Whether or not you are having a religious ceremony to incorporate with you or your family’s religion, you will still require the services of a Celebrant. Like the rest of your list on your ‘Things to Do', there are so many questions to ask. Hopefully, the information below will help you find the answers you’re looking for.
What's the role of the Celebrant?
The Celebrant will perform all your legal paperwork, as well as officiating over your ceremony. After the marriage, the Celebrant will send your legal paperwork to the relevant department of Birth, Deaths & Marriages for registration.
If you live overseas and you need your marriage registered in your home country, the Celebrant can also take care of this for you. Your Celebrant will register the marriage for you and then obtain the Apostile Stamp from the Department of Foreign Affairs. There is usually a small charge involved, which includes the mailing fee to your overseas address.
What should you look for?
Finding the right Celebrant is an important decision, one which you should put equal effort in as, say, finding the right wedding dress. After all, you have to feel comfortable with someone who is essentially responsible for your marriage.
If a friend of yours was happy with their Celebrant, they could perhaps introduce you to him/her. Alternatively, it’s a good idea to meet with a few and see which one you feel a strong rapport with. Call or email a few to set up an appointment. Some may even have their own websites to peruse.
You will know if you are happy with what you see, so ask yourself a few of these questions after the meeting:
- How did you feel during the meeting? Were you comfortable?
- Did the Celebrant have a confident answer for all your questions?
- Did you feel that he/she understood your needs?
- Were you impressed with some of their ideas or suggestions they offered?
When should you book?
You should book your Celebrant as soon as you have decided on a date, time and venue for the ceremony. However, you will need to contact the Celebrant no less than one calendar month prior to the date of marriage. One of the most popular times for the ceremony is in the afternoon on a Saturday, usually at around 3pm. Thus it is a good idea to have other time preferences set aside. You will find that Celebrants who are in high- demand will also have a very busy schedule.
What are the legal obligations?
It is important to understand that you must adhere to the following legal requirements:
- Both partners must be over the age of 18.
- You, your partner and your celebrant must sign and lodge ‘The Notice of Intended Marriage' form one calendar month before your wedding date. This will require a birth certificate if you or your partner were born in Australia, or a passport if you were born overseas.
- If you or your partner have been married before, you will need to provide documentation stating how that marriage ended and a Divorce Decree must be shown. In the case that a spouse has passed away, a Death Certificate must be produced
- The Celebrant must be given one calendar month’s notice.
- If applicable, you must also produce your Citizenship papers.
- Two witnesses over the age of 18 years must be present.
- The intending couple must sign a statutory declaration saying that they believe there is no legal impediment to the marriage.
- The couple must be given form 14a that explains that pre Marriage education is available.
- The ceremony must occur in the presence of an authorised civil celebrant. This means that the celebrant is registered with the federal Attorney General's office.
- The couple, two witnesses and the celebrant must all sign each of the three marriage certificates.
- During the ceremony each party must say, "I call upon the persons here present to witness that I (bride- to-be/groom-to-be) take thee (bride-to-be/groom-to- be) to be my lawful wedded husband/wife" and/or words to that effect.
This information is available from Section 46(1) of the Marriage Act 1961.
Where can you get married?
You can quite literally get married anywhere you like. Some places require permission from the local council but popular options include parks, gardens, beaches, or even at the reception centre itself on the night of the wedding banquet. In the end the choice is yours, but it’s a good idea to make sure that the Celebrant doesn’t have any qualms regarding your selection.
The Celebrant Fee
The Celebrant fee will vary depending on your Celebrant. Prices may range from $300 to over $500. At the registry office, you are looking at about $240.
All Celebrants will provide their own distinctive level of service and this is where they may differ. A professional Celebrant may often go beyond what is required, both in the lead up to the wedding and on the actual wedding day itself. ç
Don't be too concerned about the price as this will reflect their level of service. Your fee should typically include:
- All the stationary costs, including your printed Marriage Certificate (A registered copy obtainable from Births, Deaths & Marriages)
- A Ceremony Guide to help make your choices including welcomes, introductions, readings, declarations of marriage, selections of vows and ring ceremonies
- A printed copy of your Ceremony wording in a presentation folder to keep as a memento of your special day
- A personally written ceremony to suit your needs
Some Celebrants have a 'Set Fee' or 'Final Flat Fee' while others may have a 'Base Fee' with add-on extra charges, so be aware of what you are receiving. Only pay your deposit or total payment to the Celebrant who will perform your ceremony. Deposits are usually around $150.
Remember that the Celebrant is one of the most important people involved in your wedding. It is imperative that you choose someone with whom you are comfortable with and that can play an important role in your wedding.