For the sake of full disclosure and transparency, I should mention that I have been a variety style entertainer for 40 years and have, amongst other qualifications, an Associate Diploma in Arts (Dance). I state this up-front for two reasons. Firstly it accounts for my innate bias and secondly, it means, that I know what I am talking about. Forty years is a hell of a head start on most others who enter into celebrancy from other backgrounds.
In discussion with a number of celebrants over the years, the proposition of thinking about the actual wedding ceremony as a type of performance has been raised a number of times. For those who do not have a background in live entertainment or theatre this way of thinking about things is often a foreign concept. It is simply not on their radar, not a part of their everyday job-description. That being the case they will tend to deal with it in ways that are in keeping with their background; be it in their retail, admin, I.T; trade, nursing, sales, teaching, whatever it may be mindset.
The formula, the style, the persona one brings from a multitude of other vocations will provide the filter, the lens, the sensibilities they bring to the table. That may, or may not be conducive to the creative process of interaction with couples, writing and presenting an engaging and entertaining ceremony and doing so with a style and aplomb that comes from decades as a performing artist.
When you look at the ceremonies of the Orthodox, and in particular the Roman Catholic communities the theatricality is obvious, if not often, over-done. Take for example the Royal wedding of 2011; the location, cassocks, vestments, costuming and various paraphernalia came very close to over-shadowing the true purpose of the event. I am not suggesting that civil celebrants start to embrace these trappings, but mention them as old, established and theatrical conventions that can easily be seen as a “performance”. Here is a Priest actually singing during a wedding ceremony – Taking the performance aspect to another level:
What is important is getting the balance right and to know the rules. Some basic and some more subtle. Rules that are second nature to a performer that are simply never taught at trade, secretary, sales or nursing schools. And one of the most important days of a young couples life is not the place to be learning them.
A wedding ceremony is a unique type of public presentation. It is not a speech, in the usual sense of the word, nor a mere presentation of facts. Most often there are legal considerations that need to be factored in, but a marriage “Ceremony” is far more that the witnessing of a legality taking place. And watching a legal process take place is certainly not what your nearest and dearest, family and friends have come along to witness, be apart of, and help celebrate. It is your loving commitment and the words and ritual that surround their public proclamation that truly lies at the core of their attendance. You owe it to yourself, your family, and your friends to have them attend a ceremony worthy of the word, and one that is well crafted, conveyed in an elegant manner and one that is entertaining and focused on you as a couple.
A celebrant that understands staging, choreography, narrative, lighting, audience interaction and has honed his skills over thousands of shows, events and weddings is at a distinct advantage when it comes to achieving all the above and more. So is a Wedding ceremony a performance ? It is when it is conducted correctly by someone who knows what they are doing.
As always, the final choice is always up to the couple, but make no mistake, it takes a performer to write, stage and truly present a “performance” And it takes one who is able to take a back-seat and make it all happen without being centre-stage. Making sure the couple are the primary focus, from day one, till the wedding and beyond.
I will cover how positioning of couple and celebrant can achieve much of this re-focusing onto the couple in another post. But for now I will say anything or anybody that is centre-stage will normally draw focus. As an added bonus here is a Bride who took the performance aspect of her wedding to another level and sang to her partner as she walked down the aisle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1I6nINy0UU
Want to know more ? Contact Ron at www.yourcelebrant.com.au