Weddings, Memorials and Rites of Passage in Guelph and Surrounding Areas
A human life is sacred
It is sacred in its being born
It is sacred in its living
It is sacred in its dying
Many people today experience a need to mark transitions that occur throughout life but because they do not participate in the traditions of their parents and grandparents, they may not know how to go about doing this. They would like assistance in creating and carrying out a meaningful and personalized ceremony or ritual. These include:
Weddings, Funerals, Memorials and Child Blessings
and any and all significant life transitions such as coming out, the loss of a pet, a divorce, or retirement.
(for more information on Memorials and Funerals, go to our tab: Greener Memorials / Funerals)
The Unitarian Congregation of Guelph promotes freedom of choice and welcomes members of the larger community to explore the unique ceremonies we offer to celebrate life's milestones. In order to facilitate these services the Unitarian Congregation of Guelph is served by our Lay Chaplains. Lay chaplains are appointed by the congregation, provincially licensed and trained in the provision of meaningful, personalized ceremonies. Lay chaplains consider the learning and service they offer to be part of their own spiritual development. They are committed to the inherent worth and dignity of every person and the Unitarian Principles will speak to you of openness, acceptance, sensitivity and generosity of spirit.
Creating a personalized Ceremony
Since freedom is a basic principle underlying the beliefs and practices of Unitarian Universalists, we encourage the creation of ceremonies that are as meaningful as possible to the participants. The marriage service is one of the most important of these. Unlike other ceremonies such as those at birth and death, in marriage the principal participants are able to be actively involved. Because they are asked to make a lifetime commitment, they should be involved in creating a ceremony symbolizing that commitment. The couple is encouraged to develop a ceremony that meets their own needs. We are a welcoming congregation, and accommodate all couples. Each couple will feel free to personalize their ceremony, including friends and relatives as readers, and ceremonies from other traditions.
Meet Aspen Heisey and Janice Canning
Aspen has been a Lay Chaplain with the Unitarian Congregation of Guelph for 6 years. She is also a founding partner Floworks Training, Inc. Her ability to wear many hats and keep grounded is a gift to everyone who gets to work with her. In addition to her role in Floworks, she is an active community volunteer, and spends whatever time she can skiing, hiking, canoeing, or playing her flute and accordion in the woods.
Aspen will partner with you to create a ceremony that honours your needs, values and wishes. Whether a wedding, a memorial, a baby welcoming, or indeed any occasion important to you, she will take the time to hear you. She is a nurturing listener with a genuine interest in asking the right questions to help unearth your story.
"When I stepped into this role 6 years ago, I had little idea of how much I would enjoy this! I feel privileged to connect with people in this way - hearing the story of how the couple met, who they are, and then creating together a ceremony that is genuinely theirs. Later I was called on to do memorials and funerals which opened me to a fuller range and depth of Ceremony. This holds a fascination for me, weaving the needs of the living with the honoring of the dead."
I am honored to represent the Unitarian Congregation of Guelph as lay chaplain and thank them for their trust as I carry the responsibilities of this office into the wider community of Guelph and region.
This is my declaration of service to you:
· to be present during times of transitions, marking them with ceremony created in concert with those who seek meaningful and respectful rites of passage.
· to bear witness and celebrate together, honoring the diversity of culture, gender and sexual orientation, philosophy, belief and expression of those who choose to declare their joys and sorrows in community.
· I bring over 30 years of experience, having walked with many in diverse paths, keeping an open mind and heart, being fully present to the spirit of the moment we find ourselves in.
I was raised and baptized a Christian (United Church) and discovered the divine feminine of the Goddess traditions in the feminism of the 70’s. Seeking to honor the Earth, I sought teachings with native elders, respecting the ways of the First Nations peoples traditions and give deep gratitude to those teachers. I have walked in community with those of the pagan path, learning about the ways of honoring the Gods and Goddesses of many pantheons whether based in Greek, Norse, and Germanic, Celtic or African tradition. Most recently I have been exploring the Buddhist path and the practice of mindfulness in daily life, seeking a contemplative experience in a hectic world.
Hearing a calling to practice as a natural healer and a trained scientist with curiosity about the plant world and the human body, I studied herbal medicine and privately practiced Shiatsu for over 20 years. Most recently I apply my skills of deep listening and solution focused problem solving as a trauma specialist and disaster manager in a corporate setting.
"When chosing an officiant, it was important for my husband and I to find someone that would be able to provide us with vows that would be diverse enough to speak to our audience and reflected who we are. We appreciated that we could customize every aspect of the ceremony.
From our the first time that we met Aspen, my husband and I knew that she would complement our big day and be able to put us at ease. During our wedding rehearsal and ceremony Aspen exhibited grace, class, and compassion. We have had several wedding attendants ask us if we could provide her contact information because they too were so impressed." (Colleen McDuffe)
For further information and availiability email Aspen: Chaplain@guelph-unitarians.com or call 519-822-8666
Your Place or Ours?
The Unitarian Congregation building has a small sanctuary with a capacity for approximately 60 people. It is suitable for small gatherings for rites of passage but has limited facilities for receptions.
Our lay chaplain is happy to conduct your ceremony at a location of your choice - in Guelph or the surrounding area, such as private homes, gardens, rented halls or the Arboretum.
Fees for service
- Wedding Ceremony.......$250.00
- Funeral or Memorial.......$300.00
- Child Naming Service....$125.00
- Renewal of vows.............$250.00
- Travel for out of town weddings $20.00 for surrounding area within 20km. More, for greater distances
- Rental of the Unitarian Building...$60.00
- Additional rental of the Kitchen.....$50.00
More Wedding Information:
For more information about the lay Chaplaincy program, please visit the CUC site at:
Visit our listing in the Unity Wedding Directory:
To find out more about how to apply for a Marriage License, go to:
For more information about reducing your wedding's carbon footprint and hosting a green wedding, go to: