I have been a wedding celebrant for 16 years, and during that time I have come to understand many things. Perhaps the most important is the power of ritual, and the crucial role of the ritual leader.
Imagine my quandary when faced with organising my own wedding! We solved the problem of finding the right celebrant by asking our family minister to officiate. However, we had more than a simple wedding ceremony in mind, and needed another, special ritual leader.
Both of us wanted to finish the day with our wedding ceremony, so that it was the climax of our day. We decided to have two separate gatherings first – one for men and boys, and one for women and girls – so that our disparate guests would be bonded together into a community by the time we wed.
At the venue, the menfolk prepared the meal, while the womenfolk gathered in another room to create a wedding cake out of cupcakes, and my bridal bouquet, out of flowers they had each brought with them. This gathering needed a special kind of leadership. Erica Duthie was just the right person.
The first part of her unique contribution was in helping design the day’s activities. Her artist’s eye, her innate practicality, and her ritual-maker’s magic all combined to pull my raw, sketchy ideas into a seamless, inclusive, and wonderfully workable whole. Her vision of how the day could unfold was perfect.
Erica’s preparation for the wedding day was faultless. Skilfully and patiently, Erica created and facilitated an afternoon of beauty, fun, and spiritual significance for me and for the female guests. Looking around the room and seeing my nearest and dearest friends and family members meeting – many of them for the first time – chatting, laughing, and busying themselves, making paper flowers, writing wishes for me on dried leaves, and helping arrange my bouquet, brought joy to my heart.
One guest, a senior public figure, told me last week “I will never forget that day as long as I live, it was so beautiful, and yet so much fun.” She had tears in her eyes as she spoke. Several friendships have since sprung up between my female guests, and that is thanks to the special environment of intimacy and happiness that Erica created on our wedding day.
Prior to our wedding day, Erica suggested that I have a smaller, more intimate ritual with my closest female friends and family – a Blessingway. Again, Erica brought her wisdom, creativity, and her sensitive soul to creating and anchoring a wonderful occasion. She created a beautiful space in which everyone – from teenager to pensioner – felt able to share on the deepest level. There were tears, laughter, song, and of course, food!
I know as a celebrant myself how difficult it is to keep rituals on-track without breaking the mood. Erica kept a loving, gentle but firm hand on the tiller, always reading the group intuitively and well. I felt so blessed to be the subject of such powerful sharing. The greatest gift Erica brought me was that I was able to relax and enjoy the depth of connection with my loved ones, without worrying about how it would all happen. We were all in her safe hands.
I cannot recommend Erica Duthie highly enough.
- Pinky Agnew, MNZM, 2011