An interview with wedding celebrant ‘My Perfect Ceremony’
I’m thrilled to share this interview with you today. It’s with Jo Clarke from Your Perfect Ceremony. Jo is a wedding celebrant, and she writes and conducts personalised ceremonies. She specialises in outdoor weddings and works all over the East Midlands in Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire and the beautiful Peak District.
Before I go any further, let me explain what a celebrant does!
If a fully religious ceremony doesn’t feel quite right and the idea of a civil ceremony isn’t totally you either, then Jo might be the answer.
How you want to feel comes first. Jo will take the time to get to know you and help make your ceremony ‘yours’; a one-off that’s as traditional or relaxed as you want it to be. You’re not restricted or bound by anything.
(You’d need do the legal bit at a Register Office though, perhaps the day before or in the morning. But that can be short and sweet as the exchange of rings isn’t legally required, so you can save that for your ‘main’ ceremony if you want to.)
One thing that makes this kind of ceremony different to a civil ceremony is that you can have religious readings & hymns or symbolic rituals if you want to; which is particularly great if you want to bring elements from two different cultures or religions together, or if you want to add something to honour the beliefs of close family who might be more religious than you.
I first met Jo at Pipewell Hall’s relaunch event and was immediately struck by her instant warmth and beautiful smile! I’ve always felt that feeling drawn to the person as much as their business is important when choosing a wedding supplier and Jo is one of those people who will make you feel right at home from the off. So I was really pleased that she kindly agreed to do this interview.
Over to Jo …
How did you become a wedding celebrant?
I became a celebrant 5 years ago after having worked as a Deputy Superintendent Registrar for 8 years, so it’s been 13 years now that I have been conducting ceremonies. My favourite part of the job when I was a registrar was always conducting the ceremonies. I feel exceptionally lucky to absolutely love the job I do.
What’s a typical day like for you?
The only thing I would say is typical about a wedding day for me is my prep! I specialise in outdoor ceremonies so most of the time I am getting my hair pinned up in some way. I learnt very early on that having a mouthful of hair because it’s windy is not a good look! With a mic in one hand and a ceremony in the other, you have to think of these things.
How do you ‘design’ the ceremony?
Each ceremony is designed around the couple so it is perfect for them. Everyone is different and has their own style and it is important to me to reflect this. I meet with the couple, normally over a cup of tea (I am a HUGE tea drinker!) and I get to know them which helps me write their ceremony. Often it’s the things they tell me that you won’t hear in the ceremony that enables me to get it right for them.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Seeing the couple’s face and their guests’ reactions during and after the ceremony is THE BEST!
Is there a wedding that particularly sticks out in your mind?
I did an outdoor ceremony this year for an amazing couple. Complete party people, 200 guests who were all real characters. if this was ever going to happen at anyone’s wedding it would be theirs! Both brides arrived at the farm on decorated HGV trucks, fashionably late, coming in from opposite ends of the field and meeting in the middle. It was a really windy day and from the height of the HGV truck, it was even windier. The bride’s mum and bride hobbled down the aisle in tears, but they were tears of laughter. One of the Mum’s false eyelashes had blown off in the wind so she was blinking furiously and trying to pull the other one off so she would match. This would devastate a lot of brides and their mum’s but not this pair! It took us a few minutes to compose ourselves. The guests thought we were having a quick chat before the ceremony but what we were actually doing was trying to pull the other eyelash off and stop laughing! Memorable for all the wrong reasons lol, but very, very funny! The great thing was, we were able to see the funny side because the bride and her Mum did. Such lovely people.
Whose ceremony would you most like to conduct? Past, present or future.
Maya Angelou. Such a strong, inspirational woman and an amazing writer. I remember studying English Literature at A-level when I first read ‘I know why a caged bird sings’; from that day I was hooked.
What do you usually do when you get home from a wedding?
Kick my shoes off and put on comfy clothes! I am often seen walking around in wellies about an hour before the ceremony. Unless I am requested not too (it has happened!) I change into smart shoes as I always dress for the occasion. Other than at a ceremony, I am a jeans and hoodie girl and revert back to type as soon as I get home.
If you could give a couple one piece of advice about their ceremony what would it be?
Don’t stress the small stuff. Be yourself and remember what is important to YOU. There is so much choice these days, which is a wonderful thing. Don’t have something just because you think you are ‘supposed’ to have it or because you are trying to please other people, have it because it is what YOU really want. Your family and friends love you and are there to celebrate your day. So enjoy it!
Would you like to know more about having an outdoor wedding ceremony? Check out Jo’s links below.