what I do

Sally Cleary, 52, is a cel­e­brant and nurse. She lives in Feild­ing with her hus­band, Mike

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you find some­one who loves you and you love them, well, hal­lelu­jah! And if they’re the same sex or they’re older or younger, my God, that doesn’t make two hoots of a dif­fer­ence, eh. It can only be a bet­ter thing than not be­ing loved.

I see cou­ples twice be­fore a wed­ding. I check their divorce cer­tifi­cate and ID to see that they are the peo­ple they say they are. I feel like a dick ask­ing that but I have to.

I lend them a whole lot of re­sources – books of po­ems, vow ideas – then we start email­ing back and forth. Some­times women can take over. But men, if they’re given a chance to say what they feel, can be re­ally good at it. One of the ques­tions we ask is, “Why do you love this per­son?” And oh, it’s beau­ti­ful; it’s just beau­ti­ful what they write. They write it se­cretly, on a piece of paper, and I hand it back to them af­ter­wards so that on a bad day, 30 years down the track when they’re think­ing, ‘God, why did I do that?’ they can think, ’Oh, yes, that’s why.’

I’ll spend three hours min­i­mum try­ing to get the cer­e­mony right. I email it to them and they look through it and work out what they like and don’t like. Then they can just think about all the other lovely things that go with get­ting mar­ried. We’ll have a prac­tise the night be­fore, but we won’t ac­tu­ally say the vows be­cause oth­er­wise they’re mar­ried.

I can bring God to a ser­vice if the cou­ple wants that. But God isn’t

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