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Carleen Walsh Blog

From Toastmaster to Civil Celebrant

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A lot of people have asked me from time to time what made you decide to become a Civil Celebrant.

My reply is simple. I was a toastmaster for seven years and it seemed to me a natural progression from Toastmaster to Master of Ceremonies.

It is really very similar writing a speech and writing a service. You have a set of objectives and after you have met the couple you are going to marry and talked with them a little, you can weave a story and then present a wedding service according to their set of criteria.

Helping a couple to define their story is what I enjoy - to capture their unique essence as a couple and what they value in their relationship. You then reflect their values and their special memories into a service – designed just for them.

My couples (as I like to call them) have come from many different backgrounds and age groups. So they are all unique. I love to sit with them and just talk and get to know how they met and what has brought them to the decision of getting married. Soon, general themes of friendship, similar interests and backgrounds, or the classic boy meets girl scenario begin to emerge.

I then ask them to look at some sample services and we develop one that is personal and unique to them and sits well with how they want their service to be performed.

Being a celebrant is like preparing and giving a toastmaster speech but the words and the performance are much more personal. Words are straight from the heart and the audience are those people who truly care about what the couple mean to each other – friends and family - Mothers, Fathers, Siblings, Aunties, Uncles, Cousins, Close Friends and special work colleagues.

If readings are selected as well, they are usually poems, verses or psalms, which also have meaning to the marrying couple and their family and friends.

As for the big day, the celebrant service is delivered with precision and timed just like a speech with pauses in the right places. The only thing missing is perhaps the lights (green, yellow & red) that Toastmaster moderators use to keep you on track - and the applause when your speech is completed.

Better still, it ends in a kiss when you pronounce the couple husband and wife and suggest he can now kiss his bride.

I just love being a Celebrant!
~ Carleen
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