We get to meet so many amazing people at weddings, from couples and their friends and family, through to key staff who play such important roles at the venue. But one of the most important roles of your wedding day is trusted to the person who conducts your ceremony.
Lorraine Hull is a Liverpool Celebrant who we have had the absolute pleasure to work alongside and she was kind enough this week to sit down and give us an insight into the role she plays on a wedding day.
What is your role as a celebrant and how did you come about becoming a celebrant?
My role as a Celebrant is to enable couples to have a unique ceremony that reflects their personalities, their hopes and dreams, and their connection.
I help couples who don't want a 'one script for all' wedding, but are looking to have a bespoke ceremony, created just for them. Couples who have prioritised their ceremony and don't want it to be remembered as the boring bit before the party. The ceremony can still follow a traditional format, if that is what the couple wants, but it won't be using a conveyor-belt script that has been used at thousands of other weddings.
Each ceremony is totally unique and filled with personal, meaningful moments that the couple, and their guests, will always remember as: the best wedding that anyone ever went to - EVER! If your wedding ceremony is important to you, why would you settle for one that is 'off the shelf' or ordinary, when you can have one that is exclusive and extraordinary? Having said that, I appreciate that the ceremony isn't important to everyone - but that may simply be because they have never been to a Celebrant wedding! I can't personally speak for church weddings - because I can't remember the last time I went to one? But, for civil marriage and civil partnership ceremonies the registrars are employed by the local authority and have to use prescribed wording in council approved venues. Because that is what the law says! There is little (or, sometimes, no) opportunity to personalise and there are lots of restrictions and rules: lots of 'can't do's' and 'must do's'. They're OK, but not particularly special - if you've been to one, you've been to them all, plus you don't usually know which registrar you are going to get! I can say all of that, because I know it's true. I was a registrar and conducted thousands of weddings with (more or less) the same script (after meeting the couple getting married just minutes before - usually for the very first time). It was a nice script, but always the same words (with the choice of A, B or C and 1, 2, or 3 for the declaration and vows) and names on Post-it notes (also a LOT of rushing about between venues to get to the next wedding - particularly on a Saturday in the summer)
I loved conducting weddings while I worked for the Registration Service, but I really didn't like the feeling of the ceremonies being impersonal and generic. I knew that it could be better than that (should be better than that!); couples deserved more choice, a more personal wedding day experience and I wanted to provide that. I took my previous experience, invested in some specific training and became an Independent Celebrant and it's the best job I have ever had - EVER! Have you had an additional surge of enquiries during lockdown for next year?
Lockdown has been a real rollercoaster for everyone. Almost all of my couples for this year have postponed and re-booked new dates (some three times) which has affected the availability in next year's diary - but it's all been ok, so far.
I can't complain. I have had bursts of new enquiries and I have taken quite a few new bookings, particularly when lockdown first kicked in, and over the last couple of weeks, as it is starting to be eased.
With in person meetings out of the question, I embraced (and enjoyed) the technology and connected with existing (and new) couples via any means possible. It's been great to still see and hear people, albeit on a screen; I have even conducted a few Zoom ceremonies during lockdown (which were brilliant) - who had even heard of Zoom this time last year?
What's your favourite part of the job?
My favourite part changes - I won't use the big cop out of "It's all my favourite" (which it is!).
When I'm getting to know a couple, I love hearing about how they met, where they have been and what they have done together, how they are similar (and different), if there was a proposal; what made them click, what do they love about each other (and even what annoys them - if they want to tell me!)
I love using all of this (and lots more) to craft a ceremony unique to them. Often a couple will want to honour their families, culture and/or beliefs, and I love helping them to do that too.
I also REALLY love the moment when the couple look at each other and say (and hear) their vows. It's the culmination of everything. They are amongst my favourite memories, and I think, in part, that is because it's one of the key moments that photographers and videographers capture and having that reminder brings back the emotion that was palpable on the day.
What's the best advice you always offer to your couples?
I try not to dish out too much advice - there are enough people doing that already and it's not always good!
One of the things that I do mention is that (pretty consistently) my previous couples have told me that the one thing that they are glad that they did (aside from booking a Celebrant), or would do differently (knowing what they know now), is "book a videographer!"
I don't push the point and I'm not advocating overspending, but I think that couples could find wiggle room in their budget if they maybe spend less on stuff that people will forget and/or throw away (or shove in a drawer) and more on making and documenting happy memories.
I have had lots of messages from people during lockdown telling me that they are watching their wedding film and just wanted to say "Hi". Makes me happy cry, every single time (Ha, can I add that to my list of favourite parts?)
Do you have any last minute advice or tips that would be useful for couples?
I would just say that if anyone wanted to know more, please get in touch. This is a blog that I wrote which expands on some of what I've just said: https://www.liverpoolcelebrant.co.uk/post/isitreal
But nothing beats a conversation and I'm always happy to hear a couple's plans and talk about weddings...