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Party Poppers

I do love a party popper. Who doesn’t?

Imagine one now; go on. It’s a design classic, isn’t it? An icon. Shaped like a tiny champagne magnum, everything about says “Go on, make my day!”

It is basically a grenade, but in a good way. It’s a good time get-down-and-party grenade. The pin is a short length of string and, once it is out and dangling, every fibre of your being is telling you to give it a good tug.

A party popper is the potential of a party, tightly compressed and ready to go off at a moment’s notice. It is contained energy, eager to explode at the earliest invitation.

That bit of string actually needs to be tugged.

A party popper is, perhaps, the perfect metaphor for the human condition. Especially now. We spend so much time tightly contained and then, on special occasions we do love to explode. All flash and bang and coloured streamers streaking across the sky.

For one glorious moment we are the most exciting event in the universe. Then everything settles down again. Yet that deliciously acrid whiff of smoke still lingers long into the darkness left behind.

It has all been very dark lately. Who wouldn’t want to be an exploding party popper right now?

That’s a trick question – the answer is that we all do. This is why we mark our life journeys with celebrations of the big events. Birthdays, naming, coming of age, marriage, retirement…even death. We celebrate them all with a good, enthusiastic tug on that string

It’s who we are. It is what we do, and it is important to us. Especially now.

But we also need to mark those occasions in ways that have real meaning for us. And we are not all the same. We are a society of collected individuals. While we all feel the same need to mark our big life events with celebration, ceremony and a big old party pop, we don’t all necessarily want to do it in the same way. We want our big moments to be exclusively ours.

And who would want to stand in the way of that?

Sadly, for every party popper there is an equal and opposite pooper. And right now it is the current legislation regarding marriage.

In every other sane country in the world (and also in a few insane ones) people are free to get married exactly how, where and when they want to. Yet in England things are very different. The way things stand only a registrar or a minister of religion can provide you with a legally recognised wedding ceremony. This means that what you get is either a religious ceremony, or something fairly generic and dry.

As a trained and qualified celebrant, what I can do is provide a totally bespoke ceremony that is specifically tailored for you. A ceremony that takes its context from you and from your story.

Not some off the peg, one-size-fits-all affair.

And I can do it anywhere. Literally. Absolutely anywhere. Even venues that don’t hold licenses. So if there is somewhere particularly special or meaningful to you, then we can have the ceremony right there.

But what I can’t do is conduct a legally recognised ceremony. You would have to have a quick meeting in the registrar’s office for that beforehand. Because I can’t legally marry you.

Not yet, anyway.

The times, though, they are a-changing. The Law Commission has proposed a reformation of marriage law that will allow couples greater choice, within a simple, fair and consistent legal structure so that people can have a wedding that is meaningful to them. Crucially, it will almost certainly mean that celebrants will be able conduct legally recognised marriage ceremonies.

And the changes are coming in the new year, when their will be an abundant number of party poppers on hand to help celebrate this much needed new legislation.

After two dismal years of darkness, 2022 could herald exciting times for a lot of us. I, for one, will definitely be celebrating that.

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