So there you are discussing your destination wedding plans. And you realise that you will need someone to actually conduct your ceremony. If you are planning a destination wedding, let’s assume that it’s somewhere you can’t have a legal ceremony. After asking around, you know the best advice is to book a registry office date at home to take care of the legalities.
Planning your destination wedding ceremony
Now you are free to have your wedding in the place of your dreams, where you make your vows and exchange rings in front of friends and family. So why, you may be asking, do you need to spend a few hundred euros to have someone stand up and say a few words? Why can’t you just ask best man Jason to do the honours? Or why not uncle Desmond who, let’s face it, is never short of a few words on a family occasion?
After all, you might be planning to write your own vows, making the need for another person even less clear. And you might be looking for a few things to trim the budget which seems to have got slightly out of control (easily done!). Surely, as the whole ceremony will only be about 30 minutes long, with bits of music and readings, this is something you can do yourselves?
But wait! Hold on there! Time to think this through!
Here are 7 good reasons (at least! Just off the top of our heads!) why your celebrant is worth his or her weight in gold in making this most important part of your day run without a hitch.
1. It’s too much like hard work for a friend
It is a great honour to be asked to be the celebrant for your friends’ wedding. But in our experience, as the time of the wedding approaches, the responsibility can begin to weigh heavily on their shoulders. There is the script to write, and unlike a Best Man’s speech, for which there are whole books written, there is less guidance about being a celebrant. Sure, you might have been to a lot of weddings. But it can be hard to remember exactly why one ceremony moved everyone to tears while another had the guests bored to distraction and looking yearningly towards the bar. Even with the script done, even the most confident performer can be overwhelmed by the other tasks which are part of the celebrant’s role.
How to get the guests seated while simultaneously alerting the bride to be ready for her entrance? How to operate the PA system -starting with how to turn on the microphone? And what to do if it doesn’t work… How to cue up the entry music while calming the groom (who even has the music? Anyone?) and so on. Plus, he or she needs to get to the venue early and check on everything without quite knowing the venue or the set up. What had been a nice idea at the time, can become a bit of a nightmare. Our advice is let the guests enjoy the day and let a professional take care of the ceremony.
2. The devil’s in the details
A friend or family member, will need to do a fair amount of research. There’s finding the right words, working out the structure of the ceremony and fitting in the different components such as the vows and ring exchange. We’d always suggest that if you do go down the DIY route, you discuss the script with your friend and ensure it gets the balance right. 30 minutes may not seem a long time, but it’s the first and most important 30 minutes of your whole day and if the words are jarring or the script is rambling, it sure can feel like a long time.
3. Keeping the timing on track
One of the biggest hazards for a self-planned wedding is keeping ceremony timings on track. We have seen a good few incidences where Uncle Ted or one of the groomsmen arrive armed with 12 sheets of notes. We have sometimes tentatively asked if they have had a chance to read the ceremony through for timings and often the response is “well, it should be about 35 minutes.” 50 minutes later, it can become clear that alas, if you haven’t honed those words really well, things can go awry. If you are not used to it, it is almost impossible to know how long things will take without practice.
4. And this different from the Best Man’s speech – how?
For a friend or relation, being tasked with being the celebrant is flattering. But then comes the challenge of what to actually say. Most people will end up saying a lot about you, how you met and why you are special. Perhaps they will relay tales of your holidays together and the details of your accommodation/ favourite pubs/jobs/shared hobbies at the time. But this can feel like way too much information so early in the proceedings. And it can end up being very much like a Best Man’s speech after the dinner. This can feel a bit surreal to those listening, as if they have time-travelled through the wedding by about four hours. What will be left for the Best Man to say later? Does he even know that you have pinched his best lines? Plus, it doesn’t exactly feel like a ceremony. The different is subtle but important.
5. This is your story – but where are the universal bits?
For a ceremony to be well, a ceremony, we’d suggest that it needs to be more than a collection of anecdotes, no matter how moving or engaging. It needs something that moves things to a more universal level. That means talking about love and relationships in more general terms and why they are important to us. Done well, it’s something that unites people and families and makes them feel part of what is being said.
Many people will say after a really good ceremony that it made them think about their own relationships and brought them closer to the couple, and to their own partner. So in the end, it’s not just about you, it’s about bringing everyone present together and that’s the way it should be.
6. Juggling the kit
Getting back to basics, this is the part of your wedding where you really don’t want any technical hitches. The music needs to be cued up perfectly for your arrival. That means no delays, false starts or sudden cut-outs due to dodgy wifi/bluetooth/ incompatible phone connections. Everyone needs to be able to hear the words, readings and vows, which means a microphone needs to be pointing the right way at the right time. And someone needs to be in charge of the music. Unless Uncle Declan is very experienced, juggling words and equipment can be a challenge. And oddly, those who are great with words can be the ones who are least good with the technology. Sadly, this may only become apparent too late in the day.
7. Dealing with the unforeseen…
Despite the best-laid plans, there can be the odd sticky moment. Perhaps there’s a last minute delay when a bridesmaid rips her dress going downstairs or a heel comes off her shoe.
Or the bride has lost track of time and the guests have been sitting in the sun for 20 minutes and are now feeling a bit faint. Or the cherubic young ring-bearer panics and drops the rings during the processional. Or three drops of rain fall and the guests become restive and start looking around for umbrellas. In all these situations, it’s not essential to have an experienced celebrant guiding the proceedings, but it certainly helps. In some cases, it just needs an unflappable approach and a steady nerve. In others, it’s about seeing the problem coming and making sure it’s headed off before it arises.
So we have your interests at heart when we suggest that a celebrant can take care of all of these things and more, leaving you free to relax and enjoy the day.
But there you both are, still looking at your budget and worrying about costs. We may have convinced you that you need a celebrant but what are you going to cut instead?
Check out our next blog for our top five budget-crunching tips.