Choosing a celebrant for your wedding is a big deal. The ceremony may be a small part of your day, but it’s an important one. You want to feel comfortable and cared for on your wedding day – to have someone guiding you through the process and someone who delivers a ceremony that truly reflects you as a couple. The ceremony can also really set the tone for the rest of your celebration, so you really don’t want to get it wrong. Here are my top five tips for choosing the perfect celebrant (for you).
1. Nail your brief
The number one way to make choosing a celebrant easier is to know what you want. It requires a bit of prep work from you, but will save you heaps of time wasted going down paths that don’t ultimately lead to your destination.
“I’ve never done this before, how do I know what I want?” I hear you say.
I get it.
You probably haven’t been married before and you don’t know what you don’t know. Sometimes the easiest place to start is with what you don’t want. Think about the weddings you’ve been to. Was there anything that you really didn’t like? Why didn’t you like it? How could it have been done better?
Next, think about the style of ceremony you’re after? Are you going quite traditional? Do you want to get creative? Relaxed? Emotional?
Either way, you’ll want to make sure the celebrant you choose is willing and able to deliver what you want.
The next thing to consider is personality. Do you want a celebrant that is going to put on a show, entertain your guests and take the limelight off you? Or do you want someone who is still warm and friendly, but maybe a little more laid back? Someone who is more of a facilitator than and entertainer? Someone who makes you feel comfortable and helps the two of you create the magic? (If you didn’t already realise, this second one is me). Not that there’s anything wrong with a wildly funny and entertaining celebrant. Not at all. Celebrants come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, styles and personality. There is no right or wrong choice. There is only what is right or wrong for you.
And it’s not just about personality of delivery on the day. Most of the interaction you will have with your celebrant is in the lead up to the day, so you want someone who matches the way you like to work. For example, do you want someone process driven that’s really responsive with lots of communication or do you prefer someone more laidback that doesn’t ask too much of you.
Only once you’ve clearly articulated what it is you’re after, should you hit Google.
Now is the time to make your shortlist. Look online, do a search, buy some magazines, read blogs, ask friends, family and colleagues, check out Instagram. When you find someone you like, ask yourself “do they fit the brief?” Sometimes we’ll love someone’s work and really admire them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the right fit. If they have videos on their website, watch them. If they write a blog, read it.
Once you’ve found someone you like, check out their Facebook and Google reviews and read any testimonials they may have on their website. How many are there? What have people said about them? Do their experiences of working with that person match with your brief? What are the common themes that come up?
Now that you’ve got your shortlist, it’s a great time to get in touch to see who is available on your wedding date. There’s nothing worse than getting your heart set on something, doing all the research and being so invested only to find out that thing was never an option in the first place.
Starting a conversation with a celebrant will also give you a feel for them and the way they work. Did they reply to you promptly? Did they answer your questions? Do they match your budget?
Also make sure you’re giving them enough information to service you properly. Simply asking someone’s fee isn’t very helpful. Most celebrant’s fees depend on things like the location, date, time of day and what type of ceremony you’re after. Share your brief with them and they will be far more invested in working with you and will be able to provide you with all the relevant information you need.
Now, your shortlist should be even more refined and you’ve probably got a pretty good idea of who you want to go with, but if still in doubt…
5. Meet Them
By the time you go to meet with a celebrant, you should pretty much have made your decision. This is just an opportunity to confirm the research you’ve already done and find out if the match works in real life. They will want to get to know you, but make sure you get to know them too. Ask them questions? Find out what they have to offer that differs from other celebrants. Ask about their process. Ask them what’s required of you. Ask why they became a celebrant. And ask about them – their family, their interests, where they’re from. This stuff may not sound like it’s relevant to your wedding (it’s not) but it can be the thing that forms a connection. I’ve had couple meetings go off on total tangents talking about Survivor, cats and Vietnamese food. At this meeting you want to form a relationship with that person as well as finding out about their service. A great connection will ultimately lead to a great experience.
Some couples will only meet with one celebrant and if they like them, will lock it in. Others will meet a handful of celebrants before making a decision. There is no right or wrong way to do it. It’s an important decision, so go about it whichever way works for you. Ultimately, you’ve just got to trust your gut.
Photo: Samantha Heather