What does a wedding celebrant do?

Wedding celebrants are becoming more popular these days (hooray!) I’m definitely not asked ‘what’s a wedding celebrant? so much anymore, and most people get the idea that we stand at the front of the wedding ceremony and say some pretty words. But many people (including plenty of fellow wedding suppliers) don’t realise just how much more to it there is, and still aren’t clear on what a wedding celebrant does, actually.

Your wedding celebrant is one of the first suppliers you’ll probably book for your wedding day. But this can sometimes be the problem, as many venues (probably your very first booking) will press on you the importance of booking a registrar. My not-so-secret wish for the wedding world would be that they just add ‘or celebrant’ to that same sentence, as it’s very easy to get caught up in the urgent feeling of needing to secure the date, and many couples panic and follow the registrar route, only to tell me later they wish they hadn’t.

What does a wedding celebrant do? ~ Sussex celebrant Claire Bradford of Creating Ceremony
Photo by my hubby!

But I digress…

Let’s imagine that you have decided you want to use a celebrant for your wedding ceremony (whether that’s because you want to get hitched in an unlicensed venue, you want to be able to choose who will be there with you as you’re saying your vows, you want to have a super personal wedding that’s all about you two, you want to include religious or spiritual aspects in the ceremony, or all of the above). What is it like to work with a wedding celebrant, from the very first contact?

Well, I can’t speak for all the wedding celebrants of course, but this is how it works if you get in touch with me (which you can do here, by the way):

  • Once we’ve established that we’re likely to be a good match, that I’m available on your date and all that jazz, I’ll send you a link to book in some time with me for a no-obligation chat.
Photo by K8 on Unsplash
  • Our chat can be online or in person (if you’re in Worthing or we can meet nearby). In person’s my favourite if possible, because all chats are better over tea and cake. We get all excited about the fact you’re getting marriiiiiiiieeeeeeedd (squeee!), we chat about your wedding ideas, thoughts and any worries so far, and you get to ask me any questions you may have and generally get to see if you like my style. This last bit is super important because the whole point is that you get to choose someone who is a ‘hell yeah’ for both of you, or you might as well play the registrar lottery of who’s on the rota that day.

  • Hopefully you’ll decide you’d like to engage my services and book me, but I’ll never ask you to commit at that meeting because you need to talk it through together. Once you’ve said yes to the, er, celebrant (not such a great ring to it!) your date is locked in to my diary, in bombproof fashion. Fun fact: I book out the whole day, so I won’t ever be rushing to or from your ceremony to go and do another.

  • From that point on, you’ll have access to me via phone, email, text, WhatsApp etc. (you can try carrier pigeons, smoke signals or telepathy as well but I might need practice) as much as you want up until your big day. I’ll send you questionnaires, reading selections, vow writing tips, and things you might find helpful or would make you laugh. I’ll be there for you when you realise you’ve been stressing about napkin colours for the past 24 hours and wonder who the hell you even are anymore. Or when you’re questioning why all this seemed like a good idea in the first place (I’ll remind you of exactly what you told me). We might be getting to know each other like this for a long time, depending on how far ahead your wedding is, and the more I know about you, the more ‘you’ your ceremony can be.

  • Closer to the time, I’ll write your ceremony with your love story and all I know about you woven through it. Then we’ll meet up again and I’ll read it to you so you can hear it in my voice for the first time, as your guests will. You’ll have full editorial control over it, so we can tweak it to perfection.

  • I will support you throughout the vow writing process so you can speak in your own words from the heart instead of saying the same old thing that everyone else says. You might be full-steam ahead and only need me to say ‘good job’ or you might want me to sit with you both as you write and help to shape your thoughts – or anywhere inbetween! It’s all good (and it’s all included).

  • Depending on the availability of you and your venue, we’ll have a rehearsal. This is usually a day or two before the wedding but it can be further away if necessary. It’s not a full-on American style wedding rehearsal, but it’s a run through of where you’ll be coming in from, how you prefer to stand, what will happen and so on. This is also a great opportunity to have another touchpoint so you can ask any questions that have occurred to you in a last-minute wedding feverdream(!) and I can help to calm any nerves or anxiety you might have.

  • On the big day, I’ll be at your venue at least an hour before the wedding, with my PA system if we’ve decided to use it. Sometimes, I’ll just be going through my script in the corner, other times I’ll be helping to rearrange the seating/locating the buttonholes/helping a nervous best man rehearse his speech… but I’ll be there, ready to conduct your awesome and unforgettable wedding that is you two to a tee.

  • Oh and by the way, you won’t hear my tyres screeching into the distance 5 minutes after you’ve said ‘I do’ (and neither will I be sitting drunkenly in the corner at midnight, finishing off the last of your wedding fizz, you’ll be pleased to know). I will always stay a while to say my congratulations to you, make sure you’re both ok, maybe get a snap with you and snaffle a canapé before I leave you to party the night away.

Other things a wedding celebrant does as part of the job:

  • Holds the emotional space for the ceremony to take place
  • Coaches any readers for your ceremony, if they want me to
  • Plans surprise ceremony elements with friends or family (with your permission of course!)
  • Has about 3 million tissues on hand at any given time
  • Talks you through anxiety calming techniques
  • Reminds you that this is your wedding and Aunty Margaret can like it or lump it
  • Leads your guests in a fabulous group song
  • Gives you ‘permission’ to do you – not everyone else’s idea of what you should do
  • Is utterly inclusive of everyone there

So all in all we wedding celebrants do a lot more than just ‘standing at the front for 20 minutes’! We’re on your wedding journey with you from the very start, armed with hugs, tissues, cheerleader pompoms, laughter, wedding know-how and word wrangling skills.

Does that sound up your street? Let’s get chatting!

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