Today I'd like to introduce you to one of my fave Adelaide celebrants, Michael Elwood.
When you consider that the celebrant you choose will perform the most important task of your entire wedding day (getting you legally married!) you realise how vital it is that you find someone who understands your vibe, who makes you feel comfortable, and will make the journey easy and stress-free.
Michael is genius at quickly getting to the heart of the kind of ceremony you'd like to create, and translating that vision into something that truly reflects you as a couple (something we're equally passionate about here at Sparrow). I've seen him go above and beyond for his clients and he is a wonderful addition to your wedding day. Read on and learn a little more about what makes Michael tick...
Tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got involved with weddings -
I had wanted to be a celebrant from the time I was in my mid-50s, as I occasionally thought about what I would do in 'retirement'. I knew that sitting around was never going to keep me occupied, with my brain working. My working life involved managing several major arts organisations - mostly in music and then in film. Later in working life I ran charity organisations in international aid then disability. So I became an Authorised Civil Celebrant in late 2009, and since then have conducted over 300 ceremonies.
What do you love most about your job? -
I am a 'people person', so find it very easy to converse with and relate to people. So working with people to help them achieve something special for their marriage ceremony is a real 'buzz' for me. So many couples come to me not knowing what a wedding ceremony could be like - often with a very limited view, and sometimes never having attended another ceremony. So it is incredibly rewarding when a couple get really excited about the ceremony that we have worked on together that reflects their wishes and personal style. And then when they write reviews of my work, I get a great sense of joy at enabling people to create something beautiful and memorable, that will remind them of the most important day of their lives.
Talk us through your process when putting together a couple's wedding ceremony -
I always start by trying to find out as much as I can about the couple - what is their style, have they seen something that they really liked, importantly have they seen things that they definitely DON'T want. Will the ceremony be traditional and formal, or more relaxed and gentle, or do they have any particular theme that they would like to work within. Then I have a template of different elements that can form part of a ceremony, so we talk through those ideas. I provide the couples with a large file (electronic) of sample wedding and ring vows; readings, possible rituals and traditions, and I emphasise that a ceremony can be as complex or as simple as they wish - they have the choice and great flexibility. I usually ask them to consider the materials that I have provided to them for between two to four weeks - depending upon their schedules, and come back to me with any suggestions that they might like to include. I then start to build a ceremony around their choices, and send back a first draft asap. We then email back and forward as much as necessary until they feel that they have something with which they are pleased. They may not have written their personal wedding vows at that point, they like the general shape and content. If time permits, I encourage them to put the draft away for a few weeks or months, and then come back to it with 'fresh eyes', and see if they still feel happy with what they have. From there we try to finalise the ceremony, hoping to have it all complete at least three or four weeks before the big day, so that there is no panic when the schedule of the last few weeks arrives. Of course, I am happy to make any little (or big) changes right up until the last minute.
What are your top tips for choosing a celebrant? -
1. Do as much research as you can about the celebrant - look for reviews, etc
2. Arrange a 'no obligation' meeting with the celebrant to see if you feel comfortable with them - personality, flexibility, creative, sense of humour, making you feel confident that they can do the job want from them
3. Check to ensure that you have a fixed price agreement, and that it is fully inclusive.
What tips you do you have for couples planning a wedding? -
1. Prioritise the type of celebration that you want
2. Be realistic about the available budget, about how you cope with stress, what role your families might want to play, about the time you will have available, what you will need to achieve to have the wedding day that YOU want
3. If you have time, research widely the wedding suppliers that you feel you will need - ceremony venue, reception venue, photographer, celebrant, wedding planner.
4. Give serious consideration to engaging a Wedding/Event Planner - they are a wealth of information about so many of these things. If you do engage a wedding planner, then you are taking a lot of weight off your shoulders, especially as the time approaches, and you already have so many other things to think about.
What's the last thing you watched on TV? -
Some of the Soccer World Cup
What one song or album could you listen to on repeat? -
I am a classical music buff, and cannot answer that question in one sentence. If pushed, then the trio 'Soave sia il vento' from the Mozart opera, 'Cosi fan Tutti'
And finally, what are you known for among friends? -
I am a foodie and love cooking for people, enthusiastic, out-going and talk to anyone, have a sometimes quirky sense of humour, but laugh easily, love people, and dedicated to my family.
Thank you Michael, you're a beautiful soul! If you'd like to learn more about Michael's celebrant services, or get in touch and chat about the possibilities for your ceremony you can find him at www.facebook.com/michaelelwoodcelebrant