Life. Death. Whatever at National Trust Sutton House

Life. Death. Whatever at National Trust Sutton House Hackney

Last night, I attended the official launch party of the Good Funeral Guild, in an evening gathering held amongst a month long exhibition titled Life. Death. Whatever. taking place at National Trust property Sutton House in Hackney throughout October.

Life. Death. Whatever. labels itself as a month long reflection on life, death and every thing inbetween, and plays host to a varying and insightful programme of informative talks and fun-filled workshops set inside an historic National Trust surrounding.

Life. Death. Whatever at National Trust Sutton House Hackney

The exhibition itself is not only worth visit for the sneak peek you have inside an incredible venue, Sutton House in London’s Hackney area, but visitors are also welcome to admire and study a selection of emotionally provocative, sometimes challenging, yet arguably beautiful artist installations which invite and inspire you to think about the stages of life we sometimes turn a blind eye to, whilst confronting these matters with the absolute respect that’s demanded from them too.

The exhibition is simply incredible. From the perspective of an art lover and an industry member, I thoroughly enjoyed embracing every emotion that was offered to me so openly on my walk around the house. These artists share an understanding of something we all often struggle to give name to, yet are able to feel and experience in our own personal way too.

Life. Death. Whatever at National Trust Sutton House Hackney

But what moves me most about this whole event is the concious effort which has been made to place the subject of death on the lips of the innocent passer-by. Death is a subject which needs to be discussed, and right now it too often isn’t. This needs to change, and events like these encourage that.

Death is as natural as life, and it is a life passage which we are all garanteed to encounter and experience. So, why wouldn’t we talk about it? Why wouldn’t we plan our own exit from the world with as much excitement and gusto as that of a milestone birthday party?

We can plan and plan and plan, but the truth is we might not ever hit 30, 40, 50, 60…..

…but we will all die in the end, right?

Life. Death. Whatever at National Trust Sutton House Hackney

Life. Death. Whatever. allows it’s visitors the opportunity to talk about the subjects that often instil fear and intrigue into our minds in equal measure; grief, death, birth, saying hello, saying goodbye.

For me, I found that last night’s launch was a pleasant opportunity to talk aloud with other people in the ‘#deathbiz’ who truly understand the importance of doing just that. Talking aloud. I’m really looking forward to attending some of the talks and workshops to follow in the next few weeks not just as a celebrant, but also as a human with an interest in inspiring people to speak up about the subject that sometimes scares us.

Life. Death. Whatever at National Trust Sutton House Hackney

Death is beautiful. Death is normal. Death is whatever you want it to be if you allow it, and Life. Death. Whatever in conjunction with the Good Funeral Guild reminds us that we all have the right to choose how we wish to go in the end. There are many examples around the exhibition of alternative and natural ways to leave this world – pink hearses, cardboard coffins, natural burials etc… these are options which are accesible to all of us in planning a funeral, but often we don’t know the options are there for us to choose. Well now we do.

And, if indeed it all gets a little bit too overwhelming – go grab yourself an absinthe-prosecco cocktail and chill out in the coffin ball-pool playroom. Just like I did….

Life. Death. Whatever at National Trust Sutton House Hackney

More details of all the events can be found at:
Images in this article are a few of my own personal photos taken from around the exhibition.

How To Legally Register Your Marriage - Legal Marriage Registration

How to Legally Register Your Marriage

A celebrant ceremony is not a legally binding marriage ceremony, but it is the perfect option for a couple wishing to celebrate their union in a way which is completely personal and unique.

However, if you do wish to legalise your marriage, you will need to register your marriage at a time and place convenient to you.

Samantha’s guide ‘How to Legally Register Your Marriage’ will ensure that you do this correctly, with the lowest fuss, and at the lowest fee too.

How To Legally Register Your Marriage - Legal Marriage Registration

Giving Notice
Both parties will need to attend a register office within the district of their residence to give ‘Notice of Marriage.’

At this appointment, you will need to prove your identity and nationality, your freedom to marry and your residency.  Both parties must have resided at the address for 7 clear days or more.

Full details of this documentary evidence and residency qualifying period is available at

At this appointment you will need to state where you intend to carry out your civil marriage, as the notice is given for a specific venue and if that venue should change, you would need to give fresh notice (and pay again!).

Once you have attended this appointment, your details will be on public display in that registration district for 28 days. Providing there have been no formal objections, your marriage authorities will be issued. These authorities are valid for 12 months from date of issue.

Statutory Ceremony
For a minimum fee you can opt to legally marry in a ‘Statutory Ceremony’ to be held at any Register Office.

This is a low fuss / low fee ceremony where you can simply state the declaratory words and contractual vows legally required to marry in the UK, before signing the marriage register.

You will need to bring two guests as witnesses to this ceremony. However, you do not need to enter to music, say your personal vows, exchange your wedding bands, or wear a big white dress!

Note: Some registry offices only offer Statutory Ceremonies on certain days of the week. However, this ceremony does not necessarily need to take place in the district in which you live. Before giving your notice, check to find a Registry Office which offers a ceremony day to suit you.

Declaratory Words

“I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I, AB, may not be joined in matrimony to CD.”


“I declare that I know of no legal reason why I, AB, may not be joined in marriage to CD.”


By replying “I am” to the question “Are you AB free lawfully to marry CD?”

Contractual Vows

“I call upon these persons here present to witness that I, AB, do take thee, CD, to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband).”


“I AB take you CD to be my wedded wife (or husband)”


“I AB take thee CD to be my wedded wife (or husband)”

Standard UK Fees

Notice of Marriage | £35 per person
Payable to the registration service in which both parties live.

Statutory Ceremony | £46 (+£4 for your marriage certificate)
This is the current fee set across England and Wales.

Total | £120 to legally register your marriage*

What to do next?

  1. Book your celebrant and wedding venue for the celebrant ceremony and marriage celebration – your wedding day!
  1. Book a Statutory Ceremony in any Register Office convenient to you – on any day before or after your wedding day!
  1. Make an appointment with your LOCAL registration service to give your notice of marriage – from 12 months to 28 days before your Statutory Ceremony.


*Information correct at time of publication September 2016. Costs are an indication based on the lowest legal requirment. Some local districts may differ.
Publication written by
Samantha Kelsie | UK Celebrant

Need more information? Download Samantha’s personally written PDF Guide: How To Legally Register Your Marriage

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