How to find the perfect celebrant

OMG! Celebrants are like rabbits – they’re everywhere!

How, oh how will you find the most awesome celebrant?  Well, don’t get too stressed about it because I’m going to give you the key! Yes, the key to finding your perfect wedding celebrant 🙂

These are exciting times. You’re getting married – the dress needs to be perfect and suit your body type, your hair and makeup need to suit the dress. Your shoes need to match and be comfortable. You choose these things according to personal style and it should be the same with choosing your celebrant. But how should you start?

Step One

Firstly, as a couple, spend some time talking about what you want or don’t want in your ceremony.  For example, are you a formal or informal couple? Will you break down into peals of laughter if the Celebrant mentions the “twin flames” stuff? Would you like religion to play a part in your ceremony? Don’t think you have to – Civil Celebrants marry people according to law not religion.  Do you want to be married in a church, on a beach or a park?  Is your wedding small or does it include your top 400 friends?  Write it all down – you’ve just started creating the template for your wedding.

A fabulous, fun renewal of vows ceremony at the Sunshine Castle
A fabulous, fun renewal of vows ceremony at the Sunshine Castle

Step Two

Once you’ve decided on the overall style of the ceremony, it will be much easier to choose a Celebrant to match. There are so many options out there and the process can be time-consuming. But a great place to start is by gender – do either of you have a preference for either a male or female celebrant? That’s a personal choice but it’s one of the first things you can use to filter out what you want versus what you don’t want.  Next, do you like the idea of an older, fatherly figure – or – do you want someone young and funky?

Now look at the celebrant’s advertising – if it’s serious and traditional, they’re more likely comfortable with that style of ceremony and may well feel uncomfortable if you want a Wicca ceremony in a forest at midnight. As a generalisation, the advertising should reflect the ceremony style of the celebrantIf you want light-hearted and fun, the advertising should reflect that.

You’ll notice a lot of celebrants advertise in a ‘run of the mill’ fashion – they’re middle of the road.  Ten years ago, I decided I’d be true to myself and  I started my advertising “Making Weddings Fun”.  Interestingly, I’ve noticed that in the last few years, every celebrant and their dog reckons they’re ‘fun’.   haha  prove it I say!  A meeting will sort that out!

Next get yourself a budget!  The pricing goes like this (again a generalisation and this is south east Queensland I’m talking about here):

Awesome, professional and usually the most popular celebrants charge $750 and over

Middle of the road celebrants charge $450 +

Newbie celebrants or the lesser popular celebrants charge $250+

Now I want to make it clear that I’m not being disparaging here – I firmly believe in a free market and I don’t have a problem with celebrants charging whatever they want – just because you find someone that charges $250, doesn’t mean they’re a dud! If they’re the perfect fit for you, they won’t be a dud!  What I’m wanting to do here is to educate you!

Oh, and some celebrants drop their price for a weekday ceremony – I do, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.  Some celebrant friends of mine don’t – its up to the individual.

A warning :  DO NOT choose a celebrant on price alone!  I’m not kidding here!  Don’t do it!  Check out personality, background and style.  Do they have a strong network of celebrants to rely on if something happens to them and they can’t do your wedding?  Do they have a PA system  Is their car reliable?  Do they have a contract?  Are they part of a Celebrant’s Association?  How far will they have to travel to get to your wedding?  What are their public speaking skills like?

Experienced celebrants cost more than inexperienced celebrants
Experienced celebrants cost more than inexperienced celebrants

The Key

I think that there is only one essential criteria in choosing your celebrant and  it’s pretty simple – you must ‘click’ with your Celebrant as a person. If you don’t get on with them – don’t hire them! It may take a while but keep looking – the right Celebrant is out there.  Use your gut instinct – that’s what it’s there for!  In fact, use it to pick all your suppliers and to just live your life by – I swear it works!

So, pick up the phone (or keyboard) and contact three celebrants who fit your criteria –The first contact should allow you to get an initial sense of your compatibility. Ask questions like:

• What’s your style (formal, informal, spiritual, religious)?
• What’s your fee and what do you include for that? Is travel included?
• Is it okay if I write my own vows? And can you help me with them?
• Do you have some literature, (e.g. brochure, fact sheet etc) you can send me?
• Do you have any referrals (past couples) that I could speak to?
(It should be noted that Privacy Laws preclude the Celebrant from giving out client information unless those clients have given their prior approval. However, with your approval, the Celebrant can give your information to the referral couple and they can contact you).

Also, ask how long they’ve been a celebrant – AND – more importantly, how many weddings they’ve conducted.  Some celebrants only do a few every year, so you might be impressed when they say they’ve been registered for 5 years, but they may have only done 5 weddings.  Don’t get me wrong, we all have to start somewhere – but you pay for the experience!  You want professional – you more than likely will have to pay for it!

Use your gut instinct to hire the right celebrant for you!
Use your gut instinct to hire the right celebrant for you!

Explain what you want as clearly as possible
Your celebrant is not a clairvoyant!  Tell them what you want, especially if it’s important to you!  For example, a lot of people say they are spiritual and ask for a ceremony which will reflect that spirituality – what is important here is their understanding of the word “spiritual”. I always ask the couple to clarify what they mean – some say religious, others are more the “angels and hand-fasting” ceremonies, whilst others have been more Pagan and I’ve conducted Wicca ceremonies – all under the tag ‘spiritual’. So try to have a clear idea of what you want and make sure that the celebrant has a clear understanding of your vision.

Think “outside the square”, capture your personalities and use your hobbies and your humour to add a little bit of you into your ceremony. A great ceremony will reflect you both individually and as a couple and as long as the legal requirements are met during your ceremony, and your Celebrant is willing to be creative with you, you can have almost anything you want. Yes, anything!

Use your imagination! Have fun and if you’re stuck, ask your Celebrant for some ideas to get you going.

 

Good luck!  xx

Booking the right celebrant will ensure your day is perfect!
Booking the right celebrant will ensure your day is perfect!

 

Pick A Ceremony Type

Use this handy table as a guide of what to expect from one of my ceremonies. This may help you decide what type of ceremony you want!

CEREMONY LEGAL PAPERWORK ENSURED TIME ALLOWED WHEN AND WHERE HELP WITH VOWS UNITY CEREMONY GUESTS ALLOWED
Standard Yes 20 minute ceremony – allow up to 45 minutes Any day, time or location Yes Yes No limit
Small wedding Yes 15 minute ceremony – allow up to 30 minutes Any day, time or location Yes Yes Up to 20 guests
Elopement Yes 10 minute ceremony – allow up to 15 minutes Monday – Thursday – Sunshine Coast only Yes No Up to 10 guests
Wedding in a box Yes 10 minute ceremony – in a 45 minute time slot Specific dates and locations as per elopetoaustralia website Yes No Up to 10 guests
Coffee table wedding Yes 3 minute ceremony – allow 5 minutes Monday – Thursday – central Sunshine Coast only Yes No 2 x witnesses
Renewal of Vows No legal paperwork 10 minute ceremony – allow 20 minutes Monday – Thursday – Sunshine Coast only Yes Yes No limit
Commitment Ceremony No legal paperwork 20 minute ceremony – allow up to 45 minutes Any day, time or location Yes Yes No limit

Notes:

I arrive 30 minutes prior to your ceremony (with the exception of the coffee table wedding and the renewal of vows where I arrive 20 minutes prior). The other times mentioned are the times that you’d expect me to be leaving, and you’ll be organising your group photo or ordering your lunch. So, it’s just an idea of the maximum ‘time required’ guide for a stress free laid back time.

These details are a guide only – if you’re not sure – shoot me an email or a text – I’m one of the lowest maintenance celebrants (people) you could meet so I’m super flexible.

Do I do more than one wedding a day – sure do if there’s a nice spacing between them. There seems to be a ‘thing’ about this and some celebrants say they conduct only one a day so they can ‘focus solely on you’ – I think this is ridiculous and probably shows a lack of admin skills. On my Weddings in a Box days I marry up to 10 couples per day – What can I say, I’m organised! If you want me to ‘focus solely on you’ ALL day, it will probably set off my ‘bridezilla’ alarm and I’ll say no anyway 🙂

If you ask me if I’m available for a Noosa Beach wedding at 3pm during holiday season, the answer will be ‘no’, unless you can guarantee me a park in one of the nearby hotels (ain’t nobody got time for dat).

Do I travel – yes … but … there’s a cost associated. I stopped doing Brissy weekday afternoon weddings because the drive home would take me hours and my ADD acts up in traffic jams. Fly me somewhere – I’m cool with that.

Hope this helps!

Why a traditional wedding might not be your best choice

I’ve had a spate of weddings lately that have just made me smile! I love my goth weddings, my Star Wars weddings and anything a bit out of the ordinary. I’m talking a Harry Potter wedding at the Sunshine Castle, complete with Luna the owl delivering the rings; a Transformers’ wedding complete with awesome photoshopping; and I’m booked for a super heroes wedding (hmm me in lycra might be a problem – is there a middle aged size 14 super hero?).

In Sami's vows "you are my Optimus Prime"
In Sami’s vows “you are my Optimus Prime”

So, I was a bit saddened by a recent comment on a bridal Facebook page, something along the lines of ‘some of my guests aren’t coming because they don’t like my theme’ (goth/purple/black).

WTF? You’re kidding right?

Cookie cutter weddings are everywhere – anyone can have one of those – but to step outside the norm and embrace your personalities is the bombdiggity!! If people don’t come to your wedding because of it, you don’t want them there in the first place! It’s a real field leveller. Celebrate our wedding our way or bugger off!

Simples!

A curly blonde haired Darth Vadar
A curly blonde haired Darth Vadar

Because, it’s actually not about the theme or the colour or what dress you wear – it’s about celebrating the bride and groom’s relationship in a way that is important to them. Yes, I know a lot of mothers interfere and bulldoze their way through the wedding planning but seriously, don’t let them! They’ve had their day, you should have yours.

Go totally themed or just add a bit of quirkiness!
Go totally themed or just add a bit of quirkiness!

Think about what you both like to do – what defines you in your life and figure out a way to incorporate that into your wedding. If you’re not game enough to do a totally themed wedding – here’s some cool ideas from some of my weddings:

Bride dogs
Bride horses
Bride snake (complete with a black tie)
Bride bearded dragon
Bridesmen and Groomsladies
Origami invitations
Bash a Piñata to get the rings (OMG! Funniest thing you’ve ever seen!)
Have the rings delivered in a remote control car
Have a GoPro wedding
Suspend your rings in jelly (yes, really!)
Have vodka shots instead of the traditional champagne toast or at a zoo
Have your wedding in a theatre or at a football field
Have a wedding where everyone sits in a circle – including the B&G and celebrant
Surprise weddings are awesome
Spin the bottle to decide on witnesses
Hand out raffle tickets and draw two winners (witnesses)
Beach wedding – the bride wore a white bikini and veil, the groom wore white boardies and a top hat

Bring your animal friends into your ceremony
Bring your animal friends into your ceremony

Okay, I just have to book you!

Okay, so first things first – shoot me an email or a phonecall and make sure I have your date and time available! If I’ve got another commitment on that day, I may ask you if you’re flexible with your start time.

I’ll email you back with some propaganda about what I do and why you should book me, along with my price. If you’re happy with everything, then you have two choices:

  1. Set up a meeting (in person, phone or skype) to make sure I don’t have two heads
  2. Book me sight unseen – this is actually how most of my clients go – it’s all about gut instinct and most couples know straight away if I’m for them.

Next, email me and tell me, “Lyn, we’d love you to be our celebrant” and I’ll email you back saying “yay”! I’ll include my booking form which I ask you to complete (the top half only) and then email it straight back so I can get you pencilled in. In my email to you, I’ll include my terms and conditions (they’re pretty standard in the industry, but if you have any questions then please ask!).

I’ll also send through the deposit details – remember that until the deposit is paid, you’re not locked in – if another couple book your date or pay the deposit before you then the booking will be theirs!

Sorry! Basically, it’s snooze and you lose!

I’ll send through an email saying you’re booked in and I always suggest that you join me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest blah blah blah … I’m better on some platforms than others (not enough hours in the day!) – this way we can get to know each other so we’re not strangers on your wedding day!

Note: I will not ‘add’ you or send heaps of emails or messages because that will just make me ‘stalker celebrant’ – not cool! But you’re welcome to spam me as much as you like 🙂

Next on the ‘to do’ list is getting the pesky NoiM in – do it early and get it out of the way. I’ll also need to sight some original ID – usually drivers’ licences, birth certificates and divorce/death certificates if relevant.

About 2-3 months prior to your wedding we catch up for a ceremony design meeting – loads of fun! I’ll bombard your inbox with examples of vows, some homework, and a heap of other stuff so you’re up to speed with ceremony stuff and you’re clued up for when we meet. The meeting can take between 1 to 1.5 hours depending on how decisive you are.

I’ll teach you how to write kickarse vows! Truly! Kickarse 🙂 Even people who say they can’t write, end up proud of what they’re vows 🙂 It’s not hard when you know how – and my job is to teach you.

If I don’t have all aspects of your ceremony (eg. vows, readings etc) by a week before your ceremony, I WILL start stalking you 🙂 I’ll send you a confirmation email a week before just running through what we’d spoken about at the ceremony deign meeting and seeing if anything has changed (it’s usually cool if it has!).

Rehearsals: Yep, they’re available, but I find most of my couples don’t particularly want them. If you’re having a huge bridal party, it’s probably best to have one. It’s more about where to stand, rehearsing with the music, etc than actually reading your ceremony, so you can do it all without me. Let me know if you’d like a rehearsal!

Next you get married and have the best day of your life.

If you’d like me to lodge the Application for a Marriage Certificate into Births Deaths and Marriages for you, you’ll need to complete the form and give me back the original (they won’t accept a scanned copy or photocopy) before your wedding! If I lodge it with your registration papers you won’t need to supply the ID they ask for (they trust I’ve done all that) – if you forget, then you can apply at any time but you’ll need to attach a certified copy of your driver’s licence.

Legal stuff you may like to know about (or not …)

Okay, so there’s lots of legal stuff to get you married in Australia, but luckily we’re one of the easiest countries in the world to get married!

Here’s a step by step guide to help you along the way …

  • Firstly, you must give at least one month’s notice of your intent to be married by sending a completed Notice of Intended Marriage to me (postal details are on the form).  For example if you’d like to marry on 17th October 2015, the celebrant must have received your completed and signed Notice of Intended Marriage by 17th September 2015. But, this is something you can do early – like up to 18 months early! Do it now – get it done and avoid the stress.
  • You must sign the form in front of an approved witness such as a Justice of the Peace (me!!), Solicitor, Doctor or Police Officer (the category of person approved is listed on the Notice).  If you are outside Australia the witness must be an official at the Australian Embassy or Consulate OR a Notary Public (again, check the form).
  • The Notice can be scanned and emailed as long as you give the original to me before the ceremony starts.  You do not need to physically hand the form to me, I can receive it through the mail.
  • You must show me the original ID documents required to prove your date of birth, place of birth and identity before the ceremony starts (example is driver’s licenses and either birth certificate or passport).
  • You must prove through original documentation that any previous marriage has ended and you are free to marry again (for example divorce certificate or death certificate of previous spouse).
  • You will need to have two witnesses over the age of 18 present at the ceremony.  Don’t panic though, if you’re planning an elopement I can arrange witnesses on your behalf.
  • Consider whether you are both able to understand the English language.  If this is not the case you must provide a registered official interpreter (there will be an additional charge for this).

There are a few myths about marriage in Australia, so let’s clear some of them up:

  • One of the couple must have reached the age of 18, no two people under the age of 18 can marry.  If one party to the marriage is under 18, parental consent will be required.
  • Same sex marriages are not legal in Australia, however I am a huge advocate for marriage equity and am ‘gay friendly’ and will be happy to conduct a Commitment ceremony instead of a legal ceremony.
  • You do not have to buy or obtain a Marriage  License as these are not required in Australia
  • You do not need to have a blood test
  • You do not need to have a pregnancy test
  • You do not need to fulfil any residency requirements (you can get married the day you arrive)
  • You do not need a special type of visa – you can be married if you’re visiting on a tourist visa or a work/business visa

There are no rules about when, where, or how you marry:

  • You can be married at any time on any day of the year (365/24/7)
  • You can be married indoors, outdoors, in a park, on a beach, by a lake, in a hot air balloon, on a boat, in a wedding chapel, a restaurant, historical building, vineyard, lookout, or surrounded by kangaroos, koalas and other Australian wildlife, in fact anywhere you like.  Often you will need to obtain approval of the local Council to marry on public land and I can help with this.  Many venues will charge you if you’d like to be married on their private premises.
  • You can wear what you like, too.  Don’t think you need to wear a bridal gown and veil.  You can wear a bikini if you like.
  • You do not legally need to exchange wedding rings.
  • The smallest legal wedding will contain five people:  the Celebrant, the bride and groom, and two witnesses.

Want more information? Contact me now, I’m happy to answer questions 0400 595 679