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Can Anyone Be A Wedding Celebrant? with Michelle Taylor

Michelle Taylor from The Funky Celebrant tackles “Can Anyone Be A Wedding Celebrant” plus digs into what makes each Celebrant unique. A must watch Q&A!

Listen to Michelle on the Wedding Espresso Awesome DIY Wedding Planning Podcast…


Michelle Taylor from The Funky Celebrant


James: [00:00:03] Hey Michelle. 

Michelle: [00:00:05] Hi James, you alright? 

James: [00:00:07] So the question that brides and grooms have been asking most recently is can anyone be a wedding celebrant? 

Michelle: [00:00:14] I’d like to answer yes, but you SO know I’m going to answer no. You’ve got to be a certain kind of person to be a celebrant you’ve got to love people for a start. You’ve got to love standing up and being passionate in your job and creating the right circumstances that everybody can really engage with what’s going on in the ceremony. And not everybody can do that. I found that, myself included, that a lot of people who have become… especially, wedding celebrants, have a service background. I’m a retired police officer but you get people that have been nurses, teachers, you know, public service kind of people, because we are used to dealing with people and we are used to standing up in front of the crowd and controlling the crowd. Be it school kids or be it a rowdy lot at a Football match. So I think that a lot of people will see a ceremony and think “Oh I’d love to do that”. But not everybody is going to be in a position that they can actually do it, and that’s just the delivery side of things. You’ve got to have a passion and a flair with words. You’ve got to have confidence that not everybody has. First time I did it I was so nervous it was ridiculous. But because as a retired police officer I was used to standing up in court and talking to the judge, talking to the jury and all that lot. It’s theatre. A Ceremony really is theatre. I got a standing ovation at a ceremony a couple of weeks ago, it’s like “oh my God” and I was half way through the Ceremony. So you’ve got to know when to pause, when to make eye contact. Not everybody has got it, I’d love to say that you could but the longer answer is no. 

James: [00:02:00] Sure yeah, yeah. Rachel and I had a wedding celebrant actually for our wedding. We had a humanist wedding.

She was a celebrant, she was humanist celebrant and we thought the whole thing was fantastic because obviously it’s so different to any traditional ceremony. And it was absolutely amazing, but we found the… we’re going to call it a quest. The quest to find the right celebrant for us was an interesting one because obviously there are so many different personalities out there and finding one that sort of suits you is probably the hardest part of the job I think for us, for the Brides and Grooms. 

Michelle: [00:02:42] Absolutely yeah. I mean, I say to all my couples, some people just know straight away they want me cos they’ve seen me in action. Other people I say, go talk to other celebrants. Make sure before you say yes to me that I am the right person for you. I rock up with funky hair, 50s dresses, bright underskirts and Doc Martins. 

James: [00:03:03] Which is awesome! 

Michelle: [00:03:06] Somebody that is a bit more conservative might not want me, but the people that are thinking outside of the proverbial box, will. And they get my personality and like I say, my personality doesn’t suit every single couple. So do your research, do your homework and find the right celebrant that is the right fit for you. Don’t go on price. Some celebrants will charge you £250 and be amazing. Some will charge you £1,500 and be boring. Go on personality! 

James: [00:03:36] Brilliant that’s really good advice. Super… And we’ve just got a couple of fun questions for you now. Is there anyone in the wedding industry that you would love to work with? 

Michelle: [00:03:49] Oh that’s a tough call. What a famous person? 

James: [00:03:56] No just anybody, doesn’t have to be famous, could be famous, could be famous if you want them to be famous. 

Michelle: [00:04:02] I love working with my husband so I’m going to be nice. He’s a wedding photographer. We bounce off each other so well when we’re working. Especially he loves working with me photographing the ceremonies that I do because they are always going to be fun, he’s guaranteed fun. He tends to get the more church, registrar office jobs so that when he gets one of mine, he’s like “yeah”. So yeah, I’m going to say he’s my favourite ever photographer. I’ve got to say that, I’m married to him. And then there’s another photographer called Chloe Lee who is my second favourite photographer and she’s another potter head as well, so we bounce off each other with the ceremonies. So it is probably working with a good photographer that understands how you as a celebrant works. They’re my two favourite so that’s what I’d have to go for I think. 

James: [00:04:53] Brilliant! That’s a very interesting point you raise there actually because synergy is important as well, isn’t it. So when you’re choosing other suppliers, just like your celebrants, it’s very important to get synergy between them. So that you’re going to get a sort of cohesive record of the day that you want, in the way that you want it. 

Michelle: [00:05:12] Yep and if you’ve got synergy with all of the suppliers from venue through to the cake maker, kind of thing, you then have a seamless day. You might still have a few problems, but you’re not going to know about them because all the suppliers will see what’s happening and just pull together and sort it. And the first you’re going to know about it is after the ceremony where they say “oh by the way did you know blah blah blah” went wrong. Tends to not be anything major. But yes you need a team behind you that are all going to slot in and work perfectly together. And that’s what we’re all after, having a really enjoyable experience on the wedding day. 

James: [00:05:52] Yep, because at the end of the day, stuff does go wrong all the time. It’s just that nobody ever knows it’s going wrong. That’s part of the magic, isn’t it? 

Michelle: [00:05:58] Yeah, yeah absolutely, yeah. And as I say, it’s our job to make sure that it’s all covered up for them. 

James: [00:06:04] Brilliant. And that actually leads me on very nicely to my second question, which was actually, have you ever had a surprise at a wedding, which you’ve had to get creative in order to have to manage it. 

Michelle: [00:06:16] Early days I had a couple who decided they were doing a hand fasting during their ceremony, but hadn’t told me. Luckily I’m always there an hour and a half before the ceremony. I think on this occasion it was probably closer to the two hours because I didn’t know what the traffic was going to be like. And then they suddenly handed me their hand fasting chords and I said “what are these for?” And they said, “we are doing a hand fasting”… “are you? You didn’t tell me!” So I spent the next half an hour… give me paper, give me a pen. Then spent the next half an hour… And nobody else would have known that it wasn’t there to start off with. Obviously the copy that I gave them didn’t have it, so I came home, inserted it into the copy, and sent them that sheet so they could put it into their full copy. Yeah so people do throw some surprises at you along those lines but I can’t think of anything other than weather wreaking havoc. When we’ve had to manage things which has caused the ceremony to run two hours later than it should have done. Now I haven’t had any major dramas that we haven’t been able to cope with. There’s no major dramas I’ve not been able to cope with but there’s also been no major dramas that have presented themselves that have caused me any real headaches, and I had the time to do it, so it was fine. 

James: [00:07:35] So in a hand fasting example then, is that tradition… Is that something that you would have in your mind, as stock, so that you can write that on the fly. 

Michelle: [00:07:46] Yeah yeah. 

James: [00:07:48] I mean, that’s like a celebrant super skill then! 

Michelle: [00:07:50] Yeah it’s a couple of questions to them because there’s so many different ways to do hand fastings. So it’s a quick couple of questions like “do you want one handed you or two handed”, “are you taking them off to exchange rings”, “are you going to walk down the aisle with your hands tied”. Once you know those basic… how many chords we’ve got going? Is anybody else putting chords over? Once you’ve got your basic questions you could do it on the fly. 

James: [00:08:14] Right, brilliant. I mean just rattling that list off there, there will be a lot of things that people haven’t thought about. They think, oh we want to do hand fasting, but haven’t thought about, you know the logistics of it like who’s involved.

I mean perhaps another really important point then when you looking for a celebrant, is how much do they know their stuff? Because quite clearly just putting you on the hot seat there, and asking you that, it’s quite clear that obviously you’ve got a very, very good command of anything that the couple could want, at any time. 

Michelle: [00:08:45] Yes and if I don’t know it, I research it, or we make it up together. I mean that’s the beauty of it. There’s so many celebrants now, in the last 18 months especially, this world has exploded. Which is brilliant. Because we’re all so different. There’s no threat, but we can all bounce off each other and some will come up with a random thing saying I’ve got this couple wanting to do this. Has anybody ever done it? You can guarantee somebody’s done it. 

James: [00:09:10] Right, yep. 

Michelle: [00:09:10] And I make up ceremonies like the symbolic elements, there’s a couple of things that only I do that nobody else I’m aware of, does. It’s nice to be able to offer couples these different things I must say, if you’ve got an idea of a symbolic element that might be something cultural from around the world. Let’s explore it, let’s create something. If it’s not something that’s already there.

So yeah you’ve got to be willing to do your research and you’ve got to be open minded. That’s the big thing. Be open minded to what your couples want. 

James: [00:09:47] Oh, that’s fantastic. Well thanks so much Michelle for sharing that with us. I think that was an absolutely jam packed 10 minutes of information there so that’s been fantastic. Thanks very much and obviously we hope to see you and speak to you again soon. 

Michelle: [00:10:02] Absolutely fabulous, thank you very much. Enjoy the rest of your day. 

James: [00:10:04] Thanks again Michelle, take care, you too. 

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