Obviously most people start their wedding with a proposal, or the couple decide that they are going to get married. I have commonly found that the question a lot of people ask when they first meet up with me or call me up, is “what do we have to do next?” I think when a couple get engaged, it is a daunting time and there are so many things that you need to decide upon. As well as all of the questions from interested parties.
As far as the role that I play in a couples wedding, usually the first contact that I have with a couple is over the phone or by email. Most people are checking on availability, and if I am free that day to perform the wedding. I usually need to know the date, approximate time and where the wedding is likely to be performed. I then like to work out a time to meet. It is really important that the couple are happy with me being their celebrant. My part of their day is a really important one and people need to be comfortable with me and what I do. I believe that although it is a small part of the day time wise, without the ceremony it is really just a big party. So meeting the couple is very important and gives me a chance to find out what the couple want and what sort of a day that they are looking at having. I like to find out how many attendants people are having and if there are any elements that they really want to have included in their special day.
One of the first things that needs to be done is for the couple to fill out their Notice of Intended Marriage. This is a very important piece of paperwork. It must be filled out at least 31 days before you wedding. It all needs to be signed by the bride and groom, and you need to have originals of your full birth certificate to confirm who you are.
From there I start writing the ceremony. With some people I get them to fill out a questionnaire however some people don’t want to. Often it is because they know what they want in their wedding and what they want to say. But I find the questions helpful, for personalising the ceremony and helping people with writing their own vows. This part of the process can take some time, most people read and edit drafts via email, although I’m quite happy to meet up if people have time or would like to discuss these things in person.
Usually a week before the wedding, or sometime close to the day we all get together for a rehearsal. We don’t go through the actual ceremony on this day (although the final draft must be completed by now) it is just to make sure people know where they are standing on the day, to work out how long music needs to be played for when people are arriving and work out where to position the signing table. Lots of little bugs get ironed out at this stage and it is a great time for all of the people involved in the ceremony to work out where they need to be and where readers fit into the ceremony. The rehearsal is a great time to fill out the last of the paperwork that is needed before the day, this is a declaration to say that there is no legal reason why the two of you cannot be married.
After all of that, I prepare all of the paperwork that is required on the day, after all of the certificates are completed we all wait for the exciting event.
On your big day I arrive at the venue about 30-45 minutes before the ceremony is due to start. I like to check that everything is in place and that the sound system (if one is being used) is working and ready to go.
After your wedding day, I lodge all of the paperwork with Births, Deaths and Marriages, some people think that it is just a half an hour job to do a wedding or 15 minutes if they want a quick ceremony. In reality there is much more to it than just the day. I believe it should a proper process, it should be the most personal, beautiful wedding that you have ever been too, and if your guests think so too then that is fantastic.