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Hi, I'm Michaela, the heart behind Lovely & Planned. This blog is all about elopements and destination weddings, but you'll also find general tips and advice on wedding planning. I'm so happy to have you here! Grab a cup of coffee and stay a while!

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Why you need a wedding celebrant for your wedding I Q & A with Theresa Du Toit

When planning an international destination wedding or elopement, one essential vendor you need to book is your wedding celebrant. After all, this is the person who will marry you.

But not all wedding celebrants will marry you legally, as the definition of a wedding celebrant slightly differs from country to country. Also, in some, like the UAE, you cannot legally marry unless you are a resident.  

Nevertheless, a wedding ceremony with a wedding celebrant is always a one-of-a-kind personal experience that focuses solely on you and your partner to make sure you have the wedding of your dreams.

But even though wedding celebrants are such a significant element of your wedding day, there is a lot of confusion about what a wedding celebrant is and what they do.

So in today’s blog post, Theresa Du Toit, the power woman behind Theresa D Wedding Celebrant, answers the most frequently asked questions and sheds some light on why you definitely need a celebrant for your destination wedding.

Meet the expert Theresa D Wedding Celebrant. She is an award-winning international destination wedding celebrant currently living in Dubai, UAE. 

Meet the Expert:

Theresa D Wedding Celebrant is an award-winning international destination wedding celebrant currently living in Dubai, UAE. 

“The world is my wedding oyster, and I am passionate about love, life, and marriage, and if I could conduct wedding ceremonies or vow renewal ceremonies every day of the week, I would be in seventh heaven! Whether it’s just 2 people on a beach or 200 people, the romance, love, and magic is always there! Sigh!!!!!…… How I love what I do!”

Image by Lizelle Goussard

Q: Theresa, you probably here this question a lot but what makes a celebrant-led wedding so unique?

A: Having a Wedding Celebrant conduct your ceremony gives you so much freedom, which you would not have in a traditional church set up. You can let your imagination run wild as to how and what you want to bring into the ceremony! Freedom to create!

I always say to my couples that the ceremony is all about them, and it should reflect their personalities and their love for each other, so, therefore, there are no limitations. 

Q: What’s the experience for couples like working with a wedding celebrant?

As a Wedding Celebrant, it’s all about building a relationship with the couple, discussing ideas, and together designing the ceremony, getting to know their love story, and the big question: how did he propose! The proposal is a biggie as I just love to hear all the planning that went into this magic moment! All of this becomes part of my message that I lovingly write by hand while grinning from ear to ear, to be delivered ever so happily on their wedding day! 

Q: You mentioned that a celebrant-led wedding gives a couple “freedom to create.” What does that mean? 

You should see their faces when I say to couples: you can even cartwheel down the aisle if you want to, or even sing a song to each other during the ceremony! Why not incorporate some traditions into the ceremony if you are from different cultures and nationalities? Why not involve family members in the ceremony? How about symbolic rituals such as tying hands together, sand blending, lighting a unity candle, anything your heart desires. You get the idea….

Theresa D Wedding Celebrant performs the symbolic wedding ritual handfasting. The hands are tied together to symbolize the binding of two lives.
Handfasting: wedding ritual to symbolize the binding of two lives.

Q: Do you also legally marry couples?

Here in the UAE, a Celebrant does not conduct a legal official ceremony. Couples choose to have the legal aspect done in their home countries and have the symbolic wedding celebration ceremony with their Celebrant here in Dubai, and they all see this as their wedding day!

[Related: Colorful, Cultural & Classic: An Arabian Desert Elopement Shoot

Q: So, is it necessary to get legally married before having a symbolic ceremony?

A: No, this celebration ceremony can be done either before or after the legal ceremony. Many couples fly in from their home countries to have their celebration ceremony and honeymoon here in Dubai, then fly back home. 

Q: What are your top tips for couples thinking about having a destination wedding and hiring a destination wedding celebrant?

A: Dubai is a very popular wedding destination, and I know it can be daunting to choose a Celebrant when you are not in the same country. I have 2 great tips for you brides to be and couples getting married: 

  1. Check out the social media platforms, have a look at the posts and pictures of Celebrants, reach out to them via Instagram, website, or Facebook.
  2. Have a Zoom call with them. As you chat, you will get a feeling that you are connecting, when the conversation is easy and light, there is laughter, and you get each other, you know you have found your Celebrant!

[Related: How to Plan a Destination Wedding with Ease]

Q: Besides wedding ceremonies, are there any other types of ceremonies that you conduct?

Vow renewals!! How I love these! And please don’t wait for the big numbers before you have a Vow Renewal!!! I say do them often, as it’s such a wonderful way to celebrate your love and commitment to one another!

My heart sings when I see the love couples have for each other after many years of marriage, how they tear up, and how they share their vows with a deep sense of love that has grown deeper and stronger over the years!

I had the joy of conducting a double Vow Renewal ceremony for very dear friends of mine who were celebrating their 25th anniversary, and her visiting parents who were celebrating their 50th anniversary! Altogether celebrating 75 years of marriage, and both couples even more in love than on their wedding day!! It was so incredibly special, and I was so honoured to conduct their ceremony!

Theresa D Wedding Celebrant performing a wedding ceremony on the beach.

Let’s get to know wedding celebrant Theresa a little bit better:

Q: How did you become a wedding celebrant?

Nowadays, most people know what a Wedding Celebrant is, but until 5 years ago, I myself wasn’t aware of Wedding Celebrants and what they do!! At the time, I was only aware of reverends and pastors conducting ceremonies. Can you believe this!!! It was only when a wedding photographer friend of my daughter contacted me and said: I know you are so passionate about love and marriage, you are a great public speaker, and you would be a fabulous Wedding Celebrant, so please consider becoming one- that I then googled Wedding Celebrants! The more I read, the more it so resonated with me, the more my heart fluttered, and I knew: this is me!!!!!! 

Q: You are a destination wedding celebrant. Where have you been so far? Was there one wedding ceremony you particularly loved? 

Apart from wedding ceremonies here in the UAE, I have also conducted ceremonies in Sri Lanka, Bahrain, and South Africa, and will be conducting wedding ceremonies on the beautiful Greek island of Crete and surrounding islands in a few months’ time. I love every single wedding ceremony I have done, and each one has its own wonderful magic, fabulousness, and flooded-with-love feel!

[Related: How to Plan an International Destination Wedding in 2021

Q: Is there one ceremony that is especially memorable to you? Kind of a funny mishap?  

I’ve had grooms shimmying down the aisle with their groomsmen, I’ve had a bride singing to her groom as she came walking down the aisle, and I’ve had a little ringbearer lose the rings!!! I kid you not!

Picture this: It’s an outdoor wedding, set on the lawn, all the guests are seated, and the groom and I are waiting for the beautiful bride to appear any minute! This little ringbearer came darting down the aisle, swinging the small ring cushion with great gusto, and as he came to a halt in front of me, I saw the rings were no longer tied to the ribbons!!! As I uttered the words: The rings are gone, paralysis beset everyone, including the groom! I had to find those rings, and very quickly, and what joy when I spotted both rings scattered in the grass! Needless to say, the bride only heard about this after the ceremony!

This brings me to something I always tell my couples: Should any mishap occur on your wedding day, do not stress, as it becomes part of your story that you will tell your kids one day!

Theresa D Wedding Celebrant with a wedding couple.

Fun Facts about Theresa D Wedding Celebrant

  • ​I love adventure and believe the world is a beautiful place, hence my move to Crete later this year to continue wedding ceremonies there.
  • I’ve done the longest zipline in the world and screamed all the way, not out of fear, but sheer joy!
  • I sang in a group when I was in my 20s, and we even did a show on TV!
  • I love having people around my table eating yummy food, enjoying some vino, and having lots of laughter and great conversation!
  • Many years ago, back in South Africa, I was a candidate for municipal elections in my hometown, and thus my face was on posters all down the main road! Rather funny seeing your own face on the lamp poles all over town!
  • I was a drum majorette leader for 2 years whilst at university.
  • I love public speaking and feel very at home on a stage.
  • I’ve been a podcast guest on numerous occasions.
  • I love the beach-am a beach girl at heart.
  • I’m designing a course to show women how absofrikkenlutely fabulous they are! (Absofrikkenlutely is a word in my book!)
  • I have 2 rescue kitties: one has only 3 legs, and the other kitty has only 1 eye!
  • I love life, and my motto is: Celebrate Life!

Want to find out more about Theresa D Wedding Celebrant? Check out her website theresadweddingcelebrant or follow her on Instagram @theresadcelebrant!

If you have any more questions about a wedding celebrant-led ceremony, send me an email at michaela@lovelyandplanned.com or get in touch with me right here. 

Love, Michaela


What is a wedding celebrant? What does a wedding celebrant do? Can a wedding celebrant legally marry you? In this Q&A blog post, award-winning Dubai wedding celebrant Theresa D Wedding Celebrant answers all these questions and even more.

Images: unless otherwise specified private photo’s of Theresa D Wedding Celebrant.

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