What exactly do wedding celebrants do, and how do you choose one?

This question gets asked a lot and in the few years I have been in this business I have gained some perspective, but more about that later.

In a nutshell the Celebrant you choose is responsible for the legal part of your wedding. They ensure the Notice of Intention to Marry is filled in, signed and witnessed correctly. Making sure you understand it must be lodged with them at least one month before the ceremony. The celebrant must also be sure you are who you say you are, therefore identity checks are mandatory. Furthermore they need to be satisfied that you understand the serious nature of marriage and that you are aware of relationship counselling if you choose to use it.

Then they present the ceremony using all the correct legal words with no additions or flourishes [because it sounds better] and they make sure all the paperwork is filled in correctly, signed, witnessed and forwarded promptly to the Births, Deaths and Marriages in the state you are married in. This all sounds very straightforward and it is, but if they get it wrong they face big fines and you are not legally married. The person you choose will have a Celebrant Service Agreement, it is wise to check this out for more information.

If you are under age, want to get married before one month or your ID is not straightforward your celebrant will advise you on how to proceed so you still meet the requirements of the law.

ARE ALL CELEBRANTS THE SAME?

No definitely not. Like all things in life some are better than others. Your celebrant is fulfilling the legal obligation to marry you. Each of them are different, some are funny, some are quirky, others are more quiet and gentle. They are not there to be your best friend you already have those. Getting married has a serious side, if you want comedy then after the ceremony may be the best time for that. Probably their most important attribute is that they need to understand people, get you as a couple and a family and use that to write your perfect ceremony. All celebrants operate under a Code of Conduct and they need to give you a copy of that after you have booked them or point you towards where you can find it. You should also be aware of how to make a complaint if you need to. Celebrants are answerable not only to you but to the Attorney Generals Department. The Celebrant can make or break your wedding ceremony.

DO YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR?

In a sense this is true as most celebrants offer packages where you can choose what you want included on the day. Many popular celebrants who are always being recommended will charge more, but if you cant get that $4000 dress you probably cant get them either. Civil Celebrants will charge anywhere between $400 to $1400. Each of them are doing the same thing but with their own unique touch.

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE?

Best advice, first check out the website for costs and inclusions. If all looks good there, message or email them and set up a chat or meeting. You will only know for sure after you have talked to someone if they are right for you. It is OK to set up a meeting with 2 or 3 celebrants but if you like the first one best that is OK too. Do not be rushed into making a decision, take some time to think about it together. Are they as excited as you are ? You need someone you trust to do exactly what they are promising to the best of their ability. Are they honest and authentic? Do they respond promptly to your communications? Is there a clear plan between now and your wedding so you can relax and leave it to them? If you are sure, book them and pay the deposit. This will lock in the date. Your celebrant should be booked just after the venue is chosen.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

If you book a Celebrant who is very popular and super busy you need to book early and be prepared to get in line. They may have several ceremonies booked in one day in the busiest season which is spring. Many Celebrants have full-time jobs and families as well so you will need to consider how much time they can dedicate to you. Writing and rehearsing your ceremony takes time, right through from first draft to completed script.

GETTING BACK TO WHAT CELEBRANTS CAN DO

I cannot speak for all celebrants but some things I have needed to do as a Celebrant include, –

  • Be available to talk at any hour of the day or night
  • Ensure the site is safe and easily accessible
  • Use every listening skill
  • Entertain and connect with children
  • Advise and recommend other vendors in the local wedding industry
  • Repair torn dress
  • Chat to the groom/bride and put them at ease as they wait for the bride/groom
  • Pin on corsage
  • Provide simple medications eg panadol
  • Assist with arch construction
  • Clean up vomit
  • Provide advice about near- by attractions and things to do
  • Clean up spill on bridesmaids dress
  • Retrieve display that’s blowing away and anchor it
  • Provide tissues
  • Brush down suit
  • Smile through wind and rain
  • Have a good laugh and put everyone at ease
  • Apply sunscreen
  • Clean up dog poo
  • Be the clown to get everyone smiling in the after photos
  • Give lots of hugs and encouragement
  • Carry stuff and hold stuff
  • Give first aid to child who fell over
  • Be a stand in mum when family not there
  • Offered to deliver baby if bridesmaid went into labour [midwife in a previous life]
  • Make sure the couple are relaxed and happy so they can enjoy every moment of their ceremony

The above are all true and you will not find them in my costs and inclusions.

That is what I do as a Celebrant. Having said that, I truly love what I do. While you are here check out the rest of my website.

Getting a hug from Amanda October 2020

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