Choosing the Right Celebrant - Top Tips
Funny, quirky, warm, friendly, serious, sedate, alternative. Us celebrants are a unique bunch, with so many kinds of personalities.
Make sure you are choosing the right person to fit with your ceremony vision. Do not leave it till the last minute. Although a small part, your ceremony is the centre of your day and your celebrant can set the tone, mood and joy of your celebration.
There are a few questions you should be asking to make sure they are the right fit for you, but one thing is for sure – there is a lot of choice out there, so here are my top 10 tips on narrowing down that selection.
1. Will they create a personal, bespoke ceremony for you?
Most Celebrants specialise in writing unique ceremonies from start to finish and some use a template. They will take time to get to know you and give you ideas of little symbolic rituals and how to put together your vows and promises. Traditional or more quirky? Make sure you ask your celebrant all about the different kinds of ceremonies they have been involved with
A celebrant’s fees usually include the time taken writing the actual ceremony itself. They will want to get to know you, they will make draft scripts, tweaking everything and putting you first before sealing the script. They will also perform the ceremony on the day, and depending on location, some provide dressed ceremony tables, decorative arches and other props to add colour to your day. Some may ask for additional travel fees and expenses and require a deposit. Make sure you ask for the payment terms and be clear about what is included.
3. Professional? Experienced? Reviews?
This is a tricky one. Anyone can become a celebrant. An official qualification is not a legal requirement (at the moment) though many celebrants gain certificates of training through several accredited celebrant organisations. Some may have previous Registrar experience and some may have no training or accreditations at all. I guess experience is the best pointer in this case. I have been in this job over 20 years and I have trained and met people who have every ‘qualification’ there is but they are just crap at it, and I have met others with no formal training at all who are among the best celebrants there are! I think it is something that comes naturally to a good celebrant, and it shouldn’t be some ‘ego trip’ for some one with a larger-than-life personality. A good celebrant puts you first and genuinely cares about making your wedding day one of the memorable days of your life.
A good tip here is to ask about their previous experience. The variety of ceremonies they have written and performed and any photo’s, video’s and testimonials and reviews can really help you make you come to a decision.
4. How many pre-wedding meetings can you have?
In order to create a truly bespoke ceremony for you both, your celebrant will need to get to know you better and you should expect several meetings in person, or online video chats before the wedding. Double check this is included in the fee or an extra cost.
5. Can you help us with the legal side of things?
Some celebrants are able to help organise the legal formalities and guide and advise you through what needs to be done. Some will even book the appointments needed at the local register office to have the basic legal marriage documents taken care of. In the case of a destination wedding, your celebrant or wedding planner usually do the same, and help and guide you through obtaining the official documentation you need to get married in the country of your choice.
6. Can they handle a tricky situation?
Trust me, I have seen everything happen at weddings, from suddenly finding myself helping a bride sew up a torn dress, to dealing with full blown punch-ups! It’s a good question to ask as depending on the answer, you should gain an idea of their ability to remain calm, professional and level headed in any awkward situation.
7. What happens on the day?
You should expect your celebrant to arrive in good time. They should be checking the venue, making sure the ceremony is set up correctly, checking in and introducing themselves to any witnesses, readers, bridesmaids and groomsmen and giving them a little guidance on what to do and where to go as they make their entrance as part of the bridal party. Coming to see you both as you are adding your final touches to ease any last minute nerves and put you both at your ease.
8. Do they do rehearsals?
If I had a pound for every couple that asks this, but contrary to popular belief it is not customary for celebrants to attend rehearsals. These tend to be more about people placement and when and where everyone should be at what point during the ceremony procession, rather than an actual ceremony rehearsal itself. Unless you are having a specific symbolic ritual during your ceremony that you may want to run through, be sure to contact your celebrant to discuss this.
9. Do they have any other ceremonies to attend on the same day?
This is rare, but best to check. My advice would be not to book someone who has other ceremonies on the same day. A good celebrant will be yours for the day. Ok, you may think the ceremony is just a small part of your day, but do you really want someone who is pressed for time and makes you feel rushed performing your ceremony? You may have to delay the start for many reasons, guests stuck in traffic, a passing rain shower…. It’s worth double checking their exclusivity for day.
10. Do they have a back up plan?
Everyone is human and things happen. Check to see if your celebrant has alternate plans if anything goes so wrong that they cannot make it on the day. Most should work with your wedding planner or the venue to consider what to do in this event. I know what I would do….
Celebrants can really release the full potential of your wedding, not held back by the rules, restrictions and laws that govern a UK registrar wedding. By taking a little time to choose wisely, your wedding ceremony will set a fantastic mood for your whole day – and that’s a fact!
*all photos from Bride Buddy Weddings.