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.
They make sure that you understand it must get to them on time ie at least one month before your ceremony. 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.
This covers most weddings we see , but 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 pretty much the same? No definitely not. Like all things in life some are better than others. The person you think is great, may not be the one another couple wants anywhere near their wedding. 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. A good Celebrant can make or break your wedding ceremony.
Do you get what you pay for? If you are a high flyer celebrant doing celebrity weddings in Byron and Sydney you will charge more. People will pay it. That does not make you any better as a Celebrant. Some who are quite reasonably priced are very good, some who are very expensive are very good as well. Some run a very profitable business full time, others keep prices down so they can get more because they love doing it. It all gets back to who you are comfortable with and your budget. Male celebrants tend to be more expensive.
How do you choose?
Best advice, first check out the website for costs and inclusions. A word of caution some celebrants offer packages with their service, extras which can add a lot to the final price. Make sure they are in your budget and book early, once you have a venue but before the dress, photographer, make-up and hair. You may need to spend a little more on the celebrant you really want and you should do it before the budget blows out. 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. Are they as excited as you are ? You do not need someone who will be your best friend, you already have those. You need someone you trust to do exactly what they are promising to the best of their ability. Are they honest and authentic? A recent chat over the phone from central Queensland had my bride -to – be booking me before the end of the conversation. Really looking forward to meeting them and chatting some more.
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 they are juggling lots of balls. Celebrants who have ‘done hundreds of weddings’ may not give you the unique, fresh perspective you want for your big day.
Getting back to What do Celebrants actually 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
- Use all my listening and counselling skills
- Entertain and connect with children
- Repair torn dress
- Chat to the groom and put him at ease as he waits for his bride
- Put on mens corsages
- 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
- Have a good laugh and put everyone at ease
- Give out sunscreen
- Clean up dog poo
- 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
- Make sure my couple are relaxed and happy to enjoy every moment of their ceremony
The above are all true and most you will not find 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.