If you’ve read any of my other blog posts, or seen my Instagram or Facebook pages you’ll see that I have had an amazing, incredible, wonderful 2017. I conducted over 80 weddings in Australia, Bali and London, chucked in my day job to be a full-time celebrant, attended sessions on social media to learn what the hell I’m meant to be doing, and basically had the best year of my life.
And I know 2018 is going to be even better…
The reason I’m so confident of this is down to the simple fact that marriage equality is now a thing. In 2017 I conducted a couple of same-sex commitment ceremonies and, well, as beautiful as they were, it saddened my soul that I couldn’t marry them legally. Now, I can. I don’t have to say those hateful words ‘Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and woman…’ anymore. Hoo-bloody-rah!
Secondly, in 2018 I want to do more creative learning. I spent time in 2017 learning how to use social media, tailoring my website, and learning all the ins and outs of celebrancy in Australia. So now is the time for me to start doing some really fun stuff; attending courses and sessions which will hopefully include paints and pencils and textiles and design and writing and all the fun stuff.
I can’t wait for this year. I’d love to hear your ambitions for 2018, whether wedding related or not. Don’t be shy – come and say hi!
How to sign the register? Are you confused as to whether it should be your married name?
The answer is ‘no’ – you sign your name in your current signature. Getting married doesn’t automatically change your last name; after all, some couples choose not to do so.
Your name change can happen once you start to get identification in this name. The process is:
1) After your married your celebrant will send your paperwork to Births, Deaths and Marriages in the State where you were married
2) Once this has been registered by the Births, Deaths and Marriage in that State, you can then apply for your marriage certificate which can be used as evidence that you are now legally married
3) You can then begin applying for documents which you can use as ID, such as your passport and drivers licence with your new name
Thinking of eloping? Whether you want to do so to save money, to negate the ‘inviting the masses’ issue, or you just want a really intimate commitment with only you and your witnesses then I’m able to help you with your elopement ceremony, ensuring it meets all your needs.
As a starter, I’ve produced some guidance on how to organise the perfect elopement:
Submit your completed notice-of-intended-marriage at least one calendar month prior to your elopement date with your celebrant. Unless there is a reason which falls under the exceptional circumstances (please ask me for more advice on these), you will need to lodge this at least one calendar month before your chosen date to get married.
Think about what kind of elopement you want.
Do you want super-intimate with only two witnesses or something with a small, intimate group of family and/or friends?
If you do want to invite guests, do you want them to be aware that you are eloping, or do you want to invite them under a different guise?
Do you want to include personalised vows in the ceremony?
Do you want any readings included? Would you like any of your guests to say something during the ceremony?
Do you want your elopement to be captured by a professional photographer and/or videographer to then share with others at a later date?
Decide where you would like to hold your elopement ceremony. I have conducted elopements:
at parks (depending on your type of elopement, it’s worth checking first to see if you need any kind of permit for that particular park)
on beaches, including those on both the Gold and Sunshine Coasts
in a coffee shop (with the bride and groom in shorts and thongs)
at the home of a couple, just before they were to fly off for a trip of a lifetime
at a small family 30th birthday party which turned into a surprise elopement
How are you going to share the news with your family and friends after the elopement? It must seem an odd question to ask, but quite often couples elope, and then spend days, weeks, even months, before they share the news because, well… basically they’re not sure how to do so! It’s worth having a think about this beforehand; are there those whom you want to tell first face to face, or are you happy to make an announcement on social media?
Please do not hesitate to contact me about elopements – I have a real sense of adventure and love surprises, so am more than happy to get fully on board to make your elopement totally right for you.
“Thank you for your wonderful assistance on our surprise evening… even your commitment to your backstory so my family wouldn’t guess you were a celebrant. Thanks for fitting in with our very simple, kinda last minute decision and making it super chilled with was just perfect for us.” Kellee and Ben (left)
Hopefully you had a chance to read Part One of this blog, which was basically a love story between my handsome dog, Valentine McFarty, and Mr HB and I.
As promised in that post, I wanted to provide some ideas on ways you can include your dog in your wedding ceremony.
To Have, Or Not To Have
What’s that saying? Never work with children or animals… Well, I’ve worked with both, many times, and never once have I found it a major problem. Yes, even the best trained animal can be unpredictable, and if you’re looking for a ceremony which runs as smoothly as Kate and Wills, then it’s probably not such a good idea to have your four legged friend involved. However, if you are comfortable with the thought of your dog (or any other animal!) going off script then I think they can make such a wonderful asset to your ceremony.
Getting Your Dog Involved Prior to the Ceremony
Getting your pet involved in your engagement shoot or save the date photos can result in beautifully unique pictures. You can also include your dog in your wedding invitation – Etsy.com has lots of creative artists who can help you with this idea.
During the Ceremony
Having your furry friend as a bridesmaid, grooms man or flower girl can be a lovely addition.
There’s some great ways to include your pooch as your ring bearer. Not sure if my Valentine McFarty is well trained enough to carry the basket in his mouth like the dog below, but there’s other, perhaps safer, options available too.
I recently conducted a wedding where their dog, Ernie, was a big part of the day. He was there at all my consultations with the couple, he was mentioned during the ceremony, he escorted the groom’s party on arrival, and walked both bride and groom down the aisle. One of their friend’s made a fingerprint tree with Ernie sitting underneath. Ernie is very much part of their lives, and therefore very much part of their wedding. I ‘heart’ Ernie…
During the Reception
Even if your furry friend isn’t at the reception, there’s still ways you can acknowledge them.
What about having you, your partner, and your pet on your cake topper?
I went to a wedding once where Valentine, and other doggies were invited for the ceremony and the reception. If you’re doing the same, what about some wedding favours for your furry friends?
Fingerprint trees are very popular at the moment, and a great way of having a keepsake of all your guests. Why not include your dog in the print, or do the fingerprint dog in purple below. Or, if you’re really adventurous, what about a paw print from your pooch?
As much as you love your dog, you may not want to have to keep an eye on him or her all day, and you also may want to consider them going home after the ceremony. If so, there’s companies who can do this for you such as the First Class Pet Wedding Assistant or Wedding Paws
Love Animals, but are Animal-less?
If you don’t own an animal, but are an animal lover there’s still ways you can show your love for our furry/feathered friends. How about hiring some Alpacas from our wonderful friends at Alpaca Pooch – these lovely, friendly, super cute animals make a great addition to any celebration. Other ideas include a dove release from White Wings Dove Service or an owl delivering your rings (Raptor Vision).
If you decide against having your dog or pet at your wedding, I have some wording I can use which will give you and your guests a giggle and will acknowledge your pet within the ceremony. Please don’t hesitate to ask me about this.
When I tell people I’m a celebrant, and I conduct baby namings, weddings andfunerals I often get the same reaction: ‘The funerals must be hard. I couldn’t do that.’
And, yes, funerals can be hard, but I find them such a special experience to participant in, and if I can make the grieving process just that little bit easier, then I gain much job satisfaction.
Most people’s experience of funerals have been in a church, chapel or at a funeral home. But, what would you say if I told you that it doesn’t need to be like that? That, depending on whether you want a funeral or a memorial, you can hold these at a vineyard, or on a farm, or by the sea, or at home, or… well, there’s many choices.
So, why don’t more people do this? Basically it’s because usually the only experience we’ve had when someone dies is the more traditional process. It can be hard to make decisions when grieving, and when the loved one hasn’t left any instructions on what they want, it can seem easier to take the well-trodden path.
However, imagine a funeral or memorial that really celebrated your loved ones life; where people come together in a place that feels familiar or fitting for the deceased. Imagine being able to take your time to say goodbye, to share stories, laugh, cry, grieve in a way which feels comfortable.
Recently I’ve noticed a lot of positive media attention regarding alternative ways to say your last goodbye to a loved one, and this has reconfirmed what it is I’m trying to do with the funeral celebrant side of my business.
I suggest you pour yourself a whiskey, plonk yourself on your comfiest seat, and gather round for a little love story: How I Met My Husband, by Roxy Hotten.
Once Upon a Time
Once upon a time I was married to a man who wasn’t Mr HB. Let’s call him H1. One evening, back in 1996, H1 and I were at a gig local to where we lived in the UK, and a mutual friend of ours introduced us to the guitarist of one of the bands. This guitarist was Mr HB, or just ‘Mr B’ as he was then. When I met him he had dreadlocks and was flanked by a couple of adoring ladies*. I remember thinking he was a bit of a, um, a bit of a… well, just a bit arrogant I guess, and didn’t really pay too much attention to him.
(* Mr HB disputes this fact to this day – not the dreadlocked bit, but the adoring ladies bit)
One Upon a Time + 2 Years
Fast forward two years later, and H1 and I were planning on moving to Australia. The same mutual friend invited us to his house for dinner before we left, and the other dinner guests were Mr B and his new girlfriend. I quickly realised that my initial impression of him was wrong, all wrong, and that he was a really nice guy. I also thought he was cute, but, you know, I was married, about to move to Australia, he had a girlfriend, blah blah – so definitely nothing weird happened.
One Upon a Time + 5 Years
Fast forward to 2001. H1 and I had split up in Australia, and were back in the UK. Our mutual friend invited us to his house for dinner again, and although H1 and I were no longer a couple, we were (and are) still friendly and so off we went. Upon arrival, I saw Mr B who launched in to a story about how he had been dumped by text message, which in 2001, was still a fairly new way of being dumped. I, being incredibly uncool quickly told him that although I was with H1 at our mutual friends house, I wasn’t with H1 anymore.
Throughout the dinner party we laughed, flirted, discovered lots of mutual interests, and when everyone had gone to bed, I decided it was very necessary to teach Mr B how to play ‘Heart of Gold’ by Neil Young on the guitar. Now, let me just paint a picture for you here if I may.
Mr B had been a professional guitarist for about 20 years.
I can only play four chords on the guitar
We had both been drinking straight for about six hours
Sitting on opposite chairs, I started to strum and bark out orders like a bossy music teacher…
‘Keep me searchin’ – D! – for a – E MINOR! – heart of gold. You keep me searchin’ – D!- for a – E MINOR! – heart of gold…’ etc.
Mr B was obviously blown away with my epic guitar playing, and after I felt that he had sufficiently learnt this master-piece from the, er, master, I decided it was time to make my move.
‘Howzaboutcha come overz here and gizzus a liddle kiss’.
I am pure class.
Fortunately Mr B found this a tempting offer, and there you have it. Hollywood-worthy it may not be, but it is our story and therefore very special to us. If you’d like to share your love story with me, and incorporate it into your ceremony, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring me on 0478041227.
As you probably know if you’ve read any of my other posts, I love my job (love, love, loooooove it). And I love it for a million reasons, but one of the really exciting parts is I get to visit so many venues.
If you google ‘wedding venue – Brisbane’ or the like, it can be pretty daunting. There are so many beautiful venues on the market, so where do you start?
My tips are the following:
Close your eyes and think of your ceremony. What’s the first vision that comes to mind? Is it the beach, a hall, a hotel, a church, a rain-forest, a restaurant, a hot air balloon, underwater?! Trust your gut, and go with it.
Is there anywhere which has a special significance for you both? For example, I’ve held weddings where the couple had their first date, or in a school playground where the bride’s father, who had sadly passed, had been the Principal.
Do you want the ceremony and reception in the one place? There are pros and cons for both, and you can access a wider variety of options for the ceremony if you then move on elsewhere for the reception.
Think about how much effort you are prepared to make. If you’re happy to organise chairs, tables, decorations etc then the world will be your oyster, but if you want to make it easy on yourself, consider a venue that offers this type of support, or look at pop-up wedding companies.
Do you, or a friend/family member, live in a house that you love? If so, could it cope with the amount of guests you want to invite – are there enough toilets, is the kitchen big enough for caterers, if it rains is there room indoors, etc?
Don’t search for ‘wedding venues’, search for ‘hinterland camping’ or ‘cool bars’ or ‘community halls’ – omit the word ‘wedding’ and you will find options that are less obvious.
You’ll know when you find ‘the one’ and it’s a very exciting feeling when it happens. Good luck with your search, and please feel free to talk to me to discuss your celebrant requirements. You can contact me at email@example.com or on 0478041227.
There’s a saying in the ‘biz’ when you conduct baby namings, weddings and funerals that you do ‘hatched, matched and dispatched’ ceremonies.
Since becoming a celebrant in Brisbane, I’ve been predominately concentrating on the matched, with some hatched. And now I’m biting the bullet, giving up my day job and foraying into the world of funerals.
When I’ve told friends and family my plan, they have been very supportive, but I often hear them say; ‘Well, that’ll be less happy to do than the weddings.’ However, I don’t think so.
With the weddings I strive to give someone the very best experience of their life – celebrating among those who they love the most. And with funerals, I want people to have a similar experience. I want people to have a funeral which really celebrates them. I want to deliver a funeral or memorial or tribute which is genuine and true and which helps their loved ones to smile and reminisce of this person who was a part of their life. Yes, funerals are sad – it’s part of the grieving – but it’s okay to smile, laugh, groan as you remember the good times and the funny quirks to their personality.
I want to work with the grieving family or friends to produce a ceremony which feels genuine, real, fitting, honest, and helpful in the process of coming to terms with their death.
As much as I hope you’ll never have to use my services as a funeral celebrant, I also hope that if you do, the result will be a real celebration of your loved ones life, and as positive of an experience as possible.
Please feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss this service further on 0478041227 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mums and Dads – quite often the second most excited people about your ceremony (after you, of course…!). Traditionally the father of the bride would get his moment, but the poor Mums would barely be acknowledged. So, if you are looking of ways to include your Mum and/or your Dad in your ceremony? If so, below are some great ways to show them how important they are in your life by having them involved in your special day.
Traditionally, the father would walk his daughter down the aisle and ‘give her away’ to her husband to be. However, it’s worth thinking about other ways of doing this; including both Mum and Dad walking down with the daughter, the groom entering the ceremonial area with his mother and the brides mother, or having the parents walk in together once all the guests are seated, but just prior to the bridal party.
Have your parents do a reading – either the two Mums or Dads together. It’s a nice way for them to get to know each other a bit better if they didn’t before, and gives them a bonding moment to always remember.
Include a ring blessing prior to the ceremony and ask the parents to announce and explain the blessing.
Ask the parents to be witnesses to the signing of the documentation.
Give your parents corsages with flowers which have special significance and ask your celebrant to mention this, eg ‘Martha and Chris’s mothers are wearing hydrangeas to symbolise the gratitude they have to their Mums for always understanding them and being a part of their lives’.
If you are incorporating a unity candle ceremony in your wedding, your parents can also be included in lighting this.
Have your Mum and/or Dad act as ring bearers, and bring the wedding rings to you during the ceremony.
Are you parents still together? If so, ask your celebrant to acknowledge the years they have been married and that they probably know a thing or two about marriage. You might even want to get your celebrant to find out from them any wise word(s) they may wish to share, and read them out during the ceremony.
For these and more ideas, chat to Roxy at email@example.com or on 0478 041227.
Choosing a celebrant…. it can be hard to arrange a wedding from afar, especially if you don’t have friends or family at the location of the event to help you. So, what are your options for choosing a celebrant?
OPTION ONE: Choose a celebrant close to where you live
Choosing a celebrant close to where you are located gives you the option of establishing a more personal relationship with them. If you don’t want a ‘stranger’ marrying you, then building this relationship is of course much easier face to face. It also means that you can meet with a number of celebrants before choosing the right one for you. Of course, the downside is that there’s an extra cost attached to this as your celebrant will usually charge for their usual price for a ceremony, for travel costs, and sometimes extra towards their travel time as well.
I have done a number of destination weddings, both in Australia, Egypt, Europe and beyond, and I determine my charges according to where the ceremony is located. I charge my usual price for the ceremony (see www.roxyrocks.com/fees ) and if a flight and hotel are required, I usually charge this cost directly to my clients or, if they prefer, they can arrange on my behalf.
If within a couple of hours drive to Brisbane, I charge for travel costs only (not my time) and everything beyond is negotiable. I love (love!) travelling, and am fortunate that this job takes me to many countries and places I otherwise wouldn’t visit. So, where possible I try to keep my costs reasonable to the couple, and in most cases, have been able to come up with a mutually satisfying deal for both of us.
Don’t forget, always seek advice on the marriage laws in the country you are marrying if choosing a destination wedding.
OPTION TWO: Choose a celebrant close to your wedding location
Of course, choosing a celebrant close to the wedding location has the downside that you might not get to meet them face to face until the rehearsal or the wedding day itself. However, I’ve worked with many couples based overseas or elsewhere in Australia, and thanks to modern technology, feel I’ve still built a rapport with them using Skype, email and/or phone conversations.
The pros of this is that your celebrant may have great insight in to the wedding location than you have, plus there will not be the travel costs incurred from Option One.
“Roxy, thanks again for planning a perfect moment for Dee and I. Even though we were over 3000 mile apart, I had faith you would make our ceremony special. Your prompt responses and flexibility with the logistics put me at ease. You sincerely cared about making our moment magical, which is what makes you great. Sincerity can’t be faked, and you are genuinely sincere. I am very glad I picked you.” Robert, Buffalo, New York State
Let me know if you’d like to have a no-obligation chat about either of the above options. Happy to talk you through the pros and cons further to help you make the best decision for you and your partner.
I met with a couple this week who had been quoted so many different prices from many different celebrants, they were utterly confused as to what was good value and what was not. Some charge less than me, and some nearly twice my price.
It made me realise that it can be a bit of a mine-field out there. So I thought I’d explain how I came up with my fees. I can only speak for myself, and I’m certainly not claiming to speak on behalf of all celebrants, but I do realise that this is an area which some couples struggle to understand, so in order to be honest and transparent, here is what you’re paying for when you book me.
I have been a celebrant since 2011, and this experience means I really understand weddings. I provide couples with lots of ideas and guidance and if there’s any issues along the way or on the day, I’m able to provide solutions
I am professional. This is my business and I run it as such. I respond to emails and telephone messages as soon as possible and communicate with you throughout the process. I use a modern, high spec P.A. system and always tailor my appearance to what is appropriate depending on the bride and groom’s style and vision for their ceremony
I am a full time celebrant which means that I am available for queries, meetings, consultations etc at a time which suits you, rather than you having to fit in around me. I offer initial meetings during week days, week evenings, and on weekends
I keep up to date with what’s happening out there in the wedding world. Weddings are my world and I am always researching so I can suggest fun or innovative elements to add in to your ceremony
Being a celebrant is expensive. I pay a yearly registration fee to the Attorney General, to the Australian Marriage Celebrants for my membership, for my insurance, for my advertising, and I pay to do on-going professional development every year
I write ceremonies which are bespoke and incorporate your story, and I take pride in tweaking every one to ensure it’s really and truly personalised – no cookie cutter ceremonies here…
I care. I know this may sound corny, or daft, but I honestly do. It’s important to me that your wedding ceremony is great, like, really really great. And because I care, I put the time and effort in to a ceremony, in the writing, the getting to know you, the rehearsal and the delivery on the day
I hope the above gives you a flavour on why I charge what I charge. You can find my current fees here at www.roxyrocks.com/fees and I’m always happy to answer any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0478041227.
A lot of the time when people ring or email me about my availability, they start off with ‘I don’t suppose you’re available on the xxxxxx date?’
Having come from England where celebrants are rare, and people that use them even rarer, the thought that I now work in a field which is super competitive and saturated with celebrants was at first a bit of a novelty to me However, I’ve been lucky, and my business in Australia has exceeded my expectations.
I’m still new in the scene though. I only really started advertising in Australia three months ago, and despite working for five years as a celebrant in London, I’m considered a ‘newby’ in this field. Therefore I have availability where others who have been around for a lot longer may not. I have some months already fully booked (for example, April 2017 only has one day still available), whereas March 2017 currently has nil.
My tip to get the celebrant on the date you want? Prioritize booking them as early as possible, ideally as soon as you’ve got your date locked in.
And don’t hesitate to contact me to check out whether I’m free on your chosen date. It’s no-obligation!
I think wedding ceremonies should be 90% about the ceremonial side of things – the meaningful, fun, inclusive, humorous, loving element – and 10% about the legalities. However, the legal part is a necessity and I thought it might be helpful for me to talk you through what needs to be done here in Australia to make sure everything is legit.
Lodging your intention to marry
At least one calendar month prior to your ceremony date (and no more than 18 months in advance) you will need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage This document will need to be signed either in the presence of your celebrant, or a JP, or any other person as listed on page 4 of the form. Once the celebrant has received this, it is lodged. If you have any queries on this form, or are unable to complete in Australia due to one or both of you being abroad, your celebrant will be able to advise you of your options.
Declaration to marry
Prior to your ceremony, you both will need to sign a declaration of no legal impediment to marriage. This is usually signed at the rehearsal, or on the day of the ceremony itself (but prior to the ceremony).
Legal wording during ceremony
I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriage according to law. Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter.
Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
Bride and Groom:
I call upon the persons here present to witness that [name], take thee, [name], to be my lawful wedded wife/husband
There are some minor variations that can be made on both of these, but they are minor. Your celebrant will be able to provide you with these options.
Legal documents during ceremony
You will require two witnesses, and they will watch you sign the following, and then sign themselves:
The official certificate of marriage, which is the document sent to the relevant Birth, Deaths and Marriages by your celebrant for registration purposes
A second official certificate of marriage which will be kept by your celebrant
A certificate of marriage, which is given to you both. Please note that this is not the legal certificate you will need to use for changing names or to legally evidence marriage. You will need to apply for an official marriage certificate from the relevant Births, Deaths and Marriages office for a copy of this.
If all of above feels a bit dry and, well, boring, it’s only a small (yet necessary) part of your day, and the right celebrant will make sure people remember the meaningful parts.
I had a groom ring me the other evening and he was very apologetic about what he referred to as ‘his stupid questions’ (incidentally, and this may surprise some people, at least a third of my initial contact calls are with grooms).
His stupid questions were not stupid. Let’s face it, many of the people I marry have never been married before.
His questions included;
Who should I book first, the celebrant or the venue? Answer: The venue if it’s one which requires booking. If it’s at home or at a venue which doesn’t need to be booked, and you have your heart set on a specific celebrant, then check their availability first.
Who does the paperwork? Answer: The Notice of Intended Marriage is a joint effort (the initial document completed by law to your celebrant), but your celebrant will provide guidance on what you need to fill in when.
Do you decorate the ceremony area? Answer: Sadly, no. I have access to my own supply of lovely things, but they aren’t necessarily your taste in lovely things, so therefore decoration of the ceremony space needs to be arranged by you.
Do you stay for the reception? Answer: No, I don’t. It’s really kind when people ask me and I’m always up for staying for a congratulatory glass of something and a photo with the couple.
Can you help me write my vows? Answer: Yes, I can help. I can’t write them for you, as they are your words, coming from your heart, but I can give guidance and read over them to offer suggestions.
Now, none of the above questions are stupid, are they? I mean, how many times in your life do you get to organise a wedding (maybe once, or even twice, or if you’re Elizabeth Taylor, eight times)? So please, please, please, feel free to ask me anything and never worry that you’re going to sound stupid. You won’t, you’re not, and I’m here to help you navigate a whole new experience.
Let’s face it. Weddings are pretty emotional. There’s the arrival music, the vows, the readings, the kiss, the rings, and sometimes there’s grooms crying and sometimes there’s brides crying and sometimes everyone is having a bit of a boo hoo hoo. And that’s totally totally fine. If there’s ever a free hall pass to cry, it’s at a wedding.
In my view, I love it when people cry. In fact, I practically demand at least one crier! I’ve had weddings where the couple provided a pack of tissues per guest as they knew there’d be a lot of criers.
As far as the bride and groom are concerned, I would estimate that the crying ratio is 65% grooms, 35% brides. Yes, you read that correctly. More grooms cry than brides. And why is that?
I believe it’s because the brides run through and visualise the ceremony many times in their head, so when it actually happens they’re more prepared. Whereas for many grooms, they haven’t prepared themselves emotionally.
I have no problem with brides or grooms crying. It’s a genuine reaction to a genuine moment, and I always have a spare tissue or two on hand, just in case. All part of the service…
Choosing a celebrant is such a personal choice. When you envisage standing in front of your family and friends to share your vows, you may already have a really clear vision as to what your celebrant looks like and how they sound. However, you may also feel like you have no idea where to even start. Below are five things to consider which may help you whilst you search for the right person.
Many celebrants will have had other career(s) prior to coming in to celebrancy and asking them what their celebrant and non-celebrant experience is will give an insight into other skill-sets they have. For example, I have worked as a journalist and as a project manager and therefore I have skills which help me write quality ceremonies, whilst also being a very organised person.
Consider not only what you may need in a celebrant, but what others may need. Do you have a ‘tricky’ parent or relative? Do you have children you want to include in your ceremony? If so, do you feel your celebrant will be able to build a rapport with them and make them feel comfortable?
Try to find someone who ‘gets’ you. They don’t need to become your new best friend, but it’s great when there’s a rapport built.
Testimonials are your friend – see what others have said, and if their style of weddings is similar to your style and they rave about their celebrant, then it could be a match.
Don’t just go for the cheapest. Cheap does not always equal good, and I know I personally charge what I feel I’m worth. I put a lot of effort in to my ceremonies, and this is reflected in my price.
Many of you told me how much you enjoyed reading part one of my most surprising wedding moment, so here is part two.
In London I was working with these two fantastic guys whom I met at the Gay Wedding Show where I had exhibited to promote my celebrant services. They were having their wedding at the gorgeous Mayfair Hotel. The ceremony was taking place in the private theater within the hotel and they were keen to make the most of grand space.
We worked together to develop some surprise moments which started with the ceremony showing a film of them both, miming to Perfect Day by Lou Reed. The film had them in the shower, within a field of flowers, driving along a country road, sitting on their sofa… basically hamming it up like proper stars.
They then walked down the aisle to their 150 friends to much applause and the ceremony continued with a real mix of tenderness, genuine laughter, and tears of emotion. And, as I announced them husbands, there was further applause and then… one of the ‘guests’ stood up and started singing…
‘I’m comin’ up so you better get this party started…’
The ‘guest’ was actually a professional singer, chosen by the guys for her powerful voice which surprised every guest in the room. And just when it couldn’t get any more surprising, the doors swung open and in walked a bunch of drag queens and dancing girls, filling the theater with sequins, feathers and much entertainment.
It was a great ceremony – very theatrical and fitting for the space they had married in, and suited their personalities to a T. I was thrilled to be a part of it.
In my five years as a celebrant, I’m happy to report that any ‘surprising’ wedding moments have been planned and well-received. There’s never been a Ross/Emily/Rachel scene, a la Friends, or a last minute kerfuffle as a blast from the past interrupts the vows declaring ‘STOP! DON’T MARRY THAT MAN/WOMAN! EVEN THOUGH I’VE HAD A MILLION CHANCES BEFORE, I HAVE CHOSEN NOW TO TELL YOU’. So below is Part One in an occasional series of Most Surprising Weddings.
The Flash Mob Wedding.
This was for a gorgeous couple called Helen and Nigel. They had seen me conduct a wedding for friends of theirs, and when they asked me to conduct theirs, I was excited as we clicked very quickly.
I suggested that they ask their readers to choose their readings themselves and to keep it secret, and offered to liaise with their readers directly. One was a guy called Nick, and he came up with the idea of singing One Day Like This by Elbow
When the time came for his reading, the last during the ceremony, he stood up the front, acted very nervous, and fumbled about trying to find his ‘reading’ in his pockets. ‘Oh dear,’ he stuttered, ‘I appear to have forgotten my paper.’ The bride and groom were looking pained, and were muttering ‘Don’t worry mate, it doesn’t matter...’ to him.
Nick then said ‘Actually, I think I can remember it anyway. Let me try…’ and with that he talked the first line ‘Drinking in the morning sun…’ then began singing the second line ‘Blinking in the morning sun’, and with more confidence and volume, the third and the fourth line.
As the bride and groom started to clock on that Nick was going to sing them a song for his reading, another friend, sitting among the guests, stood up and sang the fifth line, then another friend the sixth, then another, and another, and so on. In the end there was eight friends and myself (who got to sing a line) all in on it. And to add a bit of extra musical flavour, I roped my husband, Mr HB, in and he walked up the aisle playing the guitar for the chorus which all eight of us sang.
The bride and groom were blown away with the effort put in for this (we had all rehearsed) and their guests were equally surprised. And this, dear reader, is why I love, love, love my job!
Next week: Another surprising ceremony moment involving yet more musical talent