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 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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Highs & Lows of being a Celebrant

How To Become a Celebrant

Deciding to become a celebrant is a big move and one that can bring immense personal fulfilment. However just like any other job, there are highs and lows and it’s important to do your research before embarking on this career path to ensure that you’re adequately prepared for all that the job will entail.

First, let’s address the lows of being a celebrant. It may sound pessimistic to start off on a low note but unfortunately there are some real lows to the industry that many people don’t often consider.

Many people will romanticise the idea of being a marriage celebrant but it’s important to know the very real downsides.  As a wedding celebrant, you’ll often be working weekends (as this is when most people choose to get married so that most family and friends are able to attend their ceremonies). If you have a busy family life and weekends are free for you, having most of your jobs booked on weekends may actually be a blessing for you… however for others it can be an inconvenience.

Of course perhaps the biggest drawback of being a wedding celebrant is the low income. If you plan to be part time or a celebrant as a hobby (for example, in retirement) then this may not be as much as an issue for you. But, if you’d like to be a celebrant on a full time basis then you’ll need to understand the risks, that it likely won’t be able to pay for your lifestyle and you’ll most likely need an additional job to supplement your income.

And as a celebrant, you’ll never have the opportunity to have an “off” day. Unlike a 9-5 job where occasionally if you’re feeling sick or in a bad mood where you can just rock up and do your job on autopilot… celebrants can never have those moments. It would be entirely unprofessional for a celebrant to give a poor performance at someone’s wedding, of course. But the reality is that celebrants – like everyone else – have low moments and days where they’re just not feeling it, but as a celebrant you’ll need to very quickly learn to be able to put your personal feelings aside and give 100% in the moment. Your clients deserve you giving your best!

On top of this, celebrants are in a very competitive industry and although the rate they charge per ceremony may seem high to the average citizen, the hourly rate is actually quite low and per year, most celebrants earn barely enough to cover a part-time wage.

However, being a celebrant isn’t all bleak! And what the job can lack in financial stability, it makes up for in personal satisfaction. To have the privilege of dealing with people at such significant moments in their life is wonderful and you’ll be part of the happy memories of countless couples, their friends and their families. Likewise, your clients will leave a mark on your memory and you’ll get to share in so much joy.

Plus, being a celebrant also gives you a chance to exercise your creative muscles and if you’re a social butterfly, you’ll love the opportunity to meet loads of interesting people at pivotal points in their lives.

Marriage will always be an in-demand industry so your services will always have a place, and if you couple your training with other specialist skills such as wedding planning, you can increase your income and find a real niche for yourself.

At the end of the day, being a civil celebrant is just like any other job and there will always be highs and lows in any industry. However unlike other industries, being a celebrant means that you must make serious decisions about what kind of income you’ll require as it’s not as simple a case of getting better qualified and then subsequently earning more. But, if the emotional rewards of the job outweigh the downsides, then it can be an amazing career.

Like anything else, carefully weigh up your options and make the best decision for your needs.

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Ongoing Professional Development

How To Become a Celebrant

Once you have completed your Certificate IV in Celebrancy and are a graduated, qualified and registered Celebrant, you are legally required to complete at least five (5) hours of ongoing professional development activities every calendar year. This ongoing professional development (OPD) can include some elective activities on top of some activities that are compulsory.

Celebrants who fail to complete ongoing professional development each year can have strict disciplinary measures imposed against them (including delicensing and removal of their Commonwealth-registered Celebrant status), so making sure that you are compliant with these regulations is of the utmost importance as a celebrant.
For 2018, the ongoing professional development required for celebrants is as below:

Compulsory Activity

This can be delivered by classroom, online and distance education and lasts for 120 minutes in total. It’s suitable for all celebrants and is provided by the following OPD providers: Australian Celebrations Training, GordonTAFE, Life Skills Pty Ltd and QualTrain.

Elective Activities

The below elective activities range from 60-180 minutes each, and can be taken by classroom, distance or online education.

Courses from Australian Celebrations Training:

  • Invoice design
  • Professional telephone skills
  • Special inclusions within marriage ceremonies
  • Significance of storytelling for ceremonies
  • Importance of ritual and ceremony
  • Copyright and the effective use of music and literature
  • Trendspotting in the Wedding Industry
  • Interviewing your marrying couple
  • Blended families ceremonies
  • Interfaith marriages
  • International Matters
  • How to write ceremonies creatively
  • Rehearse a marriage ceremony
  • Cultural diversity
  • Designing advertising
  • Twitter basics
  • Professional ethics for celebrants
  • Introduction to secular humanism
  • Using Instagram to connect with couples
  • Enhancing Clients Family Relationships
  • Create a business page in Facebook
  • Supporting people experiencing grief and bereavement
  • Social networking
  • Conducting a marriage ceremony
  • Working with PA systems
  • Design a love commitment ceremony
  • BDM presentation
  • Designing your website
  • How to write a marriage blessing
  • How to read poetry at marriage ceremonies
  • Working with interpreters at bilingual marriage ceremonies
  • Bespoke marriage ceremonies
  • Honouring one another
  • Being of the same mind
  • Conducting marriage ceremonies in the air or at sea
  • Rites of Passage Arnold van Gennep
  • Rites of Passage Joseph Campbell
  • Rites of Passage Ronald L Grimes
  • Special inclusions in marriage ceremonies interactive workshop
  • WHS contingencies and risk management
  • Design a client survey
  • International marriage ceremony traditions
  • Special needs of marrying couples
  • Forgiving one another
  • Retirement process for celebrants
  • Social media marketing
  • Renewing couples vows
  • LinkedIn for marketing
  • Preparing for the step family
  • Effective interpersonal skills
  • Morality in marriage
  • Love in marriage
  • Marrying with an already made family
  • Celebrant Wellbeing
  • Online marketing planning
  • Search engine optimisation basics
  • Blogging for your celebrancy business
  • Grief and loss Introductory
  • First Aid Preparedness for Celebrants
  • Marriage celebrants online Victoria only
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube to market your business
  • Marriage celebrants Eregistry Lifelink NSW
  • BDM Tour
  • Grief loss and bereavement theories
  • Introduction to Building a Facebook page
  • Special needs of marrying couples
  • Introduction to Twitter
  • Unexpected deaths designing the funeral ceremony
  • How to handle difficult clients
  • Introduction to blogging
  • Understanding mobile marketing
  • The Covenant of Marriage
  • Streamline your social media
  • Young at Heart
  • The basics of advertising on Facebook
  • Child Friendly Marriage Ceremonies
  • Design a Funeral Ceremony
  • Questionnaire on the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Marriage Celebrants
  • Questionnaire on the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Marriage Celebrants
  • Questionnaire on the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Marriage Celebrants
  • Divorce healing ceremonies
  • Make a YouTube Clip to Market Your Business
  • Apps for Celebrants
  • Design a name giving ceremony
  • Ethical Choices in Modern Marriage
  • 2016 Compulsory Activity to count as 2018 Elective
  • 2017 Compulsory Activity to count as 2018 Elective
  • Funeral Home Tour
  • Final resting place tour
  • Bridal expo exhibiting
  • Writing a eulogy
  • Working with LGBTI couples to design ceremonies
  • Designing memorial ceremonies
  • Infants funeral and memorial services
  • How to create awesome social media content
  • Creating a wedding package for clients
  • Self care for funeral celebrants
  • Working in the funeral services industry

Courses from Life Skills Training:

  • Elements of a successful wedding rehearsal
  • Being heard and understood voice and vocal delivery
  • In a Nutshell
  • Wonderful naming ceremonies
  • Using interpreters and translators
  • BDM Victoria marriage celebrants online software training
  • Understanding our Workplace Health and Safety WHS obligations
  • Memorial Park and crematorium visit
  • Ceremony Transfer
  • Choreography in the marriage ceremony
  • Customer service master class
  • Forms forms forms from beginning to end
  • How ceremony promotes health and wellbeing
  • Hobby or business
  • Making the best of a wedding ceremony location
  • Marketing made easy
  • Plans A and B managing the elements
  • Feel the power PA systems for celebrants
  • Maintaining and enhancing your professional edge
  • Social media as a marketing tool
  • Incorporating symbols in the Marriage Ceremony
  • What do I do now
  • Writing a ceremony
  • Writing an authentic funeral ceremony
  • You’re the voice meeting audience needs
  • Communication is more than information
  • Beyond diversity and inclusion
  • Wedding ceremony structure
  • Update on the BDM NSW Lifelink system
  • 2016 Compulsory Activity to count as 2018 Elective
  • 2017 Compulsory Activity to count as 2018 Elective

Courses from Gordon TAFE:

  • Communication and developing rapport
  • Getting it right on the day
  • Essential celebrant record keeping and administration
  • Organising your celebrant office
  • Music in the marriage ceremony
  • Creative ways to involve loved ones and symbols in ceremony
  • Relationship support services and the celebrant
  • Using PA systems Dont just be seen be heard
  • Best practice for Australian celebrants
  • Celebrant skills review
  • Celebrant resources review
  • Poetry and readings in ceremonies
  • Interview questions and writing strategies for celebrants
  • Creating and maintaining a social media presence
  • Developing an effective wedding kit bag
  • How to personalise a ceremony
  • Public speaking skills for celebrants
  • Presentation skills
  • Evaluating your celebrant service
  • Mind your own celebrant business
  • Ethics and the Modern Celebrant
  • Celebrants bridging the generation gap
  • Celebrants make excellent stage managers
  • Celebrants embracing diversity
  • Creative Collaboration with Clients
  • 2016 Compulsory Activity to count as 2018 Elective
  • The Evolution of Marriage
  • Wedding Trends
  • 2017 Compulsory Activity to count as 2018 Elective
  • Inclusive Ceremony Design
  • Celebrant marketing with a website or blog
  • Celebrants working with palliative clients
  • Self-care for the Celebrant
  • Marriage Ceremony writing and delivery
  • The answers are in the guidelines

Courses from QualTrain:

  • Review communication strategies to identify needs and develop a support plan
  • Reflect and improve on your celebrant practice
  • Fieldtrip to identify correct funeral protocols and procedures
  • Develop digital infrastructure for marketing purposes
  • Develop ceremonies for love life and loss
  • Choreography of the ceremony at a wedding venue
  • Networking using social media
  • Design your celebrant service agreement
  • Celebrants on tour
  • The social and cultural impact of same sex marriage for celebrants
  • Document management
  • Wired for sound and performance
  • How to Set Up Your Own Blog
  • Funeral Home Chapel Protocols and Procedures for Celebrants
  • 2017 Compulsory Activity to count as 2018 Elective

The Department of Education does not recognise prior learning as satisfying OPD requirements in competency, so celebrants must ensure to complete the required training each year in order to avoid being penalised. Also it’s important to be aware that if you complete more than the five (5) required hours of training, any additional training that you undertake is designated as at your discretion, and does not roll over into your training requirement for the following calendar year.
Please note: From 1st January 2018, celebrants can now elect to complete units from a registered training organisation (RTO) with a Cert IV in Celebrancy. This will mean that your units count as OPD in conjunction with your Cert IV.

In some cases, celebrants may be granted an exemption from completing their required OPD. The Registrar of Marriage Celebrants is the body that will determine celebrants’ eligibility for exemption and for an exemption to be granted, a celebrant must be deemed as experiencing ‘exceptional circumstances’.

To be granted an exemption from completing your celebrancy OPD, you must demonstrate that you are prevented from undertaking OPD for a majority of the year (either by distance, online or face to face). Reasons for exemption can include ill health unexpected duress. However, many celebrants who apply for exemption are denied if their reasons aren’t deemed strong enough, so make sure you carefully consider your eligibility before applying for exemption.

(And similarly, make sure you consider whether you’re willing and able to complete ongoing professional development each year before you become a registered celebrant in Australia!)


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