Many of us had careers before we became Celebrants. We developed skills and experience that have proved to be a huge advantage to our clients and our businesses. The variety is vast, so here are our top ten skills of a Wedding Celebrant; we’d love to know what you’d add:
- Active Listening
- Noticing what matters to others
- Outstanding diplomacy skills
- Exceptionally well organised
- Calm in a drama
- Clear and confident delivery
- Love of reading and writing
- Great networking skills
- Team player
If you’re not familiar with the idea of ‘active’ listening, it is best defined as listening to understand, rather than listening to respond. When we actively listen, we seek to be present, to focus only on the person talking and not to be distracted by our own thoughts or pre-conceived opinions.
When helping create a truly bespoke wedding ceremony, Celebrants will use this key skill to ensure they are crafting what the couple really want. They will also ask questions that ensure they’ve fully understood and will confirm to the clients by repeating back to assure them that they’ve been heard.
Noticing what matters to others
It’s easy to recommend lots of ideas to couples and to show them how talented and creative you are. It’s not actually about that though! A key skill as a Wedding Celebrant is to make our ceremonies all about what matters to our clients. Not what’s ‘on trend’ or available from one of our favourite suppliers. From our first conversation to the ceremony itself, we have to notice what’s important to every couple.
Part of the joy of being an Independent Celebrant, is that we can include elements of faith, culture and tradition in our ceremonies. This ensures that every element of what matters to couples can be seen and represented in their ceremony. The key skill is creating a safe, non-judgemental space, where clients feel free to express what their dream ceremony would include. That’s what matters.
Outstanding Diplomacy skills
I often tell clients that they can make me the ‘Fall Guy’. I can be the reason for things that are proving unpopular with challenging parents or old-fashioned aunts! ‘Blame me’ I tell them, ‘Tell them the Celebrant says we have to’. That’s because I don’t have to spend the next ten Christmases with them!
We have to remind ourselves and our clients, that this is their wedding day. We will happily step-in and be the Ambassador, the diplomat, and take the blame or resolve the issue. It’s part of the job and it is amazing how often the person causing all the drama, ends up loving everything about the day. And we, of course, do all of this with a smile.
There are so many steps to go from the initial conversation to the big day. And every single one matters. Being well-organised is such a key skill for a Wedding Celebrant, that we teach our Students a step-by-step process that we call ‘from enquiry to I-Do’.
It’s no surprise that almost 1/3 of our students have had roles in the past the include event management or project co-ordination. Organising ourselves, our couples, their framilies and guests requires all the top ten skills of a Wedding Celebrant, and more! And leads well into our next key skill…
Calm in a Drama
There will be Dramas – the couple are planning a wedding. Families, relatives who have opinions, friends who ‘mean well’ and that’s before you think about guests and suppliers! There will be dramas; we have to be the calm that does not engage (couldn’t resist) and helps create a safe space where they enjoy the build-up.
One of the ways we do this as Wedding Celebrants, is to maintain regular contact with our couples, as we plan their ceremony. Our training includes exploring ways to support our clients. We also look at the importance of being connected to other suppliers in the industry to help provide solutions rather than add to the drama.
Clear and confident delivery
This is not about being a great public speaker. It’s so much more than speaking; delivering a story, a great love story at that, is more about being a story-teller than a presenter. Working on your delivery, practicing daily to learn pace and where to breathe. A beatiful wedding ceremony is like a performance.
Learning to be clear and to deliver the ceremony with confidence is an integral part of our work. We still feel the nerves before every wedding and I often tell students, the day they stop feeling nervous, they should find a new career. Our nerves are there to help us perform at our best; they from the desire to deliver a truly exceptional wedding day for our clients.
Love of reading and writing
Had I known there was a role where I could sit and read for an hour every day, and call it Working, I would have become a Celebrant years earlier! And reading is a critical part of the role of a Wedding Celebrant. We read to make us better writers and also to become a resource to clients. When we’re asked to create a romantic ceremony we turn to poetry. If a Couple asks for humour, it is often found in a passage from a favourite book.
Our Credibility is about doing what we say we will do, when we say we will do it. It’s the quickest way to build trust and confidence with your clients. It’s also the best way to get recommended as so often people fail in this key skill so you stand out when you’re truly credible.
Wedding Celebrants depend on the experience that a couple has with them, for future recommendations and testimonials. If you’re not keeping your promises, your business will be far more dependent on directory listings, which are often a pitch-fest and a dive for the lowest fees. Make your word what you’re known for; it will transform your business and the experience your clients have.
Great networking skills
We often work as Sole-Traders when we’re Celebrants. However, no wedding every happened without a team of dedicated professionals. Getting to know your fellow suppliers is vital as a Wedding Celebrant. You want to be able to recommend the very best in the business to your clients. And you also love to work with them.
When dramas happen, when a couple thinks of something they’d love, knowing the best people in the business makes you a hero. Your contact list needs to be filled with credible people who you trust and recommend. And that you have relationships with, through your networking. Whether you go to a formal business networking group, or invite a few local suppliers to your own networking lunch, get to know them. These are your people.
Being part of a team that creates the whole event is a privilege. But you have to engage with the others and offer to help, if you’re going to be seen as part of a team. Get to know the other key people in a successful wedding team and be able to recommend them to your clients.
I would start with a florist, photographer, wedding planner, musician or band and a favourite venue. Get a reputation for being a team-player and you will be regularly working with the same talented group of professionals. And if you’re wondering what it means to be a team player, it’s about all wanting the same thing and being prepared to work together to create it. We all want the ‘thing’. Because it’s the day that the couple have dreamed of, and then some!