Languages: English, Spanish, & French
I’m Shahnaz, a Swiss-Bolivian-Iranian mutt living in Portugal.
After a decade of working in public health, project management, and communications in Switzerland and the US, I decided it was time to fulfill a lifelong dream to live on a farm. Luckily, my husband and I agreed on this being a good idea, so we left New York City and traveled around the world for a year. We volunteered on farms a lot, to test my theory of wanting to live on a farm “hands on” before putting the idea into practice, and since April 2017 we have been based in Portugal.
Here, we’re in the process of renovating an old farm to turn it into an eco-tourism project. In parallel, I work online doing project management and consulting. I also write, everything from articles to short stories, usually about topics that are near and dear to my heart. That means food, travel, the environment, relationships, startups, living a sustainable life, farming, writing, and more. I’ve never been very good at fitting into boxes.
What attracted you to becoming a wedding celebrant?
I met my Belgian-Dutch husband in New York, back when I was still a commitmentphobe (true, if long, story). We celebrated getting married four times – legally in NYC, with a reception for my family and friends in Bolivia, over brunch in Amsterdam for Francois’ family, and with a big week-long party in Mallorca.
I love planning and organizing events, and celebrating life. A total foodie, I opted out of asking people “what do you do” years ago because I would much rather know what makes them gush with infectious enthusiasm and stay up way past their bedtime.
When I got married, I had heard from a lot of friends that it was a stressful process, prone to cause tensions with family members and your life partner. I think I did it all wrong, because I had a blast organizing my wedding – and as a result, the idea of being there for other couples, to make their day a bit more special, fun, and stress-free, seems like a great way to spend my time.
What do you wish for the couples that you marry?
Happiness, and the understanding that it is a choice you make every day. I hope the couples I marry will never lose sight of what matters, and find a way to balance the everyday details with the bigger picture.
What is something people would never guess about you?
I can touch my nose with my tongue. I used to be incredibly shy. I’ve started multiple businesses. I was on a Swiss TV show about Mongolia.
This is an incredible adventure you’re embarking on, and finding the right wedding celebrant will make your wedding day that much more special. Just like perfect individuals don’t exist, but individuals perfect for each other just might, I think big days often have unexpected twists and turns – and if you’re in the right kind of company, it becomes part of the ride. So, if you’re looking for someone who isn’t so good at labels, but who will tailor your ceremony to celebrate you and your tribe… Here I am, raising my hand.