So you’ve decided to go with a civil celebrant. How are you going to choose yours?
Maybe it will be instinct. Or you’ll go by price – either the cheapest or, perhaps, the most expensive celebrant. Or you may look for ‘value for money’. Possibly, you’ve seen (or a friend has) the celebrant in action already.
Given how important the occasion is – it’s a unique ceremony, after all – those are not the safest guides to making the best choice, although they each have some validity.
You need to do some homework.
Firstly, is the celebrant available on your chosen day? (If not, would you consider moving the date, to accommodate him/her?)
Does the celebrant belong to an association or fellowship? That will normally mean that he/she is regulated by a code of conduct, is fully insured and could come up with a substitute, if ill health or infirmity strike. AOIC is one example of a reputable association.
What about the celebrant’s attitude? Will they listen to your concerns? Will they respect your ideas? Obviously, this is something to get a feeling for when you have a preliminary conversation. A celebrant is likely to have lots of experience, so their input is something worth considering, but the thing to remember is that this is your do.
Does the celebrant have access to suitable equipment? As well as a computer, a reliable car might be important, as could the right attire.
Experience is extremely valuable. The experienced celebrant is likely to have evolved good listening and writing skills, and be able to present beautifully. He is also liable to react suitably, if something goes wrong.
Fees are very often the deciding factor. Do you really want to save money, but potentially come up with a disappointing celebrant? Paying more can buy better quality. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to employ somebody just because they are the most expensive!
You can get an idea of value from testimonials, the time the celebrant is prepared to spend with you and in composing, as you create your unique ceremony. Your celebrant’s presentation skills will count for a lot too.
What sort of personality is desirable? This will depend on you. When you talk with your celebrant, you can decide whether they will fit the bill. Some will be extroverted and happily do an Elvis-style wedding. Others may flourish at less showy affairs.
What is the celebrant’s reputation? If you look at the testimonials or can get first-hand feedback, you should get quite a good picture.
Most celebrants are willing to travel. I am not the only celebrant to have conducted ceremonies abroad. My fees obviously increase to reflect the time I am giving up. If I’m travelling within this country, I normally allow (excessive) time so that I arrive at a venue at least one hour (and sometimes more) before the ceremony start-time.
It pays to speak to two or three celebrants before deciding. Be prepared to ask plenty of questions. See how amenable and professional they may be, and whether you feel a bond with them. Either meet them or speak to them on Whatsapp or Skype (so you can see them face-to-face). Are they someone you would like to be married by? Do they have a nice voice and presentation skills?
It’s your special day. If you feel confident in the celebrant and you are keen to work with them, you probably have the right team member. It may be worth paying a little bit more to secure them.
It’s a one-off day. It’s worth choosing and investing wisely. If your chosen celebrant fulfils the considerations listed above, then the money question may become irrelevant.
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