What does a celebrant actually do?

For the record, I think the word celebrancy is weird, odd, and not quite descriptive of what we do.

Even in my word processor, it comes up with a red dashed line beneath it signalling that something is wrong with it. However, celebrancy is the word someone decided to use to describe the act of being a celebrant. And I think celebrancy is an art, though behind the art there is some science.

In this article, I wanted to describe the science of celebrancy, and what it actually is that a celebrant does. It’s important because a lot of people pay a lot of money for some guy or gal to come and stand in front of them at a wedding, and when you pay money for things it’s worth knowing what you’re paying for.

A celebrant at a wedding is like a conductor for an orchestra. He’s not the greatest person there, nor the most prominent, or the most talented, yet he holds everything together. He decides when to start and when to finish. When the ceremony will go upbeat or down. If it’s a happy or a not-so-happy event. How loud it is, or how quiet. He, or she, decides the tempo, the beat and the melody.

A celebrant at a wedding is like the CEO of a company with a board of directors. The bride and groom are the co-chairs and they decide what is going to happen at the wedding, with consolation from the celebrant. Then the CEO, the celebrant, makes it all happen.

And a celebrant at a wedding is like a mirror. Reflecting the values, the essence, and the truth of the relationship being solemnised.

There are legal things a celebrant needs to also take responsibility for, this differs from country to country. In Australia a celebrant needs to

  • Complete all necessary paperwork, before, and during, the ceremony.

  • Confirm what marriage is according to the law, and let everyone know that a marriage is about to begin, hashtag excitement!

  • Witness, along with two other people, the bride and groom exchange legal vows.

  • Celebrate!

A celebrant at a wedding is like an all-rock radio station, totally relevant to its audience. Playing all the best songs for that demographic and nothing else. Listen to a rock radio station today and none of the announcers are talking in “radio voices” spitting out cliches. The DJ is in tune with their audience, standing alongside them subtly playing the role of a best friend, MC, thought-leader and “awesome guy/gal I know” in their life. The DJ makes cultural references only in step with the crowd. Justin Bieber’s new song or the news about Beyonce’s dress won’t make their way onto a rock radio station because they know their audience. A good celebrant knows their audience.

A celebrant at a wedding is like a backbone to a body, holding everything together whilst staying out of sight.

The science of celebrancy is to say enough to celebrate the event, not too much, not too little. A celebrant is like Goldilocks, knowing what too much and too little is, knowing what just right is.

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