Whether it be a priest, registrar or civil celebrant, your officiant can make or break your wedding day. It’s so important that you can relate to them and trust them. With a priest or a registrar, you don’t have much choice. But you can choose your civil celebrant.
The vital question therefore is: how do I choose the right one?
Obviously, your wishes, beliefs and budget are all factors.
A religious ceremony is just that – and it follows a set formula which allows little room for personalisation.
The same applies to register office weddings – except that there may be no religious mentions at all.
To get the best of both worlds, you can combine register office (or a religious service) and civil ceremony. For example, hold the (legal) wedding the day before – or immediately before – and then have the ceremony that actually fits with your dreams.
You certainly should be free to choose the type of ceremony you’ll be having – especially on the most important day of your life. You may have to compromise (with parents, for example). However, ideally, the service should be a deeply personal experience that reflects both your and your partner’s beliefs, values and style.
That’s why you may opt for a civil celebrant. So how do you choose the right one for you?
Find your Civil Celebrant
You may already know of a celebrant through a referral, say. Otherwise, you will probably turn to Google. You can look under affiliated groups (eg AOIC, British Humanist Association, UKSoC, etc.). People listed there will have been trained and offer minimum (actually, often excellent) standards. Otherwise, you might key in “Civil Celebrant Harrow” and, hopefully, “Vows That Wow” will appear!
Check your Celebrant out
Once you’ve found a possibility or two, have a look at their website. Read the testimonials, but, possibly more important, see their video. This will give you an idea of the sort of person they are. You will not want to work with someone you feel uncomfortable with!
What to find out
Having settled on your celebrant, these are things you need to know:
- First, establish if the celebrant is free on the date you have in mind
- If so, check if they will travel
- Ask about legal requirements, as licensed premises have strict rules
- Of course, you need a quote (although trusting and liking them should be more important)
- Ask how they operate – ie is there an initial meeting (where?) – and what the fee includes
- Try and get a sense of their experience, enthusiasm and character (just as there are many different sorts of ceremonies, so civil celebrants have different personalities)
- Check how flexible the ceremony may be (eg can you write your own vows?)
- You may want to ask about length of ceremony (although this will very much depend on your requirements)
If you feel happy that you would like this celebrant to conduct your ceremony, then your gut feeling is probably the thing to go with. However, make sure you read and understand their Terms & Conditions. There shouldn’t be any nasty surprises, especially with a bona fide professional, but it’s always as well to be vigilant.
Working with a professional will be a pleasure. You will be free to enjoy the unforgettable, unique experience that is so precious. A good civil celebrant should be able to provide precisely what you are looking for.