Should you ask a family member or a celebrant to do your ceremony?
I could be biased and say “Celebrant, of course” without batting an eye lid.
But, honestly, I think having a family member or best friend do your ceremony can be a beautiful and sentimental thing. And it can understandably feel more personal than choosing a complete stranger.
Then again, professional celebrants deliver wedding ceremonies for a living, so they might be the safer choice, in terms of quality and experience. And they’re probably more used to thinking on their feet and keeping the show going, when the mic stops working or your little niece starts crying.
Or maybe not. Maybe your cousin’s been doing improv for the past 12 years and could teach us celebrants a few tricks!
In any case, whether you’re swerving more towards a friend or family member, or towards a celebrant, here are a few questions that might help you pick a lane! 🙂
So, starting with your special friend or family member…
- Would they really want to do your ceremony? Or would they feel obliged to say ‘yes’ because they don’t want to let you down?
- Even if they’re brimming with enthusiasm, crafting a well-structured and meaningful wedding ceremony doesn’t happen over night. Especially if they’ve never done it before. So, do they have the time and will they put in the effort it takes to create, rehearse and refine their script? Or will it be a last-minute rush-job?
- Even with all that prep, how confident would they feel on the big day? Speaking down a mic, with 85 pairs of eyes and ears and several big camera lenses aimed at you, needs someone who’s super comfortable with public speaking.
Confidence is one thing. But so is competence. How well could they bring your special love story to life? Would it feel engaging, funny and touching? Would they speak from their heart with feeling and conviction or would they have their eyes glued to their script, as they nervously bumble through every word?
How emotionally-attached are they to you? Would they be able to stay neutral and composed or would they turn into a blubbering mess after the first sentence? Don’t get me wrong, expressing emotion is one of the most beautiful things about a wedding day and there’s nothing wrong about shedding a few tears, while leading the ceremony. Just as long as it doesn’t turn into uncontrollable sobbing. That’s ok for mum, and maybe even dad! But they won’t be the ones holding the mic.
- What kind of vibe do you want at your ceremony? And for your wedding, for that matter. Whoever leads your ceremony kicks off the day and sets the tone for everything that follows. If it’s love and joy and lightheartedness you want, are you confident they’d radiate that energy and bring it out in you and your guests?
And what about before the ceremony? Even after all that meticulous planning and preparation, things can go wrong or get delayed, before you’ve even started. Or even if everything’s running smoothly, it can feel like a whirlwind, with so much going on around you and inside your head. So if that happens, you want someone who can snap you out of it and slow things down, so you can soak up and enjoy every minute of your ceremony.
Maybe the person you have in mind ticks all of these boxes.
But what if choosing them for such a central role, over your other siblings or cousins or friends, feels awkward? What if the others are thinking “and, what about me?”. How would you handle that?
Would you diplomatically dish out roles to every single person, in the hope no one feels left out? Or maybe it’s a non-issue and everyone knows your sister was the obvious choice.
Only you will know, from how it feels.
And finally, what about hiring a professional celebrant?
Of course, most of the points above apply to your celebrant too. And none of them should be a concern. If they are, then you’ve probably not found the right one!
But what else do you need to think about?
Well, given you don’t know them, you’ll probably start by checking out their Instagram and website to get a first feel. I’m sure you’ll do that, even if they’ve been recommended by your wedding planner or that enthusiastic bride in your Facebook group!
Then, if all looks good, you’ll want to chat to them to get to know them and sense if they’re a good fit, for you. For me, that’s the most important thing.
And the only way to know that is by meeting them. And when you do, here’s a few important questions to consider…
- Do you feel there’s chemistry between you? Do you feel at ease when talking to them and like you’re in safe hands?
- Are they really listening to you and asking the right questions? Of course they don’t know you personally. So, if they want to create a personal ceremony that truly reflects you both, they should be asking lots of questions! But hopefully not all in your first chat! They’ll usually use questionnaires, and maybe several calls to get familiar with you and your story.
- How available and approachable are they, if you have any questions or doubts about your ceremony, or want to chat about that new idea that came to you last night? Do they respond quickly or does it take them days, because they’re so busy juggling the other 90 ceremonies they’ve said yes to?
So there you have it. If you’re still undecided, I’d say speak to some celebrants first and shop around until you know you’ve found “the one”.
And if it doesn’t work out, you can still choose that special friend or family member. Just be confident they’re the right person and that they’ll give you the ceremony you deserve.
And just because you choose a celebrant, doesn’t mean your best friend or family member can’t play a special role in your ceremony. There are so many other ways for them to get involved – from readings, to special rituals, to even singing or playing a special song.
I hope you found this article helpful. Please get in touch if you have any other questions or if there’s anything else I can help you with.