What to look for in a (great) celebrant

Such a cute photo from Mink Studio of little Grace at Lien and Andrew's wedding ceremony, yes? She read A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton and it was a precious moment for their guests.

What I see in this shot, is how far I have come in 8 years. I see a celebrant who is completely immersed in the moment, striving to help a guest speaker (however tiny) feel confident and supported because it is not about me. Your wedding ceremony has (almost) nothing to do with what I think, what I like or how I've won a couple of awesome awards (and I'm very grateful for them, but still what does it mean for you?)

I say this to my couples ALL THE TIME; I can guarantee that not one of your guests will attend your wedding ceremony just because I am conducting it. To be frank, they don't give a fuck who is solemnising your marriage as long as YOU (and your fiancé) are happy. 

Okay, so the next step is, how do you make sure that you are happy with your celebrant on the big day?

There are a handful of heavy posts about the topic, which go over some of the more obvious things to be on the lookout for when you're booking your celebrant.

But for me, for a couple to be happy and experience an awesome marriage ceremony, a great celebrant needs to;

  • be able to evoke an intangible sense of calm during an emotional moment,
  • make light of an innocent slip of the tongue without making people feel embarrassed,
  • give the couple some space to breathe and be in the moment (when their head is spinning),
  • know when to hand them tissues before they start to cry, and
  • be connected to the couple, but not in a way that assumes intimacy.

The point being, that I (just like everyone else) have a very different perspective on wedding ceremonies to the next person. What I place value in is not everyone else's cup of tea. I asked my celebrant colleagues from Modern Celebrants Adelaide what they think couples should be looking for in a great celebrant:

  • a celebrant you 'click' with
  • they will spend some time to get to know you
  • someone you can share a laugh with
  • when you walk away from talking with them you think, ‘yep they are awesome!’
  • they allow you the freedom to truly personalise your ceremony
  • someone you would happily sit down and have a beer/wine/coffee/filtered water with
  • a professional with experience so they can help to guide you on aspects that you may not have even thought about yet e.g. crowd control, timing, being gracious when working with other suppliers etc.
  • someone with a warm, friendly personality (so you and your guests don’t feel bossed around on the day)
  • good testimonials
  • they use quality equipment (PA & microphones etc.)

The tricky part is that you won't know if your celebrant has some of these qualities until you are standing beside them on your wedding day.

So after you have completed your due diligence (check that the celebrant is registered, have a look at their testimonials/reviews, ask family and friends), the best advice I can give is to make sure that you have a chat with your celebrant before you book them. If you are interstate or overseas, make the time to tee up a Skype call - it's fabulous and it's free!

You will have a gut feeling, an instinct, just from chatting with them.

Trust that feeling and book them in ASAP because the great celebrants are booked a long way in advance (sometimes up to 18 months for the popular months of March, October and November in Australia). And if you don't feel good, just keep looking and asking questions - your perfect celebrant is out there somewhere.

Do you have any advice for couples looking for a great celebrant? Please let me know in the comments below.

Celebrant Camille Abbott