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Ask the Wedding Celebrant: Gary Vaudin

We spoke to Gary Vaudin from Ministry of Life about creating and conducting captivating, meaningful and memorable Humanist ceremonies for all life's occasions.

Gary Vaudin is currently the only celebrant in Guernsey accredited to conduct marriage ceremonies in the name of Humanists UK. Following implementation of a new marriage law, he is among the first cohort of civil celebrants authorised to perform and solemnise non-religious marriage ceremonies throughout the Bailiwick. Performing not only marriages but also other life-focused ceremonies like namings and funerals, he offers his services under the name of Ministry of Life.

“Thank you so much for everything you did to make our wedding ceremony so special. It was exactly what we wanted. We have received many remarks at how beautiful and personal it was, and several people said it was the best wedding ceremony they had ever attended. Thanks!” - Lisa and Jason

Humanist marriage ceremonies are joyful and intensely personal occasions. They are for couples that seek to celebrate their alliance or union in a way that enables them to express what marriage means to them in human rather than in religious or civic terms.

If parties to a marriage are not religious, a traditional form of wedding service in church would be wholly in appropriate. Yet the brief, civic alternative available at the Greffe (the registry office in Guernsey) can seem too basic and impersonal. A humanist-style civil ceremony, however, affords an opportunity to bring family and friends together in one place to witness the couple impart their personalised message of love and commitment, and for everyone to celebrate their happiness.

Following initial contact, whether by E-mail or telephone call, Gary sends prospective couples a Humanists UK publication. Entitled Sharing the future, it is a practical guide to humanist and non-religious wedding and civil partnership ceremonies. After they have had an opportunity to peruse the guide, he arranges to meet them to discuss the format or outline of their ceremony. Following the meeting, he produces a preliminary script and sends it to them for either approval or amendment. If amendments are required, he will work with them to achieve their aims. Also, he is willing to stage a rehearsal a few days before the main event. A rehearsal is useful if an element like a handfasting is to be included within the ceremony.

Gary has been conducting humanist marriage ceremonies throughout the Channel Islands since 1998. He is, therefore, the longest serving and the most experienced of the new cohort of authorised civil celebrants. He has performed ceremonies in such unusual locations as castles, a concert hall, a farm, an historic manor house, private houses, function rooms, hotels and even a redundant church. He has also performed ceremonies in the great outdoors on beaches and cliff tops, in fields, gardens, marquees, nature reserves and a vineyard.

“Jenny and I just don’t know where to begin in thanking you for your role in creating such a beautiful, personal and captivating ceremony. Words fail us.

Many guests have said to us what an incredibly moving occasion it was. Some folk were moved to tears, whilst one guest whom we know well and who is extremely religious, was as generous in her praise as our family was.

We are so indebted to you. Apart from your wonderful handling of the ceremony, what was clear to us was the enormous amount of effort and preparation that you put in beforehand.

Gary; you have a talent for conducting a ceremony that surpasses anything we have ever come across. You are absolutely in a league of your own! 

With our very, very sincere thanks.”  - Rodney and Jenny

When Gary was asked if he had a favourite location in which to conduct marriage ceremonies, he answered: “Unequivocally anywhere in the great outdoors!” Blessed with many days and hours of sunshine during summertime, Guernsey and the outlying Islands of the Bailiwick are magnificent in terms of outstanding natural beauty. Each island has its own distinctive character and charm, and any of them make for an idyllic and romantic wedding location.”

Gary added: “The logistics of holding an outdoor ceremony can be challenging but the greatest challenge is predicting the vagaries of weather. Good weather can never be guaranteed so if you’re contemplating an outdoor marriage ceremony, it is imperative to have a contingency plan in place.”

If you’re considering any of the islands that make up the Bailiwick of Guernsey as your wedding destination, Gary recommends that you peruse other pages on the Visit Guernsey website. He also recommends that, at the earliest opportunity, you peruse the marriage page of the Royal Court of Guernsey website, which will greatly assist in planning your wedding:

“Thank you so much for sharing and indeed being a big part of our special day. Colin and I were thrilled with everything in the ceremony and with the very professional yet informal way you put it all together and presented it. A HUGE thank you; we had the perfect day.” - Helen and Colin

More information on the Ministry of Life website here.