I first met Emma Heathcote-James at a networking event; she was a guest speaker telling us all about her inspirational business journey as the owner and founder of The Little Soap Company (if you haven’t bought her amazing award-winning products – please give them a go – they are AMAZING!)
I had a written a short poem about how the role of a celebrant can personalise your wedding which I read out to the group. It was either really good or really bad – because Emma remembered me; we stayed in touch and once she and Sharon got engaged, they asked me to be their celebrant. They chose the exclusive Foxhill Manor in the Cotswolds as their wedding venue.
How did we go about it?
The most important part of my role as your wedding celebrant is getting to know you as a couple – so that’s where we started.
Emma & Sharon invited me around to their home – there was food and Prosecco involved which is a great ingredient to get those creative juices flowing. Jake their son and best man to be, told me all about his idea of delivering the rings by drone (as a celebrant, this is both very exciting & terrifying) and Henry Dog made me feel most welcome – I felt like part of the family when Henry offered me a very chewed-up-slobby-sloppy-toy-barely-definable-object.
I was in my element.
It was time to kick the heels off and get down to the nitty-gritty. We did this by going through a fun questionnaire to help me get to learn about them as a couple and their family life. Sharon and Emma are two fabulous women who are set on changing the world for the better, through their actions and hearts of gold. They are both very thorough, which is great – because the more information I have, the more personal a ceremony can be.
How did they meet?
Emma & Sharon have the most incredible love-story, which is obviously personal to them and not my place to tell, but as two high profile, inspirational entrepreneurs and successful business women, one with an OBE and Business Woman of the Year accolade, the other the winner of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award and a current finalist for Business Woman of the Year, I will share what is already public knowledge.
As two of the judges on the judging panel, they were introduced to each other at the inaugural Woman Who Business Awards in March 2016, although their paths weren’t destined to join until several months later.
What’s this about a purple ribbon?
Emma attended an event where the presenter (and good friend) told a story about a purple ribbon; the powerful life analogy really hit home and was instrumental in Sharon and Emma making the decision to be together. It was that good, that we decided to include the exercise in the wedding ceremony itself. Purple ribbons had a tasteful presence throughout their day, and guests were invited to take home the ribbon that tied their table napkin.
The moral of the story is that you have to take control for the decisions that you make in life. Time is not endless so it’s important to decide who you want to spend with, and doing the things that you want to do.
Is it true they made their own rings?
Yes. Sharon & Emma’s rings were special to them. ONLY to them. They made each other’s rings when they attended a workshop at The Quarter Workshop in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. There was a lot of love, history, fun and effort entrusted in that precious metal.
Because the rings had so much meaning behind them, we wanted the rings to play a key role during the ceremony. It was decided that a ring blessing would be a perfect way to do that, not to mention that fact that they were going to make a flying entrance on a drone.
The rings were securely fastened on to a cushion (with purple ribbon) and passed from guest to guest so that each person could offer a good luck wish for their future together. The rings went on a journey, completed a friendship circle while the ceremony continued, and were safely returned to the best man Jake so that he could fasten them to the drone in time to make their way down the aisle via drone.
Sorry – did you say that the rings were delivered by drone?
And it was brilliant. There was a bit of a wait while a technology gremlin introduced itself, but once Jake had sorted out the wifi/Bluetooth/phone signal (or whatever it is that keeps these things up in the sky) the rings flew down the aisle a la drone, with Jake in control.
It was me, the celebrant that didn’t have the same control as I tried to take the rings from the drone’s grasp! The drone’s sensor and I had a little tête-à-tête – each time I moved in to unhook the rings (that were hooked on with a purple ribbon), the drone moved lower and lower to the ground, until at one point I was just about kneeling on the grass! It certainly made for some laughter (and I have broad shoulders!)
If you watch the video clip, you’ll hear my ‘controlled panic’ voice as I come up with a solution to wrestle the rings away.
No drones were hurt in the process.
On my gosh. They killed it – in a good way. So heartfelt. So emotional. So real. So personal. Sharon and Emma wrote their own vows and kept them a secret from each other, but as I had printed them out for them to read from on the day – I’d had a first glimpse. I hear loads of vows – but these ones totally got me teary eyed!
It was as this point of the ceremony that Jake (Sharon’s son) was asked to stand next to his mum. It was the perfect family moment.
Sharon said her vows first and placed Emma’s ring on her finger, then it was Emma’s turn. Emma had prepared some very touching vows to Jake – thanking him for making them a family and for being the special young man that he is (she promised so much more – but I won’t break their privacy). She then turned to Sharon to complete her vows before she too placed the handmade ring on Sharon’s finger.
Ribbon Ceremony – Tying the Nuptial Knot
To bring their ceremony to a close, Sharon and Emma literally tied-the-knot by crossing their hands into a figure of 8 (representing infinity) and we draped coloured ribbons over their wrists. These were tied together to create their nuptial knot .
- Sandra, their Best Lady, who was responsible for introducing them, draped the first ribbon, a purple one,
- Jake, their Best man and son, who is the centre of their world draped a second ribbon,
- Emma and Sharon’s parents draped two ribbons, representing the union of their families,
- I draped the fifth and final white ribbon to represent the rest of their friends and family…
And so their nuptial knot was tied and their ceremony complete….
A Word of Thanks
First and foremost, to Sharon and Emma for making me a part of their fabulous day – it was truly a pleasure to be welcomed into your hearts & home and be made to feel like a true friend; for your generosity of spirit in permitting me to use your precious video and photos to share some intimate moments and just being the two very special people that you are.
You grasped the concept of Celebrancy and your ceremony with both hands, embraced suggestions and ideas, and I for one, had a blast working with you, Jake, The Drone and Henry Dog….
You both deserve every success that comes your way.
I met Justine at a networking event and knew instantly I wanted her to officiate at our wedding (just to note, I wasn’t even engaged at this point – just lining things up!). I hadn’t even considered a celebrant led ceremony and when we finally had engagement rings on fingers Justine was the first “supplier” we met with. The ceremony was so important for us – we hadn’t even found a venue! She talked us through the differences, what we could and couldn’t do having a registrar there – she made it really simple. So, some two years later, June 23rd, 2018 at Foxhill Manor in the Cotswolds, Justine delivered our ceremony which admittedly I was nervous about – it was the centre point to the entire weekend – why everyone was there first and foremost. But it was simply perfect – not only was it held outside under glorious blue skies, but she touched the hearts of everyone. It really was a service purely about Sharon and I, about our journey, about love which had all 40 of our guests in tears at some point.
Justine walks the walk and talks the talk. She delivers from the heart – her charisma, manner and whole persona is just perfect for the job she does. Funny, respectful, inclusive, quirky – it was just so very “us”. She got our essence and our story and exactly how we wanted the ceremony to be (actually no – she superseded all expectations – it was beyond anything we had ever imagined). She is immensely likeable – one of those women you totally respect and just want to kick your heels off with at the end of the day and have a glass of wine with. She’s fun. Personable. Real. The total opposite of our experience at the registry office – something I am so glad we separated out (we wouldn’t have been able to be outside at our venue for one!) Simply put, Justine made our day. Yes the setting, the dresses, the food, the fizz, family and friends were all great, but over a month later it’s still Justine and “that service” that everyone is STILL talking about…”
Venue: Foxhill Manor, The Cotswolds www.foxhillanor.com
Best Man: Jake Redrobe (now Heathcote-Redrobe)
Best Woman: Sandra Garlick
Photographer: Simon Derviller www.simonderviller.com
Musicians: The Lady Sings Jazz http://www.theladysingsjazz.com
Dresses: Shakespeare in Love Boutique https://www.shakespeareinlove.co.uk
Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Rings: The Quarter Workshop http://thequarterworkshop.com
Flowers: The Broadway Florist http://www.broadway-florist.com
Hair: Matthew Curtis Hair www.matthewcurtis.biz
Confetti: The Real Flower Petal Confetti Company https://www.confettidirect.co.uk