When it comes to ways of working, of conveying information to a couple, there are three main ways of thinking, and going, about it. Giving a set of instructions to a couple as to what is required and leaving them, to an extent, to their own devices is one way. And although imparting instructions is, to a degree, a necessary part of the process, it should not, cannot be, the sole means of education, or guidance as it is most often insufficient and may leave the couple guessing as to what is meant by unfamiliar terms, how certain things are done, what is truly required of them and limits the scope of possibilities available to them if the instructions are rigid and designed primarily for the benefit of the celebrant, not the couple. What do I mean by “instructions” ? A written set of steps to be followed such as one would find in a self-assembly product such as a flat-pack coffee table from Ikea. These tend to be just enough to get the job done, but tends to disallow for any issues or misunderstandings on the part of the assembler.
A map on the other-hand offers a visual guide that helps to orientate the couple as to where they are, and where they may be, or need to be, at the end of the journey. The map alone may be insufficient if not also accompanied with a set of guide-lines or instructions, so you know where on the map you currently are and which land-marks come next to help you stay on track. So far-so good, But this combination of map and instructions can only take a couple so far or it may actually take them to their end point but without showing them the richness of options along the way. They may still tend to wonder on and off track and see some of the choices, but rather than help clarify this can lead to confusion and frustration. This is where the third, vital element for a clear, concise, and fruitful direction comes into play…
The compass. The means of pointing you in the right direction and orientating you on the map, allowing you to more fully undertake and understand the instructions given. A professional celebrant, and by that, I do not simply mean someone who receives a fee for service, I mean a celebrant who’s approach to service and his or her couples is one of constant learning, of listening, of improvement. Seeing where things have potential to go wrong or can be misunderstood and ensuring they don’t. This amongst many other qualities go into making one a “Professional”.
A celebrant should be a guide walking you through the unfamiliar terrain, keeping you on track and providing sufficient detailed instructions to allow you to venture alone when it is safe to do so. A marriage celebrant is the person that blends the legal and the creative.
The legal, most celebrants can manage, although I have witnessed some issues even in that regard over the years. It is the creative elements of a marriage ceremony that is where things can, and do, go wrong. Or to put it a different way, where things are not as they have the potential of being.
Couples should be afforded, not the luxury, but the fundamental right of choice and this can only take place when the celebrant has the depth and variety of material and options to offer the couple that choice. That is the Map (of their ceremony) upon which they can plan their journey, the means of doing this in a systematic way form the instructions and the celebrant acts as the compass to point the way and keep them going in the right direction.
The creative celebrant takes the couples selections , their information, their story and crafts that into a cohesive whole, filling in the peaks and hollows and then finally, in collaboration with the couple, shares the adventure with the guests, the family and friends and does so in a style and manner that does justice to the couple and their love for each-other.
If you wish to discuss these ideas in more detail and how we can, together, collaborate on your grand adventure and develop it into a one-off ceremony that will be uniquely yours, then please reach out to me as I would love nothing more to provide you with a map and instructions and be your compass and help you on your journey from singledom to a happily married couple. Regards, Ron Gallagher.