ILKLEY celebrant Mark Gregory is set to represent Yorkshire and the North East at the national finals of The Wedding Industry Awards after winning the regional award for 'Special Touch' at the Yorkshire and the North East regional final.

At weddings, Mark's business Mark Your Occasion, provides a range of services including: writing and delivering the ceremonies as a celebrant; providing entertainment in the form of live music, game shows, and quizzes; hosting and toasting the event as a master of ceremonies and toastmaster; and even writing bespoke poetry for couples who wish to have their love story told in a truly unique way.

Established in 2011, The Wedding Industry Awards ensure that there is a credible and reliable independent regional and national awards process and events for the wedding industry. They are the only client-voted regional and national awards in the wedding industry.

Having launched his business in September 2020, following the completion of his training as a celebrant throughout the Covid lockdown, Mark had previously entered the awards twice, in 2022 and 2023, with limited success.

"Businesses can choose which category they're entered into, and the first year I entered, I was in the 'Celebrant' category," said Mark. "Much of the work I was doing was focused around being a wedding celebrant, so it was the most fitting category for me at the time. That year, I won the 'Highly Commended' Award, which was extremely unexpected given how young my business was at the time.

"In 2023, I entered both the Celebrant and Live Music Act categories, as I had begun to take on just as many weddings as a singer as I was doing as a celebrant. But I didn't win anything in either category.

"This year I had been doing even more than just conducting ceremonies and providing live music, so I felt that both of those categories were too limiting – neither of them would allow me to showcase my business in its entirety. The quizzes, MCing, game shows, and poems that had made my couples so happy over the past year would have been completely overlooked, so I felt I needed to change it up."

According to The Wedding Industry Awards' website, the 'Special Touch' category is designed for businesses that "Don't fit into one of the other categories." It continues: "A discerning market dedicated to personalising weddings in all sorts of ways has opened up many opportunities for small businesses to cater for these needs."

Mark felt the category was a good fit for him, and it proved to be true, as he overcame competition from five other businesses within Yorkshire and the North East to claim the regional prize.

The National Awards night takes place on January 24 in London.