We often have couples asking us who we recommend as a celebrant for their wedding ceremony. Many couples opt out of the more traditional church wedding wanting something more personal and in keeping with their beliefs. It can be hard selecting someone who you trust will do a great job, because, I mean how many weddings do you really get to go to as a civilian (wedding photographers? Well, sometimes there are too many to count!) That is why we love offering our recommendations here on the blog, of people we trust and love. Jo Lincolne from Big Love Weddings is just that person. Warm, generous, engaging – she will adds extra love and tenderness to your wedding day. Plus she’s awesome good fun as well! I sat down with her last week to have a chat about what she does and loves about weddings.
How did you become a celebrant?
I have worn many, many different hats in my working life, but for some reason my energy pulled me in this direction. I strongly believe that people can be “called” towards certain events or actions, and my career as a celebrant was certainly such a case. When I told my family and friends I was considering working as a celebrant they replied with an emphatic ‘well, yes! Of course you are!’. I set to work obtaining the formal qualifications now needed for the role.
Most couples now aren’t satisfied with being active spectators at their own weddings–and rightly so. Civil celebrants have always been required to give couples free choice in their ceremonies, but I think the fact that younger people are being attracted to the job is bringing extra freshness to the role.”
What does your job entail?
In a nutshell – I marry people. The High Priestess of Love” and ” The Celebrator of Love” if you will! If people check out my site and think that I could be the right celebrant for them we meet for a chat. If we ‘gel’ we go from there. I think couples choose me in part because I encourage them to celebrate who they are. As long as it’s legal and not harming anyone I’m happy to marry couples in whichever whacky or conservative way they see fit! I tend to attract couples that are aware of their vision for their day and are quite levelheaded about the road ahead. They’re very aware of the poignancy of the day. Of course there are very specific things that need to done prior to and during the ceremony, a certain information that is to be given, forms to be completed, and certificates to be signed. And during the ceremony itself there are certain things that I must say, and that the couple must say but aside from that, though, the couple has free reign.”
How do you work with brides?
I spend loads of time getting to know my couples- it’s a very interactive process we go through to craft a ceremony that suits them 100% (and there’s usually a whole bunch of laughter involved). I ask lots and lots of questions that help me decide which types of ceremony formats, readings, symbolic gestures, or even songs to offer as suggestions. Most couples might not think they know specifics of what they want, but they’re very quick to let me know what they don’t want, and this helps us quickly weed out what isn’t suitable for them.
I’m pretty much up for anything and especially enjoy couples that step outside the square. A lot of couples don’t understand how much freedom they have within a civil ceremony, so it’s awesome when they realise this and their eyes are opened to a whole new world of possibilities of how they can express themselves and their love in their own unique way. Each Ceremony is so special in its own way. I like being a part of that.
I like to help people remember that the wedding is merely the beginning of the marriage, rather than the marriage itself, and to encourage them to carefully choose their vows and to be conscious of what they’re choosing to include as part of their ceremony. I’m passionate about couples being conscious of what they’re saying in their vows. The words we choose have enormous power in our lives and I’ll always provide the space and encouragement for them to ‘get real’ with what the pledge to each other.
I am also obliged to provide information on Relationship Support Services. Marriages are such complex things, and can require oodles of work at times. I recommend getting all the help we can when we need it–whether before or after the wedding.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I love interacting with couples on the cusp of their grand adventure– it’s such a privilege for me. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a sticky beak: I find people endlessly fascinating and never tire of hearing their stories. Seeing those little quirks and idiosyncrasies celebrated and embraced is wonderful.
What is the most challenging part?
The challenge for me is providing the information and environment that allows couples to feel inspired and courageous enough to do what they feel best represents and celebrates their love,” she says. “The compromises aren’t between me and the couple–with us it’s just a simple process of elimination and some negotiation to get the ceremony just right. The compromises are between the couples themselves and those others who have input in their lives. I’m there to guide them through this and help them feel supported and heard.
What happens if something doesn’t go to plan?
I think disasters are in the eye of the beholder. What would be seen as a disaster by one couple might well be completely overlooked by another. I read of a wedding where the groom forgot the rings, but rather than despairing, the couple quickly borrowed a pair from among their guests. That their guests were able to provide such a gift for them on their day was seen as a blessing rather than a disaster–and that incident turned into an intimate and unique gift. While I encourage every couple to plan very well, I’d also ask that they stay open to the possibility of unexpected surprises and embrace them or see them as gifts. Everything will be okay in the end!
What does a wedding mean to you?
This is a time to celebrate your love and set your intentions for the next phase of your life. Let people help you and embrace the wonderful energy that surrounds this exciting time in your lives. Be authentic, enjoy this time, relish it – because it’ll all be over way too quickly! Some freaking out is expected, as this is a time of significant transition in your lives. Allow yourself to go through the process, and be kind to yourself and your loved ones as you do it!
Do you have a funny story to share from working with a couple?
Oh, wow! There are so many!! …. The most recent was probably me slipping over with all 100 guests watching! Luckily, I recovered at the last moment and managed to not land on my bum or flash my undies!! There was a spontaneous cheer from the crowd and some serious air pumping from me when I recovered!!
Thanks for the chat Jo! And anyone looking for that special someone to help you marry that other special someone give Jo at Big Love Weddings a call.