Your wedding celebrant isn’t simply someone that performs a legal ceremony which ends in you being married. If you believe that the wedding ceremony is the central focus of your day, as I do, it’s important to know how much of a difference a good celebrant can make to not only the wedding ceremony but the whole day – believe me, I’ve seen a few doosies! Want to avoid having your ceremony fall into that category? Read, listen and watch…
To get the rundown on everything you should know and consider before booking your celebrant I asked some of the Central Coasts very best celebrants for some advice and tips.
I also wanted to sit down with one Central Coast Celebrant to really get into the nitty gritty of what they do. After all, I only see them at the actual ceremony and make my judgement call from what I see there. Sarah Tolmie of Life and Love Celebrations was my first choice here because in my view she is absolutely fantastic at what she does. Her ceremonies are always full of emotion, and Sarah seems to be so in touch, connected, with her couples. The ceremonies she conducts are very intimate and couples appear to share so much of themselves. Her ceremonies really are very moving.
In saying that, Sarah is more expensive than many other local celebrants and for good reason… she spends up to 4 hours with her couples! Have a look at the video interview below, to see just what you get for your money with a great celebrant.
If you’d prefer to read the transcript of the interview, you can do that here.
What did you think? It’s pretty easy to imagine, after listening to Sarah that she really does get the most incredibly intimate and beautiful ceremonies with the time she spends on every wedding.
I also understand that everyone has different tastes, budgets, ideas and feelings when it comes to planning their wedding and Sarah won’t be for everyone. That’s why I’ve sought out the other top celebrants for some more information.
When selecting your celebrant, it is important that you initially check the internet for celebrants in your local area e.g. Central Coast Celebrants. This will limit any potential travel costs. Ken Livinstone
One thing was very clear from speaking with each of the celebrants, each of them are different in the way they deliver a ceremony and the way they work. It was also clear that these differences are what each of them are keen to show you to separate themselves from the less experienced celebrants.
Peter Hurley says, “To understand celebrants, what they’re like and what to expect, you need to know something about them. Firstly, they’re not all the same and secondly, the price they quote doesn’t tell what you really need to know!”
“You want a celebrant to suit you. Not just any celebrant, one who understands what you want. One who can create and deliver your personal and special wedding ceremony.”
From Ken Livingstone, “How do you find the right celebrant? Before starting the process, consider the type of ceremony you would like; serious, very personal, relaxed, humorous, sincere and delivered by a real professional. Having this understanding is important, especially when you are reading testimonials from couples.”
The wedding ceremony is the most important part of the day and it sets the scene for the following celebrations. Sarah Tolmie
Each of the celebrants I spoke to were all of the same opinion when it comes to booking. Earlier is better.
Jackie Lawrence reiterates, “Book your celebrant of choice as soon as you have decided on a date and venue. If you feel relaxed and at ease that the celebrant you have chosen is flexible and positive in their attitude, you should go right ahead. Popular dates fill up quickly and it’s easy to miss out.”
Ken says something similar, “Most importantly I encourage you to start this process early, at least 6-12 months ahead of your ceremony as celebrants are booked up well in advance, you don’t want to be disappointed.”
Choosing Your Celebrant
Actually choosing your celebrant can be difficult as there are so many that service the Central Coast, Hunter Valley and Newcastle. I asked where should couples start and what questions should you ask to determine if a celebrant is going to provide a wedding ceremony to remember.
And most importantly of all, make a time to meet with your prospective celebrant and see how you get on. Are they your type of person? Do you “click”? Peter Hurley
I mentioned earlier that I have witnessed some shocking ceremonies in the past and you definitely want to avoid things like:
- A bad P.A system or microphone that doesn’t work, or worse, cuts in and out. If guests can’t hear, especially with an outdoor wedding ceremony, they begin to chat and lose interest. Once this happens, the complete feel of the ceremony is lost. It’s not uncommon to see guests smoking when they can’t hear.
- Inexperienced celebrant that can’t adapt to a situation. The experienced celebrants, like experienced wedding photographers just seem to take any hiccups in their stride. Often, without you or the guests even realising there was a problem. Dealing with things like, wind, onlookers, a stray veil, nervous readers, a dropped wedding ring – the list can go on and can happen at any wedding. Experienced celebrants will work with or make light of any situation.
- Wet weather will scare a new celebrant. You’ve heard from Sarah and how organised she is when to comes to a rainy wedding day. All the good celebrants will have wet weather back up plans.
I won’t take a booking if a couple don’t have a wet weather plan, it’s just as simple as that. You need one. I’m there with 120 guests; I need to know what to do and how to guide them and instruct them, and there’s no way I want to be in a situation where mid-ceremony, absolute downpour comes down and you’ve got to stop and re-gather. Sarah Tolmie
Here’s what the professionals had to say about choosing a celebrant.
Ken says, “Check the testimonials from other couples who have been married by the celebrant to see if their feedback matches the type of ceremony you desire. If so, arrange to meet to gauge if everything you have read is true.”
“Be sure they listen to your needs, provide some different ideas that you may not have considered and give you confidence that they are professional, confident in public speaking, have the necessary legal paperwork and the right equipment and accessories for a great ceremony.”
Be sure to ask about;
- Their fee
- What does the fee includes?
- Is a rehearsal included?
- Are all travel costs included?
Jackie’s thoughts were, “When enquiring with a celebrant, ask if it’s OK to meet with no obligation.”
“Ask how many wedding’s they have performed and what kind of help you will receive with the ceremony and can they have any input into the structure.”
“Its’ always a good idea to ask other services that you have already booked if they have worked with this celebrant before. Recommendations are a great way to help lock in people who will ensure that you get the day you want.”
I really classify myself as a holistic sort of boutique celebrant. I go the extra mile, have that X-factor, have that ability to make it feel like I’m almost a friend that’s there as part of the day. Sarah Tolmie
Ken says it well, when he says; “Getting married is one of of the most important and magical times in your life, it is also a very expensive time in your lives. In the overall scheme of things, the celebrant costs are quite negligible and yet the role they play is without doubt the most important. Done correctly your marriage will be beautiful, moving, funny, unifying and the moment you and your guests will remember forever. Choose your celebrant carefully by using all of the above suggestions, and try not to let price alone dictate who you will have officiate this most important moment in your lives.
When I asked for some help with this post, Peter went above and beyond with the information he provided and I think you’ll find the paragraphs below very informative for planning your ceremony, whether it’s a Hunter Valley, Newcastle or Central Coast wedding you are planning.
When you do meet with your celebrant, check to see what sort of help they provide in regard to resources, help and information. Do they have comprehensive information to offer on your wishes, beliefs and traditions? Very importantly do they provide an on-site rehearsal?
Remember this day is about the two of you and what is important to you, not everyone else. Every couple has different beliefs, family situations and a mind concept of what they want their day to feel like.. The ceremony doesn’t have to be long just meaningful. Jackie Lawrence
In Australia there are some processes to follow in order to be married legally.
Before a marriage can be performed, the law requires that you sign and lodge a “Notice of Intended Marriage” at least one calendar month prior to the wedding. This is usually done with the help of your celebrant or your church. The “Notice of Intended Marriage” form, will remain active for 18 calendar months from the date of lodgment.
You must be at least 18 years of age to marry in Australia. If either the Bride or Groom are younger than 18 years of age, you will need court approval to marry. If you are both under 18 years of age approval will not be granted.
If you were born in Australian, you must show an original copy of your birth certificate (which can be obtained at the Births, Deaths & Marriages Registry Office of your state of birth) as well as photo ID.
If born outside Australia, you are required to show your birth certificate or passport from your country of birth and photo ID. If these documents are in a language other than English, you will need a certified translation of the documents.
For persons who have previously been married – an original “Divorce Document” is necessary and if your previous partner is now deceased, an original Death Certificate is required; a death certificate can be obtained from the State Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the state where the death was registered.
On the day of your marriage you must have two witnesses over the age of 18 and you will need their full and legal names.
If you are getting married, your celebrant will provide you with a “Happy Ever…Before and After” brochure. This brochure includes information on marriage education, counseling, changing your name, taxation, wills, joint ownership and legal obligations.
It is your responsibility to produce all relevant paperwork, however, your celebrant or Church will help you.
More information can be found on line at Birth, Deaths and Marriages in your state.
I hope you found this post useful. If you want my 10 essential tips to your perfect wedding, make sure you add your email address below and I’ll send it right over.
Thanks again to all the celebrants who helped me with this post! I have included all their contact details below. Trust me when I say that you won’t go wrong with any one of these terrific people.
Sarah Tolmie – Life and Love Celebrations
Phone: 0418 640 901
Phone: (02) 4392 5170 or 0418 435 144
Kenneth Livingstone – Classic Coastal Ceremonies
Phone: (02) 4342 0449 or 0415 335 341
Phone: (02) 4341 9860 or 0402 091 662
When it comes to your wedding ceremony, it comes down to a personal choice for the two of you. For some, a church wedding will be the only way to go, others, an outdoor ceremony is their dream and for others, it may be a no fuss option of eloping. Whatever style of wedding ceremony you choose, put some thought into having the perfect celebrant for you.
For more ideas, tips and advice for your wedding, make sure you have a look through the posts under the wedding advice tab at the top of this page.