Couples always tell me they want their guests to feel joyful, captivated, to feel the love, experience the passion in their relationship, and generally have a heartfelt experience from their wedding.
Ceremonies that are personal to a couple’s story are written to capture the couple in a way where the whole idea of wedding ceremonies seems to have been invented solely with them in mind.
Every Celebrant has a different approach and style of writing. Crafting a bespoke ceremony is largely influenced by the Celebrants personality, capacity for creative and eloquent story telling, and an ability to write from the heart. That is precisely what sets Celebrant-Led Ceremonies apart from what we have known as the traditional flow and content of a civil wedding ceremony.
How can a Celebrant start to gather insight about a couple?
It’s completely possible for a Celebrant to write content that reflects a couple’s personalities, and weaves their individual styles into the words which captivate guests. The whole experience of attending a bespoke wedding ceremony becomes elevated. And this is most often achieved when a Celebrant may have only known the couple a short time.
Inspiring clients requires their trust and confidence early in the process. It’s a Celebrants capacity to be the designer, helping a couple lift the lid off traditional thinking, and reveal ways to look beyond the ordinary standard practices and create something ‘extraordinary’.
I begin from a place of intuition and listening to what a couple tells me (as well as what they don’t tell me). Without doubt, I love to talk, but in a meeting, I am very observant about a couple’s energy, their language, their interaction with each other, and their passion when they talk about the ceremony. That first meeting should unveil a couple’s vision for the day, how their personalities form the relationship, and not forgetting a very important insight – tuning in to a couple’s concerns or worries about how the ceremony will unfold.
Using the fabric of a couple’s energy and spirit, I write ceremonies from my heart, and from deep in my soul because theirs is an intimate and precious story that will be told to a gathering of the most meaningful people in their lives. I can write the most beautiful words and design the most stunning ceremony … but the most important ingredient is how my words and my approach will touch upon the spirit of the individuals I am honouring on the day.
How does a Celebrant learn a couple’s ‘story’ if they don’t really know them?
Awareness begins with our first connection and grows with every contact, culminating in the couple’s responses to an ideally crafted Ceremony Questionnaire. The more information that can be collected in the couple’s own words, the greater the likelihood that the ceremony will exceed their highest expectations.
The responses a couple chooses to provide help me paint a sort of ‘treasure map’, a more colourful visual in my mind and heart about how their paths first crossed, the energy they create together as a couple, how they fell in love, the influences of their families, how they grew to become the person with whom they each ultimately chose to spend the rest of their lives, and a glimpse into how they bring themselves together to walk their future side by side.
Next, I embark on interpreting their ‘story’. It is here that I can begin the process of weaving together their tale of love through words that beautifully illustrate the images and sentiments that a couple wish their guests to embrace.
Couples are always at the helm of what I write; they are the architects of the celebration and my role is to take everything I’ve learned about them, place it all together in what I call my writer’s cauldron of love, and produce a spectacular narrative under the beautiful umbrella of love, sentiment and an essence of happiness.
How does a Celebrant write a couple’s ‘heart and soul’ into a ceremony?
Before I begin to write, I spend time quietly reflecting on the couple, considering who they are beyond the booking form and their responses on the questionnaire. This might be an intentional meditation, or a simple pondering about who these awesome people are beneath the title of ‘client’. Sometimes there are gems of insight hidden in a phrase they’ve provided, sewn into their sense of humour, or how they annotate their love for each other.
Some couples provide fantastic insight into how they met, their engagement and what they both hope to build together in the future. Some couples are more private and prefer a simpler ceremony, though a touch of their ‘story’ can still be incorporated to make the occasion deeply meaningful.
Readings that are chosen often add a glimpse into another layer to understand, and I might weave a meaningful passage into the words I say that follow that reading.
Music is a wonderful inspiration for heart-guided writing, and it can be a beacon with which to further see someone’s soul. I ask my couples to share some songs that would offer me insight into their relationship; it’s a lovely way to ‘see’ your couples on another level. Their wedding play list is also a significant glimpse into the essence of who they are, together. I am known to listen to a couple’s ceremony play list over and over before the day, paying attention to lyrics that I might subtly knit into the heart of the ceremony.
And then there are the special, meaningful ways a couple might wish to further symbolise and celebrate their love with symbolic gestures and family customs or traditions.
A bride might create her wedding bouquet from flowers brought by guests, adding a touch of their love. A couple may wish to seal a ‘marriage box’ containing love letters and sentimental items, with a plan to open it on a meaningful occasion. Wedding rings might be passed from guest to guest, asking for loving wishes for the couple to be metaphorically placed into them. A hand-fasting or hand blessing draws a couple closer together (when you give your hands, you give your hearts). A flower lei can be draped across both of their shoulders in the form of a figure eight, representing the couple’s unity.
Whatever a couple might choose, I pay attention to what it means to them, and that becomes another link into understanding another layer about how their ceremony needs to be crafted.
Does it always come down to the couple’s wishes?
The ceremony is not about what I feel is important, what I believe should take place, or what I think is the right flow. The day is about the couple and the ceremony must be crafted in that spirit. I may guide them, I may offer advice when it’s solicited, I may share perspective, and I may call on my passionate and creative spirit to bring awe to a ceremony.
But there is only one outcome that is acceptable, and that is ensuring that the ceremony tells a couple’s love story in a way that is perfect for them, and in a way that leaves behind loving, beautiful and unforgettable memories for everyone present.
Getting ‘out of our heads’ and ‘into our hearts’ is the place from which to write ceremonies, because it is in our hearts where love resides and where memories are anchored.
And that is the perfect ingredient to nourish any ‘cauldron of love’.