Choosing A Celebrant

The Importance of a Celebrant

At the core of your special day, will be the actual marriage ceremony. This is the part that ensures you actually, legally get married. Your ceremony must be officiated by a registered celebrant to be legal. Apart from this legal requirement, your celebrant will play a big part in the overall success of your day, and how it is remembered by you, your partner, family and friends. Choosing the right celebrant, not just any celebrant, is IMPORTANT! Some celebrants choose to undertake professional development training here in New Zealand. This training is accredited by the Celebrants Association of New Zealand (CANZ) and these training programmes are recognised by the Department of Internal Affairs, which is responsible for the appointment of marriage celebrants.

Your celebrant should work with you from the start, working closely with you and your partner to develop a ceremony that creates a memory that lasts forever. The ceremony will be your public commitment of love and dedication to each other. As such, there is no such thing as ONE ceremony that fits all. Your celebrant should help you word a ceremony and vows that are special and unique to you both.

Your celebrant will also be right beside you both during the ceremony. They will set the ambience of the ceremony, make your guests feel at ease, and help you through the nerve wracking yet incredibly exciting events, with a cool, calm guiding hand. Your celebrants direction of the ceremony will allow you both to relax, enjoy the process, and be there for each other.

Characteristics of a Great Celebrant

The celebrant you choose is a very personal decision. There are many different styles to consider, be they formal/informal, male/female, quirky/conservative and countless others. Notwithstanding, there are some key characteristics you should look for when choosing your celebrant. Your celebrant must be the consummate communicator. When you meet them, are they pleasant, positive and genuinely interested in getting to know you and your story. Are they a good listener, keen to hear your ideas as well as sharing their thoughts on what would work for you. If you feel comfortable in their company quickly, it’s fair to say your guests will as well on your big day.

Do they explain the legal requirements clearly, and do they convey a sense of experience in the structure and proceedings of ceremony design. Are they prepared to draft and redraft the ceremony script until it’s perfect for you, do they have good advice on how to create the vows you are going to exchange with each other. You’ll intuitively know if they are guiding you towards success collaboratively instead of directing you.

How To Find A Celebrant

Shortlist celebrants the way you shortlist anything. Get online and search. Start with checking out “wedding celebrants in (my location)”, or check out CANZ celebrants in your location at Then go through the websites of potential celebrants, checking out their testimonials. Also think about how they portray themselves through the form and content of their website, which is easily an indication of their own style and approach. Referrals from friends, family and workmates is also a great avenue to explore. Everybody has been to a ceremony that they especially remember, and will readily share details for you to follow up. As you build up contacts for your day (venues, caterers, photographers etc) they will often be able to make suggestions or recommendations of celebrants they have worked with and respect.

Always organise a no-obligation initial first meet (a great celebrant will always suggest this). This can be in person (ideally) but also online via a Skype, Facetime or Zoom call. Ask them some key (initial) questions:

  • Why did they choose to be a celebrant, what do they enjoy most about it?
  • How will they work with you to design your ceremony and vows?
  • Would they rehearse with you if you choose to have a rehearsal?
  • How early would they arrive on the day, how long would they stay?
  • Do they have a back-up celebrant in case one is needed?
  • Would they be available on the proposed date?
  • What is the cost for there service?

Remember that your celebrant has a huge role to play in making your day a successful and memorable occasion. Take time to ensure they have the key characteristics that are important to you and your partner, and that you feel comfortable in their company. Their professionalism and style should shine through in everything they say and do, giving you a sense of security that will let you relax and enjoy the ceremony part of your big day.