When planning your wedding one of the most important decisions you will make is choosing your celebrant.

The majority of weddings in New Zealand are conducted by independent wedding celebrants providing flexibility and choice as well as an alternative to the traditional church or registry office wedding.

A ceremony conducted by a marriage or civil union celebrant provides limitless choice, from the most stylish and sophisticated ceremony to the most informal and casual. Your exchange of vows can be accompanied by whatever words, poetry and readings you choose. The ceremony performed before a small intimate group or at a venue bulging with your family and friends.

A well-chosen celebrant will help you create your dream wedding but in order to perform marriages legally in New Zealand, he or she must be appointed as an independent marriage celebrant pursuant to section 11 of the Marriage Act 1955 and be registered with the Department of Internal Affairs. Celebrants undergo a strenuous selection process and must maintain registration annually.

Finding your celebrant:

Browse our comprehensive list of marriage celebrants here on My Wedding Guide and create a shortlist of celebrants in your area. Check their availability with a telephone call or by sending a message. It is important that you are comfortable with your choice of celebrant so arrange a time to meet. Most celebrants will offer a no-obligation meeting which will provide the “gut’ feeling required to ensure you choose the celebrant that is right for you.

Points to consider when choosing your celebrant:

  • How do they appear on the first contact? Are they pleasant, positive and genuinely interested?
  • Good celebrants are also great listeners and should establish what ideas you have for your ceremony before contributing their own suggestions.
  • Do they provide a suggested ceremony outline? A basic order of service can provide the framework and the prompt for ideas for your ceremony.
  • Do they explain the legal requirements of a wedding ceremony?
  • Will they work with you to put together your ceremony and are they prepared to spend as much time as it takes to ensure you are completely happy with it?
  • Do they offer to provide you with resources? These may include sample ceremonies, readings, vows and ring exchange wordings.
  • Is the celebrant willing to conduct a pre-wedding rehearsal at your venue to go over the organisational aspects of your ceremony with key members of your wedding party?
  • Is he or she is well presented and willing to dress to complement your colour scheme and your dress code? Remember your celebrant will be in all your ceremony photos.

Other considerations:

Training is not compulsory but provides a celebrant with skills which will enhance their ability to provide a well-crafted ceremony as will their level of experience.

Association membership: Membership of a Celebrants Association provides the opportunity to keep up to date with current knowledge and practice and requires compliance with a code of ethics.

The celebrant’s fee: Fees vary and don’t always reflect the quality of the celebrant. Most celebrants will offer a set fee while some will offer a base fee with the final fee dependant on travel and services provided. Make sure you discuss exactly what is included in the fee before committing yourself. It is worth noting that despite the importance of your ceremony, your celebrant’s role in ensuring the proceedings run smoothly and all legal requirements are met, your celebrant’s fee will be one of the more modest expenses of your big day.

A good celebrant will fill you with confidence so you can relax and enjoy your wedding day. They will provide you with a ceremony which will reflect you both as a couple and the love you share. They will provide you with a ceremony which will be enjoyed and fondly remembered by you and by your guests and will play a big part in ensuring your day runs smoothly. All good reasons to choose your celebrant wisely.