Celebrants and Ceremonies
Emma Margeaux Bride Online Columnist

Wedding Celebrant FAQs

(Courtesy greenweddingshoes.com)

What does a celebrant do?

A wedding celebrant takes care of all of the legal requirements for your wedding. They communicate with the government departments and obtain and submit all of the necessary paperwork on your behalf. A celebrant also facilitates your wedding ceremony and helps to make sure things run smoothly on the day. They may also recommend other services to you such as local florists and caterers.

What is the difference between a minister and a celebrant?

A minister or priest is a religious leader and will usually perform weddings in their church and include religious wordings in the ceremony. A celebrant is a civil servant who can legally marry couples in a number of venues and is able to customise the ceremony to suit the needs and style of the couple.

How should we choose our celebrant?

Meet a few celebrants until you find someone who you both feel comfortable with. A celebrant who suits your style, personalities and understands your ceremony desires will work well with you and make the day more enjoyable for everyone. Basically, when you find someone who has the qualities you admire in a friend, you have probably found the perfect celebrant for your big day. For more information, check out this comprehensive article.

Can a friend or family member marry us?

If they are a legal minister or celebrant, yes. If not, your celebrant may be willing to work with you so that they perform all of the legal requirements, wordings and signing registry and then oversee your friend or family member facilitating the vows and ring exchange.

When should we start looking for a celebrant?

Don’t leave celebrant shopping to the last minute. Start looking as soon as you have set a wedding date. Meet with a few celebrants before deciding on the one you are most comfortable with. Keep in mind that popular celebrants book up fast. If you can, start meeting celebrants up to 12 months before the wedding. At the very least, you will need one month to notify the attorney general’s office of your “intent to marry” so make sure to find a celebrant more than one month before your wedding day.

How much of the budget should we spend on the celebrant?

Seeing as there is no marriage if there is no celebrant, budget priority should be given to the celebrant’s fee. The celebrant’s fee should come first and foremost and then the rest of the budget can be broken down from there.

How much should we expect to pay for a celebrant?

Celebrants charge anywhere from $150 to $850 but the fee doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of service. Shop around until you find a celebrant you are comfortable with. You may find that a cheaper celebrant suits your needs better than a more expensive one.

Do we need to pay for the whole celebrant’s fee up front?

Most celebrants do not require the entire fee to be paid up front. Most ask for a deposit of between 20% and 50% during the initial consultation.

After paying the deposit, when should we pay the rest of the celebrant’s fee?

Some couples choose to pay the remaining amount of the celebrant’s fee on the day of their wedding. However, this can become tricky, and awkward, as your mind will likely be on other things that day. It’s a good idea to pay the remaining amount at the rehearsal dinner. That way, you don’t have to worry about it slipping your mind and you can focus on the important things.

What services are included in the celebrant’s fee?

Most celebrants will meet with the couple a few times. There is the initial consultation and then two or more meetings to discuss the ceremony, legalities and to answer any questions that the bride and groom might have. The celebrant’s fee includes the time involved in these meetings and filing the necessary paperwork. Many celebrants also provide a PA system, signing table and stationery to use on the day of the wedding. These items may be included in the price or may include a separate fee.

How long should the ceremony be?

Most ceremonies are between 20 and 30 minutes but this is up to you. Couples who have particularly musical friends sometimes invite their friends to perform a suitable song at the ceremony, which obviously extends the length of the ceremony. However, most guests prefer short and sweet ceremonies. You can party the time away with your friends and family at the reception.

Is there a certain wedding program that we need to follow during the ceremony?

There are some parts of the ceremony which cannot be changed, for legal reasons. If you choose to be married by a minister, there are additional parts of the ceremony which the minister likely will not change. However, much of the ceremony is customisable. Your celebrant can discuss options with you and provide samples which you can pick and choose between to create a ceremony program which suits your personalities and preferences.

What aspects of the ceremony do we need to discuss with the celebrant beforehand?

Your vows and the legal wording of the ceremony are of utmost importance but there are many other details that are also important to discuss to make sure that your day runs smoothly. You will be able to iron out most of the ceremony wrinkles and ask questions during the rehearsal but it is also a good idea to make sure that the photographers and ushers are clear on the celebrant’s expectations. You may have seen the recent viral video where the photographers and minister began arguing during the ceremony. This is the last thing you want at your wedding. Camera flashes and clicks can be distracting and interfere with the PA system so make sure to clearly define areas where the photographers can and cannot shoot from, as well as times during the ceremony when photography may not be appropriate.

Who can be our witnesses?

You will need two witnesses to sign your wedding papers at the ceremony, to make your marriage legal. The two witnesses can be any two adults (over the age of 18) except the celebrant.

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