Whether you’re organising a wedding, a funeral, a baby naming, vow renewal or any other ceremony, you will want to find and choose a celebrant that is perfect for you.
The beauty of choosing a celebrant to lead your ceremony is that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ – celebrants can be formal, informal, quirky, traditional, playful, geeky, spiritual, colourful… we’re all unique, just as you are, and you can find someone just right.
The flip side of this is that you need to know how to find the right celebrant – one that will fit your needs the best when there are so many out there to choose from.
And so I present to you a handy guide for finding the right celebrant for you, whatever the occasion!
Let’s start with some key tips for all ceremony types:
1. Ask for recommendations
Tell your local friends and family that you’re looking for a good celebrant, or be brave and consult social media. You don’t have to follow up all the recommendations, but knowing that a like-minded friend knows and rates this celebrant is a great place to start.
2. Do your research
Once you’ve got a few names of celebrants that you think would be a good match, look them up online. Check out their website, dive into their blog posts and survey their social media accounts. You can find out a lot about whether they’re the right celebrant for you from the way they write, the topics they write about, the photos they share and the general feel you get from their words.
You can sometimes find out about their pricing, availability and how inclusive they are this way, plus the answer to any questions you might have.
Once you’ve perused a few websites, draw up a shortlist of the celebrants you’d like to contact.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
It’s completely fine to call or email a few celebrants that are on your shortlist for a short, informal chat. Mostly, this will be a chance to see if the celebrant feels like a good fit for you, but you can also ask questions.
If budget is a key consideration and you haven’t found anything about their fees on their website, ask (but don’t make price your key deciding factor when you’re choosing your celebrant – you don’t want the bargain basement option for your ceremony). You could ask whether they have conducted any ceremonies where yours will be taking place, perhaps, or tell them that you are anxious/religious/planning on a Star Wars theme and find out their response. Anything that you feel is important for your decision-making process.
4. Trust your gut
There is no ‘right or wrong’ here – but there is ‘right for you’. And you will know that when you find it. Choosing a celebrant is a lot about gut feeling – do you like being with them? Do you feel at ease in their presence? Do they feel like they’re part of the team already? Do they make you feel excited/reassured?
This gut feeling is even more important than ticking the right boxes when it comes to finding the right celebrant for you.
So with those general tips in mind, let’s talk about finding the right celebrant for specific ceremonies:
How to choose your wedding celebrant
As well as asking friends and relations for their recommendations, you have a lot of tools at your disposal for finding a good wedding celebrant!
Ask your venue if they have any celebrant suggestions for you. A celebrant that is known and trusted by the venue managers and who is familiar with your venue can be an excellent asset. They’re not necessarily going to be a good match for you of course, but it’s a great place to start your long list. And don’t let your venue tie you down in your choice of celebrant (or any supplier for that matter)!
You can also consult Google and/or some of the many directories that are available online like Bridebook, Hitched, or the Celebrants Directory. Again, these will help you with your long list, but it’s a good idea to check out their online presence beyond the listing before you get in touch.
When you do make contact with your celebrant, ask them what your journey together will involve. How many meetings will you have? Can they help you to write your vows? Do they include a rehearsal? Can they suggest ways to include your guests? Will you be able to see your wedding script before your big day? Are they OK with including a prayer or religious reading? How do they feel about dressing as Gandalf…? Ideally, choose a wedding celebrant who will be communicative and collaborative, and who is as excited about your wedding as you are.
Oh and do please tell your celebrant shortlist that you will be speaking to a few people, and do let them know your decision (either way) as soon as possible once you have made your choice!
How to choose your funeral celebrant
If you are working with a Funeral Director, they may well suggest a celebrant for you. Good Funeral Directors ‘matchmake’ a family with a celebrant that they think will be a good fit for them. Some have a brochure or page on their website featuring the celebrants they recommend for you to choose from. But some FDs just use the same 3 or 4 celebrants in rotation.
Either way, do take a bit of time to look at the celebrant’s website and to make sure you feel comfortable with them. Also remember that you can choose whomever you want to lead the ceremony – you don’t have to stick with the FD’s recommendation.
You will have considerably less time to choose your funeral celebrant than if you were organising a wedding, as the timeframes are shorter. However, you shouldn’t feel rushed by anyone. If you’re not sure about the celebrant you have been assigned, don’t be afraid to tell the FD, but please do this before you have your meeting with them!
There’s a lot to organise at a very difficult time, but your FD should be patient with you. And if you like, you can appoint your celebrant before you’ve even contacted a Funeral Director – you are in charge!
If you are organising any kind of ceremony and you like what you’ve read here, do put me on your list! You can contact me here.