How to select a Celebrant

How to select a Celebrant

When you choose a celebrant, you know you’re going to be paying anything from a few hundred pounds to a four-figure sum. Whether you ultimately receive the value of that expenditure, or not, it’s still a significant amount of money to spend.

It therefore pays to do some homework before you commit.

Of course, you may know somebody who has seen the celebrant in action (or you have yourself). In that case, you have a good idea what to expect, if you engage them. However, that doesn’t tend to be the rule.

More commonly, people will have to choose from a blank page. More precisely, from a website and reviews. These may well give you a feel for your supplier. Then you look at a competitor’s page, and that seems very attractive too!

So my advice is to meet a couple, so you can compare like-for-like. (In these days of social distancing, you “meet”, of course, via Zoom, Skype or phone).

Not the first question

People assume that the price is the deciding factor, and, therefore, it’s the first question to be asked.

Of course, you are likely to be budget-dependent. But don’t forget that you may also be able to juggle your outlay so that you save somewhere else the extra you may spend to secure the celebrant you want.

Remember that you will be working with a celebrant over months, probably. You’ll be discussing intimate feelings with them. You’ll need to like and trust them. You’ll need to be sure they’ll do what you – not what they – want.

They’ll need to be able to write well and to present beautifully.

Does talking with them leave you feeling excited? Do you actually want to be married by that person?

It’s worth paying a little extra, if you’re assured of getting the right choice.

The real first question

So your priority is the celebrant’s availability.

Almost as important is whether your celebrant responds to your vision for the day with flexibility or with arrogance. Can they deliver what you want?

Then reassure yourself that they are experienced and have proven success in their field.

Do you sense that they are just doing a job, or will they go the extra mile?

The answers to these questions should indicate to you who to go with.

Boring bits

Make sure you read their Terms & Conditions before you commit. Not that they are likely to be shafting you! However, you may assume something is included that turns out to cost extra. You want to avoid misunderstandings. What happens if you have to cancel or postpone?

I believe that you can feel confident if the celebrant belongs to  a relevant association. There are minimum standards to be observed. So I am a member of the Association of Civil Celebrants (AOIC) and the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (UKAWP).

A celebrant is no different from any other supplier. You’re paying for a particular service. You want to be sure that you are getting value for your outlay. You deserve to know that satisfaction – if not delight – is virtually guaranteed.

Michael has been conducting ceremonies since early 2013, and would love to discuss this further with you. Just give him a call.

How to Choose your Venue

How to Choose your Venue

Even in these troubling times, it’s well worth choosing your venue with care. Even if it’s a micro-wedding, you’re going to want the vibes to be right. That means seriously considering where you hold your ceremony.

Don’t leave it to the last moment! Not least because the venue of your choice may well be booked up a year ahead, or even more.

Furthermore, a rushed decision is not always the wisest one.

So take the trouble to do some research.

Starting off

Friends or relatives may be able to recommend a place. So go along and see if it suits you too.

You don’t have to be restricted by convention. You are not limited to a church, the Register Office or even a hotel, if a civil celebrant is conducting the ceremony. Perhaps an iron age fort appeals or a Canal Centre.

Geography may be a major factor too. The point is that, even these days, you may be able to choose an atmospheric or significant site for your big day.

The process

Although consulting venue websites is useful, go in person to see the likely ones. Then you can sense the atmosphere and beauty of the place (essential before you make your decision). Don’t neglect to make an appointment with the events planner before you leave.

Before all else, ensure the venue is available all the time that you will want it.

The big mistake

When you’re choosing your suppliers – be they florists, civil celebrants, wedding planners, musicians, photographers, or whatever – don’t go for the cheapest! Obviously, you have to respect your budget, that’s a given. But you need to go with a supplier that you feel you can trust and whom you want to work with. That may come at a cost, and you may have to try and make savings somewhere else.

The visit

Apart from the surroundings, your chat with the event planner can be paramount. Do you like them? Do they understand your vision? Do they seem to have your interests at heart? Do they seem dependable?

Have a list of questions. These may include capacity and catering, exactly what the hire entitles you to, whether the planner will be on hand on the day,  décor and logistics (like parking or microphones), cancellation policy, and so on.

If you find a venue you love (not just “like”!), go for it. If you need to cut a few corners, you can often negotiate a discount depending on when you hold the event.

For example, it’s cheaper to book a venue out of (summer) season (and not Xmas and Valentine’s Day) and to avoid Saturdays or Fridays. Afternoon, rather than evening, can be cheaper too.

Visit several venues (with the same questions), and you can compare.

It sounds like a lot of “homework”, but it’s your big day, and it’s so important to get it right.

Feel free to call me to discuss any of this further.

How do I choose a Wedding Supplier?

How do I choose a Wedding Supplier?

Whether or not you are planning a micro-wedding or still hoping for a bigger one, you are likely to be looking for a supplier or two. Simple examples would be a photographer, florist or a civil celebrant.

How do you know they’ll be any good, and what do you need to ask them, so you can judge?

Ideally, you’ll have positive first-hand experience. Or else the suppliers come with a recommendation from someone you trust who has used them. We had our reception in the same place as an aunt and uncle’s golden wedding celebration, so we knew the venue could offer just what we were looking for.

What do you do, if none of your acquaintances can recommend anyone? Maybe your FaceBook contacts can help. If not, I’d advise you to Google your supplier(s) and have a look at their website.

The main thing you are looking for is whether they can offer the particular service you desire. In these trying times, you may also want to see their cancellation policy too.

If you like what you see, check out testimonials. Are customers happy with what you are after and does the supplier provide it the way you want it?

If it still looks good, make contact, preferably face-to-face or on zoom or Skype. Have questions ready. Availability is the first question, of course. “How much?” is important, but less so than whether the supplier will listen to, and can share, your vision.

Ask for (and then read!) the Ts & Cs.

If all tallies, then don’t forget this one: do you actually trust, like and want to work with this supplier? I usually tell my brides and grooms only to go with me, if they feel happy at the thought of being married by me.

So, go with your heart, once your head is satisfied!

To discuss this further, please contact me for a chat.

Planning a Successful Wedding

Planning a Successful Wedding

Wedding planning is a very delicate balancing act. First and foremost, bride and groom must see eye-to-eye. Secondly, other people may well be involved, and their feelings and opinions may not correspond to the couple’s. Thirdly, there is social distancing and all that goes with it to bargain for.

Bride and Groom

In many cases, the bride and bride’s family will be the prime movers in the planning. The groom usually likes the plans run past him, but often doesn’t want deeper involvement.

However, the bride shouldn’t go against his wishes – or behind his back – and risk an altercation on – or after – the wedding day!

Actually, don’t assume that no areas will interest the groom. He will probably want some sort of input into the catering and the venue. Bridesmaids’ dresses may possibly interest him less.

So the bride should try and keep him in the picture. The couple should discuss any issues – amicably! They both need to agree on the venue and officiant.

So let the groom participate in the planning, if he likes. Accept that it may not enthuse him that much, though. Give-and-take may be the order of the day(s).

Wedding Party

Of course, others may be playing a part. Do we include bridesmaid, flower-girl, usher, Best Man, parent, and so on, in the planning? How much notice should be paid to their views?

The bottom line is that the wedding is the couple’s affair, so whatever they want ought to count. Even if someone else is bankrolling the affair, it is still the couple’s big day.

However, if they are expecting others to contribute (whether financially or as an active participant), there may need to be some compromise. Consultation is important. Nobody should be forced to go against their wishes or take on a role they’re really unwilling to adopt.

The middle course may be the order of the day. Possibly, somebody who might otherwise be overlooked could be invited to read a poem, say. Perhaps a moody youngster can be put in charge of the wedding presents. A bridesmaid, reluctant to wear a certain dress, can be given a bunch of flowers in recompense.

Social Distancing

You don’t need me to point out that it is currently well-nigh impossible to plan for a big, or even, moderate-sized, wedding. If you don’t know how many guests you will be allowed to invite, how can you book the venue, catering, entertainment etc.?

So it may be an idea to marry legally (ie small register office ceremony) as soon as you wish. Then celebrate the ceremony (officiated by your civil celebrant of choice) and reception you really wanted a year down the line (on your first anniversary, say).

Eventually …

Whenever you are able to marry as you want, remember that it is likely to be a team effort.

Most families are willing – and able – to reach a balance, and a wonderful day is had by all.

If you have any thoughts or questions arising from this, feel free to contact me.

Marrying a Snowman?!

Marrying a Snowman?!

It could be that lockdownitis is getting the better of me, I realise …

The fact is that I went for a stroll on Sunday and a snowman caught my attention. One thought led to another, and I began comparing the snowman to a wedding.

As one does.

Well, I warned you!

But let me justify myself a bit. There are commonalities …

Like a wedding, a snowman is often the product of a combined, collaborative effort. They can be big, small or medium. You can decorate them lavishly, or keep it simple. They often require a lot of work to create. Co-operation is usually of the essence, but an individual can do much of the preparation. They are ephemeral. They can afford a lot of pleasure and can be something that lives on in the memory for years.

You might extend the comparison by going into clothes and so on, but I guess there’s no need to labour the point.

Hopefully, you, my reader, may know somebody planning a wedding. Perhaps you can help them in some way. (Telling them about what I offer – namely, a personalised ceremony – would be a great start!)

They may still be able to have a big wedding (in time), but a micro-wedding can be fabulous. They could even get legally married and then hold a wedding blessing, or the like, some time later. Possibly, on their anniversary.

So, no, I’m not thinking of including a snowman in a wedding ceremony! But next time somebody comes up to you and compares a wedding to a snowman, you’ll be ahead of the game, thanks to me!

How to select a Celebrant

How to select a Celebrant

When you choose a celebrant, you know you’re going to be paying anything from a few hundred pounds to a four-figure sum. Whether you ultimately receive the value of that expenditure, or not, it’s still a significant amount of money to spend.

It therefore pays to do some homework before you commit.

Of course, you may know somebody who has seen the celebrant in action (or you have yourself). In that case, you have a good idea what to expect, if you engage them. However, that doesn’t tend to be the rule.

More commonly, people will have to choose from a blank page. More precisely, from a website and reviews. These may well give you a feel for your supplier. Then you look at a competitor’s page, and that seems very attractive too!

So my advice is to meet a couple so you can compare like-for-like. (In these days of social distancing, you “meet”, of course, via Zoom, Skype or phone).

The last thing you want

People assume that the price is the deciding factor, and, therefore, it’s the first question to be asked.

I accept that you are likely to be budget-dependent. But don’t forget that you may also be able to juggle your outlay so that you save somewhere else the extra you may spend to secure the celebrant you want.

Remember that you will be working with a celebrant over months, probably. You’ll be discussing intimate feelings with them. You’ll need to like and trust them. You’ll need to be sure they’ll do what you – not what they – want.

They’ll need to be able to write well and to present beautifully.

Does talking with them leave you feeling excited? Do you actually want to be married by that person?

It’s worth paying a little extra, if you’re assured of getting the right person.

The real first question

So your priority is the celebrant’s availability.

Almost as important is whether your celebrant responds to your vision for the day with flexibility or with arrogance. Can they deliver what you want?

Then reassure yourself that they are experienced and have proven success in their field.

Do you sense that they are just doing a job, or will they go the extra mile?

The answers to these questions should indicate to you who to go with.

Boring bits

Make sure you read their Terms & Conditions before you commit. Not that they are likely to be shafting you! However, you may assume something is included that turns out to cost extra. You want to avoid misunderstandings.

I believe that you can feel confident if the celebrant belongs to  a relevant association. There are minimum standards to be observed. So I am a member of the Association of Civil Celebrants (AOIC) and the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (UKAWP).

A celebrant is no different from any other supplier. They’re supplying a particular professional service. You want to be sure that you are getting value for your outlay. You deserve to know that satisfaction – if not delight – is virtually guaranteed.

Michael has been conducting ceremonies since late 2012, and would love to discuss this further with you. Just give him a call.