05 May 12 Questions to Ask Potential Wedding Celebrants
Okay my lovely wee lads and lassies… after reading my last post ‘5 Tips on How to Choose Your Wedding Celebrant’ you should now have a shortlist of fabulous Celebrants, and are ready to go to the next step of making contact to find the one who is right for you.
But what do you say when you get in touch? Most couples just ask the Celebrant if they are available and how much they charge, and then make their selection based on that, but there are so many more questions you could ask that can help you make up your minds. So if I’m meeting with a couple and they say they don’t have anything they’d like to ask, I still hand them my list of 12 questions with my replies. Not only does this provide you with lots of info about the process of the Ceremony, but it lets you get to know the Celebrant as a person, and hopefully you should begin to get a ‘feel’ for whether or not you want them to be the one to conduct your ceremony.
So, here are my 12 questions to ask your Celebrants…
1. Why did you become a Wedding Celebrant?
This is a great question, because not only will it give you an insight as to the motivation behind he/she choosing to be a Celebrant, but it also allows you to sit back and watch how good they are at building rapport, how confident a communicator they are, and how at ease they are with you as a couple.
2. Can you tell us how you put a Ceremony together?
Putting together an amazing Wedding Ceremony takes a lot of time and effort, and because most good Celebrants are very busy, not only are they required to have great interpersonal communication and writing skills, but they also need to be very good at organising their time. And so this is a good question to ask because it will let you see what structure or framework the Celebrant uses to put the Ceremony together, and will let you judge the skills and experience they have.
3. Can you talk us through what our Ceremony might look like?
Most Celebrants will probably start off by saying that all ceremonies are different, which they are but they should be able to talk you through what a ceremony might look like. I usually describe the last ceremony I conducted and then talk about other options that the couple might like to have.
4. Can we add our own personal touches?
I always ask my couples at the start if they have any ideas or special touches that they would like to add, and if not, I can suggest some or as we go through the process, they can add things in, but the main idea here is that you want a Celebrant who loves the idea of you putting your own stamp on your ceremony. In addition, you want a Celebrant who will send you a copy of the service a few weeks before your Ceremony and allow you to add/remove anything from it so that by the time your Ceremony comes, you are 100% happy with it.
5. Are there any restrictions on what we can/ can’t have within our Ceremony?
This is a very important question because most of us, including me (and not just Celebrants!) make sure the content on our website is positive and appealing and highlights all the good bits of what we do! But in truth, if you choose a registrar or Humanist Celebrant, there will be restrictions on what you can/can’t have in your ceremony. This isn’t meant to be a criticism, I’m just saying it as it is! And while many couples don’t mind a jot that they can’t have any religious or spiritual content in their ceremony, or that there has to be a bit of Humanist blurb included, many couples do, and that’s why they choose an Independent Celebrant. So, by asking this question at least you know what you’re are getting from the start.
6. Do you have any rules about the Ceremony being photographed or videoed?
In 2011, my husband and I were married, and not being aware that we could have an Independent Celebrant, we had a Humanist Wedding, which was perfectly lovely but I’m a very spiritual person and of course Humanism doesn’t allow for spirituality, so it was practical, but not ideal. However, one thing we weren’t allowed was to have photographs taken during the ceremony as the Humanist said this might put us off reading our Vows, and/or put her off conducting the ceremony. I’ve since learned that this is not normal practice and most Celebrants are more than happy to have photos taken (I always contact the photographer and tell them they are free to move about wherever they choose!). But asking this question will ensure you avoid any disappointments, and will put your mind at ease.
7. Who writes the Vows?
With this question, you are looking for an answer that shows flexibility on the part of the Celebrant. So that if you want to write them yourselves, you can, but if you need a little help or inspiration, your Celebrant will provide that for you. Most Celebrants will have examples of different types of Vows they can share with you.
8. What happens if one/both of us are terrified of speaking in public?
As a long time professional speaker, and someone who has been training people in public speaking for over 10 years, I know first hand just how nervous people can get when they have to speak up in public. But then add in the usual Wedding nerves, and it can be terrifying to say the least. So if this is you, you are looking for a Celebrant who will write the ceremony in such a way that one (or both) of you don’t have to say much!
9. How many times will we meet/ chat before our Ceremony?The more I can get to know you both as a couple, the more relaxed and personal your ceremony will be, so if location permits, I try to meet up with couples a few times before the ceremony. If you live abroad, we will have a number of sessions via Skype to do the same. And if you are on Facebook, I will already be FB stalking you to pick up on anything I can use on the day! 🙂
10. What does your fee include?
Recently, I was speaking with a couple who had booked their Celebrant and paid the agreed fee, but when they asked for assistance in writing their Vows, the Celebrant asked for an extra £100. And while in theory there’s nothing really wrong with this, I think it’s fairer if everyone knows upfront exactly what they are paying for!
So for example, my fee includes:
– My professional services as a celebrant on the day
– Aye Do pre-planning pack
– All pre-planning meetings, email and telephone support
– Access to my curated collection of readings, poems and vows
– Help with writing your vows (if required)
– Beautiful Ceremony Script
– Mini-Handfasting or other symbolic ritual
– Travel Expenses within 50 miles (round trip)
– You will also receive a bound copy of your ceremony script, and an electronic copy for your records
– In addition, I offer a *FREE DVD of your ceremony and a beautiful ‘Aye Do’ Gift Pack.
So, basically there is nothing else I charge for except mileage over 50 miles. But asking your Celebrant upfront will ensure there are no nasty surprises.
11. Will our Ceremony be legally binding?
Getting married in Scotland can be quite a tricky business, and so if you want your ceremony to be legally binding, it’s important to ask your Celebrant up front about the practicalities of this.
12. What happens if you are unwell or unable to make it to the Ceremony?
And last but not least, you want to have peace of mind over what happens if, for some reason your chosen Celebrant takes unwell or is unable to conduct your Ceremony. Most Celebrants will have a back-up, so for example I am a member of the Scottish Independent Celebrants Association, and we are committed to stepping in for each other in the event of illness etc. But I should add that although I’ve been asked to stand in at a few funerals, it’s never happened for a Wedding.
So, there you go! 12 Questions to Ask Potential Celebrants. I hope this has been helpful, but if you have a question I’ve missed, please add it below and if you would like a copy of these questions to print out, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.