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A Day in the Life of a Celebrant

Updated: Jul 16, 2023

"Surprise" Wedding

I love a surprise wedding and as a marriage celebrant I’ve been privileged to conduct several over the years. Last Sunday was my favourite, and I’ll tell you why.

Hannah and Steve approached me last year and after a brief meeting booked me to marry them, at their engagement and son’s first birthday party on Sunday 19th February. Well, that was what all their invited guests, about 100 of them, believed they were attending. They did however share their surprise marriage idea with both their parents.

Their event was in full swing when I arrived at The Grand Hotel in Warrandyte, Victoria, 30 minutes before nuptial kick-off time. It was a very hot February afternoon, but their event was upstairs in the air-conditioned function room, an ideal position as its big wide glass doors opened onto the upstairs terrace which overlooked the lush tree-lined street below, and beyond that, the Yarra River. The vibe in the party room was fantastic when I walked in, with many guests having already spilled out onto the terrace. Old friends catching up, and new friends being made. It was loud with lots of chatter, smiles and laughter, and a few children playing toys in the upstairs carpeted mezzanine area, in full view of their doting parents. Solo acoustic artist @shan_cocksy_music was crooning out tunes in the corner. Drinks were flowing and hotel staff were busy scurrying around offering canapés to the jovial guests. As I set up my PA and test my microphone, I tried to look as inconspicuous as I could, and grateful no one asked me who I was and what I was doing. Most people had downed a few drinks by this stage, so I was really of no concern to any of them! After setting up, I casually sauntered over to the groom, gave him a nudge and whispered, “checking you have the rings?”. His nod told me all I needed to know.

The couple’s plan was that Glen, the Father of the bride would say a few words congratulating his daughter and future son-in-law on their engagement and kick off everyone singing Happy Birthday to their little boy Harri, whose birthday was on Valentines Day. After his speech Glen would hand over to me to say a few words. All went as planned.

I introduced myself to everyone, saying that even though I hadn’t known Hannah and Steve very long how thrilled I was to be asked to be their MC for the afternoon. At that moment there were a few gasps in the audience! It seemed a few had caught on. I went on…. “Not as their master of ceremonies but as their marriage celebrant”. I’d barely got to the word “Master” when there followed an eruption of cheering, clapping and exclaims of sheer delight from the excited crowd. At the same time I noticed many mobile phones being pulled out from the pockets of their owners and they begin clicking away photos to capture the moment. Hannah and Steve were smiling from ear to ear. It was a wonderful few moments drinking in the pure happiness that everyone was feeling at this announcement and their anticipation of what the next few minutes would bring.

Hannah and Steve said their vows and exchanged wedding rings. If I’d thought the level of excitement and cheers from their guests was overwhelming upon finding out a wedding was about to take place, it was nothing on the loud ovation and level of joy which erupted upon the appreciative audience upon my pronouncing the couple married!

As I drove home I re-lived the afternoon in my mind. I feel so much gratitude that I have such a privileged position to witness these joyous moments in people’s lives. In a world that is often fraught with fear and anxiety, the ritual & celebration of the wedding ceremony and other milestones is important. The level of excitement and pure joy from everyone at this surprise wedding was unsurpassed. I caught myself in my rear view mirror. Guess who was the one smiling from ear to ear now! Congratulations Hannah and Steve. Thank you for giving me permission to post your story and photos of your celebration

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Feb 28, 2023

I love beautiful stories just like this one!

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