A day in the life of a celebrant

All you need is love and … here’s what a saturday looks like for a celebrant.

So generally Saturday’s are game days for me.  That is wedding day for most couples and while a bride is getting herself made up and sipping champagne, and a groom and his boys may be sneaking in a round of golf, this is a run down on how I prepare.



Every Saturday morning starts with a 6.30 session at the gym.




The best celebrants are fuelled by coffee.



Checking that everything is sorted, filling in the date and address of the venue, making sure that I have everything, and then I pack it all into an envelope ready for the ceremony.  Checking that I have my pen, incase the couple don’t have a special one they want to use for the signing of the licence.



I always practice every ceremony 4-5 times, running through the entire ceremony, paying special attention to timing, and jokes and pronounication of names.  Doing this means that I feel completely comfortable with the ceremony.  I also practice with the microphone to make sure I can juggle it and the folder, and rings etc.

Testing the tools


Testing the public address system, making sure it’s charged up, making sure the volume is set correctly (it needs to be changed between inside and outside) checking the batteries in the cordless microphone, running all the songs for the wedding through to make sure the volume is correct and songs are all in the right order on the playlist.

Packing the car


The car gets packed up, with everything I’m going to take. PA System, bag of essentials (paperwork, microphone, water bottle, lollipops etc) The car always gets a bit of a wash the day of the wedding, it is my mobile business card after all.

Getting dressed


I pretty much always wear black to weddings.  When I meet with a couple in the planning stages I always ask what colour theme they are going with, this determines what I will wear. I wear black so that I don’t stand out, the attention needs to be on the bride and the bridesmaids.  If the bridesmaids are wearing black then I will wear another dark colour so I don’t look like I’m part of the bridal party.

Hair and Make-Up

hair and makeup

Not the same at the bridal party, but it’s important that I look my best, it is after all a wedding and I will be in a few of the couples wedding photos. I also make sure my toe nails are painted, because I nearly always wear open toed shoes.  It’s really important to me that I look my best.

On my way


So after a double check that everything I need is loaded into the car.  I’m on my way.  I always arrive at least 45 mins before the service. I recommend to the groom and his boys that he arrive at the same sort of time, because guests will always arrive early to a wedding, and it’s nice for him to be there early to greet his guests and make sure everything is spot on.  I set up my PA, make sure everything is working properly, brief the MC on using the music system during the ceremony. I set up the licence, on the table where it will be signed, checking to see if the couple needs my pen or they have their own. Then it’s time to check with the groom to see if he needs help with anything, quite often I’m pinning on buttonholes, making sure all the boys look great. I usually get a quick word with the photographer when they arrive to check if they need anything, and to brief them if anything special is happening during the ceremony, sand ceremony, candle of rememberance etc.

Ceremony time

Sorry no photos of the ceremony, it was an unplugged ceremony, so I asked the guests to refrain from taking photos during the ceremony.

After the ceremony


After the ceremony the photographer normally tries to get a group shot of all the guests, this is when I make sure all the paperwork is signed correctly, I place the couple’s copy of marriage licence into an envelope containing a copy of their ceremony and the cards that they use when they recite their wedding vows (as a keepsake of the day).  I then find the MC and give them this package to keep safe for the day, to give to the couple the next day. I pack everything up, and then have a little mingle with the guests, and go and find the couple to congratulate them and give them a quick hug.  I then make my exit, usually I get asked if I want to stay for a drink, but I think that a couple should celebrate with their family and friends, so I quietly leave.  Happy that I was able to share a couples special day with them.  It truly is a privilege, and I thank my lucky stars every time that I get to do this amazing job.

Mailing the paperwork


The next day the paperwork is placed in the mail box, on it’s way to Wellington, to make the marriage official.  I always message the couple the next day to congatulate them to let them know their paperwork has been mailed and to make sure they are happy with everything.

So there’s quite a lot of preparation for me on a wedding day, alot of behind the scenes work that needs to be done to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch.


Why you need a Plan ‘B’

All you need is love and … a Plan B.

This post is bought to you by the letter B, as in Plan B!

Sometimes as much as you plan your little heart out, the weather gods don’t understand and don’t play ball.  You can cross your fingers and toes and anything else you can cross, but sometimes it just doesn’t work in your favour.

It’s really important when you’re planning your wedding to have a ‘Plan B’, you may not want to think about it, or talk about it, or imagine it or dream about it, but it’s a necessary evil.  Your guests will thank you for it, in the long run.

When you are visiting potential venues, you may like to ask about what the Plan B option is.  Do they have somewhere where you can hold the ceremony if (god forbid) it’s not ideal weather?  Do they have somewhere onsite or will you need to have another location as backup?  As much as your heart may be set on an outdoor location in the sunshine (and as Kiwi’s we love a good outdoor wedding), you need to consider, if it’s threatening to rain on your day, do you want to be stressing about whether that downpour will will show its face  just at wedding 0’clock, also think about your guests having to traipse around on sodden grass in high heels, do you want your and your bridesmaid’s dresses dragging through mud on the way to the ceremony?  Do you think gumboots are appropriate footwear for a wedding?


Other things to consider: when are you going to make the call about the change of venue? Who’s going to make the call? How are you going to contact your guests, vendors, celebrant if you do need to change location? Do you need to decorate the back up location in a different way than your original location, what may work in one spot may not work in your alternative.

If you are having an outdoor wedding, you will need to nominate alternative location on your marriage licence, just incase.

It may be slightly devastating to not have your wedding in the location of your dreams on a warm sunny afternoon, especially if you have been planning it for a loooong time.  But what I say to all my brides is ‘remember what the day is about, it’s about marrying the love of your life, and at the end of the day that’s all thats important’

View from the front.

All you need is love and … what the celebrant sees.

As a marriage celebrant I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of many weddings, and it is always an absolute honour and privilege to be present and to guide a couple into married life.  All the weddings have of course been different, some have been big affairs with hundreds of guests in castles, and some have been very intimate, with only a few guests, on the beach.  One of the things they all have in common is the feeling of love and happiness that hangs in the air and surrounds the couple, it’s quite magical to witness.

Lately I have  been open and aware to experiencing and noticing the different ‘looks’ that you always see at a wedding, whether it’s big, small, on the beach or in a church.

Leah and Keirin pic by SVZ photography

Look 1 – This is the look that is exchanged between the groom and a flower girl and or ringbearer, especially if said flower girl/ring bearer is their own child.  This is a look of pride ‘that’s my kid’ normally the child is nervous and a little shy, but once they see their dad at the end of the aisle all that disappears and they break out in a smile.

Look 2 – This is the look exchanged between the bridesmaid and the groom.  Normally its a full on smile because she knows how fantastic the bride looks and knows how nervous the groom is and wants to reassure him ‘it’s going to be ok, and just wait till you see her.

Look 3 – The father/mother of the bride as they escort the bride down the aisle.  This look is pure joy, they are so proud to be able to escort her to her awaiting groom, sometimes a little sadness (their little girl is growing up) but normally big smiles.

Look 4 – That magical moment when the groom sees his bride walking towards him, sometimes there are tears, but in all the weddings I’ve been part of there has been a huge smile, a ‘she looks stunning, I can’t believe she’s marrying me’ type of look.  Its magic and one of the best parts of the ceremony.

Look 5 – When the couple are finally standing in front of each other at the altar, shes given her flowers to her bridesmaid, the music has faded down, they are holding hands and we’re ready to start.  When they get to look each other in the eye and know that their lives are about to change forever.  Usually it’s a giant smile, a little trepidation, and sometimes the giggles come out.

Amber and Jeff pic by lisa reid photography

Look 6 – One of my favourite parts of my job is to witness the little things that make a couple, a couple. I usually suggest a couple hold hands during their ceremony. Some don’t but most do. And I think those that do love that feeling of contentment they get when they hold the others hand, almost a “OK I can do this now!” it seems to help with the nerves. I love it when I look down at them holding hands and one of them in gently stroking the others hands with their thumbs, it’s such an intimate and loving action to perform to re-assure the other “don’t be nervous, it’s just me you’re talking to”

Look 7 – During the ceremony I suggest to the parents that they sit on the opposite side to their child, that way they get to look at their own child’s face during the ceremony.  When I am performing a ceremony I look into the faces of the guests and I always see a look of pride and absolute love on the parents faces as they witness their child getting married.

Emma and Malcolm Pic by Wedding by Melt photography

Look 8 – This is not always a look but more of a conversation, after I pronounce a couple married and they share their first kiss, we then step to the side and sign the marriage licence, this is normally the first time a couple have had a chance to speak privately to each other on the day, and usually it’s a ‘you look stunning/beautiful/pretty’ type of conversation.  It’s always lovely to see a couple standing together, arms wrapped around each other, normally a bit relieved because the ceremony is out of the way and they can now get to the party section of the day, just enjoying the fact that they are surrrounded by their favourite people on such a magical day.

These looks are the kind of things that absolutely make me love my job.  The fact that I get to witness these types of looks, emotions, love, tears, declarations and laughter and see couples who are pledging to love and care for each other all their days, it absolutely makes my heart sing.