Today we are continuing our chat with humanist minister Jeff Gruner.
Tell us a funny or amazing story from a wedding you have conducted?
In the middle of a ceremony on the beach, with my back to the ocean and the couple and their guests facing me, I became aware of giggling and craning of necks I turned to discover a naked lady clutching an inflatable striding purposefully to the water. It was a bit of a show stopper.
What three things should couples consider when it comes to choosing the right minister for them?
There is an old actors’ saying, ‘just remember the lines and don’t bump into the furniture’. In other words, the minister should not get in the way but let the couple and friends and family stamp their personalities on the special day.
Why do you think having a wedding in Spain is so special?
This one is easy! Spain is a glorious country for a wedding, with guaranteed sunshine and superb venues. Scott at Sunshine Weddings Spain is a friendly professional wedding planner with a back-up team I am privileged and proud to be a part of.
Have you ever had to perform the wedding ceremony in a different language?
Yes, plenty of times, I can say the ceremony in German, French, Russian and I’m also fluent in Hebrew.
Additionally, if the ceremony is going to be in English, but there are going to be grandparents present who don’t speak or understand English, I always take the time before the wedding to find out what language they speak and make sure that the important parts of the ceremony are said in their native language too, so they never miss out on the most special moments.
Humanist wedding ceremonies are becoming ever popular in Anglo countries, how about other ethnic groups, have you ever been asked to conduct, for example, an Asian wedding?
Most certainly, humanist ceremonies are non-religious but there are many rituals from other cultures that can be incorporated, this way the couple can maintain their favourite traditions such as the Jewish ritual of glass-smashing.
In fact in one Hindu wedding I was conducting, the traditional ceremonial fire was part of the proceedings, and though the fire is always risk assessed, I managed to knock some small inflammable items right into the vessel of the fire, and let’s just say that there was some extra spark that day.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Music is my passion, particularly jazz – I’ listen and play whenever I have free time. One of my musical highlights was in Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London a long time ago listening to Freddie Hubbard on trumpet when Count Basie’s band wandered in late at night for a jam session. WOW!
If you hadn’t chosen to be a minister, what job would you love to do?
To play the drums like Buddy Rich.
Is there any particular way you like to end the ceremony?
It very much depends on what the bridal couples have requested, but I do like to end them on a joyful vibe adding in, when appropriate, one of my favourite blessing. I don’t want to give too much away, so all I’ll say is:
“May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back…”