What skills and qualities do I need to become a celebrant?

So you want to become a celebrant #2

Girl juggling with a hula hoop on fire  in article by Sussex wedding celebrant Claire Bradford of Creating Ceremony

Before you excitedly book a celebrant training course, it’s really worth checking out what skills you will need to be a successful celebrant first. After all, you don’t want to fork out all that money to find out that you don’t really have the right skills or qualities so you can’t make the most of what you’ve learned.

Of course, some of these skills, if a little lacking, can be learned or improved upon. So panic not if you feel somewhat rusty in one or two areas.

That said, if you find that you don’t have many of these skills, maybe becoming a celebrant isn’t really the right way forward for you right now. Don’t forget, you can always book an appointment and talk your decision through before you make the leap.

So here goes, in (rough) order of importance, from vital to ‘nice to have’:

You’re a people person

Being a celebrant is all about people. You’re working with them the whole time, building rapport with them and telling their stories. This needs you to be interested in the people you come across, and be warm and empathic. If you’d much rather be behind a spreadsheet than talking to folk then frankly, this isn’t the job for you.

You’re a good listener

When you meet and communicate with those people, one of the most important things you will do is listen to them: listen to what they say; listen to what they don’t say; listen to their tone of voice and to their body language. Their ceremony will be all about them (or their loved one) and therefore the more you listen, the more you can reflect their personalities, interests and values in what you create for them. Which brings me onto…

You’re a great communicator

When you’ve listened, listened and listened some more, then you’re going to need to be able to turn what they say into a ceremony that is ‘them’ through and through. To do this, you’ll need to communicate well – not only with the people you’re working with, but also with the friends and family who are there on the day, other suppliers, coordinators or funeral directors, for example. It might be being really clear about what you need from them and when, or when you will have a first draft for them to see; it might be about making everyone in the room laugh, cry (or both) with a well-timed anecdote.

You’ll need to be good with words and a competent writer and speaker as a key part of this communication.

These skills can always be improved on with practice, good constructive criticism from a trusted source, and maybe joining a local writers’ group or enrolling on a creative writing course. From a speaking point of view, it’s worth checking out if you’ve got a Toastmasters group local to you, or enlisting the help of a vocal coach or similar.

There’s lots out there to get your teeth into that will help with this aspect of the work. And a desire to keep improving is also super important – feeling you’re ‘done’ is an invitation to stagnate!

Oh and whilst we’re talking about communication skills, you’ll also need to be competent with email, social media and so on of course. This is essential both for communication with your couples and families, but also for running any kind of business in the 21st century. Some of the celebrant training courses offer qualifications which cover this sort of thing. Having a qualification isn’t necessary though – and I often think that most people couldn’t even find out about or book onto a course if they didn’t have basic skills in this area anyway, so there’s a sort of Darwinian feel to the process!

You’re creative

In order to give the best service to your couples and families, and to mark yourself out from the crowd, being creative is a huge plus. You don’t have to be a genius with words or with unique ceremonial flourishes, but being an ideas person and being willing to step away from the conventional will benefit those you are working with and your marketing efforts as well.

You’ve got experience in running a business

Don’t worry if you’ve never been self-employed before – it doesn’t mean that you can’t become a celebrant. However, having experience in running a business can help you get off the ground with your new celebrant career much more easily and quickly. You will be likely to know much more about all the things that go into keeping a business running, including all the admin, the marketing, the systems and so on.

If you don’t have this sort of experience, it can be learned in courses, online, in books or even on the job, but you will need to have a willingness to learn and be prepared for it to take a bit longer to get going with your celebrant business.

You have a positive mindset

Although I’ve put this last, it’s possibly the most important thing of all. Being a positive, resilient person is going to take you a long way – not just in your celebrant business but in your life.

Yes, there are lots of celebrants out there, but you’ll find that the ones that are whinging about not getting any work because of it are overlooking the fact that it’s not the other celebrants that are the problem – it’s their scarcity mindset.

That said, it’s important to be realistic too. Having a positive mindset doesn’t mean living in cloud cuckoo land. Choosing your celebrant training course and setting up your celebrant business isn’t necessarily going to be super easy and quick. But by setting yourself realistic expectations and achievable milestones, you can make the journey to success an enjoyable one that you’re proud of working hard for.

So surround yourself with positive, supportive people. Get clear on your ‘why’. Research. Plan. Visualise. Smile. You got this.

Ready for more? Read ‘Before you book your celebrant training course #3’ here.

Need some positive, supportive advice? Get in touch and let’s find a time to chat.