Wedding Planning

How to Choose a Wedding Celebrant

To plan the perfect wedding, you need to surround yourself with the perfect team of suppliers.

Your chosen wedding suppliers will play a pivotal role in your day, so it’s important to do your research and choose the right people for the job. Particularly when it comes to the very person who will actually be making your marriage official: your wedding celebrant!

Choosing a wedding celebrant is an extremely personal decision. This is the person that will be standing alongside you at your wedding ceremony, during the most intimate, nerve-wracking and exciting moments of the day.

The perfect celebrant will be able to communicate well with your guests and set the right ambience for your ceremony, while also helping to keep you cool under pressure.

Not only should your wedding celebrant be there to support and celebrate with you, there are also many hours of behind-the-scenes planning and paperwork involved before the ceremony. This means your chosen celebrant will need to be highly organised, confident, knowledgeable and detail-oriented.

That’s a lot of boxes to tick, so it’s important to do your research upfront to find the best celebrant for your own special day! But with so many different options out there when it comes to wedding celebrants, where do you even begin with choosing your own?

We’ve compiled some helpful tips and insight below, including a checklist of must-ask questions and a run-through of the expectations both before, during and after the day. This should help you narrow down your search for the perfect celebrant!

how-to-choose-a-wedding-celebrant
Photography: Kate Holstein Photography

What Does a Wedding Celebrant Actually Do?

Before you start profiling your ideal wedding celebrant, take a second to think about what their role actually includes.

It’s a legal requirement for all marriages in Australia to have a ceremony performed by an authorised celebrant. Not only will they officiate your marriage and host your ceremony proceedings on the day, they’ll also take care of all the legal documentation required to make your partnership officially recognised in Australia.

If you are planning a destination wedding, your wedding celebrant will be able to help you work through any rules or regulations that might apply to your chosen destination. Different countries have different requirements when it comes to making your marriage official, so your wedding celebrant can help you do the appropriate research here.

The simplest option for couples planning a destination wedding is for your wedding celebrant to complete all of the legal components and documentation here in Australia, either before or after the actual wedding. They can then still be involved on the wedding day by hosting a “symbolic” ceremony instead.

Along with all the required legal obligations, your celebrant will also be there for you on a more personal level. They’ll get to know you and your partner, learn all about your stories and your relationship, and help to customise your ceremony to suit any religious or cultural traditions.

When you put it like that, it’s a lot of responsibility for one person, and such a huge role on the day. Which is why choosing the perfect celebrant is so important!

how-to-choose-a-wedding-celebrant
Photography: LoveHer Photography
Flowersn: Twigged Florals

Where to Find a Wedding Celebrant

Not sure where to begin your search for the perfect wedding celebrant? There are hundreds of registered celebrants to choose from, so narrowing down your search is the tricky part. We recommend getting started with the following:

Recommendations from Friends and Family

A wedding celebrant can’t just sound good on paper. They need to have the right personality and the right presence in order to bring your ceremony to life! If you want to know exactly how a celebrant works on the day, you’ll need to ask the people who have had first-hand experience with them.

Start your celebrant search by asking any recently married 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.

Wedding Fairs

Attending a wedding fair should be your next step to scouting the perfect celebrant. Yes, there are plenty of online directories and the right celebrant could just be a Google search away – but a wedding fair actually allows you to meet and chat with celebrants in person. This is invaluable when you think about how personal and intimate their role really is for your big day.

With many local wedding fairs operating annually, use this as an opportunity to chat to some celebrants and see how you communicate with each other. Do you feel relaxed, comfortable and confident? Or is it awkward and tense? Use these wedding fairs to find a celebrant you really click with in person.

Supplier Recommendations

The wedding industry is a close-knit community and you’ll find that everybody knows everybody!

Use this to your advantage by asking any wedding suppliers you have already booked, like your venue or your wedding planner, for their top celebrant recommendations.

Chances are that your chosen suppliers work alongside a variety of different celebrants every weekend and will be able to give you an honest recommendation based on their previous experiences. Pay attention if the same name keeps cropping up, as you might just be onto a winner.

how-to-choose-a-wedding-celebrant
Photography: The Image Is Found

Questions to Ask

Once you have narrowed down your celebrant search to one or two options, the next step will be arranging an initial consultation. An in-person consultation really allows you to establish a connection with this person and see how well you communicate and work together.

It also means you can ask all of the essential questions upfront to avoid any surprises later down the track. From legalities to deposit payments and responsibilities, there are some topics that should be covered early on before signing any contracts.

When it comes to the most important questions to ask a potential celebrant, don’t forget the following:

  • Are you available on my wedding date?
  • What are your fees and what does this include?
  • Are there any additional costs to be aware of?
  • Are you officially registered and qualified?
  • How many weddings have you officiated so far?
  • What kind of paperwork do you require from us, eg. 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 personalise 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 offer assistance 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? What does this mean for us if our schedule is running behind?
  • 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?

Don’t forget to download a printable version of these questions so that you can tick them off as you go during your consultation! If your celebrant is able to put you at ease with these questions, you can feel confident knowing they will be the best possible fit for the job.

how-to-choose-a-wedding-celebrant
Photography: Aaron Delesie

What to Expect from Your Wedding Celebrant

So what kind of role will your chosen wedding celebrant play in your wedding journey? It’s not just about that magical moment when you and your partner say I-do. Your wedding celebrant will be a pivotal part of your planning process both before, during and after the big day.

It’s important to know exactly what to expect from your wedding celebrant, to identify who is responsible for what, and when. Having clear expectations will help you stay organised and keep the planning process running smoothly.

Before the Day

After booking your celebrant and locking them in with a deposit, your wedding celebrant will first get to know you both as a couple. They’ll want to know the ins and outs of how you met, how he proposed, memorable moments you’ve had, and what you love about each other. This will help them tailor your ceremony to reflect your unique personalities and the bond you both share.

They’ll then need to gather some documentation from you such as your birth certificate and forms of ID. This will allow them to prepare all of the required legal paperwork before the big day, including your wedding certificate. Your celebrant will also need to witness and receive your Notice of Intended Marriage.

In order to start drafting up your ceremony, your celebrant might send through some questions for you to answer to help them fill in the blanks and personalise the proceedings. 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 goosebumps reading it!)

Once your ceremony has been approved, you can choose to run-through it with your celebrant as a rehearsal before the day. You’ll also send out your wedding run-sheet to your celebrant so that they know when to arrive and how the day is going to run.

On the Day

On the day of your wedding, your celebrant will arrive onsite to set-up their PA systems and any other agreed equipment like a signing table or chairs. As they will be one of the first people at the ceremony site, they’ll also greet and mingle with your guests as they arrive.

Your chosen 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. This includes making sure all of the legal requirements are met, helping you with your vows if needed, and ensuring everything runs smoothly. They will then officially announce you as married!

After the ceremony concludes and your certificate has been signed and witnessed, your celebrant will pack-down their equipment and leave the venue.

After the Day

Following the big day, your celebrant will send your marriage certificate and any other documentation through to the appropriate registry to officially register your marriage. That’s it – now you’re hitched!

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Photography: Brett Heidebrecht

Final Thoughts

Choosing a wedding celebrant is a highly personal decision, and not one to be taken lightly. It might be one of the most important decisions you’ll make when it comes to choosing the best suppliers to help bring your dream wedding to life.

When you see how much work is involved both behind the scenes and on the day, it goes to show why the best celebrants are in such high demand. Your celebrant will be a part of one of the most special, memorable moments of your entire life, so choosing the right fit is crucial.

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?

Every celebrant will have their own unique personality and perspective on marriage, so take your time to find the celebrant that best identifies with your wedding vision and how you imagine the day unfolding.

It can seem like a daunting decision at first, but just keep the above tips in mind and you’ll know exactly where to look and what to ask in order to find the perfect celebrant for your requirements. Our number one rule: follow your instinct. If it feels right, it probably is!