• Rebecca

Planning Your Big Day - Where do I start?

Upon booking your venue, it is time to secure your celebrant.

Choosing a Marriage Celebrant

Choosing your Marriage Celebrant can be a confusing task. This is especially so if you don't know what's involved, haven't been recommended one by a friend or if you have never been to a ceremony conducted by a Civil Marriage Celebrant. Here are some guidelines:

Where to Start

Firstly, it is wise to telephone or email a couple of Marriage Celebrants you feel may appeal to you, give them the date, time and venue for your ceremony to check their availability. The person you choose doesn't necessarily need to live near the venue where you're having your ceremony, as most professional Marriage Celebrants know Perth areas well and will travel to the venue of your choice.

What Does The Marriage Celebrant Charge?

The most often asked question by couples is 'What do you charge?' You should NOT make your decision based upon price only, simply because cheapest often isn't the best, nor the most expensive! Once the Marriage Celebrant has quoted you a fee (including GST), you need to find out, exactly what service the Marriage Celebrant provides and exactly what the fee covers. For example:

How many appointment times, legal paperwork, typing and office/stationery costs, time and travel on the day of your wedding and so on? Does it cover a Ceremony Guide and the usage of their microphone? Does it cover telephone and mailing costs? Does it include GST?

If you are satisfied that the Marriage Celebrants with whom you speak to on the phone sound suitable to your needs, then go ahead and make an appointment to visit them in their home/office or if it's easier, the Marriage Celebrant should come to you, either at home or an arranged location, perhaps a small cafe or somewhere you can discuss your wedding without too many distractions. A professional Marriage Celebrant should have all the necessary insurance coverage. Do not feel you have to sign-up with the Marriage Celebrant when you meet with them, make it clear on the phone you are there for a chat and to talk about what you may have in mind for your ceremony.

What Is A Professional Marriage Celebrant?

A professional Marriage Celebrant is one who may have been in business or has held a professional business role, and goes over and above the duties required leading up to your big day. They should offer a complete Ceremony Guide with many choices of ceremonies they have performed and they will be able to produce examples of ceremonies and, traditional and cultural services. They are also obliged to show you the Code of Ethics.

Generally, they will be full-time Marriage Celebrants who are always contactable during business and early evening hours and, who have the time for unlimited appointments, and are able to answer all your legal queries and ceremonial enquiries in a confident manner. Professional celebrants have constant Federation or Association contact and regularly attend Personal Development meetings and can prove they have satisfied the obligatory training requirements.

What Do I Look For?

Each couple will be looking for something different in the Marriage Celebrant they visit but generally they should be looking for someone who is warm and friendly, and with whom they feel comfortable with and with whom they strike a good rapport. They should appear confident and well-spoken with sound public speaking skills an absolute must. You don't want a mouse to be in charge of 100 guests!

Their communication skills should be exemplary.

Ceremony Wording

Ask to be shown the Marriage Celebrant's complete and detailed Ceremony Guide - do not accept that the celebrant only shows you their 'one and only favourite ceremony' as the reason for selecting a Marriage Celebrant is that you have a choice of wording and style for your ceremony, and that they are flexible and will incorporate your own ideas and cultural traditions if required. Ask yourself - does the Marriage Celebrant listen to your needs and are they able to answer your questions and offer suggestions and ideas for your ceremony?

Your Venue

When you make your initial enquiry, the Marriage Celebrant will firstly ask you the date, time and ceremony venue so they can check their availability. Make sure that the Marriage Celebrant you choose is familiar with the territory and venue, and knows where they should park. Also make sure that the venue you choose for your ceremony has plenty of guest parking, and that impaired or elderly guests have safe and easy access.

Feeling Confident with Your Marriage Celebrant

Make sure you feel the Marriage Celebrant is mature and capable of handling all situations on the day of the ceremony and that they adhere to the ruling that they arrive no less than 20 minutes prior to the starting time. You must remember too, that professional Marriage Celebrants are busy people and are obliged only to wait 20 minutes after the agreed starting time. Many Marriage Celebrants will ask you to sign their Agreement Form agreeing to certain conditions and requirements. Make sure you accept and are comfortable with the Marriage Celebrant's terms and conditions, and that it is the Marriage Celebrant you sign up with, who will be conducting the ceremony and not someone else. Do you feel the Marriage Celebrant you choose can be reassuring to the nervous bride and groom, or parents and guests? Have they the experience to handle awkward situations which may occur? The Marriage Celebrant too, should not be 'in every photo' but in the background performing his or her duties as required - it is NOT their day, it is YOURS!

The Celebrant's Services

Most Marriage Celebrants will give you a copy of your ceremony wording to keep as a memento after the ceremony (the one they read from) and a printed Marriage Certificate. Ask what else is provided, such as do they have a clear public speaking voice or do they require a P.A. system.

Appropriate Dress & Behaviour

It is also appropriate to ask the Marriage Celebrant how professionally they will dress for the ceremony - if you don't want the Marriage Celebrant to wear a certain colour or if you insist the celebrant wear a tie and suit, then speak to them about this. The last thing you want is to be ashamed of the way your Marriage Celebrant dresses or acts on the day. Nothing is worse than a Marriage Celebrant arriving in her favourite cocktail dress or mini skirt. Some Marriage Celebrants wear ceremonial robes so ask your Marriage Celebrant about their dress code. Of course - you don't want the Marriage Celebrant to ad lib or start telling jokes during the ceremony either, so get their assurance that they will only read from your selected wording.

Finally...

After all your preparation and if you have chosen a professional Marriage Celebrant and feel totally comfortable and reassured by them, then your ceremony will certainly be one to remember!

Once you have decided on your celebrant, it is a good idea to confirm the date and venue with him/her, especially in the wedding season or most popular time to get married season which is September to end of April (nice weather time). Australian regulations require that the “Notice of Intended Marriage” form must be submitted no less than 1 calendar month and no more than 18 months prior to the ceremony. With sound reason, it may be possible to have the state registrar authorise a ‘shortening of time’ for your wedding date. I will guide you through this process, if required.

During our first meeting we will fill out the “Notice of Intended Marriage” form (NOIM). When I lodge your NOIM it is necessary to provide original birth certificates, passports – if you are born outside of Australia – and final decree if you have been married before. (See under legalities).

We will also discuss the type of ceremony you want eg: Formal/casual at this time I will present you a variety of ceremony wordings for you to look at and chose now or at a later time. You will have the opportunity to ask whatever questions you have regarding my services, the ceremony format, including if I have ideas and resources on other wedding service providers.

All information discussed including if it a second marriage or previous children are involved, will give me a better understanding on your wedding requirements and personalise a ceremony to suit you as a couple and no one else.

You can write the ceremony (excluding the legal requirements) yourself or we can do it together - YOUR CHOICE.


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