Ahead of carrying out her 100th wedding on campus on Saturday 21 July, we spoke with Susan Eastburn about the most interesting weddings she has coordinated here on campus, and why she thinks it's so special to get married in the Chapel.
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your current role as Chaplaincy and Weddings Coordinator?
My name is Susan Eastburn and I am currently the Chaplaincy and Weddings Coordinator. However in September, I am starting a new role with College as a Wellbeing Adviser in the Student Wellbeing team. My role here at Royal Holloway is quite varied and involves lots of looking after people, from Chaplains, to student faith societies, to brides and grooms!
2. What have you enjoyed most about your role?
I have just finished my seventh year in the Chaplaincy team, and I can honestly say that I have loved my job. I most enjoy when I can make a difference to someone, whether it is a student in need of support, or a bride who is feeling anxious.
3. We’ve heard that you’re doing your 100th wedding in the College Chapel on Saturday 21 July. What does this achievement mean to you?
When I took on this role, I had previously taken a career break of five years to look after my children and it all seemed so daunting. It is a big responsibility, not only do I need to ensure that every couple is legally married, there are often some unpredictable elements to weddings. Add in to this a nervous groom or an emotional bride and it can make for a challenging situation! Looking back, I never envisaged just how many weddings I would attend. It has been an honour and a privilege to be part of so many special days.
What has been the most interesting wedding you have coordinated here on campus?
It is hard to pick just one! There have been some unusual requests that I have had to politely decline such as a roller skating bride, a canine guest, and several Christmas trees. I have to regularly console brides who do not want the ramp outside Chapel, and have held a wedding rehearsal without a bride and without a groom (luckily not at the same time!). I think the wedding that stands out most was for a Japanese alumna. There were approximately 100 guests in the most beautiful traditional Japanese attire. As each guest left the Chapel, they bowed to both myself and the priest and it was truly humbling.
4. What would you say to colleagues who are considering getting married in the College Chapel?
Please just get in touch and ask for more information. We are not like a normal wedding venue as we offer weddings only for staff students and alumni who will all understand that College Chapel is situated in a busy working campus. We would be very happy to talk anyone through how it all works and what we offer.
5. Why is it so special to get married in the Chapel?
For our alumni, the Chapel is wrapped up in memories of their time here at College, and often the couples met here whilst studying. The Chapel holds so much significance as they had their graduation ceremony here, and it offers the opportunity for a religious ceremony. Of course, it is also possible to hold a reception here, and therefore the ceremony and reception can take place in one venue.
6. What do you enjoy doing outside of your work life?
I like spending time with my children, but equally I like time away from them! When I have some time to myself I like to go shopping, take my dog for a walk, and sing along badly to anything from the charts (making up the words much to the embarrassment of my teenage daughter).
7. You may have seen our latest recruitment campaign, ‘Find your why’. We are interested to find out what Royal Holloway has helped you to discover about yourself…
Royal Holloway has helped me to discover how much I enjoy working with people. Although I will be sad to say goodbye to my colleagues in Chaplaincy and the couples I am currently working with, I am very much looking forward to starting my new role in Wellbeing in September.