In this blog post, we share some tips for finding the right marriage celebrant for you on your special day!
In many cultures, couples were traditionally married by the same religious representative who had baptised or educated them into a common faith. But this is no longer the norm for most communities and societies in our open-minded, culturally fluid and peripatetic world.
As the conventions around celebrating marriage change and evolve, new options for choosing a marriage celebrant to officiate at your wedding present abound. You could choose to remain within your religious or spiritual community and be married by a priest or rabbi, or some other religious representative. But you could also opt for a sympathetic and less traditional professional officiant with experience in interfaith or personalized wedding ceremonies. Hell, you could even conspire with your best friend to get them ordained to officiate at your marriage (just be sure the ordainment is legal in your area).
Here are a few tips on how to find a marriage celebrant to conduct your wedding ceremony:
- Many less traditional officiants are available to serve modern couples, including Unitarian and Humanist ministers, open-minded rabbis, and former Catholic priests who still offer the sacrament of marriage. But is your celebrant authorised? One way or another you need to make sure that your marriage is legally binding and recognized in the district you’re in. In Australia, celebrants need to complete training and register with the government [https://www.ag.gov.au/FamiliesAndMarriage/Marriage/Pages/Becomingamarriagecelebrant.aspx].
- Asking around is still the best way to uncover sympathetic potential celebrants. Ask recently married couples, or wedding professionals such as photographers and planners to recommend someone. And it’s quite possible that someone, somewhere in your extended family is qualified to perform a marriage ceremony.
- The new genre of professional officiants, celebrants, and interfaith ministers are trained to assist couples of all backgrounds. Many are willing work closely with the wedding couple by writing vows with them and focusing on the kinds of rituals that have personal meaning. And they are often willing to co-officiate with other clergy, and even friends or relatives.
- For all of the options described above, there may be fees associated. They can range from $400 for a simple registry office ceremony to $3000 or more for a certified marriage celebrant to attend at your wedding venue.
- For a simple civil ceremony (secular but legal), consider a retired judge or justice of the peace. Fees may be lower than those of a certified celebrant.
- The Attorney-General’s Department of the Australian government keeps lists of authorized celebrants, both civil and religious, that are searchable online. The listings include contact information for each celebrant and could be a great starting point for your search [https://marriage.ag.gov.au/marriagecelebrants/civil].
As you would with any vendor or member of your wedding party, make sure you and your partner feel comfortable with your chosen marriage celebrant. They will play an important role at one of the most important events of your life. You should feel that your values align and that the celebrant is listening to your heartfelt wishes about how the wedding ceremony should go. Do the requisite research, be honest about your wishes, don’t compromise – and you’ll be in excellent hands on the day.