Danna D. Schmidt

Master Life-Cycle Celebrant®

Ordained Wedding Officiant

Funerals/Memorials Specialist

Danna D. Schmidt

Master Life-Cycle Celebrant®

Ordained Wedding Officiant

Funerals/Memorials Specialist

What led you to celebrancy work?

The short answer is May 2009. The long answer goes something like this….

Love.
It was the 25th anniversary of my husband and I meeting, and we wanted to commemorate the occasion with a vow renewal ceremony on Oahu. I began searching for a Celebrant who would officiate a simple re-commitment ceremony, and who would work with me to co-craft meaningful readings and rituals.

I looked forward to our vow renewal as an opportunity for a vow redux, because the religious rogue and feminist in me had never fully embraced the…ahem…obey part of my vows. This dissidence and doubt led to some rather heated arguments with our Lutheran Pastor on biblical exegesis and the etymology of obedience back in the day. All of which I understood but never fully embraced because the simple truth was, I wanted an opportunity to express my vows in precisely my own words. And so that is what we would come to do. Curt and I would end up crafting our own vows to each other – only this time I deliberately omitted the word obey and he, in full-circle fashion, chose to declare it in his vows, for bemusement’s sake. 

So here we were, 25+ years later, living proof that it’s never too late to go back and have a ceremonial do-over for any occasion or season of life, no matter how belated.

We had sourced and hired a delightful Hawaiian Celebrant, although in retrospect, it was clear the man was not accustomed to personalizing readings and rituals with clients. (Case in point – he inquired if the reading we had selected ~ the very lovely if hugely popular poem, “On Marriage” by Kahlil Gibran ~ was something I had penned). I admitted that it was not but that he might want to file it away for his Celebrant readings list. I began to wonder, upon his query though, if this is really how the typical officiant deal goes down. That curiosity would still need to percolate a few years though, as it turned out.

Loss.
May of 2009 would also become a time of profound loss for our family. The day after we celebrated our vow renewal on Ke Iki Beach, we learned our 17-year old niece had committed suicide. So there we would gather not 24 hours later, numb with shock and grief, at an adjacent locale on the same North Shore beach, in order to commemorate her life with a poignant sunset memorial service. The ceremonial leis that we wore with such joy the day prior became the commemorative leis we would craft into floral hearts on the beach and later cast to sea with our tears, as evidence of our sorrow. It was immensely heartbreaking while at the same time, a wholly authentic and transformative grief ritual.

Her formal Celebration of Life, scheduled for the following week, would prove uncomfortable for a number of reasons, most notably because the manner of her death was not spoken aloud, despite being ever present in the hearts and minds of all. She deserved to have her story told in a way that honored the truth and beauty of her 17 years, 5 months and 12 days upon the planet. And she deserved a more sacred and honest witnessing as last nod and mourner’s testament of her choice to take her own life. I carried this ceremonial unease with me for years following until it eventually transfigured into my personal call to action. 

The degree to which both these life events might have benefitted from a more professional and skilled celebrant was obvious to me. They would prove to be the impetus for me in pursuing my certification with the Celebrant Foundation & Institute three and a half years later.

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