Brent Sheppard has witnessed a lot of kissing in his time.
As a licensed wedding officiant, Sheppard has participated in more than 3,000 weddings across B.C. Now he’s hoping to share his experience and oversee more unions in the South Cariboo.
“Every wedding is full of fun memories and moments,” said Sheppard, who recently bought property at Bridge Lake and plans to move there full-time. “I have been flown by helicopter and plane and travelled by 4WD or RV to officiate weddings all over beautiful British Columbia. The Cariboo is an awesome part of B.C., for a destination wedding.”
Sheppard said he got into the wedding industry by accident. He had been working for several charities from 1979 to 1999, often with at-risk youth, and eventually became an honorary minister with the Apostolic Church of Canada, earning himself the nickname of Rev. Sheppard. Several of those youth later invited him to officiate their weddings and before he knew it he found himself uniting about 100 couples a year.
“Soon it was a cottage industry for us, and now in our semi-retired years, a great way to keep busy and have fun,” he said, adding that his wife Tracy is also a licensed wedding officiant.
Although COVID-19 halted many ceremonies in the past two years, Sheppard managed to keep busy with weddings across the province. He said there are usually about 24,000 couples married annually in B.C., while there were 100 weddings in 100 Mile House in 2019 and 800 across the entire Cariboo.
With the recent influx of his fellow “604s” – people who have moved here from the Lower Mainland where the area code is 604 – Sheppard expects to see more weddings in the Cariboo. As a result, he plans to transition from doing most of his weddings in the Lower Mainland to the Cariboo in the next few years. He’s bought himself a trailer to use as he travels to venues across the Interior.
While he’s a man of faith, Sheppard said the weddings he officiates are only religious at a couple’s request. He believes that good communication between an officiator and a couple is key to a successful wedding.
“Most couples want a non-religious ceremony, but they want a minister or clergymen to perform the ceremony. No problem. That is the unique niche that has kept us quite busy over the last three decades.”
Sheppard advises couples to immediately secure a wedding officiator after arranging the date and venue for their marriage. There are only about 1,000 officiators in B.C.
When a couple does hire him, Sheppard said he likes to meet them if possible and have an ongoing dialogue over email to answer any questions. He also makes it a point to show up to wedding rehearsals to ensure everything goes smoothly on the big day.
“Our approach is it’s a formal event but let’s have some fun too,” Sheppard said. “Practice kissing, I say with a wink, preferably with each other.”
Anyone interested in contacting Sheppard is invited to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or check how his website HeyRev.com.