How to choose a wedding celebrant...
Choosing a wedding celebrant rather than inviting a stranger to your wedding
When Mr Senior and I were planning our wedding ceremony, I wasn’t OK with the idea of a complete stranger hosting such a momentous event in our lives. I worried about arriving to the ceremony venue, meeting the registrar and not having any chemistry with them. I didn’t want to share our wedding with anyone we didn’t really know or trust.
This was one of the reasons that we decided to have a humanist wedding ceremony. With a civil ceremony it’s highly unlikely you’ll have met the registrar before the wedding day. Being able to choose who leads your wedding ceremony is one of the biggest benefits that celebrant-led weddings have.
But how do you go about choosing a wedding celebrant? How do you find someone who you are genuinely happy to share your wedding day with?
Planning your wedding ceremony – choice means having the best experience
Before I share my top tips to help you choose your celebrant, I want to share an experience.
In the summer I was booked by a couple to host their intimate wedding ceremony. They're really private people and were planning to have just three guests on the day. It was such an honour knowing that I would be one of the small number of people who would witness their vows.
When they chose me as their wedding celebrant I felt like crying happy tears. From our very first contact I thought “oh my gosh these are my kind of people” and so of course I really hoped that I would be part of their wedding day.
The funny thing is that if they’d chosen a different celebrant for their wedding, I’d be just as happy for them for finding someone that they felt comfortable to share their story with.
Don’t get me wrong, when a couple does book me I do a little loony dance round my house to celebrate because I’m so pleased. I'm cool like that.
It sounds trite but I honestly want people to have the best experience planning their wedding ceremony. I know sometimes that couples will have better chemistry with someone else and that’s fine.
So here are my top tips to help you in your hunt for the ideal celebrant.
VALUES – Find a celebrant with shared values
To find a celebrant with the same values as you and your partner, it helps to have an idea what’s important to you. I feel most comfortable, for instance, when I know people care about the environment, aren’t clueless about equality and inclusion, and won’t judge me for choosing a child-free life.
You can usually check out potential celebrants’ stance on equality and inclusion, sustainability, and accessibility in their website FAQs. But it’s also worthwhile learning the difference between a humanist celebrant and an independent celebrant. I’ve done a separate blog post about how the training to be a humanist celebrant is very rigorous, but the main difference is about values.
Humanist celebrants have certain values, which might appeal to you if you aren’t religious and you try to be a good person in the way you live your life. Humanism embraces reason and empathy, and it emphasises celebrating life to the full. Basically it’s about being kind to others and the world around us.
Most people don’t call themselves “humanist” but many hold humanist beliefs. So that’s what you’re getting with a humanist celebrant. One of my clients described our shared values as boiling down to the phrase “Don’t be a d**k” which sums it up well… But I probably wouldn’t use that expression to explain humanism to your grandma.
In contrast independent celebrants are exactly that, independent. They are not all part of one belief system and so you’ll need to find out their personal values to understand more about them.
As well as being a humanist, my personal values are:
- Living life ethically
- Living life to the full
- Celebrating individuality
- Showing love
- Showing empathy
REVIEWS – See what other clients have said about their wedding ceremonies
There’s no trip advisor for wedding celebrants unfortunately, but you can usually see reviews from past clients on their Google business page. My client testimonials are dotted throughout my website too, so have a good nosey at potential celebrants’ sites for those.
Aside from reassuring you that your wedding celebrant is as fabulous as you are hoping for, reviews also give an idea of their values and personal style.
PERSONALITY – Find a celebrant you’ll enjoy getting to know
You’re going to spend a fair amount of time with your wedding celebrant in the lead up to your ceremony. They’ll need to get to know you, your partner, and your love story in order to write your personal wedding script.
Look out for signs that you’ll get on with potential celebrants on a personal level. Social media is a good starting place to spot little things you have in common.
People that follow me on Instagram can see I’ve got a dog, I’m vegetarian, I’m renovating a house with my husband, the type of places I go on holiday (from Japan to Somerset), and that my hobbies include running a book club, open water swimming, reading comics and watching trashy TV (does it count as a hobby if you can’t live without it?).
My point is that when you add up these facts you start to get a sense of who I am, and that will be true as you look at other celebrant’s profiles too. Whatever your interests are, there is a wedding celebrant out there to match. I know celebrants who love exotic mushroom hunting, wrestling, medieval history, political campaigning and drag performance.
Embrace individuality and choose someone who is as interesting as you and your partner are!
CHEMISTRY – Check you’ll feel comfortable with them as your celebrant
Once you’ve identified a potential celebrant whose values are aligned with yours and you think might actually be a sound person to get to know, it’s time to have a chemistry call with them.
I conduct my calls via zoom, and chat about all sorts of things with my couples to help work out if we have the chemistry to work together.
When deciding you might want to ask yourselves:
- Do they get our vibe and the tone of our wedding?
- Did they suggest good ideas for our wedding ceremony?
- Will they help create what we have in mind?
- Does their style suit us?
OTHER USEFUL TIPS
Here’s a handy map tool from Humanists UK where you can search the whole country for humanist wedding celebrants. Fun fact: I’m the only humanist wedding celebrant actually based in Sheffield! But I do travel all over for ceremonies.
Finally, there might be someone within your network who can make a personal recommendation for a wedding celebrant they’ve seen in action. Photographers are great for this as they witness ceremonies all the time. Ask around!
Let me know if these top tips have helped you to find your ideal celebrant. I’d love to hear from you. If you’re ready to chat about being #MarriedByMeg then get in touch