Find a celebrant Pics Banner

How to Choose a Marriage Celebrant for your Wedding: The questions to ask

James and Laura taking their marriage vows

Taking vows: James and Laura

A truly professional celebrant does not cost that much more in context - but the difference is striking. There are a hundred details, which contribute to a good ceremony, but be aware of the extra cost in time or money of providing resources, writing the story, adjusting the ceremony, the on-site rehearsal, practising the readers, providing the PA and music systems, liaising with other professionals, and providing a trained assistant. Some celebrants do almost none of these things. Others do them all. See celebrant fees and charges.

1 The celebrant should provide you with an extensive range of poetry, prose, music, symbols, and choreography, from which you can choose the elements and components which most reflect and express YOU. i.e. a celebrant who really is a resource person.

2 You need creative composing and careful writing of your personal journey and the ceremony as a whole. (This takes skill and time)

3You need time to change, reflect on, and adjust the ceremony. (From the celebrant this means obliging service and time.)

4There is no substitute for a full rehearsal on site. (This takes a block of extra time from the celebrant. This is one reason the true professional costs more.).

5The celebrant should ensure that the readers are rehearsed and practised so that they don't "race" the reading and spoil the words. (This too takes interest, skill, care and time)

6 A celebrant should arrive really early before the time of the ceremony so that he/she can check some of the following important elements.

• check the PA system, (Is your celebrant fully equipped?)
• the placement of chairs, furniture, flowers
• practise the words of the ceremony.
• liaise with event personnel
• liaise with musicians
• liaise with photographer
• diplomatically organise the guests for the greatest intimacy
• make sure she, and the readers, the PA system and the wedding party are
        carefully placed for the best aesthetic effect.

7The celebrant, once you have approved your ceremony, must take command of the ceremony to ensure that it goes smoothly. A distinct advantage is a celebrant who brings a trained assistant who can help, assist with choreography and placement, monitor PA systems and music, and trouble shoot any problems during the ceremony itself.

Celebrants to avoidAnd much much more

In short – you need a celebrant who is really interested in making sure your wedding goes just as you dreamed it would go.

Why settle for a 4th rate, 3rd rate, or even a 2nd rate celebrant?

Sorting out the celebrant on the phone - a possible conversation.

Telephone rings.
"George speaking"
"Hello George, are you the celebrant"
"Yes I am, how can I help you?"
"Would you mind if I asked you a few questions?"

"George, our marriage ceremony is important to us. We have quite a number of guests so we want to ensure that it goes very smoothly. We need someone who knows what they are doing. Could you tell me then what is your level of experience, how many weddings have you performed, and how many do you perform in a weekend."

"Do you have a limit on the ceremonies you perform each weekend"?

"Did you train professionally in ceremony skills as a celebrant or did you receive a Certificate from a short legal course?"

"How do you go about creating our ceremony with us."

"Will you provide us with an on-site rehearsal?"

"Do you come with an assistant or just on your own? "

"We have been to weddings where the celebrant reads out a personal account of how the couple met, how their relationship developed and why they have decided to get married. Do you do this for us?"

"How do you go about getting this personal story together for us."

"Do you provide a PA system so that all the guests can hear (we will have about 150) and a good quality music system, as we will have some recorded music."

"We will have some live music as well – how do you co-ordinate with, and plan with, the musicians?"

"We have noticed that some readers at weddings rush their reading and others seem to read at really meaningful pace. How can you make sure we can achieve this?

" Do you have a microphone on a stand which our readers can use?"

" Where do you stand while my fiancée and I are taking our vows? Are you part of this scene, do you stand in the middle of us, or are we alone the centre of attention?"

"How many times do we come to see you?"

"What resources do you provide us with so that we can more easily choose our own ceremony?"

"What is your process for developing our ceremony so that it truly suits us?"

"How long before the wedding do you and your assistant arrive?"

Do you have a video of yourself at a wedding, are you on Youtube anywhere, or would you suggest we attend a wedding at which you officiate." (With permission, of course.)

"What do you charge? Are there any extras that you need to tell us about?"

Further information on how to choose a celebrant -

Do you want a 1 Diamond or 5 Diamond Celebrant?

This is a genuine website written by professional celebrants, for the clients of professional celebrants, promoting professional high standards and Best Practice for our clients.

Our database of celebrants.

Relationship Support Services which we highly recommend.

Your ceremony is the central event of the whole wedding day.

It is the memory you make, which will sustain you in the future. What you say and what is done in the ceremony seals the compact between you and your partner. It should not be done without careful preparation. You should give your ceremony more attention than anything else.

I also ask you to stop and think.
Think how much you are spending on your wedding. On your wedding dress, on your suit, on your bridesmaid's and groomsmen's outfits, on the limousines, on the photographer, on the video, on the reception, and so on, and compare it to what you are spending on your ceremony.

Now think carefully.
Is it worth spending the extra bit of money to make sure it goes, not just OK, but really well? You only (hopefully) get one go at this one!

Do you want a 1 Diamond or 5 Diamond Celebrant?

I have observed that fees in the USA and Australia vary from $500 to $1200 for a wedding. Not much in the scheme of things? But I venture to observe that the real value for money is in the $900-$1200 range. There you get a celebrant who spends, from my observation, 4 or 5 times more time more than the others, making sure he/she gets it right, The celebrant on the lower fee often goes from wedding to wedding to wedding, often arriving late, and then racing off to the "next one". Or others, not properly trained, do "cheap" weddings to gain experience. (At your expense - "victim based learning").

There are no short cuts to well prepared successful ceremonies.

(Issued by Dally Messenger of the International College of Celebrancy and the Celebrants Centre.)

Choosing a Celebrant: Questions to ask: Summary

Ask whether preparing, planning and orchestrating the best ceremony possible, reading poetry really well, is their primary concern? Is the reading of poetry well, the organizing and timing of music important to them?

Are they a graduate of the International College of Celebrancy? Or a reputable Training Course? Or are they really qualified by experience? (Some celebrants learn from experience - some never change!)

Ask whether they have a portable PA system and an assistant? Especially if you have more than 50 guests. How rich and pleasant is the music player they have.

Ask how long before the wedding do they arrive, and when they go? Do they book weddings close together? How many weddings do they perform in a weekend?

Ask do they supply a book such as "Ceremonies and Celebrations" or "It's your wedding" or other sources to assist you in your preparation.

Ask do they dress to fit in with you wedding style and color scheme. What options on dress do they offer you?

Ask whether they give a rehearsal on site (if they try to tell you this isn't necessary, consider moving on to the next celebrant)

Ask whether they issue a marriage certificate which is laser printed or calligraphied?


Chances are they could be catering for the cheap end of the market, maybe doing too many, and not giving clients the time and attention needed.

This website has been copied without acknowledgment and therefore plagiarised. Clients are advised to be aware of such practices. © Copyright 1995-2016 is claimed on all original material - text and photographs - on this website.