To plan the wedding of your dreams, you need to surround yourself with the perfect team of providers that you are comfortable and confident with.
The wedding providers you choose, will all play a vital role in your day, so it is important you do your research before you choose the people that could make or break your day! Particularly when it comes to the most important person who will be crafting your ceremony and will be making your marriage official: your wedding celebrant!
Choosing a wedding celebrant is a very personal decision. This is the person whom will meet you, hear you and understand you, guide you when needed, will design and craft a unique ceremony reflective of you and is the person whom will be standing alongside you at your wedding ceremony, during the most intimate, exciting and important moments of your life.
A great celebrant will be able to move among your guests helping to put people at ease and set the right ambience for your ceremony, while also help to keep you focused, present and hopefully calm!
Your wedding celebrant will need to be highly organized, competent, confident and a stickler for detail because not only are there many hours of work in crafting the ceremony after having spent considerable time with you, communicating with you until everything is just how you want it – singing your song! And then there is the practice the celebrant needs to do so the ceremony has depth and meaning that again is reflective of you. And of course, your celebrant needs to be totally there supporting you on your special day.
There is a lot required from a celebrant to be able to craft and deliver a unique and meaningful wedding ceremony. So again, it is important to do your research upfront to find the best celebrant for your special day. But with so many celebrants out there, where do you even begin with choosing your own?
Here are some helpful tips and insights, including a check list of questions you could use to help guide you in your decisions making. As well some of the expectations to have for before and on the day. This should help you in choosing the perfect celebrant who will help make your day magical and unforgettable!
What Does a Wedding Celebrant Do?
Before you start thinking about the ideal wedding celebrant, take some time to consider what their role includes.
It is a legal requirement for all marriages in New Zealand to have a ceremony performed by a celebrant whom is appointed by the Department of Internal Affairs and as such holds a valid license that is required to be renewed each year. Not only will your celebrant officiate your marriage and host your ceremony proceedings on the day, they will also take care that the legal documentation is signed and witnessed correctly and then carry out the legal requirements so your marriage is officially lodged with bdm.govt.nz.
Along with the required legal obligations, your celebrant will of course be there for you on a personal level. Your celebrant will get to know you both, learn all about your stories and your relationship, and work with you to customize and craft your ceremony so it is unique to you and if required include any religious or cultural traditions.
It is a lot of responsibility for one person and a big role on the day. That is why time spent choosing the right celebrant for you is what will make your special day unforgettable.
How do I Find a Wedding Celebrant?
Where to start in your search for the right wedding celebrant? Finding that celebrant who will connect with you, someone who you feel trust in, and someone who will help make the magic happen! There are hundreds of registered celebrants to choose from, so narrowing down your search could be tricky.
Firstly, once you have either picked a few from google searching and possibly some recommendations, you should check firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm they are registered and you should confirm they are a member of the Celebrants Association New Zealand (CANZ) https://www.celebrantsassociation.co.nz/. CANZ celebrants work to professional standards – you can be confident and assured of quality workmanship with these celebrants.
Great celebrants will have excellent websites with good clear information on what they do and costs. You should be able to get a good feel for the celebrant through their website.
Below are more of my recommendations and a bunch of questions that will help you further with making a start on choosing. Of course, the ultimate final choice is best made once you have met your celebrant. Be mindful to not over complicate any of this process!
Recommendations from Friends and Family
A wedding celebrant cannot just sound good on paper. They need to have the right personality and the right presence for you to bring your ceremony to life!
You ask friends and family for their recommendations based on their own wedding experiences. Ask for their honest opinion on everything, from their personality on the day along with the behind-the-scenes organisation, planning and communication. Remembering the right celebrant for you is a very personal choice.
Providers in the Wedding Industry
Here in Northland the wedding industry is a close-knit community, and you will find that everybody knows everybody, as no doubt it is throughout New Zealand!
You could start by asking any wedding providers you have already booked, like your wedding planner or venue provider, for their top celebrant recommendations.
This is just another area to ask for recommendations. Be aware that the recommendations may be sincere based on the providers relationship, but it will still come down to how you feel!
A Few Questions to Ask
Once you have narrowed down your celebrant search to one or two, the next step will be arranging an initial meeting. An in-person meeting really allows you to establish a connection with this person and to see how well you communicate and work together.
It also means you can ask all the important questions upfront to avoid any surprises or misunderstandings later. From legalities to deposit payments and responsibilities, these are matters that should be covered early on before signing any contracts.
Here are some questions to ask a potential celebrant. You could print this list, so you will not forget any of the following:
- Are you available on my wedding date? This should be asked at your first enquiry.
- What are your fees and what does this include?
- Are there any additional costs to be aware of?
- How many weddings have you officiated so far?
- What kind of paperwork do you require from us, maybe birth certificates, ID?
- What is your process when it comes to writing the ceremony? Is it collaborative with us or do you work from a standard template?
- Can we read over the ceremony before the day?
- How will you personalize our ceremony to reflect us as a couple?
- What do you want to know about us as a couple?
- Do you have a PA system and microphone?
- Do you have a signing table and signing chairs?
- Do you have insurance?
- Do you require a ceremony rehearsal?
- What will your role be on the day?
- What happens if you are unwell or there is an emergency on the day? Do you have a backup celebrant and how will this work?
- Can you assist with writing our wedding vows?
- What made you decide to become a celebrant?
- How well do you deal with any unexpected problems on the day?
- Do you take more than one ceremony booking per day?
- Do you take a deposit and how much is this?
- When is final payment due?
- What do you love the most about being a celebrant?
So, What Now?
So, you have now chosen your celebrant and locked in your wedding date with the deposit and contract. Before you get to that magical moment when you both say I-do. Your wedding celebrant will first get to know you both as a couple. They will want to know things like, how you met, how he proposed, memorable moments you have had, what you love about each other and maybe what you plan for your future. This will help them to craft your ceremony to reflect your unique personalities and the bond you share.
Your celebrant might send through more questions for you to answer to help them fill in the blanks and further personalize the ceremony. They should also welcome any input or collaboration from you in terms of how you want the ceremony to unfold. This will allow them to present you with a first draft of the ceremony for you to approve (you might just get mushy reading it!)
At this stage once your ceremony is approved, you can choose to run-through it with your celebrant as a rehearsal before the day.
You also will have ordered your marriage license and received your Particulars of Marriage, which you will have given to your celebrant to safe keep and have ready on the day.
On the Day
You need to know exactly what your wedding celebrant will be doing on the day. Having clear expectations will help you be organized and confident of the process of the day running smoothly.
On the day of your wedding, your celebrant should arrive early to set-up their PA systems and any other agreed equipment like a signing table. As they will be one of the first people at the ceremony site, they will also greet and mingle with your guests as they arrive, so that everyone feels part of the day and not just spectators. Helping create the right ambience!
Your celebrant will stand beside the groom and help calm his nerves while they wait for you to arrive. Following your arrival, they will then conduct your ceremony, helping you with your vows if needed, and ensuring everything runs smoothly. This includes making sure all the legal requirements are met. They will then officially announce you as married!
After the ceremony concludes and your certificate has been signed and witnessed, your celebrant will pack up and leave the venue. And the celebrations have begun.
Choosing a wedding celebrant is a highly personal decision, and not one to be taken lightly.
Think about what personality traits are important to you in a celebrant. Do you want somebody with a bubbly attitude and a sense of humour? Or would you prefer a more sophisticated and professional approach?
Your celebrant will be a part of one of the most special, memorable moments of your entire life, so choosing the right fit is paramount.
Do follow your instinct, if it feels right, it probably is!
So finally, if you are reading this you will be looking at me here. I am Whangarei based but will travel to Mangawhai, Dargaville, Waipu and through to Kerikeri. I would love to hear from you and please feel free to call me anytime: 0275 878 227 or enquire by email email@example.com