You might be wondering “What is a wedding celebrant?” or “What does a wedding celebrant do?” These are fair questions, especially if you’ve not witnessed a wedding celebrant perform a ceremony with your own eyes. It can be hard to picture what a celebrant does and what they bring to the wedding ceremony.
I've got a webpage dedicated to answering the question "What's a wedding celebrant?" but this blog post goes deeper into the detail.
To help shine a little light on the question of what a wedding celebrant is, I’m here to explain how a celebrant helps plan your wedding ceremony so that it becomes your favourite part of the whole day. Read on for the actual practical, logistical, understandable answer to “What does a wedding celebrant do?”
What does a wedding celebrant do that’s so special?
First of all let me say that I totally get why you have to ask the question in the first place. If the concept of having someone other than a religious leader or a registrar conduct your ceremony is new and you don’t get the big deal with celebrants, that’s completely understandable.
After all you’ve been to dozens of weddings where the ceremony was completely forgettable right? Be honest - It was the boring bit at the start which needed to be ticked off before the party could start, wasn’t it? I can guess that you are sheepishly admitting the answer is yes, in fact you might even be vigorously nodding in agreement. Either way let me make a statement which I’m 99% sure is true of those boring wedding ceremonies you’ve attended…
They were not conducted by a wedding celebrant.
How do I know this? Because we celebrants bring ALL THE JOY, fun and personality into the ceremonies we lead. We pretty much all stand by the idea that your wedding ceremony should categorically NOT be the boring part of your wedding day.
How do we do it? I can’t speak for the whole congregation of celebrants out there (I’m testing “congregation” as a collective noun for celebrants, what do you think?) but here’s the answer of how I do it each time, in plain language:
I get to know my couple really well
We spend time talking about their personalities, preferences, values and relationship
I ask the right type of questions to bring out their best stories
They often ask for suggestions for unique, memorable or fun ceremony elements to include
Sometimes I give examples of ways to twist or alter traditions based on my experience of what works well
Then I pop off and write a script (more on this below)
And finally a special kind of magic happens on the wedding day itself (I mean, it’s not magic it’s pretty obvious really): Because I know my couple and they know me, they feel relaxed and comfortable. I appreciate the atmosphere they’d like to create for their guests, and I bring that kind of energy to my delivery of their personalised ceremony.
Hey presto! Follow these easy steps and you too can go from having a plain old boring ceremony, to one you enjoy the chuff out of, just through the simple act of choosing a celebrant who cares about you rather than letting the council assign you a registrar you’ve never met before. I’d say it’s a no brainer when you look at it this way.
Still asking yourself “What does a celebrant do?”
Right I’ll get off my soapbox and return to the task at hand – I promised to explain what a celebrant does in practical terms. So here is a celebrant’s process for creating a wedding ceremony.
Hi I’m Meg, I’m a celebrant *waves enthusiastically* this is, in fact, MY process for creating a wedding ceremony. Other celebrants may differ!
Step 1: Becoming acquainted
Let’s imagine you are the couple in question. Getting to know you (and you me!) starts from the get-go. From our first call before you’ve even made a booking I’ll come across as extremely nosey. Why? Because I genuinely care about you and every couple I meet, and I want to hear what you have to say. I will prompt, I will listen, I will take notes. Don’t get weirded out if I remember obscure facts about your life, for instance your neighbour’s daughter’s name or your sister’s birthday.
Step 2: Getting to knowwwwww you, getting to know all about you…
When we’re working together officially that’s when we’ll really get into it. I’ll set up a shared online portal so we can share resources like reading ideas and vow writing inspiration.
I’ll send you on a date night. Afterwards you’ll tell me all the juicy details of what you spoke about. You’ll only share what you feel comfortable to naturally, so maybe not ALL the juicy details – It’s up to you.
Step 3: Real life conversations
Then comes my favourite bit when we meet in real life, or via video call if we’re not in the same part of the world. You can expect me to probe, listen intently and take notes of your throw-away comments. I’ll listen for catchphrases, I’ll notice when you give each other funny looks and I’ll spot when one of you shares a secret that the other didn’t know yet.
The more I write the more I realise how stalker-ish this section sounds. Hopefully you’re not thinking “So Meg sneakily probes me and writes down my secrets?!” I’m not a creep, I promise. I prefer to think of myself as a facilitator of conversations you might not otherwise have, at a time you’re preparing for a milestone moment in life. My intention is that they are conversations you’ll enjoy and will set you up for married life together.
Step 4: Over to me
Now it’s my job to gather all the material you’ve given me through our chats, and weave it into a ceremony script. When I’m writing will:
Play music you’ve told me you love. You might even have sent me a playlist to listen to
Look through everything you have told me and get a sense of you as a couple and start thinking about the narrative arch of your ceremony
Block out time where I’m not available for anything other than your script. This is because I want to really dedicate my focus to it (and it doesn’t come easily to me to transform the gloriously messy complexity of each couple’s life and love into a script)
Rehearse aloud – to my dog – to make sure everything flows
Mark up any stage directions so you can imagine the choreography of the ceremony
Record myself reading the whole script aloud and send this to you, along with your written document
Step 5: Over to you
Finally it’s your turn to see and hear the words for your ceremony. You can feedback to me however is easiest to you – voice note, email, amends directly on the document, phone call, video call or send a handwritten letter with a carrier pigeon (probably not that last one).
I’ll email you a written document but you don’t have to read that version if you don’t want to. You can listen to the script the script audio together instead and imagine how things will flow.
It’s at this point that I get totally paranoid that I cannot possibly have done your incredible-selves justice and I’m a failure of a celebrant. Seriously, poor Mr Senior and the dog have to put up with me vibrating with nervous energy until I hear back from you. And then you’ll message me to say you love it (usually!), that you cried (often) and of course you’ll give amends and tweaks to truly perfect it.
What does a celebrant do on your wedding day?
What doesn’t a celebrant do?! I think of myself as a member of the event team who will help everything to run smoothly. In reality this means calming down stressed out bridesmaids, chatting with parents and vamping if you’re running late - which is TOTALLY allowed by the way! We can’t start without you, I will wait until you’re ready.
I also liaise with your other suppliers: I work with the venue to get you in place pre-ceremony without guests spotting you, and post-ceremony to give you a quick breather before guests pounce on you. I help the photographer choose the best place to get their ceremony shots, and I make sure your musicians have the right cues.
Basically you can rock up knowing that I’ve got it all under control. You don’t need to have a care in the world because I totally get what atmosphere you would like to create for your guests. Ultimately I host the ceremony, which sets the tone for your whole celebration.
It’s all part of the service my darlings!
I do hope that’s answered your question “What does a wedding celebrant do?” If you are still pondering, “What is a wedding celebrant?” then I have miserably failed and apologise profusely. My FAQs will clear anything else up for you I’m sure.
I’m only ever a phone call away (I know how retro – I grew up in the 90s) so give me a call or use a modern method of communication if you prefer. I would LOVE to chat about your wedding.
The images in this blog post were taken by superstar wedding photographer Chelsea Shoesmith. You can find the other suppliers on Instagram:
Flowers - @north_and_flower
Suit - @whitfieldandward
Stationery - @inspiredbylisa
Cake Designer - @love_buttercup_cakes
Photographer - @chelseashoesmithphotos
Dress - @rosaria.amore.bridal
Hair & Make Up - @eleanorjayne_makeupartistry
Celebrant - @megseniorceremonies
Car - @defenderforoccasions
Venue - @upperhouseestate
Styling - @floveevents