Our Celebrant Diploma Courses communicate a great deal of Best Practice for Readers and Readings.
An essential element in this for a celebrant is to have a knowledge of resources regarding poetry and powerful quotations.
A celebrant who does not rehearse readers – especially at the official rehearsal, is doomed for disappointment. My experience is that even the most educated persons “race” readings at a wedding. Sometimes I have to ask the reader to practice two or three times, so I can slow them down (to say nothing of developing inflexion and feeling – and how to use the microphone).
Ceremonial pace is a measured pace – and this so applies to Readers.
When couples ask me whom they need at the rehearsal, I always start off by saying – “You – and the Readers”.
Another question I am asked is why, when I can, I position the readers in the midst of the guests looking at / addressing the bride and groom. The answer is simple – most readings are “advice” (self chosen) for the bride and groom e.g. “Love one another, but make not a bond of love …”
Such positioning always gives out the feeling that the readers are reading on behalf of the guests – which they are.
When a reading is obviously words that the bride is addressing to the groom and vice versa I consider it essential that an explanatory sentence or two is given by the Reader – “Mary and John, I will read these words as you would say them to each other ….”
Actually short introductions personalise almost every reading and should be created for every poem and prose quotation. And, needless to say, at these times the Reader is the centre of attention and the celebrant should get right out of the way. Readers should look up at the bride and groom who should rehearse giving the reader rapt attention.
A lot more could be said.
A BBC story about discovering readings from children’s books took me by surprise. We Australians (where Civil Marriage Celebrants were established in 1973) were reading these selections from children’s books over thirty years ago. I do not know how many times a reader or I have read to a bride and groom the Velveteen Rabbit, or quotes from the Little Prince, or the Princess Bride or The Owl and the Pussycat. It is a good discovery by the Brits but they have not discovered something bright and new !
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