I’m a Celebrant – Get Me Out of Here!

I'm a celebrant get me out of here Claire Bradford Creating Ceremony

Well this year’s cohort of celebrities have been getting to grips with jungle life for the annual trashy-but-strangely-addictive telly fest that is ITV’s ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’.

Claire Bradford celebrant Phillip Schofield Holly Willoughby This Morning wedding
Because it’s a good excuse to show this pic again, right?

As usual, at the start there were plenty of contestants I’d never heard of. However, this bunch are all very likeable and ‘real’ and, a week and a bit in, I feel I’ve got to ‘know’ them and like them, and think a good cuppa and a gossip in the camp with them would be a lot of fun (preferably when they’re not too ‘hangry’, that is.)

After my recent brush with celebrity (and the ‘I’m a Celeb’ glamorous new co-host, Holly Willoughby in particular), I’ve had a number of people jokily asking if I’ll be in the jungle next year.

Er… no! Quite apart from the spiders, bugs, dunny, heat and humidity, the ‘rice and beans’ diet isn’t my favoured way of trimming up. Although it should be said that if you paid me the £600,000 Noel Edmonds is reported to be getting, I might just consider investing in some hypnotherapy and going for it!

But it did get me thinking, and not least because the words ‘celebrity’ and ‘celebrant’ were teasingly similar and my husband’s a whizz with photoshop…

What are the ‘horrors’ of the celebrant world, equivalent to the creepy crawlies, snakes, heights and other things that viewers thrill to watch the campmates tackle? In short,

What would would get me shouting ‘I’m a celebrant – get me out of here!’?!?

So, just for fun, I thought I’d put together a list of the things that give us celebrants nightmares when we’re creating or conducting ceremonies. Are you ready (shudder)?? Let’s face down those monsters:

The dreaded printer

Whether it’s run out of (very expensive – I mean, what do they make it out of, unicorn tears??!) ink again, can’t be found by the computer (even when it’s right next to it and I’m helpfully pointing it out at high volume), or it’s eating up the paper, the printer is a source of continual teeth-gnashing. Further stars are gained if the celebrant successfully navigates these issues when they arise as they’re trying to print off a script after last-minute changes just before they leave for the ceremony. And on that note…

Last minute changes

Yes, it’s important to get it completely right of course. But sending me tweaks at midnight the night before the ceremony (especially when we’ve been working on it for weeks) does rather get my nervous tic going. And yes, I know I should have stronger boundaries round this but what can I say? I’m a people pleaser, so I’ll get it done (printer permitting…)

Minimalist questionnaire answers

I love getting the questionnaires back that I give to the couples and families I work with for their wedding, vow renewal or naming. Whilst I get a good feel for the people I’m working with when I met them, the questionnaire digs in deep to what’s really important to them and gives me a real sense of their relationship, their story so far and their hopes for the future. So many people tell me how much they loved filling it in (even if they admit to procrastinating about it at first!) and I really enjoy reading their answers and weaving them into their ceremony. I always stress that it’s my job to make it sound good, so there’s no need to write it like it’s an essay – bullet points work well too! But my heart sinks when I get questionnaires back with one or two words or just a sentence answer for each question. Give me something to work with, people! I get it out of them eventually (ve have ze vays of making you talk!) but this should definitely earn an extra meal or two for camp.

Waste-of-time wedding parties

Whilst you might want your siblings or best mates to be your best (wo)man, grooms(wo)men or bridesmaids/men because you love them (or, you know, politics…) it’s also really important that they are actually useful, as well as pretty. ‘On-it’, practical friends or family members in your wedding party can make a massive difference to your wedding day – ushering people to their seats, sorting out things behind the scenes, liaising with the planner and suppliers etc so you don’t have to. I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen members of wedding parties not reserving the seats they’re supposed to for the ceremony, getting wasted 5 minutes afterwards and being of no earthly use to anyone at all, whilst the couple are plagued with questions about things they shouldn’t have to be worrying about. If you suspect that your wedding party is going to be a waste of space, practicality-wise, save your sanity and invest in an on-the-day coordinator.

Price quibblers who then spend more money on their cheese board than they do on their wedding ceremony

No more to be said on this one.

Unhappy readers

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good reader, and I love a good reading too. But sometimes, a really good reading is ruined by a reader who either hasn’t prepared or feels that being asked to read is akin to having to eat a witchetty grub or kangaroo penis. I feel so badly for those poor people, rushing or stammering through a reading because they’ve been asked to and they clearly hate it. So I do stress to couples and families that it’s important they ask people who are confident and willing to do it, and they give them time to prepare.

Tribute suspense

On a similar note, people saying they’ll write a tribute for a funeral can get my nerves going like Dec saying ‘it might be you’. Not that I discourage people from writing tributes – far from it! In fact, it’s so much better when a tribute comes from close friends or family. The peril part comes in when they don’t send it to me until dangerously close to the ceremony, either saying ‘oh it’ll only be a few words’ (3 A4 pages) or ‘yes I’ll write the main tribute’ (1 short paragraph), leaving me to radically edit what’s already there or get writing sharpish (bonus stars if you’re at a crematorium with a super short and strict timeslot). That’s why I always ask people to send me their first drafts as soon as poss, so I can craft the rest of the ceremony round it – not because I’m a control freak (well, not only because I’m a control freak…)

People who say ‘it’s only a blessing’ or ‘it’s not a real wedding though is it?’

Don’t get me started on this. It’s like those people who believe that the jungle isn’t ‘real’ and that when the film crews go, the celebs get gourmet meals and hotel beds. In fact, I wrote a whole post about this recently, so I won’t rant on again here.

So there you go, a celebrant’s version of the challenges the celebrities face in the jungle. I’m sure my celebrant colleagues will chime in with more, and I’ll add the good ones to the post.

But here’s the thing – for all my light-hearted ‘moaning’ on here, I genuinely think this job is the best in the world. So please don’t think I’m being a negative Nelly – it was just too good a blog post opportunity to waste. Right, with that, I’m off to the camp to show them all the stars I’ve won!