What to look for in a Marriage Celebrant

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Marriage celebrants are getting increasingly more popular performing the Wedding ceremony. In the last 10 years the amount of marriages performed by Marriage Celebrants has doubled while those performed by religious ministers has deminished.

I can only guess, but I would think that the reason for the success of marriage celebrants is that they are much more flexible in the location and the type of ceremony. So as many couples would like to get married in outdoor locations with beautiful views of the suroundings the church wedding is not as popular any more.

As with many things in life with choice comes responsibility. What are the criteria for selecting the right celebrant? What should I pay?


As a photographer I see a lot of different ceremonies and celebrants. I am also married to one and see all the work that is going into the preparation of your ceremony. When selecting the celebrant the first thing to think about is what type of ceremony would you like being performed. There are many different ceremony types. Here are some exasmples:

  • Wedding Registry                    
  • Religious Faith       
  • Standard Ceremony                   
  • Personalise Ceremony
  • Sand Ceremony
  • Ethnic Ceremony
  • Flower Ceremony

The simplest and most likely cheapest ceremony is performed at the Wedding Registry. This ceremony is not very emotional and just fulfills your legal obligation of getting married such as signing the register and all the legal paperwork.  I am not sure whether you would even call it a ceremony.  There are a few purpose build registries of the birth and marriage in NSW or the weddding can also be performed at the local court house. Here is a link to NSW Deaths and Marriages Website for more detail. They also give a good overview of all teh documentation that is required to get married.    

A simple wedding at the registry costs between $350 and $445 depending on the day and time of the ceremony.

If you have a religious faith and would like to be married in your local church, synagogue or mosk  your choice is probably quite straight forward. Contact your preferred religious minister and find out when the location is available for your wedding. Make sure you secure your reception venue at the same time to make sure you have the wedding date fully covered.

The ceremony will follow the traditions of your faith and it can be stunningly beautiful to get married in a religious location. I personally love these weddings because the locations are usually quite beautiful and make great props for wedding photography.

If you choose to be married by a Civil Celebrant your choices are endless. There are many different Celebrants available who are all trained and registered with the Attorney Generals Department. As in every profession you will find some very passionate individuals and some that are not putting as much effort into a beautiful customised wedding ceremony. Overall I must say most celebrants that I came across so far have done a pretty good job. 

To get in contact with a celebrant you can start online and search your area for a celebrant. A faster way to meet a few celebrants is to go to a bridal fair and have a quick chat to a few of them. That way you can very quickly work out who you connect to best. Another alternative is to just ask around your friends who they would recommend. 

Selecting your celebrant is a very personal decision and it is most important that you connect well with the celebrant. So meet with a few and see what they are offering you in services and what questions they ask you.

The question that you will need answering is what type of ceremony you would like performed. A standard ceremony is little more than some standardised vows and an out of the box ceremony. Whilst this is probably a more low cost celebrant service it will most likely not be very personalised.

If you would like to have a more personalised wedding ceremony that is tailored just for you make sure that you pre-select only those celebrants that explicitly offer a personalised service. Also discuss the personalisation options up front with the celebrants that you see.   

Be aware that there is quite a lot of work involved in writing, editing and performing a personalised wedding ceremony. I see the effort that my wife is putting in each wedding with multiple meetings with the couple, writing the ceremony and vows, editing it with emails going back and forth and finally rehearsing the ceremony. 

Many Celebrants offer speciality ceremonies such as sand ceremonies, ethnically flavoured ceremonies, flower ceremonies and many more. There are some really cool ideas that can make the ceremony a beautiful event that is more than just standing in front of the crowd exchanging vows.

A Sand Ceremony

My suggesting is that you have a look at the options and maybe add something that could be really special or could be the start of your very own family tradition.

How much do you pay for a celebrant? Given that the minimum wedding at the registry costs about $450 and the amount of work a celebrant is putting into your wedding you should budget between $700 to $1000 for your celebrant.

Most importantly make sure that you and your celebrant connect well. Whilst the ceremony is the shortest part of the weddding it is the most important one. Without your celebrant you cannot get married.


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