Today we speak with Annie, a celebrant in Mallorca and find out her top tips for creating a memorable wedding ceremony.
I moved to Mallorca 18 years ago with my small family, as my husband was coming here to work. We thought it would be a great opportunity for my two children to become bilingual and get a fantastic new perspective on the world. I now have a much larger family here as they have both married, making it their home too and they have given me three lovely grandchildren.
I became a celebrant by chance. I was asked to stand in for someone who unfortunately had to let a couple down due to a death in her family. I had done quite a lot of public speaking in the past, so I jumped at the chance to give it a go (poor couple!) I was absolutely hooked and so my new journey began.
My previous work experience has really all helped to get me to this point. I was originally a nurse, an acupuncturist and teacher and a couple therapist. While none of these things may seem relevant they have all taught me to listen. When writing a ceremony you need to listen to what your couple want – that is probably the most important thing. Well, that and presenting it in a lively and engaging way.
I always say that my job is to make people laugh a little, smile a lot and shed the odd tear of joy. I think the best ceremonies are the ones that the bride and groom remember forever, but also that the guests walk away from saying, “That was the best wedding ceremony I have ever been to”.
Most of my ceremonies are booked six months to a year in advance. There are always some who slip in with a few weeks to go, but ideally it is nice to have the time to get to know each couple before their big day. After the initial contact e-mail I usually suggest we have a skype/video chat so we can get to know each other a little and it gives them the chance to see if they feel comfortable and confident with me for their big day. We then usually meet up when they come to the island for their supplier visit quite early on in the planning process. Couples very often come over once or twice, so it is always really nice to see them once more at their venue. In the meantime, as soon as I start to write their ceremony I usually like to have another video call so I get a real sense of their story. Each couple is different and for each I always say I am available. If something pops into their minds, then they should just drop me a WhatsApp and address it before it becomes a worry.
I sometimes stalk the couples on social media. Is that terrible? I do like to get a feel for them in their world and this really helps me. Other things that couples may not know is that I go to a beach here on Mallorca called Sa Colabra to gather pebbles for an enhancement that some couples choose to include in their ceremony and the drive to this beach absolutely terrifies me. But it’s worth it as I really have gathered the pebbles with a little bit of love. Oh, and I also practice their ceremony out loud to my cats.
I also encourage my couples to have lots of input as it is their wedding day after all. I am there as a representative to voice/write their heartfelt words. I do send them lots of example ceremonies (as they haven’t done this before.) Once they have the examples we will chat about what ideas they like and what they don’t. With all this information I will start to put their ceremony together following a kind of skeleton that I know works.
A few nerves are all part of the big day. If I can, I always pop in and see the bride when she is getting ready, just to let her know that all is well and to tell her it’s okay, I have got this. I will always speak to the groom too. I often think that the grooms are a little surprised by the emotion that hits them. Emotions tend to creep up on us when we least expect them. But my best advice is to enjoy every single second, head up, bouquet down and smile, smile, smile.
On the big day I always arrive an hour before the ceremony and my first port of call is to the ceremony area to make sure everything is set up as I have previously discussed with the couple. I check that the sound/music is all organized unless I am providing the speaker and/or the music in which case I set it up and check it all. I go to say hello to the bride and bridesmaids and I always remind the bridesmaids to walk slowly down the aisle…. and smile. I then go to speak with the groom and generally I will hunt out the best man and make him show me the rings! If he isn’t the ring bearer I go and find said ring bearer.
I will speak to anyone who is going to read during the ceremony and either check they have their reading on paper or share my copy with them. (I always have a copy of the readings even if they are never used as you never know when someone will leave their reading in the bathroom and not realise it’s not in their hand until it’s time to stand up and read.) If there is no wedding planner I am often called upon to seat the guests. I will then ask the groom to join me with his best man at the front on my left to wait for his bride. This is the moment that is filled with energy you can almost see it in the air. The music starts, the moment is here and before you know it is over and I am introducing Mr. and Mrs. for the very first time. This is my time to disappear and let the party begin.