Picking a celebrant is a tricky task on your wedding planning to do list. You want to find someone who you’ll gel with, but most importantly, you need someone you can trust on the big day. Unfortunately if your celebrant turns up in a terrible outfit or gets your names wrong then you can’t do much about it on your wedding day. If you take some time to get to know your potential celebrant then you can be a heap more relaxed about how they’ll go on the actual wedding day. I asked wedding celebrant Heather Sorensen for what you should look for in a wedding celebrant and have listed questions to ask potential wedding celebrants.
Choosing your wedding celebrant
Choosing your celebrant is a very big decision as this is the person who is responsible for ensuring that your wedding ceremony is something special and memorable.
When choosing your celebrant you may already have seen a Celebrant officiating at a wedding and know that is the person that you would like at your wedding. If this is the case, make contact with the Celebrant as soon as possible in your planning. You may not work on the ceremony immediately but it is important to realise that good Celebrants get booked up very quickly, especially in the busy season between Labour Weekend and Easter.
If you don’t know a Celebrant, ask your friends and family for suggestions. Celebrant reputations soon come to the surface in conversations and you can quickly work out which ones you would like to contact. If you don’t get any ‘leads’ from friends and family then check out advertising – Facebook, Yellow Pages, internet Google searches, Wedding Websites, radio, magazines. Results of this research will often give you the feel of who you would like to contact.
What should you be looking for in these initial searches?
Someone that you feel comfortable communicating with – emails, FB messages or phone call. Do you feel that they have listened to you / read your message and are their answers are helpful? For me, the most important criteria is to have excellent communication between the Celebrant and the Couple.
Other considerations will include cost and when asking about cost it is important to understand what the cost package includes – no one wants any surprises like added travel costs etc.
Flexibility and acceptance of other ideas – if you are thinking of doing something a little ‘different’ for your ceremony, talk to the Celebrant about this and find out how they feel about it.
In a nutshell, when you are looking for a celebrant, do your homework so that you feel that you know lots about the person and what they may offer. Contact several celebrants and get a feel for which one is the one for you. Don’t make your decision in a hurry – take your time to make your decision about that very important person who is going to ensure that your wedding ceremony is uniquely yours and a lasting memory.
Questions to ask potential wedding celebrants
With Heather’s advice in mind, I’ve compiled a list questions to ask potential wedding celebrants. At the bottom of the page, you can download a list of these questions in PDF format, so you can print off a sheet of questions for each celebrant you meet and jot down the answers during your catchup.
Questions to ask the marriage celebrant
- Are you available for our wedding date?
- How much do you cost?
- What does this include? (Travel to your chosen venue(s), in-person meetings before the wedding to talk about vows?)
- Do you do rehearsals? Many celebrants do this as a matter of course, but check because I know my celebrant thought it was a waste of time.
- Do you require a deposit?
- When is payment required?
- Do you have a sound system? Many celebrants hire out sound systems and microphones for the ceremony. If you need one, check whether your celebrant has one and how much it costs to hire from them.
- How long have you been performing weddings?
- How many have you done?
- What do you wear to weddings? This sounds a little bit judgy, but you want to check that your celebrant’s attire will be suitable – i.e. not wearing a puffer jacket and jeans at your black tie wedding! You don’t have to ask them directly; check out photos of the celebrant in action at weddings and take note of what they are wearing.
- How many weddings do you do on one day? Don’t be put off by someone who has multiple bookings in one day, but check they have allowed plenty of time between ceremonies. You don’t want a celebrant to be overcommitted or running late for your wedding because they got stuck in traffic coming from someone else’s wedding.
- How do you feel about our wedding ideas? Share what your wedding plans are and what you’d like to include in your wedding ceremony. You want to see that your celebrant is interested and perhaps contributes to the ideas you have (for example, a unity ceremony)
- How do you personalise our wedding ceremony? i.e. will the celebrant get to know you over a couple of meetings and write something unique to you, or will they pop your names in a fill-in-the-blanks vow template?
- Will you share a draft of our ceremony with us?
- What support can you offer for our vows? i.e. does the celebrant have a few suggested vows, are you able to write your own if you wanted to
- Do you have any wedding reading ideas? A good celebrant will have heaps of wedding reading resources, and can direct you to ideas that’ll suit your wedding style and your personalities. Here are some suggestions from Angela Port Weddings.
- What happens if you are sick? Does the potential celebrant have a backup plan in place if really ill on your wedding day?
- What is your cancellation policy? (In case you need to cancel or postpone your wedding)
Questions to ask yourself about your potential marriage celebrant
- How was communication? Did your celebrant get back to you within a reasonable timeframe, and via your preferred communication methods?
- Was the celebrant consistent? Did the celebrant do what they said they’d do, come across as they’d advertised? It’s one thing to say you’re reliable, it’s another to actually be reliable.
- Did you both gel with the celebrant? You don’t have to become besties, but were you both comfortable when you met the celebrant? If not, it doesn’t mean that the celebrant isn’t good at what he/she does – rather it means you have a different personality and could be better suited to using someone else.
- Did you feel listened to at your meeting? Did you feel heard and understood? Was the celebrant genuinely interested in you both?
Once you have picked a celebrant, it is a good idea to let any unsuccessful celebrants know that you are going with someone else. The celebrant may be holding your wedding date open and turn away other couples.
Print the Celebrant Question List
Grab a list of questions to ask your potential wedding celebrant. Pop your details below and receive a PDF checklist to print off