Modesty aside for this blog!
After I trained to become a civil celebrant, I became aware of some of my assets. People liked working with me because I am business-like, but friendly. I listen and offer advice. I am thorough, but not OCD. I am passionate about my results. I am experienced and know how to present well in public. I can write well (not just grammatically!).
These are all qualities that a decent civil celebrant should have, and many do. So you could argue that they are not really USPs.
An unexpected USP for me was found due to an eagle-eyed client. On my website, I had mentioned (stuffed away in the middle of a paragraph somewhere) that I was a linguist. She enquired whether I could work in Russian. Well, I may have been a bit rusty, but yes. That was the clincher, and I got the gig!
Then, someone who knew me asked if I read enough Hebrew to conduct a part-Jewish wedding. Again, affirmative.
So I realised there was a unique selling point there, and I reworked my website.
One challenging test was being asked to read a paragraph in Swedish. I literally know fewer words in Swedish than I have fingers on one hand, so I owned up. The groom was happy to write the text for me, send a transliteration and let me have a rehearsal. Ironically, the Swedes at the wedding seemed all to speak perfect English, but they absolutely loved the Swedish!
I have had to do a couple of funerals in Russian and some more (part-) Jewish ceremonies. I’ve also done a Vow Renewal in French – this was supposed to be in English, but the husband (from Quebec) hadn’t admitted that his English was very limited, and he clearly wasn’t understanding what was going on. I had enough French to translate loosely, as we went along, so they were very pleased.
I’m also fluent in German, but, for some reason, have never needed to deploy it in a ceremony. The same (to a lesser extent) goes with my Czech and Italian (both very rusty, but workable).
If you know anybody planning to mark a ceremony that would be improved by including a few foreign-language sections, then please direct them to me.
Photo: Jamie Dodd