Anyone planning a wedding knows two things for certain: Spring is one of the busiest times of the year and putting on a wedding can be costly so any opportunity to cut those costs is usually looked upon favourably, and I, for one, am all for it provided it is done properly.
However, when family friends or friends of family friends offer to provide a service at next to no cost, I urge you to tread with caution. Twice recently I have been called in at next to the last minute to cover for someone who didn’t deliver. In the first instance, had around 6 weeks notice – time to get the Notice of Intended MArriage form into my hot little hands, time to meet with the couple and time to prepare their wedding ceremony to their specifications. 6 weeks is not a lot of notice, but as I usually draft about 3 months out from a wedding, it meant the drafting of a January wedding had to be postponed by a week or so in order to do this one.
The second one was a MUCH shorter timeframe. I had a phone call just 2 days before the wedding – “Help, our celebrant is in hospital – is there any chance you are free?” Well, it was to be my only day off that week so of course I said yes. Not a problem as a part of what we do is to be available, if we can be, should another celebrant get sick.
I asked them to get the Notice of Intended Marriage form from the celebrant. (No time for a hospitalised celebrant to get it to me in the post & they lived about 2 hours drive away from me & with an already busy week I didn’t have time to get it.) Then I asked them to email me the ceremony. This is where it almost came unstuck – “The celebrant is a friend of a family member and we don’t actually have a ceremony.” Okay, I think, what can I do.
I emailed off a few questions I needed answered in order to draft the ceremony and said I wold be out the next afternoon after the wedding I had that day. A couple of hours to draft something to work with the next evening.
A wedding, an hour’s drive on country roads, two hours later we had the bones of a ceremony, then a rehearsal and then home after dark to finish writing the ceremony, type up all of their paperwork and get ready for the next day. Some tweaking the next morning and we were good to go. BUT the couple didn’t get the chance to look over the final version of the ceremony and had to put their trust entirely in me -someone they had only properly met less that 24 hours before their wedding.
Fortunately all ended well – the couple were delighted with their ceremony and the wedding went off without a hitch.
The point of the story being – by all means use a family friend or friend of a friend, but treat them as a professional and pay them accordingly, so that you feel you can ask them to do what needs to be done. This last minute stress is something that you definitely don’t want in the days before your wedding.
This is one story from one celebrant, but recently I have heard of make-up artists, photographers & videographers, even florists, pulling out at the last minute – because they got a better offer and most of these were doing it as a favour. Get a contract or service agreement from everyone involved. Confirm, in writing, at least a month beforehand that everything is good to go.
By the way the photos included here bear no relation to any of these recent weddings – they just show the lovely places I get to do weddings in around the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.