FOR MANY MONTHS, Sue Cairnie had a conundrum: She knew she loved creating ceremonies and wanted to be a celebrant; she just had no idea how to turn that passion into a paying job.
“I knew that was my passion or my calling. I had a burning desire to make money doing what I love, but I’d never met anyone who did what I wanted to do,” says Cairnie, owner of Earth to Sky Ceremonies.
What she wanted to do was create the ceremony—the words and the steps—that mark life’s most special moments: commitments, births and deaths.
Cairnie discovered celebrancy through her sister, who was getting married and couldn’t find quite the right person to lead the ceremony.
“The percentage of people who want to get married in a church is declining and they also want something more personal. This generation really values individualization,” says Cairnie. “Some people grow up with religion and they have that system for marking important transitions, but for those who don’t, they still want and need that ritual, and to create something meaningful.”
Cairnie literally stepped in.
At her sister’s ceremony, there was singing. There was a procession of drums. There was a story, the couple’s very own story, told by Cairnie.
“It was so creative and so fun. So many people said they’d never been to a ceremony like that, and afterwards my dad said, ‘You need to find a way to do this for your job.’”
So, Cairnie pursued two paths: the education and training she needed to become the kind of celebrant she wanted to be, and the education and training she needed to turn her talents into a viable business.
First, she approached Community Futures North Okanagan, and eventually made her way into the organization’s Self-employment Services.
Next, while she took the workshops and did the work of planning to open a successful business, she embarked on her celebrant training. After eight months of celebrancy training Cairnie became a Certified Life Cycle Celebrant through the Celebrant Foundation and Institute, an Ordained Inter-faith Minister through the Canadian & International Metaphysical Ministry and a Red-corded Priestess through the Red Moon Women’s Mystery School.
In June 2016, she was ordained as a minister and graduated from the self-employment program. She performed four weddings (her area of specialization), and will perform more than 20 this summer.
The support from Community Futures North Okanagan (CFNO), says Cairnie, gave her “an incredible leg up.”
“There’s no way I would have been able to do as much with my business while working full-time and getting started,” says Cairnie, who studied sociology and ended up working with special needs children. “I’m a creative type. I’m not a business-minded person, so they covered all these steps which I would have muddled through on my own.”
In addition to the “free and amazing” (government-funded) tools and workshops, Cairnie said she also felt supported by the people at CFNO, especially her mentor, Kazia Mullin.
“I felt like she had a genuine interest in me and my success.”
Just a year after the launch of her business, and Cairnie has become a sought after celebrant for a range of unique ceremonies, including blessingways to support women about to give birth, naming ceremonies, and commitment or wedding ceremonies that incorporate glass-breaking, ‘jumping the broom’ or Celtic hand-fasting rituals.
Unlike officiants of traditional wedding ceremonies (though her vows are legal), Cairnie encourages guests to cheer, sing and dance as they see fit. And she carefully writes a script that revolves around the couple’s unique love story and values.
“Every ceremony is unique. I want people to feel like they’re a part of something, not just a spectator. I think that’s how I help create a feeling of connection and community.”
Are you thinking about starting your own business? Set yourself up for success with the training and resources provided through Community Futures North Okanagan’s Self-employment Services program. Reach out today!