More specifically, what's it like to work with me as your wedding celebrant?
I get it. Even if you’ve never been married before, you probably still have a fairly good idea of what the deal is with a church or a civil ceremony. Choosing a celebrant to write and perform your wedding ceremony is (sadly) the unusual option and you might not know what’s involved. This will also vary from celebrant to celebrant, as we all work in slightly different ways. So this week, I’m going to grab you by the hand and take you on a journey, from the moment you decide I’m the right celebrant for you, to the moment I send you back up the aisle together towards the bar like prosecco-seeking missiles, the sound of confetti cannons and the cheers of your family and friends ringing in your ears.
The First Date.
So you’ve spotted me across a crowded room (Instagram) or you’ve seen me about town (you’ve seen me perform another ceremony). Or maybe you’ve heard the rumours (I’ve been recommended to you by a friend/family member/wedding venue/random stranger on the internet). Either way, you’ve wound up on my website and you think we might be a good fit. It’s time to make the first move.
Once you’ve got in touch (you can send me an email, fill out the contact form on my website, or pop me a DM on Instagram) we’ll organise a first meeting, no strings attached. Depending on how far away you live, we could go for a coffee together, or maybe even a cocktail or two. Or perhaps you have a four-legged friend you’d like me to meet (because God knows I want to meet them) and we could go for a dog walk somewhere. However if something like this wouldn’t fit in with your schedule, or you live quite a way away, we’ll have a cup of tea and a natter over Google Meet or Zoom. We’ll talk about you, how you met, how you popped the question, and of course, we’ll talk about your wedding. I want to know all about what plans you have so far, what ideas you have for your ceremony (it’s okay if you don’t have any, that’s what I’m here for!) and the overall feel you want your wedding to have.
After this meeting, I’ll hold your date for a week while you think everything over. If you decide you’d like me to be a part of your wedding, I’ll send over a booking form and a contract, we’ll get all the boring, formal stuff out of the way, and then we’ll get to work.
Going (out) Out.
Did I say work? That makes it sound rubbish, but I promise you, it’s the fun kind. We’ll hang out. Get to know each other properly. Drink some more coffee/cocktails, go for more dog walks. Have some Zoom nights in (if you’re far away). Having been a wedding coordinator for 4 years means I have loads of tips and tricks and supplier recommendations floating around my head and I like to share, so I’m always around to help out with other elements of your wedding as well. Gifs, memes and lengthy voice notes are also very welcome in our WhatsApp group.
And then about five or six months out from your wedding (or right away if you have a quick turnaround), I’ll send you my couple’s questionnaires. One for both of you to do together about you as a couple, and then one for each of you individually, so I can get all the dirt on each of you from the other’s point of view. I’ll also talk to you about what other elements you want to add to your ceremony; who you want to be involved, what readings and music you’re having, if you’re including a symbolic element etc. Once I have these ideas and the answers to your questionnaires back from you, I’ll get cracking on your ceremony script.
Once I’ve finished the first draft of your ceremony and I’m happy with it, we’ll have another meeting, either a video call or in a nice quiet pub or cafe, and I will read it to you. A lot of celebrants will send the word document of the first draft to their couples, but that’s not how I roll.
Remember how you hated doing Shakespeare at school? That’s because Shakespeare didn’t write his plays to be read, he wrote them to be watched and listened to. And they ruin Shakespeare at school because they make you sit around for what feels like millennia reading them. (Nerdy rant over.)
Like Shakespeare, my ceremony scripts are written to be performed; things will be misinterpreted, jokes lost and nuances missed in a dry read-through of a Google Doc. That’s why I like to give you my best dramatic reading of your ceremony, to give you an idea of how it will sound on your wedding day. Don’t worry, I won’t give away any secrets or surprises, and I’ll keep the things you said about each other to myself for the time being. But I want you to get a glimpse of all the warm and fuzzy feelings it will (hopefully) stir up for everyone on the day itself.
(NB: Just to be clear, I’m not comparing my ceremony scripts to Shakespeare. I’m good, but I’m not that good.)
Once you’ve heard your ceremony, it’s time to make any changes and tweaks you want to it. We can spend as little or as long on this as you want or need; my job is to give you the best ceremony ever, and therefore I will work with you to make sure that every word is perfect.
This bit of the process will usually happen about 2-3 months before your wedding; I want to give you enough time to forget it again after I’ve read it to you, so that it’ll be new and fresh for you on the big day. Of course, some couples don’t want to hear it at all beforehand, and would rather experience their ceremony for the first time on their wedding day, and that’s absolutely fine as well. In this case, I’ll just make sure to double and triple-check all the important details with you first.
The Wedding Day.
DRUM ROLL PLEASE: The Big Day™ is finally here! All the planning, all the excitement, all the decisions - it all boils down to this one day!
I will arrive at your venue an hour to an hour and a half before your ceremony to set up, liaise with the venue coordinator and your other suppliers, make sure everything is as it should be, and to help settle any last minute nerves (yours, not mine!) I’ll come and say hi to you both and see how you’re getting on, and I’ll make sure that anyone who has a job during the ceremony is calm and knows what they’re doing.
I’ll be fighting back tears or trying to control my excitement as you walk down the aisle, and I’ll send you back up it again, having told your story and shared your vows and commitments with all your nearest and dearest. If I’m just there to do your ceremony, I’ll stick around for a glass of fizz and a canapé, I’ll grab a photograph with you both and then I’ll be on my merry way to bask, with a glass of wine, in the afterglow of your love.
If I’m there to MC the rest of your day, this is where my celebrant hat comes off and my Wedding Host hat goes on. You’ll see me dashing around helping your photographer with your group shots, keeping an eye on the time and the schedule, and making sure Aunty Pat has a full glass. Unless that’s a bad idea, you’ll have to let me know. I’ll whip your guests into a frenzy to get you the introduction to the dining room that you deserve, I’ll introduce the speeches and the first dance, and I can host any games you might want to play to keep your guests entertained along the way. We’ll discuss all of this in more detail during the planning.
The Honeymoon and beyond...
And that’s that. Well, it doesn’t have to be, I do baby naming ceremonies too! Just kidding, no pressure.
In all seriousness, my goal in doing this job is that, by the time it gets to your wedding day, you’ll feel like it’s an old pal who’s conducting your ceremony, and that it’ll be a calmer, happier and more memorable experience for it. And I genuinely mean that. That’s all I want. I really hope that we become friends, and I really hope that your wedding day isn’t the end of that, but as I said, there’s no pressure.
And of course, all of the above is entirely flexible. I work with eloping couples in a slightly different way, and I will make every effort to fit in with and around your schedules - I get it, you’re busy people! I am more than happy to adapt to each of my couples’ individual needs and requirements. Again, we’ll discuss all of this when we meet for the first time.
So there we have it, folks! A complete rundown of the Wit & Wonder Wedding experience. I hope that all sounds good to you, and if it does, what are you waiting for?! Give me a shout on email@example.com, or click below to fill out the contact form on my website.
Connie is an independent celebrant based in Manchester and Cheshire, working across the North West and beyond. She creates fun, meaningful and highly personalised ceremonies for couples and families who want to celebrate life’s biggest moments in their own way.