Expecting the Extraordinary

Aug 21, 2018
pagan handfasting at civil wedding

The extraordinary is part and parcel of the work of a celebrant.

“I want a Jewish wedding. My boy friend’s not Jewish, but he’s fine with it. At first, my parents wouldn’t have anything to do with the wedding. Now they’re coming round to it, but refuse to allow Jewish traditions in the ceremony. Can you put something suitable together?”

“I’m going to propose to my girl friend in the [5 star] hotel. When she accepts, I want you to come across and conduct an appropriate ceremony. Knock her off her feet!”

“We’re planning a naturist ceremony. Can you compile something for it?”

“Do you do pagan?”

“Actually, we want something quite conventional. Could you do that for us?”

“Can you collaborate with me alone, as I don’t want my fiancé to have anything to do with the ceremony except to be there?”

As a wedding celebrant, I have been asked these, or similar, questions. They give an idea of the range of desires of clients – (well, potential clients, as I didn’t work with all of these) – that I may deal with.

The beauty of what I offer is that the client has freedom to choose exactly what they want for their big day. They may be open to advice and guidance from me; they may have a very clear vision of what they wish for.

Usually, at the preliminary meeting, we have a chance to see if we’d be comfortable working together and start exploring the possibilities. Do they want religion? Yes? Then, how much? Who will be participating in the ceremony? Will any rituals be included? What tone is wanted?

Once the enquiry turns into a booking, I e-mail a draft as soon as possible. This is for the clients’ approval. If they don’t like something, it goes out! They may suggest readings themselves – usually, they’ll be included automatically, as I always bear in mind that it’s the clients’ day. (That doesn’t mean that I haven’t occasionally advised against a certain reading!)

By the end of the process (and the draft may need several partial rewrites), the client should be left with the ceremony of their dreams – every word of which they will have approved.

So, extraordinary as their requests may sometimes be, I can normally take them in my stride. There’s certainly never a dull moment in my job!