You’re engaged and planning the most special day of your life. There are so many things to organise choosing a venue, a photographer, deciding on flowers, finding the perfect dress… the list goes on. Of course all these things are important and will have a big impact on your day; however one of the most important choices you need to make which will have a huge impact on your wedding is often given a low priority.
That is choosing your civil celebrant. Your choice of civil celebrant will influence everything about your wedding as the actual marriage ceremony is the whole reason for your wedding day. Without the ceremony there is no reason for having the reception and everything else. Throughout the years of your marriage it is the ceremony and memories of your vows and becoming married that you will treasure in your mind.
It is your celebrant’s role to conduct the ceremony and of course to marry you. Clearly then choosing your civil celebrant should be given a lot of thought and consideration. Below are 8 key factors that you should consider when choosing your civil celebrant.
- Availability – Is the celebrant available on your chosen date?
Professional celebrants are often booked anywhere from 6 months to 2 years in advance, so you need to get in early. If the celebrant you like is unavailable ask them to refer you to another celebrant.
- Qualifications – Is the celebrant fully authorised and accredited?
In Australia Civil Marriage Celebrants are authorised by the Attorney General’s department and must fulfil strict education and conduct guidelines. To check if your chosen celebrant is authorised simply visit the Attorney General’s website www.ag.gov.au and search the register of Marriage Celebrants. It is also a good idea to ask if your chosen celebrant is a member of any celebrant organisations. Membership in celebrant organisations means that a celebrant is accepted by their peers and also has access to the most up to date information in their industry.
- Rapport – Do you feel comfortable with the celebrant?
Feeling comfortable and having good rapport with your civil celebrant is crucial. If you don’t “click” with your celebrant, not only will it be obvious throughout the ceremony, it will also affect your enjoyment of your wedding. Your wedding ceremony is a very emotional time so you want to have a person who makes you feel relaxed, not one who increases your stress levels. Usually celebrants will offer you an obligation free meeting and you should use this meeting to get a feel for the celebrant. If you don’t feel comfortable, then regardless of their qualifications, pricing or anything else, you should not book them. It is generally a good idea to meet with at least 2 or 3 celebrants so you can find someone who puts you at ease.
- Flexibility – Will the celebrant allow you to have the ceremony your way?
A good celebrant is flexible and will give you a lot of input into your ceremony design. Whilst there are some legal components that must be included in your ceremony, your celebrant should be flexible enough to assist you in designing a ceremony that is tailored specifically to your requirements.
- Resources – Does the celebrant have a range of resources for you to look at?
Your celebrant should have a range of resources such as sample ceremonies, readings and other information to assist you when preparing for your wedding. Many celebrants will provide you with an information kit for you to refer to at your leisure. They will often also be able to give advice about music, wedding etiquette and legal requirements.
- Back Up Plan – Does your celebrant have one?
What happens if your celebrant is unable to perform your ceremony due to accident, illness or the like? You need to check that your celebrant has a backup plan in place. Often celebrants will have one or two other celebrants that they can call on in case of emergency. It is a good idea to check that these replacements will be acceptable to you. Remember it is the celebrant’s responsibility to find a replacement if they are unable to attend at short notice.
- Referrals – Do you know anyone else who has used a celebrant?
Referrals from family and friends are a good way to find a celebrant. If a celebrant is referred by someone you know it will give you confidence that the celebrant is reliable and does a good job.
- Pricing - What is the celebrant’s fee and what is included?
Civil celebrant pricing is not regulated and can vary greatly. You should keep in mind that cheap is not necessarily better. You should look for quality and value for money. This means you need to take into account what is included in the celebrant’s fee. Do they charge one blanket fee or will there be additional charges, such as travel fees, added onto the quoted price? You should discuss all aspects of the celebrants pricing at the first meeting so you can make an informed decision.
Megan Wilson is an authorised and accredited civil celebrant who can design a modern ceremony tailored specifically to meet your needs. For more tips and information about civil ceremonies find me at http://www.vividmemories.com.au