With little more than two weeks to go until The Big Day, the focus is starting to turn to the ceremony itself, so it’s time to introduce celebrant Judy Mansfield of Cherish Ceremonies.
As a civil celebrant, Judy designs and delivers ceremonies for all life’s occasions – weddings, vow renewals, baby namings, funerals and memorial services – both nationally and internationally. Her Big Day pledge is to design and deliver Ross and Emma’s wedding ceremony.
Judy has been working with Emma and Ross to create the ceremony they want. She says, “They are relaxed and chilled with a good sense of fun and I wanted to reflect their personalities in the ceremony. Most importantly, I want it to be about them”.
Everything is possible with a celebrant
Judy takes an individual approach to each ceremony. Here she explains how she works:
“Every ceremony is unique and starts with a blank piece of paper and a conversation. Ceremonies are incredibly personal – the wedding is all about the bride and groom. We start with the vows. Those massive promises that a couple make to one another should have some input from them, yet a religious wedding or a registrar ceremony use the same wording that everyone else says. But those promises may not be right for you – so with a celebrant, you have the chance to promise what is comfortable and right for you as a couple.
“Unlike a humanist celebrant, or a registrar, I will – and do – include religion in my ceremonies if it is required. A ceremony is not about my beliefs, but about the people I am writing for.
“I also include symbolic rituals that couples can choose from. These can be anything from a Loving Cup (where the couple each pour wine – red and white usually – to make a blended rosé and then drink from the same cup after their vows have been made. Or a Time Capsule, where they place Love Letters to one another to be opened at a future date, plus letters from their parents and/or their children. I included an element of a tea ceremony in a Chinese Wedding last year, which was great fun.
“I have spoken a few words or sentences in various languages at ceremonies, to reflect the guests’ or the couple’s nationality. This is often done phonetically – I only speak French. But I have used Portuguese, Chinese, Gaelic, Welsh, German and Italian. Everything is possible with a celebrant!
“And with a celebrant, the options are wide open. You can have your wedding ceremony anywhere you choose – no need for a licensed venue!”
“I Googled ‘celebrant’ and Cherish Ceremonies was born!
When Judy and her husband came back to the UK after 10 years overseas, to look after elderly parents, she needed to find something she could do that gave her flexibility. Self-employment was the answer – but doing what? Judy’s job had involved extensive and frequent European travel, which wasn’t going to be feasible any more.
One day, she was invited to speak at a Chamber of Commerce event about doing business with France. “One of the guests said I would make a good celebrant’, says Judy, “I hadn’t even heard of one, so I came home and Googled it. Cherish Ceremonies was born – and the rest is history!”
Judy’s life motto to is to ‘Make a Difference’ and she aims to apply this to her business. She says:
“I love the power of words and it is lovely to use those skills to design great ceremonies. I have no fear of public speaking, whether to two people or 2000 and I have appeared on national and international radio and TV, so the only nerves I ever have are the ‘good’ pre-performance nerves.”
Judy has known Rachel and Sally, of Lula Mai Events, for some time so, when Rachel asked her to be involved, she immediately said yes.
A privilege to give back
It clearly means a huge amount to Judy to be involved with the Big Day. Her husband was in the Royal Air Force, as were her father in law and her brother. Her own career was in the Ministry of Defence and she’s an active supporter of the Royal British Legion. Judy says, “Our Armed Forces and our NHS nurses do a huge amount for others, and it is a privilege to give back where I can. For this wedding particularly, I am so pleased to work with Emma and Ross to give them the lovely wedding they so deserve.”