Choosing your celebrant
Woohoo, you’re getting married!! There’s so much to do for your big day. If you are not having your ceremony in the church or at the local registration office then you will need a celebrant. Its best to organise your celebrant early, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I like to say in my opinion- the celebrant is the Third most important person on the day, after the bride and groom, because without the celebrant you do not have a legal wedding. A legal wedding is the point of the big day.
Good celebrants book out early, most people are organising their wedding months and sometimes years in advance and a celebrant can be booked months or even years in advance too. The only time constraints placed upon the celebrant is when they can actually commence the legal administration. That is, the NOIM (the notice of intention to marry) form that can lodged no earlier than 18 months before the wedding and no later than a month before the wedding.
There are many many celebrants, and they each have different styles. Its best to meet with a few of them and see which ones you feel most comfortable with. Consider not just their price, but what they include (is the service personalised, is travel an additional fee, how many meetings will you have prior to the wedding) and what their reviews say. When you do meet up consider if you both feel comfortable, able to relax and to speak openly. Regardless of how you might think you will feel on the day, it is likely you will feel more nervous than that! Everyone is there, everyone is watching, - and you are about to marry the person of your dreams, those big monumental moments create big monumental feelings within us. So you need someone who you feel ‘gets you’ and who ‘gets’ your relationship and what it means to you both to get married.
A good celebrant will offer to meet with you, free of charge, to give you the opportunity to ask your questions and for them to explain how they do what they do best. So what questions could you ask them? Here's some that I’ve put together in my Q&A interview with myself.
Q. “How long have you been a celebrant and how many ceremonies have you performed?”
A. I completed my Certificate IV in Celebrancy 2013 and applied for my registration the same year, I did my first wedding in March 2014. The couple were friends of my friend, a week later I married my cousin and his partner. Since then I have officiated over 100 weddings (I celebrated 100 weddings in September 2018 and had to order my new registration book for it, it was very exciting) and I’ve performed vow renewals for 5 year, ten year, 20 year and 40 year anniversaries. Further, I have officiated many naming days for little boys and girls, some of whose parents I had married prior, creating a lovely thread for their special days. I consider that I have lots of experience, but I still believe that there is lots more I can learn and I read lots of related materials, and I encourage my clients to provide feedback so that I can continue to provide the best service.
Q. “How many services do you perform on a day?”
A. Mostly just the one. However, I have in the past performed my than one ceremony in the day, only when there is significant time gap between them and generally, they are within a close distance to each other. I always arrive early to all my appointments, I give a time of being there half an hour before the ceremony, however I am usually there before then. That allows me time to check the area for any trip hazards for you and your guests, assist with any last minute decorating if required and perform a sound check after I have set up.
Q. “That leads to my question about the PA system, do you provide it on the day?”
A. Yes- I bring along my own PA system, it has a rechargeable battery so it is always fully charged and doesn’t require a power source. Most of the ceremonies are in gorgeous remote locations such as a beach or park and the PA needs that ability. The PA allows for the guests to hear both myself and you during the service, so they can hear you declare your love and commitment to each other, but also for anyone you may have doing a reading.
The PA is also able to play your music, either via USB or it can Bluetooth connect to a guests ph, and they can then control the songs and the volume.
Q . I have ideas for the ceremony and we would like to write our own vows, is that ok?
A Yes, it is totally ok, in fact each ceremony I do is exactly what the couple want, word for word. Most couples have no idea where to start with the ceremony preparation. But that's ok because I know and I will be helping you. Together we will discuss all the ideas and beliefs that you have about marriage and what your special day means to you. We will also consider all the people in your lives and who you may like to consider to include in the service. This may be a few people (or just the one) to read a poem, or something that they have prepared themselves. You will also consider who the official witnesses will be for your legal paperwork. I will ask you both to complete some ‘homework’ with the ‘relationship survey’ that I have put together to collect all the nice bits and pieces about you as a couple and all the wonderful stories that we can consider sharing in your service. After I have prepared your ceremony, I will send it back to you to review and edit, and we can do that back and forth as many times as we need until you are hundred percent happy with the official ceremony of the day.
Remember you can prepare as many questions as you like, so make notes in the week leading up to your meeting. They may not all relate to the celebrant and their work, some may be about weddings in general, as celebrants we attend lots of weddings and meet lots of services. You could ask if there are any photographers or DJs that we have met and recommend. Ask everything, after all, the worst case is – we simply don’t know and we could google it on the phone together during the meeting!
Best wishes finding your celebrant for your special day, Tanya