Thursday, July 27, 2006

Light on Life - Interview with Belinda Chapman

As promised, here is the interview with Belinda Chapman of Light on Life - cross-posted from City Hippy: Celebrant Belinda Chapman of Light on Life works from Arka Eco-Funerals in Brighton and from nearby Lewes. She got in touch to see how Light on Life might be able to work with Ethical Weddings and I was keen to meet her, not least to find out exactly what being a celebrant involves... EW: Nice to meet you Belinda. I'm really intrigued by what you do. We're meeting in an Eco-Funeral parlour but you're interested in Ethical Weddings. Can you tell me exactly what it is a celebrant does? BC: My main job as a celebrant is to create ceremonies for all life events. Those occasions that mark beginnings, transitions and endings in our lives. Each ceremony is designed to meet the individual's needs. EW: Is this the same idea as having a Humanist ceremony? BC: It isn't, that is a common misconception actually. Humanism has a clear set of beliefs and a Humanist ceremony would not have any religious elements at all. As an independent celebrant, I can make the ceremony suit the people at the centre of it whether this involves no religious reference, a combination of different beliefs (if the couple getting married were from different religious backgrounds, for example) or an emphasis on the green and ethical issues which are more and more a part of our lives - as you have found with Ethical Weddings. EW: And as a celebrant, are you able to perform the legal side of a wedding ceremony? BC: Not at present - a Registrar would still need to contract the marriage or civil partnership - and I often work with one. However, I am in the process of setting up an association of independent celebrants (there are about 30 of us in the UK at the moment) so that as a body we can lobby for the right to legally contract a marriage or civil partnership - we had our first meeting in March. EW: And why did you decide to be a celebrant - where did the idea come from? BC: As your idea for Ethical Weddings was a result of your own wedding, sadly, for me the path to becoming a celebrant stemmed from my mother's funeral 3 years ago. I was not happy with the funeral, it did not seem to reflect her life, and I thought: if only there was someone to help with this when you were at your most vulnerable, to draw out all the good things and make it an occasion for celebrating and remembering. And it was after this that I began my research into becoming a celebrant. EW: How did your previous experience qualify you for this role? BC: I came from a performing background - theatre, TV, radio and community theatre - and was involved in Lanternhouse International [a theatre company started over 25 years ago to create 'poetic, daring, visually stunning, emotionally arresting works of participative and celebratory arts and performance']. I attended their 'Rites of Passage' course looking at ceremony and ritual with artists and performers, and now teach on these courses myself. EW: And where do your clients come from - what are they looking for when they get in touch with you? BC: The circumstances are different in each case - I have done ceremonies in a front room, on a beach, in a hotel - although more and more people are looking for the greener options such as the eco funeral we offer at Arka or a green wedding, such as one I did in Lewes recently in a field with all the food sourced locally. At first, people came to me through word of mouth, friends of family and friends of friends. They wanted a ceremony that wasn't just about tradition or the way things had always been done, but that was about them, that reflected who they were and the lives they led. I talk everything through with the family or couple and find out what is important to them and from that I create the ceremony - through songs, poetry, literature, whatever they choose. Before the Civil Partnerships were introduced I created ceremonies for many same sex couples - although now many are opting to go via the Registrar only. EW: And what do you find you do more of, weddings or funerals? BC: In the last 12 months it has mostly been funerals - people are increasingly interested in the idea of the eco coffin and leaving as small a footprint as possible on the earth when we leave it. But I am very keen to develop the wedding side and hope to get the word out through Ethical Weddings. The latest development is to open a ceremony shop in Lewes - and to make the service and products on offer as green as they can be! EW: Best of luck with that, Belinda. And I'm looking forward to working with you through Ethical Weddings! If you want to get in touch with Belinda about your ceremony or celebration, visit Light on Life or click here - she will be more than happy to hear from you. Take care, Katie Technorati tags:

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A storm is brewing!

So the hot weather continues but not for much longer perhaps? The lightning show has begun...where is the rain? It's been a few days since my last post so I thought I would do a quick update of Ethical Weddings events. At the weekend we went to Bristol where I met with a journalist for the Soil Association's magazine, 'Living Earth'. We had a good chat over a cup of tea about my own wedding and how this led to the setting up of Ethical Weddings. The article, which will appear in the Autumn issue of 'Living Earth', will feature a bride (who works for the Soil Association) who planned her own green wedding; Ruth Culver, who set up the wedding coordinating service, Green Weddings; and me! On the supplier front, I had the pleasure of meeting with Belinda Chapman of Light on Life the other week. Belinda is a celebrant - her role involves creating life ceremonies to suit the people at the centre of them - they can take place anywhere, in a hotel, on a beach, in a field - and use any form of expression - music, songs, literature, poetry or performance. I will be posting my chat with Belinda on City Hippy - watch this space and I'll let you know when it's up! Another supplier to sign up to Ethical Weddings is the very funky Junky Styling. Using clothes from charity shops or that were headed for the bin, they deconstruct them then redesign them into twisted, tailored garments that are utterly unique. Wedding dresses begin at £2000 and men's suits at £450 - all items can be turned around within 2-6 weeks. My sister and I have been giving our own clothes a new lease of life conducting a swap shop in my living room. However, I now seem to have more clothes than I started with - a trip to the charity shop may be in order! Bye for now! Katie Technorati tags:

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hot & Green!

Phew it is hot! I managed to haul myself away from the beach today to head up to the big smoke (and it definitely is right now) and meet up with Ruth Culver, wedding coordinator extraordinaire of Green Weddings fame. Over a rice muffin and fresh juice at the yummy Neal's Yard Salad Bar in Covent Garden, we swapped stories of our own weddings and shared ideas on where the whole green / ethical wedding is heading. While Ethical Weddings is very much about providing the resources for couples to organise their own ethical weddings, and a space for them to chat and swap tips and advice, Green Weddings is a bespoke service where you meet with Ruth, tell her the type of wedding you would like to have, and she will organise it for you - with your input of course - in the greenest way possible! So if you're short on time but big on going green, ask Ruth. You can read some of Ruth's top tips for having a green wedding in The Times' eco-worrier article: 'planet-friendly partnerships: their big, fat green weddings'. Meanwhile, Ethical Weddings is keen to encourage ethical wedding suppliers to sign up to the online directory due to go live later this year. So if you are an organic caterer or a purveyor of fair trade confetti (for example!), sign up here. Bye for now... Katie Technorati tags:

Monday, July 17, 2006

Ethical Weddings - early days!

Many of you will already know me from City Hippy where Al kindly publishes my posts when I manage to put together something worth reading! I will continue posting on City Hippy but have decided to use this space to give you a little insight into the day-to-day struggles of starting a business (for those of you who are interested - or who want to give me advice!). My next Ethical Weddings post on City Hippy will be on the rather stressful subject of finding a venue so before I get on to tackling that weighty issue I thought I would point you in the direction of some lighter reading as well as a bit of background: the whole story from beginning to end (starting when I was 6 years old, I believe - you get to see me dressing up in my mum's wedding dress!) of our own attempt at an ethical wedding appears in August's issue of Lifescape - the new vegetarian magazine whose tagline is 'cruelty-free, fair trade, organic'. It is available now from WH Smiths and all good newsagents or you can sign up for a subscription here. Meanwhile, back at my desk, my husband and I are trying to get my many files and newspaper cuttings (about all those potential ethical wedding suppliers!) into some semblance of order. Once this has been achieved my levels of efficiency will no doubt know no bounds...once I've dragged myself away from the beach that is (oh the trials of living in Brighton!). Bye for now... Katie x Technorati tags: