Your wedding ceremony is the central focus of your wedding day.
As such, choosing your ceremony and celebrant needs as much, if not more, care as choosing your wedding dress or bridal bouquet.
As a once in a lifetime event, it is important to make the best choices you can now. After all that particular day is gone forever, and there is is no opportunity for a re-run!
Most couples under estimate how quickly the wedding day goes and how important 'getting married' feels, especially if their attitude is that getting married is about 'just a piece of paper'.
In particular, many people undervalue both the importance of having a sensitive, caring and skilled celebrant for a civil ceremony, and the cost of hiring a professional civil marriage celebrant.
A civil celebrant is an independent professional who has to cover all the costs for their small business from the fees they charge for their ceremonies.
This is unlike a religious celebrant who is usually supported financially by their church and has their travel, phone and other expenses covered by their religious institution. Their fees for a wedding are set on top of this income. Likewise registry office celebrants are employed by the State so conducting ceremonies is part of their job.
A civil celebrant is required to ensure the ceremony suits the individual couple. In most cases, this requires considerable extra work in sourcing wedding prose, poetry and other materials, or even writing of new material by the celebrant.
Whereas a religious celebrant is usually using the form of service for marriage required by their church, so little or no modification may be permitted. Similarly Registry Office weddings have a set format.
Outdoor weddings require extra equipment and time for the civil celebrant. This includes extra petrol, and travel costs as well as time in rehearsals and travel on the day.
Many people forget that the celebrant's performance in the 'short' time on the wedding day is 'just the tip of the iceberg' of what they do.
The vast majority of the time is in the celebrant's general preparation and experience of conducting ceremonies and other group gatherings, and in the preparation and follow-up of a particular ceremony.
The civil celebrants fees may vary from couple to couple depending upon:
• complexity of ceremony requirements
• time involved in preparation, interviews, etc.
• quality of ceremonial certificate & ceremony memento
• rehearsal requirements
• mileage and other requirements
The Federal Government, over the past few years, has introduced new legislation to protect couples from unprofessional celebrants.
Civil celebrants are required to operate under a Code of Conduct and they must undertake a minimum number of hours each year for personal and professional development.
These provisions require celebrants to do extra work and supply extra equipment to meet these higher standards and ideals.
Most civil celebrants offer the full range of celebrant services:
- detailed planning and
- support equipment (eg a battery operated PA system, as the main complaint about civil celebrants is that they are not heard by the guests).
Therefore expect a professional civil celebrant's fee to be higher than the marriage fees charged by the registry office in your state.
Some celebrants quote the same fee for all couples, regardless of the particular circumstances of the wedding. In this case, the celebrant's costs are averaged over all the weddings they do.
Increasingly professional civil celebrants are providing a fixed quote based on the specific needs of the couple and the particular circumstances of the wedding. Such a quote is usually in writing so you are clear about what your fees cover and what extras may cost if you choose them.
For example a fixed quote may be of two parts:
A baseline fee that every couple needs to pay to cover all the basic legal and other requirements and
Other fees based on the specific needs of the couple and their wedding
A Baseline Fee: usually includes the following
- Initial and Subsequent Consultations
- Witnessing & Lodgement of Notice of Intended Marriage
- Loan of a Wedding Ceremony Planning Kit
- Typing Drafts Of Ceremony
- Memento Copy Of Ceremony
- Conducting the Ceremony on the Day
- Performing Legal Functions
- Forwarding Marriage Certificate to State Registry
- Postage, Fax and Phone Costs in Australia
- Rehearsal at celebrant's home
Other Fees: usually includes the following
- PA system for groups over 25 people and/ or in noisy environments
- On-site Rehearsals
- Mileage for out of area ceremonies
- Decorative certificates and other personalised services
- Provision of Fold-up Table, Cloth and Chair if required.
Remember a civil celebrants is a professional in private practice just like your lawyer or accountant.