Why did I become a Celebrant?
The simple answer is, because I am dealing with love and meeting people at the most loved-up time in their life. It is impossible not to make it sound anything other than corny, but it truly is a beautiful thing.
I hear a couple’s story and I can help them tell it however they like. Love is beautiful – actually, that doesn’t even come close to describing it. And I make no apologies for getting caught up in experiencing a moment that is amazing. I’m not, and I will never be – a ‘robotic’ celebrant. I can’t imagine being a part of a wedding – where two people are expressing their enduring love for each other – and not being affected by it. I’ve learned to take my own advice – I tell my couples, when it becomes a bit overwhelming – take a deep breath – and soak in all the love that is around you. There’s a lot of truth in Wet Wet Wet’s song ‘Love is all around us’
I feel it in my fingers
I feel it in my toes
The love that’s all around me
And so the feeling grows.
I won’t go on but you get the gist. Don’t be ashamed if there are tears. They are tears of genuine joy, emotion and happiness and everyone will be touched. A moment’s pause may feel like a lifetime, however it reinforces that these special moments will last forever. In the words of Dr Seuss “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory”
I’ve never considered myself as being overly romantic but I do think everything involved in the planning of a wedding is infectious, joyous and exciting. For me, I feel hugely privileged to be involved and trusted with a story. My couples share with me their most personal feelings and tell me about the most important people in their lives. It is a huge responsibility that I welcome and respect.
There is a powerful, infectious feeling of love, anticipation, excitement and I take the responsibility of my position very seriously and it’s not uncommon when a couple first contacts me – for them to ask for examples of previous ceremonies I have performed. I’m more than happy to do so… but it comes with a very specific direction: “Don’t focus on the words, focus on the intention.”
Why? Because when I write a ceremony, it’s a personalised ceremony… and it is completely and utterly customised to the couple who it is written for.
When the ceremony is over and ‘my’ couple immerse themselves amongst their nearest and dearest, I go home with warmth in my heart and a huge smile on my face. A job well done.
The words you share with your partner; the love and commitment you express in the presence of your family and friends, are, after all, the whole reason the day is happening. And so often they are hidden behind the dress, the entourage, the inevitable hiccups, and the need for the ‘perfect’ wedding day – first look, first dance, bouquet toss, horse and carriage arrival; the list is endless.
For some though, putting feelings into words can be difficult and then becomes an additional worry and stress in the build up to the big day. For others, it might be that they don’t know how to be succinct whilst avoiding too much ‘cheese’.
What’s vital for vows is that you tell that person in front of you, why you love them; why you are promising to spend the rest of your life with them. It’s your wedding day, your love, your story and your feelings and all that should be expressed in the best possible way – in your words.
This is something we think you should put some time, energy and thought into, so you can say something truly meaningful to the person you love. But if you are finding it hard to start, or you are feeling self-conscious, here are a few simple tips to help you create the perfect vows and have your guests reaching for their tissues!
- Keep them short and sweet. It’s terribly easy to get carried away once you’ve got started and end up pouring your heart out. No more than a couple of paragraphs is honestly all that is required or it will verge on overkill or cheese. Your guests don’t need to know every detail and you don’t want your guests zoning out. If your creative juices do flow freely save some of the content and put it in a letter to him/her for them to read privately after the ceremony. Alternatively, include it in the reception speech.
- Say the things you would like your partner to say to you. Write honestly, truthfully and authentically and, most importantly, how you would normally speak.
- It’s not really the time to crack jokes. By all means throw in a line or two reflecting your natural humour that your partner and guests will DEFINITELY find funny but it’s more important to focus on making it meaningful and genuine. A chuckle rather than side splitting laughter. Trying to be funny can unintentionally sound insincere very quickly which is the last thing your vows should be.
- Keep your private lives private. You and your partner may have the most fantastic and exciting times behind closed doors and that’s where it stays. Definitely a case of too much information. No one else needs, or wants to know and it’s not the moment for Grandma to have a turn and need to lie down with heart palpitations!
- Remember the solemnness of the occasion. This is not the moment for grand promises that you cannot keep. If you hate football don’t promise him that you will go to watch his favourite team (not that he realistically would want you to anyway) or take up an interest of his that truthfully you have no real intention of doing so. Inevitably one of you will let the other down.
- Be real and avoid clichés at all costs.
Starting is often the most difficult part. Once you get going normally it will flow. But if you really have hit a wall try and find a format you and your partner both agree on so that you have a bit of a template to work from. Sometimes it helps if you know what your partner has written so that you are both on the same page. It can help if you decide on things you both want to say such as
- “I am standing here today because ……………………….. “
- “I love you because ……………………………..”
- “One of my best memories with you so far is ……………………….. “
- “Since I have been with you I feel ………………………….”
- “Because of you I feel …………………………………………….”
- “I look forward to ……………………………..”
And finish with something along the lines of “thank you for loving me”
Alternatively, why not keep your vows secret from each other the impact of this can be awesome. As your Celebrant I keep your vows to myself until your ceremony and then when the time comes it can induce goose bumps, tears, delight but always a totally memorable experience for all.
Your wedding ceremony should be a reflection of you, so don’t be afraid to ask your Celebrant questions about how to do that.
Encourage and support each other so give writing your vows a go! You won’t regret it! I hope this helps. Now go make a start!!