I'll admit it. B
efore starting this journey to become a celebrant, I wasn't exactly sure what a celebrant did. Sure, I knew they stood up and conducted the ceremony and got to say the fun bits (you may kiss the bride! I now pronounce you husband and wife!) but I'd never really considered what happened before of after the wedding. It seemed to me getting paid for turning up for less than an hour's work was a pretty good gig.
I became a celebrant to officiate my sister's wedding and decided to make a business out of it because I'm so excited to share this journey with other couples as well. After studying to become a celebrant, I'm more aware of what's required of a celebrant and my perception has changed significantly from what I initially thought. So please let me share my new knowledge with you:
Firstly, and obviously, there's the ceremony. Well before that, a celebrant meets a couple, gets to know them and makes sure it's a good fit all round. The celebrant helps the couple to fill out the first round of legal paperwork and ensure that all the right steps are taken so that the marriage is recognised as legal by the government when it happens.
After meeting the couple and filling out legal paperwork, the celebrant obviously stays in touch and gets to know the couple so they can start writing the ceremony. It's important to get to know a couple so that the ceremony reflects who they are, rather than a generic script with their names cut in. During this period, the celebrant will find resources, suggest ideas for the couple, talk to any other people involved in the ceremony (like those doing a reading or a ritual), and coordinate with other vendors (like the venue, photographers and videographers).
Obviously the celebrant will then also write or plan the ceremony. Depending on the celebrant, some will write it out verbatim, and some will write a rough outline to guide them through. Either way, the celebrant will prepare a ceremony that suits the couple, and in a format that will help the celebrant deliver that ceremony in the best way they can.
Once the ceremony is in good shape, the celebrant will help a couple run a rehearsal, if they choose to do that. It helps those involved know what they should be doing and when so that on the day, the ceremony runs smoothly and everyone can enjoy the day rather than worrying about what comes next. (Having said that, there's no obligation to have a rehearsal if the couple doesn't want one! A celebrant should be able to direct the ceremony such that everyone knows where to go and what to do.)
Shortly before the wedding day, the celebrant will organise more legal documents to sign with the couple. The celebrant will be at the wedding location at least half an hour before the ceremony to set up and be prepared. Then of course there is the CEREMONY and some more legal documents to sign (including the wedding certificate!)
But wait there's more! After your ceremony, a celebrant will do more (yep, really). They'll package up all that documentation that you've been filling out and send it over to the relevant department of births deaths and marriages, so your marriage is legally registered.
And that's not even getting in to annual ongoing professional development to continuously update knowledge and skills in celebrancy.
OK so I feel this post was a little self-indulgent, but thanks for reading the whole way through. I hope you've got a bit more of an understanding about what goes on from a celebrant's perspective, the effort that they put into every ceremony and that it's more than turning up for an hour at a wedding!