Every love story is unique and deserves a unique ceremony. All families have their own story and sharing life’s major milestones is important… there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. If you’re looking for a personal wedding ceremony, full of meaning and truly representative of you as a couple, celebrant Yvonne Beck can help.
We asked Yvonne some questions to find out more about what celebrants do, and what working with her entails…
Q. Hi Yvonne! Can you start by telling us about the role of wedding celebrant please?
A. A wedding celebrant is trained in providing you with a custom-made ceremony to reflect your own style and ideas. Choosing a wedding celebrant gives you the freedom to be creative and include additional rituals and customs. Popular customs include Hand Fasting, Ring Warming and Sand Ceremonies, but new ceremonies can be created using your own ideas, customs, traditions, and heritage.
Q. Can you explain briefly about the legalities of getting married in England?
A. The current Marriage Act in England doesn’t allow wedding celebrants to perform the contractual marriage ceremony. You can obtain your legal licence at a registry office, where during a short civil ceremony you will make a 32-word declaration and marriage contract, in front of two witnesses. You don’t have to dress up if you don’t want to, and you don’t need to say any personal vows or exchange rings. You can save that for your privately conducted celebratory ceremony. By separating the ‘legal’ from the ‘celebratory’ you are free to hold a truly personalised wedding ceremony anywhere you like – in your garden, in a forest, on the beach, on a boat… There is no need to follow any ‘standard’ text.
Q. Why did you become a wedding celebrant?
A. I spent many years working with adults and young people, in mentoring and public speaking and was looking for something that would involve people and my love of writing and storytelling. My light bulb moment came after attending a celebrant-led wedding in Australia in 2003. I was blown away by the personalised ceremony and I wanted that role too. I wanted to create ceremonies that blended stories with rituals to create magic and memories. I decided to change career and focus on building something I was truly passionate about. I did my training with the UK College of Celebrancy and became a member of the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants.
(First photo above: We Are The Clarkes)
Q. I hear you divide your time between England and Germany and conduct ceremonies in both languages?
A. My husband and I moved to Germany in 2017. My mum was German so it was my first language. We spoke it at home until I thought it was uncool! Getting back in touch with my German roots has been amazing. We live in the beautiful city of Potsdam, a UNESCO World Heritage site located just outside Berlin. It is steeped in the history of Emperors and Tzars, and has beautiful romantic outdoor parks and castles, as well as woodland, forest and lakes.
I’m particularly passionate about indulging in the German afternoon custom of “kaffee und kuchen” – coffee and cake!
As a native German speaker, I can create ceremonies in both English and German, or a mixture of the two languages, allowing lots of opportunities to include culture, traditions, and to ensure all your guests feel included.
Should you wish to go for an elopement ceremony in Germany then I can suggest some beautiful locations. Do ask about my destination packages!
Q. Could you tell me about your most memorable ceremonies?
A. My most memorable ceremonies are almost too hard to define. In the last eight years I’ve created and conducted over 175 wedding ceremonies in wonderful indoor and outdoor locations in London, the Home Counties and beyond.
I can tell you about some unusual ceremonies… One was for a couple who worked in animal welfare and wanted their ceremony to include animals. We held it at an animal sanctuary in Sussex. I was introduced to the 30 strong herd of cows and bulls the week before by the most wonderful team there. I heard their stories and was told not to stand too close as they might step on my feet – they can’t see their own feet apparently! We had a wonderful heartfelt ceremony the following week in the field with them. They held back initially but, being curious, they wandered over and I could feel them breathing on me during the ceremony! It was such fun – we fed them carrots and ginger biscuits afterwards!
The sanctuary laid on a marvellous vegan wedding breakfast too and it really was a totally different but special day.
Another couple held their ceremony in a small woodland at the bride’s parents home. They built their own flower arch and the groom built seating in the woods for the guests. They had their rings brought down the aisle by their lovely well-behaved family pet Nessie, who almost stole the show. She was such a cute little bundle of fur!
Q. Can you tell me about some unusual locations you’ve conducted ceremonies?
A. My couples seem to have chosen endlessly wonderful locations. I have hardly visited a venue or location twice in over 150 ceremonies! I’ve absolutely loved the manor houses, barns, woodland, parks, private gardens and lately I’ve been so lucky as I’ve created ceremonies for couples on river boats and cruisers, in fairy-tale castles in England and Bavaria and beside stunning glacial lakes in Europe.
Q. Tell us a little more about you as a person…
A. I love being outdoors, and invariably everywhere I go, I am usually thinking will this work as a wedding venue?’ or ‘wow this would be great as a wedding location!’. I’ve always loved romance and love stories. Two of my most loved and watched films are Casablanca and Sleepless in Seattle – both feature love stories that transcend time and distance!
When time allows, I love travelling, visiting historic places, wandering around parks and green spaces, having date nights with hubby at the cinema and binge-watching all kinds of Netflix detective dramas!
This is a video of me at the ‘office’ where I created a ceremony for Kate and Peppy, at Ham Yard Hotel, London, on their breathtaking Rooftop Garden and Lounge! A beautiful personal ceremony full of love and laughter!
Video by Cupcake Videos.
Visit Yvonne’s site for blog features, prices and examples of real weddings.
Featured photo: www.herz-flimmern.com/de/fotografie/wedding/