We both went to a wedding last night and I felt compelled to write to you today. Last night's ceremony was nice however I couldn't help but notice the celebrant lacked the attention to detail which you had. Throughout the ceremony I wondered if she considered the following:
I don't mean to be
disrespectful to the celebrant of last
night's wedding. Unfortunately for
yesterday's wedding service, all these
minor things added and I walked away
dissatisfied with the service. I
didn't think about these small things
when booking your services and I
certainly didn't think to ask about
them... but I sure am glad you paid
attention to detail. Yesterday's wedding
has highlighted the standard of
professionalism we got from you leading
up to and during our wedding day - it
was the best service we could have
imagined. Our guests commented on how
personalised our service was and even
commented on your emotive responses on
the day. I am so pleased they remember
you for all the right things.
Although I sent you a 'thank you' card
after our wedding day I just felt
compelled to write to you and say thank
you again Jenny. I wonder if I'll ever
go to another wedding ceremony and
actually see a celebrant who has paid
attention to every little detail like
you. You helped to make our day
memorable and you've set the standard
high. Regards, Melissa "
and work that is specific to your particular ceremony
General Preparation that benefits all couples
As a Marriage Celebrant, appointed by the Commonwealth Government, I am authorised to solemnise marriages according to law. This responsibility requires that I know the Marriage Act, and the Regulations related to that Act, backwards, and that I keep up to date with changes to both. This includes doing the mandatory 5 hours of ongoing professional development a year, but also requires lots more study and knowledge to ensure that I make it as simple, clear, and easy for you to comply with the Marriage Act. (I give you a 24 page booklet that documents all your right and responsibilities, advise you about how to obtain the required documents to prove your ID and that you are free to marry and ensure that you give Notice as required and that your ceremony meets all legal requirements.)
As a Ceremonialist, my role is to create individual ceremonies that reflect the vision, personalities, and wishes of each couple. But to be able to do that effectively requires a knowledge of the history of marriage ceremonies, of the traditional marriage ceremony (in order to understand what can and should be observed and what can and should be either omitted or adapted to fit 21st century sensibility in relation to gender stereotypes and the nature of marriage and relationships), and, very important, where custom, tradition, and legal requirements intersect and interact. (I give you my booklet entitled Designing Your Ceremony - but it is not about choosing pre-written sections of a ceremony, it is about all the choices you have about how and why it doesn't have to be all about the celebrant!). While I have shared quite a lot of my knowledge and perspective on various aspects of the ceremony through my published books, I draw on this knowledge, together with ongoing reading, thinking, and research to make suggestions specific to each couple.
In order to ensure I obtain the information I need to make each ceremony unique, I need a process to obtain that information. This is an ongoing process of refinement of the questions I ask, and the methods I use.
And then, there is general mindfulness - all the thinking and researching that goes into answering the "What if...?" questions and putting into place processes to make sure that those things don't happen. Melissa covered a lot of that in her message above. A lot of it comes down to making sure that your ceremony is choreographed and performed in such a way to facilitate your photographer and videographer getting the best images possible, images where no-one is blocking the line of sight to the couple, the celebrant's clothing or equipment doesn't draw the eye in the photographs (there is a reason for the "touch of red" rule in photography, and you don't want that.) This includes making sure my wardrobe contains understated outfits that won't be a talking point!
And finally, the first "contact" most couples have with me is through reading one of my websites and/or Face book pages. You only have to look at them to see the huge amount of work that goes into them on an ongoing basis.
Work specific to your particular ceremony
In addition to actually performing your ceremony on the day, together with conducting a rehearsal if you request one, much of what is required to make your day a success is partly or completely done behind the scenes.
From first phone call, email, or Face book message, through our first meeting (which can run for 1.5 to 2 hours and involves completing the Notice of Intended Marriage and sighting your documents and noting their details on the Notice, together with discussing ideas and options for your ceremony), the process of developing and refining the ceremony to follow-up afterwards, we will be communicating just as much as you wish or need.
- The Legal requirements
As mentioned above, plus ensuring that your marriage ceremony ticks all the legal boxes
- Information gathering and
This is done through conversations and emails but primarily through questionnaires
Where you want to celebrate a particular heritage, convey particular message, or accommodate unusual layout dictated by the ceremony space, some research may be needed.
- Designing and Writing the
In just the same way a building is designed before it is built, so is your ceremony designed before it is written - so decisions about who will be involved, how you will enter and move about the ceremony space, what ceremonial elements will be included, plus additions such as music are made before the work of writing the ceremony commences.
- Formatting and printing
The certificates you sign on the day, my reading copy, your keepsake, and any readings all have to be formatted and printed. I also print copies of the information booklets I give you at our first meeting, copies of forms you need, and relationship information for you to keep.
- On the day there could well be some saving-the-day on-the-run problem-solving that you won't be aware of unless someone tells you after the fact
- Travel to the venue and setting
Usually done and dusted before most of the guests have even arrived
- Post ceremony Paperwork
After your marriage all paperwork needs to be checked, details of where and when the marriage took place noted on the Notice, and all paperwork scanned and forwarded to Births, Deaths, and Marriages for registration of your marriage.
All of the above Behind the Scenes work
can make the hour on the day look
effortless! Trust me, a lot of
effort goes into giving that impression.