If you’re choosing a supplier, you’re going to want to know exactly what they can offer you. Unless you have first-hand experience of them – or know someone else who does – you’re batting in the dark to some extent.
You may be able to get a feel for them from their website and testimonials, and that’s a good starting-point. In the celebrant world, no two will be exactly the same. So how do you decide between two (or more) seemingly-similar suppliers?
My suggestion is that you meet up with (or at least have an online meeting with) them. You need to prepare a list of questions, and see how the responses compare.
The last question
The first question a lot of people pose is “how much?”. Obviously, there’s a budget to consider, but this should actually be the last question to mull over. Why?
Working with a celebrant is a very personal thing. You may talk about your private love story with them. You may be asking them to tie your wrists together in a handfasting. It stands to reason that you will want to trust them. You’ll need to feel comfortable with them both personally and as professionals.
The celebrant who fits the bill may well come at a price. A cheap one may not listen to your views because they “know best”. Or they may not have great writing skills. They may not be dedicated or passionate. They may not be able to present effectively.
Not to say that nobody at the cheaper end can do the job or that a relatively expensive celebrant can’t be a disappointment.
But you can minimise the risk element by doing your homework. If you talk with them, and end up liking them and feeling that they have experience, passion and the right skills, then you are well on the way.
So you need to tell them your picture of your big day. Will their suggestions work for you? Do you feel excited by the end of the conversation? Do you want that person to conduct your ceremony in front of the people who are most important to you?
If so, money should not really be a limiting factor. That’s not what really counts.
The real first question
So the first question should be availability.
Then, ask the questions around your vision for the day. Do they respond with flexibility, or arrogance? Do they understand what you have in mind? Do you like their ideas? Will they be able to deliver?
What experience do they have? Can they supply testimonials or references?
How clearly do they express themselves? How do you think they’ll come across to your guests on the day?
Do you sense that they are just doing a job, or will they go the extra mile?
The answers to most of these questions should become apparent in the course of a chat.
Another thing to consider is Terms & Conditions. Do they seem professional? What are the payment terms? Do they suit you? What exactly is included? And, if there are extras, how clearly are these laid out?
It may be worth checking if the celebrant belongs to an Association (as that implies at least reasonable standards). For example, I am a member of the AOIC, and I follow its Code of Practice.
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 late 2012, and would love to discuss this further with you. Just give him a call.