Jess May, Brighton based Celebrant

I have a vocation to Create Ceremonies that will never be put in a box to gather dust

Jess May, Brighton Based Celebrant.  Jess May is sitting on Brighton beach. It is a sunny day. She is looking up at the camera. Her hair is bright. Her fringe is bright pink with a yellow streak. She has a turquoise running top with long sleeves and on her lap there is an orange notebook with a pen.
Jess May, Brighton Based Celebrant, creating your ceremonies in the sunshine on Brighton beach

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

A bride and groom are sitting under some trees. They are listening to me Jess their Celebrant who is out of shot. They are on a clifftop. She has a garland of white flowers on her hair and a plait. he is wearing a tie and a kilt they look wistful
High emotion. Reading their story. The day I discovered my vocation as a Wedding Celebrant

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 Celebrant led wedding. Jess is the Celebrant. A row of wedding guests in a woodland. A man in a blazer to the fore. A woman in a grey hat in a saucer shape. A woman with dark brown long hair and a sleeveless bridesmaid dress in grey and a bunch of white peonies. next to her is a young girl facing away. Next to her is a woman with fair hair wiping her eyes and trying to stop herself Ching. and then there is a man with a boy on his lap looking to the camera and looking a bit lost. there is a lot of emotion
This is my first wedding as a Wedding Celebrant. Jan in the hat and her daughter (the bride’s sister sitting next to her)


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 scene of The Algarve Coast in Portugal. The sea is blue, there is an overhanging tree branch and a green bush. There is a strip of sand
A view of my first wedding venue as a Wedding Celebrant

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.

Jess is standing with an I pad. She is the Celebrant for a couple. a bride and a groom. The bride is on the left as you look at the photo and he is on the right. a female Celebrant is in between them. She has a fringe is holding a black I pad and has a lapel microphone. The bride is wearing an ivory sleeveless dress and has a coronet of flowers in her hair. the bride and groom are facing each other. They are saying their vows. they are outside
Being the Celebrant at my niece’s wedding. Still in my ‘Church Cake Lady days’. Doing a ceremony for your own family is the hardest of all! I was terrified.

What happened on that day and why was it a Transition?

This was the key transformative moment in my life. My biggest Life Transition.

A 60 year old woman in a grey and lemon coloured shift dress in a crocodile print, a highlighted bob with a layer fringe and sunglasses on her head. She has pearl ear rings. and amazing neon yellow shoes. The dress is sleeveless. She is next to her daughter who is the bride. The bride has a coronet of white flowers and a loose romantic plait. They are facing the camera and smiling with joy. There is The Algarve coast behind them stretching into the distance and a dark green tree as a back drop. They are at a Celebrant led wedding
My sister Jan and her daughter at my first wedding as a Celebrant!

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.

A bride and Groom sit next to each other. They are in love. She wears a white sleeveless floor length lace dress. he is in a kilt and tie with a white shirt. his kilts blue and green. They are gazing into each other's eyes. She has a coronet of white flowers and a plait. She is to his right as we look at the photograph. they are in a woodland in Summer
My niece and her now husband. My first wedding as a Celebrant

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”

A grey scale, black and white photo of a beach. A woman is standing looking out to sea and has her hand up to shield her eyes. This picture captures the essence of how it feels to see new horizons. Jess May has just discovered her Vocation as a Celebrant
An Epiphany. I had finally discovered what I was put here to do.

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.

Jess May, Brighton-based Celebrant is sitting in a UV room with lots of religious symbols. She is in a shop selling 'woo woo' items. She is picking up an elephant. There is a Buddha Statue behind her and a big banner of Khali. There are lots of vivid lights. her hair is rainbow colours. She is wearing a black dress with peacocks and a black leather jacket.
I have a passion for contemporary spirituality.

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.

a black and white photo of a nepalese singing bowl on a pebble beach in Brighton
A singing bowl for contemplation. I use this for my Celebrant led Ceremonies

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

Jess May, Brighton-based Celebrant is sitting looking up surrounded by coloured glass hanging lanterns. The lanterns are turquoise, yellow and pink. She is smiling upwards. She is happy. She is wearing a black leather jacket and has a bright pink fringe with a yellow streak and the rest of her hair is bright orange.
sLiving my life in colour as a Celebrant in Brighton

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

A funeral image. A small brown teddy bear is sitting on a scarf. there is an urn with ashes. the urn has a sunset on it. There is a red poppy.The image is a photo of a funeral display
A creative ceremony with a Funeral Celebrant can be really beautiful.

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.

Jess May, Brighton-based Celebrant hugging a bride. They are in the dark. The lighting is pink neon. The hug is warm and affectionate
I returned to Portugal to be Celebrant for Shivan & Rebecca. We are still in touch

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.

Baby Evelyn is being held between two women in their 30s. The women are Caucasian. They are smiling. on the left the woman has a white crown of flowers. The baby is smiling and also is wearing a crown of flowers. to her left as we look at the photo her Mum is also wearing a circle of flowers. they are tanned. They are in a marquee. it is summer. they both have long hair
Naming Ceremonies involve anything from time capsules to planting tree.

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

Jess May, Brighton-based Celebrant s standing in a front of a shop in The Laines in Brighton. the shop is painted pinks, lilacs and oranges The words Paula's Choice are written in script across it. She is leaning against a Brighton Taxi with her hand to her face looking like she's done something naughty. She is wearing a black dress with peacocks and a black leather jacket. her nails are painted brigton blue. the taxi is in Brighton colours. A lovely bright turquoise.
loving the Brighton vibe and looking for new adventures with Brighton Communities

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.

New Voyage

‘Beside the seaside beside the sea!’
black and white photo. Jess is sitting on Brighton Beach. she has the pier behind her. She is writing a story other lap. it is a casual pose
Happy seaside Celebrant creating ceremonies and writing stories for wedding ceremonies and funerals, Loving Brighton beach.

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

Jess May, Brighton-based Celebrant is standing with arms outstretched replicating the shape of a huge vibrantly coloured dragon shaped kite. There are rows of feather dream catchers behind her. she is posing in a gesture of liberation and freedom
Transitions and Transformations lead to rebirth and freedom. They can be liberating and life affirming

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

Jess is sitting behind many hanging coloured lanterns. She is blowing a kiss through them. it is a whimsical image
Ceremonies help us to find the magic. They can be the key to that transition

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

Black and white photo with a middle aged Caucasian woman. Jess is wearing a sleeveless dress and a big feather head dress. she has her arm around her companion who has short hair and is also caucasian. This woman is peeking over her glasses in a gesture of fun
Life Transition Ceremonies can take many forms. From menopause to retirement

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.

Jess May, Brighton-based Celebrant  is holding a purple column with both arms. She is standing in front of a pink sign for Kenny's Rock & Soul Cafe which is neon. the rest of the image is blue. She has sunglasses on top of her head. ear rings. a pink fringe with a yellow streak and orange hair. her jacket is black

“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.

Jess May, Brighton-based Celebrant is whirling around. She is wearing a black jacket and a blue and black dress. She is in front of Komedia in Brighton. The background is black. Her hair is multi-coloured, she is swirling around and facing to the left
Jess May Brighton-based Celebrant feeling the joy

Connect with me on Socials

Instagram & my ceremonies here

Let’s meet up

It is easy to contact me.

My number is 07891522531. You can reach me on the following platforms:



Microsoft Teams


Facebook Messenger

This is my Pinterest board for kindred spirits

Here is a link to my Socials

Jess May, Brighton-based Celebrant is drinking a cup of coffee in Brighton in front of The Ivy Hotel. She is drinking from a blue ceramic tea cup. The cup is large. She is wearing a black jacket made from something that looks like leather. She has rainbow coloured hair which is blue at the parting and then has a bright pink fringe and grading from pink to orange. her hair is shoulder length. She is sipping coffee. The Awning behind her is dark green with The Ivy written in bold Gold lettering
Meet me for hot chocolate in Brighton. Let’s connect!