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  • Writer's pictureKristina McDonald

10 Questions to Ask a Wedding Celebrant - BEFORE You Book Them!

Your wedding ceremony is the most important element of your wedding day. It sets the tone for the rest of the celebrations, and is the time of the day where you pledge your love to each other, til death do you part! You want to make sure the person taking you through the ceremony is the right one for you – but it’s not just about the big day itself! Your wedding celebrant will work closely with you for months beforehand, so it’s important you feel comfortable with them, and confident they can offer you the services you’re looking for.

Celebrants will usually set up an initial meeting with you; this is where you will see if your personalities and goals for your wedding align, and that they are the person who can give you the ceremony you’re dreaming of. This is the time to ask questions! Good celebrants will be happy to answer any and all questions you have – they want you to have the perfect wedding (almost) as much as you do. Here are some important things to ask a celebrant before you book them.

1. Are you available on our date?

The most important question to ask up front. After all, if the celebrant isn’t free on your wedding date, there’s no point continuing the conversation! The great thing about celebrants accredited by Humanists UK is, they’re part of a regional network, and will be able to recommend another celebrant to conduct your ceremony if they’re not available.

2. What are your fees?

It’s a good idea to ask how much your ceremony will cost up front. Many celebrants will have a flat fee, while others may have costing tiers depending on the kind of ceremony you want. This question is especially important if you’re having a destination wedding, or a ceremony that is a long journey away. Most celebrants will charge expenses, such as travel or accommodation, if the ceremony venue is a good distance away, so you will need to factor these costs into the overall price.

If a celebrant is cagey or vague when you ask about price, this is a red flag! There should be no hidden fees or charges, and reputable celebrants will be happy to discuss prices in advance.

3. What are your qualifications and experience?

You should make sure you’re talking to an accredited celebrant who has been trained properly. Properly trained and qualified celebrants will have no issue with demonstrating their credentials. Humanists UK celebrants underdo high-quality training, and under the terms of their accreditation must keep up to date with regular training and events. They are also observed by another celebrant at least every three years, to ensure quality control.

You may be looking for a very experienced celebrant, in which case you’re free to pass on those with fewer ceremonies under your belt, but if you’re talking to a new or recently accredited celebrant, don’t let that put you off! Many celebrants have other jobs which have allowed them to hone their skills at public speaking, script writing and organisation, all of which they will bring to their role as they help you plan your ceremony.

All Humanists UK celebrants must pass a series of tasks and perform ceremonies for more experienced celebrants before they receive accreditation, so even if they’ve only conducted a few ceremonies, they have all the training and skills they need to perform your ceremony to a high standard. Rapport, shared goals and a good working relationship are more important than the number of weddings a celebrant has performed!

4. Can you help us with readings, music and vows?

Planning a wedding ceremony can be a lot of work! Many couples love the idea of a humanist wedding, but might underestimate the time and effort involved. You will need to decide what kind of ceremony you want, down to the smallest detail, alongside everything else planning a wedding involves.

If you’re worried about the planning aspects of your wedding ceremony, make sure you find a celebrant who is willing to help you with this. Many celebrants will have samples of readings, vows and symbolic elements, which you can choose from and make your own. If you want to write your own vows, ask your celebrant about this, too. Can they help you write your vows, or will you be on your own?

5. What is your cancellation policy?

Although cancelling your wedding is likely the last thing you want to think about, it’s important you know what to expect if you need to cancel or postpone. Most celebrants will have a cancellation policy as part of your agreement or contract of services. Cancellation policies commonly will outline what will happen in the event of cancellation at long and short notice, and celebrants may keep deposits or full fees, depending on the date of cancellation. These clauses are common – however, make sure you’re happy with the policy before you sign any agreement. Read it carefully, and look out for any clauses you feel uncomfortable with. With an increase in cancellations and postponements due to the pandemic, most celebrants are aware of the need to be flexible, and will discuss cancellation scenarios and options with you.

6. Can you perform symbolic rituals within the wedding ceremony?

If you love the idea of a handfasting, unity candle or sand ceremony, make sure your celebrant is willing to incorporate this into your ceremony. A celebrant who is unwilling to include elements such as symbolic rituals may be inflexible on other issues later on, so be sure to find someone who is willing to embrace your ideas from the start!

7. How many weddings do you perform per day?

This is a good question to ask if you want to ensure you’ll be the sole focus of your celebrant’s day. Nobody wants to feel like they’re just one of a long line, so if it’s important to you that yours is the only wedding on your date, make sure to ask. Many celebrants have a “one wedding per day” policy, but even if your celebrant performs multiple ceremonies per day, they will have a plan in place to make you feel special and give you the time you need.

However, if your celebrant has a very short window in-between weddings, or is very busy and you’re concerned about the amount of time they can dedicate to you, talk to them about it. Some celebrants have a “book for the day” fee, where you can buy out their whole day! Of course, if you don’t want to pay extra, then you might be better looking for another celebrant who will only take one booking per day.

8. What will you wear to our ceremony?

It’s important that your celebrant understands your vision for your ceremony. Good celebrants will be well-presented, tidy and dressed appropriately for your ceremony. If you have a specific colour scheme or dress code, such as black tie or beach casual, you can ask your celebrant if they are happy to abide by it. If it’s within reason, most celebrants will agree to dress according to your requirements. If they are inflexible on this, you may be willing to compromise if you like everything else about them – but if it’s non-negotiable for you, that’s fine!

Remember, your celebrant will be at the front, leading your ceremony, and may be in shot for key photo moments such as speaking vows or your first kiss. If you’re not completely sold on their style, this might be a deal breaker for you, so make sure you’re completely comfortable with how they will dress – look at photos or social media of previous weddings they’ve done to get a feel for their personal style.

9. What happens if you’re sick?

This is a really important question to ask, as having a no-show on the wedding day could spell disaster! The good news is, Humanists UK celebrants are part of a regional network, and will be able to call on another celebrant to conduct your ceremony if they’re not available due to illness or accident. Even if your celebrant is unwell and replaced at the last minute, it will still be your original ceremony that is delivered on the day. If your celebrant is not Humanists UK accredited, you will need to make sure they have a back-up plan for if they’re incapacitated.

10. What can we expect from the planning process?

All celebrants will have their own way of doing things, and you will have your own ideas as well. Ask your celebrant what their processes are for: getting to know you, crafting your script, drafting and editing, rehearsals and anything else you’re curious about. It’s good to get a feel for how your celebrant works, and whether their style will complement your own. Ask about the number of meetings you can expect to have, what paperwork you will need to complete, and timescales for completion of scripts and finalisation of ceremony details. You’ll expect your celebrant to be able to answer all of these; organisation is key to important events!

There are lots of things to consider when you’re choosing your celebrant; you want to make sure you can work together easily, and have complementary personalities. Finding a celebrant who shares your excitement for your wedding, and who will encourage and embrace your ideas, is key to ensuring you have your perfect ceremony. If they makes you feel at ease, listened to, confident, and excited to start planning your wedding, you might just have found your celebrant!

If you'd like to see if I'm the right celebrant for you, send me an email to arrange a no-obligation chat!

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