How to plan the perfect ceremony
So, the love of your life has asked you the big question, you’ve celebrated with your nearest and dearest, and you still regularly get distracted by that sparkler on your finger. It’s time to start to think about your wedding day – at least so you can fend off the “so when’s the big day?” question from every well-meaning person you encounter! It’s often around this time that you will start to work out a budget: venue, photographer, caterer, florist, dress… oh, and a celebrant! Surely they are only a few hundred dollars, right? They just turn up on the day for an hour or so and sign some paperwork?
Well, some do, yes. But these days, there are a whole bevy of talented and inspired guys and gals who are registered celebrants, many of whom offer a premium experience for their couples and work hard to
amazing, memorable ceremonies. So, what does this involve? How can one ceremony be so different to another, and what makes a celebrant worth paying $1000+ for?
Your ceremony should reflect who you both are.
You would never go to see a movie that you were completely uninterested in, right? Why would you want the biggest celebration of your life to start with something that had no meaning or held no interest for you or your guests? Your guests are there because they care about you, and if your celebrant can deliver a ceremony that reflects who you are, your style and your life together, it can set the tone perfectly for the rest of the day. A quality celebrant will work with you both to capture your relationship, tell your story or just make sure the vibe of the ceremony is authentically you – no matter how short or long you want your ceremony to be.
Your celebrant should always present you with a range of options for each part of your wedding ceremony. The legal bits, while important of course, are very minimal. A legals only ceremony could be over and done with in 5 minutes. So, every other part of the ceremony can be modified and altered to suit you. Don’t feel comfortable walking down the aisle? You don’t have to! Start together, mingling with you guests, or even have your groom walk down the aisle with you. Don’t like long, drawn out explanations of the beauty of love and eternal flame of marriage (cue dove release) … ?! You don’t have to include any of it. Keep it simple, light and to the point, if that is your style. One great tip is to consider each element of your ceremony, and ask yourself whether it is meaningful or important to you and your fiancé. If not, there’s a good chance it doesn’t need to be included. It’s about what YOU want. Your celebrant should be able to talk you through all of this, offering other options and suggestions each step of the way until they’ve created a ceremony that you feel completely comfortable with (and excited about!).
How do they find out what makes us tick?
Celebrants have a range of different ways to draw out the information they need to capture the essence of your relationship. Some will meet with couples several times (often over a few drinks) and gently direct the conversation until they’ve cleverly learnt a whole lot without it feeling uncomfortable for you. Often there is some input from you required, sometimes in the form of a questionnaire for you to complete, asking questions to draw out the details as easily as possible. Celebrants are usually flexible and will work around your commitments, so for some couples skype conversations will be the best option.
On the Day
On the day, your awesome, excited celebrant should turn up before the guests arrive. They’ll bring a good quality, battery operated PA and will be armed with the music you require for your ceremony. They’ll chat to the photographer and the videographer to make sure both know exactly what is going to happen in the ceremony and where everyone is standing, so they can get the absolute best shots for you (this usually means they will stand to the side for most of the ceremony, so you get perfect pics without their big mug in the middle!). They’ll touch base with the planner or venue staff, musicians, and any family or friends who are going to be involved in the ceremony. I’ve raked twigs from aisles, moved chairs, rescued arbours from incoming tides, scattered petals, escorted grandmothers and made decades worth of excited small talk with guests! Your celebrant will be able to remind guests to turn off phones, to ensure guests have petals to toss and to announce an unplugged ceremony. A great celebrant will also of course ensure that the groom and groomsmen are comfortable and as relaxed as possible (I have been known to discreetly sit a dehydrated, nervous groom in a cool room for a few minutes’ pre-ceremony on a sweltering summers day)! And when the bride arrives, the celebrant will be there to greet her and her bride tribe, making sure everyone is completely ready and before beginning the ceremony.
And finally, a quality celebrant will deliver a professional, stress free ceremony which you and your guests can relax and enjoy from beginning to end, knowing it is exactly the way you wanted it.
Should they be able to help me with other parts of my wedding day?
Yes! Celebrants are a friendly bunch, and we love to counter the solo nature of our role by making as many connections in our industry as we can. You celebrant should be able to refer you to many like-minded suppliers, as well as sharing tips and ideas to help with your planning. We chose this job because we love weddings… so don’t be afraid to chat (and chat and chat!) about your plans.
Behind the Scenes
As well as the obvious parts of the job (meetings, writing ceremonies, conducting rehearsals and ceremonies, signing legal paperwork), there is a lot that gets done behind the scenes. Keeping up to date with the legal requirements of our role requires ongoing training, monitoring of changes to regulations and engagement with the different portals and systems of each State. Painstakingly preparing and uploading legal paperwork takes a lot of time (and chocolate consumption). We work hard to ensure our socials are up to date and relevant (totally necessary to spend hours a day trawling Instagram… or at least that is what I tell my husband) ... and we manage our own marketing plans, network, exhibit and attend industry events. It’s a dynamic, constantly changing and exciting industry we work in and keeping pace with that is excellent fun, but also time consuming.
So how do I choose the right celebrant for me?
It’s a good idea to do a bit of research. Celebrants work hard to create an online persona, so you should be able to get a good idea of their style and how they conduct their ceremonies by doing a bit of casual insta stalking, checking out their website and reading through any content they’ve put online. Narrow down your list, send out emails requesting quotes and ask what their price includes – remember, not all the celebrants on your list will be available on your wedding date so at this stage it doesn’t hurt to have a few options.
Next, chose the one or two who are available who you like the most, and book in meetings. I wouldn’t recommend scheduling in a whole lot of meetings – firstly, because if you like the person a lot based on their online presence and any communication you’ve had with them, the chances are you’ll like them in person. If you have a range of meetings scheduled in after that, it can be confusing and make it harder to make a choice from the right place (the heart, not the head!).
It sounds obvious, but the celebrant you choose should be the one you connect with, and feel most comfortable with. Trust your instincts on this one – would you want to tell your life story to someone you didn’t really like or feel you gelled with?
So, you’ve found the perfect celebrant for you…. now it’s time to begin your ceremony planning journey! It will be a fun, sometimes emotional but incredibly exciting adventure, and you’ll be in the most capable of hands. ENJOY!
*This post was first published on Ivory Tribe: http://ivorytribe.com.au/plan-perfect-ceremony/