Ellie Farrell, Original Alternative Celebrant

Are you looking for a creative, knowledgeable alternative celebrant who understands your needs as people, and who will help you celebrate your relationship, lifestyle, subculture, and beliefs in your ceremony?

Are you looking for a celebrant who is an alternative person, understands what true alternative people may require, and will work with you to ensure your ceremony is individualised and about you?

Are you an alternative person looking for a wedding, handfasting or ceremony celebrant who will not only create you the perfect ceremony, but will also look a natural part of your day in clothing which is within keeping of you and your guests?

If so, hello, I am Ellie Farrell, original alternative celebrant. A celebrant of over 10 years who is an alternative person and works with real alternative people to recreate memorable ceremonies celebrating love, commitments, relationships, people, and milestones.

What is an Alternative Celebrant?

Once upon a time, every celebrant was alternative as celebrants were a new alternative to religious leaders and registrars, the only people to perform marriage and wedding ceremonies. Now celebrants are widely known of and used by many so no longer are we alternative in this one definition of the word.  There are many who self-label as being an alternative celebrant and it seems there are alternative celebrants everywhere.

When I first started my business, I was aware of 2 celebrants who said they were an alternative celebrant. 1 in America, 1 in New Zealand. These were pre Instagram days and the #alternativecelebrant didn’t exist on Twitter or Google Plus (no longer a thing). Now it is a popular hashtag used by many.

When stated I am an alternative celebrant, it means I am a celebrant who lives what is thought to be an alternative lifestyle (Goth Pagan Priestess who follows both the Norse and Wiccan paths), who loves creating ceremonies for people who are into alternative ways to live and dress such as Poly, Goth, Steampunk, Wiccans, Druids, Shamanic, Odinists, Heathens, Astaru, Occult, Fetish, (creating collaring ceremonies and more), pantheon based Paganism, Viking, Medieval, historical, and other lifestyles, and beliefs.

With thanks to Scarlet in Chains

Having an extensive knowledge and understanding of these ways of life and beliefs and being passionate about what I do potentially attracts couples, people, tv researchers and media to book my services and seek advice and invitations to work on programmes.

It also means the way I work is different to how other celebrants may work to create ceremonies.  As a ceremonialist rather than just as a celebrant (another blog for another time), these things make me an alternative celebrant, rather an original alternative celebrant. Original as I was potentially the first, and original as everything I create is new and different.

Together, we can create the ideal ceremony for you and your individual needs. With many years’ experiences doing this for hundreds of people, you will be in good hands. Those who state they are alternative celebrants should be doing so to inform alternative people there are likeminded, experienced, and genuine celebrants out there to prevent people having to use a traditional celebrant or have a standard registration office marriage ceremony.

It isn’t about how many tattoos we have or what colour our hair is, it is about the ability to think differently to create weddings, handfasting and commitment ceremonies and funerals which differ from traditional ones.

There are also different kinds of alternative celebrants including:

Pagan (there are different beliefs so finding the right Pagan celebrant is essential)
And more.

When searching for an alternative celebrant, what kind is the right one for your needs? Many will state they can do everything, and it is important you find the right celebrant for you.

Alternative Ceremonies for Alternative People

I started my business based on our own experience of having to have a standard registration office marriage ceremony which was scripted, impersonal, and the same as every other marriage wording said by the registrar. Our music choices were limited and had to fit in with the legal criteria to not mention or reference anything religious or spiritual (denied Sanctum Sanctorum The Damned as our entrance music as it means ‘holy of holies’ and is a religious phrase).

Denied a personalised, goth wedding made me realise other alternative people must have faced the same issues so after having to settle for a bog standard very short registration office marriage, attended by our goth friends and families, with a reception in a goth club on the evening, I decided to train to become a celebrant to give alternative people the choices and freedom to have the wedding or ceremony they want, not what they are told they can have.

Your ceremony should be all about you, nothing more. It should be individualised and created with you in mind. All about, for you, because of you.

Ellie Farrell

Your ceremony should be created with knowledge, diversity, understanding and so much more. Your guests (if you decide to have any) are part of your ceremony.  They are the people closest to you, loved and respected by you who in turn feel the same about you. They should be acknowledged accordingly and can be included if you desire them to be.

An alternative ceremony is the opposite of a traditional one. No expectations of gender roles, genderised titles, commonly read and mundane poems that do not resonate with you or your lifestyle, and no expectation of standardised traditional marriage wording. This isn’t what a genuine alternative celebrant will suggest or expect. Alternative ceremonies by name, alternative ceremonies by nature. Inclusive, visual, meaningful, memorable, and unique.

When people book me, they are asked if you want to include handfasting, (I specialise in all styles and kinds of handfasting) and any unity ceremonies into their unique ceremony. I can help create a unity ceremony to make your ceremony even more personalised. I do not list many of the unity ceremonies I have created or offer as they are very quickly copied and offered by others. An attribute to becoming and working as a celebrant of any style is to be creative and forward thinking. As Coco Chanel famously said:

‘If you want to be original, be ready to be copied’

The existence of Alternative Ceremonies UK received some discrimination in the early days, (or ‘alternaphobia’ as we say at the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, a charity I represent at events, and have given presentations in colleges on acceptance through education). Some traditional celebrants left comments on Facebook posts and sent messages. The comments gave the opportunity to educate and inform the senders not everyone wants a traditional wedding. What is traditional anyway? A set of outdated rules and customs followed without questioning or personalisation.

Research and Interview Your Celebrant

When looking for wedding suppliers you will see what they can do on their websites, socials and in Facebook groups. You can’t see what a celebrant can create. You can see images of unity ceremony items they may have made, images of them leading ceremonies, standing with people in wedding attire and many styled shoots, but no images of your potential ceremony as this should be uniquely designed and created for you.

You should research your celebrant to make sure they are the right celebrant for you. Being a celebrant and creating a ceremony for people is an honour and a privilege. It should always be about the people each ceremony is for, not the celebrant. We are your celebrants, you aren’t our brides, grooms, or other chosen titles.

Ask prospective celebrants to meet you for a short video call as I always do when I am contacted to potentially be a celebrant for people. Good celebrants expect this to happen; they will listen to you rather than talk about themselves in expectation of you booking them. ‘What I always do’ and ‘what I like to do’ aren’t what you should hear.

Discuss your ceremony requirements to make sure you have found the right celebrant. You are planning the most important ceremony of your relationship and without the ceremony, there isn’t a need for a venue, clothing, food, cars, cake, flowers, rings, guests, DJ, or anything else. All these things are chosen because of your wedding ceremony, so finding the right person to create this ceremony is an essential task.

Train to be an Alternative Celebrant

If you are a celebrant reading this who is interested in training to create alternative weddings, or you are considering training to become a celebrant and the traditional style of celebrant training on offer isn’t for you, I also train celebrants. Again, having realised alternative people may want an alternatively trained celebrant, I started Choice Celebrant Training. Having trained hundreds of celebrants over a 9 year period (8 as the Lead Tutor of an established celebrant training company), I can help you on your journey to become a forward thinking and creative celebrant.

For further information or to arrange a meeting if you are looking for a genuine alternative celebrant, please contact me to see if I am the right one for you.

Top image by: Vicky Dubois
Middle Image by: Alternative Images UK