How do I go about changing my name?”
“Would you wear fancy dress?”
“Has a bride/groom ever not shown up?”
“Do you have a back-up in case you are sick?”
All of these are valid questions, and they certainly do get asked quite often. But are they the most common questions? Not even close.
I have been in the wedding industry for several years now, and I have noticed a growing trend. It seems when it comes to choosing celebrants (and other wedding professionals, although I will leave that for another time), the question that is most often asked first is (drumroll, please)……….. “How much do you charge?”
Now I get it! Weddings can be expensive. Most couples have some sort of wedding budget in mind, and it can be challenging to keep within that budget once the planning begins. There is so much to consider:
Then there’s the photographer, the videographer, the DJ and/or band, the transport, accommodation, bonbonnieres…… the list goes on and on. And even if you are opting for a sweet and simple wedding, there are always more costs than you originally expect.
Now I am the first to admit that the old saying of “You get what you pay for” isn’t always true. And I would definitely encourage couples to shop around before making any decisions when it comes to choosing wedding suppliers. But there is a myth surrounding weddings that I want to dispel (and I admit that before I became a celebrant, I was adamant it was true). There is a belief that suppliers – whether venues, photographers, florists or hairdressers – jack their prices up randomly when the word “wedding” is mentioned.
Well, that may be true sometimes. But I can assure you that in most cases, wedding professionals put a great deal of thought into determining their prices to reflect the time and effort put into the services provided. And while I won’t presume to speak on behalf of all the other industry experts out there, I can put forward a celebrant’s view to hopefully give you an insight into why we charge what we do.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that wedding celebrants don’t simply “turn up for a half hour’s work”. There is so much that goes into the preparation of a wedding ceremony and most couples only see a fraction of that work. Sure, we have a couple of meetings, laugh and chat while discussing the big day, sign a few papers, and maybe attend a rehearsal. Then, of course, there’s the presentation of the ceremony itself. But is that it? Nope, not even close!
As officials representing the Attorney-General’s Office all celebrants are required to pay an annual registration fee, as well as complete yearly compulsory professional development to ensure we remain up to date with current legislation, best business practices, industry trends and obligations to our clients.
There is equipment to be purchased, maintained and serviced. As most celebrants run their business from home there is a need for all the usual home office equipment (computers, printers, phones…and all their paraphernalia). But then there’s also the stuff that’s unique to our job – PA systems, microphones, signing tables and chairs, certificates (yes, they cost us too), and hundreds of other bits and pieces that we keep on hand in order to help make sure your ceremony runs smoothly.
Insurance is a factor. Working with people in all sorts of locations and situations requires us to have up to date Public Liability Insurance. And our Copyright & APRA Protection means that you are able to have your favourite song playing as you walk down the aisle. I can’t imagine how much Christina Perri would be worth for “A Thousand Years” otherwise!
Like any business, there are many other expenses such as marketing, advertising, resources and general office costs. But the hardest things to put a price on as celebrants are our time, creativity and experience. And yet, they are undoubtedly what makes the greatest difference to the service we provide.
Your celebrant is the one who will set the entire tone for your wedding. The care taken to get to know you as a couple and put that into words means that your ceremony will be all about you and the things that are important to you. Knowing that you have chosen someone that you trust to take care of the “legal stuff” ensures that you, your partner and your loved ones can simply relax and enjoy every minute. And the peace of mind you will have in knowing that any ceremony emergency can be calmly and efficiently taken care of, is priceless.
So while it is important to consider the fee and what is included for the price, I would suggest it is more crucial to select your celebrant based on how comfortable you feel with them and how confident you are that they understand your vision for your big day. In five years, will you remember that you spent an extra couple of hundred dollars to get the celebrant you really liked? Or will you just remember that your ceremony was everything you had dreamed of?
Let me finish with a short story:
Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in a café when a woman approached him. “It’s you – Picasso, the great artist!” she cried. “Oh, you must sketch my portrait, I insist!”
Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a series of elegant pencil strokes to create her portrait. He then handed the woman his work of art. “It’s perfect,” she gushed. “Thank you! How much do I owe you?”
“One hundred thousand pesetas,” the artist replied.
“What?!” the woman sputtered. “How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a minute or two to draw it!”
To which Picasso responded: “Madame, it may have taken only a moment to draw it, but it took a lifetime of study and practice to be able to do it in that time.”
The moral of the story is that there is a big difference between price and value. And no, I’m not comparing myself to Picasso….but I’m sure you get my point!
Definitely, yes. Absolutely, yes. Unquestionably, yes! A back up plan is an essential detail to think about when planning your wedding.
No, I’m not talking about the pact you make with the boy or girl next door when you are twelve, to get married if you are both still single by the time you’re thirty. (Hopefully, if you are reading this then you have met the person of your dreams, so that is covered.)
Rather, I am urging all you loved-up couples to consider what you will do if the day of your wedding dawns, and the weather is less than ideal. Will you:
a) cry (don’t want to ruin your makeup girls),
b) throw a tantrum (can be a good stress reliever but can also earn you the title of Bridezilla),
c) shake your fists and curse at the heavens above (doesn’t usually help much),
or will you
d) shrug, laugh at the irony and move on to Plan B?
If you said (d) then I applaud you. You have obviously already given your backup plan a bit of thought. However, if you answered (a), (b) or (c) please keep reading. Because while crying, stomping your foot and cursing are all viable options, they really won’t help you on your big day, especially when it comes to the weather – the one thing that none of us can control!
When it comes to writing your own vows, it can be daunting knowing where to start. It’s one thing to pour your heart out on paper, but you are going to be speaking those same thoughts out in front of all of your family and friends, and that isn’t always easy.
Many couples I have worked with (no, not just the grooms) feel that they don’t want their vows to seem too mushy or soppy, and so they hold back from including anything too personal. But in my experience, guests are delighted with mushy and sentimental vows, particularly if the couple aren’t usually overly romantic in public. After all, if you can’t be mushy on your wedding day, when can you?!?
And let’s not forget, your wedding day is about the two of you and the commitment you are making to each other. Your guests are merely on hand to witness your happiness.
CHILDREN AT YOUR WEDDING – YES OR NO?
One of the most stressful decisions to make regarding a wedding can be whether or not to invite children. For some, it is only natural to include them, believing that a wedding is a time to celebrate families. Others feel the event should be an adults-only affair.
There is no right or wrong.
Your wedding is about you and you should be able to celebrate it however you please.
The style of your wedding may influence the decision. If you are having an afternoon garden party or a casual backyard wedding, children have an opportunity to run around and are less likely to be irritable. However, it is unfair to expect young children to sit through hours of a formal evening affair. Depending on the style of wedding, you could decide to allow parents to bring their children to the ceremony, but not the reception – or vice versa.
Once the excitement of your engagement dies down, the fun of planning your wedding day begins. There are so many decisions to make – the venue, the flowers, the photographer and, of course, the dress. But when it comes to the ceremony itself, it can be difficult to know where to begin.