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How to || Choosing your Celebrant

Carly Slade officiating for Steph + Matt

When you think of wedding planning, attention usually goes towards the dress, the venue, the decor - all the Pinterest worthy aspects, am I right?! One of the biggest oversights in planning a wedding is not placing value on the most essential part of the day - marriage itself. Marrying your significant other is the reason WHY for the day and often people lose sight in planning a wedding and not placing importance on the ceremony of marriage. Without this, it is just a big party - not that there is anything wrong with that, you will find us on the dance floor at almost every wedding we attend. And if the ceremony is the why, you've locked down the when and where, attention focuses to the who - the people who make it legal. Be it a priest, minister or celebrant, officials form an integral part of your ceremony. Given that in Australia over 75% of marriages are overseen by a civil celebrant, who better to discuss 'making it official' than with some of Australia's finest Carly Slade, Robyn Hargreaves and Simone Butler

(note: We were not only lucky enough to have Simone as one of our brides but now has officiated for some of our brides too!).

Choosing a Celebrant

Research is always a starting point for anything wedding related and for choosing a celebrant it is no different. A great place to start can be a referral from your family and friends, co-workers or other vendors that you have already locked in for your big day. Having someone who has already dealt with or had their wedding officiated by the celebrant is a big helping hand. Whilst these referrals can be like gold Carly Slade also suggest to "have a think about what you are looking for. What do you value, is there a particular vibe you are going for or inclusions that are important to you? Then look for someone who can match this." This is also a sentiment that Simone Butler echos "consider what is important to you when it comes to the ceremony. Maybe write down the top three things (e.g. vows, music, fun vibe) and then ask the celebrant how they can work with you to help achieve these things."

Another important factor to consider your budget and the cost of the celebrant as Simone indicates "While the ceremony itself might last less than an hour there is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into preparing a personalised ceremony for a couple, so that is something to keep in mind when comparing celebrant's and their prices."

Meeting with a celebrant is also a great way to establish if they work with you both as a couple as experience Brisbane celebrant Robyn Hargreaves suggests. "Ask about what they love about being a celebrant and what feedback do they get from couples. Do your personalities fit and would you be comfortable with that person for your special day" Carly also offers this advice "Remember, anyone can post a pretty picture on Instagram. Aesthetics are important, but also look for testimonials and reviews from real couples."

It's the vibe

Your ceremony sets the tone for your day so the delivery should reflect who you are as a couple and the setting to create a memorable experience for both you and your guests. As celebrants they are an important piece to the puzzle of making this vibe and aesthetic come to life. We asked each celebrant what they offer to the wedding:

Carly: "A good ceremony and the feelings it provokes can leave your guests buzzing and talking about your wedding day for years to come.

"Each celebrant has their own style and strategies for creating a great ceremony. For me, it’s about injecting lots of little personal touches, involving loved ones, sharing some of the couple’s words and stories. And most importantly, asking the couple what THEY want, rather than enforcing my opinions"

Simone bringing the humour

Simone: "I offer my clients a fun, relaxed, memorable and personalised ceremony. I pride myself on getting to know my clients quite quickly and creating a ceremony that truly reflects them as individuals and as a couple.

"I don't market my ceremonies as being humorous or funny but I believe laughter is a great way to connect and relax people, especially when emotions can be running high, so I always try to include a few lines that will get a giggle from the guests or the bride and the groom. I always say to my couples that it's my job to fix things that don't go to plan on the day so it's always my hope that I offer my couples the reassurance that their wedding day is one where they can simply relax and enjoy themselves as we all know it goes far too quickly!"

Robyn: "My ceremonies are full of warmth and personal touches. Standing with a couple about to make a lifetime commitment, with tears of joy, nervous giggles, and the pure love felt at that moment just before the ceremony begins – is indescribable. I try to explain it to my couples before the day – but it has to be felt in the actual moment. Many couples say to me after the ceremony – ‘I know what you meant.’

The Advice

Having overseen countless marriages between them, we feel these ladies are the go to for additional advice when it comes to planning your ceremony and the importance that should be placed on it. All three agree that tailoring the ceremony to you is a necessity

Robyn says "Be sure you choose a celebrant that offers plenty of options for the style of ceremony and that couples can have input."

Simone agrees "Do what you want to do and what is true to your relationship. Don't include readings and rituals or other parts of the ceremony that aren't true to you and your relationship as a couple." "This is the actual moment you become husband and wife so have fun with it - make it memorable!"

"On a side note: there are some minimum legal requirements that are non-negotiable." Carly points out. But in saying that "Remove anything from your ceremony that makes you feel uncomfortable! I always tell my couples that I am not precious about any of the ceremony material. If you want anything reworded, removed or added – please tell me!

Their other sound advice surround the vows and whether to write your own "Personal vows are beautiful! But they’re not for everyone." Carly's advice "If public speaking scares the living daylights out of you, talk to your celebrant about other ways to inject sentiment into the ceremony – without you having to say too much yourself."

Simone suggests looking from within "Couples writing their own vows or at least writing them together. It's great if you take inspiration from somewhere but it's always so beautiful and meaningful when couples have written their own vows! Don't just copy and paste from the internet. These are the words, the promises that you are building your marriage on and the personal ones always get tears from the other partner let alone your guests!" or better still, talk it out with your celebrant especially if "you find yourself stuck. Sometimes talking it through with someone really helps clear the writer's fog!"


Carly Slade is an experienced and professional Brisbane celebrant who is in touch with the needs of today’s couples. She has a reputation for creating highly engaging wedding ceremonies that are personalised to reflect each couple’s unique story, style and vision for their wedding day.

For more info on Carly visit her website or follow her on Instagram

Simone Butler is a fun, young and creative celebrant who loves nothing more than seeing two people in love. Her ceremonies are personal, meaningful, full of laughs…and guaranteed to touch your heart with happy tears!

For more info on Simone visit her website or follow her on socials

Robyn Hargeaves of Brisbane Celebrants are the story tellers and ritual makers. We are tellers of your story, and makers of your ceremony. Our skills, our knowledge, our personalities are at your service for the day. We will ensure it will be a day full of happy memories.

For more info visit her website

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