Choosing a Celebrant

Remember this story in the Courier Mail?

‘Shonky Wedding Celebrants Just Take The Cake’ April 1, 2012, which recounted horror stories about celebrant behaviour at weddings.

Let us refresh your memories:

The limousines have delivered the happy couple, the flowers are in place "just so'', the VIP guests are seated and the venue is a picture of understatement and class.

Then the celebrant arrives in a low-cut top with bursting cleavage and the blushing bride is joined by a blushing groom as those expensive wedding photographs record the disaster for all time.

Like a Rowan Atkinson skit, couples are being left fuming as bumbling celebrants spoil their special day with gaffes to rival the old classic: "Do you take this bride to be your awful wedded wife?''

Celebrants who tried to crack on to the bride, shouted at guests, hit the booze or just failed to turn up have driven couples to fire off dozens of complaints to the federal Attorney-General's department over the past five years.

"I just wanted to say I think you're cute,'' one celebrant told a shocked bride at rehearsals.

Complaints obtained under Freedom of Information laws revealed celebrants also ran off with deposits, misspelled names on certificates or failed to lodge documents - in some cases rendering marriages invalid or leaving no trace of weddings at all. Even the most expensive and meticulously planned celebrations were not immune as celebrants mumbled through ceremonies, mispronounced names, forgot to ask couples to say "I do'' or missed the wedding kiss.

The number of registered civil celebrants has more than tripled to about 10,300 in the past eight years and operators warn of a rise in shonks.

"There are so many celebrants now that the average celebrant is doing five weddings a year. They are not going to get the experience they need to improve,'' said Alliance of Celebrants Queensland president Caroline Jackson.

"It's important you feel comfortable with the celebrant, don't go on price alone.

"A lot of celebrants out there are doing it as a weekend hobby, they charge very little and basically you get what you pay for.''

If complaints are substantiated celebrants can be suspended or deregistered, cautioned or ordered to undertake additional professional development. In cases examined by The Sunday Mail celebrants often escaped with a caution or were asked to apologise or pay back fees.

Some had not completed mandatory training for five years, exposing flaws in monitoring

Story by David Murray
Source: Courier Mail

As a celebrant these accounts are difficult to read, but in some cases, sadly true. The one thing that is particularly upsetting though is that for those of us who work our butts off to create a fantastic day for our clients, we are lumped in and made to look as bad as the few the Courier speak of.

As a trainer of Ongoing Professional Development for Celebrants I have the opportunity to work with many hard working, dedicated and knowledgeable celebrants who attend their 5 hours of training every year and come motivated and full of ideas for contribution.

On the whole being a celebrant is not a particularly lucrative endeavour and so for the most part the ones who go through the training and spend their hard earned money to get set up are there because they really want to be.

Of course there are ‘shonks’ as the Courier puts it, as there are in every industry, but word gets around pretty fast in the world of weddings and for those who do the things mentioned above, it doesn’t take long before they are known and no longer in business.

For couples looking to find a good celebrant, one that is right for them, good research is the answer. Like with anything in our society you often get what you pay for, so choosing the cheapest celebrant around may not always be in your best interest. Most celebrants charge a reasonable amount for the work that they do so if you find one that is charging much less than others you may want to look a little closer at what they are offering.

If you are looking for some great advice about how to choose the right celebrant for you, don’t miss our upcoming post on ‘Finding The Right Celebrant’, full of great ideas and strategies to ensure that the person guiding you and leading you through on one of the most important moments of your life is the right one. Keep a look out for it, coming soon.

Susan x