It’s the most important part of your big day. That part when you say “I Do” and you sign those papers to officially say that you’ve married the person you love.
But there’s someone else you need to be loving at this moment – and that’s your wedding celebrant. A good marriage celebrant will discuss all your ideas and wishes with you to personalize your ceremony. They’ll have suggestions on how to include family members, what readings to use if you’re unsure and they’ll even coordinate it all on the day so that everyone has what they need and knows what they’re doing. We may as well call them wedding fairies to pull all that together!
And there’s so much more than your celebrant will do for you on your big and important day. You’d pretty much be lost without them.
Knowing the importance of a good wedding celebrant, today we have Ruth Ellen Hasser, a professional Wedding Celebrant with years of experience. Hope you’ll like the interview session with her.
What common mistakes do you see couples making?
I don’t know if this qualifies as a mistake or just a pet peeve on my part, but one of my least favorite things to see as I look down the aisle at the beginning of a ceremony is when there are lighted candles at the end of rows on the floor where guests are seated and down the center aisle where the whole wedding party is about to process. Almost inevitably, the bride’s dress is rather large when there are lit candles nearby, and so I alternate between seeing the bride nearly catch fire as she walks down the aisle, and watching a guest’s dress hanging over the side of her chair hovering just above the candles. It is one of those things that looks great in photos but is way more trouble than it’s worth.
What’s the best tip you have for a couple planning a wedding?
Remember that your wedding, as important as it is, is not nearly as important as how you treat each other every day. When things get a bit stressful, as they often do when planning a wedding, keep your eyes on the prize of a healthy and loving relationship. It’s the marriage, not the wedding, that counts most of all.
What don’t couples know about your business that they need to know?
Not all officiants approach ceremonies in the same way. I am one of a small but growing number of Civil Celebrants who are trained in ceremony and ritual but are not clergy or ministers of a mainline tradition. So my Celebrant colleagues and I will put our experience and training to work for each couple to create a ceremony that reflects that couple and respects their beliefs and ceremony vision.
What questions should couples be asking that they don’t know to ask?
Be sure to ask the officiant: “How do you create the ceremony?” Ideally, the officiant should collaborate with the couple every step of the way so that the ceremony is tailor-made. And I would encourage couples to ask about background and experience, as well: “What training do you have in creating and officiating at ceremonies?” Although not always the case, usually more training and experience is better than less.
What is your best piece of advice for couples planning a wedding?
Keep your focus on the reasons you are there: to celebrate your loving commitment to each other and to share your joy with families and friends. Everything else is secondary.
What’s the most unusual wedding you ever did?
Back in 2010, I was contacted about doing a Valentine’s Day group wedding. At first, I was hesitant, having seen some examples of group weddings online that were less than stellar. But the organizers maintained that this would be a respectful and joyful celebration. So I agreed. Forty-seven couples pre-registered, but due to a snowstorm that day, only seven made it to our downtown location. And yet, for those seven, it was still their big day. It turned out to be a lovely celebration of love and commitment and I would not change a thing!
What was the most memorable wedding you ever worked and why?
A few years back I was asked to officiate at a private commitment ceremony between two men. Because one of them works for a local religious institution they did not feel free to be legally married without risk to his position there. It was a warm and rainy afternoon, and we met at the Victorian Footbridge in Forest Park. By the end of our time together we were all wet from both the rain and from sharing tears of joy! But I also experienced some sadness and anger that anyone could have their livelihood threatened based on whom he loves.
Their declarations of love for and commitment to each other came from such a deep place in their hearts, I felt the awe that I often do when I am privileged to witness this in a couple. But in addition, I felt admiration for the courage it takes for couples whose marriages put them at risk from those who fail to understand that committed love between two adults is sacred. Period.
Earlier this year, this same couple tracked me down and we went back to the same spot in Forest Park. We celebrated their love, again, but this time we had a marriage license and lots and lots of sunshine. At least this time, love wins!
Celebrants are not just carrying out a job, they are in a profession that they love. Conducting ceremonies is their business and they are committed to providing excellent service, giving couples exactly the day they want.
If you’re looking for the perfect celebrant for your wedding you may contact Ruth through the following links.