Finding a Celebrant: the lowdown on the process.
Congratulations - you’re getting married! But the reality is that beyond knowing that you want to walk back down the aisle to an acoustic version of ‘Riptide’, that your Aunt will definitely whip out her Ipad to take photos despite being told not to and that your left side looks better in photos, when it comes to your ceremony, you have no idea how it all works. While I wanna be all like, “There are no rules! Be a maverick – do what you want!” To an extent, this isn’t entirely true.
So here are your ‘must haves’, legally speaking:
o You will need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage with your celebrant. As minimum this needs to be done one month before the date you plan to get married, but it can be done up to 18 months in advance. You will also need to flash me some ID and (if applicable) proof of dissolution of your previous marriage
o You need to sign a statutory declaration before you get married stating that there is nothing dodgy happening – ie, you’re related or still married to someone else.
o In your ceremony you are required to have five legal lines of wording – three sentences for me and one each for you both.
o You must have two witnesses over the age of 18 (they can be related to you)
o On the day we need to sign off on three bits of paperwork; the tradition is to sign them during the ceremony – but the reality is that as long as they get done that day, you can sign wherever and whenever you like.
Now here is where it gets fun: beyond those important and legally binding things – you can do what you want!
BUT – In order to get to ^that part, you need to check out this part>>>>
STEP1: Find an amazing celebrant. You can google one, try a wedding directory, fall down an Instagram #hashtag #celebrant hole or the best option: ask around. Most of my weddings are referrals from people who have seen me in action, so ask your mates about weddings they have been to and who was memorable for the right reasons. Cost wise we are all over the shop: but you will always find one to fit your budget, especially if you start looking early.
TIMELINE TIP: I book out anywhere from two months to two years in advance and often have multiple enquiries for the same date. Weddings have seasons, the most popular being April/May/September/October. While you will always find someone to marry you, it might mean sending a truckload of emails and compromising; getting in early simply ensures that you secure your first choice of celebrant.
STEP 2: Found one who you like and who is free on your day? Well, arrange a date to meet them and see if you have good chemistry. Some people view this as a box ticking exercise, that is: “They’re available, they’ll do”, while others view it as an interview process. During this meeting we get to know each other better, I find out exactly how you want to celebrate your love and talk you through the many options you have available. If you like me, you then pay a booking fee to secure my services.
STEP 3: Ceremony writing time! No, not you silly! You have enough on your plate, you’re wedding planning after all. That is why you hired me, remember? Some celebrants will show you your ceremony in advance, and some like to surprise you on the day; alternatively you can tell them what you would prefer. Personally, I like to send a copy of the ceremony through to make sure I have the tone right, that way I can edit according to your needs.
STEP 4: Write your vows! Or don’t write them! Legally you don’t need to have vows, so it’s totally up to you as whether you feel like including them. If you do, remember that you don’t need to recreate a Shakespearean sonnet (you totally can if that’s your jam). I always tell my couples to write down why they love the shit out of each other and if they want, include a few promises they’d like to make – shout out to the bride who promised she’d limit the number of decorative cushions she brought into the home. In other words, they don’t need to be super serious. Send them to me and I will have them printed out on pretty cards on the day ready for you to read/recite/perform through interpretive dance.
STEP 5: Final meeting. We have drinks, we chat, we finalise details like distribution of confetti, who will look after the dogs at your ceremony (the answer is always me) and what I should wear so I can coordinate with your crew. Here is where we sign your stat dec and I check your ID (Passports or birth certs and photo ID). We part ways with you being completely confident about your ceremony.
STEP 6: Da-da-da-dum – here comes the bride/groom/dog in a tux. I’ve brought my awesome wireless PA system (yes you can play your music though it), am at peak banter with your guests and am ready for the fun to officially start. Lipstick on, tissues at the ready – let’s do this. I’ll hang around after to help organise group pics, to direct people to the drinks (hot tip: guests can always sniff out booze) and to generally help out.
STEP 7: I finalise your paperwork, mail it off to Births, Deaths & Marriages in the State you were married and tell you how to apply for your official paperwork. I will also send you some details regarding how you change your last name; again it’s personal and there’s no rules that say you have to. I’ve even had some couples ditch both of their last names and pick a shared shiny new one.
STEP 8: I show off your greatness on my socials (if that’s cool with you) and hopefully you leave me a lovely review on FB and tell your mates about me when they are looking for a great celebrant and so the cycle of marital bliss/successful small business continues…