Frequently Asked Questions & Answers about the Lay Celebrant Profession
People choose a humanist lay celebrant for many reasons: because they don’t identify with any official religion and its rites, or because they want to reconcile different beliefs inclusively within their circle of relatives and friends. There are many reasons for contacting a celebrant: the underlying motive is the desire to experience an important transition in your life through a ceremony which is unique, planned and created especially – in every moment – for you. No dogmas or sterile and pre-packaged vows. At the heart of everything is you, your life and your story. Unique and special.
If you decide to entrust me with the writing and celebration of a precious and unrepeatable moment of your life, please know that I will put all my knowledge and life, educational, work and personal experiences at your disposal. After my classical studies, I received a degree in Modern Literature, specializing in the History of Theater; I then studied classical guitar at the "Giuseppe Verdi" Conservatory of Music in Milan and received my diploma, and I’ve been fortunate enough to travel all over the world to perform as a classical guitarist. I have 30 years of teaching behind me and numerous volunteer, civic engagement and cultural organization activities in Italy and abroad. I am a writer and musician, and I chose to become a mother and create a family through national and international adoption; this path has given me a greater sensitivity in approaching people of all ages. Today I bring all this experience with me, and wish to make it available to those who rely on me for their special moment to celebrate. In addition to this and as a further guarantee of professionalism and the utmost care in every detail, I am a certified UAAR celebrant, I am part of the circuit of celebrants of Unique Ceremonies and Federcelebranti, and I have obtained the UNI-ECCO certification, which establishes the certified standard for the Celebrant profession.
As in any sector, professionalism has an economic value which varies according to professionalism, experience and sensitivity. I commit to making all my talents and skills gained throughout my life journey available to you, as we create together a unique and memorable ceremony that will remain forever in your hearts and memories. After an initial video-call or in-person interview (with no obligation), you will then tell me about the ideas you have for your ceremony idea and I will gather all your requests and wishes for your special day. At that point I will be able to prepare a tailor-made ceremony proposal for you and give you all the information about my fee as well. You will be the one to evaluate whether I am the right lay celebrant for you, someone who inspires trust, professionalism and empathy.
The ceremony that I perform for you can have legal value if you request in time a proxy from the mayor of the municipality you want to marry in: once this proxy is obtained, the ceremony will also have legal value. My advice is, however, to have a civil wedding and do the necessary paperwork in your city or country of residence first, and then to hold the ceremony with relatives and friends with the greatest freedom and imagination, in the way and place that you hold most dear. Undoubtedly, this will be the moment that will forever be remembered as the most meaningful and unique.
Once any bureaucratic paperwork has been completed separately, which I suggest you do in advance, your ceremony can be held anywhere: in a forest, on the beach, on the shores of a mountain lake, in a botanical garden, in the halls of an elegant nineteenth-century villa or in a theater: the choice is yours. I place myself at your disposal to harmonize your ceremony in the best possible way, in the setting of your choice.
What could be nicer than involving loved ones in the running of the ceremony? Certainly any contribution - literary, musical, poetic or otherwise - that your guests would like to give you to make this moment even more unique and personal is welcome. I will coordinate all the suggestions that may come in and make sure that they fit into the ceremony in the best way possible, giving them the proper time and space. If you wish, I will also be happy to help you with the drafting of wedding vows, to draft them with originality, but fully respecting your wishes.
Children are full of energy and love to move; it is good and important to make them feel part of the ceremony. To involve them without making them feel bored and without overburdening them with responsibilities, depending on their age and temperament, we will think of an action, a gesture, or a special task to entrust to them, so that they feel like co-stars of this very important moment. I often like to have them participate as early as the preparation stage; baking a cake together with their loved ones, making a drawing to be delivered in an envelope at a specific time during the ceremony, or reciting a poem. It doesn’t take a lot to make them feel important. And they will remember it for a lifetime.
This issue touches me personally. As an adoptive mother, I know how important it is to gently and carefully tell the story of our daughters and sons who have arrived from afar, especially at the crucial moment when we welcome them into the family and into their new social context. If you would like, and after carefully listening to your stories, I will help you weave the threads of this magical meeting that brought you together from distant countries to give birth to a special love. If you would like to explore this further, being an adoptive mother, I would like to mention the two books I published that I dedicated specifically to my first daughter: “Progetto Aranjuez. Diario di bordo di una madre adottiva” and to my second child, born in India: “Il primo raggio di sole, Canto a tre voci.”
It is always possible to include some songs in a second language or to celebrate the entire ceremony in two or three different languages, alternating the different languages harmoniously and without weighing down the ceremony. I can celebrate in Italian, English, German and Portuguese. In case I do not know the required languages personally, it will be my task to find native-speaking colleagues.
The uniqueness of relying on a lay celebrant is precisely this: no reliance on any religious rite or ritual. No creed, no text or gesture that refers to specific doctrines (unless expressly desired), but an unedited, inclusive narrative designed and written solely for its protagonists, respecting their sensitivities and history. At the center of every humanist lay ceremony is the human being, whose life transitions can be celebrated moment by moment.
Music truly evokes memories and emotions, and certainly gives us the opportunity to powerfully emphasize the most emotional moments of the ceremony; knowing how to choose the most suitable songs and instruments is the key to making it unforgettable. As a musician, I know how to accompany you in choosing the most suitable repertoire and also in deciding whether to make use of live musicians or whether to play the music using a device.
The understanding and communication between lay celebrant and those in charge of the photo shoot is a crucial matter for the success of the ceremony. To anyone who asks me for advice on this matter, I suggest the Alle Bonicalzi studio with whom I have had the pleasure of collaborating for years in perfect synergy. If there is already someone in charge of this aspect, I always plan to arrive well in advance at the ceremony location so that I can meet in person whoever is in charge of photos and coordinate our interventions in the best way, to make this moment memorable.
After the initial contact, we will meet either in person (wherever it’s possible and preferred) or by video-call and proceed to draw up and sign a contract that gives you the guarantee that, in any eventuality - if I should, for example, break a leg and not be able to celebrate in person - it will be my task to find an accredited UAAR and/or Federcelebranti celebrant who will carry out this task in my place according to the guidelines and procedures agreed upon together. The contract will also include a guarantee for my work, and so a deposit will have to be paid at this initial stage (the balance of my fee will be due at least one week before the ceremony). From then on, we will proceed to define all the details of the text for the ceremony: I will listen to your stories, wishes and needs; I will ask you for information (both verbally and possibly with questionnaires) to get better attuned with your idea and plan for the ceremony; I will see if there are any contributions on the part of relatives and friends to be harmonized and included; and I will proceed to draft the text of the ceremony, while remaining closely in touch with you. I will be at your disposal and submit drafts of the text until you give me the final okay. In the case of wedding ceremonies, if you wish, I will help you formulate your vows in a personal and original way. If you wish, I will help you choose the musical pieces that will accompany you during the highlights of the ceremony and, where requested, I can provide you with suggestions on classical (and other) music ensembles that might be able to play live. If you ask me for advice, I will also make suggestions regarding the photo shoot or possible locations. I would like to emphasize that my job is to write the text of the ceremony and conduct it. Everything else is not the celebrant’s task. I will be happy to give you suggestions on the aspects listed above, however you or your Wedding Planner Agency will have to take care of them. I will be with you for the entire period of finalizing the text (which may be months long or only a few days, depending on how much notice you give when you contact me). I will not be intrusive, but I will accompany you professionally and with the utmost care, respecting the space you will want - and be able - to devote to this journey together.