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  • Writer's pictureSam Gardner, Celebrant Portugal

The 20 things a Celebrant does on your Wedding Day before the ceremony starts

Updated: Jun 2

Ever wondered what is on a Celebrant's to do list on the day of your wedding? You might be surprised at how much preparation goes into helping you celebrate one of the most important days of your life.

Here's my checklist for a medium to large sized wedding at a venue;

  1. Before leaving home, ensure I have;

    1. ceremony script

    2. printed vows

    3. printed readings

    4. items needed for the ceremony e.g. ribbons for hand binding, hurricane vase + candles + matches for candle lighting, certificate for signing, wine + wine box + notes and paper for wine box ceremony, small foldable table, individual ginja bottles for toast.

    5. checklist of things to check and confirm before ceremony starts

    6. plenty of tissues to hand out (before I start the new wedding season, I buy a bumper pack!)

    7. clean, pressed outfit to change into at the venue

    8. stylish, yet comfortable shoes.

  2. Travel to the ceremony venue (whilst listening to a recording of myself saying the ceremony script), ensuring to arrive at least 1.5 hours before the ceremony.

  3. Say hello to the event coordinator/wedding planner and talk through key ceremony details.

  4. Say hello to the couple in their separate rooms as they're getting ready. Also, Olá to the make up artist and hair dresser (it takes a team of people to make a wedding a success!)

  5. Confirm last minute practicalities with the couple about the ceremony

    1. Answer any questions the couple or wedding party may have

    2. Ensure they know where to stand and if they need to sit after the ceremony introduction

    3. Check for last minute changes to the plan, including whether the groom will make his own entrance

    4. Discuss any help needed after the arrival of the couple at the ceremony space e.g. who will arrange the bride's veil and dress to ensure it looks beautiful for photos during the ceremony

    5. Agree who will take the bride's bouquet

    6. Which side will the bride/brides/groom/grooms stand (sometimes people prefer a different side to the traditional for photos + keeping out of direct sun.)

  6. Provide reassurance and help + provide solutions as necessary.

  7. Check who has the rings. I have to hunt them down sometimes and there can be lots of to and fro-ing between rooms! If the ring bearer is a child, ensure a parent/significant adult has them until the last moment.

  8. Arrange for some notes to be written in advance of the wine box ceremony, discuss process with the person bringing up the notes.

  9. Check the ceremony area e.g. if couple want to sit, are chairs provided?

  10. Decide where is best for me to stand (in consultation with the photographer) especially taking into account the direction of the sun and the availability of shade for the couple. 

  11. Prepare table with items for the symbolic/ritual element(s) e.g. glass jars for sand ceremony, certificate for signing, ribbons or rope for hand binding etc.

  12. Ensure seats are reserved in the front rows for wedding party (in consultation with wedding planner/event coordinator.)

  13. Talk to the DJ/sound engineer and check sound/music.

  14. Talk to musicians to discuss music sequence and how we'll communicate during the ceremony.

  15. Talk to photographer/videographer to agree how we can best use the ceremony space together to ensure we can all do our jobs effectively and the couples get the photos they want (i.e. without my face in every shot!) Confirm with them key moments that they'll want to capture during the ceremony.

  16. Find and talk to anyone taking part in the ceremony e.g. friend/family member doing a reading, have a practice with those helping with the hand binding.

  17. Talk to the person bringing up the rings. Reassure ring bearer if they're a child so they know me as a friendly face at the end of the aisle, have a practice as necessary.

  18. Hydrate (it can get very hot in Portugal.)

  19. Ensure water available in the ceremony area for the couple.

  20. Read through ceremony script one last time, including practicing lines in other languages e.g. words of greeting. So, as you can see, there's a lot to consider! A celebrant's job is to be a calm, organised presence during your wedding day, ensuring that your ceremony is stress free, goes smoothly and according to plan. It's about being well prepared, collaborating with other wedding professionals who you've hired, paying attention to the small details, anticipating your needs, making sure everyone involved is happy and calm and understands what is expected of them. Trusting an experienced professional to have your back, means to you can sit back, relax and enjoy every moment of this very special day. Think you might want the help of a Celebrant for your Wedding Ceremony? Get in touch for a no obligation chat, I'd love to hear from you!


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