Welcome to article number two. If you missed the first one, I just outlined what is involved in becoming a marriage celebrant. Obviously being a newbie I am quite keen to absorb as much information as possible so I am able to provide the best service as a celebrant for my clients.
On my quest for information, I thought I would turn to those that could shed some light on the things that I really need to know. My friends! In particular, those that had been recently married by a celebrant.
The questions below were designed to give me ideas and feedback BEFORE I had officiated anything myself. I’ve blended their responses to each question. Have a read, I hope they enlighten you as much as they did me!
What did you look for in a celebrant?
Patience, understanding and a sense of humour, someone who was genuine and easy to deal with. Someone that makes you feel comfortable and reassured. Down to earth, not all about them (some celebrants have some egos!), but most importantly we were looking for someone knowledgeable who would guide us through the legal/paperwork side of things, someone who we could trust to make sure all paperwork was lodged properly.
It’s a bit of an unknown stressful time so when you find someone that you’re confident in and that will do a good job it’s one less thing to do!
Oh and a good PA system with a decent speaker and mic, clear and loud enough for everyone to hear what was happening, that was also able to connect to our music (iPhone). One less thing to worry about.
Does price matter?
Yes! Everyone is always on a budget, and you’re looking to save wherever you can. That said, I appreciate that you are offering a service, a very important service so that’s factored in and most celebrants we liked were in a similar price range of around $500-700, so price wasn’t our deciding factor, it was more personality that was deciding factor. In areas where there aren’t many celebrant options, most of the celebrants charge the same price.
Some celebrants wanted to charge $120 for “out of Sydney” travel when the venue was in Camden. That was a definite no, straight away. If it was out of the Sydney area then that would make sense, so it’s always good to work out a radius you’re comfortable with before you charge travel.
Are celebrants seen as ‘old school’?
No way. Tradition is back. It was very necessary for us to have one as we weren’t getting married in a church with a minister. You’ll find lots of people in the same boat. More and more people are choosing to have weddings that are not in a church and if it was between a celebrant and priest….well you know what we chose! I’ve been to so many bad church weddings, made bad by the weird priests.
Some celebrants are old school, you can tell just by their website and age, however I think there is definitely a movement towards younger, ‘cooler’, more engaging celebrants these days, especially as couples are more and more looking to customise all parts of their wedding to reflect ‘them’.
Is it appropriate for celebrants to try and be funny?
It can be a stressful time for a couple getting married. So many people to please. Stress. Money pressure. A sense of humour is vital, but that may not be the case for every couple. No too many awkward jokes. Only moments where it’s appropriate. Funny is okay just not overboard. But it can depend on who you’re marrying, if the couple has made specific requests on the style of ceremony they want, and humour is not in line with that, then the celebrant should always remember that they are acting as the facilitator of a very personal, very special day, and whilst it’s their job to create a light, happy mood, it’s not their job to be a stand up comedian.
What made you pick the celebrant you went with?
A combination of personality (gentle, down to earth, knowledgeable, warm) and the fact that we didn’t feel the need to shop around after meeting with her. Located close to the venue, available, well presented and made the process easy. Confident but not obnoxious or pushy. Lots of ceremony options and an eagerness to keep the ceremony short and simple. Creativity, our celebrant had us fill out a few questions separately and made the ceremony from the answers. It was great and it told ‘our story’.
Best advice you would give to a celebrant for their next wedding.
‘Read the room’ and remember you are part of the official bit of the wedding, be respectful, be relaxed, in control and welcoming as you are setting the scene for the rest of the wedding.
Get to know the couple a little before the ceremony, really understand the type of ceremony they would like, and be flexible to customise the ceremony based on the couple’s needs, it will help you with telling their story and feel more genuine. Be very thorough when completing the legal documentation, any mistakes in the legal paperwork is a nightmare to correct.
Oh and have fun!? Enjoy the fact you get to marry two people that love each other.
If you had to do it all over again, what is the one thing that you wish your celebrant did, which they didn’t do the first time?
Fully explain all the elements of post wedding admin!
So there you have it lovers, words of wisdom from my closest supporters. They have provided me with great insight and excellent ideas about what to avoid and what to ensure I do. Thanks to these notes I will make sure that I ‘read the room’, be confident, flexible and down to earth. I will be mindful of what I will charge for travel (I have consulted Google maps already) and I will find myself knowledgeable around the post marriage admin very shortly. I also I do not hold any aspirations to become a stand up comedian so I promise, no bad Dad jokes from me.
My next article will be on the wedding that I am attending on Friday. Can’t wait to watch my beautiful friend marry the love of her life.
That’s it from me.