Danielle Alex Balmer, wedding ceremonies creator, based in Ibiza :
"I want to find out the story of how they fell in love, what happened along their journey, and all the little details that went into it ..."
IB: Hello Danielle, first time you arrived in Ibiza you were only 19?! Wow!!! The energy of this island is incredible, don’t you think so? Would you share with us now a bit more of your impressions of Ibiza? First impressions, first jobs, I think that people will be surprised.
DAB: Thanks, yes I first started working on the island in 2009, I was 19 years old and came here as a Kids Rep in a hotel. I was looking after children who were on holiday with their families, I love children so it was a lot of fun for me. I did that for a couple of years, here and one year in Corfu , and it gave me my first experience of living abroad, meeting likeminded people, and of Ibiza! After working in Corfu I knew that Ibiza was where I wanted to be, so I started visiting the island a lot, during the winter too, and finally made the big move a couple of years later!
Ibiza can be a tricky island to find your place on and I had the vision of working for myself, but before I could make that happen I worked in some bars & restaurants which I got through some friends I’d made here in previous years.
It is almost 10 years now since I arrived on Ibiza for the first time and I couldn’t be happier. I loved the island from the moment I arrived, the laid-back way of life (although this does come with negatives, I have learned!), the weather of course, and the diversity of the island - the parties, beaches, hippy markets, scenery and people from all walks of life. I know it in a much deeper way now and I love it even more because of this, I am thrilled to be able to call Ibiza my home.
IB: Nice... And from all that crazy life, from the struggle to find basic necessities for life here on the island, you became not only a full resident but also managed to accomplish your aim of building a career and working from your home. Are you Proud?
DAB: Yes, wow I am still shocked and even a little overwhelmed to think about how it has all happened and come together, I couldn’t be happier.
I am very proud and thankful for all of the things that I went through along the way, all of the jobs I did and the hard work I put in to get to where I wanted to be eventually. I am proud that I didn’t let go of the dream I had of being my own boss, working from home and making a success of myself.
IB: Further more, you are working for yourself and I can say you are doing it really professionally, especially for someone of your age, with lots of love and attention. I was truly surprised when you explained what your job actually is. Will you please share this with us?
DAB: Thank you that’s so lovely of you to say, it’s true my job requires lots of love and attention!
I am a Celebrant, which means that I help people celebrate special occasions. Specifically, I write and perform wedding ceremonies, renewal of vows, baby naming ceremonies, and other events such as birthdays, hen parties and anniversary celebrations. I get to know the people that I work for, the couples, families, and friends, and write their stories to create memorable and meaningful ceremonies and events.
IB: I don’t know anyone who has this job, I didn’t even know that such a job exists. How did you find it? How did you decide: Yes! This is what I want to do!
DAB: Actually it wasn’t something that I had thought about before either, it wasn’t even on my radar, so it is quite a shock to have discovered it and realised that it is something that I am good at and that I love doing.
At the end of 2016, my best friend asked me to be her Maid Of Honor, for her wedding which is happening this year. A few months later I left my job and this time off gave me the opportunity to start researching wedding inspirations with her on Pinterest and online, which is when I stumbled upon wedding ceremony scripts. I was intruiged and read a few, and of course, the more you read the more appear on your feed, so I was soon deep in the world of ceremonies and all of the ideas and additions that go along with them. I had never realised that it was a part of a wedding day that had a lot of flexibility, but I discovered that with a celebrant led wedding, you have complete freedom and can make the ceremony totally differently every time. I am quite an emotional person (okay, very emotional), so I was really taken by this idea of each ceremony being created solely for the couple intended.
I decided to look into this more, and I found an online learning course with the UK Society Of Celebrants and I studied intensely for 3 months. I launched my website as soon as I became certified and started taking bookings soon after.
IB: That is amazing Danielle... But did you have any doubts? Every beginning is hard, no?
DAB: It was hard work but I never have any doubts. I knew that the business would start slowly as there are already excellent celebrants on the island, who have been doing this job here for years. So a lot of my work was raising awareness, creating my brand and marketing at first, which for someone with no experience of doing this is very challenging - but I am totally savvy at it now!
I did some babysitting and other odd jobs alongside the celebrant business at first, but I was confident right from the start that what I was doing would interest people and be a success. Then, I took two fairly last minute bookings quickly after launching my website, and from then things have just gotten busier and busier.
IB: Congratulation! ... I would like to go back to your work now and how it looks like. Different couples are coming to you, I mean we are all different, and I suppose that all of us have our own ceremony in our head, how does that look from your perspective? Is it hard to move quickly from one couple to another? Are their expectations of you different?
DAB: To be honest most couples don’t know what to expect when organizing their ceremony itself, or of the process that goes into creating a personal ceremony led by a Celebrant. So normally I take the lead at first and explain the process, I get them to tell me their story, I ask about their hobbies and their interests, and I give them ideas which are inspired by their answers.
Every couple is totally different, so it’s easy to work with many couples and get into a different mindset each time, it’s just as you would do with any of your friends!
IB: That is so nice... and what is demanded the most? What is the most common wish of the couples that come to you?
DAB: Ooh that’s a tricky one because every couple has different elements which are important to them. I would say that the sand unity ceremony is probably the most popular request that I get, which is when the couple each pour sand from individual glasses into a central vase, symbolizing the unity of two people coming together in marriage. It is a lovely one as they get to take that sand home with them afterwards in the vase, giving them a meaningful, symbolic souvenir of their special day.
IB: Nice, I think everybody loves weddings, please tell me, did you ever cry during the ceremony?
Sorry I forgot to mention that this lady has the best view of the ceremony (she can see everyone)! She is not just the writer in case it is not clear for everyone, like it was not for me at first, she is the one leading the ceremony.
Let us know more about that emotion, do you get really close to couples? And off course describe to us that amazing view that you are so lucky to have.
DAB: I haven’t cried yet, but I have been really close and I’m sure that it is going to happen very soon!
My goodness the view that I have is the best, yes. To be able to stand up at the front and see the look on the family and friends faces, to witness the big entrance face on, and see the couple look into each other’s eyes as they say their vows and place the rings on each others fingers is so magical.
The fact that I do get to know each couple very well beforehand means that when I tell them that they may now kiss, and I introduce them to their loved ones with their married names, it is incredibly moving.
IB: Beautiful... Do you spend a lot of time on one couple before wedding ?
DAB: Yes definitely, I mean, in regards to only taking one booking per day this is an important factor on their wedding day itself, it gives the couples a sense of stability and that they don’t need to worry about me being on time or rushing off.
But the time that I spend with each couple is actually in the lead up to the day. The Written For You package that I offer is very involved, I spend a lot of time getting to know every couple, writing their script, giving them ideas and making sure they are happy with everything before the big day.
IB: It is a beautiful job and you do it beautifully. In my opinion the biggest confirmation of your work is that you are already booked for 2020! Congratulations!
DAB: Thank you so much, yes I have started to take bookings for 2020 which is crazy, I am so excited and honored that people want to secure me so far in advance. 2019 is looking to be really busy now too, I still have plenty of availability but it’s filling up fast. I hope that I will be able to take some last minute bookings next year as I know that couples organise things at different rates, so I will try to make sure that I leave some dates free for those who are not looking to book until a few months before.
IB: Thank you for your time, I know it is precious.
If this wasn’t enough for you, you can find more about Danielle here.