Joann BourguignonSan Diego, California, United States
As a celebrant, I have the best piece of the wedding cake, because I get to focus on the couple's love, connection, goals for the future and how they will care for each other for the rest of their lives. I don't have to worry about the roses wilting before the guests arrive. I remind all my couples their guests don't come for the free dinner and drinks, they come for those 20 minutes when they are vowing to care for the other in the best way they know how.
I am a certified celebrant with Celebrant USA and owner of Ceremonies De Vie. I'm trained in marketing, writing ceremonies, public speaking and sales. Prior to 2006, I was a full-time marketing manager for a high-tech company. My husband and I are the primary employees. Sometimes we hire contract employees or stringers for big jobs.
Here’s just a bit of what we can cover in our PivotPlanet session(s):
• Developing an “elevator” speech when meeting couples.
• How to craft a warm and welcoming ceremony.
• How best to market their business.
• How to manage 3-4 ceremonies in a weekend.
• The legal issues surrounding officiating.
I love the freedom of my work. I am able to set my own hours and meet with clients where and when they want. I also love the personal connection I make with my clients. It may sound corny, but when I'm standing with a couple and they are exchanging rings and tearing up, I feel honored to know I played a small part in their happiness.
What surprises me about my work is that when couples start looking at each other with those puppy dog eyes welling up as they say “I do", I have to have tissues handy for me. I am also touched and proud when couples take the time to write me a personalized thank you card, pick up a souvenir for me from their honeymoon or refer me to their friends and family.
Before becoming a full-time celebrant, I spent ten years in high-tech market research. I was the primary vendor for one of Hewlett Packard’s laptop divisions. As such, I got to spend a lot of time with smart IT personnel and seeing what’s on the front line of computing technology.
When the dot bomb hit, I changed courses and went into pharmaceutical research. Most of my time was dedicated to clinical trials, including training doctors and nurses on the protocol. In reality, it was keeping the FDA happy.
These positions gave me a well-rounded education, but they lacked a heart. When NPR reported on a group in Australia coming to the US to train people on how to perform civil weddings, I did some homework and soon found myself studying with them. A year later, I was doing ceremonies on the weekends. Fast-forward eight years and it’s a beautiful full time gig.