‘HOW MUCH DO YOU CHARGE FOR A WEDDING?’
Celebrants – do you find that question is often the first you are asked?
As we all know, celebrants do not have to charge a regulated fee and, importantly, fees cannot be fixed between celebrants or celebrant groups. However, I would like to make a comment on behalf of professional marriage celebrants regarding fees charged, as I don’t believe the majority of marrying couples understand the responsibilities a marriage celebrant is required to fulfil.
To begin with, a marriage celebrant is legally responsible for the validity of a marriage. They also aspire to provide a deeply rewarding and meaningful marriage ceremony which couples will remember and cherish for their rest of their lives. We (celebrants) frequently hear that our cost is LESS than that of a wedding cake!
The Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages fee is the bench mark: in Perth, the basic BDM fee for a marriage is $355 with an additional $44 charged for a copy of the registered marriage certificate. It is worth considering that the Registry (BDM) conduct marriages between the hours of 10am to 3pm on weekdays, not weekends or public holidays. The couple and their witnesses travel to BDM to lodge the Notice of Intended Marriage and attend the marriage ceremony.
On the other hand celebrants must travel to the couples chosen wedding venue to conduct the ceremony, thus they must maintain a reliable vehicle. A celebrant must provide a secure facility for storing legal documents; an office for interviewing couples, or be prepared to travel to the couple to complete the required pre-marriage documentation. Celebrants must have a wardrobe of suitable attire and be well presented at the ceremony; they must purchase and maintain their own PA system to ensure all the guests will hear the ceremony. Most celebrants either purchase and maintain a website or purchase a listing on a professional celebrant directory. The majority also belong to a professional association and pay annual fees which include insurance.
On top of that, the majority of celebrants have paid a considerable amount of money to be trained and since last year, even after qualifying in Certificate IV in Celebrancy, they now pay $600 to the government to apply to be registered as a marriage celebrant. Annual costs are $240 for registration plus around $180 for Ongoing Professional Development.
Consideration of those costs, divided by the number of weddings the celebrant might expect to conduct annually, added to the benchmark figure – well, that’s something each celebrant must decide.
In my personal opinion I believe the celebrant’s fee should not be discounted. Celebrants do not ‘discount’ the quality of the service they provide. A wedding will survive without a wedding cake – but there is no wedding without a celebrant!