Types of Ceremonies you May Perform

How To Become a Celebrant

As a fully qualified celebrant with a Certificate IV in Celebrancy, you are trained to perform not only marriage ceremonies but also several other specialist ceremonies. Whilst you may choose to perform primarily weddings, there are other opportunities for you to grow your income.

As a professional celebrant, you will also be able to administer:

  • Commitment ceremonies.
    A commitment ceremony is for couples who have made a commitment to one another and want to declare their love before their family and friends without committing to a legal marriage. Commitment ceremonies are also sometimes called ceremonies of union, and they follow a very similar format to a wedding. They can include readings, poetry, ring giving, messages from special guests, music, and signing of commemorative words. Similarly, for couples that cannot get married for cultural or legal reasons, they may opt for a celebrant to perform a civil union ceremony to mark the occasion and their love for one another.
  • Renewal of vows ceremonies.
    Many couples choose a milestone anniversary as an opportunity to reaffirm their commitment and love for each other and hold a renewal of vows ceremony. Vow renewal can also be undertaken at any other point. A celebrant is not legally required to perform vow renewals, but many couples choose to have a celebrant perform the ceremony to bestow a sense of occasion on the day and make it feel official.
  • Naming ceremonies.
    The birth of a baby is one of the most wonderful occasions that a celebrant can experience. A naming ceremony gives a family a chance to recognise significant people in the baby’s life and the ceremony can include anything from traditional wording to something totally custom to the family and baby.
  • Funerals 
    Sadly, many of us will have to arrange a funeral at some stage and many people elect to have a celebrant present alongside a funeral director to ensure that the funeral is a meaningful, sentimental and appropriate celebration of the deceased’s life that honours their memory.
  • Graduation ceremonies.
    Increasingly, families place great significance on their children graduating from high school and/or university and want to commemorate these occasions with a formal party and recognition of the child’s achievement within a private family and friends setting.

Celebrants also must be well versed in alternative ceremony requirements in all of the above, including rituals to signify the occasion.

These rituals can include a sand ceremony, handfasting, butterfly release, glass smashing, rose ceremonies or unity candle ceremonies.  To date, marriage ceremonies are the only ceremonies that legally require a qualified celebrant to officiate, however many opt for celebrants to be present at the above to bring a sense of occasion.

As a celebrant, you may wish to perform all sorts of ceremonies or you may wish to niche down and perform only certain types of ceremonies… it all depends on what you hope to achieve, what brings you fulfilment and where you see the best opportunities to earn revenue.

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How to Become a Celebrant in Australia?

How To Become a Celebrant

Are you looking for a career path that will give you emotional fulfilment and joy? Then being a marriage celebrant may just be the right career for you! As a celebrant, your work is to help your clients have the best day of their lives and share their love with their family and friends.

In recent years in Australia and around the world, there has been a huge shift away from traditional church ceremonies to civil ceremonies that provide a more modern and flexible approach. This is great if you’re planning on becoming a professional celebrant as you know the industry is in demand!

There are thousands of registered celebrants in Australia so competition is tough, but if you’re dedicated, work hard and bring something special to your clients that other celebrants don’t offer, you can build a wonderful reputation for yourself.

What does a celebrant do?

A Civil Marriage Celebrant is someone who is appointed by the Australian Government’s Attorney-General’s Department as authorised to solemnise and legalise marriages anywhere in Australia. This is in accordance with the Marriage Act of 1961.

Marriage celebrants are legally required to undertake ongoing professional development every year to ensure that they remain trained and qualified. Marriage celebrants are subject to strict codes of practice and laws (including the Marriage Act 1961, the Marriage Regulations 1963 and the Celebrants Code of Practice). In a post-secular time in society, there is a growing demand for alternatives to denominationally governed marriages. Marriage celebrants give this professional option and can provide a civil ceremony that is emotional, sensitive, joyous and wonderful as any denominational ceremony.

Many couples prefer to use a Civil Marriage Celebrant as it gives them the freedom to be inventive and creative in how their ceremony is performed, and many couples these days prefer to customise the order and content of their ceremonies. A marriage celebrant will also accommodate a couple’s choice of location for their marriage ceremony.

Marriage celebrants will conduct a range of exciting ceremonies for weddings including themed, formal and informal wedding ceremonies. For couples wishing to also include some religious content into their wedding ceremony (such as having a friend or family member ready out a prayer), celebrants can also accommodate this. Celebrants can work alongside a range of denominations so this gives couples who wish to have their marriage blessed by someone from their local church without having a church wedding a great deal of flexibility.

A Marriage Celebrant will also advise couples on all the legal documentation associated with marriage and handle this process for them from start to end.

A celebrant’s work includes:

  • Meeting with couples
  • Responding to enquiries about ceremonies
  • Checking identity and legal documentation
  • Witnessing and receiving Notices of Intended Marriage
  • Assisting with wedding planning and ideas
  • Preparing drafts of ceremonies
  • Assisting with rehearsals of ceremonies
  • Preparation of certificates and ceremonial keepsakes
  • Attending the ceremony and providing agreed equipment such as PA, signing tables and carpet runners
  • Conducting ceremonies
  • Ensuring all legal requirements are met
  • The forwarding of signed marriage certificates and documents for approval to the appropriate Registries
  • Giving information on ordering marriage certificates
  • Seeking feedback from couples to help promote their services
  • Establishing a personal brand and marketing themselves
  • Ongoing professional development to ensure legal compliance
  • Staying up to date with the latest changes in the law

Being a celebrant may look easy, but supporting all of the above activities requires a lot of planning, marketing and organisation to ensure the business runs effectively.

And at the heart of it, professional celebrants truly care about making a couple’s wedding special!

What training do I need to become a celebrant?

Marriage celebrants play a very important role in the community and as such, being a celebrant attracts legal responsibilities and training. Contrary to what you may have seen on some TV shows, any old person can’t just quickly take an online exam, print out a certificate and become a celebrant!

If you become a registered celebrant, you will be required to meet professional development requirements on an ongoing basis, make sure there’s no conflict of interest in our business and pay the applicable fees and charges.

Before you apply to be a marriage celebrant and Commonwealth registered, you are required to complete a Certificate IV in Celebrancy through a registered training organisation (RTO), which includes units on being a marriage celebrant.

Celebrants are only legally permitted to advertise their services, accept Notice of Intended Marriage forms and actually perform marriages once they are fully trained, certified and registered as a marriage celebrant.

Alongside the costs of qualification as a marriage celebrant, aspiring celebrants are also required to pay an application fee of $600 to receive their registration license. If your application is successful you will also need to pay a $240 registration charge, which is payable annually in July for each year that you are registered as a celebrant.

Ready to become a celebrant?

Being a professional & qualified celebrant is an incredibly rewarding career choice and you’ll be responsible for bringing (and sharing in!) happiness with all of your clients. You’ll also get to be creative,  thoughtful and leave a lasting impact with your work in the memories of your clients, their friends and family. Of course, it’s not all glitz and glamour and the reality of being a celebrant isn’t always highly paying. And like any other job, there are highs and lows.

But, if you love what you do then the rewards of being a celebrant may outweigh the downsides. Once you know that you want to become a celebrant, it’s time to do your research, get trained and qualified and then complete the application process… then the real rewards begin as you spread happiness to your clients!

It’s important to know that especially in the early stages of your career as a celebrant, your income may be patchy and as your business grows, you’ll need to set some financial targets. Most celebrants are self-employed so you’ll need to be familiar with the logistics of running a business.

In Summary

Step One: Make sure you do your research about the industry and what’s expected of you, whether the rewards outweigh the risks, how to market yourself and how to get qualified.

Step Two: Pick a registered training organisation and obtain your Certificate IV in Celebrancy – plus any additional learning that you wish to undertake to enhance your offerings as a celebrant in Australia. Then, apply to become a registered Celebrant.

Step Three: Once you’re qualified you can then officially market yourself as a celebrant and start taking clients.

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How Much do Celebrants Earn?

How To Become a Celebrant

To become a marriage celebrant is to embark on a journey of deep personal fulfilment as you bring happiness to the special days of your clients.

Many people may have seen ads online that promise that anyone can become a celebrant, start performing weddings and make big money… but is that really true?

Unfortunately, the reality of being a celebrant is that it will likely still require you to have a second job or adequate other resources to support your celebrancy business.

What do celebrants earn?

In Australia, the annual average income before tax for independent civil celebrants in the wedding business is just $5,000 – $10,000 per year.

No, those figures aren’t missing a zero! Most celebrants perform an average of 10 weddings per year and after subtracting all the expenses associated with being a celebrant, and considering the average hourly rate for a celebrant is around $19, we can quickly see how becoming a celebrant isn’t alone going to give you an early retirement!

So, if you’re dreaming of becoming a celebrant and haven’t yet done the research on the costs involved and how you will sustain the business, take this moment to do you due diligence and fully understand what may be involved for you.

The harsh truth of the wedding industry is that many celebrants will not recover their business set up costs within five years. So starting a business as a celebrant will usually require some start up cash to get you through!

There are also many registered celebrants in Australia so competition for jobs is high. There are on average 120,000 marriages each year in Australia performed by 8,000 registered marriage celebrants.

How do I work out my expected hourly rate as a celebrant?

First, work out your annual gross income that you hope to earn, then the annual net expenditure required to achieve that income. Then, establish the number of hours you plan to work in planning, conducting and reviewing the ceremonies that you’ll deliver (this includes preparation time, not just your time in front of wedding guests!)

Your hourly rate as a celebrant will then be your net income divided by the total number of hours you work.

The rate that you can charge will also depend on other factors including your age, level of experience, any other special skills, your location, competition in your area and industry fluctuations.

When calculating your start up expenses, make sure to consider everything carefully! These expenses can include your training costs, set up of a business (such as equipment, software, stationery, mobile and internet connections, website and marketing, clothing, PA equipment, signing tables etc).

Why do people become celebrants if it can be so difficult to make money?

Professional celebrants reap other rewards – it’s not just a financial issue. Weddings are joyful and fun as well as meaningful so for many celebrants, the emotional rewards of the job are enough to offset the lower income.

Many celebrants also have other part time jobs and don’t treat their celebrancy with the urgency that a full-time income can provide, so this takes the pressure off.

If you’re aiming to be a full-time celebrant, be aware that less than 2% of celebrants in Australia are able to generate a full-time wage equivalent from ceremonial work.

So although the wage is likely going to be low for many marriage celebrants, their fulfilment may come from:

  • Being able to promote marriage as an important part of society
  • To have a nice hobby that allows them to meet new people and earns some money on the side of their regular/other jobs
  • To give a sense of importance in the community or personal identity
  • To allow for a creative outlet
  • To share in the joy of helping people celebrate their love


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Certificate IV in Celebrancy

How To Become a Celebrant

In order to become a certified and fully trained qualified celebrant, you’ll need to attend the proper training and demonstrate your knowledge in the legislation of marriage. The minimum qualification that you’ll need to obtain is a Certificate IV in Celebrancy (CHC41015). This can be obtained from many Registered Training Organisations around Australia.

Please note, you will need to be 18 years or older to become a registered celebrant in Australia

At the completion of your certification you will be tested on your marriages and the processes and procedures associated with it.

When you have completed your Certificate IV in Celebrancy (course code CHC41015), you can then apply to become a marriage celebrant through the Australian Attorney General’s Department, alongside passing a legal questionnaire and a “fit and proper person’s test” that will be administered by the staff of the Attorney-General’s Marriage Law and Celebrants’ Section. This information and preparation for these exams will be covered in your Cert IV in Celebrancy course.

What units are involved in a Cert IV in Celebrancy?

There are 13 total units included in a Cert IV as a Celebrant including 6 core and essential units, plus 7 electives of your choosing.

Core Units:

CHCCEL001 Develop sustainable celebrancy practice
CHCCEL002 Establish client celebrancy needs
CHCCEL003 Research, design and organise ceremonies
CHCCEL004 Prepare for, present and evaluate ceremonies
CHCDIV001 Work with diverse people
CHCLEG001 Work legally and ethically

Elective Units – Celebrancy:

CHCCEL005 Establish and maintain marriage celebrancy practice
CHCCEL006 Interview clients and plan marriage ceremonies
CHCCEL007 Prepare for, present and evaluate marriage ceremonies
CHCCEL008 Plan, present and evaluate funeral and memorial ceremonies
CHCCCS017 Provide loss and grief support
SIFXIND002 Work effectively in the funeral services industry
CHCCDE005 Develop and support relevant community resources

Other Elective Units:

CHCCOM002 Use communication to build relationships
CHCMHS001 Work with people with mental health issues
CHCPAS001 Plan for the provision of pastoral and spiritual care
CHCPAS002 Provide pastoral and spiritual care
CHCPRP003 Reflect on and improve own professional practice
BSBADM409 Coordinate business resources
BSBADM504 Plan and implement administrative systems
BSBCMM401 Make a presentation
BSBFIA301 Maintain financial records
BSBIPR401 Use and respect copyright
BSBITS401 Maintain business technology
BSBITU306 Design and produce business documents
BSBMKG413 Promote products and services
BSBRKG403 Set up a business or records system for a small business
BSBSMB405 Monitor and manage small business operations
BSBSMB406 Manage small business finances.
BSBSMB403 Market the small business
BSBSMB404 Undertake small business planning
CUFWRT301A Write content for a range of media
CUSMPF402A Develop and maintain stagecraft skills
CUSMPF302A Prepare for performance

Your electives must include at least 3 units from the Celebrancy group and up to 4 units from any other electives, any endorsed Training Package or any accredited course (of which must be relevant to your work outcomes as a celebrant).

How much does it cost to complete a Cert IV as a Celebrant?

The cost of a Certificate IV in Celebrancy will very for each course provider, however you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,000.

How long will it take to finish a Cert IV in Celebrancy?

Depending on the terms of your enrolment (which can vary from institution to institution), most students complete their cert IV in 9-12 months. Remember that every person has a unique learning style so duration will vary also depending on a person’s abilities, free time, other commitments and any previous experience that may be credited.

Many course providers offer online study as well as in person, so consider the best fit for your needs. If you elect to study online, you’ll usually be assigned a personal tutor that you will be in contact with via phone and email and you may be required to film yourself performing various assessment modules, so you’ll need access to resources that facilitate this mode of education.

What assessments are included?

All vocational education is based on competence, so there are no “exams” and students are worked with to ensure they are competent in all skills and knowledge required. You may also be required to perform assignments which can be written, observational, oral or practical.

For more information, click here to see RTOs in your area that you can complete a Certificate IV in Celebrancy with.


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