Retiring a Marriage Celebrant’s Licence

Today I voluntarily surrendered my licence to celebrate marriages. It’s part of “incremental retirement,” I suppose, but I prefer to see it as part of “a changing shape of vocation.”

So why now?

My last wedding was four years ago. Since then, administrative changes, including the advent of online form filling and streamlining legal obligations, have meant I would need to retrain myself in case there is a next. As I am no longer a minister of a congregation, I don’t officially retain the criteria to continue as a celebrant anyway, but there is some leeway in how this condition has been exercised.

Passing in my license inevitably awakens some reminiscing.

My first weddings were concelebrated while I was in training. My sister and her beloved were the first taxi off the rank. Then there was a navy couple in a Roman Catholic ceremony in the chapel on their base. The chaplain was very accommodating, even offering a choice of vestments to wear. I reluctantly declined, seeking to guard my “plain clothes” tradition! I confess that, since then and in three instances, I have gowned up for cultural reasons.

Each wedding has had its own array of stories, including my own! A whole book could be written.

For a few years, I developed and presented courses on conducting weddings. It was part of a “rites of passage” package for our ministers, looking at how they might engage more creatively with the “hatch, match, and despatch” requests that come their way.

There was one media occasion where I defended the concept of marriage against the rising rates of separation and divorce, and a more recent one, televised, where I gave a voice to “marriage equality” during the recent national and politically polarised debate on same-sex marriage. It caused a little stir within my tribe, but some colleagues privately and confidentially commended my “courageous” stance.

My last wedding service was for a delightful couple, both widowed, both in their 80s, and both deeply in love. Their story was later nationally televised. Sadly I conducted the groom’s funeral service precisely three years later. He himself had also been a marriage celebrant with whom I had often compared notes.

It is with a sense of thankfulness and yet relief that I pass in my licence and wedding paraphernalia!

Published by wonderingpilgrim

Not really retired but reshaped and reshaping. Now a pilgrim at large ready to engage with what each day brings.

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