If you’re not feeling chilled and full of love right now, you will do once you’ve read all about the beautiful soul that is Wedding Celebrant Linda Keys. This amazing, yoga-loving, mindful meditator and mediator and general fount of coolness and calmness, is the epitome of all that you would want from a Wedding Celebrant. Oh and that smile. Yep, now, that’s a smile.
We speak to Linda and find out about her loves and passions.
What did you do before you became a Celebrant ?
I have a background in the arts and performance but most of my career has centred around facilitation of some kind. I’ve fine-tuned these skills so that now I see it as “hosting a space” for people to come together. My role is to ensure everyone feels comfortable and included, to keep an appropriate pace going, and to ask questions that encourage people to open up with positivity!
Is there anything about your previous career that is relevant to you being a Celebrant or helps you now as a Celebrant?
LOADS! The skills I have used in facilitating groups are clearly very transferable as I’m comfortable guiding people through a process and ensuring it flows, always with half my mind on the atmosphere I am creating and ensuring every person feels valued and included. I have years of experience facilitating something called Person Centred Planning with people who have a disability; in a Person Centred Plan we honour the individual whose plan it is whilst ensuring everyone attending feels connected to it; we unearth the person’s story, acknowledging or honouring hard times as appropriate and celebrating the good; we explore who the person is and their relationship to others, all through a positive lens so we see gifts, talents, sources of success and connection. You can see how these skills lead me to have really wonderful conversations with the couple whose story, love and connectedness we are celebrating! And those conversations lead me to really great content for the script, which I absolutely love to craft.
What has been the highlight of your wedding career so far?
That’s hard to answer as I want every couple I’ve worked with to know how special they are to me; I don’t think you can do this work without coming to really care about your couples. ‘Firsts’ are pretty special; I’ll never forget my first wedding for friends, or the first professional wedding I did for a couple I knew a little bit (but got to know so much better during the process of working with them).
What advice would you give to couples getting married now? What mistakes could they do with avoiding?
I think it is completely understandable in today’s wedding culture that people feel pressured to create this perfect, Instagram-ready EVENT. But it doesn’t need to be an ‘event’ at all! This is a celebration of your love. That’s it. It matters that you celebrate and include however many of your guests you want to have there, but it doesn’t matter that everything the guests see/ eat/ drink/ hear is on trend/ original/ Pinteresty/ expensive/ handmade (delete as appropriate!) I’d love to see people relax and enjoy the wedding preparation more.
In fact, that’s one of the bits of feedback that I love getting from couples; that talking to me reminded them why they were actually getting married! And in having a conversation which is carefully thought out by me to honour the history they have whilst celebrating all they love about each other AND the future they plan to create…. it actually sets people up for a good marriage, never mind a wonderful wedding ceremony.
What has being a wedding Celebrant taught you about life and people?
That nothing matters more than love.
What do you love about being a wedding Celebrant?
It’s the coming together of all my favourite things. Great conversations where I get to hear stories, love, stories, love. Writing a beautiful script that captures the absolute essence of a couple. The incredible privilege of conducting a ceremony, creating an atmosphere of warmth and inclusivity, a true sense of occasion with magical life-changing moments!
What aspect of your job as a wedding Celebrant gives you the most satisfaction?
I think I hold the space really well for couples so that they can relax during the ceremony and remember why they are there. I get a massive sense of satisfaction from that.
What are your favourite elements within a ceremony?
I love when important family members or friends are given a role, and I love a bit of extra “texture” to the ceremony: a reading, a song, some music, a ritual.
What’s your favourite symbolic ritual, and why?
It’s actually the ring exchange! I just love people giving one another something that they will see probably hundreds of times a day when they look down at their hand.
What would be a dream ceremony for you?
A lovely entrance (I’m smiling as I say that, remembering one of the loveliest entrances was the bride blustering in – late – from a March snow-storm saying “Ooh, bit breezy out there!”)… a friend or family member playing music while we assemble at the front… a few heartfelt words of welcome from me then straight into a family member delivering a perfectly selected reading which totally sets the tone… back to me for a funny, emotional telling of the couple’s love story… maybe a song that everyone joins in with?!… beautiful, personal vows… a bit from me about what marriage means to the couple and why they have chosen one another… a hand-fasting or unity candle… exchange of rings… massive kiss with a cheer from all the guests!! Exit to joyful, celebratory music (again played by the family member or friend – it’s a talented community, this!) and off for the party! (I want to go to that wedding, don’t you?!)
How would you say the wedding industry has changed in the last fifteen years?
The rise of the celebrant! It was about 12 years ago that I first trained in Ceremonies and Rites of Passage with Dead Good Guides as part of my Masters in Cultural Performance. I didn’t immediately practice as I felt I’d not had enough life experience to authentically hold the ceremonial space for others at that point. It was interesting to watch as the career I knew I wanted to pursue (once I’d experienced a bit more of love, commitment, loss etc) completely start to blossom and become a heard of ‘thing’ rather than people looking blank while I gushed about my training course! And I am so glad, because it has given couples so much more control over a day that should be completely bespoke; because relationships are bespoke!
If you had to sum yourself up in three words, what would they be?
Warm, inclusive, joyful.
What are your favourite types of couples?
The kind whose love is visible as you talk to them! People who really understand love and what it means to have found the person they want to spend their life with. A couple who – even if they are hesitant at first – warm up to talk to me (or write down for me!) what they love about one another and why their relationship is so special.
When you’re not celebranting what can we find you doing?
Yoga is a very big part of my life as I am doing my yoga teacher training at the moment. I feel it sits really well with the celebrant work as it slots into the other bits of my week and keeps me calm, energised, and means I can stand up nice and straight when I’m doing a ceremony! (I haven’t done a headstand ceremony yet. Watch this space!) I’m also a mum to two wee boys, Fin (5) and Innes (3) and partner to Alan (he might not thank me for including his age…) We all love being outside, particularly on beaches or in forests. We have a cat. We love books, stories, and Lego.
OMG! How much do you love Linda? Don’t you just want to find her and give her a huge hug? I do! Talk about radiating passion, joy and good old fashioned love.
If you love Linda and can easily picture her leading your wedding ceremony in Scotland or wherever else you fancy, make sure to pop over to her website and get in touch!
Main feature image by Claire Julie Paton