How Much Does a Celebrant Charge for a Wedding?

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‘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!

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Comments (6)

  1. I usually dont give a quote on the phone, preferring to meet first then discuss a fee. I have had couples laugh at me when I did give a quote, one said she can get a celebrant for $150. I told her good luck and to stop wasting mine and other celebrants time.

  2. I applaud your blog and wish couples would realise the important role we play in the wedding, as was said above – there cannot be a wedding without us!! Everyone is price driven and you can’t blame them for that but I get pretty annoyed when you find out the cost of everything else they have spent their money on – dress, bridesmaids, venue, honeymoon and the list goes on…… I rarely get an email or phone call that doesn’t start with “How much do you charge?” I’m in NSW and the Registry Office here charges $507 to conduct a wedding and they get absolutely no input into their service. I guess it will always be a problem to us celebrants who do our utmost to perform the perfect ceremony and everything else we do for them.

  3. You’ve hit the nail right on the head with your insightful comments. Couples have no idea how much time and effort is put into the creation of their ceremony let alone travelling and delivering said ceremony at a variety of sometimes awkward locations!!!
    I too don’t usually give a quote over the phone but ask for their e-mail address then send more detailed information for them to mull over including a price.
    More often than not they are happy with that and I get the gig.

  4. Not all celebrants are the same. Some charge to recoup their costs and may feel that the more they charge the higher they will be regarded, even if they are a recent entrant into Civil Marriage Celebrancy with little or no experience, do not belong to an association and thus have no backup of knowledge on such matters as “Shortening of Time” for the month wait, letters for Immigration for an overseas bride or groom, or other unusual situations.

    Other Civil Marriage Celebrants may be pensioners who may have Centrelink deducting .50 cents from every dollar earned above a certain amount. Still others are subsidized by a well off spouse or partner, and see Civil Marriage Celebrancy as a part-time hobby. All marriage Celebrants are in competition with other local officiants, both Religious and Civil (including BD&Ms and Courts, and clergy).

    Rather than concentrating on costs, many brides and grooms or family members concentrate on asking questions that go beyond financial considerations. A mumbler as a celebrant, or a female celebrant who dresses better than the bride or dresses down so that she looks like a poor relation or one who clashes in the bridal colour scheme can leave an unpleasant impression. A late bride can be tolerated but a tardy celebrant , or one who is unnecessarily officious, lacking in knowledge, cranky, drinking, rude/abrupt/curt or lacking in smiling disposition etc can ruin an occasion that is meant to be memorable.

    Having officiated at over 1200 marriage ceremonies, means that I have had many hundreds of calls that start with “Alma Chissets?” (and NO, that is not a woman’s name, but a ‘request for a marriage ceremony quote’ (“How Much Is It?”).

    In the ACT (Canberra) the BD&M does not conduct any marriage ceremonies, except for an occasional dire health emergency, so it is left to the Civil Celebrant community to find a niche within the overwhelming competition regarding a reasonable Lodgement fee and Ceremonial fee for a fair amount of effort and finances expended. Not always an easy task!

    Nothing wrong with shopping around but price alone should not be the sole criteria. An inexpensive Celebrant may not necessarily be the best celebrant for a wedding, a funeral or a baby naming. Sometimes one gets an unhappy memory rather than the most joyful day of one’s lifetime adventure!

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