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This week I had the pleasure of officiating a ceremony for Michael and Victoria. They chose a bohemian-themed, personalised, celebrant-led wedding at Watermillock, Cumbria. Their ceremony included a communal ring blessing and a Celtic handfasting.

 

Thank you for choosing me as your celebrant, Michael and Victoria!

 

Here are a few images from this special day. xx

 

 

 

 

www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant

 

 

Are you looking for something that’s more than a job? Perhaps in your heart you know you’re looking for a vocation.

 

Training to be a heart-led celebrant may be the course that will change your life.

 

As a celebrant, I always look forward to going to work whether it’s to officiate a joyous wedding ceremony, holding the space for a family and their friends while they grieve a loved one, celebrating the giving of a name (to a child or adult), or officiating other rites of passage such as a blessingway, menarche, and so on.

 

My ‘office’ is varied. One day I may officiate in a chapel, and another day it’s in a wildflower meadow. Some ceremonies are conducted in ancient stone circles, while others are held in barns. No two ceremonies are the same in location, wording or style.

 

If you’d like to learn more about training to be a celebrant, and obtaining a Certificate in Celebrancy, visit www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant-training

 

Feel free to get in touch for an obligation-free chat.  ~ Veronika Robinson xx

 

 

 

 

Sometimes the smallest words, like ‘yes’ and ‘love’, have the biggest, most life-changing meanings.

 

Yes is an open door. It says “I’m going through”, unlike no which says “Go no further. No exit. Stop. No entry. THE END.”

 

Such different energies. Such different life paths.

 

 

Every day our lives are based on yes and no. Every single day.

 

Are you aware of how many times you’ve said yes today? How about no? Do you even hear yourself saying them? Every single time we say them, we are moving in one direction or another.

 

As a wedding celebrant, I meet couples because someone has said “yes!” Someone has said “I want to walk through that door with you.”

Weddings are joyous occasions, and are such a delight to be part of. And for me, always an honour.

 

When my couples and I agree to work together, one of the things that happens is that I take the time to get to know them so that I can tell their love story. After all, I want their ceremony to be unique to them.

 

This working relationship begins by asking them a series of questions. They have plenty of time (usually) to answer these, but I ask that they send me their answers independently without sharing them with their partner (though obviously they’ll see what their beloved has written when I send the script back).

 

It is quite a process. I’m not, by any means, a marriage counsellor. I’m a celebrant. However, I do take my role seriously. Some of my clients really revel in answering the questions and truly ‘get’ the process. Others get quite stuck. Why? Because one of the first questions I ask is “Why are you getting married?”

 

You’d be amazed how difficult that question is for some people to answer.

 

The question and answer process makes couples think. And, from my perspective, I learn a huge amount by how much thought and care goes into the answers.

 

I’ve been officiating weddings since 1995. One of my first weddings was for a young couple with a baby daughter. When I asked my question/s, his reply was that he was marrying her because “she had great legs!” Maybe I’m just a bit too serious for my own good, but even then (in my mid twenties), I’d have hoped for a more solid answer. To my incredible sadness, not long after their wedding, he committed suicide. The relationship wasn’t as he had hoped. It still haunts me.

 

My job isn’t, at any level, to say whether a couple should or shouldn’t get married. My job is to celebrate their love, their love story, and wish them all the best for a wonderful future. To honour their YES.

 

 

I hope, when couples go through the process of answering my questions, that they truly understand what the journey of marriage is about (you know, other than asking each other what you want for dinner every day for years on end!).

Marriage is a dance. What happens if we have two left feet? What happens if each person hears a different tune? What if one person loves to dance, and the other is a wallflower? Could it be that you love bellydancing and he loves rock ‘n’ roll?

What if one person has a free spirit and the other needs routine? Can an introvert and extrovert co-exist? So many questions!

Marriage is a constant course in personal growth. We are invited, daily, to learn more about ourselves. It is about give and take. It is about we and us. Me and you. Indeed, it is a balancing act that no one can ever tutor you in. Looking into the mirror of relationship means we are always receiving feedback about who we are, and what we expect. What do we project onto our partner? How much do we expect them to fill certain needs?

 

Sometimes people start out on the same page (like my parents), and then as the years roll on, one of them changes. And they keep changing until eventually there is too much distance to keep them under the same roof.

 

But this is a ‘yes’, too. When we say ‘no’ to another, we are saying ‘yes’ to ourselves. The door to self awareness is the first door we should walk through.

 

Yes. It’s a beautiful word. Life affirming. Encouraging. It’s an invitation to something better. Maybe it’s someone holding your hand inviting you to somewhere you’ve never been before.

 

Perhaps, when crafting vows for couples to answer, we, as celebrants, would serve them best if we asked questions in such a way as to see if the answer is ‘yes’ rather than “I will” or “I do”.

 

Yes, for as long as love shall last.

Yes, for better or worse.

Yes, in sickness and health.

Yes, because in that moment, when we’re wrapped in the power of love, we truly believe we can step through the door into a future together.

 

Yes.

 

Yes.

 

Yes!

 

Three simple letters.

One word.

One syllable.

It says “I want to walk through the door…”

 

More importantly, it speaks of hope. And in this life, hope is something we all need.

 

 

From the moment I opened my front door to them, I immediately warmed to Loz and Katie, and within minutes of our conversation I knew that I would absolutely love getting to know them more, and then being an intimate part of their wedding day.

 

A celebrant is often the last thing a couple will think of (if they even choose one at all) when planning their wedding, and yet isn’t the ceremony the most important part of the day?

 

Loz and Katie were clear about wanting their special, heart-felt, earth-based ceremony to be at a place they loved: a waterfall in the Swaledale Valley, Yorkshire.

 

As a celebrant who absolutely loves outdoor weddings, we were definitely a good match!

 

 

Planning their ceremony involved not only going to visit the site with them, and talking about how it would work (especially if the river was flooded like it was the first time I went!), but also getting to know their love story. This is my favourite part of being a wedding celebrant: “Where did you meet? When did you ‘know’?” I then take their stories and, as a storyteller, share this with their friends and family. It’s such a joy to hear and see people laughing, smiling, nodding, crying, and acknowledging the love they see before them. A celebrant-led wedding (with me, at least) means that each ceremony is bespoke, and there is no doubt for the guests just whose ceremony they’re attending.

 

Everything about Loz and Katie’s ceremony was simply lovely: them, as a couple, their friends and family, the music chosen, the readings, the handfasting, their vows, the special story behind Loz’s wedding ring, Katie’s AMAZING rainbow dress, that it was completely DIY from start to finish, the gorgeous location; and then, afterwards, my husband and I were invited to stay for the reception. It was a gorgeous day, and Loz’s dad and Katie’s son also provided entertainment. This is a ceremony which has embedded deeply into my heart for many, many reasons.

 

 

Thank you Loz and Katie for choosing me as your celebrant.

 

 

**A special thank you, too, to the hosts at Swaledale Yurts as the food was FANTASTIC!

This year marks the 22nd anniversary of me being a celebrant. I’ve had the joy of officiating a wide variety of ceremonies across three countries.

In a few short weeks, September 16th and 17th, my husband Paul and I will be hosting our celebrant-training programme here in Cumbria. You can find more information here. www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant-training

I am delighted to say that, due to popular demand, we will be running the course again on April 21st and 22nd 2018.

 

If you feel drawn to the vocation of heart-led celebrancy, do consider joining us. ~ Veronika & Paul

 

It might seem a little odd to blog about Winter Weddings just when I’m working on my Summer tan, but…

There’s a tendency to set wedding dates from Spring through to Autumn, but actually there are some really good reasons to choose a Winter wedding in Cumbria.

In no particular order:

A wedding is a time of joy, celebration and delight! Why not warm up Winter by choosing this time to say “I do”? Banish the grey gloom of Winter with one simple thing: a wedding date!

 

You can add a festive theme to your celebrations.

 

It’s beautiful and cosy indoors, and you can create a truly intimate setting for your special day with fairylights, open fires, and candlelight.

 

 

Being out of season, means you’ve got more chance of getting your first choice of venue, photographer, videographer, florist and CELEBRANT.

 

 

 

Think of all the lovely things about Winter: hot chocolate, woolly blankets, cosy lighting, comfort food. Incorporating these into your wedding day will make it a celebration like no other.

 

 

 

There are some absolutely FAB wedding venues in Cumbria, such as Askham Hall, the quirky ancient ruin Kirklinton Hall, and then there are places like any of those owned by Rowley Estates. And, best of all, if you choose a celebrant to create, write and officiate your wedding day, you can have it where you want, when you want, and how you want.

 

In a few weeks from now, it will be the 22nd anniversary since I trained as a celebrant in beautiful New Zealand. I was in the early stages of pregnancy with my daughter, Beth, as I officiated my first wedding in a public garden in Auckland. I remember ceremonies from back then as clearly as I remember the wedding I officiated yesterday here in Cumbria.

 

 

Being a celebrant is a deeply rewarding vocation, and I would like to share that with others. This September shall see the first intake of students at Heart-led Ceremonies Celebrant Training.
This is a comprehensive and in-depth practical training course in creative, heart-led, authentic celebrancy. You will learn to create, write and officiate all types of ceremonies with confidence.

 

If you’d love to learn more, keep reading! Love, Veronika xx

 

16th and 17th September, 2017
Glassonby, near Penrith, Cumbria

7.30am to 8.30pm both days

Places strictly limited.

Applicants
Applications are invited from people who are committed to developing awareness of self and others, willing to train to an excellent level, are creative, independent, inspirational, authentic and courageous, and wish to consciously create beautiful ceremonies in their community.
Unlike any other training course in England, this focuses on the importance of personal development, and takes a mind, body and soul approach to celebrancy and ceremonies, as well as recognising the importance of ongoing skill building.

 

The foundation of this celebrant training is based on integrity and self-awareness.

 

 

Facilitators
Veronika Robinson is a professionally trained and experienced full-time celebrant. She trained in New Zealand in 1995, where she was registered to officiate legal wedding ceremonies, and has been officiating ceremonies ever since. Veronika has had the privilege of officiating in New Zealand, Australia and England.

 

 

 

Veronika has officiated all manner of ceremonies, including weddings, handfastings, blessingways, namings, divorce healing, miscarriage memorial, conscious conception, funerals, memorials, Wise Crone, menarche, and house warmings.

 

 

She’s also an author (fiction and non-fiction), journalist, public speaker, workshop leader, psychological astrologer, and metaphysician. Veronika is delighted to be a celebrant for Gift of a Wedding, a charity which provides weddings for couples where one of them is terminally ill.

 

She is the founder and facilitator of Penrith’s first Death Café, A Meaningful Farewell, which seeks to open up honest discussion around death and dying.

 

Veronika is also a committee member for the Association of Independent Celebrants.

 

 

 

Paul Robinson has enjoyed a rich career as an actor, broadcaster, compere, voice over, ventriloquist, voice coach, singer and celebrant. He’s deeply passionate about self-development, and utilises the Enneagram of Personality Types as a path of personal growth. http://paulrobinsonproductions.co.uk/

 

Together, they combine skills to offer a one-of-a-kind training in heart-led, authentic celebrancy.

 

Celebrant Training fee
£650 (20% [£130] non-refundable deposit required upon booking). Balance due no later than August 16th. (You will easily recoup the cost of your course after officiating two or three ceremonies.)

This fee includes:
[] Two-day intensive and practical tuition on all aspects of celebrancy: 7.30am to 8.30pm both days
[] A copy of the book Heart-led Ceremonies (the art and soulful practice of creating, writing and officiating ceremonies) by Veronika and Paul Robinson. This complete guide to celebrancy is available exclusively through this training course.
[] Nourishing wholefood plant-based meals and refreshments (breakfast through to dinner, both days)
[] Two follow-up Skype sessions (or face to face in Cumbria)
[] Certificate (upon written completion of three ceremonies and presentations, and active participation in the training course)
[] Upon satisfactory completion of the course, participants are eligible to join the Association Of Independent Celebrants, and immediately receive professional and indemnity insurance for celebrancy work worldwide.
[] Extensive list of readings for all types of ceremonies
[] Extensive list of music for all types of ceremonies

 

This comprehensive course is set over a two-day weekend, and includes:
Learning to create and define space, both indoors and outdoors
What it means to ‘hold the space’
Setting intention
Understanding symbols and rituals
Crafting personalised ceremonies
Ceremonies: Blessingways, namings, weddings, funerals, memorials, housewarmings, etc.
Word Medicine
Voice work
Presentation
Body awareness
Skills of a celebrant
Qualities of a celebrant
Emotional quotient
The metaphysics of marketing yourself as a celebrant
Sacred connections: your ideal client
Care of the celebrant
The creative celebrant
The intuitive celebrant

Please note this is an interactive weekend, and all participants will be required to take part in role play, voice development, presentation, and video work.

Training Venue
We are pleased to host Heart-led Ceremonies Celebrant Training at Glassonby Old Hall, Glassonby, near Penrith, Cumbria CA10 1DU

This five-star luxury venue is a Grade II listed traditional Cumbrian long house. It has original features including old ship-timber oak beams, oak-mullion windows, flagged stone floors, open fires and stone staircases.

Glassonby Old Hall is on one of the higher hills in the Eden Valley with amazing views towards the Pennines.

Glassonby Hall has a galleried dining room with a massive stone fireplace, a sitting room with wood-burning cast-iron stove and a large breakfasting kitchen with four-oven Aga.

 

Local accommodation options:

Bed & Breakfast
www.scalehousefarm.com (3 miles from Glassonby)

Caravans, tents, camping, bunk barns
(1 mile from Glassonby) http://www.edenvalleycaravansite.co.uk

Glassonby Old Hall (why not stay on site?)

[] a four poster Master Bedroom suite
[] a twin bedroom
[] third double bedroom with a 5′ bed.

If you’re happy to share a bedroom, or share a bed with a partner or friend to share the cost, this can be arranged. Contact Veronika directly for prices, and to book (a 20% deposit required, and balance due no later than July 20th)

 

Celebrant Training Booking Form
If you wish to receive a booking form for the Heart-led Ceremonies Celebrant Training, please email:
veronikarobinson AT Hotmail DOT com (make sure you spell veronika with a k and not a c)

Have you ever wondered where the expression “to tie the knot” comes from? It has its origins in the ancient Celtic ritual of handfasting.

“Marian and Dave’s handfasting in Cumbria”

 

 

As an independent celebrant, more and more of my clients wish to include handfasting as part of their ceremony rituals. It’s a beautiful yet simple symbolism and is as old as the first couple who ever ‘tied the knot’, and as recent as the one I’m officiating. It symbolises marriage vows, and can be done instead of, or as well as, the exchange of wedding rings.

 

 

“My celebrant basket with handfasting cord, candles, bells, Celtic love knot, feathers, moss, water, ceremony script”

 

 

Handfasting represents the commitment of an intimate partnership.
From Old Norse: hand-festa, which means to strike a bargain by joining hands. The notion of a handshake comes from the old tradition of hand fasting; and even today, let’s shake on it, can represent a vow of sorts.

When I bind a couple’s hands together, I remind them their lives and spirits are held by the symbol of a knot.

 

 

They may choose to make the cord themselves, or with the help of family and friends, or if they prefer, I can make it for them from their favourite colours or in colours to match the theme of the wedding. Because the cord is as unique as the couple it can be made from pretty much anything. It can be from the most luxurious of ribbons or from farmer’s baling twine. Whatever it’s made from, it is the intent that’s important. Regardless of what it’s made from, it contains all the hopes and wishes of the friends and family who have gathered to witness the marriage.

 

“Sara and Michael tying the knot”

 

Some couples choose to have the knot in place just for the ceremony, while others like to keep the knot in the cord permanently and simply slip their hands out of it near the end of the ceremony.

 

“Officiating Dave and Marian’s beautiful wedding ceremony in a meadow by a babbling brook” #Cumbrianweddings

 

Either way, I finish with the words: “May this knot remain tied for as long as love shall last.”
Some couples like to have this traditional handfasting prayer included in their ceremony. It’s called The Hands of the Couple.

“Above you are stars, and below you is earth. Like stars, your love should be a constant source of light, and like the earth, a firm foundation from which to grow.

May these hands be blessed this day.
May this cord draw your hands together in love, never to be used in anger.

May the vows you have spoken never grow bitter in your mouths.

May they build a relationship founded in love, and rich in caring. May these hands be healer, protector, shelter, and guide for each other”.

Veronika Robinson is an independent celebrant who is available to officiate wedding ceremonies throughout Cumbria. She adores watching couples come together before friends and family to declare their love, and has been officiating ceremonies since 1995. www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant 

 

“Michael and Sara flew from Australia to Cumbria for their destination wedding which I had the honour of officiating.”

At the top end of Penrith’s cemetery, up on the hill overlooking town, there is a quiet oasis: a little haven away from the busyness of town. It’s the Woodland Burial Site.

 

www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant

Woodland Burial Site, Penrith, Cumbria

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A peaceful haven: Woodland Burial Site

 

It’s fair to say that most people don’t think about how they will honour their loved ones or themselves after death in terms of funeral choices and disposal of the body.

 

www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant

Penrith Cemetery

 

Increasingly, however, as people become more aware of the huge impact the funeral industry has on the planet, some are taking active steps towards honouring Mother Earth by choosing a low-impact burial. What does this mean?

 

www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant

Penrith’s woodland burial site

 

It is about burying a body that hasn’t been filled with formaldehyde (which is used to preserve the body so a funeral can be delayed for a week or longer). Some people recognise that an eco burial also means thinking about the coffin. In some instances, families will choose not to use a coffin, though there a many eco ones on the market, and use, instead, something like a shroud. The only legal requirement is that the body not be seen. It is not a legal requirement to use a coffin.

 

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wildflowers on the woodland burial site

 

A woodland burial site doesn’t use headstones, but instead is a natural and holistic way of honouring death by allowing nature to grow unimpeded. Personally, I find it beautiful, simple and inspiring.

 

 

woodlandburial3

A beautiful place

 

Oftentimes, people who have chosen the option of an eco burial will also practise home care: this is where the loved ones take care of the body, by keeping it cool with dry ice, and brushing the hair, cleaning the body, and keeping a vigil until the ceremony. Most people are unaware that using a funeral home is an option, not a necessity.

 

www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant

Secluded and peaceful: Penrith’s Woodland Burial Site

 

 

We’re blessed in the Eden Valley to have such a wonderful resource as this woodland burial site, and I hope in time that it becomes the norm to bury our loved ones in this way (or on private land) as people move away from environmentally unfriendly cremations, headstones, and cemeteries that require constant upkeep through mowing and toxic weed killers.

 

Veronika Robinson is a funeral celebrant who is available to officiate ceremonies throughout Cumbria. Her work involves creating, writing and officiating ceremonies based on the wishes of her clients, and founded on their beliefs, whether they’re religious, humanist, spiritual or other. She is happy to work directly with families or via a funeral director. She is passionate about eco-burials, and opening up the conversation around death and dying in a conscious way. She is a supporter of the Natural Death Centre. https://www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant/funerals-memorials.shtml

www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant

Penrith’s woodland burial site

 

There’s a simple question that I ask myself every time I head off to officiate a ceremony: how will the guests choose to be involved? Will they watch and witness with respect and love, sitting in silence and reverence, or will they chatter amongst themselves as if just watching a TV show?

A ceremony—whether it’s a funeral, naming, wedding or other rite of passage—is a small moment in time (anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes) in which we have permission to slow down, to step away from bustle of daily life; and we can choose to honour the art of ritual when we’re invited into that sacred space ~ or, we can act as if it’s just another mundane event.

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Four-element altar for Sara and Michael’s Wedding. Amethyst, candle, feather, and water infused under the Full Moon. Celtic cross, and handfasting ribbon. The rings were on a twig of rosemary for remembrance. www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant

 

In an ideal world, and it’s certainly something I try to do in my daily life, we would see each day (and each moment) as sacrosanct, and be mindful of how we experience time and space and symbolism. But this world isn’t ideal. We, as a culture, have been corrupted by devices that remove us from our true nature. We often watch two screens at once: phone and TV. Have you ever gone to lunch with a friend and they spend their whole time looking at their phone? This is the world we’ve created, but it doesn’t have to be this way. These are choices we make. We can learn to be still. We can learn to listen, and learn to be present.

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Without question, my favourite wedding ceremony in 21 years. What a truly gorgeous couple. www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant

 

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Beautiful flower girl at Sara and Michael’s wedding ceremony www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant

As adults, we are role models teaching children how to be witnesses or participants in sacred ceremonies.

As a celebrant, children are always welcome at my ceremonies. I don’t have expectations of them sitting still for long, but I do always hope that parents will be mindful of how they and their children may impact on a ceremony. So, some simple tips for being a mindful guest at a ceremony:

ceremonysara

I present to you Mrs Sara Pearson. What a beautiful wedding! (if I do say so myself) www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant

1. Arrive on time! If you are late, do not walk into the ceremonial space. Stay outside or at the side.

2. Understand that this is a sacred space, and just because you may not be in a church or chapel with a priest, it doesn’t mean talking should continue after the ceremony has started. This is particularly true during moments of ritual, such as candle lighting or exchange of vows or tying the handfasting cord. Honour what is happening by being a conscious witness to the rituals, symbols and word medicine. Know that for this person/couple/family, they will never get this moment back again.

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3. Be particularly mindful of young children, and how they may end up becoming centre stage and taking the focus away from the person/family for whom the ceremony is happening. Ensure their needs are met (for food/drink/comfort/amusement/toilet) before the ceremony starts. 4. Ensure your phone/pager is off or down. Don’t assume it’s okay to take photos during the ceremony. Flash lights, the click of a camera, etc., are not conducive to sacred space. 5. Go to the toilet before the ceremony starts. Allow yourself to be truly present. Let your heart really feel into the moment, and give and receive love with those around you, and those who you are witnessing.

 

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Such an honour to officiate Sibella’s naming ceremony. What a wonderful family. www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant

 

 

Ceremonies are beautiful and powerful rites of passage. They are made even more sacred when guests are there as mindful witnesses, whether they are giving a reading, singing a song, or simply witnessing through their quiet, respectful presence. It’s a role, though silent, that shouldn’t be underestimated.

 

Veronika Robinson is a celebrant who officiates weddings and Celtic handfastings, funerals, namings, housewarmings, blessingways, and other rites of passage, such as New to the Moon (menarche) and Creative Crone (menopause). She has had the honour of officiating ceremonies since 1995. www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant She is available throughout Cumbria, north Lancashire and Yorkshire, and Southern Scotland (to within 100 miles of Penrith).

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A little bit of love that I left on my husband’s wood-chopping block.