An interview with a Wedding Celebrant in Greece:
Creating ceremony for the individuals, not the masses
What is a ‘Celebrant’?
Literally speaking, a Celebrant is someone who performs or officiates ceremonies. Many Celebrants like myself write and create your ceremony for you. This is what sets us apart from other wedding officiants – we are not bound by any official or religious authority so we are free to write words and include (or not) traditions that reflect your personalities, values, and beliefs. It also means that we get to create an engaging ceremony that you and your guests will love, rather than just the boring bit to get through before the party!
Why did I become a Celebrant?
When I found out that there was an alternative way to hold a wedding ceremony, I was hooked. No two couples are the same, no couple has the same story or the same background. So why would people want their ceremony to be the same as everyone else’s? Writing a personalized ceremony for each couple makes perfect sense to me and I get to be the person that creates and delivers that perfect ceremony – how fantastic is that?! Being able to travel all over Greece (and sometimes further afield) to join couples on their special day is just the icing on the cake.
What should a couple consider when searching for their Celebrant?
You have to like them! I mean really like them. That person who’s going to write your ceremony for you need to know all about you like people and you as a couple and you have to be comfortable and willing to share that information with them. Plus they are going to be standing there, right with you at one of the most intimate moments of your lives, that moment when you declare you want to spend the rest of your life with your special person. Thinking about that first appointment, how can a couple be best prepared? This is quite a hard question to answer because really the answer is that no preparation is needed! If a couple comes to me with ideas or a clear vision of what they want their ceremony to be like, then great. I can advise them and manage their expectations, pulling their ideas together into a cohesive ceremony. But if they have absolutely no idea, that’s completely fine too. Perhaps the most important thing to have in mind is how they want their ceremony to feel.
As each ceremony is written specifically for the couple through exploring their ideas, their values, and what marriage means to them our process can start from a big fat zero. How many meetings are usually required prior to the wedding day? I like to have an initial video call with the couple before they go ahead and book me. If an in-person meeting is possible that’s even better. This is to establish if we like each other and for me, it’s important to see that the couple is truly invested in the content of their ceremony. When the couple has booked me I send them a questionnaire to get the information I need to craft the ceremony. I send draft copies as the ceremony comes along for them to read and comment on and we adapt as necessary. I don’t put a cap on communication with the couples and we have as much communication with each other as they like – whether they prefer email, video calls, or messages.
Do you think a ceremony rehearsal is necessary?
Actually no! I think that with a Celebrant at the helm of your ceremony we direct the action and are in control of the running of the ceremony. What is necessary is good preparation – knowing exactly who is responsible for the rings, and making sure other people with a role in the ceremony know what they are doing and when they will be doing it. I think a ‘talk throughout the ceremony a week or so before with the couple is fine. This is not a finally polished theatre production where everyone has to be word-perfect. It’s a living, breathing moment and should be experienced as such. Having said that if a couple really wants a physical rehearsal I’m always happy to do one. If there are a few people involved in the ceremony it’s a good opportunity to meet them and calm any nerves.
How far in advance should a couple of books their Celebrant?
I like to take bookings 18 months to a year before. The ceremony creation process realistically takes about 3 months, but for me, it’s a logistics thing as I have to plan my travel into the calendar. I only do one ceremony a day so I commit myself 100% to that couple on the day and often I can be traveling the day before and after. That said, I’m not averse to the adrenalin rush of a last-minute ceremony, but I like these now and then rather than the rule! What are the key ingredients to a meaningful ceremony? Apart from love, only include what holds meaning for you as a couple. Whether that’s the wording, the traditions, or the people that are with you. It’s that simple.
What advice do you have for couples to ensure they experience a wonderful wedding ceremony?
Book a Celebrant – and a great photographer too, obviously! Be honest with your Celebrant and true to yourselves. When you are creating your ceremony, trust them and wear your heart on your sleeve. Only do things that you are comfortable with and hold meaning for you both. For example, if you aren’t comfortable being the center of attention and saying your wedding vows in front of others, we’ll find an alternative that you are comfortable with. Have a wedding ceremony that you will enjoy, that will be memorable and that reflects your personality and your values.
Any other tips or info that you would like to pass on to couples?
Don’t sweat the small stuff, remember to take a step back and see the bigger picture. Wedding debt is not worth it, include what holds meaning for you and ditch the rest. As one of my couples put it: “People are going to remember the feeling and the food. You want good photos and videos. Have an open bar. People aren’t going to remember your party favors or the lemons on the table.
Elizabeth is based on Rhodes.