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Choosing a marriage celebrant is a very personal choice.
Couples naturally want someone who they feel comfortable with standing up there on their wedding day saying their vows to each other in front of their closest family and friends. But apart from the actual ceremony, you do spend time consulting with your celebrant prior to the wedding when planning your vows so you need a marriage celebrant that will listen to your ideas and guide you along the way.
I originally met Jamie & Ciara when Jamie was the marriage celebrant on a wedding I was photographing, Chani & Lindsay’s wedding for the Four Wedding Australia TV Show’s first series. Since then I have worked on many weddings where either one of them has been the celebrant. I am also now proud to include them as friends. From working with them and also spending time with them in social situations, they are both just the loveliest two people you could meet, passionate about their work as celebrants and providing the best service to their couples, therefore I can totally recommend them as celebrants.
As testament to their character, Ciara brought to my attention one of her past brides who she had kept in touch with, the bride had several bad experiences surrounding her wedding and did not have any wedding photos and was wondering if there was anything I could do for the couple. As it happened I was planning a styled photo shoot with a few other wedding vendors, one of which is Jamie’s relatives, Anne from The Rose Room – vintage china & furniture hire, who Ciara put me in touch with some time before this as I was looking for a high school senior to photograph for a new business venture photographing high school seniors portraits and Anne had a son who sat for a portrait session with me. Long story short, we ended up using the couple for our styled photo shoot and it was Ciara’s idea to throw in a surprise vow renewal for the couple on the day and even had their children play a part. While the photos from the styled shoot won’t replace their wedding day photos that they never received, at least they have some beautiful photos of them together. I remember Melissa and Aaron being so excited getting dressed up again and the shoot had an alternative vintage wedding style which Melissa loved. The photos from the shoot were featured on Polka Dot Bride.
How To Choose A Celebrant?
When deciding which Celebrant is right for you there are a few things to think about:
Does their personality ‘gel’ with yours? Does it ‘fit’ the feel of your wedding e.g. for a modern thoroughly enjoyable wedding, that engages your guests, perhaps a fun and friendly Celebrant with a great ability to put you at ease is the type is what you are looking for… just like Brisbane City Celebrants ;)
Consider, will the Celebrant you have in mind ‘fit’ in with your friends and guests, and make that great first impression of your wedding as your guests arrive?
Our best advice is to go with your gut feeling, if things don’t feel quite right or they aren’t prepared to work with your ideas they may be on a different page to you, on the other hand if you feel that your Celebrant really ‘gets’ you, is on the same page, has the right ideas and suggestions for the kind of ceremony you have in mind, and clearly knows their stuff then snap them up and lock them in before someone else books them!
Your Celebrant should also present highly professionally with a wealth of knowledge, after all you are trusting them to meet the legal requirements of your ceremony, and to ensure the ceremony runs smoothly on the day.
Most of our couples tell us they look at several Celebrants websites, view photos, videos and testimonials to get a feel of which Celebrant will suit them best before picking their favourite one (or making a shortlist) then checking availability.
Questions To Ask A Celebrant
How many weddings do you do in a day?
Be sure to ask your Celebrant how many weddings they are prepared to perform per day. Brisbane City Celebrants have a one wedding a day policy, the benefit to the couple is that we are focused on their wedding and the details of their wedding only on that day, we won’t be arriving late and flustered having raced from a previous wedding, and we won’t speed through a ceremony in order to make it to another ceremony in time. On the odd occasion we have set up at a wedding, waiting for the bride to arrive and been asked “the bride is running 20 minutes late, is that going to be ok with you?” To which we reply in a very relaxed tone, “No problem at all, I’m not going anywhere”. A Celebrant that is squeezing in back to back weddings may not be so laid back in their response!
How long does a ceremony take?
The length of time a wedding ceremony takes varies from couple to couple, some couples choose to include readings, poems or other rituals, others like their ceremony to be short and sweet. These all factor in to the length of the ceremony, we generally tell couples to allow 15-20 minutes from the beginning of the ceremony when the bride walks down the aisle, to the end of the ceremony when the couple are declared husband and wife, are congratulated by their guests and gather for a group photo.
Will I get to proof my ceremony wording before the wedding day?
We believe it’s really important for couples to see and proof their ceremony before the special day for a number of reasons:
- You know exactly what to expect on the day and how the ceremony flows
- You can make any changes you wish so the ceremony really reflects you as a couple and is perfect for you
- There will be no unwanted ‘surprises’ on the day
- You can confirm any pre or post wedding announcements that you need the Celebrant to make
- Last but certainly not least you can be assured that the Celebrant hasn’t got you mixed up with another couple and gets your ceremony and names correct!
The Brisbane City Celebrants team always work with our couples in creating a ceremony specifically for each couple. Our couples are ALWAYS given plenty of opportunity to make changes or add to their ceremony before confirming the final version for their special day. Even if your Celebrant doesn’t offer you the option to see your ceremony, please please please insist on reviewing/ proofing this before your big day, as it will mitigate the potential risk of problems or errors and really help to put you at ease for your big day.
Also try and avoid having your Celebrant send you through your ceremony for the first time just days before the wedding. All experienced wedding vendors are well aware that on the days leading up to your wedding, couples are generally flat out, running round trying to get all the final details finalised, getting nails done, confirming final details with other vendors, catching up with interstate and overseas guests pre wedding etc. and barely have time to really absorb what you have been provided, let alone have time to plan, write and include your own segments, such as sharing the story of how you met. So the earlier in to the planning phase you can work on and finalise your ceremony the better.
All our couples receive their personalised first draft of their ceremony within days of securing their date with us, allowing them plenty of time of discuss ideas and suggestions and decide what works best for them. Most of our couples confirm their final ceremony with us months before their wedding date so it doesn’t spring up on their wedding ‘to do’ list at the last minute!
Do we have to write our own vows?
It is not compulsory to write your own vows, when we have our initial meeting with couples we discuss the option of writing your own vows, we provide our ‘vow writing worksheet’ to assist couples with writing their own vows, and also provide some sample vows they can choose from if they wish to do so.
Some couples prefer to keep their ceremony simple and repeat the minimum legal wording only, this is entirely up to you.
Do I have to memorize my vows?
You don’t need to memorize your vows, depending on the length of the vows we recommend to our couples to either repeat them after us or read them from a printed sheet, on the very odd occasion some couples have opted to memorise them or even make them up on the spot, very impressive but only if you’re really game!
Should our vows to each other be the same?
Civil wedding ceremonies give you so much flexibility, there is no ‘should’ in this case. Here are a few options for your wedding vows:
- Write/ chose your wedding vows together, then repeat the same vows to each other on the day;
- Write your own vows separately and surprise each other with your ‘written from the heart’ words on the day;
- Write each others vows on behalf of each other and surprise each other with these to repeat after the Celebrant on the day (this is generally for a humorous take on wedding vows) e.g. “I promise to always put the toilet seat down, let you change the channel to watch Real Housewives whenever the AFL is on, make you breakfast in bed when you’re hung over and give you foot rubs when you’ve had a long day at work.”
What happens if we don’t want to have a bridal party?
An increasing number of couples are opting for either a large bridal party, or no bridal party at all, it is your wedding and the choice is all yours! Guests at weddings of couples that choose to have no bridal party often comment on how the ceremony really feels to be about the couple and their love for each other. As the best man is often a ring bearer a simple adjustment can easily be made where the groom has the rings, or a page boy of family member can come forward with these.
Who can witness our legal documents?
Couples often select the best man and Maid of Honor to be their witnesses, however anyone of sound mind (e.g. not drunk!) and over the age of 18 can be your witness, so you can simply take your pick from your guests.
I live in Brisbane and am planning a destination wedding on Hamilton island, should I engage a Brisbane Celebrant or a local Celebrant?
The choice is yours! most couples may try and source a local Celebrant, however if you are not able to get to the venue much before the wedding the benefit of choosing a Brisbane based Celebrant is that you can have your initial meetings locally while in Brisbane. The Brisbane City Celebrants team love to travel and we also love destination weddings so much so that we may well waive the travel fee, ask us, you never know
Is there a fee involved if we need to change the date or time for any reason?
This is a good question to ask your Celebrant. Brisbane City Celebrants do not charge a fee if you need to change your date or time of your ceremony. We do request to be notified as soon as possible so we can confirm availability.
Is there a late fee involved if the bride or groom is late for the wedding? how late can the bride be?
This is another good question to ask your Celebrant. Brisbane City Celebrants do not charge a late fee, luckily for our couples as we have our one wedding per day policy we do not need to incentives brides not to be late with a penalty, however we do ask to be kept informed as best as possible on the day if the bride is running late so this can be communicated to the waiting guests.
In the event that you have an accident or become ill and are unable to perform the wedding, what arrangements do you have in place?
Thankfully being a team of 2 Celebrants if one of us became ill, the other is usually available to stand in and present the ceremony with the same professionalism, passion and enthusiasm at very short notice. In the unlikely event that we were both suddenly unavailable to perform the ceremony, we have a network of Celebrants and with your permission we would transfer the legal documentation to, to perform the ceremony. That said, being young, fit and healthy Celebrants that likelihood of one or both of us taking ill is very slim.
Do we both have to exchange rings?
Although exchanging wedding rings is a traditional part of a wedding ceremony, there is no legal obligation to do so. In our experience most couples still chose to exchange rings, however occasionally the groom prefers not to have a ring (for example he may not be permitted to wear jewellery for health and safety reasons at work). It’s also not unheard of for the bride to have 2 or even 3 rings, perhaps one to represent each child she has given her husband.
Do I have to be ‘given away’ by my father?
The giving away is also a traditional element of the ceremony that is not a legal requirement, so in response to the question, no the bride does not have to be given away by her father. When it comes to the arrival of the bride and the giving away there are many options, including the following:
- Father gives the bride away (traditional)
- Father and Mother give bride away (modern twist on the traditional giving away)
- Couples child or children give the bride away
- Bridesmaids give the bride away
- No giving away (the bride walks up the aisle to her groom by herself)
- Brides father and mother give the bride away, and the grooms father and mother give the groom away
- The bride and groom arrive together and walk up the aisle together!
As a Brisbane Celebrant can you perform my wedding in NSW or other States?
As Registered Authorised Marriage Celebrants appointed by the Attorney General, providing the legal requirements are met, we can perform marriage ceremonies anywhere in Australia. We love an excuse for a weekend away in beautiful places like Byron Bay or Kingscliff so do check with us if we’re available to perform your wedding at your chosen location.
Are there any limits to where I can get married?
Brisbane is the perfect climate for outdoor weddings so why not get creative and wed at your special place, where you met, spent your first date or like a couple of ours who married at the same spot where they shared their first kiss… in a departure terminal at Brisbane Airport! which goes to show that (nearly) anywhere is possible.
As professional Celebrants we will guide you through the legal requirements to ensure these are met, one of these requirements is that myself and your 2 witnesses can hear you as you repeat the mandatory legal wording, so please take that in to account if you are considering an unusual ceremony location.
What legal forms do I need to complete to get married in Australia?
1. Notice of Intended Marriage form (NOIM). This must be signed and witnessed by your Celebrant no later than one month before the date of your wedding. You can view this form here.
The form can either be completed electronically or by hand with black ink in BLOCK caps.
Along with this form, the following ID must be viewed by your Celebrant:
If you were born in Australia – your Celebrant is required to sight your original birth certificates and, if applicable, divorce or death papers if you have been previously married.
If you were not born in Australia – Your Celebrant will need to sight your passport, and if applicable, divorce or death papers if you have been previously married.
Your Celebrant also needs to sight photo ID (e.g. Driver’s License) for identification purposes.
2. Declarations: You will both need to complete and sign declarations prior to your wedding to confirm that there is no legal impediment to you marrying each other.
3. Marriage certificate/ extract application (Optional).
This form is your request for your ‘registry issued marriage certificate’ which is the legal document required by most organisations to verify your marriage, and to allow the bride to change her surname to the grooms surname once you are legally married.
A good professional Celebrant, like Brisbane City Celebrants ;) will also give you the option to complete this form and will submit this with your marriage documents on your behalf to Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM). If your Celebrant submits this for you, it saves you the headache of having to get all the required accompanying ID together and JP witnessed and sent off yourself.
Great news, there’s a stack more tips from where this article came from!