Sarah and Pat’s wedding at Pangdean Barn

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Sarah and Pat’s wedding will always hold an incredibly special place in my heart for three reasons: first, it was my lovely friend’s big day; second, it was the reason I started on my celebrant journey, and third, because of its networking success story.

I first met Sarah a few years ago at the Mumpreneurs Networking Club. Sarah is an amazing cook and baker, and runs a business called Let’s Cook At Home, inspiring and empowering others to get creative with their cooking. I had worked with her in my previous role as a coach, helping her to get the copy just right on her website, and got to know her better in the process.

Fast forward a year or two and I’d been toying with the idea of training to be a celebrant for some time, and I remarked to my husband that I needed a ‘sign’ that it was the right turn to take. The very next day, I saw Sarah at our networking meeting, she announced that she was getting married and (to cut a long story short) asked if I would conduct the ceremony. Sign very much noted!

The planning

Sarah and Pat had both suffered from the devastating sudden loss of a spouse and had met at the support group WAY (Widowed and Young), several years ago. They wanted to celebrate their love but also gently pay tribute to their journey to finding it, as well as involving and acknowledging their children in the service. We got to work.

Planning the ceremony with this pair was fantastic. I hadn’t met Pat before but Sarah had told me about his dry sense of humour. This became quickly evident in our meetings and communications – to the extent that my husband came in and asked me what I was laughing about when I was reading the questionnaire answers they’d sent me. Pat nearly got me though – slipping ‘obey’ into Sarah’s ‘I wills’ in a final edit to see if I’d notice – naughty! The three of us really did have fun with the planning, and I was so grateful to them for bearing with my rookie status and having faith in me.

The Big Day

Pat and Sarah had the registrar perform the legal part of the wedding in a small room with their closest family as the rest of the guests sipped drinks and sat down in the main part of the barn, which was lit up like a fairytale with twinkling lights in the rafters. Then it was time for the big ceremony – the declaration of their love for each other.

Sarah and Pat's Pangdean Barn wedding Sussex celebrantThe Ceremony

It was such a moving moment to watch my friend walk down the aisle towards her new husband and me, flanked by her boys. It wouldn’t do for the celebrant to start welling up but it was a close thing! Sarah’s Aunty Julia read ‘A Mouthful of Forevers’ by Clementine von Radics, their love story was full of their journeys and personalities and got people laughing and crying in all the right places, and was followed by James Dillet Freeman’s ‘Blessing for a Marriage’.

Sarah and Pat had written their vows separately, sending them to me to make sure they fitted each other in term of length, style and tone, so they could say them to each other for the first time on the day. They also made vows to each other’s children, promising to be there for them just as they are for their own.

We included a ring warming in the ceremony, with the rings being passed around their friends and family to fill with their blessings and good thoughts, before sealing their vows by placing the ‘warmed’ rings on each other’s finger.

Pat’s daughter Lucy read ‘Family Comes Together’ by Glaedr the Poet and the ceremony was sealed with a kiss and a huge round of applause before going out to pose for a group photo.

The Power of Networking

So what about the networking thing I mentioned earlier? Well I told you that Sarah and I had met through MNC, and many of the wedding suppliers that came together to make Pat and Sarah’s wedding magical came from networking groups that we were part of. The photographer was the wonderful Jenny Rutterford of Jenny Rutterford Photography, Sarah’s jewellery was made by Carron Dymond of Dymond Jewellery, Evelyn Day of Chocadyllic made the wedding cake (a pretty tall order for a bride who’s a top notch baker herself!), Darren Collard was the DJ that got everyone dancing and Stef Sale did Sarah’s make up and hair. It was fabulous to work together with my networking colleagues to make our mutual friend’s day just as she and Pat had wanted. And by the big smiles on their faces all day, I’d say ‘job done’!

Photos by Jenny Rutterford Photography. For lots more of her gorgeous pictures of Sarah and Pat – and for her account of the wedding – read her blog post Sarah & Pat’s Perfect Pangdean Barn Wedding.