Sarah May Alexander – Civil Marriage Celebrant ~ | Niki D

SARAH MAY ALEXANDER ~ CIVIL MARRIAGE CELEBRANT

We got to chat recently with the amazingly talented and super lovely Sarah about the in’s and out’s of being a Celebrant and why she does what she does. Sarah is based on the Gold Coast and has is absolutely beautiful at what she does. 

Sarah May Alexander 

{Scroll down for contact details}

 

How long have you been a Celebrant for?

I’ve been a celebrant now for six years. In the beginning I became one for a bit of fun so that I could marry friends. Then after my third baby I started taking a few more bookings and by the time my maternity leave was up in my media career, I decided to become a celebrant full time instead. It meant my alarm no longer had to go off at 3:45am and I got to work from home during the week and to do the school drop off! Then on weekends I get to play dress ups and marry people. 

 

What is your favourite part of being a Wedding Celebrant?

That I am able to witness some of the most precious moments in a couples lives together.  Every wedding that I officiate I still get emotional when I see the bride walk down the aisle and when the grooms see’s her for the first time. I also love seeing the leaky eyes of their families.

 

I then try to put my big pants on and lead the way through, its important for the celebrant to take control and guide everyone through the ceremony. 

 

Its also incredibly beautiful when the couple say their vows. Its pure emotion. Its love. It’s a very intimate space and I feel so blessed to be able to witness first hand such a raw and beautiful moments.

 

Do you have any traditions or routine that you do on a Wedding Day that you would like to share? ie like a football player puts his socks on the same way before a game 

 

At times I have had favourite pieces of jewellery or certain perfumes that put me into performance mode. I do have a trusty pair of sucky-inny undies that don’t really don’t really work at the moment! {Might be time to use that gym membership I’m paying for. Ha.}

 

But in all honesty the routine I like to follow is to be ULTRA PREPARED. I am pretty loose in my normal life – very relaxed and chilled out. But when it comes to someones wedding I am very organised.

 

I ensure all the vows, certificates etc are printed and prepared at least one week before. I charge my microphones, my Kindle that I read from, My PA system so that they are all firing on full charge. The day befrore I always fill my car up with petrol. I also get ready really early and ensure I’m at a wedding at least one hour before. I don’t ever want to be the reason someones wedding is late! 

 

I also read over their ceremony many times before the wedding to ensure their names roll off my tongue. Also by the time it starts I often ad-lib during the ceremony because I’m so confident knowing the script. It helps me get a better reaction from the crowd and the couple. Its much more authentic that way.

 

 What people are saying…. “We were so thrilled when we found Sarah! She blew us away with her professionalism and total commitment to making our day everything we wanted. She took the time to find out the elements that were important to us and individualised our ceremony so it was unmistakably ‘us’. Jessica and Luke

 

How do you choose what to wear to a Wedding?

I always talk to the bride and groom about what the bridal party are wearing, what’s the dress code is and if there’s any colour schemes or specific themes. I try to blend in as much as possible. Even though I try to avoid being in your photos I still like to look the part as there’s some you just can’t avoid. 

 

I’ve been asked to wear an Indian Sari, Bright yellow, Hot Pink and even to wear white. I tend not to wear black unless asked to – and I would never wear white unless it was a request. Mostly I like to wear an elegant dress which fits in with the dress code of the day. The biggest colour request at the moment is if I can wear navy, maroon or pink to match with the bridal party.

 

In the event of you being sick or unable to perform on the day, do you have a back up?

Yes, I have an awesome network of celebrants who I trust and who I know would do a good job if I was unable to perform a wedding. We have a facebook group where we can reach out and ask another celebrant to stand in – fortunately in 6 years as a celebrant I have never missed one of my weddings.

 

I rarely get sick which is good because by the time wedding day comes around, I’ve gotten to know the couple and get really excited about making them husband and wife. By the time they get married  it feels like I’m marrying friends {and just quietly I don’t want to share them with another celebrant! Ha.} 

 

But in all seriousness this year I’ve stood in for other celebrants for all sorts of reasons – because the couple changed the date, there was a cyclone and celebrant friends got flooded in, venues got washed away and locations had to be moved, another celebrant had a really sick child so it was a no-brainer to help her out. So the support network is amazing.

 

Do you have to have Insurance to be a Celebrant?

No, but its advisable to get it. As a Marriage Celebrant, professional indemnity insurance protects you against any claims made by the clients for breach of professional duty by negligent act, error or omission.

 

Do you have a PA System or does your Bride and Groom need to bring their own?

I have my own. I used to work in radio and would rather be in control of that side of things – I think its very important for the guests to clearly hear the ceremony – especially the vows!  Even for small weddings its surprising how often a PA is required – in QLD we have waterfalls, the ocean, heavy rain etc. Mother Nature can be noisy so its really important that everyone can hear.

 

Plus it plays music – which can be so powerful during a wedding ceremony. 

 

How do you help your Bride and Groom with their vows?

I certainly do. I encourage Brides and Groom to make one another laugh and cry when they say their vows. Its so nice to promise to put up with one another’s funny quirks but to also say things that are heartfelt. 

 

Its daunting to stare at a blank computer screen and know where to start. So I send my couples loads of ideas and examples of vows which they are welcome to copy and paste and change around to best suit them. I also think its a great idea to surprise each other on the wedding day with your vows. Its one thing you can’t control so its nice after all the stress leading up to the wedding day to hear these lovely words. 

 

How is the Ceremony Structured?

Too be honest in Australia there’s only a few things we legally have to do to ensure the couple are married at the end of the ceremony. All the rest are traditions that people choose to throw in.

 

Every wedding I do, I like to do different and say different things. I like to tell people here’s the traditional version and then they let me know if they like that or if they want to put their own spin on it. 

The general Order is:

– Bridal party walk down aisle

– Giving Away of Bride

– I like to tell the Bride and Grooms story so far

– A reading or poem if they wish

– Monitum / Legal words

– Declaration of Intention to Marry {section 45 of the Marriage Act.}

— Exchange of Vows

– Pronouncing as Husband & Wife / Kiss

– Signing of Marriage Register

– Presentation to family and friends

– Recessional

 

Now that all seems a bit black and white so I try to really make it fun and personalised. For example I had a bride who had been engaged for 11 years, when I asked her why she hadn’t gotten married she said ‘the thought of walking down the aisle terrified her.” 

 

So on her wedding day she and her groom stood swinging hands on a pier on a lake and a bag pipe player played and all the guests followed him along a narrow path through a forest to the ceremony space. It was awesome – the bride and groom smiled and waved as each person entered. They looked so happy and relaxed. It was really lovely. 

 

So there is a basic structure and some legal things – but you can have a lot of fun along the way making it awesome.

 

How many times do you meet with your Bride and Groom before the big day? Do they get to see a final run of the Ceremony before the day?

I appreciate that brides and grooms are busy and want to know that I have things in control. So I don’t need to meet with them loads of times before the wedding day. They know I’m a professional and I have lots of systems to ensure we are both across everything before wedding day.

 

However in saying that I think its so important to meet at least once before I marry them. This is always a great to get the legal paperwork done too.

 

If we have a rapport it makes it feel more like I’m marrying friends. They feel much more comfortable and it also helps me acknowledge the type of people they are which helps me create a personalised ceremony. Some couples are fun, some are quirky, some are more traditional and some just want things simple and short. I’m a really good people reader so its great to meet to know the type of ceremony they want to reflect them best!

 

What happens with the paperwork side of things? Does the client have to lodge their own?

Nope I take care of all the legal paperwork for a couple {Lets be honest the government doesn’t make things simple – its so much easier for me to do it all and just guide the couple along the process.} I also give them loads of follow up information after the wedding on changing the brides surname and how to go about doing that.

 

Having attended a large number of Weddings to date, what is your advice for Brides and Grooms when they are trying to choose their Celebrant?

Honestly choose someone you connect with but also someone who has good ideas and who will help create the ceremony YOU want. Not someone who does a stockstandard, same old – same old, ceremony every time.

Things are changing in the wedding industry and one of the big changes it the amount of celebrants couples now have to choose from.

The cost of a celebrant varies greatly – but so does the standard of ceremony you will get. A cheap celebrant can sometimes do a cheap job. I spend at least 25 hours on each wedding to ensure its written well and that I practice, practice, practice it so that on the day I dont make mistakes. I also spend a lot of time getting to know the couple and creating a ceremony that reflects them

I come from a background in Live Radio so its normal for me to perform to an audience. I’m a journalist so know how to write creatively and how to think on my feet, if things go wrong on wedding day, I remain calm and ensure that the bride and groom feel like things are in control. I also choreograph the bridal party and the guests to ensure the bride and groom get awesome photos of them. I think about all the things you never dreamt of thinking about, which you don’t ever have to think about.

I also like to have fun along the way. Its wonderful that there are so many celebrants out there – but a celebrant can definitely get the party started and can start the mood of one of the best days of your lives. A good celebrant is an investment. They can help create the whole vibe of your day. They create a mood amongst your guests. And if you and your partner are relaxed they will help you enjoy the moments of your wedding. 

You only get one shot at a wedding and a celebrant is certainly someone you should think about wisely.  

 

Contact Sarah here: http://www.sarahmayalexander.com.au/