Crafting a wedding ceremony is a serious business. It has to reflect the personalities of the bridal couple, at the same time tell the guests something about the couple and their day. Shannon Fleming Civil Celebrant is careful to make each ceremony as individual as you are, never formulaic or mass produced. Of course there are the formalities, but then you can really have fun with your readings, and other aspects of your ceremony to reflect who you are. After all, it’s your day, and it should start with a ceremony that is completely ‘you’. So let’s join Shannon as she tells us her story.
How long have you been a celebrant?
7 years this year! Where has the time gone!
Why did you choose to be a wedding celebrant (over other professions)?
My Mum actually suggested it to me one day randomly, at the time, I laughed thinking it was ridiculous (not knowing what it actually was) and when I finally did look into it, I fell in love with the idea straight away. Anything else was never really an option!
Image by Steve Hughes Photography
How many ceremonies do you perform in a day?
Usually just one, I never wanted to ‘mass produce’ my ceremonies and I hate having to rush off. So unless I have enough time so I can make it from one ceremony to another with enough time that I could hitch-hike if I broke down, I won’t do two in a day!
What area of Western Australia do you cover?
Top to toe.
Image by Henderson Photographics
What is important to you when crafting the wedding ceremony with your couples?
It’s not about what’s important to me; it’s about what’s important to them. It’s about them, and their journey and all of those adventures and ups and downs that have gotten them to this point.
What do you emphasise to couples when they approach you to conduct their ceremony?
There’s no point having a champagne ceremony if your beer people, and by that I mean if you want to fist pump and discuss bug spray and cereal in the vows, do so!
It’s so easy for couples to get caught up in what they think their ceremony and vows should be, thanks to movies and rom-coms (and other people adding opinions), rather than what they want it to be about.
How long does it take to prepare each ceremony?
It entirely depends on the couple; some ceremonies take weeks of backing and forthing, others we get in the first go. But there is no rush, it takes as long as it takes, and I say to my couples if they don’t absolutely LOVE the ceremony, they have to tell me and we start again!
Image by Angela Higgins
How much input into writing the ceremony are couples choosing to have?
As much as they want to, the more input they have the better!
If a couple doesn’t have the time (or chooses not to) are you able to craft the ceremony for them? Absolutely! Sometimes people just have no idea what they want, especially if they haven’t been to many weddings themselves, so quite often I’ll write a ‘starting point’ and then they’ll let me know if they want to add or change anything and we work on it together until it’s perfect.
What do you encourage a couple to prepare for the ceremony?
I send my couples a link to readings, poems, vows, rituals and all sorts – far more than most of them actually end up reading I’m sure. But it helps them get some ideas and plants the seed for possibility!
What is your favourite time of the year for wedding ceremonies?
Weddings all year round are my favourite! But I do love a winter wedding, it can be so beautiful and brings some excitement to people at a dreary time of year, plus also means people aren’t battling the heat.
Image by Through The Woods We Ran
Are you able to recommend some readings to us?
- “I like you” by Sandol Stoddard
- “Love” by Roy Croft
- “Perfect Penguin” Sandra Boynton
- “How falling in love is like owning a dog” Taylor Mali
- “All I really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten” Robert Fulghum
As you conduct more ceremonies over the years, what do you consider the most important five tips to get the most out of your wedding ceremony?
- Why do you want to marry them?
- When did you know you wanted to marry the other?
- What do you just absolutely love about them?
- Where do you see yourself in 1, 10, 50 years?
- Is there something that you absolutely must say during your wedding ceremony?
Do you feel that wedding rehearsals are important? How much guidance do you give the wedding party just before the ceremony?
Again, it’s not about what’s important to me – while I usually don’t do a rehearsal, some couples find it more comforting to have one. Real, genuine wedding fun is the best way to do it, then it doesn’t feel so ‘been here done that’ (as some people have commented in the past).
I’m there early enough on the day to make sure everything is in order, to check all the little things like making sure the boys ties are straight and flies are done up. I also have a sidekick with me, that means all bases are covered, she will wait at the car, do all the final ‘jooshing’ with the girls, help Dad stay calm and I won’t start until I’ve been given the ‘all clear’ from her that the girls are relaxed and read to roll. She is a huge part of my business and its success, and I love hearing afterwards how much calmer they felt having her there.
Image by Dave & Charlotte
My favourite short break destination in WA is….
I don’t think I have one! I rarely have a weekend free, but every wedding is a new adventure and I especially love the weddings that are inland in far out places.
But at the moment if I do have a break I’ve just built a house so it’s nice to be able to have a ‘staycation’ and enjoy my new home.
Why do you love living and working in Western Australia?
I love that one week I’m on beautiful beaches, and the next I’m on a farm 600km from Perth really ‘bush bashing’. There are so many amazing and relatively undiscovered places across WA and stumbling upon them on my travels is one of my favourite things to do!
Thank you Shannon for sharing your story. Make your ceremony one to remember with Shannon to assist you. To find out more about Shannon Fleming Civil Celebrant visit the website.
Headshot courtesy of Shannon Fleming Civil Celebrant.