As you plan your dream wedding celebration in Sydney, one of the most important choices you’ll make is selecting your marriage celebrant. Your celebrant guides you through the legalities, creates a personalized ceremony, and officiates your big day – so you’ll want to find someone you click with.
But with so many celebrants to choose from, how do you decide? While you may have a list of 60 questions you’d love to ask, just 5 key questions will help you find the perfect celebrant for your style and vision.
What is a marriage celebrant?
What exactly is a marriage celebrant? A celebrant is a person who is authorized to perform legal wedding ceremonies in Australia. They take care of all the legal paperwork and requirements for you to be legally married and help you plan a meaningful, personalized ceremony.
Celebrants get to know the couple and their love story to craft a unique ceremony that reflects their personalities, values, and dreams. On your wedding day, the celebrant officiates the ceremony and lodges your official marriage documentation.
In Australia, couples must use an authorized marriage celebrant to have a legal wedding – you can’t simply have a friend perform the ceremony. Celebrants meet certain qualifications and must register with the government. Using an official celebrant ensures your wedding will be properly recognized. For all legal requirements, click here.
How to find a celebrant near me in Sydney
With so many qualified celebrants available, how do you find the right one? The best way is through word of mouth – ask your engaged friends, family members, and vendors for recommendations of celebrants they loved.
You can also search online directories like Easy Weddings to read reviews and browse the profiles of celebrants available in your area. Look for someone experienced in serving your part of Sydney and surrounding suburbs.
Many couples find their celebrant by attending wedding expos and meeting potential celebrants in person. This allows you to get a feel for their personality and style.
If you’re planning a wedding outside of Sydney, ensure any celebrant you consider can legally perform marriages in your location. Some are only registered in certain counties or regions.
What to look for in a quality celebrant
When evaluating potential celebrants, here are 5 key things to look for:
- Personality fit – Do you feel comfortable with them, and do they “get” you as a couple? Can you be open and honest?
- Style – Do they have the right celebrant style for your wedding vibe – relaxed, traditional, spiritual, etc.?
- Experience – Have they performed many ceremonies previously? Are they confident leading the event?
- Flexibility – Are they open to crafting a unique, personalized ceremony based on your wishes?
- Availability – Do they have your wedding date free and ready to be booked?
A great celebrant will tick all those boxes and more. They’ll be an excellent communicator you can trust and someone who is devoted to creating your perfect ceremony from start to finish.
Also, consider practical factors like location, meeting availability, and how they prefer to communicate with you (email, phone, in person, etc.).
When to ask your celebrant questions
Once you’ve narrowed your shortlist, set up intro calls or meetings with 2-3 potential celebrants to see if they fit. This is the time to ask any pressing questions and clarify important details.
Many couples have a quick chat on the phone or Zoom to get an initial feel, then meet in person and go through key questions in more depth before signing any contracts. Meeting face-to-face, even virtually, is recommended to understand their presenting style.
A video call is the next best option if meeting in person isn’t feasible. Email exchanges alone won’t give you a full sense of how well your personalities mesh.
Aim to have your shortlist narrowed down and intro meetings completed about 2-3 months before your wedding. This gives you time to book your chosen celebrant and start planning.
Top 5 questions to ask a celebrant before booking
Rather than overwhelming your celebrant with a list of 60 detailed questions, here are the 5 most important ones to ask upfront:
1. Are you available on our wedding date?
First, confirm the celebrant you’re interested in has your desired wedding date available. Reputable celebrants only take one wedding per day, so dates book up quickly. Don’t fall in love with a celebrant only to find they’re already booked on your day!
Let them know your start time so they can ensure availability for the entire event. You don’t want your celebrant rushing off to another wedding mid-ceremony!
2. Do you offer a personalized celebrant service?
Every couple is unique, so you’ll want a customized ceremony tailored to you. Make sure the celebrant is willing to take the time to get to know you both and craft the ceremony around your love story – not just use a generic script.
Ask if they guide you in writing your vows and selecting readings. Quality celebrants go the extra mile to reflect your personalities.
3. How many weddings do you perform in a day?
Again, you’ll want to confirm the celebrant doesn’t double or triple-book weddings on the same day. A good celebrant will only take one wedding per day so they can give you their full attention.
Similarly, ask how far they will travel to your venue if it’s not near their home base. You don’t want a celebrant who rushes to another wedding 2 hours away.
4. Will you find a backup celebrant if you are sick?
Reassure yourself by asking what their plan is if they unexpectedly can’t make it on the wedding day, e.g., due to illness. Ethical celebrants will have a backup, so you’re not left scrambling at the last minute!
Ideally, they will have one or two trusted colleague celebrants to call on as emergency fill-ins. You want someone with a similar style who can step in seamlessly.
5. What are your celebrant fees, and what’s included?
Of course, you’ll want to know their celebrant costs upfront. Packages usually include time to meet and plan your ceremony and perform the ceremony on the wedding day. Some also include extras like writing your ceremony script. Get all inclusions and costs in writing so there are no surprises.
Also, clarify if there are any additional fees like travel costs or legal paperwork processing. A quality celebrant will be completely transparent about pricing.
After those key questions are covered, you’ll want More Questions to ask your Wedding Celebrant about their process, style, and experience to decide if they fit. But keeping your initial questions focused saves you time and helps identify red flags.
Here are the remaining 55 questions. You can come later once you book your celebrant. Those cover ceremony wording, vows, readings, music, and more. Your chosen celebrant will guide you step-by-step through all those elements at your planning meetings.
Sample questions to ask a potential wedding celebrant:
- How long have you been a registered marriage celebrant?
- Approximately how many wedding ceremonies have you performed in your career?
- What is your general celebrant philosophy or approach when working with couples?
- Do you use a standard ceremony script, or do you fully customize and personalize each one?
- What process do you use to get to know my partner and I and incorporate details of our love story into the ceremony?
- Will we be able to meet with you in person at any point during the planning process before the wedding day?
- How do you typically guide and assist couples with writing their vows? Do you provide samples?
- Will you offer suggestions and help us select suitable readings and music for our ceremony?
- If we have a special reading we’d like to use from a non-traditional source, do you allow couples to bring in readings from books, movies, songs, etc?
- Can we review a draft of the full ceremony script at some point prior to the wedding and provide feedback?
- What is the approximate length of your average wedding ceremony from start to finish?
- Is rehearsing the ceremony with you on site a few days prior to the wedding included or optional?
- Can we make small tweaks, revisions, or additions to the ceremony script up until a few days before the wedding?
- How much time do you need to arrive at the venue and get set up prior to the start of the ceremony?
- Do you bring and operate any AV equipment like microphones, speakers, etc or prefer the venue provide it?
- How do you handle contingency plans for bad weather on an outdoor wedding day?
- How do you strive to accommodate the needs of diverse couples – multicultural weddings, same sex marriages, interfaith couples, etc?
- Are couples able to write their own ceremony script if they choose, or do you prefer to collaborate on it together?
- Can we incorporate any cultural or religious traditions if our families have them? How flexible are you?
- Do you have any video samples or example ceremony scripts we can view from past weddings?
- If we do write our own ceremony, are you comfortable using scripts written by the couple?
- What experience do you have with various religious or secular ceremonies – Christian, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist, non-religious, etc?
- Do you act as the day-of wedding coordinator as well, or only officiate the ceremony portion?
- How do you help make nervous couples feel at ease on the wedding day and handle emotions?
- Do you have professional liability insurance coverage in case of any errors or incidents?
- What arrangements do you have in place if you are unable to perform the ceremony last minute due to an emergency?
- After we book you, how soon do we have an initial planning meeting to start building the ceremony?
- Will you assist us with any marriage registration paperwork after the ceremony is completed?
- Can we include short personal anecdotes or stories about how we met and fell in love within the ceremony script?
- Are we able to involve our children, pets, or other family members in the ceremony if desired?
- Is a wedding day rehearsal the day before optional, or do you recommend it?
- Between planning meetings, what’s the best way to reach you with questions – phone, email, text?
- Do you have experience with smaller, more intimate elopement ceremonies as well as big weddings?
- Have you worked at our chosen wedding venue in the past? If not, will you visit it?
- After you provide an initial ceremony draft, can we give feedback to make changes until finalized?
- How many meetings or other correspondence should we expect throughout the planning process?
- Are you open to being invited to stay for the reception dinner and celebration after the ceremony concludes?
- Do you have relationships with other trusted wedding vendors that you can refer us to?
- How long have you been officiating weddings in our local area? Are you very familiar with it?
- How would you characterize your general communication style and availability?
- Approximately how long does the full ceremony portion run on average from start to finish?
- Do you have any specialties or areas of particular expertise as a celebrant that you enjoy?
- Will you cue the start of any pre-recorded processional music and give other prompts during the ceremony when needed?
- Are you able to share contact information for past couples you have worked with so we can learn about their experience?
- Do you assist at all with any setup of decor, chairs, arch, etc on the wedding site if needed?
- How far in advance do you typically book up for wedding dates?
- Do you charge any additional fees for travel to wedding locations out of your home area?
- What provisions do you make if we must postpone or reschedule our wedding date due to unforeseen circumstances?
- What is your standard payment schedule and cancellation/refund policy if we must cancel your services?
- Do you carry general liability insurance or other coverage for weddings you officiate?
- What style of ceremony outfit or attire do you typically wear?
- Will you help us get our marriage license and complete any required paperwork?
- Do you have a backup plan in case of your own sudden illness or emergency on our wedding day?
- Can we provide input on the order of events and ceremony flow?
- Are you willing to attend a rehearsal dinner or meet with family members if they want to meet you?
Say "I do" with the perfect celebrant.
Finding the right marriage celebrant for your personality and wedding vision is important for your big day. By asking the key 5 questions upfront, couples can quickly narrow their options to book their dream Sydney celebrant.
Take the time to find one you click with, and they’ll ensure your wedding ceremony is memorable, meaningful, and perfectly you. Now you can say “I do,” knowing you have the ideal wedding celebrant to make it official! Ready to book your Sydney celebrant? Contact a Sydney Celebrant Here, and let’s discuss creating your dream ceremony!
Gary’s goal is for you to have the best wedding day possible! He is an enthusiastic, grounded, fun-loving and relaxed Wedding Celebrant and Professional Wedding MC based in Australia.
He was an electrician who loved his wedding so much, he quit his job and became a full-time celebrant.
He’s here to help you plan your wedding and get the party started!