One of the great joys of working with many different couples as a Marriage Celebrant is getting to know their cultures and backgrounds.
Where possible I try to honour these in the ceremony by including a welcome, a blessing, or words of congratulations and farewell in the appropriate language.
To date, I have used Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, Maori, French, Swiss German, Niuean, Spanish and Fijian phrases in wedding ceremonies. I recently delivered a ceremony where the couple asked for a Sanskrit blessing to be adapted and delivered in English. (Google is my friend – not only for languages and translation tools, but also for poetry and blessings!) It’s also handy to have the native speaker of a chosen language record the phrase they require on my phone so that I can memorise it, practice, and pronounce it correctly… I knew I had nailed it when, in a ceremony where I greeted guests in Korean and Cantonese, the mother of the bride approached me afterwards to say “You know so many languages!”
My background includes Playcentre and Celebrant training courses over the past 7 years, through which I have had many opportunities to learn and practice Te Reo Maori phrases in ceremonies and hui. In the past I have taken regular night classes in New Zealand Sign Language, which is also an official language of Aotearoa New Zealand. I am really looking forward to the day that I can be involved in a ceremony where I can sign some key words of love!
Kia hora te marino
Kia whakapapa pounamu te moana
Kia tere te karohirohi
I mua i tou huarahi
May the calm be widespread
May the ocean glisten as greenstone
May the shimmer of light
Forever dance across your pathway