CHOOSING THE PERFECT CELEBRANT
By Nicole Penning
Congratulations – you are engaged! Yeah! No doubt your mind is racing, filled with Instagram inspiration, Pinterest pins and an onslaught of well-meaning opinions. But what is the one thing you can’t do without on your wedding day? A MARRIAGE CELEBRANT!
So, my first question to you is, do you actually know a celebrant yourself?
If your answer is “yes” lucky you, maybe you would consider them to be your celebrant for your special day?
Don’t feel you are under any obligation of course, if they are a potential guest at your wedding, they might prefer to sit back and watch your nuptials unfold. Or they might be over the moon to be asked to be your celebrant!
If you are not lucky enough to know a Celebrant yourself, I then ask you –
have you been to a wedding recently and you noticed the celebrant – for all the good reasons? Would you like this celebrant to be yours too? Or would you prefer not having the same celebrant as this your friend or family member?
Has anyone else you know been married recently, and they loved their celebrant? (Even if you didn’t happen to score an invite yourself to the wedding.) Ask them if they would recommend their celebrant to you? For those I can hear saying, but I don’t know any celebrants, I have never been to a wedding before and none of my family or friends have been married yet…! Don’t worry – I have you covered too.
Would you consider asking a friend or family member to become a celebrant? Yes, this is actually a thing! But it is not cheap, and it is not a quick and easy process to become a registered celebrant. If they are only planning on doing your wedding and that is it, it may not really be worth it! But why not consider it.
If all of the above fails, you might have to find a celebrant the good old-fashioned way. If this is the case, I highly recommend you attend as many of these as you can: wedding expos!
For the celebrants that are exhibiting, you can talk to them in person. Here you can ask face-to-face if they are available on your wedding date and what they offer. The best part, you can get an idea of their personality, style and character right there on the spot.
Obviously, there is always Google, any celebrant worth their weight in gold should have an online presence in some form. But really who would ever put any bad reviews about themselves online!
The next best way to find the perfect celebrant for you is, just like everything in life, word of mouth!
If you have exhausted all of the above options, try asking any of your suppliers that you already have booked in. Some of them will have worked with many celebrants one-on-one. Over time suppliers get to build a very close relationship with celebrants, they rely on each other to be able to perform their job correctly.
Apart from all the traditional online wedding directories, you can also find celebrants on the Australian Attorney Generals website: www.ag.gov.au where every singly registered celebrant in Australia is listed. There are nearly 10,000 celebrants in Australia – so knock your socks off! Don’t forget, you can also search for celebrants that are members of professional associations in Australia. There are (at the time of going to print) 19 official associations for celebrants in Australia, all have a directory of their members! So have fun hunting!
If possible, narrow it down to 10 or so celebrants and give them all a call if you haven’t already spoken to them at an expo. It might be tempting to just email, but really a phone call is the quickest way to ask their availability. Without knowing this, you are going in blind and wasting your time asking for a quote and their packages.
Then narrow it down to 4 or 5 digital calls if you prefer to meet this way. You are only going to Zoom with the celebrants that you connected with over the phone and who are available for your wedding day. It will be interesting to see what connection you can build virtually before deciding who to meet face-to-face. Once you know what they all have to offer and who you felt the greatest connection with, meet with 2 or 3 in person.
Any celebrant worth their weight in champagne should jump at the chance to see you for an obligation-free meeting! This will cement any feels you have about your celebrant options to this point and you’ll be on your way to locking in your official third wheel.
Take this decision seriously, but the delivery of your ceremony does not need to be. Yes, it is a formal occasion – the act of getting married, but it can be delivered in any way you wish. The delivery should reflect your personalities, your life together, your hobbies and your passions, and so, your celebrant needs to ultimately reflect this too.
What characteristics are important to you in your celebrant?
Celebrants can describe themselves in multiple ways and this will come across in the manner they deliver your ceremony.
Do you want a celebrant who is:
Fun, bubbly, excited
Passionate, dedicated, committed
Full time, professional, experienced, a leader
Charismatic, charming, appealing
Friendly, kind, caring
Trustworthy, genuine, honest, sincere
Reliable, dependable, responsible
Entertaining, exciting, funny, life of the party
Wise, role model material, parental figure.
When you are meeting with potential celebrants, be prepared to ask some questions.
Are you currently registered? (It is a federal offence for someone to take a booking for a wedding when they are not yet registered as a celebrant)
Is your registration up to date? (Celebrants must pay an annual celebrant registration charge each year to remain registered and complete compulsory Ongoing Professional Development to keep their registration.)
Are you available for my wedding? It is imperative to have your wedding date, time and location in mind or ideally locked in before speaking with any celebrants. A celebrant can not give you their availability or a full quote if you don’t know your date or location!
Are you a full-time celebrant? This can affect their availability for meetings and be a reflection of their passion for the job.
How long have you been a celebrant? This is a nice gauge of time, but not always a true reflection of their experience.
How many weddings have you performed so far? This will determine their level of experience, but not necessarily guarantee their skill or professionalism levels!
Do you write each ceremony from scratch and personalise it to the couple? Most registry style ceremonies may be a template, as you get what you pay for. But for a full-service celebrant package, your ceremony should be tailor made, unique, bespoke, personalised, customised, exclusively written – just for you!
Do you offer a rehearsal? You wouldn’t expect a performer to get up on stage without rehearsing, the same goes for a wedding and everyone who has a role to play in it. Even just a catch up over a coffee or a glass of wine is beneficial the week of the wedding to confirm all the details, but ideally, an on-site walk through is crucial to the success to any live event!
Do you have a celebrant buddy or two that could take over if need be? If anything were to happen to your original celebrant (leading up to the day or on the day itself) or you had to move your wedding date – what happens then! A celebrant buddy is what happens! A network of likeminded celebrants is KEY as a backup plan for any worst-case scenario.
Can we watch you perform a wedding in person, before we make our decision? I can’t believe how many couples don’t ask this question. Think about it, you taste the cake, you try on the dress, you listen to the band, you get a hair and makeup trial, you smell the flowers, so why not ask your celebrant if you can see them do a wedding? Make sense, right? If not, maybe they might have a video or two of some weddings they have performed, with footage of them speaking.
The very last you should ask any potential celebrant is how much do you charge (and what are your packages?) After they answer all the other questions above, their price should be very telling and a true reflection of how they view their role and the importance it plays on your wedding day!
After all your research and considerations, with all the answers to your questions so you can compare apples with apples, remember – your celebrant is the one who is a crucial part in delivering the feel of your wedding ceremony as they are the ones who will set the scene for your celebrations to come. They are your advocates and are ideally a reflection of who you are as a couple. They represent you, your family, your love and your life! In the months leading up to your big day you will be confiding in your celebrant and sharing with them your inner most thoughts and feelings. Hence, why it’s a big decision! Choose wisely, but take comfort in knowing there truly is the perfect celebrant out there for every couple!