Commissioner VS Celebrant | Sondra Richardson, Okanagan Celebrant

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    By Sondra Richardson, Owner/Celebrant of Okanagan Celebrant

    First things first…COMMISSIONER VS CELEBRANT.  What is the difference?!

    To help clarify options and aid you in your search for an officiant, know there is a difference between a marriage commissioner and a celebrant.  A Marriage Commissioner/ Justice of the Peace is someone who is employed by the government to officiate weddings. They show up just before the ceremony and work off of standard templated “government scripts” to legally marry a couple, for an investment of approximately $125.00 plus travel fees.

    A modern minister and (Life Cycle) Celebrant, is a representative of spiritual beliefs, and a professional officiant trained to compose, design, and legally perform personalized ceremonies for milestones across the life cycle. In regards to weddings, as a Life Cycle Celebrant and contemporary Metaphysical Minister, I offer a premium service, investing 20 – 30+ hours per couple, hand-crafting a custom ceremony that reflects a couple’s love story, family, beliefs/ values, cultural background, and spiritual beliefs if any or none (or a mixture there of), and working with you before and on your big day to create a relaxing and flawless celebration.

    Choosing a Celebrant ceremony means choosing a memorable experience for you and your guests. 

    Sondra Richardson


    Once you have decided that a celebrant is the right choice for your special day, the next step of the process would be for us three to meet for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation over coffee and decide if we ‘click’, and feel comfortable working together.  This is important, as I spend numerous hours per couple on research, writing, and preparation (as well as answering any questions or concerns that come up), so we need to feel comfortable, as we will be communicating quite a bit, especially as your big day approaches!

    Regarding meeting, depending on where you are, I can come your way, or meet halfway somewhere if you coming to Penticton isn’t convenient.  If you are planning a destination wedding (here in the Okanagan, or elsewhere), we can get to know one another via telephone, Zoom, FaceTime, etc., and move forward from there.

    If you both like what you hear from that meeting and want to proceed, I require a 50% retainer, (accepting e-transfer, credit cards, PayPal, or cash), which secures your date, (the balance due a week or two prior to the ceremony).  Next, we sign an Agreement, I take your information and additional notes, and then I send you two off with some fun ‘homework” … a questionnaire that each of you fill out independently and return to me later.  The questionnaire gathers information regarding your personal love story, beliefs, likes, dislikes, expectations, hobbies, interests, etc.  This is the ‘bones’ of what I’ll begin to work with to create your ceremony.

    We will also discuss readings, personal and cultural customs/beliefs, and rituals, and I’m happy to offer some suggestions regarding that as well. There are many elements to incorporate into a ceremony that makes it uniquely ‘yours’!

    With all that gathered information, I will craft a first draft of your ceremony, and send it to you … then the editing process begins and is not finished until the two of you are 100% satisfied with your ceremony. You get the final word.

    If you want a rehearsal, we can arrange one… and on “the big day”, I arrive 45mins – 1 hour prior to the ceremony start, to check in with everyone from you the couple, to your Planner, DJ, Photographer, and other wedding team members, ensuring that everything from the ceremony standpoint is set and ready… all you need to do is show up, smile, and say “I do”!


    A bridal bouquet


    Most celebrants do not have a set investment package as Commissioners/J.P’s do, since our ceremonies are crafted by hand – Each a one-of-a-kind, highly personalized, and depend on scope, complexity, and your budget, (although all ceremonies include reflective process, custom writing, and officiating fee, as well as a keepsake copy of your ceremony).

    As each ceremony design is as unique as the couple celebrating, it is best that we sit and go over your vision of your ceremony.  However, as a general guideline, my ceremony services encompass a simple legal signing to an intimate elopement, a petite fête to a wee wedding, or a grand celebration… Whatever you desire!

    All ceremonies include exceptional attention to detail… Scripting, choreography of all movement, custom ritual design, readings, any guest participation and/or performing live music during different stages of the ceremony, etc.  Your handcrafted ceremony will reflect YOU…(the two-ness that makes your ‘you-ness”), and working with you and your team before and on your big day, I am there to create a relaxing and flawless celebration.  Travel costs are also considered with pricing, as are accommodations if it is a destination or evening wedding with long distances for travel to and from Penticton.

    In offering this, I accept only a limited number of events each season in order to provide my clients with the highest quality of service and the most personalized relationship possible, so there is no worry if things run a little bit off schedule – It’s quality, not quantity that matters!

    I know this is a lot of information all at once, but it is my hope that it clarifies things for you, and makes your decision process easier.  If you are interested, I’d be happy to set up a time to discuss your vision further.

    Best Wishes,

    Sondra Richardson

    Okanagan Celebrant


    PS, Life is amazing – Let’s celebrate!

    A couple during their recessional

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