Interview with a Celebrant: Karen Nutton

Karen Nutton celebrant

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This month, we’re delighted to introduce you to Karen Nutton. Karen completed her wedding celebrant training with Dinah in 2023. Karen is incredibly creative and multi-talented and the ideas and suggestions she brought to her Celebrant training were exceptional.

Karen Nutton Celebrant AOIC member

What made you decide to become a Celebrant?

Karen Nutton – Celebrant:
When a close friend lost her husband, I was impressed by the way the service was led and the celebration of his life. I then watched a documentary about celebrants and told my manager I was thinking about a change of career. Then Covid happened. As the Health and Safety lead for my institute, I was working harder than ever creating alternative teaching resources for online delivery and ensuring the safety of staff and students. The return to onsite teaching was more demanding still, especially as I was suffering from gall stones! An opportunity to take a managed resignation gave me the financial ability to do my training, and importantly, a longer recovery from surgery.

I started training with Dinah 3 months later, learning how to create couple ceremonies, followed by a funeral celebrancy course with Civil Ceremonies, which I completed in April 2023. The change in direction also meant I could support the needs of my daughters, who had both reached a point in their lives that meant huge changes, and being there for them was really important, and being self-employed gave me the flexibility that I needed.

What skills do you think you bring to the role?

Karen Nutton – Celebrant:
As this is now my third career, I knew that the experiences from previous careers would be essential for this one. Writing, public speaking and presentation were part of my academic roles, while problem solving, and organisation were essential during my time in the fashion industry. I have always worked creatively and with technology, which really helps with the social media side of marketing. I hope that I can carry my passion for finding sustainable ways to live and work forward in this industry too, and living walking distance from a woodland ceremonial site is a great incentive.

In addition to all of this, I have so many contacts in the bridal industry, from seamstresses to retailers, tailors to photographers and even cake specialists are among my ex-students, and as a National Trust volunteer I’m often checking out venues on the way to visit properties. I also decided to set up an alterations business alongside the celebrancy work, which came in handy for my first bride – when I altered her pre-loved purchase!

Karen Nutton Independent Celebrant

Can you tell us a bit about the wonderful career you had before becoming a Celebrant?

Karen Nutton – Celebrant:
My first career was in lingerie in the early 1990’s, as a pattern cutter supplying Marks and Spencer, so lots of bias-cut slips and French knickers! I eventually became a product developer, had a short stint working freelance, followed by a production manager role for Elle Sports creating activewear and swimwear. One of my last roles in fashion was as a maternity model for M&S! Motherhood swiftly followed, and after a move to the Midlands from London, teaching adults to sew was my first foray into education.

I was soon teaching on a school link programme, supporting Level 2 and Level 3 diploma and Higher National Diploma students with a nearby college, and training for my Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Training. This led to 10 fabulous years in Further Education, where I developed and led a Foundation Degree in Fashion and Textiles, before moving to Higher Education at Birmingham City University.

In the 9 years I was with BCU, I led the International Summer School programme, was academic support to the Enactus volunteer programme, developed a sustainable agenda with colleagues to embed the United Nations Sustainable Goals throughout the fashion curriculum, and launched a student led conference with a focus on sustainable and ethical practice in fashion. I taught pattern cutting, but also supported students with high levels of pastoral support and academic enhancement as the Level 4 coordinator. I was very pleased to close my academic career with an article published by Bloomsbury Press on the French designer, Val Pirou.

You’ve only recently completed your training. How are you planning to promote your new venture?

Karen Nutton – Celebrant:
I spent ages thinking about my marketing and looking at other celebrant websites and Instagram posts, and to my dismay, found that all the initial ideas I thought would be great, had already been done! I fleshed out some ideas with a graphics alumnus from BCU, but this only highlighted my uncertainty about branding. It was my cousin, herself a graphic artist and entrepreneur, who offered to help me establish my branding and has since become my social media guru!

It has taken 6 months to work out a strategy that works for me, and along the way I have learnt so much about the psychology of self-promotion – I think it will be a long journey! I am growing my Instagram and Pinterest pages, have set up a Facebook business page and my cousin and I created my website using Wix.

My advice on this is to take it slowly and grow at a pace you feel comfortable with and be authentic. Dozens of repetitive posts are not always the best way to engage with your potential clients. Create content that reflects your values, so make sure you know what they are! I am now starting to network with local wedding celebrants and was pleased to recently meet the inspirational Julia Hawkes at a wedding fair in Cheltenham.

With so much to fit in around the needs of family, it has taken longer than I imagined. I’m just starting to contact more local venues to see what I can offer. It’s really important to plan your time wisely and efficiently, so a good calendar is essential.

Karen Nutton Celebrant

What are you most enjoying about your role as a Wedding Celebrant, so far?

Karen Nutton – Celebrant:
For me the biggest privilege of conducting any ceremony is getting to know the amazing stories of my clients. No two love stories are the same and it is the twists and turns of life that make each one so unique. This can be reflected in so many ways within the ceremony, and being creative with what to include can be the fun part – who wouldn’t want to see the venue decorated in handmade paper flowers or for your dog to be in attendance! The freedom for creativity within celebrant-led weddings has so much potential to make the wedding really personal and as all my other careers have been in the creative industries, it’s nice to be able to express that side of my skills.

What type of ceremony would you love to create – if the only limit was your imagination?

Karen Nutton – Celebrant:
I recently visited Puglia, and my dream would be to conduct a wedding in the stunning town of Alberobello with a backdrop of trulli houses or Ostuni, known as the white town or La Città Bianca, where every building is painted white. I was lucky enough to see Dolce and Gabbana set up both towns with catwalks launching their new Haute Couture collections, so to combine fashion, sustainability, craft and the fabulous local produce of the Apulian culture would just be amazing. The evening would be lit by luminarie, highly decorative panels with multicoloured lights that you see everywhere, and the table decorations would feature pumi, the ceramic objects that ensure hospitality, food and love are present in every home and the flowers would be the stunning florals that abound in the southern Mediterranean.

What top tip would you give to anyone exploring the idea of training as a Celebrant?

Karen Nutton – Celebrant:
My top tip would be to ask yourself how resilient you really are. You need a good support network and enough funding to see you through at least a year of trading as an independent business. It’s not an easy choice, but once the work comes, it is incredibly rewarding and quite magical. Leaving a secure income during a cost-of-living crisis was a tough call, and after 6 months I still have my wobbles, but I know I made the right choice for me.

I couldn’t have done it without my wonderfully supportive family and my friends, as well as the many colleagues and alumni who follow me on IG!

You can connect with Karen here:

Instagram
Website
LinkedIn
Pinterest

Our ‘Interview with a Celebrant’ series features Celebrants who are graduates of our Wedding or Funeral Celebrant Training – or both. You can see another in the series here

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