One of the most overlooked aspects of a wedding is the marriage celebrant. However, by choosing the right person to officiate at your wedding, couples and their guests can experience a beautiful event that can stay in their minds for years to come.
'A civil celebrant should be clear, have good diction and be someone who is able to address family and guests in a way that they know what is going on,' says Stephen Chow, a civil celebrant and partner at Wong Poon Chan Law & Co. 'I think a celebrant is one of the most important parts of a wedding, but it seems to be the most ignored.'
Chow advises couples to look for an experienced celebrant who can make the ceremony personal. 'Finding the right civil celebrant is as important as finding the right dress; you need to find the right fit,' he says.
A few days before the wedding, Chow recommends couples meet their celebrant to discuss details. These include whether the bride walks down the aisle with her father or alone, and whether the couple will stand to the side or in the middle. The wedding vows also need attention. Should the celebrant read them out for the couple to recite, or should the bride and groom make their vows individually?
For wedding vows, Chow believes a civil celebrant should supply or suggest material to create a meaningful ceremony. 'I think it's very meaningful to prepare something as vows are important,' he says. 'They can say how they first met and how they feel about each other. And they can also mention their friends and family in the vows.'
Michael Lai, executive celebrant at An Oath Celebrant Service, says the celebrant has two main responsibilities.
First, he or she must give the notice of intended marriage to the Registrar of Marriages on behalf of the couple within three months of the wedding day.
Second, the celebrant officiates at the marriage registration. 'Our celebrants are trained to play the role of master of ceremonies, making an effort to create a silent atmosphere that is a prerequisite for all solemn wedding ceremonies and to bring out the romantic qualities between the bridal couple,' Lai says.