a colourful daisy chain shop front window in Manhattan, New York? I think any Wedding Celebrant would be happy to conduct a bespoke ceremony with such a vibrant backdrop. It gave me some great ideas that I'll be able to pass onto future clients.

This was followed by a visit to Magnolia Bakery in Bleecker Street, New York, where I saw this stunning Tiffany blue wedding cake. The bakery starred in American sitcom, Sex and the City, which spearheaded a cupcake craze.

Zero Calories - Honest!
Magnolia Bakery

Finally, one of the world's top honeymoon destinations for the past 200 years. Beautiful, breathtaking, dramatic Niagara Falls on the American/Canadian border. These pics were taken from Ontario in Canada. A beautiful location not only to unwind and relax after your wedding but a great place to get married too.

The Falls from the Sheraton (Canada side)

Monday, 5 May 2014

Hello & Welcome | Daisy Chain Civil Celebrants

I live and work in a village between Deal and Dover in south east Kent and have a diploma from the UK Society of Celebrants.

On my website you'll find details about all the bespoke civil ceremonies I can conduct for those special and personal milestones in your life. Whether you're welcoming a new child to the family, making vows to the love of your life or celebrating the life of a dearly departed, I promise to provide a thorough and professional service with attention to detail.

Please look around my site and contact me if you have any questions. I'll do my best to help.