It must have been so hard for brides and grooms to have to face uncertainty about their wedding arrangements. Over months and even years.
Should they marry, but postpone the celebrations, perhaps till the first anniversary?
Do they just marry, and skip the celebrations altogether?
Do they marry, but celebrate (with no more than thirty guests)?
Do they put off the wedding altogether and wait for certainty? (But what’s “certain”?)
How do you book venues and suppliers and invite guests under such circumstances?
As a celebrant, I have really missed celebratory events. Since I am trained to compile and conduct funerals too, I have been kept reasonably busy over the last 18 months. Funerals are something I love doing, and, although my finances have still taken a hit, I am grateful that I’ve been able to work through lockdown.
However, I love the celebratory events, and I have not done one for almost two years. You will probably therefore get an idea how pleased I was to be back in harness last weekend.
The couple were delightful. They had chosen a golf club, Blacknest, in Surrey, which evidently takes its weddings very seriously. There was a huge marquee for the catering, tepees (including a big bridal one), a gazebo where the ceremony would take place with rows of benches in front, portaloos, and a shaded area. Not to mention, a table-tennis table and croquet equipment.
It was a glorious day (though very warm indeed), and the guests’ mood was bright, encouraging and supportive. The procession had been choreographed perfectly to fit the music, and the bride was uncharacteristically punctual!
Highlights of the ceremony? The bride’s brother read out a lengthy but witty and amusing poem about the couple. The couple had both prepared their vows (which the other had never seen or heard before), which was a very emotional section. The guests were asked to commit to lifetime friendship and support for the couple, which they readily agreed to. The “first kiss” as a married couple – always popular!
Then there were drinks on the grass, followed by eating, and a festival atmosphere.
There’s no doubt about it: the couple loved it, and so did the guests – and it was great for me to get back where I belong!
When you and your partner are standing in front of all your guests, about to be married, you’re going to be nervous. Much depends on the person who is up there with you both. If the celebrant is curt and uncaring, that will make things worse. If they empathise and are also in control, you’ll feel good.
The celebrant has absolutely got to be someone you trust and feel comfortable with. That way, you can relax and actually enjoy the moment.
How do you achieve that?
The pursuit of the ideal celebrant begins either with a reference from somebody who knows, or has used, them or with a Google search. In the first case, you can move on to Step Two below; in the second, you need to read the website and especially note the testimonials. What do people like about the celebrant? Do they offer what you are looking for? Does working with them appeal?
If they are promising, you need to make contact. Face-to-face, if you’re comfortable; otherwise, by phone, zoom or skype. Firstly, check availability. If that’s OK, the next thing you’re looking for is whether you feel an affinity for the celebrant. If you do, do you feel that they will be accommodating to your ideas for the ceremony? Will they bulldoze you, or respect your choices and desires? Do they have a sense of humour? Do they seem professional?
Do they come across as organised? How are their presentation skills? How experienced are they? Will they try to get to know you (and your wishes)? How contactable are they?
Only if you’re satisfied with the answers (and, by all means, speak to a couple of celebrants, so you can compare), move on to the next step.
You will need to check Terms & Conditions (especially, these days, the cancellation policy). Not least, you need to know the cost – and exactly what that includes. Is travel extra? What about a rehearsal? When do you have to pay what?
If the fee quoted is within – or close to – your budget, then you’re probably on to a good thing. But it is so important to work with the right celebrant, rather than one that you can easily afford. Remember, much of the celebrant’s crucial work happens before the wedding (although the visible part is on the day, of course).
If you like the celebrant, but they seem a little dear, maybe you can save some money elsewhere – for example, when booking other suppliers, to make sure you can secure the right celebrant.
So, the task is only three steps. It’s relatively simple, but needs to be carried out conscientiously. Then you can secure the celebrant who will make your ceremony truly special. Surely that’s worth a bit of effort?!
Have a chat with me to see how I can help you!
People choose to work with a celebrant because they want their ceremony to stand out. Not run-of-the-mill, but memorable, unique and unforgettable.
So the extraordinary may just be an ordinary part of my job.
On the negative side, I rang a bride a couple of days before the wedding to check all was well. She asked me if the groom hadn’t rung me. No, he hadn’t.
It turns out that the wedding was off, after the groom had been caught in bed with another woman a few days before the big day!
I don’t know how extraordinary that is, in reality, but it’s my only wedding cancelled for such reasons.
One other instance of a potentially unsuccessful marriage came when I was having a Skype call with a bride. Ordinarily, I have such a call with the couple, but not this time. However, I saw a male figure hovering in the background and asked if that was the groom. Indeed, it was.
“Why don’t you invite him to take part in our conversation?” I asked. “No, this is MY wedding – he’ll do what I say.”
I didn’t work with her, and I only hope the groom got out of it too, as soon as he could!
To be more positive, I’ve been part of some absolutely fabulous ceremonies. The outdoors ones are often more stunning (although the weather can play a major part!). However, the simple joy and love shown by some couples, indoors or out, have been incomparable.
One of the most impressive ceremonies I have conducted was a wedding in Cyprus in a 5-star hotel in the hills overlooking the sea. There were flowers everywhere, people from all over the world, and an unparalleled atmosphere.
Much simpler, but also unforgettable, was the pagan marrying a half-Jew in the open air (in an Iron Age fort) one January! A fabulous mix of cultures – and the rain even held off!
If you’re looking to mark a life-cycle event, such as a wedding, vow renewal, anniversary, naming or handfasting, then consider a chat with me. I can help make your ceremony unique, unforgettable and absolutely extraordinary!