Alexandra asks:

This may be a difficult question to answer as every celebrant is different and probably changes and adapts with more weddings that they do.

My current wedding count is 0 (i have one in August and can’t wait).

What i find myself getting a bit anxious about are a couple of things:

> Before the ceremony on the day: I know it’s standard to arrive at least an hour early to set up etc. but what sort of interaction do you normally have with the wedding guests/groom/groomsmen? I’ve been to weddings where the Celebrant hasn’t even addressed anyone until the Bride is ready to walk down the aisle – and others where the Celebrant is helping usher people to their seats, chatting etc. I’m scared that there will be crickets if i’m just standing there.

> This may sound silly, but i’ve seen some awesome Celebrants in action who are very witty – i’m confident in the heartfelt stuff but i still feel this pressure that i need to be funny. Any tips for how to overcome this? Or in your experience what helps/doesn’t help? I also will probably develop my own style that completely depends on the couple – i would never go against what the couple wants but i imagine most couples want that balance of the light hearted and sincere moments.

There’s also a thing called over thinking too which i’m sure I partly am.

Here’s the advice I sent back to Alexandra. It’s applicable to all celebrants, new or old, and hopefully it will resonate with some of you. This is just my view; Josh may have a different one!

I have two big pieces of advice for you: 1) stop overthinking it, and 2) stop worrying about what other people are doing πŸ™‚
You will develop your own style and your own way of working over time; try out different things, see what feels comfortable and what doesn’t, and eventually you’ll settle on your own way of doing things.
For your two specific questions:
1. There will never be crickets when people are arriving at a ceremony. Often they haven’t seen each other for a long time, so they’re catching up with old friends and chatting away. That will happen whether or not you get involved. You are not the host of this party, so don’t feel pressure to greet people and make small talk. I am DREADFUL at small talk; I’ll happily chat to anyone who approaches me, but I never initiate a conversation with wedding guests while I’m in that set-up phase. I definitely talk to the groom and groomsmen, settling the nerves, looking at their outfits to check phones are out of pockets etc, but I also encourage them to go and chat to their guests, not stand up the front with everyone looking at them. I don’t encourage guests to sit or ask the boys to stand at the front until I know the bride has arrived and is ready to walk the aisle; if I get everyone settled five minutes before we’re supposed to start and she’s late, that’s awkward for everyone. But again, all of that is just how I do it, how I feel comfortable, and what I’ve figured out works best for me.
2. You should absolutely not feel pressure to be funny. We are not comedians. In fact I even tell my couples that: “I’m not a comedian and I don’t tell jokes, but I do tell funny stories if you want me to”. As I’ve gotten more experienced I feel more comfortable gently taking the piss sometimes, if and when it’s appropriate, but I certainly didn’t start off with anything off the cuff – every word I would say during a ceremony was scripted and approved by the couple, until I got more comfortable in the space. It can be really tempting to go and watch a lot of other celebrants, but I actually don’t do it anymore because I know I’ll feel super intimidated and like I’m not “doing it right”. (Note: I know I’ve recommended this before and on the podcast, but if it’s making you anxious, don’t do it!) There is no “right”, only what works for you and your couples (as long as it’s legal, of course!). You will develop your own style with practice.
It’s going to sound counter-intuitive, but natural and confident delivery comes with a lot of practice and a lot of work, just doing things a little bit differently every time to test out what works for you and what doesn’t. I know it’s hard, but try to relax, and concentrate on figuring out who you are, what kind of celebrant you are, and what works best for you and your couples πŸ™‚