How To: Choose Your Celebrant

They’ll be the face of your day’s most crucial moment – here, how to make a choice you’ll be happy with.

  • Story by Photo The Lauren and Delwyn Project

They’ll be the face of your day’s most crucial moment – celebrant Melanie Kerr shares how to make a choice you’ll be happy with.

Somewhere in between securing your dream venue, the perfect shoes and a photographer to catch you at your glowing best, you need to consider your wedding ceremony – and more specifically, the celebrant to conduct it.

If you are having a religious service, the choice will probably be made for you by the church. However, if you decide on a secular or non-religious service, you’ll need an independent celebrant to officiate.

The celebrant’s role is to oversee the service, ensuring you are both who you say you are. They must be seen to be the person conducting the service and must oversee the signing of the marriage licence. They are not responsible for obtaining the marriage licence – this is your responsibility.

For a wedding to be recognised legally in New Zealand it must be conducted by a celebrant registered with the Department of Internal Affairs, or a Registrar of Marriages. Scour online or magazine directories to find suitable celebrants in your area.

When choosing your celebrant, look for someone you relate to and someone who you feel will truly capture the spirit of you as a couple. An excellent sense of communication, good presentation and a calm demeanor is also crucial – they need to instill in you a confidence that under any circumstances, your service will be in safe hands. The best way to ascertain whether your celebrant fits these requirements is to meet them in person for an interview. To be safe, start the process a year out – it’s better to have your celebrant booked for a year than to miss out on the one you want because you weren’t organised enough!

Celebrants will vary in price, ranging from around $300 to $1000 – but don’t let price be the determining factor in your decision. Coming up with an extra couple of hundred dollars may seem difficult at a time when everything seems to be costing an arm and a leg, but you will not regret spending the extra dollars to have the celebrant of your choice. A good celebrant will make your service all the more magical!

For more information on celebrants or to obtain your marriage licence, visit

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