Boston Bridal Blog: To Celebrant or Not to Celebrant?

While working to get the Fall/Winter 2011 issue of Boston Weddings (on newsstands and online June 28!) out the door, one particular article sent my planning instincts into overdrive: Austyn Ellese Mayfield’s Q&A with Cindy Matchett, an officiant at ceremonies across New England. The interview offers up some really interesting tidbits — Matchett once married a couple in a canoe, for example — but what I was most surprised by was Matchett’s title: not a JOP or a minister, but rather a certified life-cycle celebrant, a graduate of the Celebrant Foundation and Institute.

And what, you ask, is that? Celebrants, according to the foundation’s website, “are people in your community who are trained by our institute to officiate at, compose, and perform the highest-quality personalized ceremonies for couples … .” It sounded pretty appealing to me because as an “interfaith couple” (does anyone even use that term anymore?), my fiancé and I have had trouble finding — and agreeing on — someone to marry us. A custom ceremony written by someone who would be willing to incorporate traditions and rituals from both of our cultures seemed like a much better fit than some of the oddball “alternative” clergy we’d been previously pursuing.

Matchett was unavailable for our date, but through her, we found Erika Wilton, a spunky officiant who welcomed the challenge of blending our backgrounds into one ceremony. We’ll soon fill out questionnaires that Wilton will then use to create our “love story,” a signature part of a celebrant ceremony, and choose our vows. After that, Wilton will send us a “script” that we get to revise as we see fit (as an editor, I particularly like that part).

Will I miss the religious aspects of a traditional ceremony? Will I end up wishing I had decided to go the JOP route for quick-and-simple vows without all the stress of going custom? Probably not. In my opinion, the idea that we can make our ceremony as unique as the rest of our day makes it all worth it in the end.

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