The first in our series of interviews to shine a spotlight on Celebrants around the world, focuses on English and Afrikaans speaking Theresa Du Toit who officiates in the United Arab Emirates.
1. ‘We all have our own reasons for starting up one of the best businesses out there! What inspired you to start your celebrant business?’
I have always loved marriage, and have had two fabulous marriages! The opportunity came totally out of the blue when a wedding photographer contacted me and asked me to consider becoming a Wedding Celebrant, because I’ve been so happily married, am passionate about marriage and I love public speaking. I had to ask her:
What is a wedding celebrant?!!!!!!!!!!
At the time I had not yet heard the term Wedding Celebrant, because in my home country, South Africa, its normally the Reverent or Priest who conducts the wedding ceremony. So I then did what anyone else would do: I googled Wedding Celebrant, and the more I read, the more it just resonated with my heart! I just knew this was perfect for me! I love marriage, and what an absolute joy to be able to impart words of love, life and wisdom to couples!
My desire is to equip them to build beautiful, happy, love-filled marriages that will cause them to be even more in love 20,30,40 years later than on their wedding day!!
2. ‘What do you love most about being a celebrant?’
I get to meet and know the most amazing couples, and I get know their love stories, how they met, how love happened, and very important:how did the proposal happen!!!!
Every love story is just so very different, and I’m amazed how two people anywhere in the world, among millions of others, can find each other, and then fall in love! I marvel how love knows no cultural boundaries, or belief systems, and love happens anytime, anywhere, anyhow!!! Love makes my world go round
3. ‘There are so many exciting ways to personalise a ceremony. What are your favourite elements to include?’
Every ceremony is as unique as every couple is unique, and truth be told, I cannot say I have a favorite when it comes to personalized elements in a ceremony.
I love hand fasting, sand pouring, and lighting of unity candle and whatever a couple wants to add to their ceremony. When I sit with my couples and we discuss their ceremony and ways to personalize it, I like to kick off by saying to them: you could even sing a song to each other!!!!! Their response is always hilarious
4. ‘I bet a few ceremonies just stand out as your favs. Can you let us know what it was and why it was so fabulous?’
I love every single ceremony that I have done so far, and there is always a moment during the ceremony that I feel something magical has happened!
I’ve done ceremonies with just 2 people on a beach, to 250 people at the iconic world famous Burj Al Arab Hotel. I’ve had the pleasure of conducting ceremonies not only in the UAE, but also in Bahrain, Sri Lanka and South Africa, and later this year a ceremony in Tiblisi Georgia.
If I have to single out just one, it would be the little ring bearer who came bouncing down the isle with the ring cushion to which the rings were tied with ribbons. The ceremony was held outside at a golf club, on the waters edge. He was so excited about his role in the ceremony, and swung the ring cushion around with great gusto!
Imagine my surprise when I looked and saw the rings missing!!!!!!! Everyone was paralyzed and stuck to their chairs in shock! So I ran up the grass path were he came from, looking for the rings and hoping the bride would be delayed, frantically praying I would find the rings! And I did! Phew!!!!
5. ‘You write your ceremonies from scratch from your couple or families personal stories, right? What was the most unusual story you’ve had to tell?’
Writing the message for every ceremony is something I absolutely love doing! I write in a beautiful book, by hand, and have filled quite a number of volumes already. However if I am to single out a story it would be this one about a couple who renewed their vows:
they met in a pub where she served him a pint, and they started chatting. He was divorced, they got to know each other, love blossomed and they got married.
He was a farmer, and a busy one at that. He worked long hours, and she did the books. They then had a little boy, but life was just so busy.
He missed many firsts of their little son, and missed many a school concert due to farm work. Their long term dream was to one day buy a little place in France, and live a quieter life, focusing and enjoying each other. That dream was way down the line, far away in the future.
Things came to a head when they both sat down one evening,and realized that they were missing out on each other, he was missing out on his little boy, all because of work, and this was affecting their relationship.
They decided there and then to step out of all this, and move to France as soon as possible, because their love and relationship and life as a little family was more important than slogging it out for another few years to make more money. They sold everything, rented out their farm, bought a property, and they are so happy and content, living their dream life together. I can say: they lived happily ever after!
6. ‘If you could give one piece of advice to a couple or family when it comes to planning their ceremony, what would it be?’
The ceremony is the most important part of the wedding day, as its the celebration and declaration of their love and commitment to one another in the presence of their family and loved ones. Therefore I always encourage them to make their ceremony as personal as they want, because its all about them, and this means not to do things that they think people will want or expect.
Its their day and it should reflect their love and personalities.