Last Thursday, I conducted a wedding live from the Royal Albert Hall on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ (squeeee!!)
After my excited posting about it all over social media, lots of people have asked me about how this came about and what it was like, so here’s all the inside goss…
How on earth did you get the gig?
The first I heard about it was the week before, when I received an email I’d been cc’d into. The producers at This Morning had contacted Terri Shanks, looking for a celebrant to conduct the ceremony. Terri is the founder of the FPC (Fellowship of Professional Celebrants), with whom I trained and for whom I now do some training. She had replied, recommending my services! I couldn’t believe my luck – and I was free on that date – so the next day I was excitedly chatting with producer Phoebe on the phone.
Phoebe put me in touch with the couple, Sarah and Shane, who were so lovely and down to earth. They had won the wedding (the third live This Morning wedding) by entering the competition and recording a rap, based on the theme to ‘The Fresh Prince of BelAir’, all about themselves. Sarah had written it as soon as she had seen the competition on the telly, and persuaded Shane to record it with her when he came home that lunchtime. They were overjoyed when they won, and the programme makers had plenty of surprises up their sleeves for the couple.
Why did they go for a wedding celebrant and not a registrar?
One of the biggest surprises was that the wedding would take place at the Royal Albert Hall – the very first wedding that the 150 year old iconic venue has ever held. As the venue isn’t licensed for weddings, the producers needed to arrange for a celebrant to take the service (Shane and Sarah did a basic legal wedding the day before).
As well as being able to conduct weddings in unlicensed venues, celebrants aren’t restricted the legal wording that registrars have to stick to. That meant I was able to make Shane and Sarah’s wedding much more personal to them, including acknowledging Sarah’s dad, George, references to their baby daughter Evelyn, little details about their relationship and even a nod to the fact that Shane’s ring was quite unique, being made of dinosaur bone and meteorite! The couple had written their own vows too, which made things extra special. Whilst the wedding ceremonies I normally conduct would last around half an hour, because of the timings for the telly, we were only given 6 minutes for this one! But that made it all the more important that every word could be personal to them.
How come you didn’t tell me when you heard the news?!?!
I had to keep the arrangement very hush hush, which was immensely hard as I was bursting with excitement! On the day, I was met from Victoria and taken to the RAH and the rest of the day was like being in a wonderful dream! When they opened the doors into the hall for me, I could hardly take it all in! The place had been bedecked with the most beautiful flowers by florist Moyses Stevens and they smelt as good as they looked, with the air being thick with the scent of roses. And on top of that, rehearsing right in front of me were the Kingdom Choir – the gospel choir that sang at Harry and Meghan’s wedding earlier this year. Their music is amazing enough already but standing just yards away gets your goosebumps well and truly going, I can tell you!
After a technical rehearsal, and a chat with the bride and groom (separately of course!) I was lucky enough to be able to chat with some of Shane and Sarah’s guests as well as regulars from the show like Alison Hammond, Nik and Eva Speakman, Alice Beer and Lisa Snowdon. I even had my photo taken for Hello magazine! I thought I was nervous then, but when Phillip Schofield (my long-term teenage crush!) and Holly Willoughby came in, I knew the time was near.
The wedding begins…
We were ushered into the main hall, the lights were shining brightly. Phillip and Holly were announcing the start of the wedding and then the choir sang ‘All of Me’ as Sarah entered with her bridal party. It’s always such an honour to be so close to the couple and this is one of my favourite moments – seeing Shane’s eyes fill with happy tears as Sarah came down the steps towards him with her dad.
Then the ceremony started. Weirdly, my nerves disappeared once we got going – my connection was very much with Sarah and Shane and making that moment feel as intimate as possible for them (even though well over a million people were watching all over the country). Shane and Sarah said their I dos, made their vows and exchanged rings before having a celebratory kiss.
It’s not often I’m still at a wedding I’ve conducted when it comes to the first dance, but this one was held straight after the ceremony, to more music from the Kingdom Choir, and, after they’d danced for a few bars, we were all invited to join in and dance with them.
Dancing in the middle of the Royal Albert Hall, live on television to live music from the Kingdom Choir and shoulder to shoulder with my teenage crush Phillip Schofield, I felt as though surely I would wake up from this wonderful dream soon!
What an amazing day, what a lovely couple and what an honour to be representing celebrants everywhere to show the difference a personal ceremony can really make.
PS in a possibly scary-stalker way(!), I got to tell Phillip Schofield that I used to write letters to him from my French lessons at school. Sadly, he didn’t say ‘oh wow it was you? I still have them all under my pillow!’ – but he did give me a kiss on the cheek. I may never wash my face again…
PPS naturally, the ‘disgusted of Dorking’ crowd got going on Twitter pretty soon after the ceremony and one of the stories picked up from that by the tabloids were about the ‘shock twist’ that Shane and Sarah had done their legal bit the day before (as explained by me on air right at the beginning…) Here’s my reaction to that view.