MARRIAGE FAQ'S

What are wedding celebrants?


A Wedding Celebrant may be either Civil or Religious. They are a person who is legally permitted to conduct a wedding ceremony between two people. A Civil Marriage Celebrant is someone who has completed a Certificate IV in Celebrancy with an approved institution and has then been successfully screened by the Attorney General’s Department and consequently awarded a registration number which they may use in all the official documentation required to legalise a marriage in Australia. A Wedding Celebrant will complete and lodge all the official documentation required to legalise a marriage in Australia as well as composing and conducting the wedding ceremony on the actual day.




Can anyone be a wedding celebrant?


Anyone can become a Commonwealth-registered Civil Wedding Celebrant as long as you are over 18, complete a Certificate IV in Celebrancy with an authorised training institution and undergo the approval process with the Attorney General’s Department upon completion of your celebrancy course. Once approved you will need to pay a one off registration fee of $600 followed by an annual registration fee of $240 as well as completing ongoing professional development on an annual basis. To be a Commonwealth-registered religious wedding celebrant or Minister of Religion you would have to fulfill the criteria of that particular faith or religion before being legally eligible to conduct a marriage ceremony.




Why choose a wedding celebrant?


A Civil Wedding Celebrant is able to marry a couple in whatever location the couple may desire (as long as it’s within Australian waters). A Civil Celebrant is also able to do and say whatever the couple would like as long as the legal minimum wording is included at some point in the ceremony. Taking time to choose the right Celebrant for you is time well spent. Feeling reassured that your chosen Celebrant will reflect your personalities and “vibe” can be extremely reassuring and will set the tone for your special day.




How to get married in Adelaide?


There are a few choices when it comes to getting married in Adelaide. One way is to get married at Births, Deaths and Marriages 91-97 Grenfell Street, Adelaide phone number: 13 1882. This will cost $333 (as at July 2020) . There may be a limit to how many people can witness your wedding and you will be locked into their time frame. There is little flexibility around wording, incorporating special rituals or having loved ones participate in your ceremony. Some people choose a religious wedding and will negotiate directly with their local Church/Temple who will have their own rules, expectations and price structure. Others are attracted to the flexibility afforded them by choosing a Civil Marriage Celebrant. Apart from the compulsory wording, a Civil Celebrant can say and do whatever you would like and can marry you wherever you would like to go (bearing in mind Occupational Health and Safety guidelines). It is wise to “shop around” to find someone who is going to be the right fit for you.




How much does it cost to get married?


In the scheme of things, the cost of your Celebrant for your wedding day is minimal. A well officiated ceremony will set the whole tone of your wedding day so it’s important to find someone that you feel completely comfortable with and who will fulfill your expectations. Prices may vary greatly between Civil Celebrants but a usual fee in South Australia is around $600. Other factors that might influence a Civil Celebrant’s fee could be the time of the year (Spring & Summer may be more expensive) or the day of the week (Saturdays are the most sought after day). The Registry Office will charge (as at June 2020) $327. Religious celebrants will set their own fees and will vary greatly. Contact your local church/temple for details. On average, a Civil Marriage Celebrant in South Australia will cost anything from between $400-$1,000.




What does a marriage celebrant do?


A Marriage Celebrant is someone who is legally authorised to conduct a marriage ceremony. They may be either religiously affiliated or a non-denominational Civil Celebrant. A Celebrant will complete all the official paperwork necessary to marry you. These documents will include: 1. The Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) which must be filled in and lodged with your Celebrant no less than a month + 1 day prior to your wedding day; 2. Statutory Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage which is usually signed a day or two prior to the ceremony and declares that both parties know of no reason why they shouldn’t get married; 3. The Marriage Certificate on the day of the marriage. There are 3 copies of this document. One is the Celebrant’s own Marriage Register, the other is the decorative certificate that the couple may keep straight away and the third is on the other side of the above-mentioned form which then gets posted as soon as possible and no more than 14 days after the Ceremony to the Births, Deaths and Marriages office in the capital city of the State in which you’ve been married. You will be able to seek a certified copy of this certificate for your records a few weeks after your ceremony. You may need this if you are changing your name or seeking to live overseas for the purposes of work etc. In some cases, there may be other forms involved i.e. if an interpreter is being used but commonly these are the main documents that involve your Celebrant. The other duties of your Celebrant are to help you construct your ceremony. They will offer suggestions for content but essentially you are able to do and say whatever you like as long as the ritual includes the compulsory legal wording. Your Celebrant should offer to conduct a rehearsal prior to your wedding day and will conduct the ceremony on the actual day.




Where can a celebrant marry us?


A Civil Celebrant can marry you anywhere within Australia’s jurisdiction. There is great flexibility afforded you when engaging a Civil Celebrant to conduct your wedding ceremony. Many couples like the idea of getting married outdoors – on a beach, in a garden, at a winery or at their own home. Having said this, a Celebrant has a duty of care to the couple, themselves and the assembled witnesses to keep everyone safe for the duration of the ceremony. It is always wise for the couple to have a Plan B when organising a location for their wedding ceremony and ultimately it will be the Celebrant’s decision as to whether the ceremony can proceed or not. For example, in the instance of extreme temperatures, high winds or lightning a Celebrant will have the ultimate say on whether the ceremony needs to relocate to a safer site.




Does the celebrant stay for the reception?


As a general rule the Celebrant does not stay for the reception. You are by no means obliged to invite your Celebrant to stay on. However, there are times when a particularly close bond may be made between the Celebrant and the couple in which case you may feel that you would like them to be involved in the reception. Obviously, if your Celebrant already happens to be a family friend then it would be perfectly normal for them to be invited to the reception.




Do we need a celebrant for our wedding?


If you wish to be legally married, then yes, you do need a Celebrant to officiate at your wedding. If you want to do a Commitment Ceremony instead of a legal marriage then you do not need a Celebrant as this is not a legally binding or recognised ceremony. To be legally married you need a Celebrant to prepare, complete and lodge all the necessary documentation to be registered with Births, Deaths and Marriages and say the necessary words at the ceremony that make that wedding legal.




Can a friend marry us in Australia?


If your friend happens to be a Commonwealth-registered Civil Wedding Celebrant, a Commonwealth-registered religious wedding celebrant or Minister of Religion then, yes, your friend may marry you. If your friend is none of the above-mentioned but they are a very good facilitator, presenter or speaker then you could negotiate with a Civil Wedding Celebrant to work in tandem with your friend whereby your friend facilitates the majority of the ceremony and the Civil Celebrant conducts just the legal parts of the ceremony. Having said this, think very carefully about inviting a close friend to officiate your special day. These moments in time are extremely special and, hopefully, only happen once in your life. Perhaps that special person in your life would like to be free to relax and thoroughly immerse themselves in your special day. Facilitating a ceremony is very different to watching it all unfold before you. A better suggestion might be to invite them to contribute by way of a specially chosen reading, blessing or song rather than shouldering the burden of conducting a whole ceremony. A good Celebrant will help you construct a ceremony that is inclusive of all who you wish to be involved and don’t forget that there’s always the reception or party afterwards that will be greatly enhanced by having a wonderful MC at the helm.




What interview questions do marriage celebrant ask?


As far as the questions that a Marriage Celebrant may ask you, well, their primary task when meeting you at your first interview will be to get to know you both better so their questions will be aimed at achieving this outcome. They will have to be assured that you are who you say you are so will ask you for a couple of forms of identification. Either a passport or drivers license will fulfill this requirement as they include a photograph of you. To complete the NOIM (the Notice of Intended Marriage) the Celebrant will need to see your Birth Certificate (preferred) or your passport. Your Marriage Celebrant will ask you questions that will help them to create your ceremony. A conversation about how you met and what has brought you to the moment of taking this next step in your relationship may unfold. The Celebrant will ask you what your likes and dislikes are in terms of style, the feel and the mood that you are trying to achieve for your ceremony. Most importantly, you would hope that your first interview with your Celebrant makes you feel like you will enjoy working together in creating your special day.




Can a celebrant marry a family member?


Yes, a Civil Marriage Celebrant may marry a family member. Having said this, think very carefully about inviting a close relative or friend to officiate your special day. These moments in time are extremely special and, hopefully, only happen once in your life. Perhaps that special person in your life would like to be free to relax and thoroughly immerse themselves in your special day. Facilitating a ceremony is very different to watching it all unfold before you. A better suggestion might be to invite them to contribute by way of a specially chosen reading, blessing or song rather than shouldering the burden of conducting a whole ceremony. A good Celebrant will help you construct a ceremony that is inclusive and an authentic reflection of you and your partner.




Why become a wedding celebrant?


There are very few moments in the average person’s lifetime when they are the focal point of their family and community so to be the person who is care-taking this process and moment in time is a huge privilege and responsibility. If you have great empathy and interest in people and a will to assist in the creation of beautiful and precious memories for others, then it doesn’t get much better than becoming a wedding celebrant. Good luck.




What does a celebrant say at a wedding?


On the whole a Civil Celebrant can say whatever you want them to say – that’s the beauty of working with your own Celebrant. Together you can make your ceremony a true reflection of your relationship and are limited only by your imagination. However, your Celebrant will have some compulsory wording that must be included somewhere in your ceremony to make the marriage legal. Following on here is the minimum legal wording that must be included in your ceremony: My name is . . . . . . . (NAME OF CELEBRANT) . . . . ., I am a Civil Marriage Celebrant and am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law. And so . . . . . . (PERSON 1) . . . . . . and . . . . . . . (PERSON 2) . . . . . , before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of your witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship you are about to enter. Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others voluntarily entered into for life. And so I ask you, . . . . (PERSON 1) . . . ., to declare your vows to . . . . (PERSON 2) . . . . .. (PERSON 1): I call upon the people here present to witness that I, (PERSON 1), take you, (PERSON 2), to be my lawfully wedded spouse. I will respect you . . . .???? (PERSON 2): I call upon the people here present to witness that I, (PERSON 2), take you, (PERSON 1), to be my lawfully wedded husband. I will respect you . . . .???? It is also possible that any member of your family or a special friend is able to conduct all other parts of your ceremony if you so choose. As long as the Celebrant completes and submits all the official paperwork, witnesses the whole ceremony and says the compulsory wording above, you can have whoever you would like do/say everything else. Having said this, think very carefully about inviting a close relative or friend to officiate your special day. These moments in time are extremely special and, hopefully, only happen once in your life. Perhaps that special person in your life would like to be free to relax and thoroughly immerse themselves in your special day. Facilitating a ceremony is very different to watching it all unfold before you. A better suggestion might be to invite them to contribute by way of a specially chosen reading, blessing or song rather than shouldering the burden of conducting a whole ceremony. A good Celebrant will help you construct a ceremony that is inclusive and an authentic reflection of you and your partner.




Where should the celebrant stand?


There are no hard and fast rules as to the positioning of anybody in your wedding party, including the Celebrant. It is useful to have a rehearsal on site at the wedding venue as close as possible to the actual date of the ceremony. At this time the positioning of all involved in the wedding party can be decided and mapped out. As a rule, the Celebrant will stand to one side of the couple throughout the ceremony so the couple can be together, hold hands etc. However when it comes to the exchanging of vows and rings, it may be necessary for the Celebrant to stand inbetween the couple for the purposes of using a microphone or allowing the parties to read their vows from the Celebrant’s book. There are no hard and fast rules, you can negotiate all of this with your Celebrant. Your Celebrant will have experience of what works and what doesn’t and can give you the pros and cons of all the possibilities. Equally, your photographer may have some ideas too about what has worked in the past but all of this should be decided upon prior to the wedding day so it can be rehearsed prior to the actual ceremony.





BRONWEN JAMES | CIVIL CELEBRANT

Belair, South Australia

©2020 Bronwen James