Ceremonies Crafted with Care

Wedding Tips

Questions to ask your Wedding Celebrant

Posted by on Jun 12, 2014 in Wedding Tips | 0 comments


Once you have a venue booked and your wedding date is “cast in stone” it’s time to begin the search for the perfect celebrant.

Where to start? A Google search will reveal a veritable plethora of celebrants all offering roughly the same service. But be assured, they are not all the same, there are those who are truly excellent and exceptional, and others who are mediocre and adequate or dire and dreadful. What’s more, price alone will not help your choice.

You want the perfect celebrant for you, one that will understand exactly what you want, will provide ideas and guidance, someone who you feel completely comfortable with and confident that they understand that your wedding ceremony is the central event of your whole wedding day and the event you have invited your nearest and dearest to witness.

How do you choose a celebrant?

Google is a good place to start, a tour of a celebrant’s website will give you an impression of who they are and what they do.bridget-nathan-brigham-auckland-wedding-photographer-raduban-photography-0071

Consider phoning your short list of candidates asking some basic questions:

  •  Are you available on my date?
  •  Are you familiar with my venue?
  •  What do you charge and what is included in that charge?

Follow up with a meeting with those who sound like they have potential and are both available and still on your short list.

Your first meeting is similar to a job interview so being prepared with some questions will  help you choose the right person for the “job” of celebrant on your wedding day.


Not a question as such but you will get a good feel for whether you can work with this person at this first meeting and connecting with their personality will be important.

How many weddings do you do per year? How much experience do you have?

There are a lot of celebrants and the Department of Internal Affairs has recently relaxed entry qualifications for celebrants so there are more inexperienced and untrained celebrants advertising their services. It’s better to pay a bit more for experience and professionalism than have your ceremony spoilt by a celebrant who just doesn’t  know what he or she is doing.

How much do you charge?

Price is important as you are on a budget but the old adage of “you get what you pay for” carries some weight here. A great celebrant will be worth their fee and more as they know how to conduct a wedding ceremony and how to create a memorable ceremony and more importantly, how to look after you on the day.

Do you charge a deposit and, if so, how much?

How will we work together?

Does the celebrant provide resources, how many meetings will there be bfore your date?

Do you recommend a rehersal?

No rehearsal at your venue? I recommend you walk away and look for another celebrant! A run through the logistics of your ceremony at your venue is vital to ensure a stress free wedding ceremony.

How many ceremonies do you conduct on a day?

Some celebrants try and make the most of the wedding season by officiating at multiple ceremonies on the same day. You may be OK with this but be aware if the a ceremony runs late earlier in the day your celebrant may not be as prompt as you would like!

What is included in your fee?

Make sure you have a full understanding of what your celebrant will and will not do for you.

Are there any additional fees?

Some celebrants charge for travel outside their immediate area. Some charge an additional fee for a rehearsal. Make sure you clarify if the fee quoted is all inclusive or if some of the services you assume would be included are in fact an additional charge.

Have you had any training?

Celebrant training is not compulsory in New Zealand. The training available is excellent and those who have completed training have a very clear understanding of the obligations of the role and how to best translate your wishes for your wedding ceremony into a memorable ceremony. Likewise Celebrant Association membership brings with it adherence to professional standards and regular training opportunities.

Will you dress to my dress code and colour scheme?


Where do you stand during the ceremony?

Does the celebrant stand in between you and your partner for the whole ceremony? Will they move out of the way for the kiss so they’re not in that photo?

You will have other questions which come up during your meeting,  a celebrant should answer your questions openly and honestly both during this first meeting and at any time during your working relationship.

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Wedding Planning Hints

Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Wedding Tips | 0 comments



Planning your wedding doesn’t have to be stressful the trick is to have an organised plan,

 Getting Ready

Set a budget:

Whether you are paying for your wedding yourselves or getting assistance from family there is always a finite spend.

Set a realistic budget and have a talk early on as a couple about your “deal breakers”.

What is most important to you about your wedding day? Is it great food and wine at your reception? Perhaps it’s a gorgeous dress and decorations? Or an exotic honeymoon? Inviting all your extended family and friends to share your day? Perhaps it’s the investment in magnificent wedding photography.

Your “deal breakers” will determine how you choose to allocate funds.

Get organised:

Get written quotes and orders and start a wedding file. There are some fabulous wedding planning tools available free on line which can help guide you through the process of planning your wedding day.

Drop me a line at celebrantforyou.co.nz  and ask for my Wedding Budget Planner (obligation free), it’s a great tool which monitors your wedding budget as you add quotes and actual costs.

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Applying for your Marriage License

Posted by on Jan 26, 2013 in Wedding Tips | 0 comments

I am fortunate to be working a several couples who, while resident outside New Zealand, have decided to celebrate their wedding in beautiful New  Zealand.


In each case we go through the process of applying for a Marriage License when the marrying couple are normally resident outside New Zealand.

Fortunately the process is really very straight forward, the couple must complete a “ Notice of Intended Marriage, where both parties are ordinarily resident outside New Zealand’ (BDM 58) which is available for download  from the Department of Internal Affairs website.

If you are arriving in New Zealand less than three days before your wedding date you will have to complete the form and  send it with the required fee  (this can be by cheque or by including your credit card details with your application)  to the Registry Office closest to where you are getting married before you travel.

The statutory declaration can be completed prior before  a Commonwealth representative  in your home country or left blank and completed in front of a Registrar of Marriages when you pick up your documentation when you arrive in New Zealand.

If you are a New Zealand resident the process is similar but the form is slightly different, couples complete “Notice of Intended Marriage” (BDM 60) at least three days but preferably at least a week before you marry. One of you will need to drop the completed form to your nearest Registry Office and complete the Statutory Declaration in front of a Registrar of Marriages.

When you return to collect the license and two copies of the Particulars of Marriage it pays to check all details are correct as occasionally errors are made. Your licence is valid for three months from the date of issue.

I send couples a reminder when they are within the three month window to apply for their license and will collect all paperwork off you on or before your rehearsal date.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions about this process.


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How Much Does a Wedding Celebrant Cost?

Posted by on Jan 25, 2013 in Wedding Tips | 0 comments


This is a frequently asked question and it is often in the context of “we met with a celebrant and they  charge XYZ how can they justify that?”

For many the perception is a celebrant just turns up on the day, delivers the ceremony and earns a substantial sum for doing so

As stated on my Ask the Celebrant page I charge a reasonable and all inclusive fee. Generally fees for an Auckland wedding can vary widely from between $350 to $800. Costs will be even more if you hire a “celebrity” celebrant. So it begs the question, what do celebrants do to earn their fee?

You and your wedding are my priority during the time we spend working together and I take the time to tailor your ceremony so it is unique and personalised. With that in mind I went through the exercise of breaking that process down into the time I spend on an average Auckland wedding.

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How to choose your Marriage Celebrant

Posted by on Oct 30, 2012 in Wedding Tips | 0 comments

When planning your wedding one of the most important decisions you will make is choosing your celebrant.

The majority of weddings in New Zealand are conducted by independent wedding celebrants providing flexibility and choice as well as an alternative to the traditional church or registry office wedding.

A ceremony conducted by a marriage or civil union celebrant provides limitless choice, from the most stylish and sophisticated ceremony to the most informal and casual. Your exchange of vows can be accompanied by whatever words, poetry and readings you choose. The ceremony performed before a small intimate group or at a venue bulging with your family and friends.

A well chosen celebrant will help you create your dream wedding but in order to perform marriages legally in New Zealand he or she must be appointed as an independent marriage celebrant pursuant to section 11 of the Marriage Act 1955 and be registered with the Department of Internal Affairs. Celebrants previously  underwent a strenuous selection process, this has changed recently with a relaxation of entry requirements by the Department of Internal Affairs.


Finding your celebrant: Personal recommendation is always the best way to find a celebrant. Unless you are lucky enough to have attended a wedding officiated by your ideal celebrant, recommendations by friends or family or even by your venue or photographer will give you a starting point.

Celebrants advertise on  a number of  websites so create a shortlist of celebrants in your area and check their availability with a telephone call or by sending an email. It is important that you are comfortable with your choice of celebrant so arrange a time to meet. Most celebrants will offer a no obligation meeting which will provide the “gut’ feeling required to ensure you choose the celebrant that is right for you.

Points to consider when choosing your celebrant:

• How do they appear on first contact? Are they pleasant, positive and genuinely interested?

• Good celebrants are also great listeners and should establish what ideas you have for your ceremony before contributing their own suggestions.

• Do they provide a suggested ceremony outline? A basic order of service can provide the framework and the prompt for ideas for your ceremony.

• Do they explain the legal requirements of a wedding ceremony?

• Will they work with you to put together your ceremony and are they prepared to spend as much time as it takes to ensure you are completely happy with it?

• Do they offer to provide you with resources? These may include sample ceremonies, readings, vows and ring exchange wordings.

• Is the celebrant willing to conduct a pre-wedding rehearsal at your venue to go over the organisational aspects of your ceremony with key members of your wedding party?

• Is he or she is well presented and willing to dress to complement your colour scheme and your dress code? Remember your celebrant will be in all your ceremony photos.

Other considerations:

Training is not compulsory but provides a celebrant with skills which will enhance their ability to provide a well crafted ceremony as will their level of experience.

Association membership: Membership of a Celebrants Association provides the opportunity to keep up to date with current knowledge and practice and requires compliance with a code of ethics.

The celebrant’s fee: Fees vary and don’t always reflect the quality of the celebrant. Most celebrants will offer a set fee while some will offer a base fee with the final fee dependant on travel and services provided. Make sure you discuss exactly what is included in the fee before committing yourself. It is worth noting that despite the importance of your ceremony, your celebrant’s role in ensuring the proceedings run smoothly and all legal requirements are met, your celebrant’s fee will be one of the more modest expenses of your big day.

A good celebrant will fill you with confidence so you can relax and enjoy your wedding day. They will provide you with a ceremony which will reflect you both as a couple and the love you share. They will provide you with a ceremony which will be enjoyed and fondly remembered by you and by your guests and will play a big part in ensuring your day runs smoothly. All good reasons to choose your celebrant wisely.

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