Take it from me, if done right, the ceremony really is the BEST part of your wedding day. Wedding planning is an incredibly busy time. There is so much to consider – venue, invites, dresses, catering, rings, music, flowers, make-up and so on.

Often, one of the last things to be considered is the one thing you can’t have a wedding without – the celebrant! Some couples immediately look for the cheapest celebrants available and often they spend considerably more on the flowers or the cake, but base their celebrant decision on price alone, which is risky.

Thankfully, it’s become more and more important to couples that they have the right celebrant to officiate the biggest moment of their lives. But if you don’t personally know a celebrant, it can be hard to know what to look for. From a legal aspect, a celebrant undertakes the role of performing a marriage ceremony to the requirements of New Zealand law but in order to find the right one for you, you’ll have to do some proper research.

Of course you want them to deliver an amazing ceremony that sets the tone for an unforgettable day. This is why you need to make finding the best celebrant for you one of the priorities in your planning.  You may need to contact several different celebrants before you find the one for you. Just like photographers and wedding venues, many celebrants now get booked up 1-2 years in advance so make sure that you allow yourself enough time to book.

The Department of Internal affairs website shows current New Zealand registered celebrants by region and provides some contact information. Other websites such as The Celebrants Association of New Zealand lists those celebrants who are members of their professional body. Wedding directories such a My Wedding Guide, local directories such as Taranaki Weddings and of course the Yellow Pages will also have celebrants listed in your area.

Ask friends and family for recommendations and of course search via the internet for relevant websites and social media. When you search for celebrants on Google, Facebook or Instagram, their social media presence will give you a good idea as to their personality and style. Also take notice of their images. Do they smile? Do you like what they wear? Does their energy convey a love of what they do? Do they show personality and confidence? Websites should be professional and allow you to find all the information you want quickly. Make sure you take the time to read client reviews. What perceptions do their reviews convey about them? Do the reviews highlight particular skills and qualities that you are seeking in your own celebrant?

Once you’ve done this, you can choose to contact the ones that you’d like to meet with and check their availability. Most celebrants will offer you an initial obligation-free consultation.  When you first meet them, your initial impressions are a very good gauge. Were they punctual in arriving to your meeting? Do you instantly warm up to them? How do they communicate with you and your partner? Do they speak clearly? Do you feel comfortable to discuss things openly and honestly with them? Do they provide detail so you know what to expect? What are the costs involved and what do they offer you for your investment? Whatever your questions are — ask them! And if you feel awkward or as if you can’t ask questions — keep looking until you find another that you do feel comfortable with. When you do, you’ll know!

Every couple is different with their own individual characteristics and background. The best weddings are those where the celebrant is a natural storyteller and able to paint a beautiful picture of a couple’s relationship. Experienced celebrants should have endless information and resources to share and will discuss with you ways to include family, friends, traditions, culture and faith. Your ceremony should reflect this and your celebrant should be able to provide you lots of ideas, while encouraging you to participate in the process to ensure that you achieve what you want in terms of content including your backstory, vows, readings and other personal touches.

When the big day finally arrives, your celebrant is the host of your wedding ceremony who creates the vibe and makes everyone feel welcomed. They should be able to engage easily with your guests and should be calm and professional. They will have everything and everyone in place, practiced, aware of their cues and knowing when everything is good-to-go. They should also easily manage any problems that arise on your wedding day – before, during or after the ceremony and the very best celebrants are competent in dealing with family dynamics. You should be confident that you can rely on them to act on your behalf, knowing that providing an amazing experience for you and your fiancé is their number one priority.

So, like with almost everything, choosing your wedding celebrant is an incredibly personal choice. With all I have mentioned above, your expectations should be high and my advice is not to underestimate the significant role that they will play in making your wedding day amazing. There are many, many options out there, all with varying skills, abilities and personalities so whoever you choose and for whatever reasons, I suggest you first consider what matters the most to you on your wedding day, and then go from there!

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