You have decided to get married by a celebrant, as opposed to by a minister of the church, so what do you need to do now?
When choosing your wedding celebrant make sure you choose a registered celebrant. You can find the register of marriage celebrants here: marriage.ag.gov.au/marriagecelebrants/
It is a good idea to pick a celebrant you like on a personal basis, as this will make your journey together so much more enjoyable. It is also a good idea to pick someone who comes across as professional. Great attributes for this profession include being creative, collaborative, adaptable, organized, have a good voice, being well presented, calm and relaxed. The last thing you need at your wedding day is a frazzled celebrant in tattered clothes! Ask them how many weddings they have done and get them to show you their portfolio, maybe you can even check with some of their previous couples on how they liked their ceremony. Also check on how many ceremonies your wedding celebrant does on a day. One per day is best, 2 is possible for a well organized professional, but with 3 you are just asking for trouble and you just won’t get the personalized service you deserve.
Once you have found a celebrant you are happy with, check their availability and fees and ask for their initial info pack. Make your booking once you are happy or you might lose them to another couple.
The service provided by the celebrant is divided into firstly the legal documentation and registration of your marriage and secondly the design and delivery of your wedding ceremony.
For the legal part you need proof of identity, proof of birth, lodge form 13 ‘Notice of Intended Marriage’ or NOIM, form 14 declaration, documents to be signed on your wedding day and lodgement of form 16 after the marriage is solemnised. The legal part sounds like a lot of paperwork, but your celebrant will take care of it all, so don’t worry. No less than 1 calendar month before the date of your wedding make sure you complete, sign and deliver to your celebrant your marriage notice form (NOIM). This is a legal requirement and needs to happen or your wedding might be off.
The more enjoyable, and uniquely ‘You’ part, is the actual ceremony. The celebrant will organize a meeting with you, have a chat, and ask you a bunch of questions. Answer all the celebrants’ questions truthfully and get them to send you their ceremony draft, if you haven’t done one already. Now is the time to make any changes and make the ceremony your own. A week or two before the wedding, the celebrant will organize some sort of rehearsal, which might see some minor tweaking. It is best not to say all the words at the rehearsal – keep that for the big day!
If you don’t know what to say at your ceremony yet, get your celebrant to send you examples of other couples ceremonies or just google ‘wedding ceremony examples’ online. Alternatively use the questions the celebrant is asking you, to get the framework for your vows. A good celebrant will gauge what you are comfortable with and will guide you to and through your perfect ceremony.
Here are also a few practical hints to put your mind at ease and get your ceremony running smoothly:
1. Walking down the aisle:
Have the music work around you, so instead of practicing your pace down the aisle with your bridal party and praying that the flower girls walk on cue without getting distracted, you can now just let things happen naturally. This is a much easier and stress-free way to make your grand entrance.
2. Flower Girls:
If you have flower girls and/or a ring bearer, give them bubbles to blow while waiting. This will keep them occupied and you will get the most adorable pictures. Also a good idea to have an adult outside of the wedding party responsible for the little ones.
Rather than memorizing your vows and living in fear to forget them at the crucial moment, get your celebrant to prompt you or have them written down. Movie stars make it look so easy, but don’t be fooled, they get more than 1 take for every scene or alternatively prompts get edited out!
4. Confetti, flowers and bubbles:
If you dream of walking out together as a couple to an eruption of bubbles or a burst of rose petals, you will need to arrange these in advance and let your Celebrant know so they can cue the guests when to shower you with these. Also check with the venue – there might be restrictions.
5. Name change:
It is completely optional if you would like to change your name. If you do, take your official registry issued marriage certificate and update your name with every business and government organisation you are connected to (e.g. banks, drivers licence, passport, life insurance etc).
If you are planning to change your name and start your honeymoon straight after your wedding day, make sure you book your honeymoon still with your old name. Airlines simply won’t let you on the plane if the name on your plane ticket doesn’t match the name on your passport. Calculate that it will take about 6-10 weeks to get all the changes through.