Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Chateau de Lartigolle | Celebrant in France

Being a Celebrant in France

I felt enormously lucky to be a celebrant on Sunday - but particularly a celebrant in France.

I had arranged to meet a couple I am marrying in May, when they were able to engineer, literally, a flying visit - into Toulouse on Saturday and out on Sunday - to have a final tweak of their wedding plans and the ceremony we have scripted.

Their chosen venue is my new favourite chateau - Chateau de Lartigolle, down in the Gers region of France. The chateau is big enough to be grand and to elicit the gasp from your guests you want from a wedding venue - but small enough and so thoughtfully designed to offer a really warm and welcoming feel. I loved it! See it here.

The journey down from Monsegur, where I live, to Pessan was also spectacular - I left very early in the morning, as my clients had to get to the airport before lunch, and saw the dawn come up over the silhouettes of other chateaux as I travelled down - dramatic towers and steeples black against the lightening sky. The cold dawn turned into a glorious, sunny day - so warm that, on the way home, I treated myself to a glass of wine, sitting outside a little bar in Auch - sitting outside in January! 

It was great to meet my lovely clients too - Skyping is good - (and still a bit of a miracle to me...) but it was good to meet them face to face and get to know them so much better.  We met in one of the chateau's cosy salons and were able to add things to the ceremony and then walk it through outside - and they told me a bit about friends and family, who, I now, can't wait to meet on the day.

So, yes, a lovely day - and how lovely it was to be a celebrant in France!

Outside in the grounds, where a couple can choose to have their ceremony.

One of the beautiful rooms in the chateau.

Friday, 23 January 2015

French Farmhouse Wedding | Flowers For A French Wedding

Memories of warm days and a wedding in a French farmhouse

It's cold and frosty today and I can't help looking forward - and back - to warmer days and flowery fields. I'm sitting in front of a cosy log burner, looking at photographs of my daughter's wedding - which, of course, was in France.

When she was contemplating getting married in France, she knew that she wanted her ceremony to be informal - a relaxed gathering of family and friends - and for the 'reception' to have the atmosphere of a picnic in the French countryside. 

So we chose a beautiful, typical French farmhouse, in the countryside near Monsegur in the Gironde area of France - and had a glorious picnic, in its lavender filled garden, with guests taking a hamper filled with local goodies and local wine, and a picnic blanket. 

The picnic went on into the night, when the lights in the trees came on and we hung the lower branches with candles in jars. There was music and dancing - and much wine...(we do live among vineyards...) 

The farmhouse was big enough for a group of friends to stay before and after the ceremony, with others staying in gites nearby - it was a celebration that lasted a week!

The house, Bernisson, see more about it here, is a beautifully renovated farmhouse, with seven bedrooms and two kitchens - invaluable as we were doing our own catering - a little cinema, which kept the children ( of all ages happy), a games room ( ditto!) and a great pool.

The owners couldn't have been lovelier or more helpful: what we didn't know about the area, suppliers and weddings, they did - they had their own wedding there - and could guide us in the right direction, when we needed it. 

...Such as where to find a marquee in case it rained...but that's a whole new blog!!

It also turned out that Jenny, the owner, is also a wedding florist. For my daughter's wedding we had very informal flowers - yes, you've probably guessed, big buckets and jugs of sunflowers...

Jenny, though, can do anything from informal arrangements to the most elaborate - and has done the flowers for weddings throughout France - and beyond. And on a cold and frosty day I thought I'd share some ...

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All flowers by Jenny Fairbanks - see Jenny on her Facebook page or here

Monday, 19 January 2015

I have a dream...

Martin Luther King day today

...and we might be sadly thinking of his great 1963 speech, which included the memorable lines...

"... I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.


Remind yourself of the whole speech here 

Friday, 16 January 2015

Weddings Should Be Fun | Civil Celebrant | Humanist celebrant

Weddings should be fun ~

Planning a wedding is quite stressful - there is so much to think about: the guest list - do we really have to invite Auntie Maud, who we've never really liked?

Where? The local church - but I don't believe in God. Registry Office - bit dull...

Civil celebrant or humanist celebrant? Where do I find one? 
( Start here or, if you are thinking about marrying in France, here.)

The venue, the reception - the cost! 

The bridesmaids - who will be offended most if they're not asked - can I really have eight - and that's before the little ones? 

The dress - designer - and half the savings for the deposit on the house gone...or one made by Auntie Maud...?

Seemingly endless questions. But if you are only going to do this once in your life, then you must enjoy it! Even the stressful planning part...and even when you are the mother of the bride!

These photographs, winners of a competition run by The International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers
will remind you to breathe - and smile.

I love these - what great photographers!

Wedding in France | Get married in France

Wedding in France - beautiful photographs...

The International Society of  Wedding Photographers has just announced its winners for 2014. All of the photographs I've seen are amazing but these are some of my favourites. 

Inevitably, for me, they often have a French feel - but France is just so photogenic and has captured our imaginations for centuries...whether it's a cafe typique in a small town or a field of sunflowers or lavender, a vineyard, a little cobbled street with an old church at the top...we all have our own quite clear image of 'our' France - and a wedding in France will, almost certainly, result in beautiful, memorable photographs.

 If you get married in France, you'll have chosen your venue very carefully - look at these for inspiration!

I love these because they are so atmospheric...more in the next blog of some that made me laugh - and it's a rainy Friday here - and probably worse in the UK - and it's January - we need to laugh!

Monday, 12 January 2015

Humanist Celebrant | Secular Celebrant | Celebrate Life!

Humanist Celebrant?

A client asked me yesterday whether I was a humanist celebrant - and what the difference was between the labels: humanist celebrant, secular celebrant and civil celebrant.

Am I a humanist?  I am, certainly, in sympathy with humanist values  - how could I not be when humanists describe a humanist as someone who will -

' Think for themselves about what is right and wrong, based on reason and respect for others.

Find meaning, beauty and joy in the one life we have, without the need for an afterlife.

Look to science instead of religion as the best way to discover and understand the world.

Believe people can use empathy and compassion to make the world a better place for everyone.'

I suppose my concern, at the moment, is whether I want to label myself as anything. Given the fact that people will revile and kill others because they see the label rather than the human being behind it, I think I would rather judge others - if judge I must - by what they do and not by what they say they are, or others say they are.

So then what I do has to be the question...
  • I am a mother, so I mother, I nurture. 
  • I am a friend, so I show love and care. 
  • I am a teacher, so I try to engage the interest and enthusiasms of young people and channel those as effectively as I can.
  • I am a celebrant of weddings - I celebrate love. I am a celebrant of namings, of welcome to the world ceremonies - I celebrate life.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Finding Your Celebrant in France | What Happens When I Decide On My Celebrant in Sunflowers Wedding?

So here we are - a brief guide to what happens next...

You've decided to have your wedding celebration in France - and a very wise move too considering how the euro/sterling situation is making it so much cheaper at the moment than it would have been last year - and, I think, much cheaper than an equivalent wedding would be in the UK. 

You've looked at celebrants and decided on Celebrant in the Sunflowers - so now:

  • Contact me using the contact/connect form
  • I will reply within 2 days and suggest we set up a Skype call to discuss your initial plans, and so that we can find out a bit more about each other.
  • I'll follow up with a questionnaire, which you can complete online - people usually find it good fun to do - and this will give me a better idea of who you are, and what, as a couple, you would like the ceremony to be.
  • I will draft a ceremony for you and send it to you for your approval - you may know already what vows you want to make, the readings you want, the music you will have - and if not I will make suggestions for you.
  • Then we will make any changes that you may want - we can do this until the ceremony is exactly right for you - it is unique to you.
  • I work on the final copy. You can contact me at any time in the process - up until the day of the ceremony...
  • On the day before, unless distance is prohibitive, I am happy to attend a rehearsal.
  • On The Day, I arrive 2 hours before the start, check in with the 'stars' of the day and their families, make sure that the ceremony venue is set up as we have discussed.



  • ...and then between us we make a memorable, meaningful and enjoyable event...