Local Celebrant Nominated For Wedding Industry Awards
Mark, pictured here with TWIA Founder Damien Bailey, picking up the 'Highly Commended Celebrant' at January's Regional Final. Photo: The Wedding Industry Awards
It may only be the middle of 2022, but local celebrant Mark Gregory, owner of events business Mark Your Occasion, has already received several nominations for the 2023 edition of The Wedding Industry Awards.
Mark, who offers services as a celebrant, live vocalist, master of ceremonies, quizmaster, live gameshow host and awards ceremony emcee, was Highly Commended at last year’s Regional Final for Yorkshire and the North East, and is hoping to go one step further this time around and reach the National Final.
Mark Gregory, founder of Mark Your Occasion. Photo: Sam Chipman Photography
“Last year I was really surprised to be nominated, as it was my first full year in the industry and wasn’t expecting to make much of an impact. But to earn a nomination into the Regional Final – and then to go on and win the Highly Commended award – was a real surprise!”
Established in 2011, The Wedding Industry Awards ensure that there is a credible and reliable independent regional and national awards process and events. They are the only client-voted regional and national awards in the wedding industry and, according to their website, their judging panel comprises over 100 industry experts.
“For me the Wedding Industry Awards are the pinnacle of the wedding industry in the UK. There are plenty of awarding bodies in this country, but TWIA was the only one I’d heard of before I started working in the industry, and it’s the one I always hear other suppliers talking about in positive terms.”
Mark marrying a couple surrounded by a 90s theme at the Engine Shed in Wetherby earlier this year. Photo: Richards and Co Photography.
Mark, from Addingham, is a graduate of the University of St Andrews and is a former cruise ship entertainer. He also spent time in Cyprus working as a live singer and Segway tour guide, as well as more recently teaching English in Germany before returning to the UK in March 2020, shortly before lockdown.
“I think my experience in the public sphere has really helped me to offer exceptional service to my couples. Being a good celebrant requires excellent speaking skills, among other things, and performing in front of hundreds of people on the cruise ships, as well as on the West End and Broadway, means I’m confident when delivering scripts and stories about each individual couple.”
Mark’s route to becoming a celebrant wasn’t an easy one, though. His mother, Jane Gregory, a teaching assistant at Addingham Primary School, where Mark attended in the 1990s, passed away in September 2019, and Mark played a pivotal role in her funeral.
“I was keen to speak at my mum’s funeral, so I wrote and delivered the eulogy on the day to over one hundred people – she was a very popular lady and the funeral was exceptionally well-attended. After the event, the Funeral Director we had used – John Whitham, a good friend of my mother’s – told me I’d make a good celebrant. At first I didn’t even know what a celebrant was, but after a little bit of research I decided it was possible he might be right!”
Mark then trained with the UK Society of Celebrants in Family and Funeral Celebrancy, allowing him to conduct funeral and wedding ceremonies, among others. Celebrants are generally non-religious alternatives to ministers, and Mark prides himself on the flexibility and personalisation that he offers his couples and families.
“Ever since I finished my training I’ve been looking for ways to truly make people’s wedding days special and memorable. This has included singing a bride down the aisle in her beautiful back garden, reading out the lyrics to R Kelly’s ‘Bump ’n’ Grind’ as if it was a Shakespeare poem, and getting all the guests to play the kazoo to the Beatles’ ‘All You Need Is Love’ with the O2 Arena in the background!”
The Regional Finals of the Wedding Industry Awards will take place in November 2022, with the National Final taking place in January 2023.