An Isle of Lewis celebrant has won her licence to celebrate weddings – and will perform her first wedding in Skye on 20 May.
Former Stornoway vet Kay Falconer is one of the humanist celebrants whose services are offered by Fuze Ceremonies, to help create deeply person celebrations, for and alongside the individuals taking part.
A veterinary surgeon for over 40 years, Kay retired from her latest posting in Stornoway last year and has since then been completing her training to earn her licence to perform Humanist marriages.
Kay said: “I got my celebrant diploma a couple of years ago, but was waiting for a licence for marriage offices.
“I have celebrated the renewal of vows for a couple from Texas who came to Lewis to repledge to each other at the Calanais Stones, and I have officiated at funerals, but the marriage in Skye this month will be my first licensed wedding.”
Changing course from being a vet to being a celebrant could seem a strange progression but, says Kay, ‘the roles do share certain properties.’
She said: “The job of a vet is not solely spent working with the animals themselves but is about working with the owners of the animals, talking to them, and listening to their stories.
“That’s not dissimilar to the job of a celebrant – finding out about the clients, piecing their stories together and leading to a uniquely personal service for them.”
That’s true for other ceremonies too, and it was personal experience of funerals which first alerted Kay to the deep significance of having the right person for these significant rites of passage.
She said: “I spoke the eulogies at the funerals of my own parents, but it was when I attended the funeral of a much-loved uncle, conducted at the graveside by a celebrant, that I learned so much more about him, and realized the benefits of such a personal service.
“Her celebration of his life that day made me feel that I wanted to be able to perform that service for other people, to present the loved one to them as an individual, each one of us special in our own way, and perhaps even to make them smile.”
Local funeral directors will already propose Kay’s name to those wishing her to help with a funeral, but unlike funeral services, weddings have to be planned a long time in advance.
That means contacting a celebrant ahead of time. As a licensed celebrant Kay can conduct the service anywhere – in conventional and unconventional locations – but when you apply to register the marriage you do have to name the location, which calls for organisation and perhaps booking.
As someone who has settled in and who loves the Outer Hebrides, Kay is well-placed to help set the celebration, and create its structure, in a meaningful way.
She said: “It’s very much a personal ceremony which is about those marrying, their story, what they want, their readings – but with guidance from us as celebrants who have experience of what will work.”
The couple in Skye are also travelling from the USA to wed – this time from Alabama. Kay is looking forward to offering not just weddings but naming ceremonies and renewal of vows throughout the islands, for visitors and islanders, from now on.
The pictures show Kay officiating at the renewal of vows of Gretchen and Alex from Texas at the Calanais Stones on their 10th anniversary last summer (Margaret Soraya @quietlandscapes).