It’s your big day. Everything must be perfect, down to the last imperfection. You check yourself in the mirror, satisfy yourself that you look great. You’ve chosen to express yourself with the kind of celebration you’ve dreamed about. You take a deep breath and head down for the first day of the rest of your life.
And you’ve decided that you want a Steampunk wedding.
It is exactly the way you expected your day to look. Your design, your colours, your theme. Except that your celebrant is the only person wearing a suit and it’s really spoiling the vibe. Your day should be about you – so wearing a costume helps me to blend in with the theme. This is why I am the costumed celebrant. It’s so that when you ask me “what do you wear?” I can answer “anything you want”.
I started doing ceremonies in my early 20s. I was part of a group of friends who practiced ritual magic and loved visiting every sacred site and standing stone in the country. I also discovered re-enactment, and became a part of a multi-period group. Unlike other groups, the one I was in would happily move from Iron Age to Viking to Medieval to Lord of the Rings, often making another set of kit in the weeks between shows. I loved it. I didn’t have much money, so I had to make it for myself. I learned that I could make costumes which fitted, and which worked. The re-enactment community was incredibly welcoming, generous with time and with technique, and patient enough to accommodate me when I just couldn’t get it right. I also learned the art of showmanship – we used to go to pubs and start a show in the car park, hoping to grab enough attention that people would put money in the hat at the end. Most of the time, it got us enough for a beer or two. We learned what worked and what didn’t – and I got to love that too.
My journey into full-time Celebrancy started when my brother died. I had conducted many ceremonies before, but I’d never had a paid engagement. He was a re-enactor too, an ex-plumber, an ex-pat who had lived in France and the owner of a massively complex life. I couldn’t let anyone else lead his funeral. We had a delightfully chaotic 25 minutes with live music, personal tributes and a completely unscripted eulogy. By the end, five people in the group had asked me if I would lead their funerals when the time came. I had found my calling. Two years and one redundancy later, I enrolled on a professional training course, got my insurance and set up a website.
It was a natural progression to go to ‘costumed and themed’ celebrations. I already had loads of kit, and the ability to make whatever I didn’t have. I could dress the set, make sure that the surroundings matched the theme, and provide those extra-special touches that people really appreciate. When I did a “Harry Potter” themed wedding, for example, I made the bride and groom individual wands inscribed in ogham. Their wedding was, literally, magical.
I’ve learned so much along the way. How to take a book or a film and adapt it – and that a Star Wars themed wedding really works. You don’t have to be a Jedi! You just need to accept that traditional words and presentations are not always what’s right for you. Many people still believe that it has to be a white church wedding or a dull crematorium funeral, and are knocked out when you tell them that they can have the wedding celebration they want, pretty much when they want it. Doors are opening for more and more options in venue, diversity and ritual form. Why shouldn’t a vampire have a midnight celebration? I never forget that it’s about you, not about me, and I do more than weddings! As far as I know I’m the only one who will dress for your theme and blend the words, the set and the performance to match. Of course Outrageous Bride readers think outside the box anyway, and why should you settle for anything less than perfect?