By Isabella McGrath
A gleaming white aisle scattered with roses of red, pink and white. Adorning the sides, are tall ivory vases filled to the brim with sunflowers brighter than the sun and roses the colour of blood. They alone separate the glistening aisle from the vanilla fabric covered chairs bowed with royal blue satin.
At the end of the aisle is the most important person of the day. Next to him is the people getting married.
Drew Ricker loves being that important person. If anyone knows a thing or two about watching people walk down the aisle it’s Ricker. A celebrant since 2016, Ricker has seen it all in terms of weddings: the good, the bad, the intriguing and the strange.
Chilling in his home office chair, he is clothed in a black shirt and light pink shorts. A former Sunshine Coast PE teacher-turned-school counsellor, Ricker is not the usual formally dressed celebrant and that’s because he’s not the typical celebrant. One of the youngest on the coast, Ricker breathes fresh air into traditional celebrancy.
Ricker started down this career path when he went to wedding and things didn’t play out to plan for the celebrant. He was left wondering why the couple even picked that person to marry them. “I just didn’t feel like they vibed,” he says. After bragging to a few friends about how he could do better, they laid down the gauntlet. “A couple of friends threw me down the challenge,” he says. “I took up the challenge and did my certificate over the six-week Christmas break.”
Ricker seems to attract a certain market of happy couples. Most of his clientele are between 25 to 40 years old — a similar age to himself, at 35. Ricker readily admits that most people who come and see him could end up being his friends, partly due to the similar sense of humour they share. “We have that bond to start off with a little bit. I’ve kept in contact with a couple of people. These people are really good and easy people to speak to,” he says.
Ricker is all for the traditional and formal ceremony, but he’ll happily take part in the wild, funny, and strange ones too. There isn’t much Ricker won’t do for the happy couple. As long as all the legal items are ticked off, it’s free range. “I always say to them we can just do whatever you want to do … I haven’t had any crazy, really weird, like rock up naked requests,” he laughs. It may be a bit of push to get Ricker to marry you naked.
Ricker has a few little tricks up his short-sleeved button down to help the couple relax and tell their stories. Like playing rock, paper, scissors or flipping a coin for who goes first to say their vows. “It’s a fun way… of making a decision a bit more light-hearted,” he says. Ricker finds it helps break the tension, allowing the couple to feel more relaxed.
The work is fulfilling for Ricker who says it’s nice to be around happy adults compared to the not-always happy adults you meet when being a teacher. “(It is) something that is meaningful, and I think that I can make it fun as well,” he says. Being a celebrant takes up a lot of his time throughout the year and he works casually as a teacher now so he can focus more on being a celebrant. He wouldn’t change that, and he loves working with kids and being a celebrant.
Standing at the end of the gleaming aisle the happy couple prepare their battle faces. Shoulders tense: this is make it or break it. Whoever wins gets to pick the order.
Ricker stands between them. “Are you ready?” Ricker asks, casting his eyes from one to the other. The happy couple nod, their right hands forming tight fists.
“Rock … Paper … Scissors!”