We asked Chris Longhurst, Wedding Celebrant from Civil Celebrations in Wagga Wagga for his thoughts…

First thing you need to do is set the date.  Then secure the venue and then interview your celebrant.

We’ll arrange a meeting to get to know each other and quite frankly, to see if I’m who you want to marry you. I’ll explain the forms and necessities that are required as a legality to get things moving and then, if you are happy with me and what I have explained so far, we’ll meet again and fill out the Notice of Intended Marriage Form.  This is required a minimum of one month prior to the date of your wedding, but I do recommend lodging this with your celebrant as early as possible.  This form addresses most of the legal requirements for your wedding.

At this meeting you’ll need to bring your Passports or Birth Certificates (these must be originals please), photo ID such as current Drivers Licence; and if it is the case, your Divorce Certificate, or Death Certificate of your former spouse if you are widowed.  Again, originals are required for these documents.  Your celebrant needs to see these documents; copy them and give them back.

The other legal requirement is that the celebrant meets certain criteria in the wording of the introductions and vows within your wedding ceremony.  A professional celebrant will meet this criterion with subtlety and not take away from the romance and creativity of your wedding ceremony.

Just as confirming your venue is vital; it’s important, when you have chosen your celebrant, that you confirm your booking.  Confirming the celebrant booking will require paying a deposit.  It will take a few meetings, emails and phone calls to make this as perfect as it can be; and I do thoroughly recommend a rehearsal.

Your wedding will be as unique and distinctive as you are, both are as a couple and individually. There is a myriad of resources available to you from simple verses and readings to music, songs, ceremony within the ceremony or rituals, musical expression, cultural or traditional content, to your dress themes and colour schemes and so much more. Your wedding can be as simple or as refined as you wish.

I’m often asked about the difference between a Clergy led wedding and a Celebrant led wedding.

An Authorised Marriage Celebrant will officiate your wedding according to the Marriage Act of 1961; while clergy will generally conduct the wedding according to the rites of a given Church.  In both services, similar legal requirements apply.  The choice of a religious service or civil service is important and is one to be respected.

Couples can, of course, include cultural, religious and spiritual elements in their Celebrant led wedding ceremony.  A professional Wedding Celebrant will have a knowledge of, and respect for, religious, cultural and spiritual beliefs.  Engaging together, the marrying couple and celebrant will ensure that these elements, those chosen by you, are included in your wedding ceremony; and that your day is indeed memorable.

Likewise, when a couple’s wedding is their second or subsequent marriage; I encourage consideration of including an element within your ceremony to recognise the blending of your families.  Experience has shown that relationships with children and older generations alike are enhanced by this recognition and inclusion.  Again, a professional Wedding Celebrant will guide your family through these opportunities for enriching your future together.

Chris’ last word was simple…

“It’s your day.  Own it. Cherish it. Enjoy it”.