Charlotte Pennefather is a wedding celebrant, who also conducts naming ceremonies and vow renewals all with a vibrant, young, fresh approach.
Increasingly, couples are looking to wedding celebrants to enable them to celebrate their wedding in a more informal, relaxed way, where they meet their celebrant beforehand and are able to craft their own personalised ceremony.
Here at Girl Gets Wed, we’re often asked; “What does a wedding celebrant do?” “Can we have a ceremony with a celebrant anywhere?” “If we have a wedding ceremony with a wedding celebrant, is it legal? Over to Charlotte now for answers to all these questions and more:
Tell us a little about yourself and your business
Hello, I’m Charlotte and I’m a Celebrant. I live in a small village in North Cumbria, near the Northumberland border with my husband Matt and my son Rory. I have a background in Events Management and still do take part in running our family run business Steel City Promotions although this does provide a challenge with a one year old round my toes. I also have a degree in Performing Arts so this does help a little in pulling together and delivering a ceremony.
What motivated you to start your business?
When Matt and I got married in 2013 we had a registrar led ceremony and although it was lovely, we couldn’t help feel that it lacked ‘us’ – there was no one there to guide us or twist us into having something more unique and personal, and likewise we didn’t realise there was any other option. We were just given a form to fill in and to choose what we wanted to say. I decided to train as a celebrant shortly afterwards and here we are.
Tell us a little more about the day to day activities of your business.
I always insist on an initial meeting to get to know my client and so that they can get to know me too – we discuss different possibilities for the ceremony and I get to have a look at the venue / chosen spot. Having said that, I do have international couples and it’s not easy meeting face to face as often they’re not in the country until a few weeks before the wedding itself – thank goodness for Skype, what a wonderful tool.
After we’ve had a chat, I send them off with a questionnaire which they send back to me and I can begin composing the running order and the script for the day. I think in some cases celebrants have the couple fill in the questionnaire with them at the first meeting, I like my clients to go away, sit down together and really think about the answers that they’re willing to give. They can do it in their own personal space and they’re not under any pressure.
Once the script is approved – I like this to be all done and dusted 2-3 weeks in advance of the wedding day at the latest, we have a rehearsal with all involved in the ceremony the day before. For example, anyone doing any readings, ring bearers etc. I tend to find this eases nerves and makes for a smoother ceremony on the day.
I always arrive one hour before the ceremony is about to start and then we’re good to go…
If our readers were to order from you, what can they expect?
My approach is relaxed, quite informal and I’m very chilled out. Having said that, I’m super organised and can whip a rogue groomsman into shape in no time.
I love creating ceremonies that have a little bit of quirk to them – I often include symbolic elements such as Handfasting, Candle Ceremonies etc. and am always open to new suggestions for creating our own symbolic element.
How can couples judge if a company is the right fit for their wedding?
The lovely thing about having a celebrant led ceremony is that you get to choose and meet the person that delivers that all important part of your wedding day in front of all your family and friends. You have to connect with that person so we would sit down over coffee, preferably at their chosen venue / location and have an informal chat about their dreams and wishes for the day and then go from there.
What are your favourite moments from previous weddings you’ve been involved with?
I love love love when couples write their own vows and keep them a surprise from their husband or wife to be. The emotion involved at this point is so striking. I also love the first look, when a bride or groom walks down the aisle, it’s such a special moment and many of the guests get choked up too.
The bigger picture – does your business offer goods/services outside of the wedding world? Tell us more.
As I mentioned previously, I run an events management business – it does link back to the wedding industry in some aspects. We also are building a hire stock of woodland and natural products to hire out for weddings and events – more to follow on this though, it’s still a work in progress. Many fingers in many pies, or so they say.
What have you got planned for 2017?
2017 will hopefully see the launch of the woodland hire but as a celebrant I’m looking forward to the weddings and naming ceremonies already in the diary and meeting and connecting with new couples and venues as the year goes on.
And finally, what or who inspires you and why?
I get inspiration from my clients for the most part – I always love hearing their initial ideas and then watch them grow and develop into something truly magical. I get a lot of inspiration from Instagram (slightly addicted as my husband very kindly pointed out!) – I just love seeing pictures of beautiful weddings and settings for ceremonies. My aim is to spread the word in the hopes every bride, groom and partner to be, will see that they really can get married wherever, whenever they like.
Images Courtsey of: Charlotte Pennefather
Photography: Katy Melling Photography