General ceremony and celebrant questions:

Are ceremonies only appropriate at larger, more formal events?
Not at all!  Sometimes a small, intimate ceremony if just the right thing.  For example, a small wedding with only a few guests, or even just the couple and their witnesses deserves to be just as special and personal as a formal event for hundreds of guests.  Or a home leaving ceremony for just immediate family members who shared the history in the home.  If you are looking for an emotional connection, support in a time of stress, or just prefer an intimate gathering, a personalized, customized ceremony will enhance the occasion.

Why should I engage Kathy’s services for my event?
Ceremony creation is a very individualized and creative process for me as I work with clients to understand their desires and priorities for each ceremony.  I’ve been trained by the Celebrant Foundation and Institute in ceremony creation and bring those resources and my experience to bear on this work.  I place high personal value on making the most out of our lives, connecting with the important people in our lives, and celebrating and supporting one another as we journey together on this earth.  I welcome the opportunity to support people at significant moments in life.  Even the happy milestones like weddings and baby welcomings have significant stress attached to them, and I can be a calm, capable partner in creating and planning the delivery of the ceremony.  I welcome the opportunity to discuss your ceremony needs.  You can reach me via phone at 507-250-4655, via e-mail or complete the online form found at the bottom of each page, or on the Contact page.

How long have you been doing ceremony work?
Celebrant work is a second career for me.  I opened my practice in 2010 and have performed well over 200 ceremonies to date.

I/We are not religious.  Can you create a ceremony that is meaningful, but not religious?
My celebrant practice is focused on exactly that.  I create and offer all kinds of ceremonies that are emotionally significant and honor the important moments in your life without religious references.  Everyone deserves to have a memorable ceremony that aligns with their worldview.  I work to provide that service to people without a religious community or belief.  With that said, my goal is to offer a ceremony that all your guests are comfortable with.  I do not discuss my beliefs in the ceremony, but focus on the milestone moment in your life that we are honoring.

How do I know where to begin in planning for my ceremony?
Contact Kathy.  I will bring my experience, knowledge, resources and approach to my engagement with you.  I will learn about you, what you want the ceremony to be, and will craft a personalized ceremony to meet your needs.  You can reach me via phone at 507-250-4655, via e-mail or complete the online form found at the bottom of each page, or on the Contact page.

How far out do you book ceremonies?
The earlier the better! Weekend dates are most popular and tend to book first.  Spring, Summer and Fall are busy times for weddings, and other ceremonies happen fairly evenly throughout the year.  To check availability, click on the contact me via phone at  507-250-4655, via e-mail or complete the online form found at the bottom of each page, or on the Contact page.  Even if your event is happening soon, please contact me as I often have random open dates throughout the year.

How do we set up a meeting with you?
I often meet with clients for a beverage and conversation so we can get to know each other and discover if we will work together well.  Please contact me to arrange a complimentary discussion. Some people choose to book without an initial meeting, preferring a phone conversation or Skype call – especially if you are out of town or out of state.  Use the links at the bottom of each page to reach me via phone, e-mail or by completing a contact form, and you will receive a prompt reply from me.

What are your fees and how does all of this work?
Each client and each ceremony is very different. With that said, fees vary. During any given month, I am performing ceremonies that range in price from $250 – $800 ($350 – $800 for weddings).  I create a unique ceremony for each client, so once I learn exactly what you want/desire for your ceremony, I can then give you a firm fee quote over the phone or during our in-person consultation.  My fee includes my time creating and writing your ceremony, and working with you via e-mail or phone until the ceremony is just right.  I will invest dedicated time and effort into your ceremony and the last thing you’ll get from me is a boring, dry, impersonal or flat ceremony.  My fee also includes my travel time (up to 30 miles from Rochester, MN) and time at the event – I always arrive early.  (An additional time/travel fee will apply for ceremonies farther away.)  I coordinate with any other vendors for the ceremony including photographers, videographers, musicians, venue managers or others to ensure that your ceremony happens seamlessly.  Following the ceremony I provide you with a keepsake copy of the ceremony and handle filing any needed legal paperwork (for weddings).

Once we book with you, what happens next?
A signed agreement and 50% retainer allow me to book your ceremony day/time.  From there, our process of working together begins.  I ask you to complete a questionnaire, and then I spend a couple of weeks in the process of crafting and writing your ceremony. A draft copy will be forwarded to you for approval, often with selections and ideas/suggestions for your consideration. And, of course, I am available for questions or advice via phone or email anytime.  In the case of funerals and memorials the process is very similar but often on an accelerated schedule.

How are payments made?
Once we agree to work together, I request a signed agreement so the terms of our relationship are clear and you are fully comfortable working with me. A 50% retainer is also required at this time, payable by or check cash. The balance is due 14 days before your ceremony.  If you are retaining my services less than 30 days before the event, I request payment in full at booking.

What do you wear for a ceremony?
I will always dress appropriately for a ceremony. Usually that means a simple black or gray suit, but if the ceremony, venue or weather indicate otherwise, I will adapt.  For example, weddings and funerals tend to be more formal than milestone birthday celebrations or baby naming ceremonies.  My goal is to blend in, so you remain the center of attention.

What about traveling outside of the Southeastern Minnesota area?
I’ve been many places, from the lake shore in Duluth, to a nature center and orchard, to formal gardens, hotel and private venues.  It’s your ceremony and I will do my best to accommodate your wishes, traditional or unique.  A time/travel fee does apply for ceremonies outside a 30 mile range from my home office.

I noticed that you are also credentialed as a Humanist Celebrant.  What is Humanism?
My credential as a Humanist Celebrant allows me to register with the state of Minnesota to perform legal marriages.  Weddings are the only ceremony that requires state registration.  Humanism is a lifestance that is grounded in the natural world and affirms our ability and responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives capable of adding to the greater good of humanity.  It is this lifestance, in part, that has brought me to my work as a celebrant.  I value the connections between people and view ceremony as a great way to enable connections at important moments in life.

Specific Questions and Answers for Weddings and Commitment Ceremonies:

Do you perform marriages for same sex couples?
Absolutely!  I welcome the 2015 Supreme Court ruling and am happy to join any loving couple in marriage who can provide valid legal paperwork.

How long does a wedding ceremony take?
If a wedding ceremony is too short it feels awkward. If it’s too long, you and your guests can get bored and distracted. Most often, the length of my wedding ceremonies range from 15 –  30 minutes, and this includes the entrance/processional, ceremony and recessional.  The time depends on the elements you choose to include in your ceremony.  I guide your selection of the elements during the initial consultation to help stay within the timeframe you want.
I’m less concerned about the actual length of a ceremony than I am about the quality of the written word and the actual delivery on your special day – if a wedding ceremony is very well done and enjoyable, it goes by in a flash!

What do we do at rehearsals?
The primary objective of the rehearsal is to familiarize all the key participants with the ceremony flow and logistics.  We want everyone comfortable with where to be when; with what to say and do.  The biggest part of a rehearsal is usually the processional, so we start with that.  We walk through getting everyone into the right spots in the ceremony space, and talk through the ceremony elements at a high level.  We focus on who needs to be moving where and when, and get readers familiar with the microphone, etc.  I don’t read the ceremony at the rehearsal, as we want to keep that for the wedding day.

How long do rehearsals last?
Rehearsals often take longer than the actual ceremony will, so I ask the couple to plan for an hour, and we often finish a little early.  We walk through the entire ceremony once, and then follow with a repeat of any parts people are uncertain of.  The goal is to leave the rehearsal with everyone comfortable with what they need to do at the ceremony.

On the wedding day, what time will you arrive and leave?
Depending on the couple and their ceremony, I will arrive between 30-60 minutes before the start time of your ceremony. I usually stay briefly after the ceremony to say thank you and good-bye.  I think receptions should be for family and friends, so I do not stay for the dinner and reception.

Can we write our own vows?
Yes, absolutely, if that is what you want to do.  I offer my couples a wide variety of vow samples that they can use “as is” if they want to, or they can “tweak” them to personalize them a bit if they like, or they can consider them and then write their own from scratch.  As with all aspects of the ceremony, the vows will be what you want them to be.

Can children and other family members take part in our ceremony?
Yes. If you have children of your own, I can offer a variety of “blended family” rituals that you may choose to include.  Depending on the age of the children, they can also serve as attendants, readers, flower girls or ring bearers.  I can also offer you ideas on ways to honor parents or special family members within your ceremony, or to include them in other ways.  Inviting family members or friends to offer readings or share musical talents within the ceremony is a graceful way to include others in your ceremony, too.

Where can we find Marriage License Information for our county?
You can find information for county marriage license offices with a simple Google, Bing or Yahoo search.

How are you different from another “wedding officiant,” judge, or Justice of the Peace?
You are empowered in a celebrant ceremony.  Nothing is imposed. Instead, in a collaborative process, I assist you in choosing rituals, readings, and symbols to fulfill your ideals. I am very focused on finding anything and everything that works for you. Because my focus is limited to the ceremony only, what you get with me is no-nonsense, undiluted expertise on what works for meaningful ceremonies. I throw in a healthy dose of compassion, humor and encouragement and you have a great ceremony!  As a proponent of Humanist ideals, I have found that the best ceremonies build bridges of human understanding and compassion.

Specific Questions and Answers for Funerals and Memorial Ceremonies:

How do you write a ceremony if you don’t know me or my loved one?
If you have called me to do a funeral or memorial service, I gather your story through a personal or phone interview.  I ask questions that bring out your loved one’s true story, and I really listen to your answers.  We discuss ceremony options and you tell me what would be authentic for your loved one and for other family members.  I provide a copy of the draft of the service for your approval so you can be confident that the service will be appropriate and accurate.

Should we contact you directly or work through a funeral home?
Either way is fine.  Feel free to contact me directly via phone (usually this is quickest when dealing with short time frames) at 507-250-4655.  If, after our initial discussion you decide to have me create the ceremony, either one of us can contact the funeral director you are working with.

Do you provide ceremony services for the visitation, the funeral or memorial itself and the committal?
Yes to all of the above.  I can provide appropriate ceremonies for any and all aspects of funeral services.  I will listen to your wishes and plans, and together we will formulate a plan for your ceremony needs.