Interview with a Celebrant: Jenny Bell

Jenny Bell wedding and funeral celebrant

It’s an absolute pleasure to introdue you to another of our Graduates this month, the wonderful Jenny Bell. Jenny completed both our Wedding and Funeral Celebrant training programmes and was a total joy to work with. She brings creativity, inclusivity and fun to her work and wrote outstanding ceremonies during her training.

Jenny Bell independent wedding celebrant

What made you decide to become an Independent Celebrant?

Jenny Bell – Celebrant:
Post-Covid I needed a career change and was feeling lost about what direction to head in. I knew I wanted to work with people, I needed to be flexible and I wanted to bring joy to others, doing something meaningful in their lives. Watching the TV show ‘Married at First Sight’ (high brow, I know!) I saw the celebrant ceremonies and thought what a great job it would be.

Then, I just couldn’t get it out of my head, I thought, researched and talked it over. It started to feel like it was what I’d always been meant to do and working towards; like it was a calling rather than just the next job I had been searching for.

Deciding to also become a funeral celebrant was a little more complicated for me. Is my loud, creative personality really what people want? Would I be able to handle it emotionally? After talking it through with Dinah during my wedding celebrant training I realised I don’t have to be what everyone wants and that my caring, open and warm personality might be exactly what people need. Especially when my own bad experience gives me the motivation to ensure it doesn’t happen to anyone on my watch. Now, it feels like an honour, not just something I would have to ‘get through’.

What skills do you think you bring to the role?

Jenny Bell – Celebrant
I’ve always been someone people feel at ease with and I can be having deep conversations within ten minutes! I think that really helps, because this job is about hearing people, learning their stories, then translating that into meaningful ceremonies.

As different as it may be from writing a wedding or life celebration, I’ve also honed a skill for creative storytelling through years of playing RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons. This means I can get a feel for people quickly, understand what they want from their ceremony, and craft one that is perfect for them.

My previous careers were in customer service, hospitality management and software development. This helps run the ‘boring’ side of the business, meaning I can build and maintain my own website, and use tools to stay as organised as possible, which doesn’t come so easily to me.

Jenny Bell Celebrant based in Kent

You have taken both our Wedding and Funeral Celebrant training. Can you share one thing from each course that really stood out or hit home for you?

Jenny Bell – Celebrant
The wedding celebrant course was so much fun! It really sparked my creativity and I couldn’t wait to do my homework each week! I loved that Dinah gave me all the information I needed but it had enough scope to bring my own personality to everything, and explore what kind of celebrant I want to be.

When I started the funeral celebrant training I wasn’t quite prepared for how much I would learn about myself. It was tough at times but one of the most valuable things I’ve done. This is thanks to Dinah’s style of teaching, where she shares her own experiences to help guide you to your own conclusions and understanding, to truly make you the best celebrant possible.

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

Jenny Bell – Celebrant
At the moment I’m trying everything! I’ve done a wedding fair, I’m on directory websites and I’m doing my best to be consistent on social media. I want to know where my enquiries come from so I’m tracking the analytics to my site and asking all my clients where they heard about me.

Most of my enquiries so far have come from the AOIC directory via my website so I think making sure my profile and website are up to date and reflective of me has been the most important tool.

What are you most looking forward to as a Wedding Celebrant?

Jenny Bell – Celebrant
I can’t wait to be there for the smiles of people at one of the happiest and most important moments of their lives. There is no better feeling than to have played a part in that love and joy. I love meeting people and hearing their stories so I’m excited to use my creativity to bring those stories to life, and to show everyone how incredible and personal weddings can really be.

Jenny Bell wedding and funeral celebrant

What do you want your brand as a celebrant to represent to people?

Jenny Bell – Celebrant
I want myself and business to feel like a safe, inclusive space for everyone. I want all I work with to know they are entitled to the same love and respect in their ceremony as anyone else. I’m making sure to invest time into learning about accessibility for disabled and neurodivergent folks, and aligning myself with other businesses who hold those values.

Where people may have struggled or been marginalised, I want to lift them up. I’d love to be known for helping trans people find their joy at re-naming ceremonies, and for crafting gorgeous weddings and naming ceremonies for all.

What type of ceremony would you love to create – if there were no limits on time or budget?

Jenny Bell – Celebrant
My ceremonies are all about joy and I’m a lover of a party, so ever since Dinah mentioned having done a Drag Queen Coronation, that’s been at the top of my list! It would take place in a castle and would involve dance mobs, singalongs and lots and lots of love. There would be freedom, queer expression and everyone would be grinning from ear to ear.

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

Jenny Bell – Celebrant
Get ready to feel your emotions and know how to deal with them! When you are a celebrant you get to be with people at the most important moments of their lives. In order to learn what kind of person you want to be for them, you’ve got to learn a lot about yourself and your motivation.

I said at the start of this interview that being a celebrant felt like a calling to me, and I think it has to be, this should not be just a job. You also have to be very self-motivated, so you need to love it. Make sure you have your own coping mechanisms and support network in place, understand how to protect yourself, and get ready for the most rewarding thing you’ve ever done.

Jenny is based in Kent but travels to London and beyond. You can connect with Jenny via her website, and on Instagram

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