On the journal today is Modern Celebrant’s uber-vibrant Celebrant Janis Horne sharing about What it means to be a Celebrant.
Broadly defined, a Celebrant is simply a person who officiates at a religious or civil ceremony or rite. Celebrants are also capable of presiding at funerals, baby blessings or other occasions, but for the purpose of this article, we will focus on celebrants’ role in weddings. The modern notion of Celebrancy as a profession arose in Australia in the 1960s, a time of great social upheaval and change. Many people were disenchanted with organized religion and the church, but weren’t ready to settle for a rote civil ceremony that had little personal meaning. In response, the Australian government appointed non-clergy Celebrants with the specific intention that they would create meaningful ceremonies that were reflective of the beliefs and values of their citizens. Today, nearly 75% of weddings in Australia are performed by Celebrants.
Today in North America, many people may consider themselves “spiritual”, but do not go to church, and are not regular members of any religious community. At important times of their lives, such as their wedding day, they yearn to mark the occasion with something more meaningful than a dry, impersonal civil ceremony, often performed by a stranger. These are the couples that Celebrants most ably serve because we are trained in ritual and ceremony. They understand that an occasion such as a wedding is more than just a formality; it is a transitional experience where two people join with each other in the most profound possible way; an experience where two paths become one.
A Celebrant does not approach a couple with a preconceived notion of what their wedding should be like. Rather, an appropriately trained Celebrant works closely with the couple to help them articulate what is important to their belief system, their values and their personalities, and how that can be reflected in their own unique ceremony. The Celebrant has a commitment to honour what the couple wants and needs to make their day transformational. As a result, every ceremony written and performed by a Celebrant is distinctive to that couple; no ceremony will ever be performed more than once.
In our contemporary society, people are often hungry for meaning and connection. Celebrants assist couples to step back from all of the myriad details involved with wedding planning, and offer them an opportunity to think about what they mean to each other, how they see their lives together, and what marriage means to them. Woven together with rituals and traditions from their cultures, their families and what they have created together, the result is a wedding ceremony that touches people’s hearts, individually and collectively.