Featured in “How to I do” – Celebrate with a Celebrant

Sue Williamson Ceremonies, Weddings

This article was a featured story on “How do I do” –  a website specifically aimed at helping people to achieve their wedding dreams.

After meeting at running club in 2007, Clare and Rachael became firm friends, talking about most things as they ran through the streets of Manchester in all weathers.  Over the years they have settled in the Northern Powerhouse, developed exciting careers in healthcare and law, and found themselves a couple of lovely husbands.

And it was in getting to the husband and wife bit, that they each did endless research, at that time the only way to create their wedding visions.  Endless research for these time-poor professionals was tough, but it had to be done.

How to I Do aims to navigate you through the wedding planning minefield.  With so many different wedding suppliers to choose from, and so many decisions to make, we aim to make the process faster, easier and more enjoyable

The article (in its entirety) is below




Celebrate with a Celebrant

You’re engaged? Congratulations! No doubt the vision for an Instagrammable wedding is well under way. With increasing choices as to how we say I Do, it can be tough to decide who will officiate such an important ceremony. In our view, couples might do well to consider the role of a Celebrant. We’ve teamed up with Sue Williamson, an OK! Magazine featured, award-winning Celebrant, to enlighten our How to I Do readers on how accessible, fun and meaningful a bespoke wedding ceremony might be.

Planning Your Wedding Ceremony

When planning a wedding, it’s natural to get swept up in all of the euphoria and excitement, and rightly so. We say enjoy every minute!

However, at some point it becomes necessary to consider the legalities and practicalities of the wedding ceremony. Many couples think that they can’t have any input into the content of their wedding ceremony. Not so, Sue assures us.


simple ceremonies

The Options!

Indeed, many couples believe that there is a straight choice between a legally recognised religious venue and the local registry office. For some, tradition or religion may determine whether vows are said under a Chuppah, Mandap, or at the altar (to name but a few religious options). For others, it’s a little less clear cut.

Sue tells us that many couples who utilise her services as a Celebrant don’t necessarily follow a particular faith but still consider themselves to be spiritual. For such couples, a traditional religious setting isn’t really their thing. They are then left with the legal option of a Registrar but might want still something more personal.

Registrars have a very important role to play: legalising your marriage! However, they are restricted with regards to many aspects of your wedding, such as the venue, the contracting words, whether and how music can be incorporated, and timing.

For couples who want a more personalised ceremony, Celebrants like Sue have a vital role to play.


same sex wedding ceremony

Your Bespoke Wedding Ceremony

The role of a Celebrant is to curate a unique ceremony that reflects each couple, in a way that supplements (rather than avoids) the legal requirements. 

For such a bespoke wedding ceremony, the Celebrant is limited only by the couple’s imagination. There should be real understanding between the Celebrant and the couple, and many conversations often take place between them before the big day itself.

The ceremony can be held wherever and whenever is desired. It might incorporate personal matters and beautiful symbolic elements, such as a handfasting or using a Love Cup. There might be poems and songs that would not be allowed or approved of in a different setting.

Unlike the experiences of some in a registry office, the Celebrant will also not be in a rush to officiate the next wedding; this is not a ceremony that will be over in ten minutes.


celebrant bespoke wedding

The Legalities!

Until the law changes, Celebrants cannot do the legal bit. Sue tells us they are working on this.

However, only the declaratory and contracting words have to be said in a Registry Office for a marriage to be legally recognised and a marriage certificate issued to the couple. Matters such as the exchanging of rings and vows (and anything extra you want to incorporate into your ceremony) can then take place elsewhere. A Celebrant should be able to help and guide you through this process.

Costs of a Bespoke Wedding Ceremony

It costs approximately £100 for the legal paperwork. On top of this will be the Celebrant’s fee. We understand that this might be between a few hundred and a thousand pounds. No doubt each fee is as bespoke as the ceremony, and depends on each couple’s requirements.

Since you already have your ‘wedding licence’, you don’t then need to book an expensive licensed venue if you want to keep costs down.

So where might the ceremony take place? On the beach? In the woods? Your favourite pub (might want to mention it to them first, mind!)? In your back garden? The possibilities are endless.


bespoke wedding ceremony


Dare to be different!  If you want your pet dog to be the ring bearer, you can!  Would you like to walk down the aisle to your favourite song? You can! Do you want a sunset ceremony on the family farm? Guess what! You can! Are you getting our drift?! Too much choice perhaps, so we shall leave you to think, and sleep on it.

gay wedding ceremony

Whatever type of ceremony you choose for your big day, we hope that it reflects you as a couple and inspires and guides you both as you embark on married life together!

Contact Susan Williamson – Simple Ceremonies

If you’re thinking of having a bespoke wedding ceremony, then you can find even more information at www.simplyceremonies.co.uk or drop Sue a line at sue@simplyceremonies.co.uk.ok magazine wedding

More from How to I Do!

Choosing your funeral celebrant

Sue Williamson Ceremonies, Funerals

A podcast recording by Tony Piper of ‘Meet your Funeral Celebrant’
– so you can find out a bit more about me

Just click the play button to hear the audio…


Many people are still unfamiliar with the term ‘Celebrant’.

A celebrant is trained in Celebrancy and takes on the role of providing choice as to how a funeral service is written and delivered. Celebrants can provide a funeral service with or without religious or spiritual content – it’s up to the family of the loved one, and their wishes, beliefs – whether they followed a faith or not. The family, knowing the wishes of the loved one, will often know exactly how this service needs to written in order to honour those wishes.

As a celebrant, I will create a ceremony with you, centered on the life of the person, ensuring that his or her story is told, remembered and commemorated. I will ensure that the funeral acknowledges the life and marks that it happened, and talk about the achievements of the person who has passed away, their impact on the world, and the memories they leave behind.

This makes each service truly unique, personal and about the life that happened. Participation is very welcome, whether it takes the form of music played, or tributes from friends and family; recounting favourite memories or interesting stories. Where you choose to have your service is up to you. So if you choose a woodland, sea or traditional crematorium service, you have the freedom of choice.

I will visit you in your home, and discuss the type of service you want, talk about the person who has passed away, so I get a picture of who they were and what their life was like.

If you are happy for me to work with you on the day, I then draft a ceremony for you to approve and amend. I work very closely with the family to ensure that the service that they hear on the day really is about the person who has passed away. Memorial services can also be considered, if there are members of the family or friends who are unable to attend the funeral service.

Choice is available for everyone.


Why did I train to be a professional Celebrant?

Sue Williamson Ceremonies

So, why did I train to be a professional Celebrant? It might sound a bit corny but, the answer is that I wanted to make a difference!

I wanted to show couples that it isn’t a straight choice between Church and Register Office – that there are many inspiring ways to create your bespoke ceremony and truly own it, making their ceremony all about them as a couple; allowing them to say the words they have chosen themselves on this very special day, instead of being told what to say with a ‘template one size fits all script’.

It all began about 5 years ago when I read an article in a glossy mag while sitting at the hospital fracture clinic with my arm in plaster! Leafing through the magazine I came across one of those articles that’s entitled ‘don’t tell me I can’t start a new business in my 50s’ – I read about a Celebrant I now know and respect who did just that – re-trained in order to make a difference. I contacted this lady, who was very helpful and lovely, and we chatted about training organisations and the life of a Celebrant – needless to say I was hooked and went about my research straight away.

This resulted in my training with the Fellowship of Independent Celebrants (FOIC), training which is on-going and provides an invaluable source of support and knowledge to help me continue on my Celebrant journey.

Being a Celebrant is a very rewarding career – there are not many who can say they truly love their job, and along with meeting some fabulous people, I get to be a part of their significant moments, guide them through grief if they’ve lost a love one, or officiate at their wedding, naming ceremony, or vow renewal.

So… what’s involved? Let’s see how this unfolds….

Celebrants meet with their couple – often an initial meeting is free of charge (mine definitely are) so they can relax, get to know their chosen celebrant, ask all their questions, and then make an informed decision that this person is indeed the Celebrant for them.

After that, a second meeting – ‘all about the two of you’ I call it. This is where I get inside their heads, find out what makes them tick as couple and begin to ‘see’ a framework for their ceremony. Finding out what added content they might not even have considered – maybe they don’t know about Celtic hand-fasting, Unity Sand ceremony, or ring warming – to name but a few of the gorgeous symbolic elements that can be woven into the ceremony, something only a Celebrant can do.

Hours of work then follow (and I mean hours, up to 20 on the average ceremony), with unlimited contact for my couple and frequent ‘checking in’ from me. A rehearsal is always offered if they want one and it’s possible to squeeze one in with everything else that’s going on. So as you can begin to understand, we don’t just turn up on the day for half an hour and that’s it! Many hours go in into the creation of a perfect ceremony, whether it be for a wedding, a baby or child naming, or a vow renewal, where you as a couple might want to say some special words to your husband or wife, re-affirming your love for one another.

Then on the day, I arrive early, remember, it’s your day and your ceremony, so only one wedding is booked per day – it doesn’t matter if things don’t go to plan, or there are delays, so relax and live the moments as they unfold. I am there not to just read my script, but to hold space for you, to guide you through the most significant part of your wedding day, creating a memorable experience for you and for your guests – they will remember this for a long time. This is a responsibility that we, as trained Celebrants take very seriously.

Because we take our role seriously, whilst the job we do is wonderful, there are many skills needed to be an outstanding Celebrant.

These might include:

  • Excellent writing skills – being able to create a script from pages of notes
  • The ability to listen, and ‘pull out’ of a conversation what makes the couple tick
  • Being able to achieve the right balance of gravitas and humour
  • Completely comfortable with public speaking
  • Excellent organisational and timing skills
  • Being able to ‘think on your feet’ if things don’t go to plan
  • Having the ability to really engage with an audience – large or small
  • Being punctual
  • The ability to manage diverse groups and complicated family dynamics

As you can see there are many reasons not to entrust this special moment to just anyone! It takes the right person with all of these skills and more to create your dream ceremony, to make it memorable and beautiful.

So, what are you waiting for??? 🙂

Get in touch and let’s start talking about your plans

Imagine your wedding ceremony and honeymoon… combined!

Sue Williamson Uncategorised

Book your dream honeymoon destination – and take your UK celebrant with you for total peace of mind when it comes to the most significant words you will ever say – your vows.

If you want to exchange vows and rings on the beach in Florida then let Suncoast Weddings take care of all the planning, and book Simply Ceremonies to create your ceremony with you whilst in the UK – all taken care of at home, getting to know your celebrant before you fly out to sunnier skies.

I then accompany you, take care of your ceremony – and you stay on and enjoy your honeymoon.

This type of wedding ceremony is becoming ever more popular as it saves hundreds of pounds because you are not hiring a UK venue.

To find out more, take a look at photos and testimonials on this website, and to get more info about your Florida wedding on the beach, contact Sue Ashton (pictured left with Sue Williamson of Simply Ceremonies) at suncoastweddings.com


Sue Williamson Ceremonies, Weddings

So, here we are just coming towards the end of the winter months… warmer days ahead and lots of planning to be getting on with for your wedding.

There is much to consider and organise as you approach your big day, but have you given any thought to the most significant words you will ever say to one another?

Many brides get caught up in all the other aspects, such as flowers, the dress!, make up, photos and so on that they don’t give enough time to consider their options when it comes to the ceremony itself.

There is so much choice and flexibility available to you that you probably don’t even know about, so if you want everyone really interested and listening at your ceremony, and if you want special symbolic items weaving into it, then you need to get in touch with me.

Together we create something so beautiful and personal that you will treasure the memories for ever and your guests will be talking about for ages after the big day.

Get in touch to find out more – it will cost nothing and you will be amazed and delighted about what we can create together!

I look forward to hearing from you soon

Made it to the finals of The Wedding awards 2018!

Sue Williamson Ceremonies, General, News

Now all you have to do is vote for me…

The Wedding Awards is a way for brides, grooms and wedding suppliers to nominate and vote for wedding businesses that have excelled.

I am delighted to have made it to the finals thanks to your votes. Now, to win I really need your continued support,

The winner of any category is chosen by popular vote – so, naturally I’d love you to vote for me – just click on the link in this post and press “vote”.

Votes are invited from previous clients, venues and suppliers only, so please vote for me by visiting the link below:

Wedding Awards: Sue Williamson


Combined Ceremonies in Staffordshire

Sue Williamson Ceremonies, News, Weddings

I am delighted to have been selected as one of the Celebrants to participate in the ‘Combined Ceremonies’ pilot scheme set up by Staffordshire County Council. This is an innovative and refreshing approach to enable bridal couples to have the legal part of the marriage conducted at the same time as their Celebrant-led ceremony, and to promote the working together of the Registration System and independent Celebrants.

If this is of interest to you for your forthcoming wedding, then please get in touch as soon as you can – it’s going to prove very popular!


For more information on the service please see the links below

Combined Ceremonies Info Sheet

Letter of Confirmation

Exciting news – I’ve been nominated in the Wedding Awards!

Sue Williamson Ceremonies, News

I received an email from “The Wedding Awards” … it read:

“Dear Simply Ceremonies,
Congratulations you have been nominated for The Wedding Awards Best Wedding Celebrant Award!”

Very exciting!

As ‘The Wedding Awards’ has been created “… to identify and acknowledge those businesses which set the highest standards in service, quality and integrity” it’s an honour to be nominated.

The winner of any category is chosen by popular vote – so, naturally I’d love you to vote for me – just click on the link below and press “vote”. Votes are invited from previous clients, venues and suppliers only, this vote is not open to everyone.


Destination weddings

Sue Williamson Ceremonies, News, Uncategorised

The idea of getting married abroad might be the last thing on your mind, but have you really thought about it?

There are many good reasons for considering it.

If you are planning your honeymoon, then you are jetting off somewhere anyway, so why not solve the problem of which venue, how much, choosing menus, hiring all the suppliers, and simply get hitched at your dream destination?

There are a host of fabulous locations, with warm sunny weather guaranteed, where you can get married on the beach, in a chateau, in beautiful woodland or countryside – the list and possibilities are endless.

There are some legal considerations of course (aren’t there always, yawn) 🙂, but once you’ve chatted to me about your plans, you’ll wonder why you haven’t thought about getting married this way before.

Take a look at the Destination Weddings page here and get in touch for a no-obligation chat – go on, what are you waiting for?!

Working with wedding planners

Sue Williamson Ceremonies, Hints and Tips, Uncategorised, Weddings

I have associations with different wedding planners, and can recommend the following companies.

I have met with all of these wonderful women, who run such amazing businesses, with passion and fantastic attention to detail.

I have no hesitation in passing their names on to you, the bridal couple, as they are just brilliant at what they do.

If you are a busy person, perhaps with a full-time job, or maybe you have children as well, then the hiring of a wedding planner is a must.

A wedding planner will fulfil all your dreams of how your special day should be, turn your visions into reality, and make sure the day goes without a hitch.

Get in touch, and tell them I sent you!


Emma Jane Weddings – Emma and I met at a local farm shop with one of those amazing coffee shops attached – it was busy and buzzing and we spent a very useful hour – well nearly two actually, as we couldn’t stop talking! – together discussing how we can work in tandem. Emma is just fab – warm, friendly, totally professional, an eye for the smallest detail, and massively into outdoor ceremonies – ‘the more chance I get to wear wellies the better’ 🙂.

Give her a call, you’ll be so glad you did –



Simply I Do – Jeanette Levick. Jeanette is a wonderful warm person, who is completely passionate about what she does. She is calm and organised and you’ll love her straight away! Jeanette is an experienced wedding planner and has organised events from small intimate gatherings to large prestigious parties.