Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Southampton-based celebrant Diane Bell. We met at Salt Cafe in front of The Boat Shed for a cuppa and a chit chat… and we covered a lot of ground! I loved finding out about Diane’s life and the recent path that led her to become a celebrant.
In a former life Diane lived on the Isle of Wight and worked for the prison service. On returning to the mainland she worked in student well-being at Southampton University. It stuck me that Diane’s career has seen her working in very people-focused roles, and how interesting these jobs must have been.
In 2017 Diane’s dad passed away and, while the process of organising his funeral was incredibly sad, she found it very interesting. Very ‘real’ I guess. Death is a part of life and we all have to navigate tricky and emotional practicalities with the support of industry professionals.
Diane decided conducting ceremonies was an area she’d like to go into so she qualified as a celebrant and did her first weddings (and of course funerals) last year. The name of her business – Family Tree Ceremonies – is a nod to her father who was always fascinated by researching their family tree.
Advice re Ceremonies:
Diane told me she will always direct couples to her Pinterest page to gather ideas for vows, readings, poems etc.
A typical wedding ceremony would start with music/opening words/welcome on behalf of the couple. Then your bespoke ceremony could include a mix of funny stories/poems/readings etc, before saying your vows, exchanging rings and sealing the arrangement with a kiss.
A celebrant-led wedding ceremony is not legally binding (you have to do the legal bit in advance at a registry office) so Diane can’t ‘pronounce you husband and wife’. Instead she will ‘introduce the new Mr & Mrs…’ and possibly lead a toast (yup you can include alcohol in a celebrant-led service!)
Diane is a lover of life, you can tell that even by just spending a short time with her. She’s a very social person, she loves travelling, parties, dressing up, she’s a huge Madness fan… and she has a hot tub and a bar in her garden! She shares her home with her Scottish partner Gordon (who she met on the Isle of Wight ferry!) and they were due to get married this year. That’s right, she herself is a postponed bride. She told me about the big party at The Old Vicerage in The New Forest they’ve had to postpone until next year (because of Covid obvs) and she also told me about the street party they had on what would have been their wedding day. She wore a veil while feasting on scones/cakes and enjoying drinks with neighbours and friends. That’s one celebration down and next year, as well as the main event, she has her April hen do in Liverpool to look forward to (think Cavern Club, Grand National and Beatles tour) and they’re even planning a Polynesian wedding blessing on their honeymoon. They don’t do things by halves!
You will be able to meet Diane at The Boat Shed Open Day on 13th September.