Celebrants as Contemporary Vicars

My passion for being a Celebrant is fueled by my belief that the need for connection is fundamental to human beings.  Weddings, and even end-of-life ceremonies, present an opportunity to affirm our connection with friends, families and extended families, and to establish a common bond with others who know and love the couple or the deceased.

The process in which a Celebrant engages with clients provides a wonderful opportunity to get to know those we serve.  We seek answers to what many would consider to be fairly personal questions, and we read between the lines to ascertain the true quality and texture of the personalities and relationships of those we serve.  This is an intuitive strength that I have noticed that many Celebrants share.  Perhaps it is what draws us to ceremony work.

However, if we are mistaken in our understanding, the editing process with our clients clears up any misconceptions that may have occurred, and the truth emerges.  The very best compliment a Celebrant can receive is to be asked how long we have known the person(s) for whom the ceremony has been created.

In the past four years of my time as a Celebrant, I have had the opportunity to experience this sense of connection at an even more profound level when I have created wedding ceremonies and memorials for friends and family.  I engage in the same process, but it is underwritten by a long history of relationship.

As I interview a prospective groom or bride who has been (and remains) a friend of my sons since childhood, I see not only the young person in front of me who is willing to take on the responsibilities of adulthood.  I also see the gangly teenager that used to come to my front door.  I remember long ago birthday parties, or the many times I picked up and dropped off various friends for various occasions.  I admit that I get a little choked up when I see what fine human beings that my sons and their friends have turned out to be.  And I have been thrilled with their wisdom in choosing just the right mate.

When I have served my family and friends in memorial ceremonies for the end of life, I am reminded again of the kinship that we share.  These ceremonies are informed by years of seeing this person or their families “in action” during their lifetimes.  I am reminded of their contribution to the person that I have become.  And it is a time that I feel truly moved to help my friends or family in a new and very profound way.

Sometimes I think of Celebrants as being contemporary vicars.  We serve our community, despite the foibles and warts of the individuals therein.  Sometimes there is the benefit of history.  But always, we seek to establish connection.

Janis Horne, Celebrant


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