I have a vocation to Create Ceremonies that will never be put in a box to gather dust
Hello! I’m Jess May, Brighton based Celebrant
Hello, I’m Jess May, I am a Ceremony Creator for your Life Transitions.
How did I get into this? Here ‘s my journey! I went from frustrated would-be Vicar to liberated Ceremony Dream Catcher. My Vocation is the legacy of my late-sister Jan. I’m now your very own Brighton-Based Celebrant, having recently landed in East Sussex from Brum.
“I’m here to Celebrate your Life Transitions with Ceremony”
‘Would be Vicar’ to Ceremony Creator
The Church was a grey dusty old box too stifling for a colourful free-spirit like mine.
Given that I knew this, it is surprising to think that between 2004/5 until 2016/2017 I tried really hard to become a Priest.
Jan, my late-sister & why my career is her legacy.
A Force of Nature
My sister Jan was a ‘force of nature’, she didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer and always said ‘only ever regret the things you didn’t do’!
One of the things she wanted to do was have a Big Wedding for her daughter, notably a Big Traditional Church Wedding that her daughter did not want ! As a result in order to overcome an impasse I was enlisted.
A call from my niece asking me to be their Celebrant
In 2013 my niece rang and said “Jess, if I have to have a Wedding, it has to be you!”. It was such an honour and I went to train to become accredited with The Fellowship of Professional Celebrants. My involvement at Church had given me experience, and I had been involved with my Mum’s funeral ceremony.
A degree specialising in Contemporary Spirituality helped.
I left University in 2005 with a First Class Degree in Theology & Contemporary Spirituality. This study meant that I knew a lot about liturgy. More importantly me and my niece are kindred spirits. We are very close.
What happened on that day and why was it a Transition?
This was the key transformative moment in my life. My biggest Life Transition.
Things that I believed were true about the world, myself and God, all changed right there on that clifftop surrounded by all that love.
Why couldn’t I turn back?
I knew somewhere within myself that I would never be the same again. These two souls meant the world no harm believed in the power of being true to themselves. In being authentic they had found a way to honour everyone present.
There were no rules, no scripture, no grey bearded man in robes. No one told them who to be or what to do. They were free to choose and they chose me, unfortunately or fortunately depending upon your point of view, this was something the Church had never done.
“I had finally discovered my Vocation. I was nowhere near a Church”
Why could I not go back? My whole life story made sense right there in the soft light under the trees with the sea breeze at my back. To be given the luxury of being able to give joy and to feel ‘seen’ was an incomparable feeling. Nobody told me that my gifts weren’t good enough. It was an epiphany.
I had discovered my Vocation and I was nowhere near a Church.
What Happened Next?
Loss, change, new love and new beginnings.
What happened next? A lot of loss followed on the heels of that bittersweet occasion when during the following Spring both my sister and my Dad died exactly one week apart.
I sought counselling and mistakenly believed I had been seeking to resolve my grief. That grief was ultimately more for the loss of my former, truer self.
I had unknowingly used my bereavement to go and rediscover my true self with all her colour and stifled joy. I faced hidden unconscious fears and found the courage to be truly myself.
The process continued the process that had begun at the ceremony. The conversations triggered by that day made me aware that I had changed a lot, consequently as a result my 21 year marriage came to an end. We had been together for 24 years.
Just as my marriage was ending I fell in in love in a dramatic way for the first time with my current partner. The experience of falling in love made me a better celebrant. It made me less judgemental and more able to relate to the stories my couples shared. I could now say that I had experienced it too.
So many vibrant stories
My Celebrant Career
My experience of creating funerals for my Mum, my sister and my Dad meant that I felt qualified to pursue work as a Funeral Celebrant which I subsequently did. Much of my work was in collaboration with a female led progressive Funeral Director called A Natural Undertaking https://www.anaturalundertaking.co.uk.
Here I had the privilege of collaborating with some incredible clients to create ceremonies for their people. I created a ceremony with the family of Theresa Stewart MP which was a true honour.
A diverse range of people
The ceremonies I have created have been for a diverse range of people.
As a result my clients range from the last Coal delivery man of the West Midlands to a High Court Judge, 96 year old Artists, ‘The Devils’ Own’ Biker Legends, eminent Skate Board revolutionaries and everyone in between. All their stories are vivid and fascinating.
Weddings have ranged far and wide. I even went back to The Algarve to create a ceremony for a wonderful couple who relocated to Melbourne. Theirs was a Welsh/Iraqi/Muslim/Catholic/Australian extravaganza. I love working with intercultural couples and have many, many tales to tell of ceremonies full of extraordinary combinations and flavours, gorgeous hybrid creations created in that most multi-cultural of cities Brum!
A diverse range of ceremonies
Sometimes when my couples have babies sometimes I am invited to create naming ceremonies for their babies.
Family Celebrant for Communities
One of the loveliest things is becoming ‘Our Family Celebrant’. The community aspect of my work is important to me. I think it stems from my Church Days. I am a Celebrant affirming Human Life in a community context. Which is why it is such a wrench to leave my Brummie families behind.
A New Life in Brighton
After 22 years of living in Central Birmingham me and my partner Mrinal relocated to Brighton with our 3 eccentric Burmese in September 2022. During Lockdown that that the thing I missed the most was the SEA! We are embarking on a new stage of our shared voyage. For me it is a return to the gentle landscapes of my childhood here in the South East close to the sea. I’m a Surrey girl at heart.
‘Beside the seaside beside the sea!’
This is a significant year, I turned 50 and my partner Mrinal turned 60! We would like to get married and settle here. I’m enjoying re-launching my business in a new location and a new era and a new decade. I am developing my understanding of my Vocation to celebrate Life Transition more broadly. I have reached a point in my own story and continuing journey of transformation where I am experiencing life in a new way.
Fresh winds and new directions
It is thrilling to have reached half a century. It feels great to be alive and starting a new chapter.
I feel healthier and happier than I’ve ever been, likewise starting a new chapter feels exciting. Growing old is an immense privilege, my work has made it impossible to complain about it
I am passionate about Transitions
My central motivation is facilitating transition, let me explain why. Sometimes I meet people now who knew me in my previous life. This is what happens. They don’t recognise me or, more importantly they tell me that I am much more myself
It is that fundamental transformation and the way in which it causes us to thrive and to ‘wear our own colours’ that really motivates me to create ceremonies. I know that they help us to embrace loss, change and new growth.
Jess’ Brand New Transition Ceremonies
Since I am in a new phase of life, I am introducing new ceremonies to reflect that shift.
Menopause, Gender Transition, Advanced Years ‘Third Act’ ceremonies are all forms of Life Transition.
I would love to create a ceremony or your Life Transforming moments.
A life transition ceremony will make those moments intensely real, meaningful and magical.
“It is that fundamental transformation and the way in which it causes us to thrive and wear our own colours that really motivates me to create ceremonies. I know that they help us to embrace loss, change and new growth”
Tell me about your very own Stories of your Life Transitions!
I’d love to meet you for a posh hot chocolate and discuss your ceremonies to celebrate your Life Transitions. My gift is for telling your story in a way that can move you forward in your own voyage. Your ceremony with me will tell your living, ongoing story . Your ceremony will not be stuffed into a fusty, institutional box full of rules and regulations. It will be a beautiful frame with you and the people you love as the Human Works of Art at its centre. You will never have to dust it.
Connect with me on Socials
Let’s meet up
It is easy to contact me.
My number is 07891522531. You can reach me on the following platforms:
This is my Pinterest board for kindred spirits
Here is a link to my Socials https://jessmaysspecialdays.com/#contact-2