If you’re having a civil ceremony, then your marriage celebrant is going to be a big part of your ceremony. After all, without someone to legalise your marriage your wedding is essentially just one big party!
76% of couples have a marriage celebrant officiate their day. So if you’re wondering what the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions of celebrant are, then we’ve got to covered.
We chatted with Sydney’s David Lang Celebrant about what he’s commonly asked by couples, as well as some expert advice on how to choose the right celebrant for you.
How do we get married in Australia?
We all know you’ll need something spectacular to wear to get married, but before you walk down the aisle there’s just a few legal things you’ll also need to get sorted. And that’s where your celebrant comes in to make everything as simple as possible!
Before your big day there are two forms you’ll need to fill out. The first one is called the Notice of Intended Marriage. This is you first legal document and needs to be filled in and signed by you and witnessed by your celebrant (or a notary public) at least one month prior to the date of your wedding. This is very important and something that most couples have no idea about when they’re planning on getting married. Pro tip: you can do this in your first meetings with your celebrant once you’ve booked them and are starting to talk about what you want your ceremony to look like.
The second form you sign closer to your wedding date, is called The Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage. This basically means that you’re free to get married and haven’t been married or eloped in the meantime!
On your wedding day you’ll then sign three certificates. Two of these are copies of your official marriage certificate, whereas the other is known as Form 15. This is the prettier certificate one that you get to take home with you to frame or put somewhere for safe keeping. For all of these forms to be signed on the big day you’ll also need your two elected witnesses.
What will our marriage celebrant actually do?
A marriage celebrant does way more than just talk about you both, get you to sign some papers, and then stand in a suit or pretty dress with you on your big day. As your celebrant it’s our job to legally register your marriage with Birth Deaths and Marriages, making sure everything is legally correct.
It’s also our job to write your personalised ceremony, taking you step by step prior to and throughout your ceremony. From the second I say “are you ready?” to “please put your hands together as I present to you the happily married couple,” we are there to make sure your ceremony goes as smoothly as possible. This includes meeting you before the big day to not only get your other legal forms signed, but also chat to you about how you want your ceremony to go.
As a bonus some celebrants, such as myself, will play your music during the ceremony if you don’t have a DJ or musician on hand. However, not all celebrants do this as part of their service, so make sure you have someone on hand to press play on whatever device you’re using, if you haven’t already hired some excellent musicians to play for you that is!
Why did you become a celebrant?
People become marriage celebrants for all sorts of reasons and this is where you can really get in touch with our personalities a bit more. Some do it to marry family and friends, some people are semi-retired and do it more as a rewarding hobby. Others, like me, approach becoming a celebrant as a career and are fortunate to do it full time, which I absolutely love!
I’ve been an actor for the last 10 years, so I have an innate love of performing. I also love meeting new people and hearing hearing their stories, so bringing couples together in marriage gets to combine my two loves, performing and people. It’s my job to make sure I bring out the unique qualities that make you the loved-up couple that you are, so no two weddings are the same.
I also like to have a bit of fun along the way, as it’s my belief that yes, while getting married is a very serious step to take, if there’s ever a day to have some fun with the ones that love you the most, this is it!
Besides, it can take up to a year or sometimes longer to become a celebrant in Australia. So rest assured that whoever you choose knows exactly what they’re doing. It’s certainly not a “fill in a form online and you’re ready to go” deal!
So, why should we choose you?
Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of us out there. Every celebrant you meet will have their own spin and ideas on how to do things, depending on what kind of ceremony you like. Do you want a formal wedding or a relaxed one? A long ceremony or a “let’s get this sorted quickly so we can party” one?
For me, I believe it all comes down to one thing, trust. I believe that the person you choose to marry you should be someone who connects to you both on a personal level. One of the best compliments I receive is that I’m like “a best friend marrying us” and that’s my goal. I’m there with you every step of the way, from the awkward first meeting where I tell you everything you’ll need to know, until the minute you walk back down the aisle, married to the one you love.
Whoever you choose, just make sure it’s someone you believe is going to represent you guys the best.
Do you have any advice for us?
Of course I do! Here are some tips that I’ve picked up along the way:
- Make sure you have a place and date to get married BEFORE you meet your celebrant.
- Have a back up location, always. Most venues have one, but trust me, you don’t want to be walking through the mud in a pretty white dress, even in the middle of February.
- Having a photographer? Think of having the celebrant make a ‘photo announcement’ just letting your guests know that someone is taking really amazing photos of your ceremony. This means your guests will be more ‘present’ and there with you in the moment. Plus, your photographer will LOVE you!
- Hashtags are great, but make them short and easy. After a few drinks, people tend to misspell them! This is from personal experience at my own wedding!
- No question is too silly to ask your celebrant. They have all the answers, or will find them if they don’t. So whatever you’re thinking, make sure that you ask first!
- And most importantly, enjoy yourselves and have an awesome wedding day!