Marriage celebrants have the enviable job of sharing joy at weddings. Leanna Smith, a self employed wedding celebrant and small business owner on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, talks us through what it means to officiate at someone’s big day.
The initial jitters
Wedding day jitters are not exclusive to the bride and groom. “I often get nervous on the way to the ceremony,” Leanna says. “Not about speaking in front of people or that something might got wrong – it’s more of an anxious excitement and anticipation.”
But these feelings quickly pass. “Once I arrive and start setting up, it goes away. I might be standing in front of everyone, but it’s not about me. All eyes are on the bride and groom.”
The moment of truth
From what Leanna has observed, most brides and grooms experience a similar dissipation of nerves. “When they see each other for the first time at the ceremony, it’s often a relief. They let all the anxiety go, laugh and enjoy the moment, which is really nice.
“I also feel the connection the couple has to each other when they are standing at the front holding hands. I think it’s then that they realise they are actually about to become a married couple and join their lives together. It’s a moment unlike any other.”
Creating a future together
When Leanna marries a couple, she feels a sense of optimism and hope. “I love to see them making their commitment to each other, and I hope they live by what they say and have a happy marriage.
“The lead-up to the wedding is often exciting, stressful and a bit crazy, and the ceremony is over before you know it. But all that work is about celebrating two people about to embark on a future together.”
When I’m standing up there with the couple and all the craziness is stripped away, what I see is two people being honest to each other, and there are no words to describe how beautiful that is.”
When things don’t go to plan
Leanna has yet to see anything major go wrong at a wedding. “It is the little things that don’t go to plan that actually lighten up the mood, make people laugh or make the ceremony memorable. Like the bride or groom forgetting what to say, the flower girl tripping over and dropping all the rose petals, or the rings missing momentarily.
“I love that people are much more easygoing about their weddings these days. There isn’t as much pressure for everything to be perfect, and it’s more about having fun and enjoying the moment. These funny little mishaps actually just add to that.”
The best job in the world
For Leanna, being the celebrant means she’s sometimes more excited than the bride and groom. “It’s such a positive experience, from meeting the couples and hearing their stories to being involved in all the excitement of the big day.
“I also love playing a part in crafting someone’s dream wedding. Seeing what some people create is really amazing.”
No occupation is perfect, of course, but being a wedding celebrant often feels more like a privilege than a job. “Weddings are all about love, happiness, family and appreciating the people in your life,” Leanna says. “Being immersed in that all the time makes me a happier person, and I love what I do a little more every day.”
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