When you think of weddings, your mind usually goes straight to the reception and the ceremony often gets overlooked. Why is that? Your wedding begins with the ceremony after all. The ceremony is the moment where couples declare their love for one another, make statements of promises to one another – the moment of pure happiness where couples become husband and wife. To me, that’s a big thing and the person behind bringing those moments to life is extremely important. Ultimately, your civil celebrant sets the tone for the rest of your wedding day with your ceremony.
I am so excited to have the lovely Robyn Pattison join me today. Robyn married my husband and I, and I cannot emphasise how much we loved her and cannot recommend her enough. Robyn is pure sunshine. Her ceremonies are refreshingly personal, intimate, delightfully fun and engaging and your guests will leave the ceremony feeling like they have been a part of something really special. Robyn is a true professional who loves what she does and would be the perfect person to contribute to your wedding day.
Q. Can you tell me a little something about yourself and how you came to being a celebrant?
I’m the product of a little good luck and lots of love and hugs. Starting out as a celebrant was really just a lucky guess for me. If I had done my research or thought about it too much, I probably would never have tried. Fortunately, I didn’t! I did my very first wedding and realised that there was no other job for me. I was in love! For me, there’s nothing like it.
Q. What do you love about being a celebrant?
I love that I can change a couple’s opinion of what their wedding can be. I love that I can see the guest’s opinions of a ceremony change in front of my eyes. They expect to be bored and end up laughing, crying and really, really paying attention. I love that grandmothers, even those that don’t speak English, will come to me after a ceremony and hug me, because although they didn’t understand the words, they felt them.
Q. How do you work with a couple to make their ceremony personalised and unique?
I give them homework! You’d never ask an expert photographer to get amazing location shots in ten minutes, or the makeup artist to make you look incredible without telling them what you like. You can’t expect a meaningful, entertaining and engaging wedding without contributing too. When my couples tell me about themselves, it gets me excited and if I’m excited about who I am marrying, the guests will be too.
Q. What kind of support do you provide couples with when they are writing or choosing their vows?
Anything they need! Lots of couples start off having decided to write their own and then start to feel the pressure. I have pages and pages of vows to help them find inspiration and even a “Write Your Own Vows” Cheat Sheet to help. If they are keeping them a secret from each other, I subtly get in there and (without breaking any confidences) make sure that they are about the same length, similar tone and even on the love scale.
Q. I know you just love a personal and meaningful ceremony. How can a couple personalise their ceremony?
Couples should think about who they are and let the ceremony reflect that. Terribly formal ceremonies do not suit happy, friendly, laid back couples – they won’t listen. A couple that hates PDA will not want a very over the top romantic ceremony – no-one will believe it. If they have mixed cultural backgrounds, they can celebrate the differences and honour them. If guests do not all speak English, do a little bit in the language they do speak. Involve family, friends and the people who matter most. Have a giggle. Make the vows their own. I could go on all day about this.
Q. What ceremony trends have you seen lately?
I’m seeing more and more of my couples wanting to make the ceremony the focus of the day. More time, more effort, more thought are going into the most important part of the big day and the party starts with the ceremony.
This might be due to a little coaching at my end, but couples are focusing more on styling the ceremony. Beautiful drink stands and food for guests, tree decorations, garlands, bunting, ribbons, chalk boards – more humour, less formality.
Q. Do you have any favourite ceremony ideas?
A lot of couples want to use some form of symbolism in their ceremony. My favourite of all of these is a simple balloon release. I tell a story of an old Asian legend about the man in the moon, 2 red strings and fate. I tie it in to the couple’s own personal story and they tie two (preferably giant) helium balloons together with red strings and let them go. It looks lovely in the photos and video and it’s easy!
Q. What are three things couples should consider when finding the right celebrant?
Personality. Personality. Personality. It’s everything. The right celebrant for you will make you feel comfortable, and inspired, and excited about the most important part of the biggest day of your lives so far. If they aren’t excited to help you, why should you be excited about them?
Q. What is your ultimate piece of advice to couples when planning their ceremony?
Be yourselves. Don’t try to pretend that you are perfect creatures that spend all day spouting sonnets at one another. The real you is far more likeable, far more believable – and far more to celebrate.
Oh, and make a decision to get up in the morning of your big day and have a lovely day. Forget rain, hail, traffic, makeup disaster, best man loses the rings, cars running late etc. The bit that matters is the getting married bit and so long as you are doing that, you should be beaming. The other stuff doesn’t matter.