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How to Choose the Right Celebrant/Officiant for Your Commitment, Wedding, or Baby Naming Ceremony

Who will be your celebrant is the single most important decision you will make when planning and organising your ceremony. The choice you make will affect the outcome of your ceremony more than any other decision. Your Celebant can either help you realise your dream of the perfect occasion, or destroy it.

If the celebrant you choose

  • does not listen to you (and by that I mean not just what you say, but what motivates you to say it)
  • does not support you in meeting your needs
  • does not inspire you, and
  • does not respect and connect with your ideas for your ceremony
you have not only wasted your money, you have potentially destroyed your dreams and sullied your memories of what should have been a wonderful and unique occasion.

Of course, that is not to say that your celebrant should not challenge your ideas at times. By doing so, he/she will be opening up new possibilities that you may not have thought of.

So what do you need to do to avoid making the wrong choice?

Basically you need to understand that you are shopping for a service, so you need to check out the celebrant in the same way you would check out any other type of service-provider.

Especially, you need to ensure that the celebrant you choose is someone you can trust, someone you feel comfortable with. When the time for your ceremony arrives you should feel confident about what is about to transpire and nurtured by the process by which the celebrant assisted you to arrive at this point.

I suggest you draw up a short list based on your research about the celebrants in your area. Gather information from others who have seen the person at work, or have had them as their celebrant as well as from the celebrant's own promotional material, advertisements, brochures, websites, and so on. If you know any related service providers (photographers, caterers, venue operators) who will have an opportunity to work with and observe the celebrant, talk to them as well.

From this list draw up a short list of celebrants and then contact each one on the list and ask the following questions (and any others that are important to you). Make careful notes so you can compare - this is a recruitment process, so recruitment process methods work well.

  • Are you free to do the type of ceremony at the time and on the day we want in the place we want?
  • What are your celebrancy qualifications? (Skills and training are important. Experience is also important but it is sometimes hard to gauge whether someone who claims 10 years experience has really had 10 years experience or one year 10 times, or indeed 1 ceremony 500 times)
  • Do you use a standard ceremony, give us a choice of prewritten ceremonies, or write a unique ceremony?
  • Describe one of the more memorable commitments/namings/weddings you have performed and what made it special.
  • What process do you use to gather information from us about our needs and wants? (You also need to get a sense of how well they will get to know you during the process)
  • Will you have a meeting with us before the day?
  • Is a rehearsal is included in the charge?
  • What sort of certificate is provided?
  • Will the special needs we have (specify them) be met and how?
  • What sort of resources and information will you provide us with and what sort of support will give us as we work through the decisions that need to be made about our ceremony?
  • What do you charge, what is included in the price and are there are any "add-on" costs?
The reason I suggest you leave price until last is that knowing what you are going to get for your money allows you to compare on value for money as well as on price. And value includes how much effort the celebrant will put into the preparation and development phase as well as in the delivery phase.

Whatever the type of ceremony, making memories is a very important aspect. What you pay and the value for money the celebrant delivers can decide what sort of memories you end up with.

Have a wonderful ceremony ...

Jennifer Cram is a sought after accredited civil celebrant who performs Commitment, Namings and other ceremonies in the Brisbane Ipswich area. For more information and

Copyright © 2005 Jennifer Cram.

You have permission to publish this article electronically or in print, free of charge, as long as the bylines are included. A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated.

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