The most common question I’m asked is ‘ what is your fee?’ for those who like brevity, sometimes that’s as long as the email is!!
And I get it, couples have budgets and people are busy. So why spend time chatting to someone who ultimately is more than you’d budgeted for?
Recently I was speaking to someone who after asking how long a wedding ceremony usually lasts. ‘On average about 30 minutes’ I said. ‘ Oh, and how much do you charge?’ he asked. ‘My fee is €550’ I replied (when this article was written in April 2019). ‘What?’ he said ‘that’s €1100 per hour!’ Oh I wish. If only I could rock up one minute before your ceremony, work for 29 minutes, then roll on home! But that’s not me, nor any other celebrant I know for that matter.
So why are celebrants so expensive I hear you ask?
I think it’s time to put some myths to bed, especially that €1100 figure! So let’s do the maths.
What the guests at your wedding see is a lady who arrives about an hour before the ceremony and is quietly chatting away to Aunty Joanie who is doing a reading . Then she chats to the flower girls and page boys, oh there she is chatting to the groom, his parents, the bride’s parents. She must be a family friend???? That’s funny she’s also speaking to the wedding planner, the photographer and the musician. What! She’s setting up an amp! Now she’s gone; oh well obviously nobody important then! Nope, there she is again talking to the groom. She’s overheard saying she’s been up to see the bride and everything is on track. Now that is funny. She’s not family.
With only ten minutes before the start time, the groomsmen ask everyone to take their seats and oh my, there she is again. This time she introduces herself, mystery solved; she’s the celebrant!
Then they watch as I conduct the ceremony that has been crafted by myself, you the couple and maybe others; each element carefully woven into a beautiful ceremony …… with that all important sprinkling of humour. x
What goes on behind the scenes ……
What they don’t see are the hours of prep to ensure those thirty minutes are absolutely perfect. They’ve no idea about:
- The fun times I’ve had through emails, online chats and face-to-face meetings with the couples, each time learning more and more about who they are and what their wedding means to them. Not everyone wants to hear about the bride picking up her dress, what colour the bridesmaids’ dresses will be or why you chose a certain piece of music to walk down the aisle to – but I do. I love hearing all the details of your wedding plans.
- The emails I exchange with family or friends, to get that extra special bit of information or story to add to the ceremony or answer any questions they have about the ceremony.
- The nights I spend in bed [watch it] with ideas whizzing around in my head about things the couple want to include and how to make the ceremony flow
- Me poring over the bride’s and groom’s questionnaires making sure I’m picking up every bit of information, carefully choosing each word and weaving the various elements together to create a bespoke ceremony that’s meaningful and totally personal but also flows nicely.
- The one, two, three or four hours I’ve driven to get to the wedding
- On the wedding day your guests don’t see; when I check in with the bride I give out free hugs and inject a level of composure into the air; I check there’s water at hand and that the groom’s not going to melt in the heat of a scorching French summer’s day; I calm the jitters of the readers and maybe provide a copy of the reading because they didn’t remember to print it out; and I have spare tissues for everyone!!
- If the ceremony is running late because Cousin John is lost in the back roads of France or the bride just isn’t ready yet – no problem. I only book one ceremony a day so timing isn’t an issue and my couples know all of these things. That’s why they have an air of quiet confidence as they stand before their family and friends on the most important day of their lives so far. They know me and what I’ll say but also they trust me and have total confidence in me.
After the ceremony everyone feels warm and fuzzy inside, the tears of happiness and love that were shed have been dried and it’s time to eat and drink. I stay for a photo and a drink, [it’s very important to rehydrate in summer here] and I chat to anyone who wants to speak to me. Then I leave you to celebrate with your family and friends.
Can a friend conduct the ceremony for you?
In a word, yes, but like everyone who is good at their trade, I make what I do look easy. How many times have you watched somebody do something and thought ‘yep, I could do that’ but when you have a go, find it’s so much more difficult than you thought.
So now you can see what goes into making those thirty minutes of your wedding so very special and unique. Hopefully you’ll have a better understanding of what I do. It’s a bit like making a cake [I’m also a big foodie] you can give the same ingredients to several people and they’ll each bake you a different cake.
Each celebrant is very different so please chat to several and then choose the one you feel a connection to – hopefully me!