I’m so excited to share Engaged and Ready’s latest spotlight feature with you and showing off the awesomeness that is UK based wedding celebrant Lynn Tierney, who spreads her wedding magic all around Oxfordshire and the surrounding English Counties.
Lynn originally became a celebrant so that she could lead the naming ceremony for her granddaughter, and in doing so she became even more inspired and motivated to be involved with families at their happiest times – weddings, namings, anniversary renewals. And since then, there’s been no stopping her!
So let’s find out more about lovely Lynn and her passion for celebrancy.
What did you do before you became a celebrant?
Before becoming a celebrant, I had spent my working life in education, as a teacher and eventually a Head Teacher. I did that job for about ten years, eight of which I loved, but the last two of which I found incredibly frustrating and overly bureaucratic.
Is there anything about your previous career experiences that are relevant to you being a celebrant or help you now as a celebrant?
The thing I loved about being a Head Teacher was the work I could do to make a difference to people’s lives, whether that was children, colleagues or parents in the community. I am definitely someone who needs to work with people. So being a Celebrant is perfect for me and I will never tire of the look on people’s faces when they realise how beautiful their ceremony is going to be. In addition, in my previous job I was often asked to provide written accounts – maybe less creative than the writing I do now. Or was it? And, of course, the idea of standing and speaking in front of groups of people didn’t faze me at all. And then there’s my Headteacher stare! Beware, errant best men or runaway pageboys!
What has been the highlight of your wedding career so far?
I can honestly say I remember every single one of my ceremonies and it would be too difficult to single out just one for any kind of special mention. But there are parts of some ceremonies that I have been particularly struck by and which are stand out moments for a variety of reasons. Many of these have taken place outside and have seemed like Mother Nature making her presence felt. A wedding outside a barn in South Oxfordshire where the couple had chosen not to have any kind of unity ceremony, but they got one anyway when two red kites (the bird species) circled each other over our heads throughout the ceremony and set off with their calls to each other just as the couple said their vows. A woodland wedding in Northamptonshire where the mother of the bride was preceded along the aisle by a dragonfly which then settled on my ceremony folder until the bridal party had arrived. And a festival themed wedding, again in a woodland, that started in bright sunshine but ended in a torrential downpour. Outdoor weddings filled with awe and wonder!
What has being a wedding celebrant taught you about life and people?
Being a celebrant has really shown me that one size just really doesn’t fit all, nor should it. Every couple is different and their reasons for choosing a celebrant are different. And my response to them has to be different and reflect their needs. Some definitely want a ceremony jam packed full of symbolism, readings, music – you name it. But for others a much simpler, yet still as heartfelt, ceremony is the way to go. The joy is in being able to deliver in just the right way for all my couples.
What do you love about being a celebrant?
Speaking with my head the best thing is knowing that I get to help couples have the ceremony they dream of. Their day, their way. But from my heart, the best part of being a celebrant is the people. People, people, people. People. Relationships. Family and friends. Love. In the words of Kahlil Gibran in his poem The Prophet, if you turn away from love you will live in a world “where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.” I work with love, with people in love, to celebrate love, to honour love. Beat that!
What aspect of your job as a wedding Celebrant gives you the most satisfaction?
That moment when I get a response email to the first draft of a ceremony. And it comes back with tear stains. Well it would have in the good old days! When a couple so love what you have produced that they are just blown away. There is a bit of me that isn’t averse to the fist pump and a cry of “Yes! Nailed it!” I think that comes from my years of watching my team on a football pitch. It would be most inappropriate to do that at a ceremony, but in the privacy of my own home …..
What is your favourite symbolic ritual?
My favourite symbolic ritual is the hand washing and hand blessing ceremonies. A hand blessing was carried out by the two mums at one wedding, when they poured water over the joined hands of the couple. The water carried the mothers’ blessing and good wishes for the future. And the hand washing involved another couple sharing a bowl of scented water to wash each others hands and then offering their hands to each other to towel dry. This was symbolising the cleansing of their previous lives and then, even more meaningfully, handing themselves over into the care of their partner and saying “I trust you to care for me, as I will care for you,” sends shivers down my spine.
Describe yourself in three words
In just three words? Why use three when a hundred and three would do. But here goes….. warm, genuine and dedicated. Or is it creative, calm and organised. Or maybe fun, positive and accommodating. Oh, you choose!
What theme or style of wedding would you love to do?
To be perfectly honest, I’m not a great one for a theme being too heavily woven into a ceremony. Great for other elements of the day and perfect for a sprinkling through the ceremony, but not to the point of risking what the ceremony is all about. We are witnessing a commitment and celebrating the love of two people, maybe in a beautiful woodland glade, not putting on a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There is one symbolic ritual I would love to include, though, and that is the tasting the elements ritual. Just think of the photographs as everybody gets to taste the lemon, followed by the cayenne pepper! Anyone?
How would you say the wedding industry has changed in the last fifteen years?
It is difficult for me to say how the wedding industry has changed over any period of time really. But in the relatively short time that I have been a celebrant, I have noticed a distinct increase in people’s awareness of celebrants and what we do. When I first started to attend wedding fairs to get the word out there, couples would leave my stand with a quizzical look on their faces. Really? Did she just make all that up? But now they are approaching me having some experience of attending a celebrant ceremony, or having heard about this thing and wanting to find out more. And that has to be a good thing.
What kind of couples do you enjoy working with?
I absolutely love working with those couples who know, right from the start, that a celebrant ceremony is the only thing that they would consider. Not just because they couldn’t get a registrar for their particular day, or because their venue doesn’t have a licence, or because they have already married abroad, or because they have to have a quick prayer in there to appease an ageing relative. But because a celebrant will craft, yes craft, a bespoke ceremony that will live in their hearts and with their families and friends forever more. Now, don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t matter how a couple stumble across me, whatever circumstance leads them my way, they will all receive that same application of my skills. And, without fail, they end up being so glad they found me.
What are your favourite types of venue?
I am blessed with some stunning venues throughout The Cotswolds and my surrounding area. I love a rustic barn or a country manor house. We have some beautiful woodland and incredible views of rolling countryside. And I suffer from a chronic case of seeing ceremony spaces where nobody else does!
Tell us about a hilarious wedding experience that you’ve had
I conducted a wedding in a privately owned manor house near Oxford. A huge crowd, three marquees, top hat and tails, the works. While surveying the assembled guests, pre-ceremony, I swear I spotted Prince Harry. Okay, Lynn. Calm down, he’s just a prince. So off I went to find the wedding planner to check with her. Not expecting royalty, but she needed to check this one out for herself. We tracked him down to the outside bar, where she did an excellent bit of sleuthing to discover that, no, the guy in question was actually one of the bride’s cousins. Felt strangely deflated ….
What can you be found doing when not immersed in wedding land?
When I’m not working on creating unique ceremonies, I am never happier than sitting with a crochet hook or a pair of knitting needles in my hand or with my foot on a sewing machine pedal. A practical outlet for my creativity, just as ceremony writing is my cerebral outlet. I guess that’s why I get such a thrill out of finding those little handmade elements at weddings (and snapping a quick photo of them) and am always amazed at what people produce to make their whole day really personal and unique. And I guess that’s why they’ve chosen me in the first place, for the personal, unique and creative touch I can bring to their day.
Isn’t Lynn amazing? If she sounds right up your street and just like the kind of Celebrant that you’d love to lead your wedding ceremony you can check out here Celebrant profile here, or head straight to her website and find out how she can help you to make ceremony magic.