What? A Vow renewal? Surely not?!

Although demand has levelled off a bit since COVID, things are becoming a bit more ‘normal’. I have noticed increased interest in Vow Renewals, but the same questions tend to come up. I hope my answers can be useful.

Does a Vow renewal have to take place on the anniversary?

Of course, it’s nice to mark the anniversary on the exact date, but there’s no compulsion. In my experience, people aim for the same week or even month, but I’d gladly celebrate an occasion for my clients whatever the date.

What does a Vow Renewal consist of?

Unlike the wedding ceremony, a Vow Renewal requires no legal paperwork, and there are no obligatory elements. You may wish to include certain rituals (lighting a Unity Candle, for example, or including family members as participants), but there is no set formula. You really can have the ceremony that you want, and your celebrant will be happy to advise and guide you.

Where should a Vow renewal take place?

Again, there is no obligation as regards the venue. You can hold the ceremony by the side of your favourite canal, or in your back garden. You can hire a hotel or manor house. It’s entirely up to you.

Why bother with a Vow Renewal?

There are numerous reasons to celebrate the occasion.

Your anniversary year may end in a 5 or 0.

You may want to proclaim your mutual love publicly.

Things may have changed since your marriage (eg your vows), and you’d like to update the position.

Your family may have altered (children?) and you’d like a ceremony to reflect that.

You simply want a big celebration!

How does it work?

You would organise the event like any life-cycle occasion. So you’d need to settle on a venue, send out invitations, possibly arrange catering, and the like. For the ceremony you may well want a civil celebrant, who can help you to put together a fantastic ceremony that’s perfect for you, and who will conduct it memorably.

So don’t delay! Speak to your favoured civil celebrant and arrange something that everybody will love. We all need a bit of cheering up, and this is a very good way to do it!

photo: mckinley_rodgers.com

Looking forward

Looking forward

It’s mid-November. Christmas adverts on TV are already the norm. It will soon be time for wall-to-wall carols on the radio. The New Year will be upon us sooner than we realise.

A year ago, nobody could have foreseen the direction the new year would take. Without exception, everybody has been affected, to a lesser or greater extent. Job losses, health issues – even, deaths – isolation … the list goes on.

So, what will the future hold? Can we look forward to the next month or two? Dare we be positive about 2021?

Of course, I have no crystal ball. The threatened ‘spike’ may materialise. The virus may, however, have done its worst. Whether improved testing and the emergence of a vaccine will actually make a difference remains to be seen. We simply cannot tell.

All we can do is to let life go on, as best we can.

That means making plans again.

If you have forthcoming happy events, do consider marking them. It’s important to us as humans to celebrate. It might be a wedding, or an anniversary (especially, one ending in a -5 or -0). It might be a naming or a handfasting. It could certainly be a vow renewal. Just possibly, a promotion at work. But don’t ignore it.

Of course, whether you hold a micro-event or something larger depends on the date of your ceremony and what the current regulations will be.

So it may be a gamble. Thus it may be easiest to arrange something that can be adapted at fairly short notice. That probably entails liaising with your venue (if you’re booking one at all) and/or suppliers, and checking how flexible they are.

I believe that things will ease up in 2021 (may my words not come back to haunt me!). As social animals, we do need to break the isolation at some point. Hopefully, this can be done in a controlled way, and a ceremony may be exactly what the doctor (!) ordered.

If you are thinking of organising something a bit special, then please have a chat with me.


Looking in both directions

When is it too late to say “Happy New Year”?

Most people give it till the end of January – so that makes this blog post ‘in date’.

We’ve come off the back of lashings of year and decade celebrations and new year resolutions. (I wonder how many resolutions you still have intact?!)

It’s great that New Year’s Eve gives us an excuse for a celebration. Celebrating – chatting, dancing, singing and laughing – is all very healthy (even if excessive eating and alcohol might be less so!). Even simply looking forward to it can do you good.

So a few weeks ago we were looking forward, but maybe we also looked back. Taking stock enables us to realise where you’ve come from – and where we still might need to go.

If you’re at all philosophically-inclined, you’ll understand that present time and reality don’t really exist. The present never stays – it always moves on. There’s only past and future time that we can measure.

What about marking an event in 2020? Yes, some more celebrating! Perhaps you have a big anniversary in the offing. Or perhaps you just want an excuse for a celebration. Either way, you can get another fix by planning a ‘do’.

Why not celebrate a promotion or a happy family event? You might have completed a year’s marriage (that IS quite an achievement). It could be a birthday ending in -5 or -0. Or else, time and circumstances have invalidated your wedding vows and you want to renew them.

You might mark any of these events with a dinner at home, a few drinks down the pub, a hotel gathering or a party by the canal. But have you thought of making it a bit more special? You could also hire a civil celebrant.

You won’t need to worry about any registrars or red tape. You can have the ceremony you can afford or really want. Choose the venue that appeals to you. Let the celebrant add something extra to the proceedings – possibly, gravitas, possibly humour, or a combination. Theceremony can include religious elements (or none). You may invite people of your choice (family or friends) to participate (eg in a ritual, reading a poem or making music). It can be whatever you want it to be. It doesn’t have to be long.

So let yourself go! Work together with the celebrant and compile the ceremony of your dreams!

If this has whetted your appetite at all for a unique, personalised ceremony, then have a non-obligation chat with me and let your imagination take flight!

Photo: mckinley_rodgers.com

What’s your next special occasion?

What’s your next special occasion?

As you’re probably reading this around the New Year, your next special occasion may well be New Year’s Eve. Well, to be honest, I don’t think I can help you there!

However, I might be more useful to you in some other areas. So please read on!

What about your Birthday!

When that comes round, how do you plan to mark the occasion? Off down the pub? Throw a party? A special outing? A restaurant meal out together with family or friends, or both?


What if it’s a “big” birthday, though?  Ever thought of adding an extra dimension to the affair? (And if it’s not your birthday and you’re having a peek out of curiosity, you may consider adapting the following and organising this as a surprise!).

If you’ve decided on an event with guests, then why not book a civil celebrant? With your input, he can come up with the right words, maybe a blessing (which may or may not be religious) and perhaps a short summary of your life and achievements. It needs last 5-10 minutes only, and could end, say, with a toast being proposed. It would be something very special and memorable.

Note that if you are organising this at a restaurant or hotel, you need to check practicalities (especially if you’re sharing the room with the public!).

Happy Anniversary!

Anniversary celebrations are catching on these days. There are lots of reasons to have these. Just a few examples would be:

  • to mark an anniversary ending in -5 or -0
  • to renew vows (because circumstances may have changed)
  • to announce to the world that you’ve successfully come through a difficult period

Whatever the reason, your celebrant can help you mark the occasion in a way that reflects your personalities. The ceremony may last 10-25 minutes (or whatever you choose), and can include religious components, if you want these, or none. You can put in music, readings (secular or otherwise), reciting of vows (new or old) and rituals (such as both of you lighting a Unity Candle – even in conjunction with your children).

So whether someone is planning a surprise or whether you’re choosing this for yourself, your civil celebrant can work with you to create a tailor-made ceremony of your dreams, and will conduct it for you memorably and professionally.

So, for your next special occasion, how about a ceremony that is personal and maybe a little bit unconventional?

When Life gets in the Way of your Big Event

When Life gets in the Way of your Big Event

The time may come when you want to commemorate a big event in your life (or in that of someone close to you). You will probably be marking a milestone birthday or anniversary, wedding, naming, or even a funeral. It’s going to be very important to you that the event is conducted appropriately. In fact, it’s got to be perfect.

And why wouldn’t it be?


Here’s why. Any one of these reasons (plus others) may get in the way:

  1. Somebody insists that everything is done their way only
  2. Money concerns
  3. Differences of opinions about the amount of religious elements to be included
  4. The relevant people can’t agree on the size of the gathering
  5. Or the venue
  6. Or what rituals, if any, are to be included
  7. Or who participates in the ceremony
  8. The date


And so it goes on!


In most cases, give and take may be necessary.

If you feel somebody is trying to hi-jack the arrangements, try and have a talk with them. Explain that others are involved too and would like to participate as well. You’re grateful for what they are doing, but it would be appreciated if the load were shared around a bit. Not everyone will listen to reason, I know, but many people will (if approached the right way).

If money is the issue, there are ways round it. These can range from a reduced guest list or choosing a different venue to arranging your function out of season and, even, in the morning or early afternoon. You may also be able to use your bargaining powers to knock suppliers’ prices down a bit.

If religion is causing problems, you might be able to suggest a secular ceremony with various religious elements included. This could keep everybody reasonably happy.

As for the rituals (if any) and involvement of family and/or friends, you will need someone to co-ordinate the ceremony. This is where a civil celebrant can come in.

Help is at Hand

Your civil celebrant will work together with you by offering ideas and guidance. He can suggest options and, if you explain where you need help, will be delighted to point a way forward.

Although he may not be ordained, he will be able to offer the religious elements, if that’s what you want. He will be happy to include whoever you want to be involved, and offer you some wonderful and apt readings.

Every word of the ceremony that you eventually put together will be agreed by you. There’ll be no unpleasant surprises on the day!

It may take a little ability to compromise, but that end goal of a perfect ceremony will still be accessible. It will be so  worth the effort!