Welcome to Vermont Celebrants! We provide unique, personalized ceremonies hand-crafted and officiated by Martha Dallas.
We all experience major transitions over the course of our lives — transitions that redefine our identity and call for intentionally-crafted time and space that can welcome and hold the mix of deep emotions we bring to such times. Traditionally, religion supported these moments, but today many people no longer engage religious institutions the way their parents or grandparents did. More and more people claim a spirituality inspired by nature, by movement practices, or by the wonders of science. Their beliefs and sense of life’s meaning are unique.
Celebrancy responds to their needs.
With over fifteen years’ experience crafting ritual and ceremony with diverse people of all ages, Martha Dallas’ care and skill brings Vermont Celebrants to life.
Weddings are at the core of Vermont Celebrants’ services. We understand the delicate balance required to honor your values and vision, while considering the needs and expectation of family and guests.
We bring care and attention to every detail of your ceremony, guided the overall feel and experience you desire.
Contact us to explore possibilities!
MEMORIALS & FUNERALS
Vermont Celebrants humbly respects the privilege of joining you during one of life’s most tender and transformative times to craft a memorial or funeral ceremony that uniquely and beautifully expresses the life and spirit of your loved one, now passed.
We patiently honor your grief process and all its attending emotions, as we help to bring forth elements that exemplify your loved one’s life.
We are sensitive to the needs of all ages, particularly young ones, some of whom may be experiencing the death of a loved one for the first time.
In addition to its core offerings of officiation for weddings and memorials or funerals, Vermont Celebrants provides a breadth of services to support the development of ritual and ceremony to honor life transitions.
What transitions in your life are worthy of occasion and ceremony?
Martha would love to discuss your ideas. Imagine ceremonies to mark and honor:
Coming of Age
Renewal of Vows
New Home/Home Sale
Animal Companion’s Death
Vermont Celebrants respects the Do-It-Yourself spirit of many of our clients.
Martha Dallas consults 1:1 with you as you plan your own ceremony, be it a memorial service or ritual for another occasion. She will share practical tips and resources to affirm and support your skills, creativity and vision, meeting your unique needs where they are.
Vermont Celebrants is developing a suite of workshops led by Martha Dallas.
Are you curious about how ritual and ceremony can enrich your experience of the changes life brings? Want to meet kindred spirits and get practical tips as well as resources to fuel your creativity?
Themed workshops invite you to become part of the Celebrancy movement.
Vermont Celebrants’ core values are reflected in the presence we bring to our services. Whether planning with clients or officiating ceremonies, Martha Dallas is attentive and responsive; authentic, engaging, and warm.
It is our clients’ worldviews and beliefs which guide the artful elements expressed in each unique ceremony. Crafting your ceremony involves weaving together the essentials that exemplify you or your loved one. Your ceremony offers to beloved friends and family an intimate connection with life’s essence, as it holds meaning for you or your loved one. We deeply affirm your religious or spiritual beliefs, whatever they may be; however clear or complex.
Essential to our process is listening. With each client, we respectfully and gently ask questions to learn about your story; what makes you or your loved one unique. Curiosity and compassion attend our listening. We make and hold space for the essence of you or your loved one to unfold, sensitively welcoming the range of emotions that attend any ceremony.
Our services are diversity-affirming at their core. We honor and celebrate LGBTQ lives. We welcome and seek fullest inclusion not only of religious beliefs, but of all races, abilities, ages, cultures, ethnicities, and even species(!) that are represented in your - or your loved one’s - beloved circle. Ceremonial language, ritual actions, and multisensory elements are all incorporated with attention to welcome towards all.
vermont celebrants’ roots tap deep.
Our story is Martha Dallas’ story, which goes back at least to her high school and college days. Raised an Episcopalian, in her teens she began to question her beliefs, and to grapple with life’s meaning, exploring her curiosity about the world and humanity’s place in it.
A BA degree in cultural anthropology at Mount Holyoke College was followed by a MA in education and theological studies at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Martha sought a liberal setting where she could inspire others, and where religion and learning intersected.
She taught religious studies at Northfield Mount Hermon School, and soon thereafter discovered Unitarian Universalism (UUism), a faith which she has claimed since 1995.
She served two UU congregations for a total of over 15 years as Director of Religious Education, a ministry in which she honed her gifts as an imaginative, engaging storyteller; and as a spiritual leader who regularly designed and held sacred space with warmth, authenticity, and just the right dose of humor. You’ll find several videos of Martha here, doing her favorite part of that work.
Martha comes to Vermont Celebrants in large part through taking up backpacking in the summer of 2018, a dream deferred by over two decades!
Her first solo trip of three days along Vermont’s Long Trail crystallized in her the clarity and courage to create her next professional path, and a business start up class equipped her with knowledge and skills to build and nurture Vermont Celebrants.
A lifelong singer, Martha sings with Social Band. She also loves gardening, wordplay, home design and improvement, running, hiking, and woodworking.
Martha lives in a yellow bungalow in Burlington’s Old North End with her spouse, Lucy, and their cat, Dandylion.
Martha Dallas is ordained through American Marriage Ministries, granting her full authority to legally solemnize weddings in the state of Vermont. States’ marriage laws vary; we are happy to find out what your location requires.
Martha is obtaining her Life-Cycle Celebrant® certification through the Celebrant Foundation & Institute.
“My husband I cannot say enough positive words about Martha and her tremendous talents as a wedding officiant. We had the difficult task of planning a wedding that matched what we wanted to convey to represent our love for one another, while also making sure both our parents, who are quite religious, felt spiritually connected to the service.
Martha was thoughtful and reflective as she guided us through planning our ceremony. She thought of all the little things that we would never have and was very flexible in working with us. We met several times to discuss the structure of the service, things that were important to my husband, things that were important to me, and things that allowed for our guests to feel part of our wedding ceremony. We were able to collectively discuss our service in a series of meetings, both in person and long distance over the phone and FaceTime.
She did a wonderful job making sure everyone knew their role during the rehearsal and was great at talking everyone through the timing so we were all comfortable, including our two flower girls who were 2 and 4. She was a calming presence that worked wonders in keeping my husband and I calm and steady during the ceremony, allowing us to really take in our wedding and all of its meaning.
The ceremony itself was amazing beyond words. It was so specific to us, beautifully capturing our spirit and love for one another. It had the right amount of seriousness but she also tactfully put in a bit of humor which kept it light and uplifting. Our guests marveled over how warm and intimate it was, with one minister who attended commenting to me and my father that “Martha was born to officiate weddings.” We received endless compliments about her skills from our friends and family.
Martha is a true professional and very passionate about her work, which was apparent to all. She was amazing to work with and made our wedding ceremony an incredibly memorable and special occasion.”
- Robert and Elisabeth Demeranville
“Martha offered to come to my house. Martha knew that listening was important. Martha was able to assess what my family needed to grieve. Martha listens carefully and wisely. Martha suggested readings, music, and order of service. Martha is smart, well-churched and knowledgeable about different types of services. I was impressed with her knowledge of different religious backgrounds. I trusted Martha to offer options and follow through with planning.
The day of the service, it was a rainy day and Martha was undaunted. I cried when Martha knelt to shovel the first dirt to cover Ed’s ashes. Ed’s children (now adults) were equally taken with Martha. It was as though the service was running itself. Neighbors, friends, colleagues (about 500 people) came. Martha didn’t forget a thing - her planning was collaborative and personal and inclusive. Martha shared her broad knowledge and experience. Martha’s service was elegant.
Martha is a unique combination of ‘down home charm’ and ‘deep intelligence’ and respect for the person who died and his family. She has a calm manner, yet she draws people to her with her gentle, persuasive way. My children told me, ‘I remember how lovingly she held dad’s ashes…. I remember how she listened.’”
- Martha Fitzgerald
"Martha was a bright light when we needed it the most after the death of our loved one. Martha is extraordinarily sensitive, bright, creative and caring. Martha sat with us for hours creating the perfect, loving memorial service. We'll never forget the way she cherished our loved one the way she would cherish her own family member.”
- Paula Marden
“My mother was like the den mother of an entire town; when she died I knew the tone I wanted, but getting that across was difficult; she was spiritual but not religous; respectful but not exactly pious; kind and loving to all. Martha understood this spirit, and put together the perfect ceremony in the perfect location. She was able to make guests of all ages (3 to 90-something) and all religious backgrounds and affiliations not just comfortable, but at home in each others’ presence, joined in love, memory and song.
My mother's home away from home was the local community theater; they graciously offered the space, and Martha went to work. Always respectful of my needs, she made wonderful suggestions and raised logistical questions - and then offered answers - that would have never occured to me. Music and musicians, schedule, timing, suggested readings and her own beautiful words - it all came together perfectly for the standing-room-only crowd. Dozens of friends and family have expressed their joy and appreciation for the ceremony which captured my mom's spirit perfectly. So much thanks to Martha for guiding us through this difficult time, holding our hands, and being a loving voice in the wilderness.”
- Chris Bull
“In the almost two decades in which I have known Martha, it has been a joy to witness her gift for ministry. She is a natural at celebrating life, in ritualizing its most sacred moments. As a minister myself for a number of years I know the hours that go into preparation for weddings, memorials and all the meaningful events in between. We are blest by Martha’s calling and for her wholehearted response to all that it asks of her.”
- Rev. Roddy O’Niel Cleary