As an American marrying an Australian, I initially felt pretty daunted by planning our entire California wedding from Brisbane. But unsurprisingly these days, the majority of couples are planning their wedding from their laptops, whether they’re a postcode or a country away. (Read my first post in this series about buying my wedding dress on Etsy)
Finding a celebrant
I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical that my husband and I would be able to book a celebrant that we both liked without meeting him or her face-to-face. We just weren’t sure if we’d get a good grasp of their personality, style and approach to ceremonies. After all, as the first person who speaks on behalf of the bride and groom, celebrants really do set the tone for the big day.
Doing a quick Google search of celebrants in my hometown gave me a quick snapshot of what our options were. If you Googled ‘Wedding celebrants + your city,’ would you come up in the first page or two of search results? The most important thing you can do today to improve your website’s visibility is to optimise it with relevant and targeted keywords (called SEO or Search Engine Optimisation). Include key words people would use to search for you in your web page titles, descriptions, images (and alt text), URLs, and throughout your content.
Celebrant online reviews
Aside from Google, I also searched for celebrants through an American wedding vendor website called Wedding Wire. Similar to Easy Weddings, Hello May and Polka Dot Bride in Australia, Wedding Wire lists vendors by area and ranks them by client reviews and ratings. Of the celebrants in my hometown who had good reviews, I noticed that some were very responsive to reviews left by brides and grooms. Positive or negative, these celebrants had responded to the reviews, demonstrating attentiveness and care for their past clients. Affirming a positive review or commenting on a negative one (by providing more information or a different perspective) is a fabulous, public-facing way to instil confidence in future brides scouring online reviews (like me!).
Celebrant social media
Next, I had a look at the Instagram accounts of the celebrants who had positive reviews. I loved that some of them had selfies with the happy couple, snaps of floral arrangements they liked (always crediting the florist’s Instagram account), and behind-the-scenes shots of ceremony prep. When a celebrant’s online presence is all you have to go on to decide if they’re the right fit for you and your groom, social media goes a long way in closing the gap between professional and personable. The celebrants who didn’t have a presence on social media got crossed off my list. Harsh I know – but true!
Here are some other celebrant Instagram feeds we love:
After online reviews and social media, my next step was to check out websites. I was instantly turned off by celebrant websites which had no videos of them conducting ceremonies. While online reviews and testimonials go far, they can’t replace the value of footage of you in action. Conducting ceremonies is the service you’re selling, and you’ve got to promote it! If there weren’t any videos on a celebrant’s website, my search pretty much stopped there.
From the celebrant websites I found that did have videos, a couple really resonated with the kind of style we were looking for. The celebrant we ended up booking, Cindie Wilding, had a great mix of videos on her site which instantly gave us a clear idea of her tone, personality and style.
The other thing I loved about Cindie’s website was that she blogged about past ceremonies she had conducted – always crediting other vendors who were part of the same wedding (florists, photographers, cake makers, DJs, wedding planners, etc.) I can’t stress how important it is to credit other vendors who you work with. It builds your credibility in the wedding industry and it also helps brides and grooms who are looking for other quality vendors in your area. Check out some celebrant blogs we love:
We ‘met’ our celebrant online
I emailed Cindie and got a response back within a day. She offered to schedule a free Skype chat with my fiance and me to get to know us and talk about the type of ceremony we were looking for. I can say without hesitation that no amount of emails or phone calls could have replaced our ‘face-to-face’ chat. We instantly got a feel for Cindie’s personality and approach to ceremonies. We did Skype with two other celebrants – and in the end – decided Cindie was the best fit for us.
From there, the process was very collaborative. My husband and I wanted to get the tone of our ceremony just right so we had a pretty heavy hand in crafting Cindie’s ceremony text. I loved that we actually got to provide so much input into her ‘ceremony script’ (we emailed roughly 6-7 versions back and fourth) and knew there weren’t going to be any surprises on the day.
Once we finally met Cindie in person (10 days before our wedding), we felt like we were meeting someone we had known for quite awhile. Cindie knew us as a couple, understood our values, and felt like an old friend who was genuinely excited for us and our wedding.
Marketing tips for celebrants
- Optimise your website’s SEO so you’re easy to find on Google.
- Make sure you’re listed on wedding vendor directories like Easy Weddings, Hello May and Polka Dot Bride. On top of that, be sure you respond to the reviews people leave you – positive or negative.
- Have videos on your website of you conducting ceremonies. Get in touch with past brides who had their ceremonies captured on video and ask their permission to use the video on your site (remember to credit the videographer).
- Be available to have virtual meetings with out-of-state brides and grooms.
- Blog about past weddings and say what you loved about them. Use these for awesome social media posts.
- Credit other wedding vendors in your blog posts. It builds your credibility in the industry and helps brides find other quality vendors in your area.