Most people imagine their wedding to be led by a wedding celebrant or priest that they’ve known all of their lives. An older gentleman, whom has watched you grow up, who you’ve watched perform the same ceremony over and over and over…you get the point. These days, couples are choosing to have their wedding ceremony performed by friend, someone they know and love, instead of hiring a minister.
They get greater control over the wedding ceremony, and they get the chance to include someone special in their special day. Many non-religious couples choose alternative officiants like spiritual or humanists leaders. Some couples decide they don’t need their Government to recognise their relationship, others unfairly do not have a choice, and have commitment ceremonies instead.
You have a lot more options now for your celebrant, which means you also have a lot more opportunities to make the wrong choice. Here are a few things you’ll want to consider before deciding on who you want to lead you through your “I Do’s”:
Can my friend marry us?
Sure they can. They will need to tick some boxes to become a celebrant including a Cert IV in Celebrancy undertaking an intense, 5 day or equivalent, 13 module course.
Costs to become a Celebrant
- The courses will cost roughly $700 – $1800 depending on if you complete it in a classroom or online.
- Application fee of $600
- Registration fee of $240 (Annual Fee)
If you are happy to splash the $2 – $3k. Well done you! Before you go through all the training and parting ways with your cash, here are the things you need to consider.
You might think it a touching tribute to ask one of your parents to officiate at your wedding. They have been the most important people in your lives until now, and you want to ask them to help you officially begin the next chapter of your life – the one where you will start a family of your own (potentially).
This is a beautiful idea, but it can backfire. Instead of walking you through your vows, your mom or dad might just break down crying instead. Or start reminiscing about a story from when you were a child. Or just stare at you with tears in their eyes. Or just embarrass you publicly without meaning to. Again, you might think all of this is touching, but when your soon-to-be spouse and all your guests are standing there waiting maybe not so patiently while you share a moment with your parent, you might change your mind.
Asking a close friend to officiate your wedding can also be touching. Your friend isn’t likely to cry after every line and will likely have enough sense not to meander with storytelling. However, you have to be careful about choosing a friend to be your celebrant since the person might not take it seriously enough. At best, you might get someone who just reads the lines from the script listlessly or makes side chatter with the bridal party while you’re exchanging rings. At worst, you might get someone who is cutting jokes and dropping “Mawwiage” into every other sentence. While you can’t have them sign a “Friend Contract” that states the friendship is at stake if they mess this up. You CAN sit down together (you may want to include a few parents, who will be paying for this shindig) to keep them in line.
So you’ve found someone who seems like the perfect fit. You’ve done a test run, and they were able to perform the whole ceremony without any emotional issues. They had just the right amount of charm and presence, and they had a strong voice that everyone could hear clearly. Then you come to the big day, and the person clams up. Stage fright!
There is no way to predict this. The only way you can safeguard against it is to perform a run-through with a live audience. This means expanding your rehearsal crowd beyond what’s usual, but doing so will be well worth it. You don’t want your officiant to seize up on your wedding day.
Alternately, you can choose a friend or loved one who has experience on stage, such as acting or singing. If you know the person has performed in front of a crowd without problem, chances are good that the person will be fine at the wedding.
You skip the close friend or family member route and decide to hire a professional, based only on their looks. Alone. Then you show up for the meeting and are taken aback by how beautiful or hot the officiant is. At first, you are pleasantly surprised. Then you get a little uncomfortable. Imagine walking up the aisle and standing next to this gorgeous creature? Do you like the comparisons your guests will be making? Unless you’re Giselle Bunchen, chances are good that you won’t feel so confident about having someone so hot standing next to you on the day where you are supposed to be in the spotlight. So unless they have the skills and charisma to match their looks, the drama you might get with family or friends will start to look pretty good.
The Weak Voice
So you find someone who seems great. Not too sentimental. Serious about the job. But you don’t even notice that they have a weak voice until they start officiating your wedding and everyone seems to be straining to hear what’s happening. The bad part is that you won’t know this until it’s too late. It might seem strange, but you should ask the person to “audition.” If you are hiring a professional, ask to attend an event they are officiating. You don’t have to be a full guest – you can stand discreetly in the rear. If you can hear them all the way back there, you’ve made a good choice.
If you are asking a friend or family member, ask to do a run through well ahead of time.
You can fix some issues with a good microphone and sound system, but you’ll still need someone who has confidence and knows how to project. Some people can feel intimidated when standing in front of strangers, so their normally confident-sounding voice can weaken with nerves.
Your celebrant is an important figure in your wedding. Ideally, the officiant will be strong enough to carry the day without being so imposing as to be distracting. Steer clear of hot officiants (lacking skills & charm), those prone to sentimentality, and those who want to seize their moment in the limelight. Don’t be afraid to try out an officiant first and to make a switch if things aren’t working out. You only have one wedding day, so don’t end up regretting your choice.FIND A PROFESSIONAL WEDDING CELEBRANT