10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Marriage Celebrant

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Perhaps you and your beloved want to have a civil wedding ceremony rather than a religious one. If that’s your situation, it’s beneficial to consider hiring a wedding celebrant. Ideally, your celebrant will be someone you know and trust – but if you aren’t already acquainted with a suitable celebrant, you will need to interview any candidates you’re considering for the job.

Here are 10 questions to ask:

1. Do you anticipate being available to travel to [wedding location] on [date of wedding] for our wedding?

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Obviously, if the answer to this question is “no”, you can avoid wasting any additional time going through the rest of the questions on this list. In that case, move on to interviewing the next candidate.

2. Do you already have any other weddings booked for that date?

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It isn’t unusual for popular celebrants to book multiple weddings on the same date – perhaps even 3 or 4 weddings. It’s important to determine whether the celebrant will realistically have time to travel between wedding venues in a timely manner – or whether s/he’ll keep you and your guests waiting.

It’s also important to keep in mind that celebrancy requires an intensive investment of emotional energy. If your celebrant has already performed 3 ceremonies by the time your wedding starts, how much energy will be left for yours? Even if your preferred celebrant is agreeable to performing your ceremony, it’s wise to understand upfront whether this individual will actually be over-committed on the day of your wedding.

3. What are your fees for conducting a marriage ceremony, and what do the fees include?

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Celebrants’ fees vary widely. As a frame of reference, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the average fee for a celebrant in Australia was $600 as of 2011.

4. When is payment due?

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Have your notebook and/or calendar in hand for making notes regarding the answer to this question.

5. Do you have a cancellation policy?

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Hopefully, your wedding will commence as planned. But, in case it doesn’t, it’s always beneficial to know what your liabilities will be ahead of time.

6. How will you handle the situation if you get sick on our wedding date or have an unexpected emergency?

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Ideally, your celebrant will be able to suggest a replacement or have a backup plan available in case of an emergency.

7. Have you already obtained formal qualifications to become a celebrant in Australia?

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According to training.com.au celebrancy is a booming industry in Australia. To ensure this rapidly growing industry doesn’t become overly chaotic, the Australian government regulates it and its participants. This is necessary because the job of celebrant carries important legal responsibilities and obligations that must be met.

If your celebrant doesn’t fill out and file the necessary paperwork properly or say the legally required words during the ceremony, your marriage might not actually be valid. So it is absolutely critical to choose a trustworthy celebrant with the proper training and experience.

In Australia, celebrants must undergo formal training offered by a registered training organization or government-approved university. Celebrants must also register with the Australian Attorney General’s office.

8. Are you a full-time celebrant, or do you have another job?

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Celebrancy tends to be a weekend job. It’s possible to earn a full-time living as a celebrant, but the majority aren’t able to do so; it’s usually necessary for a celebrant to have some other job as their main occupation.

The nature of the celebrant’s other job can be quite revealing. It’s ideal if that other job is one that requires substantial amounts of public speaking and interaction with people.

9. How many wedding ceremonies have you conducted?

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It is important to ensure your celebrant has enough experience to do a fantastic job with performing your ceremony. Do keep in mind that, while Australia’s 32,000 approved wedding officiants are lawfully permitted to perform marriages, many of them are not actually very experienced at this task. There are wedding officiants who only preside over a few marriages every year – or perhaps none at all.

This question also gives you an opportunity to figure out whether the celebrant’s fees are reasonable given their overall level of experience.

10. What equipment will you plan to bring – and do you need us to make arrangements for any specific equipment to be made available?

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Ideally, celebrants would arrange to bring their own microphone and sound equipment. However, it’s important to ensure that their equipment will be sufficient for the venue and number of guests that will be present – so be sure to ask about this.

These are 10 of the most important questions that couples will want to ask a celebrant before deciding to hire him or her. Keep in mind that there are likely to be some other situation-specific questions you’d want to ask in addition to these; for example, if you and your beloved don’t share the same faith, you’ll also want to ask if the celebrant is comfortable performing interfaith ceremonies. If there are any other details you’re curious about or need more information about, don’t be shy – ask. It’s important for you to be totally confident in your choice of celebrants to ensure your wedding will progress smoothly, and in a manner that reflects your vision for your special day.