Paying for a Civil Celebrant

Paying for a Civil Celebrant

People sometimes think the civil celebrant cost for a ceremony is not justified. Uncle John can do that just as well – and for free!

But will Uncle John be able to put together – let alone present – a ceremony that is memorable (for the right reasons)? Does he have the writing and presentation skills, for example?

A lot of people think that all a civil celebrant has to do is to rock up at the ‘gig’ and deliver a few well-chosen words and then go home. Money for old rope, as they say.

However, it’s actually a lot more than that for me.

The ideal

My mission is to cultivate a relationship between myself and the client. I want them to trust me and feel there’s rapport. That’s especially important if I’m going to be conducting their ceremony on the most important day of their lives!

I make it my goal when we meet to ask the right questions and actually listen to the responses. Then I can understand the clients’ vision and be in a position to help them realise it.

I compile a ceremony that reflects their personalities and beliefs and which is everything they want.

I take pride in conducting an impeccable ceremony.

Finally, I appreciate that I am privileged to be part of the couple’s excitement and joy.

How do I achieve that?

Firstly, cultivating a close relationship takes time, as well as patience and tact. (I do not end up working with every person who enquires about my services.)

I don’t assume I know the clients’ wishes better than they do. I will advise them, if I feel, from my considerable experience, that something might, or might not, work; however, it is their big day, and I never forget that.

I am happy to give advice, if the clients are unsure what to do. The goal is to draw up a unique, personalised ceremony that fulfils the clients’ dreams.

Either way, we normally exchange drafts until the clients are happy with every word.

I always bear in mind that it’s not about me, but the clients. I present clearly and beautifully. I won’t accept second best.

The bottom line

I trained both as a funeral celebrant and as a celebratory celebrant, and that training was not cheap.

I have considerable experience – I graduated as a celebrant in late 2012 and have now conducted over 150 ceremonies (including weddings (same-sex and heterosexual), vow renewals, handfastings, namings and funerals). It’s difficult to put a price on such experience.

My many testimonials demonstrate that I am professional but friendly, and focussed on achieving my clients’ goals.

On the day, I will normally arrive an hour early. I check everything is in place at the venue and reassure the groom! I am a calming influence at a frenetic time.

When I conduct the ceremony, I use my considerable presentation skills. I foster a warm atmosphere and make the guests feel included too. Such skills come at a price.

All this is why I charge a fee. if you try me, I hope you’ll agree that I do earn it!

Wedding freedoms

Wedding freedoms

One of the many things that attracted me to the role of civil celebrant was the fact that I could offer wedding freedoms.

I could educate people that they had a choice. After all, we’re talking about what should be the biggest day of their lives.

The old way

Up until 2009, I assumed that marriage meant you either attended a full religious service, as in a church, or the register office (fully secular).

Of course, lifestyles have changed and society has become more accepting. For example, same-sex weddings have become quite commonplace. One of the favourite ceremonies I have conducted, as it happens, was same-sex.

Nonetheless, as I constantly realise from personal experience, many people are unaware that wedding freedoms exist.

Sure, the old choices are still feasible for those who want them.

The new

However, you may be a devoted couple who may not share spiritual beliefs. Happily, you can now have a romantic ceremony that includes what really matters to you. All of us have the freedom to commit to each other, surrounded by family and friends, in venues of our choice.  We can invite our chosen civil celebrant to design and conduct beautiful, meaningful ceremonies.

Michelle & Mujo 2

Photo: Philippa Gedge

I seem to be asked to help create a lot of part-religious ceremonies. Among them, I have led a full (well, 95%!) Jewish wedding, a wedding blessing for a Muslim and a Jewess, a Christian marrying a Jew (with a priest covering the Christian parts!) and a half-Jew marrying a pagan.

In this way, as long as the legal bits are dealt with by the registrars first, the exact degree of religiosity, of formality and tone are up to the couple.  They can thus put their seal on the proceedings and make it an absolutely unique occasion.

The tailor-made service and the personalised style and special venue all contribute to a unforgettable, wonderful occasion – a far cry, for some, from the extremes of a full religious service or the register office.

I’m glad to say that we’ve come a long way from the rigidity of the past. Then you were offered only a standard 10 minute register office ceremony or a fixed, religious ceremony that was not unique to you and may have included words you were not comfortable with.

Those still work for people. But certainly not for everyone.

I believe that wedding freedoms surely make perfect sense, don’t they?

If you agree, please help me spread the word!