Appointed by the Department of Internal Affairs, marriage celebrants may conduct weddings anywhere in New Zealand. There are two types: religious (affiliated with a particular religion) and civil (no religious affiliations). Marriage celebrants go through a strict selection process and meet certain criteria.
No training or qualifications are required however there is training available - for example Auckland University of Technology offers a Certificate in Celebrant Studies. Any marriage celebrant who has completed this training will have an in-depth understanding of wedding ceremonies and what is needed to make your ceremony work.
You can choose how much you want the celebrant to do ... from writing and delivering the whole ceremony to working with what you've written.
It can be a bit daunting. There are celebrants listed in the site's directory, ask around your friends, or Births, Deaths & Marriages can supply a list of celebrants close to you.
Once you've got a short-list give them a call.
You need to be comfortable with them so some general chit-chat can be helpful. The most important thing to look for is a person you feel relaxed with and who has a professional approach.
Ask them how they usually work with couples - see if it suits you.
Ask if you can talk to a couple they've married recently so you can check out their work.
Find out what they charge - if they're really expensive or really cheap you might want to look into why.
Ask them what training/experience they've had.
If you've got a particular ceremony or location in mind mention your ideas and see if they're comfortable with your format.
There is no specified fee for marriage celebrants. They charge between $350 and $800 - higher fees usually mean the marriage celebrant has a great deal of experience and will be offering something more than the basic ceremony. Remember, your wedding ceremony is the heart of your wedding day and sets the tone for your celebration so don't decide on price.
Find out what the celebrant offers and if you feel the fee is fair for the service they are offering. See if he or she has any photos of themselves with other couples on their big day so you can check how they present themselves - hair, dress etc. Remember they will be in a lot of your photos.
Your celebrant should be able to help you relax on the day, and be in control. Marriage celebrants are attracted to the work because they enjoy the important and honoured role they play on your special day. They will be focussed on you having a wonderful experience and ceremony.
Most couples want to be able to choose the words said at their wedding ceremony. Celebrants that are working professionally will have a resource kit of ceremonies, vows, readings, and ideas for couples to take away to help them.
I write a lot of the ceremony from what I am told about the couple's love and relationship - this personalises the ceremony and makes it unique, then I discuss the draft with the couple to make sure they are comfortable with it.
A danger in wedding ceremonies is to have a lot of words that are just gobbledegook! The personal bits give the ceremony depth and meaning to the couple and their family and friends.
Once you have chosen and met with your celebrant and decided when and where you want to get married, you can apply for a marriage licence. There are full details on the Births, Deaths & Marriages website.
After your marriage, your celebrant will give you one copy of your marriage certificate and send the other back to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Sheryl Mungall has been working as a civil marriage celebrant for thirteen years and has conducted over 520 weddings. Her style is relaxed, flexible, and she believes the wedding ceremony needs depth, humour, as well as creativity to be memorable. The personal touches are very important and Sheryl has lots of ideas and suggestions. She believes in giving all the options and then leaves it to the bride and groom to decide what feels right for them. Her approach is 'It's your day' and everyone involved will be working to ensure your wedding day will be remembered with the greatest of pleasure.