A Worthing celebrant called upon to conduct a wedding ceremony on ITV’s This Morning for lucky competition winners has described how she was picked for the special moment.
Claire Bradford conducted proceedings live on national television in front of the nation on Thursday (October 4), after being recommended to producers of the popular show.
It was a morning full of surprises, with the historic Royal Albert Hall hosting the event – the first time in its 150-year history the venue had hosted a wedding.
Claire was also treated to a close-up performance from the Kingdom Choir – a gospel choir that sang at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding – and was able to meet the This Morning crew, including her teenage crush, Phillip Schofield.
She said: “I had to keep the arrangement very hush hush, which was super hard as I was bursting with excitement.
“On the day, I was met from Victoria and taken to the Royal Albert Hall and the rest of the day was like being in a wonderful dream!”
The couple Claire married, Sarah and Shane Maddison, had won a competition which saw them produce a rap video styled on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air tune.
While being called upon to help was an honour, the ceremony presented a challenge for Claire.
She explained celebrants are not restricted to the legal wording registrars stick to, meaning more personal touches could be included.
But instead of having plenty of time to tailor the ceremony to the couple’s wishes, the fact it was on TV meant it had to be crammed into just six minutes.
“That made it all the more important that every word could be personal to them,” she said.
After a technical rehearsal, which included a sneak-peek of the Kingdom Choir’s performance, the This Morning crew arrived, including Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.
Claire said: “We were ushered into the main hall, the lights were shining brightly, Phillip and Holly were announcing the start of the wedding and then the choir sang ‘All of Me’ as Sarah entered with her bridal party.
“It’s always such an honour to be so close to the couple and this is one of my favourite moments – seeing Shane’s eyes fill with happy tears as Sarah came down the steps towards him with her dad.
“Weirdly, my nerves disappeared once we got going – my connection was very much with Sarah and Shane and making that moment feel as intimate as possible for them – even though well over a million people were watching all over the country.”
The ceremony received widespread attention in the national press, including criticism that the ceremony was a ‘con’ because the couple were officially married the day before.
Claire said she explained the couple had a ‘basic legal wedding’ the day before and said: “This was explained by me on air right at the beginning.
“They did the legal part separately but they, like many other couples, saw their celebrant wedding as the real celebration because it was the moment they made their vows in front of their family and friends.
“While ‘marriage’ is a legal construct, a ‘wedding’ is the celebration of a couple’s union, and with a celebrant, you can make it as personal and unique as you’d like, as well as holding the ceremony anywhere – licensed or unlicensed. This is the norm all over Europe but the UK is still adjusting.”
Claire is an independent celebrant and winner of the prestigious national title ‘Celebrant of the Year 2018’, The Wedding Industry Awards. See www.creatingceremony.com for more info.
Claire was recommended by Worthing’s Terri Shanks, founder of the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants (FPC) which was contacted by the producers prior to the event.