The C Word

Things I have been pondering …….

I realise many of you may have will have questions about your upcoming ceremonies whether they be Wedding Ceremonies, Naming Ceremonies or Vow Renewals especially in the light of the announcement on 23rd March. For some you will find the decisions are out of your hands and for others you’ll feel confused By the inconsistent advice and the decisions that need to be made.

Please try not to worry. It’s important to stay calm so that preparations and decisions can be made that are right, and safe, for you, your family and friends.

A lot of what is going on is out-with our control and this feeling of lack of control can really exacerbate anxiety.

Please note: The National Records of Scotland, at present are not accepting applications for any marriage schedules. Therefore marriage ceremonies cannot be performed. Keep an eye here for marriage schedule updates.

Take a breath, pause and plan.

Try using an acronym like BRAIN to help get things into perspective:






Get together with your partner, consult wider family members, friends and even guests if you like, write these headings down and start listing, brain storming, just get everything out there using:

What are the Benefits of carrying on as planned? To you, to others.

What are the Risks? Think of your guests, ages, travel, numbers of guests,  finances etc.

The Alternatives – talk to each other about all the available options.  Have you spoken to your service providers about potential alternative dates , if not do so. Making a Plan B (& even C) is probably wise and may put your mind at rest.

What is your Instinct, your gut feeling?  Tune in to it, trust it.

If you go through all of the above and just want to pause and change Nothing at the moment that’s fine too. 

You can wait and see what unfolds and revisit your list, notes and discussion at anytime. Maybe starting again, adding and subtracting aspects previously considered and newly discovered or advised by Government. Reflect and re-schedule if necessary. If you want to discuss options for a Plan B date let me know.

You have each other, that is the main thing right now. Remember why you are planning all of this in the first place – because of love and trust.

What if you have to, or decide to, postpone your ceremony?

There will be no charge to reschedule the date of your ceremony. I have plenty flexibility this year and next.  If I am not available then one of my Agnostic Scotland Life Celebrants colleagues may be. Pencil in a Plan B date as soon as possible.

Would you have to pay anything extra to change your date?

No, no extra charge to hold another date. Your deposit/fee would be transferred to the new date.

What if I, your Marriage Celebrant, become ill or have to cocoon at home at the time of your ceremony?

I have already discussed this with my Agnostic Scotland colleagues and we will endeavour to cover each other’s ceremonies in case of illness. Your back up Celebrant would have access to your final ceremony script and they would make contact with you to say hello and talk through anything with you prior to the ceremony. 

We know that currently, with the support of the Registrars, we can obtain emergency discretion for a change of Celebrant, as long as that celebrant is a member of a recognised belief body, if required. We will stay in touch with the National Records of Scotland for further advice in regard to the effect of the pandemic on marriage ceremonies for 2020.

Current Guidance

The National Records of Scotland, at present are not accepting applications for any marriage schedules. Therefore marriage ceremonies cannot be performed. Keep an eye here for marriage schedule updates.

For WHO advice re: social distancing and more click here and from NHS Scotland here

Whenever you hold your ceremony what if important guests can’t make it to your ceremony due to restrictions on numbers, travel restrictions or illness?

Have a cry – then get creative.

Film your ceremony

Live stream your ceremony

Use WhatsApp video call

Invite a Tribute/blessing from the guests who can’t make it 

Suggest your guests pre-record an audio or film piece to add to your ceremony or speeches

You could represent the person using symbolism – wear something of theirs or something that you feel represents/includes them

Portobello Beach

Other wedding suppliers

Talk to them. Ask about back up plan and discuss options. Communication is key. This can help get things in perspective, help feelings of helplessness and anxiety and also allow you to feel and connect with the support that is out there.

What you can do to support yourself and keep safe and healthy

Eat well, get plenty sleep, stay at home, wash your hands, access your usual exercise regime, get fresh air, minimise Social Media – wash your hands –  and ask for support and help. Talk things through with your nearest and dearest. Use BRAIN. Keep yourself informed with all the latest advice, health and otherwise, from Government. Reach out to others. 

Sara Shakeel

Am I keeping myself safe?

Yes, I am. I love hugs, kisses and shaking hands but am saving that for a later date. I’m washing my hands, staying at home, eating well, getting plenty of sleep and fresh air, washing my hands and leaning into my Celebrant community for support. I am keeping myself up to date with all the latest advice too from the Government and the Ceremony sector. It must be acknowledge that keeping myself safe may also mean my advice to you would be to postpone or go ahead but with only you two and immediate family members maintaining suitable distance. This is something I will discuss with each couple.

I am also acutely aware of the need to support other Celebrants and small businesses at this time as well as my local community, neighbours and friends.

Reflect and reschedule if need be – don’t cancel LOVE
If you do decide to postpone let’s think of a way you can celebrate or mark your original date. Make an event, a ritual for just the two of you, make it positive and that way it will become part of your story, part of your ceremony and part of your wedding day.

Baba Ram Dass

We’ll get through this – together x

Dead Good Film

Me and my Gladioli last summer,
flowers that symbolise strength and moral integrity

The Glasgow Film Festival hosted Rehana Rose’s documentary Dead Good Film last week and I went along with my daughter.

Motivated by a series of bereavements in her life Rose was moved to explore the world of funeral directors. She interviewed and spent time with many companies but only two agreed for filming to take place ‘behind the scenes’. The families, their experiences and the funerals were documented beautifully, and it was very thought provoking for me. I know I harp on about the parallels of the birth world and the death world but this film confirmed that connection even further.

The funeral directors she did document were very inspiring. Especially Arka. I loved their philosophy. They were so grounded, compassionate, empathic and they weren’t playing a role, it was their vocation, part of their identity. It was all so wonderfully simple, caring, beautiful and empowering. As Cara, from Arka says :

” I come from a world of empowering people and want to continue that in the funeral world’.

Yass!! That is midwifery talk. The staff at Arka work in partnership with, and facilitate choice for, families just as midwives do for childbearing women, their partners and their families. Arka are midwives. Death midwives.

Midwives and funeral directors have history

Search far enough back in history and you will find the local village handywoman or midwife performed laying out and childbearing services. As part of the evolution of midwifery, The Midwives Act 1902 prohibited the dual role but in 1907 it was amended allowing midwives to lay out after securing permission from the local supervising authority. This was thought to be due to demand from the bereaved townspeople and villagers. They were insistent that the washing of the dead be undertaken by someone known to them.

At that time it was the local joiner who became the ‘undertaker’. They had the tools, the space and the skills for coffin making. The handywoman would lay out the deceased and perform the last offices, attending to both the deceased and the bereaved. The undertaker would make the coffin and deliver it to the house where the deceased would rest in the front room or parlour until the funeral.


Here we are in 2019 and Rehana Rose’s film, and the discussion after, certainly highlighted to me all the varying needs the bereaved may have and more saliently, that this is important, must be recognised and at this time in families lives they may need the support of someone who is also an advocate.

To me, being an advocate is about honesty, information and respecting the right for people to be informed, have choices and make decisions. As midwives, funeral directors or celebrants we must appreciate that these rites of passage and rituals, whether it is birth or death, also need rites of protection. When you understand, believe and support the concept of informed choice, which is underpinned by human rights, you empower. With empowerment, even through grief, community, communication, companionship and human relationships can only be enhanced.

Go see this film.

Dead Good Film

Opening nationwide May 2019

Death grief and Poverty in Britain 1870-1914 J M Strange