Advice to Couples interested in hiring a Celebrant
If you don’t really mind too much who performs your ceremony then it may be better not to waste your time reading this article. In fact, it might be better to save yourself money too and ask a close friend or relative instead, who at least has the advantage of knowing you personally!
However, if you are concerned that the individual who will script and perform your personalised ceremony will be professional in every way, then there are a few guidelines to bear in mind when researching the myriad of options via the internet (which we all know is a great risk when deciding upon hiring any service.)
It isn’t easy to ensure that the information you are presented with is the truth. There are an increasing number of sites and individuals offering these services.. but how can you know if they are genuine?
The first thing to do is to seek out reviews. (Not only on the vendor’s website but those written independently.) You should be able to find them easily for yourself in an internet search.
1. Do I really need a Professional Celebrant?
If you are inviting guests from all the world and you truly value the standard of the actual ceremony then it is very important that you hire someone who is trained, experienced and knowledgeable.
If on the other hand the ceremony is just an excuse for the subsequent party, then you might as well ask a friend or family member who is good at speaking in public.
If you both have different religious faiths or come from diverse cultures, it is important to hire an Officiant with theological training and experience of multi cultural and inter-faith ceremonies.
An important note about Religious ceremonies:
Due to an increase in misuse and disrespect of places of Worship, the Catholic Dioceses have recently issued strict new rules regarding the use of consecrated chapels and churches in Italy.
For the Roman Catholic Church Matrimony is a Sacrament and as such it is only possible to hold Catholic wedding ceremonies officiated by a Catholic priest or any clergy authorised by the Bishop himself inside a consecrated church.
A Blessing ceremony intended as ‘symbolic’ is not permitted inside consecrated chapels. Instead what is known as ‘Liturgy of Word’ or Blessing prayer, (which doesn’t constitute a legally binding ceremony), will be taken into consideration by the Diocese.
It is possible to request the use of a Catholic chapel or church by other Ministers from other Faiths provided that they send their credentials subject to checks by the Diocese before permission is granted. Catholic priests are strictly prohibited from officiating both a catholic wedding or a blessing ceremony outdoors unless it is a renewal of vows if you have already been married in a church previously.
2. Ensure that you ask pertinent questions and refuse to be ‘fobbed off’ by vague answers.
Some organizers or ‘Celebrant Agencies’ purport to have a team of Celebrants who can perform in various languages.
Do you see photos of them and are their names and contact details on display?
If an agency or planner tells you that they have a team of professional Celebrants but that you cannot know their name or speak to them before booking then do proceed with caution.
Will the person performing the ceremony be the same person who organises other aspects of the wedding?
Do they offer you real proof that their Celebrants are trained and experienced?
Is the agency/association advising you a registered body?
Are they accountable legally?
What are their credentials?
Do they offer a comprehensive directory complete with the names, addresses and telephone numbers of their Celebrants in order for you to make a free choice?
3. Do they have their own website?
Are there a substantial number of photographs of the Celebrant/s conducting the ceremony with couples and guests in the background?
Is there sufficient text written in eloquent English, explaining how they work and the kind of service they offer?
4. Can you find independent Testimonials from reputable sites? (‘weddingwire’ or ‘Confetti’ for instance)
Are there recent testimonials composed by genuine couples from all over the world?
Do past clients appear to be satisfied with their service?
What do they say about him/her as a person?
How did they feel about the service they were offered before, during and on the day of the ceremony itself?
Do they appear in certified and officially recognised Celebrant directories?
5. Contact your Celebrant in writing, on the phone and especially via a skype conference.
This will enable you to ensure they are genuine and to assess their professionalism. They should be able to answer any questions you may have with ease and in a friendly and courteous manner.
This is also an excellent way to be sure that your Celebrant is in possession of good communication skils.
It is imperative that a Celebrant is eloquent, has good diction and a clear speaking voice.
Many couples are told by some agencies that they have Celebrants who speak good English only to find on the day that this is not the case.
It is important that you are given the information to make an independent valuation. After all this is your special day and for peace of mind you need to be sure that your ceremony and personal information will be handled sensitively.
While it is true that anyone can perform the role of a Celebrant, it is also the case that not everyone possesses the appropriate skills to fulfill what is a fundamental role within the celebration of a wedding.
Celebrancy demands a certain level of life experience, maturity and diplomacy as well as oratory and linguistic skill. A good Celebrant will be able to handle impromptu difficult situations on the day and know how to reassure nervous or emotional couples and families.
6. Is Your Celebrant Listening to You?
Your wishes are paramount.. Does your Celebrant give you the opportunity to be heard? How do they understand fully what your ideas and hopes are? Do they take the time to get to know you as a couple? Does talking to them make you feel informed and reassured? Do they offer valuable advice and feedback regarding your initial thoughts and ideas?
7. What specific questions should I ask?
Find out how long they have been a Celebrant, where they received training and if they have experience of performing ceremonies for couples from diverse backgrounds and religions.
Have they ever performed an inter-faith ceremony? Ask them to provide information regarding how they would structure a ceremony in close dialogue with you. Be sure that the Celebrant you choose is patient and willing to guide you honestly through the process.
8. What personal qualities should I look for?
A Celebrant should be someone who treats you with respect. They should be mature, have plenty of life experience, be understanding, sensitive to the needs of others, patient and caring. They should also be punctual and responsive.
On the day of the ceremony they should be organized, groomed and dressed in accordance with wedding etiquette.
9. Booking and payment of Fees.
You should receive transparent answers. Ask them to explain precisely what is covered and if tax is included. Ask them if a deposit is required to secure the booking and if they will issue you with a legal receipt.
Will the Celebrant issue you with a registered contract to guarantee their commitment, respect the Laws on Privacy and offer insurance cover, in the event that they might not be able to attend on the day?
This is also an indication of a Celebrant’s willingness to provide an equally professional substitute in case of accident… or anything worse since we are mere mortals after all.
10. The cost of a Celebrant should include tax, travel expense, insurance, time spent working on your ceremony, all correspondence and assured presence and skilled performance on the day.
Does the fee include tax, travel fees and time devoted to creating a personalised script?
How much importance do you place on the ceremony itself? (If you are merely looking for someone to turn up and read a standard text with no personalisation, then be sure to let the Celebrant know in advance.)
Is the price relevant to the service of Celebrancy or inclusive of other services not associated with the role of a Celebrant?
Bear in mind that there are those who charge a relatively high fee but have little or no experience. This is why it is better to rely on personal recommendations and authentic independent reviews.
11. A professional Celebrant should inspire confidence.
You should feel that you can trust them to do an excellent job. You should not have to feel stressed or uncertain about the content, structure and delivery of your ceremony… but be free to look forward to it!
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