At LOUISE JEAN we have the uttermost privilege to work amongst the most kind, caring and brilliant team. These qualities extend to our wonderful Accounts Manager, Thérèse who not only graces us with her presence through office hours but on weekends when she officiates our weddings! Continue reading to gain a greater understanding of the role of a celebrant and what to expect when you appoint one.
Thérèse, thank you so much for sitting down and sharing a little bit of your experience as a celebrant. To start with we would love to hear what led you to obtaining your celebrant’s license?
I've always thought it would be such a privilege to marry people but I first took a real interest about 25 years ago. Life was busier for me back then though and I didn’t have the extra time to devote to the study. By the time I moved to the Sunshine Coast my circumstances had changed and in 2016 I finally decided the time was right. While originally I had thought I would make a business out of it, I soon realised, actually, I would just like to marry couples that I had an established relationship with.
What was the journey to becoming a celebrant like?
To balance a full time job and the required studies I had to dedicate my time in the evenings and over the weekend. I researched and found an online course that allowed me to complete and submit all the necessary assessments digitally, except for the mock ceremony assessment which I attended in Brisbane. In retrospect it was more in-depth than I expected - it took me about seven months to complete and obtain registration, but I enjoyed it. In particular, I enjoyed learning about the importance of “ceremony” in all its forms.
What was it like being the officiator at your son and daughter in law’s wedding?
Without a doubt, it was up there as being one of the best days of my life because I knew I was sharing one of the biggest moments in Tom and Louise’s life as well. Being surrounded by family and friends, sharing in their love and support, made it such an emotional day for me. I felt so lucky to be able to create a ceremony that was so personal given my connection to them.
You also officiated one of our Jewellery Consultant’s weddings, which was also such a magical day. Can you tell us more about that journey as a whole?
Kaylen must have discovered I was a celebrant from the other girls in the office and to my wonderful surprise, Kaylen approached me and asked if I would officiate for her and Ben’s big day. I was just so honoured to be asked and of course I accepted immediately.
I met with Ben and Kaylen at a coffee shop where we chatted about how they met, their life to this point, their dreams for the future and, of course, the type of ceremony they would like. Ben and Kaylen wanted a simple and relaxed ceremony with their close relatives and friends.
I also had the opportunity to meet with Ben and Kaylen early on their wedding day at the beautiful venue they had chosen. From my perspective, this was invaluable as it gave me some visual awareness in terms of space and location.
Kaylen and Ben were so lucky to have you, a perfect fit, marry them. How can other couples find their dream celebrant? Would you recommend reaching out to a close friend?
A lot of couples are recommended celebrants through the wedding venue that they choose, but a personal recommendation from friends or family is definitely a very helpful option. In these days of social media, you can find some amazing Instagram and Facebook accounts by celebrants.
In terms of reaching out to a close friend, yes, I think it helps to have someone you know perform the ceremony as it brings a personal touch to the day.
As you briefly mentioned, it is customary for couples and celebrants to meet a few times before the wedding. What happens in these meetings and what do they aim to achieve?
At the first meeting, a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) is usually completed. This document provides information about the couple. The information on this form is what is relied upon by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages of the State you are married in and must be 100% accurate. Two forms of identification are also sighted at this meeting to substantiate the identity of the parties.
As mentioned above, it is important to gain an understanding of the type of ceremony the couple desire: what they want in terms of personal vows, ring exchange, involvement by family members, witnesses, rituals etc. The celebrant would also ask the necessary questions to gain an insight into the couple's love story - how they met, their first date, the proposal etc.
The celebrant should then have enough information to write a “script” for the ceremony to provide to the couple. Apart from the compulsory elements of the ceremony, there are absolutely no rules about how a Ceremony should be conducted. It really can be structured to suit the couple and their circumstances.
At the second meeting (usually just before the wedding), another form is completed called a Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage. Here final details about the ceremony are also discussed.
There is also an opportunity for a third meeting - usually at the venue of the wedding - to have a rehearsal with the couple and their attendants; however, this is not strictly necessary if the couple and celebrant are confident with the process.
How much can a couple customise their ceremony? Are there any elements that are mandatory? (are there any parts you would recommend skipping?)
A couple can customise their ceremony any way they desire. There are, however, some compulsory elements that must be included in the Ceremony. They are:
Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter.
Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”
2. The vows:
3. The signing of the official marriage certificates
Wedding ceremonies can include personal vows declared by the couple to each other in front of their guests and are often spoken after the compulsory vows, or during the exchange of rings. However, the participation in a “first look” where the couple meet before the ceremony to share their own private vows is becoming more and more popular.
The rest of the ceremony can include participation by family members or friends; it can include a ritual relevant to a culture or religion; readings, poems or music. It really depends on the personality of the couple getting married. Some people are really flamboyant and revel in the spotlight, while others may be shy and want a simple but meaningful ceremony.
What would your suggestions be for writing vows, is there a dream formular to follow?
No, in my opinion, there is no dream formula. Vows can be as romantic, or silly or quirky, as you like. There are no rules. I guess the only formula would be to make them relevant.
You have been married to your husband for 37 years now, which is such a beautiful accomplishment. Do you have any tips for a long and happy partnership?
Gosh… it’s very corny, but you need to laugh….. a lot. There will be periods of no laughter and that’s why it’s important to laugh and have fun when you can. Give and take, choose your battles and surround yourself with people who are like minded. Make sure you are on the same page when it comes to decisions and child-rearing. Live within your means.
Finally, what’s the best part of being a celebrant, can you describe your favourite moment so far?
The best part of being a Celebrant is the introduction of the bride and groom to the guests as husband and wife. This is truly a privilege and the very reason I became a Celebrant.