I am Nikki Kulin otherwise known as Costa Celebrant. I have been holidaying in southern Spain for nearly 20 years having been introduced to Nerja by a neighbour whose sister has a holiday home here. Like many people who visit, I fell in love and returned year after year. It ticks so many boxes: a fabulous climate, friendly people, great food, sea and mountains. We invested in a holiday home 6 years ago and, 4 years ago, I brought my youngest son to attend the international school, have an adventure and learn Spanish. Having trained with the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants, I decided to offer my services as a Wedding Celebrant exactly as couples were deciding that they wanted something different away from the restrictions of a church or registry office ceremony. I have built a niche in handwriting unique ceremonies that are written by getting to know the couple in depth and creating something that reflects them as a couple, their relationship and their unique story. Opposite to many people, I spend the summers in Spain and the winter with my family in the UK. I have 4 children, one of whom is already married. I feel hugely honoured to be conducting my daughter’s Wedding Blessing Ceremony in 2020 here in Spain.
How could you define your job in a few words?
I am a fully qualified, independent Wedding Celebrant based between Southern Spain and Sussex in the UK. The question I am often asked is, 'What is a Celebrant?'. Well, I am trained by the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants to write and conduct Wedding Blessing Ceremonies in a location of your choice. A bit like a priest would be in a church, however, I conduct civil blessings which are unique and personal and handwritten to each couples’ individual personalities and relationship.
No two are the same, each telling the couples love story, and including elements to make it completely bespoke. Just to give a couple of examples, for instance, of two weddings I have conducted this summer. The first between a Czech bride and an Irish groom. There ceremony will take place in a Hotel in Marbella. There will be a Czech translator translating as I speak. The ceremony includes a warming of rings blessing at the beginning where each couple is invited to imbue the rings with their blessing. The couple will exchange personal and humorous promises and exchange rings. They will then take part in a Czech tradition. I will break a plate and they will, using a dustpan and brush, work together to clean up the broken parts. It symbolises the couple working together on their relationship.
The second wedding is between a Vietnamese bride, brought up in Germany, and a Hong Kong Chinese groom brought up in the south of the UK. The unique ceremony has been custom designed to reflect their cultures and will include a traditional Asian tea ceremony - where bride and groom with serve tea to their respective parents.
How long have you been doing this? How many couples did you help realise their dream ceremony?
I have been a Wedding Celebrant for 3 years. I have always loved weddings and as a trained Primary School teacher with an English specialism and have had a 17-career running my own business in charge of sales and marketing. This job brought together all my skills; however, I do think of it as a vocation – what I was always meant to do!
I have conducted over 50 weddings in all sorts of locations from Sotogrande, Marbella, Malaga, Seville, Ronda, Nerja, Granada and Barcelona. I love working with couples as I must get to know them well in order to bring their ceremony to life. One couple recently told me that I added real 'sparkle' to their day which is exactly what I hope to do!
What are your favourite locations? Is it more complicated to organise a wedding on the beach or one in the mountains, in a natural reserve?
I am so fortunate to get to see some absolutely amazing locations all across Spain and it would be hard not to like any of them when there is a backdrop of blue sky and sunshine. It would be very hard to determine a favourite. With regard to having a ceremony on the beach - there are many beach event spaces that have their own beaches which make this easier and I have recently read about a couple who had asked the Town Hall for permission to have their ceremony in a local nature reserve. I think anything is possible with a little organisation and we have such a wealth of possibilities which make it so special and unique.
What was the most unusual / strange thing that was asked by a couple? Because each and every ceremony is bespoke, there is not anything that stands out. Anything is possible although I think I would have to seriously think if I was asked to take part in a naturist wedding or one skydiving!!!
Are you a Wedding Planner?
I always go the extra mile with all my couples in helping and advising them. I am, however, not a Wedding Planner so my advice would be to seek specialist help from a professional who can also organise day before wedding parties etc. They are really good value and you will not regret booking one! There is an incredible amount of organisation involved in planning a wedding and especially a destination wedding. You will be able to tap into their expertise and experience with local suppliers, their knowledge of the local venues and language and on the day, a Wedding Planner is a must if you want to be able to sit back and enjoy the day.
What nationalities are your couples?
My couples come from all over the world. Southern Spain is such a special place and, with 320 days blue sky a year, what's not to like! I have worked with couples from all over the world. I love being able to research local wedding traditions and culture in order to be able to use these things in my ceremony writing.
Why did you choose to live here and why this job?
We have had a holiday home in Nerja for a number of years having holidayed here for over 15 years. It is such a special place and I would say that 95% of people who come, return year after year. I spend my winters in the UK and my summers here in Spain. Why a Celebrant? As I mentioned above, I LOVE weddings and when my son got married, he used a Celebrant.
With my background, I thought it would be the perfect job for me and I absolutely love it. I love getting to know my couples: all the guests will know that we know each other when I conduct the ceremony. I love the creative side of it - researching and using couples’ interests, culture and relationship to create a bespoke ceremony. I am a writer and originally came here to write a book – it remains unwritten, but I am delighted I can use my skill to create bespoke wedding ceremonies! I love the day itself - being part of such a special day and making sure that the ceremony sets the scene for the rest of the day. A truly special celebration of the individual love story of the couple.
What makes you different from other Celebrants?
There are Celebrants who have a set script and arrive and conduct the ceremony. I literally start with a blank page, each ceremony individually crafted exactly to the couple’s specification. I spend many, many hours in the lead up to the wedding with each couple, getting to know them and working with them to create something special. Whether it is favourite song lyrics, quotes from poetry, handwritten blessings, every element is carefully crafted. The day itself, is the icing on the cake, the culmination of months and months of preparation and I know my couple will be excited to share their handwritten ceremony with their guests. I truly put my heart and soul into what I do, and I am delighted that the 5-star testimonials reflect that. My testimonials show the passion I put into it and I was lucky enough to be a Regional Finalist in the prestigious Wedding Industry Awards 2019 voted for entirely by my couples and receive a Gold Certificate of Excellence from Bridebook.
I have an introductory video on my YouTube channel which explains a little more about how I construct a ceremony:
Find me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/costacelebrant
Find me on Instagram: www.instagram.com/costacelebrant