I had the absolute pleasure to talk to Mandy Kay, Priestess of Avalon, Sacred Celebrant of NOCN about her role as a Celebrant and as a Celebrant who also performs Handfasting.
You can find Mandy at https://beelovedceremonies.co.uk/
I kicked off the chat by asking, what is a Celebrant?
A Celebrant is someone who leads a wedding ceremony, they work with a couple to create and design a ceremony that is unique to them. This type of ceremony is really considered to be a blessing, as the ceremony is not legally binding, so couples do need to have a legal ceremony, but this can happen at any point.
You don’t need to be legally married before having a Celebrant led ceremony. As it’s not a legal process and this enables a greater freedom to hold the ceremony in more locations, such as private gardens, the beach or a place that is special to the couple.
Celebrant led ceremonies are not exclusive to weddings, they can be involved in naming ceremonies, renewing vows and funerals as in essence the ceremony is a blessing.
There are many different Celebrant led ceremonies, but Mandy focuses on hand fasting and
A handfasting has its roots in Celtic traditions and incorporates all 4 elements (earth, fire, water & air), water from the natural spring at Glastonbury Tor is used for the blessing and a hoop & wand to bind the couple together.
The couples are tasked with writing their own vows and also creating their own hoop and wand.
The wand represents the male and the hoop represents the female. This is also the case for same sex unions as it represents that duality within us all.
Both the hoop and the wand should be decorated and made personnel by the couple and kept secret from each other until the ceremony.
The handfasting ceremony strives to be inclusive and more of the guests can play a role within the service.
This can be from a reading, which is based on 1 of the 4 elements or special to the couple or be involved in the tying of ribbon around the couples hands.
The 4 elements have specific parts to play within the ceremony, fire is represented by the igniting of the couples Handfasting candle, this represents the love & passion shared by the couple, and air is represented by the use of incense to cleanse their auras, clearing their path ahead as they step into their new lives as a handfasted couple. The elemental rituals always begin with Air followed by Fire, Water and culminating in the binding of the couple at Earth which leads to the closing of the ceremony.
Some guests can feel a little uncertain about the ceremony but in Mandy’s experience once it starts you can feel the love overflowing as the words spoken are from the couples heart. The ceremony is more personnel and inclusive and can reflect the love the couple have for each other and the love that family and friends have for the couple getting married.
Mandy went on to explain that the couples that come to her are usually looking for something different and its generally not their first marriage. She also mentioned that she has seen an increase in couples looking for something different over the past 10yrs with Celebrant led ceremonies becoming more widely known with wedding planners including celebrants in their supplier directory. She also stated that you can find a celebrant via celebrant websites such as The Celebrant Directory, Humanists UK and the more mainstream Hitched.
Mandy is also trained Reiki therapist.