What does a celebrant do?


Looks like an easy job, right?  Surely they just rock up talk for 20 minutes and go home!

Let me tell you, I have been a celebrant for 11 years and I still spend a lot of time before every ceremony checking everything and reading through the ceremony again to make sure I am happy.  It is their wedding day, they have planned for months for this moment and what I say and do on the day also has to be perfect, and legal!  There is a lot of behind the scenes preparation.  There will have been meetings to commence legal paperwork and to discuss the content for their unique personal ceremony.  I provide many resources to help with the process and encourage input re writing their own vows, including children in the ceremony, providing information on rituals, symbols, music etc.  I also encourage couples to have a rehearsal at the venue to help calm the nerves.

On the day of the wedding I arrive at least half an hour early to set up my P.A system and legal documents.  I check to make sure everything is perfect, greet guests, calm groom and groomsmen, greet bride and bridal party.  Liaise with wedding coordinator,  organise music, bridal party, flower girls, page boys, ring bearer, readers.

After the marriage ceremony I lodge your marriage documents with the BDM and securely keep all of the necessary legal documents.  I also have to keep my office running, answering emails, phone calls, writing invoices, receipts, bookkeeping, printing, filing, purchasing legal stationery,  websites, social media, advertising.

All celebrants must have completed at least a Certificate IV in Celebrancy before they can apply to the Attorney General to become registered.  The initial registration fee is $600.  They are then required to pay an annual fee of $240 to stay registered. All celebrants are required to attend Ongoing Professional Development or they will lose their registration. They are also required to have professional indemnity insurance.  So, whilst you might only see the Celebrant for 20 minutes whilst the ceremony is happening, please be assured that they have worked very hard before the ceremony even starts.


Personalised marriage ceremonies Gabriele and Gerrit A procession and two wedding dresses!

Gabriele and I have been friends for many years, we met at choir and enjoyed being choir buddies for many years.  We were also both nurses so had another common interest.  We shared a room when our choir travelled to Perth many years ago and got to know each other very well.

I had heard a lot about Gerrit her new man and I was very excited when Gabriele told me they were engaged and thrilled when she asked me to officiate at the ceremony.  She and Gerrit had firm ideas of the run of the events for the day and it was all organized very quickly.

They wanted a prewinter date so they were married on 27th May this year.  We all met at their house beforehand for drinks and nibbles.  We then “processed” the short walk to the hotel where the ceremony and reception were held. The neighbours all came out to cheer us on and it was a lot of fun!





Ceremony excerpts:

……When planning the ceremony with Gabriele and Gerrit it became quite apparent that they did not want anything too formal or too traditional and they wanted as much involvement from their friends and family as possible, which I think is testament to the way they live their lives in general, with many of us being privy to their hospitality, warmth and generosity over the years.

Personal story

I asked Gerrit and Gabriele to tell me a little about their relationship and what making a commitment means to them.  In fact, I gave them a whole list of questions:  Gabriele promptly answered them in her quick decisive manner.  I must say Gerrit did agree with her answers!

…..One thing came through loud and clear: three values are very important to them and they are: honesty, respect and trust…..the qualities they most treasure about each other are their love, openness and directness.

Their goals for a happy marriage include the ability to maintain their own identity, also trust, honesty, communication and fun and laughter.  And for their children they believe their marriage will provide a safe and secure space from which they will venture forth and fulfil their dreams.

In Gabriele’s words:

Gerrit is passionate and enthusiastic in his endeavours. he is sensitive, always cries at movies and is very loving. He is happy to try new things and is adventurous. He likes my cooking. He is open to saying yes.  Life will never be boring with him.

Memorable times.

Our first date was on a rainy night at the Radisson, when I was late for choir rehearsal afterwards. I noticed his good table manners and passion for skiing.  Gerrit was very nervous, and continued to be nervous for our next few dates. We went 5 Rhythms dancing on a few choir free Tuesday nights (child free evenings), which were a fun physical release and a way of getting to know each other.

At our first date, Gerrit reignited my skiing passion. A few practice sessions at Ski City set me up for a few weekends in Mt Buller where Gerrit worked winters.  I remember how excited Gerrit was that I could ski!  The kids tried and enjoyed skiing too……….

Appreciation of music is a strong bond. Both of us love our Tuesday nights. I’m at choir (RMP) and Gerrit rehearses with his band. We try to get out and hear some live music, whenever we can.

Gerrit is dedicated and devoted to Gabriele.  He dutifully sent me the answers to my list of questions about Gabriele and their relationship.  On their first date he also remembered it was raining and the big hug he got……………He loved their lunchtime dates and meeting and spending time with Gabriele’s children.  He also enjoys their times skiing and dancing….

Their three children all participated in the ceremony:  Gerrit’s son Grant was the ring bearer and Gabriele’s two daughters, Erica and Sophia did readings.  They all took part in the unity candle ceremony.


Poem for a Mother’s wedding Robyn O’Connell  read by Erica

Who would have thought, that there would come a time

When I would be standing at your wedding, rather than you being at mine?

That day will come, as sure as can be

But for now, it’s my turn and look what I see

A mum that has been there, through thick and through thin

And now here you stand, your face in a grin

The wish that I bring for my mother right now

Is health and happiness, as you take your wedding vow

So, to you dear Mum, what more can I say?

Than to love the dear friend you have beside you today

I hope you both are as happy, as you can ever can be

Knowing much love comes from your daughter – that’s me!

Once upon a time you two met You’ve shared much love and laughter May your marriage be a fairy tale Happy ever after

I’m glad I’m in the fairy tale And you are too I guess Congratulations, King and Queen From your fairy tale Princess.


Reading: What is a family Author unknown read by Sophia

A family is…

The sweetest feelings  the warmest hugs,  trust and togetherness

Unconditional love,the stories of our lives written on the same page

The nicest memories anyone has ever made, treasured photos

Thankful tears, hearts overflowing with all the years

Being there for one another, supporting and caring

Understanding, helping, sharing,

Walking life’s path together and making the journey more beautiful because…

We are a family, and a family is love.


Candle ceremony

Our family

(Gerrit)  Beginning our new life together does not mean that we will forget the lives we leave behind

It was that past that brought us here, without it we would not have our children

And all the happy memories of their growing into the young people that we are so very proud of…

(Gabriele)  As we light these candles we extend the love w”e share for each other to encompass Grant, Sophia and Erica

And ask them to light a candle and place it in this circle as a symbol of the joining of our families.

We all had a fun night with lots of dancing and good food.  I wish you a wonderful future together!

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Why elope?

elope!There are many reasons more and more couples are choosing to elope or decide to have a small intimate wedding.

  • The obvious one of course the huge amount of money that can be saved.  Think about the “absolute basics” engagement party/photos, invitations, hens night, bux night, pretty white dress, hair/makeup, celebrant, pretty venue, colour scheme, bridesmaids, groomsmen, flowers, guest list, 3 course dinner, alcohol, gigantic cake, decorations everywhere photographer, videographer, music, rings…the list goes on.
  • Relatives from all over the country may need to make long expensive journey.
  • Some couples don’t want to be the centre of attention and feel the ceremony especially the vows are a very intimate experience.  They just want it to be about them.
  • It s about a lifetime together, not a single day.
  • Contact me for a simple elopement style wedding you don’t have to go to Vegas to elope!

What you Should Know About… Your Celebrant

What you Should Know About… Your Officiant

What you Should Know About… Your Celebrant

Your celebrant or officiant is the person that will be standing with you when you and your partner declare your love to each other and they will be the one to announce to your loved ones when you are married. Choosing your celebrant can be difficult so this post will give advice on finding the officiant that’s right for you and there are a few extra tips as well.

The wedding celebrant is the person who performs the marriage ceremony, and their main role is to witness the formal and legally binding consent between both persons to be in a monogamous relationship.

Finding the Celebrant That’s Right For You

Every couple is different so make sure your celebrant is suitable for you, you want them to make you feel comfortable and relaxed.

A Professional Wedding Celebrant can give you fantastic support and advice, in the lead up to your wedding and on the wedding day itself. They can incorporate any elements you want into ceremony and can provide you with the style of ceremony that you want whether that is secular or a spiritual one. Professional wedding celebrants can provide you with examples of wedding transcripts, and you can draw on their vast experience to create your own unique ceremony.

Once you have shortlisted your celebrants, meet them in person so you can find out their personality and you can see how you all get on together. Remember you need to feel relaxed and comfortable with this person on what can be one of the most stressful days of your life, so consider how you both feel in their presence. If you are looking for a unique or personalised ceremony make sure they are happy for you to personalise parts of the ceremony, if possible.

During your meeting ask your officiant if they will have other weddings to attend on your wedding date, if so how close are they to your timings. The last thing you want is to feel as if you are being rushed through your vows so they can get to their next wedding on time. Keep in mind the officiant’s fee, ask them about their fees and what is included in them e.g. a wedding rehearsal.

Finally find out how many weddings they have conducted, an experienced celebrant will be able to give you fantastic support and advice, as well as having an ability to deal with any hiccups that may arise on your wedding day.


Adapted from blog by “Tartan Rose Weddings”

Attributes of a successful celebrant

Looking from the outside in, people might see a celebrant as someone who turns up at a venue with her bag of tricks, takes centre stage for an average of ten to fifteen minutes, then goes back to wherever she came from. To many, the role of a celebrant seems too easy and something anyone can do – and get paid for as well!

However, like any successful production, there is a lot behind the scenes that never shows on the day. Before you set yourself up as a celebrant on the basis that anyone can be a celebrant, take a reality check.

We’ve all encountered people who seem to have chosen a business which seems eminently wrong for them. An exaggerated example might be ‘Faulty Towers’ where a man who obviously hates people, is running a hotel where he has to deal with people all the time. So you need to remember that as a business person you might fail not because you are performing badly, but because celebrancy is not the business for you.

There are certain attributes that the successful officiant has. This includes:

  1. Enjoys people:  Ceremonies are all about people. The celebrant needs to be a skilled communicator, able to tease out the needs of the client who may know very little about the ceremony she wants the officiant to perform.
  2. Is a great listener:  She needs to hear not only what the client is saying, but also what she isn’t saying. Not all clients are able to express themselves clearly and concisely.
  3. Is flexible: No matter how experienced she is, she allows the clients to have the type of ceremony they want instead of the kind of ceremony she feels they should want. She will advise but not insist.
  4. Is unflappable;  Reacts to the unexpected in a calm manner, especially when the clients themselves are going to pieces.
  5. Is a diplomat:  Weddings, for example, can be full of tensions. Everyone involved wants his or her say – the mother of the bride, the maid of honour, and even the bride and groom are sometimes divided on the details of their wedding.
  6. Is patient:  Although she is the expert, she encourages clients’ input and treats their comments and queries with respect, recognizing that what suits one client may not suit another.
  7. Is immune to emergencies:  The ceremony may be preceded by death in the family, or sudden breaks between one set of family members with another, but the day of the ceremony reflects all the expectations as if none of these things happened.
  8. Is always up to date with the fashions and trends of the day:  If she wants her clients to have confidence in her ability, she won’t be hearing of a new style of ceremony from her clients. She’ll be already prepared to celebrate it by the time her clients hear about it on television or on the Internet.
  9. Is both creative and practical: If the style of ceremony requires props, she will know not only what props are required but how to arrange them in the most practical and visually attractive way.
  10. Is aware that details make the difference:  Remembers the little things that clients often forget, like the matches for a candle lighting ceremony. It is remarkable how often clients will search far and wide to buy an unusual candle for a ceremony then forget the fact that it has to be lit.
  11. Shows initiative If she is accepting bookings from interstate or overseas, then she is also able to supply the client with a list of other services which they may require. While she may not necessarily recommend these services, she will certainly check them out as to their quality and reliability.
  12. Knows the marriage act inside out:  to assure the marriage is legal.

From article by Vlady Peters BA, JP, CMC

Extract from How to be a Profitable Celebrant: Practical Tips on Running a Profitable Celebrancy Business Find it on Amazon and Smashwords

Official marriage certificate

How long does it take for my marriage to be registered by Births Deaths and Marriages so I can get the official marriage certificate?

In Victoria your celebrant can track the progress of your certificate online. Depending on what time of year you got married the certificate can take up to 8 weeks ( eg March and October).
You need to download an application form and can apply online or pick it up in person once you know your certificate is ready. The cost is $31.00.

You will need the official certificate for identification purposes if you wish to change your name.
For more information go to www.bdm.vic.gov.au

The show must go on, broken foot and all

I suspected that my foot was broken when I rolled it on Saturday evening but I had a marriage to perform on Sunday morning so the xrays would have to wait!  I iced my foot and then bandaged it with a pressure bandage to keep the swelling down, took some pain killersIMG_1591 and prepared for the small intimate ceremony in my backyard.  I wore black pantihose to hide the bandage and performed the ceremony with only one shoe on!  Gus and Peggy took it in their stride and it didn’t spoil their day.  The sun shone and they were very happy!

Wedding Rehearsal…..Questions answered

wedding rehearsal

 Where and when should I hold my wedding rehearsal?

1…In an indoor ceremony arrange a rehearsal a week before the wedding if convenient for everyone needing to be present

2…In an outdoor ceremony, rehearse at the time of day and week as the wedding ceremony couple of weeks before the wedding day

Who attends the rehearsal?

1…The Celebrant attends to help with the setting of the bridal party

2…Bridal attendants who will be part of the wedding party

3…Readers who will be included in the wedding ceremony

4…Parents who might be involved in the wedding ceremony

5…Musicians who will time the various wedding ceremony events

6…Those people who have been given a role as helpers in various capacities

7…A number of stand-ins for absent participants who will later be told anything they need to know

How do I decide on my ceremonial site?

1…Position your wedding party in different areas to find the most attractive focal point for your ceremony and for your wedding photographs

2…Decide on the best place for the table and chairs for the signing of the documents so it can be seen by all the guests and allow for easy photography

3…Look over the area and see if aisles are desirable for the processional and how to define them – aisle-runner, plants, ribbons, flower petals, protected candles, attractive pebbles or sea shells

4…If you intend to use an aisle-runner, appoint specific people and advise them when the aisle runner should be put in place, such as when the bride arrives at the ceremony venue just before she is ready to make her entrance

5…Instruct the same people when the runner is to be remove – preferably once the guests have left the ceremonial site

6…If rose petal path is to be created, appoint specific people how and when you want the area covered

7…Ask that on the wedding day the petals are placed some thirty minutes before the wedding ceremony and have them covered with a sheet so that the wind doesn’t disturb the petals beforehand if the wedding is outdoors

8…On the day arrange that the sheets be taken off as the guests begin to arrive

9…Have the same people who created the petal area, sweep up the petals at the end of the ceremony

How do I arrange the seating at an outdoor site?

1…Decide whether you will provide seats for all or only some of your guests

2…Decide on how to arrange the chairs so that all the guests can see the wedding party

3…Rather than placing them in straight lines, try curving the lines of the chairs towards where the bridal party will be standing

4…Try placing the chairs in a semi-circle around the bridal party

5…To generate feeling-good atmosphere, make the distance between guests and the wedding party shorter rather than longer

6…Initially set up chairs for two-thirds of the expected guests and the rest of the chairs stacked close by

7…Continue to add rows of chairs as guests begin to arrive so that there’s no empty chairs no matter how few or how many guests arrive

8…If there’s an aisle between the chairs, encourage guests to fill both sides irrespective of which side of the family they belong to

How do I arrange the seating at an indoor site?

1…Make a floor plan of how the venue will actually look on the day of the ceremony

2…Mark out areas which will be taken up with flower pedestals, wedding arch, potted plants, speaker’s stand, music stand and other large decorations

3…Place a few rows of chairs to see how close the guests can be seated without encroaching upon the wedding party

4…Using chairs, create a suitable aisle for the bridal party

5…Decide where to place chairs for young attendants who will take part in the bridal march but will not be standing with the adults

6…Place a special and a favorite toy on the chair to identify the seating for the child

7…Leave extra chairs for the carers of the children

8…Make your entrance and your exit being aware of how much space you’ll have once the venue is completely set up for your wedding day

What props do I bring to the rehearsal?

1…Half a dozen programs to follow the ceremony format

2…Substitutes for bouquets so that the attendants can decide how to carry them and how to hold them

3…Imitation wedding dress train and veil to make sure that the bride and her attendants know how to handle them on the day

4…Shoes being worn at the wedding day to test their comfort and practicality

5…Ring pillow to help the ring bearer become familiar with his task

6…Flower girl baskets filled with bits of paper for practicing tossing petals

7…Recorded music being used on the wedding day

8…Candles, chalices, roses, handfasting ribbons and other props that require practicing an action

9…Video recorder to record the whole process from processional to recessional to be viewed later to see if anything needs to be changed

10..Rehearse the children in the clothes and shoes they’ll be wearing on the day to discover if there’s anything too tight, too loose, too big, too scratchy or just generally uncomfortable for the child

Which part of the ceremony do I rehearse first?

1…Place the whole bridal party at the ceremonial site as if the ceremony is to begin – this includes the bride and groom, the celebrant, and all the bridal attendants

2…From that position, acting as if the ceremony has just finished, begin the recessional

3…Having practiced the recession several times, practice the wedding march

4…When you’re happy with both the recessional and the processional, practice the actions of the wedding ceremony itself – father handing over the bride, couple facing each other to begin their vows, readers walking towards the speaker’s stand, Best Man handing over the rings

From the book ‘1,000+ Answers to Your Wedding Questions’.