Selecting the wedding celebrant or minister – Success

If your clients are members of a religious faith, they will likely want to choose a minister or Priest from their place of worship. However they may opt to choose a celebrant from no particular religion to marry them.

Legally in Australia, a marriage ceremony can be performed by an authorised minister of religion or a civil marriage celebrant. Marriage ceremonies can also be performed by registrars at some regional magistrates’ courts. For further information contact your regional court or visit the Attorney-General’s Department website for authorised state officers: https://marriage.ag.gov.au/marriagecelebrants/civil

Celebrants are professionally trained to perform ceremonies. Because they are dedicated to these celebrations, they are able to create a personalised ceremony for the people involved. Celebrants encourage couples to be creative and conduct their wedding a fashion that best represents them. They meet with the couple before the wedding to get to know them both as individuals and as a couple, and will also interview friends and family members to gain more insight and gather personal stories to share with guests.

While celebrants help couples shape the ceremony, they do not coordinate details of a wedding, and they are therefore a complement to (not a replacement for) a wedding planner.

It’s important for the bride and groom to select a celebrant they feel comfortable with and like, who will work with them and allow them to have a ceremony that is right for them. The best way to find this out is to set up a meeting between your clients, the officiant and yourself to discuss the Celebrant’s services. At this meeting, you will discuss the ceremony, vows, exchanges, readings, prayers, music etc., and get agreement for anything special desired by your clients. It is best to do this before the celebrant is officially hired.

Some questions you may want to ask the Celebrant prior to hiring them:

  • What is their fee and when is it payable?
  • What is the refund policy if the wedding needs to be postponed?
  • How many times will the Celebrant meet with the couple prior to the wedding?
  • Is the Celebrant agreeable to coordinating the ceremony with you (the wedding planner) as well as the couple?
  • Does the Celebrants fee include the rehearsal (preferably the day or night before the wedding)?
  • Are there restrictions with respect to the music, prayers, readings etc.?
  • How are interfaith marriages handled (if applicable)?
  • Will the officiant perform a marriage in conjunction with another officiant (if applicable)?
  • Will the celebrant perform the ceremony at another location (if applicable)?
  • Will the celebrant provide a copy of the ceremony script beforehand (if this has not already been obtained)?
  • Can changes be made to the script?
  • Can personal vows be included within the ceremony?
  • Will the celebrant attend the reception?

Celebrants typically charge anywhere from $400 to $900 to perform a marriage ceremony. The fees may be higher if the officiant is requested to travel to your clients’ preferred location to perform the marriage (instead of having the ceremony performed at the officiant’s location i.e., a church).

It’s a good idea to book the celebrant as soon as possible, and put a contract in place covering all items agreed upon. After you’ve reviewed the contract, have your couple sign in it, and pay any deposit required to ensure that the celebrant is reserved for your client’s wedding.

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