Adventures of a Bride to Be: Choosing a celebrant

Hi All,

I know my Adventures of a Bride to Be post was ages ago but with life running havoc wedding planning sort of fell to the side for a little while. First off, I have so much to do it’s not even funny (i’ll tell you a secret, I still haven’t got a dress! Shhh….) and the wedding is February 17th! Very quickly approaching. Panic stations in full mode right? Wrong. I’m not sure why exactly but I feel pretty calm about the whole thing. As long as Edd and I have somewhere and someone to marry us, everything else will fall in place (at least that’s what I am telling myself haha, might just be effective defense mechanisms in place so I don’t break down completely!).

Anyway, this week we crossed off the important decision of confirming the celebrant we wanted and I thought I would write a post about the process we went through as I found this pretty challenging at first. I started by scouring the internet to search the huge numbers of celebrants available to us here in Auckland. In my mind I had vague ideas about the kind of person I wanted. This was things like I preferred a female celebrant (not sure why exactly), wanted someone with personality and humor wanted someone who was flexible to our situation and our needs for the ceremony and most importantly someone who we personally felt a connection with. Although a celebrant was going to be a stranger at the wedding I wanted someone who didn’t feel like a stranger and had the personal connection with us as a couple (if that makes sense). Oh I should probably mention I also had money in mind haha, I wish that wasn’t the case for weddings but the cost was pretty important for us as well.

Unfortunately, searching the internet makes it relatively easy to see what a person looks like and their gender but otherwise it is very difficult to judge their style or their personal approach to creating the ceremony alongside you. I was finding it hard to make any decisions based on websites and directory profiles. On top of this I was continually shocked at the prices for the celebrants! I was going in thinking between $350 to $450 maximum (having zero experience in this area I should add) and so seeing people charging $500-$700 for the minimal packages (not including rehearsals for example) I was a little flabbergasted. After a month or two of scouring websites I sort of temporarily gave up and stopped looking. I had looked at so many profiles and websites that I wasn’t really feeling positive or enthusiastic about the process anymore.

During this period of rest from the celebrant hunt Edd and I saw a sign for the Howick Wedding Show and thought we would pop along to it (along with Edd’s parents) . Whilst there we met two celebrants, one of which has become our current choice, all booked in. The first one (Kathleen) although a registered celebrant, wasn’t actually there advertising herself as a celebrant but was displaying a venue however being a friendly, chatty person she asked us about our wedding planning and our progress and after hearing the dismal state of my celebrant search offered up her services. During this chat Edd and I (as well as his parents) felt completely at ease with Kathleen and we walked off and looked at each other with a look that said mutual agreement that she would be a great choice! As if a personal connection after 5 minutes wasn’t enough we also encountered the 2nd celebrant who was there to promote her services. We approached her for a chat and had zero connection, to me she felt cold and very professional (not in a particularly good way). This only confirmed for us that Kathleen was someone special who would bring her personality to making a beautiful ceremony with us.

Monday, this week, Edd and I had our first meeting with her. To be honest I think we were a little nervous mainly because we both had strong opinions on what kind of ceremony we wanted and we were worried that her amazing personality could translate into someone who wasn’t very flexible around the ceremony and its crafting. Thankfully the meeting went better than I could have imagined. Kathleen gave us heaps of materials and said that we could go away and basically write the ceremony (and use her guides and examples if we wanted) ourselves that would reflect us as a couple and be personal and unique. We left with big smiles on our face, I must say! The cherry on top was her amazing price of only $450 (she dropped down to $400 for us very kindly, shh!) and that included a rehearsal if we wanted.

So here we are now, Edd and I with some pretty exciting homework to do 🙂 . I look forward to spending time with Edd choosing the words that are going to join us together in marriage and can’t wait for the actual day! We are also planning to write our own vows so I may do a little post on how I find that process in the near future (would also appreciate any tips haha!).

I don’t know if this was helpful for anyone but I thought I would share my random experiences finding a celebrant and leave a link to Kathy Bigwood for any upcoming brides in Auckland who want someone friendly, fun, honest and helpful!

Here are my 4 tips at this early stage for Celebrant choosing 🙂

1. Although it can be hard to sift through the huge numbers of celebrants, the directories online can still be helpful to give you some places to start (like here and here). Look for celebrants with a website so you can go and have more of a look at their personal style. Some websites my even have a video (such as Kathy’s website) which I found helpful in seeing the Celebrant in action. This can also give you some ideas about what you want/don’t want in your own ceremony

2. Don’t be scared of getting in contact. At the beginning I avoided asking questions and sending emails as I was worried I would feel locked into some sort of agreement (silly, I know) and at the end I realize that asking questions is really the best way to get an idea of who the celebrant is and how they respond to you and your personal preferences for the ceremony (including pricing which I found often wasn’t available on the website). Asking questions can be a good way to find out how they usually work with couples, whether they have experience with the venue, what their experience is and qualifications are as well.

3. Choose someone you BOTH feel completely comfortable with and have a connection with. Although meeting them in person obviously helps a lot with this phone conversations or even conversations over email can still give an indication of whether you will feel a connection with. You want someone on your day who will be there to help give you the best ceremony possible and you don’t want someone who will make the ceremony feel awkward or not personal.

4. Stick to your guns. Luckily we had no issues with our personal preferences but I think when it comes to your wedding the celebrant is there for you, not the other way around. If they refuse to create the ceremony you desire then move on. It’s your day and your wedding and you don’t want to look back and regret the decisions you made around the core event of the day.

Again, this is all just from my own limited experience 🙂 I would love to hear any of your experiences or tips for celebrant choosing or for planning the ceremony/writing vows.


n.b. This post was not sponsored or influenced in any by any of the people or websites I mentioned apart from my own experiences with them. All opinions are completely my own, crazy ramblings 🙂



3 thoughts on “Adventures of a Bride to Be: Choosing a celebrant

  1. I enjoyed reading your post, mostly because I’m curious about these things. This is quite a foreign concept for me. We didn’t really have a say in our celebrant in the UK. We also didn’t have many concerns about payment because civil marriage was pretty much the same price, with only changes depending on whether you’d marry in the Town Hall or some other registered venue.

    We initially thought of having the ceremony in a place or another, but in the end we went with the Town Hall which sounds pretty impersonal but for us, with all our friends and family, really wasn’t. I guess if we didn’t like the lady in Brighton we could have gone and got married in Lewes or somewhere else we liked the person better!

    What we did have was also the opportunity to choose some of the wording of the ceremony. For instance, it was important to us that everyone present was aware that we believe every couple should have the option to get married. Not civil partnership. Marriage, like ours. So while same-sex couples could only have civil partnerships and the official wording of marriage was supposed to say something like “union between a man and a woman” we had her add that although that was the current legal definition, we personally felt that everyone should be able to have the same option as us.

    Anyway, we also had some conditions but for us it wasn’t too important who did it. We were sure they had a lot of practice in it and would do a good job. In the end, we just wanted to be married and enjoy the rest of the day with our fam/friends with good food and dance! lol

    On another note, I’m not the best example but I too left my dress to last minute. In fact, we decided to get married in January and had the marriage in September. I only got my dress in July! There were some minor financial consequences but I had been happy to marry with the first little dress I picked up!

    Unless you have tons of specifics for the day (i.e., you want every single minute of the day planned and filled with a specific activity), I wouldn’t worry too much. If you just have a broad definition (i.e., get married, eat, dance), you’ll be fine! You have to organize things, but I couldn’t imagine planning a wedding for longer than we did!

    • Thankyou for your amazing info! It is always helpful to hear what others chose to do and makes me feel better that you also didn’t have your dress at this stage! My family is freaking out that so much still has to be done but I remain strangely calm haha! I love the fact you added that part to your ceremony! What a wonderful idea 🙂
      Please continue to leave long rambly comments for me! They are much appreciated 🙂

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