Becoming a celebrant is a journey into wisdom, maturity and understanding of self and others.
Being a celebrant is continuing journey of developing knowledge and skills to serve individuals, couples, families, groups and our communities.
In most countries today, as it times past, most rites of passage are conducted only by religious celebrants.
In 1973 Australia was the first country to appoint non-religious independent celebrants to conduct marriages outside churches and government registry offices.
Since that time, civil ceremonies for a range of rites of passage have been developed by civil celebrants, and these ceremonies have increased in popularity.
Australia's population is a mix of cultures and religious and non-religious faiths. So civil celebrants are privileged to provide a neutral, safe yet precious space and place in which people can come together to celebrate a time of happiness or to honour a time of loss.
These are occasions in which the hearts and minds of participants can be touched and moved by the power of the words, music, symbols, love and support of others.
Ceremonies and celebrations can be times of special vulnerability, so the celebrant needs to understand and be sensitive to the needs of, not only the occasion, but also to the individual needs of those participating.
Civil ceremonies do provide the opportunity for individual needs to be addressed, because their content and form not determined by a particular faith or registry office protocol.Civil marriage celebrants required appointment by the Commonwealth Attorney General.
There are conditions for appointment that require:
- specific knowledge in marriage, other laws and ethics and
- competence in skills such as literacy, communication, performance, computer and internet work, organisation and administration|
- meeting "Fit and Proper" persons conditions and operate under a "Code of Practice" prescribed by law.
For details see the Marriage Celebrant Section of the Commonwealth Attorney General's website.The specific requirements for the celebrant training program, which provided under the national Vocation and Education Training (VET) program, is currently under review by the NSW Skills Council.It is anticipated that the training level for appointment as a marriage celebrant will be increased significantly. As soon as the final Draft of the proposed celebrant training is released, it will be provided here on the CCN website.
There have been a very high numbers of marriage celebrants appointed since 2003. The number of weddings has remained fairly stable.
Therefore the ability of most marriage celebrants to make a part-time wage from wedding work is very limited. This extract is noted on the Attorney General's website:Before you embark on the training to become a marriage celebrant, please consider the following information:
- the marriage rate is generally stable, although there has been a decline over the past twenty years. In 2005, 109,000 marriages were registered in Australia, which is equivalent to 5.4 marriages for every 1,000 people. More information on the current statistics and trends on marriages performed each year can be found at Australian Social Trends 2007 Australian Bureau of Statistics
- the number of Commonwealth-appointed marriage celebrants has increased from just under 3,500 in 2003 to just over 5,500 in 2007
- there are approximately 20,000 ministers of religion, appointed by State and Territory registering authorities, working as marriage celebrants for mainstream religious denominations, and
- to find out how many people live in your area, or how many registered marriage celebrants there are, you can search the Register of Marriage Celebrants / List of All Authorised Marriage Celebrants by clicking on the relevant link on the right hand side of this page.
Remember that it may take some time to recoup the costs outlaid for the initial training, annual professional development training and start-up costs involved in setting up your business as a marriage celebrant.From these figures above, there is a 57% increase in the number of celebrants appointed by the Attorney General to a 0% increase in the number of weddings.
What is not apparent here, is the fact that
- only approximately half of the marriage celebrants in 2003 were civil marriage celebrants ie 1750 appointees.
- the 2,200 extra celebrants appointed since then have been primarily civil marriage celebrants.
Therefore the numbers of civil marriage celebrants currently is more in the order of a 100+% increase.
With another 1200 expected to be appointed in September 2008, the increase in the number of civil marriage celebrants will be close to 150% increase to little or no percentage increase in number of weddings.
These figures are provided for prospective marriage celebrants to assess the level of wedding work available in their areas, particularly if the primary motivation to be a celebrant is to earn extra money from wedding work.
Finding out the population of your area and the number of both civil and religious celebrants will help to give some idea of opportunities.
Please note: "Conflict of interest provisions" also require that marriage celebrants are not employed in the wedding industry. At least a half of most civil celebrants gross income goes to cover the costs of running what is essentially a small based business.Celebrants for all occasions:
Weddings are only one of the ceremonies, civil celebrants can provide. Ceremonies other than weddings do not require registration by state or commonwealth agencies.However the income from ceremonies other than weddings is yet to be at a level to fairly match the time, expertise and experience that many celebrants bring to their work.We still have a long way to go to establish our value in our communities, to pioneer a full range of ceremonies, and have the life stages as citizens of Australia celebrated as special events. However our CCN aim is to support civil celebrants in pioneering this next stage of celebrancy.
Therefore if you are consider being a celebrant, you need to consider carefully
- your motivation
- your needs and resources
- the knowledge and skills you already have, that you would bring to the role
- the knowledge, skills and resources you would need to acquire
Therefore it is also advised that each trainee assess their own individual areas of need as regards training, prior to taking a course. And to continue to do so, during their celebrancy career. Some trainees have good communication and performance skills but need to improve their computer and internet skills. Others may have good computer and IT skills but need training in performance skills.
Passion, Creativity, Initiative, Stamina and Resilience
Especially important for the role of "Celebrant for All Occasions" is the ability to take initiatives and be creative about developing ceremonies and your role in the community.
In the beginning of the civil celebrant program, civil marriage celebrants were considered specialised Justices of the Peace. The government set the fees and restricted the numbers of marriage celebrants appointed to a ratio of population in the celebrant's area. Also equal ratios of men and women were appointed.
That is being a marriage celebrant was viewed as a primarily community service.Therefore mentoring other marriage celebrants was viewed as an honour as everyone had an equal chance at doing weddingsThe 2003 changes have redefined marriage celebrants as primarily small home based businesses.
Removal of needs based appointments means that not every celebrant has the same opportunities for wedding work per head of population.Mentoring is no longer viewed as it was before. Rather more like competitors asking for the trade secrets others had to learn the hard way.
So celebrants need to come to the role more fully equipped, and to be prepared to give support and advice as well as asking for it.Joining a celebrant association is one valuable way of gaining support.
Creating your own celebrant local support groups with like minded people, regardless of association affiliations, another.Joining local business support networks and our celebrant business network another.
If you are care about people; are creative; have common sense, public speaking and other celebrancy skills (or are prepared to acquire them); like hard work and a challenge; want to give as much as you receive; then civil celebrancy is be worth investigating.