I am Zena Birch, a Humanist celebrant, who was inspired to train as a celebrant after being asked to marry two dear friends of mine in California. They asked me to both write and conduct a ceremony for them. The fact they trusted me with such a free reign for something so important and meaningful to them was daunting, but indeed a great honour. It proved to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life to date.Z
After the ceremony so many of the guests thanked me and commented on what a wonderful job it must be to be able to help make somebody’s important day so special. Which was when I realised, that yes, indeed it was an important job and one that I very much wished I had. Eight years later, more than 520 individual peoples’ stories have been celebrated and I can now more than happily declare that this is not just my job, but my vocation. I feel extremely lucky that it is.
Humanist ceremonies have the unique ability to be about the people themselves. The ceremony can be as formal or informal as you like, they can be held in any venue from the traditional (a registered venue) to the imaginative (a forest/beach/back garden/theatre) to the absurd (a hot air balloon) and it can be as long or as short as the proverbial piece of string. What Humanist ceremonies have in common is the personal touch. The ceremony whilst never isolating those with a religious belief unites everyone in a common goal, to celebrate and to witness the occasion of those involved.
I offer to create a ceremony that is personal and friendly. Whether you require the light hearted touch and humour that your guests would expect from you or a solemnity of service to honour the seriousness of the occasion, I will be happy to deliver a ceremony that sits best with your approach to life.
It is difficult to write this briefly but we’ll try! What an incredible day, we were utterly speechless and overwhelmed with emotion and joy for weeks afterwards! Zena is seriously amazing and we cannot imagine how our big day could have been any better or in fact how it could have been the same without her. From the minute we met Zena we knew she was the woman for the job so we were so excited when she was free on our date and agreed to marry us. We were a bit apprehensive about writing our own vows and promises initially (we both do pictures, not words!) but Zena helped us through the process and we were so glad that we did it!
We also can’t thank Zena enough for making us do our homework (one of us more speedily that the other!) we now understand how important it was in enabling Zena to get to know us and in making the ceremony so awesome, personal and most of all a total reflection of our story and how all the important people sharing our day fitted into that (there was not a dry eye in the house and we can’t tell you how many guests told us it was the best ceremony they’d ever been to!). The ceremony was beyond our wildest dreams and Zena went above and beyond the call of duty in every way to make that happen (not just in the ceremony but in all the other things we roped her into!). We are so lucky to have had Zena as our celebrant and now we have an amazing new friend! Zena…thank you, thank you, thank you for making it truly the best day of our lives!
Chani & Ash
We would like to say a massive thank you to Zena for our wonderful wedding ceremony. My Grandpa told me it was ‘the most romantic wedding ever’ another friend said ‘we can safely say that was the best wedding we have attended’. It moved grown men to tears, made us laugh, included everyone and truly reflected us, both individuals and as a couple!
We wanted something different, something fun, colourful and personal but still wanted to have some traditional parts! Zena wrote a ceremony that was all this and more. Aside from her own wonderful writings, she read beautiful quotes that were not run-of-the-mill wedding ones but ones she had found because they fitted!
Zena is warm, happy, super fun and also very professional. Truly a delight to work with, if we get married again we’ll definitely ask her again!
Georgie & Dan
We just wanted to email and thank you for the truly wonderful ceremony you gave us for our wedding. You captured our personalities and things that are most important us perfectly and all our guests said it was a beautiful service and very ‘us’. Thank you for helping organise the barn before the guests arrived and I know that Ben appreciated your calming influence before the ceremony… more for his brothers!!
Both sets of parents didn’t know what to expect and were – thankfully – overwhelmed at how wonderful it was. We really couldn’t have asked for a more perfect ceremony to start our perfect day, so thank you so much!
Ben & Kathryn
I wanted to write you a thank you email, but I’m honestly lost for words to tell you how grateful we are for the amazing ceremony! I’m reading through our guest book and pretty much every entry mentions how moved people were by the ceremony, how personal it was and how heartfelt! My 83 year old grandfather apparently asked, as everyone was sitting down, “why aren’t we in a church?” but by the end, he thought it was fabulous! Between you and the choir, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house!
Lots of people told me last night it was the best wedding ceremony they’d ever been to and they loved the fact that is was so personal to us. I don’t think anyone had ever heard a wedding ceremony that encompassed both European football and cushion etiquette! I’m also really grateful that you took so much time to talk to us (both face to face and by email) before the ceremony. It made a real difference to me to have a friendly and familiar face taking us through the ceremony, rather than someone we’d only met half an hour earlier, it isn’t easy organizing a whole wedding from the U.S. I also really appreciated you making the effort to have a rehearsal with the full wedding party and to coordinate the choir!
Writing the ‘story of us’ and filling out your questionnaire was actually a really good exercise for the two of us to do. Jonno definitely used that as inspiration for his speech – and even talked about the process (and how rubbish he was at doing it!) in the speech. Apparently at one point he wrote a 5 verse poem (which I’m still trying to convince him to show to me!).
If you ever need a reference, or have a couple who are unsure about using you or having the humanist ceremony – please feel free to pass on my email address.
Nikki & Jonathan
Zena, we’re so so glad you had a great time this Friday: you were simply amazing, and we had and are continuing to have so many comments about what a beautiful, personal, warm and meaningful service it was. We are so grateful to you for your wonderful manner in the service, as well as of course designing and writing it too. It was perfect for us. Thank you.
Natalie & Ivan
I think I said it to you on the day, I knew you’d do a great job but had no idea how incredible you would really make it. Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts, it was just perfect and both Matt and my favourite part of the whole day. I know everyone must say it after each wedding you do, but it was just so personal and thoughtful and that’s what had everyone bowled over. Well, that and your amazing outfit! Thank you a million times over.
Jess & Matt