Break Time with Union Friends: Michele Davidson, Modern Celebrant

Michele Davidson Modern Celebrant

We are so excited to share with you this series where we interview our lovely Union Friends. We are always blown away by the passion and incredile talent in the Vancouver wedding industry and we wanted to share these amazing people with you all.

It has been quite a while since we’ve shared a Union Friends interview with you. Over the last 6 months our focus has been on all of the weddings that we’ve been lucky enough to photograph. Which unfortunately means that we’ve dropped the ball on keeping up with these interviews. To be honest we had tea with Michele AGES ago but she has been very gracious and understanding which is just one of the many reasons that we love her.

But enough about us! Today we are so happy to introduce to you Michele Davidson from Modern Celebrant. Michele is an inspiration to us. We knew that her ceremonies were something special just from hearing her talk with such passion about her work. This summer we finally had the chance to work with her and we still get chills when we remember the special wedding ceremony she created for Leah & Mike. Getting to experience her work first hand was incredible. If you are looking for a truly special ceremony for you and your loved ones, hire her.

Now, on to the interview.

Why weddings? What do you love about them?

My ceremonial practice covers all kinds of ceremonies from birth to marriage to the end of life. Weddings are the perfect balance to the more somber ceremonies. Being with a couple at that particular time in their life is so beautiful. I love helping them see that the wedding is more than just the externals; that the internal world is very important too. People share things with me, especially men, that they haven’t told anyone else before. When I ask them what it means to them to become a husband, it is powerful for a lot of men because no one has ever really asked them that before. It is fun getting a window into people’s hearts.

What is your most memorable/best experience in business?

I speak slowly during a ceremony so that everyone slows down. We don’t have many moments in life where we are all experiencing emotions of the heart at the same time. That is what I call portal moments. It feels like a portal opens to another world and we all step through it together. I’ve had moments where you can hear a pin drop in a really large ceremony. I look out and people are sitting on the edge of their seats and they have tears and are holding their hand to their hearts. It is a sacred collective space.

Of course there are lots of funny memories too, like when people flub their vows. One time a bride kept looking at me during the vows and I told her to look at her groom and into his eyes. I said the vow so she could repeat it and she just looked at me and said “Yeah, what you said! You made it sound so good!”

There was a wedding that stands out where the groom started sobbing when he saw his bride for the first time coming down the aisle. I actually wondered if he was going to be OK. He put his arm around me and I put mine around him and he said to me “I’ve been waiting for this moment for so many years and now here she is!” Hearing him say that was so touching. It made me realize how deeply the guys feel these things too. It isn’t just the brides. It was such a beautiful thing to experience.

tea with Modern Celebrant

What is your favourite part of a wedding?

For me it is right before the couple say their vows. I get them to turn to each other and hold hands and I consciously don’t leap right into the vows. By taking that moment you can feel everyone become very present with each other. It is a very powerful thing to be standing so closely to a couple when they say words to each other that mean so much to them. I do start to cry sometimes. I don’t sob but sometimes I need to get a tissue and collect myself. It is because I’ve come to really care about them.

What is your best piece of advice for an engaged couple?

My best piece of advice is to take the time to be engaged before you start planning the wedding. Really enjoy being engaged because it is a time in your life that you can never ever duplicate. It is a very special time with a special feeling associated with it. It is a time of hope and promise. If you leap immediately into the wedding planning you won’t have time to savour that. It is like rushing through dinner at Hawksworth.

What is the one thing about you that not many people may know?

I’m a literary snob who reads People magazine.

I also have a weird ability to swim in cold oceans. In the summer I swim regularly off of English Bay for 45 minutes. I can do it even at the end of September and without a wet suit. My husband has learned to never trust me when I tell him to come into the water. I’m out frolicking and he runs in and freezes. I think it is my Scottish blood.


What is your most prized possession?

One of the things that I would try to save in a fire is my great grandfather, Alexander’s proposal to my great grandmother Fannie.  It would have been in the 1890s and I have the hand written letter of his proposal to her. He was in his mid 50s and she was younger than him. The proposal expresses his affection for her and also what he could offer her. He wrote that he could offer her a life of stability, security and love and that she would be cherished. It is a very moving letter.

What was the best decision you ever made?

The best decision I ever made was to go traveling in South East Asia by myself when I was very young. I quit university and traveled by myself for a year in a time when it wasn’t that common to travel alone as a woman. It really helped me to know who I am. I got away from all of my labels and could just be who I was. It was hard at times but so worth it.

talking with Michele Davidson

If you could learn one random skill, what would it be?

I would love to learn how to play the ukulele. I have a really beautiful one and I need to learn how to play it.

What is inspiring you lately?

There is a Japanese expression, Shinrin-yoku, that translates to forest bathing. I get a lot of inspiration walking in the forest or walking by water. I turn off my brain and meditate. They’ve done studies that show that the photogens and natural chemicals in a forest seep into your body and relax you. I also carry my iPhone and I’m the crazy lady talking into my iPhone dictating writing ideas that have come into my head.

If you could trade places with another person for a week, who would it be?

Holly! Just kidding!

Probably with my friend and mentor, Molly, who is 81. I go to visit her every year at her home in France. She lived a very bohemian, intellectual life in post war Europe. She has had a fascinating life. Her and her husband encouraged me to fly differently than the suburban world that I grew up in. I met her in Nepal when I was working there as a trekking guide and they hired me to take them to Everest base camp. I was 24 when we met and I’ve seen her almost every year since then.

Failing that I would like to be Anne Boleyn, because I would have loved to get a close up view of Henry VIII. I would like to know what that guy was really like.


Michele, thank you so much for taking the time to drink tea and do this interview with us. We hope that we will get the chance to work with you again soon. The moments that you create for your clients makes our hearts sing as we click away. You have an amazing gift and we’re so glad that you are sharing it.