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Meet Local Celebrant Rachel Henderson

rachel henderson

We met with our wonderful local celebrant Rachel Henderson, who we work with for funerals, marriages, vow renewals, naming ceremonies and hand tying ceremonies here at The Edgemoor.

What is a celebrant?

A celebrant is a qualified individual who works with a family or a couple to craft and conduct a ceremony that reflects and benefits the beliefs, values and of those for whom they are conducting the ceremony or celebration.

It is the celebrant’s role to help plan, help lead and help write the service. The celebrant can use her experience and knowledge to offer up ideas of interesting and meaningful things that are possible to do during the ceremony, but mostly they will listen to what is said, and sometimes not said.

The main benefit of working with a celebrant is that a celebrant is for the day, not just for the ceremony. The other benefit is that instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, you can work closely with the celebrant to plan the day exactly how you wish. You can tailor your very own unique experience which best celebrates you, your child or the life of a loved one.

About Rachel

Rachel worked as a youth worker for many years, as well as teaching English overseas in Kenya. Despite Rachel’s wide-spanning experience, there are a few things which have always remained constant; all work is about helping people say what they want to say themselves and giving them the confidence to do so.

The majority of Rachel’s training has been focussed on participation and empowerment and she still carries out counselling work now. Rachel is married and has travelled lots, travel and finding out about people around the world is a very important aspect of her life. Family is also very important to her, and she very much lives by the saying ‘friends are the family you choose for yourself’.

For Rachel, being a celebrant is all about the people. We at The Edgemoor are ecstatic to work with Rachel as her relaxed, quirky and heartfelt aura is very much the feeling we always aim to create in the hotel. Rachel carried out her qualification to become a celebrant with FOIC. Each training school has its own style, and Rachel chose this one because it was particularly heartfelt, caring and full of integrity. Speaking of funerals, Rachel said:

“My role as a celebrant is to help people to connect, say goodbye and do that in the way that reflects the life of the one in question and those still living.”

Rachel believes that all life celebrations are about people having choice. In funerals, people have the right to have their life honoured, and it’s the job of the celebrant to work with the family or friends to create something which is completely unique and heartfelt for that person. Rachel rightly said that very sadly, death comes to us all and expressed how privileged she felt to work with people from a wide range in our society.

However, in all ceremonies, weddings, handfastings and baby namings, Rachel will help you have the celebration you choose, completely unique and written for you.

Which ceremonies does Rachel carry out?


Funerals should be a celebration of life. The day can be filled with music, prayers, readings… you should be able to do exactly what you want. There really are no rules. The celebrant, along with the Funeral Director and the staff at The Edgemoor, can handle the organisation of everything, so you can take the time to be with your loved ones at this time.

Rachel believes that everyone should have the opportunity to honour their loved one in whichever way they see fit. Those who hold beliefs may wish to have the ceremony in the Church, others who have no belief may want to have it somewhere else, like here at The Edgemoor. However, for many of us, we want to blend a little religion or spirituality and other themes. Rachel can make this a reality for you.

Rachel takes the time with the family and friends to really learn about the person they are saying goodbye to as this makes for a much more personal and heartfelt ceremony. All this information, storytelling and recalling of memories aids the eulogy which Rachel will write and present on the day – the ‘story of life’. It also aids in the healing process for the friends and family, as they take the time together to share and remember the good times.

With everything from audio and visual, to what to wear, the tributes, to the tone on leaving, Rachel will work through every detail with you to ensure the ceremony is exactly how you envisaged. Whether you want guests to leave feeling joyous, uplifted, thoughtful or proud, Rachel has a real talent for knowing exactly how to set this tone.

After the ceremony, a wake is a lovely chance to get together with friends, family and loved-ones to say goodbye together, remember and share stories. We can provide cream teas, sandwiches, a hot buffet or sit down lunch, so you can finish the day however you see fit.

Contact us today to discuss a funeral or wake at The Edgemoor.


Weddings are such a beautiful occasion; not just the joining of two people in love, but the joining of two families and communities. Rachel simply loves carrying out wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships and has really noticed that the ways in which people choose to ‘tie the knot’ are forever changing and shifting, especially as beliefs and attitudes evolve.

Working alongside a celebrant for your wedding day means you can have the ceremony exactly as you want. Whether you have religious beliefs, a little or none, Rachel can give your ceremony the tone on either side of the scale, and everything in between.

Helen Court Photography

Handfasting ceremonies, otherwise known as a ‘hand tying ceremony’ is something which Rachel often performs, either as part of the wedding or as the marriage ceremony in its own right. The couple’s hands are gently held by each other, this means the arms and body form an infinity circle which is fluid, before having a silk tie tied around their hands. This is the origin of the phrase ‘tying the knot’. What’s beautiful is that the tie is then charged with all of the memories, emotions and promises of the ceremony, and can be taken home by the couple as a memento of their special day.

In our conversation, Rachel expressed how much she loves doing weddings here in Devon. She explained that the amazing local landscapes are perfect for this sort of ceremony on Dartmoor or at The Edgemoor. You can have the marriage ceremony anywhere you like, if you get married at the registry office beforehand. This opens a world of opportunities for a really special day.

Contact us today to discuss your wedding at The Edgemoor and book a tour, or visit the weddings section of our website to find out more.

Vow Renewals

Some couples may wish to celebrate a big anniversary with a vow renewal. If you’ve reached a big milestone such as 10, 25, 30 years, why not celebrate by reaffirming your love for each other? Maybe you’ve been through a rough patch in your marriage and wish to make new promises to each other, or have a fresh start. There is no right or wrong time or reason to renew your vows to each other. Marriage is an important commitment, so to say the vows again often has a profound effect on a relationship.

Rachel can carry out vow renewals as part of a wider celebration or party here at the hotel, or just the two of you in our grounds, or even up on Dartmoor. It’s completely up to you where, what and how you renew your vows. We can organise a phone call or meeting with Rachel for you to discuss ideas.

Contact us today to see how you can renew your vows at The Edgemoor.

Baby Naming Ceremonies

For those who don’t hold religious beliefs or for those aren’t members of the Church, Rachel can perform a baby naming ceremony to recognise and celebrate the arrival of a child. Whether this be through birth, adoption, or marriage, a baby naming ceremony is a wonderful celebration for parents and families who don’t want a church service or baptism. Baby naming ceremonies hold no legal status, but are more symbolic of the arrival of a child and celebration of new life in your family.

Contact us today to discuss plans for your baby naming ceremony here at The Edgemoor. 

To read more about Rachel Henderson please visit her website –

Read 822 times Last modified on Thursday, 18 January 2018 16:19