You will find answers to some frequently asked questions on marriage ceremonies and other ceremonies here.
Why would I choose a civil celebrant for my wedding?
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2007), two thirds of Australian marriage ceremonies are performed by a civil celebrant outside a traditional church setting.
Unlike a traditional religious ceremony or Registry Office wedding, a civil celebrant will conduct the ceremony where and when you choose. Most celebrants will allow you to personalise your ceremony and write your own vows (apart from those words that are a legal requirement) as well as providing an opportunity for your children, parents or friends to take part.
And just as importantly, you are able to choose a celebrant you can relate to and whose style suits the ceremony you want.
Most celebrants also conduct other kinds of ceremonies such as baby namings, commitment ceremonies, renewal of vows and funerals and memorial ceremonies.
How do I select a celebrant that is right for me?
Not all celebrants are the same and it is wise to take some time to consider the right person for you. Here are 4 Tips:
Choose a professional. Celebrants do more than “recite a few words”. Developing any ceremony requires time and skill. Marriages also require significant legal documentation and can only be conducted by registered celebrants who have been appropriately trained and undertake ongoing professional development. (You will find a list of all registered celebrants on the Attorney General’s website. See www.ag.gov.au.) Beyond this there are other signs of a celebrant’s professionalism you might consider taking into account. Membership of a relevant celebrant association is a very good indicator of a celebrant’s interest in professionalism. Other indicators are: quality of business materials such as cards, brochures and schedule of fees; their personal presentation and the manner in which they deal with you as a potential client; their general knowledge and their ability to advise you on associated matters such as relationship counselling, readings, appropriate venues etc. You might find a recent article from the Sunday Mail interesting http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/some-celebrants-just-take-the-cake/story-e6freon6-1226315372560
Choose someone you can relate to. Are you a person who likes things formal or informal? Would you describe yourself as alternative or fairly conventional? Are you sentimental or more pragmatic? Do you appreciate a little drama or flamboyance, or do you prefer a lower-key approach? Do you have a preference for a male or female celebrant? Style is very personal. All celebrants will have a signature style which they will be able to adapt to your needs to some extent. However, no celebrant can be all things to all people. You will get a feel for the celebrant’s style from their brochure or their website and from their previous career or work. However it is best to meet with them and ask to see some of their sample ceremonies. All professional celebrants will have a folder or file of sample ceremonies and a portfolio of preferred rituals. While the internet is a great tool, this is not an occasion when you should rely on a search for the best price when the difference between a good outcome and a disappointment can amount to less than a fraction of one percent of the overall cost of the wedding.
- Check their preferred locations. Registered celebrants are able to conduct marriage ceremonies across Australia. However, most celebrants work within defined areas within about 50kms of where they live. They will usually travel by negotiation, though you can expect to pay an additional fee for this. (Please ask me for a copy of my territory radius and additional travel fees outside this.)
Ask for references or testimonials. What people say about the celebrant provides an indication of their work. Testimonials often come from clients but just as important might be what peers and colleagues say about them, particularly if they are relative newcomers to the profession.
How much notice do we need to provide to get married?
The minimum time for a Notice of Intended Marriage (the legal document that you and your celebrant need to complete) is one month before the ceremony (though in special circumstances couples may apply for a Shortening of Time).
However, since celebrants are often booked up many months ahead particularly for popular times such as Saturday afternoons, it is best to give your preferred celebrant as much notice as possible. This also allows you time to gather the documents you need, such as birth certificates, and to consider the finer points of the ceremony such as choosing the readings and preparing your vows.
Can international visitors get married in Australia?
The answer is “Yes” provided appropriate notice is provided (see above) and the couple can produce their passports and legal evidence of the death or divorce of a spouse if they have been married before.
However, marriage does not provide any legal right to stay in Australia even if you are marrying an Australian citizen.
For information on visas, see The Department of Immigration website.
How much does a ceremony cost?
There is no standard fee for ceremonies, though the following provides an indication of what you can expect to pay.
The fee for a simple, uncustomised marriage ceremony in a Registry Office in NSW (including preparation of the Notice of Intended Marriage) is $398.00 during business hours and $493.00 for evenings and weekends*. Such ceremonies take about 5 to 10 minutes, are conducted by wheover is in the office that day, and are not personalised in any way.
You can expect to pay 30% to 50% more than this to engage a professional celebrant to prepare and deliver a specially customised and personal marriage ceremony or a simple ceremony at your preferred venue. This may increase if you want a rehearsal; expect the celebrant to travel further than is usual for him or her; ask the celebrant to prepare a special ritual that adds additional cost, or are choosing a celebrant who is especially busy or has celebrity status.
It is best to be a little wary of any celebrant who quotes you a cut price fee. Crafting a ceremony takes time and skill. Like most things in life, you can expect to get what you pay for, and a poor or unprofessional performance can leave you feeling more than a little let down.
The best idea is to meet the celebrant and ask for a schedule of fees and what they cover before making a commitment. Most professional celebrants offer an obligation free meeting or telephone consultation so that you can make an informed decision.
*These fees were current as of April 2013
Do I get a refund if I change my mind?
Most celebrants will require a deposit (usually 50%) at the time of booking with the balance to be paid before the ceremony takes place. For marriages the deposit usually covers the preparation of the Notice of Intended Marriage (legal documentation) as well as reserving a space in the celebrant’s calendar. For that reason it is rarely refundable. However, all professional celebrants are happy to provide a brief no-obligation consultation before you make your decision.
Call me on +0412 523 550 between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 2 pm on Saturdays and I will be happy to discuss your requirements.