By March 7, 2015 Read More →

Unusual home working jobs – the celebrant

Unusual home working jobs - Judy Mansfield, celebrantI met Judy Mansfield several years ago at The BIG Jelly.

At the time she was living in France, where she introduced her French neighbours to le coworking, Jelly-style!

Judy is now back in England and a couple of years ago set up Cherish Ceremonies, offering her services as a celebrant:

Hi Judy, what does a celebrant do?
I design and deliver ceremonies for all life occasions, from baby namings and weddings to vow renewals and funerals. Some celebrants specialise in just one aspect, or in others that I don’t do. For example, I don’t do pagan ceremonies, or pet funerals, nor full Celtic handfastings (though I do include a symbolic handfasting as part of a Cherish ceremony).

Tell us how you prepare for a ceremony. Practice and lots of it! No matter how many ceremonies I do, I ensure that I know the script. I print out the script, I print out the readings into folders for whoever is reading. It may be a poem, an extract from a book, or a religious text. As I am not a humanist celebrant, I am happy to include any religion(s) or none.

I check timings – the venue like to know for their catering! I also check pronunciations, especially if I am including foreign text. I have spoken in Chinese, Gaelic, Welsh, French, German, Italian and Spanish at ceremonies – even if it is just to welcome guests from overseas!

I have a checklist when I pack the Cherish bag. If the couple are having a Unity Candle, I check the candle lighters are filled with gas, the candles are packed, their choice of candle holder (modern, traditional, crystal, or silver) is clean and sparkling, the candle snuffer is packed. I take a spare wedding ring, just in case, spare tights (for me!), Vocalzone lozenges. I swear by them for public speaking.

If it is an outdoor ceremony, then I take flat shoes, and all my umbrellas. A celebrant leaves nothing to chance. I also take my portable sound system and microphone for outdoor ceremonies or the large indoor ones.

Unusual home working jobs - Judy Mansfield, funeral celebrantFor funerals, it is pretty much the same – lots of checking and double checking I have all the details correct, especially names. I check pronunciations too, and I never make assumptions! When I am preparing the funeral script, I usually play the music the family has chosen, and if I have it available, I will have a photo of the deceased in front of me as I write.

Is it fun or nerve-racking choosing clothes for different occasions? Are you ever asked to dress to fit the colour scheme?
I have a staple wardrobe – a dress and jacket is usual. I don’t want to look like a registrar in a ‘corporate suit’, but neither should I look like one of the guests. If it is a relaxed, festival wedding, I won’t wear high heels, for example! I haven’t been asked to dress in a particular way – yet!

What are the most memorable ceremonies you’ve carried out? Because I only do one ceremony per day, they are all memorable! I do recall them all, but if I had to pick one or two out, it would be the wedding of a lovely American couple, in Dublin.

They had a symbolic Quaich, which they filled with a blend of American Bourbon and Irish Spring Water. They also had a handfasting – they loved all the old traditions. Also the Chinese couple where we incorporated a symbolic nod to the Tea Ceremony as part of their wedding. And the wedding I conducted in French was memorable too. Or the one where the bride was 45 minutes late. They all have their memorable moments!

Unusual home working jobs - the celebrant, Judy MansfieldDo you get emotional taking part in other people’s rites of passage?
I do! The intensity when couples look into one another’s eyes and say the vows they have written themselves is always a tearjerker, as you can see from the top photo of Jacqui and Brian!

Baby Namings are often about laughter and joy. Babies have amazing comedic timing, although Toby here is looking very thoughtful!

Funerals are tough, especially those for children. I have to concentrate very hard to keep my own emotions in check. It isn’t about me, and as the celebrant I need to be calm for the families who are looking for me to lead them through the ceremony.

You’ve already won an international award for Most Popular New Celebrant. What does the future hold for Cherish Ceremonies?
More of the same I suppose! More international ceremonies. I am now in the lucky position of being able to pick and choose the work I accept. I need to concentrate a bit more on the old work/life balance thing. Trouble is, what I do doesn’t feel like work!

work from home secrets

Judy Mansfield of Cherish Ceremonies is an international award-winning celebrant, designing and delivering unique, heartfelt ceremonies for those key events in life: baby naming, wedding, vow renewal, commitment ceremony, funerals and memorials. She also offers a speech writing service.

Enjoyed this? Read about other unusual home working jobs, from a bookbinder to a custom bra maker, and many more!

Comments are closed.