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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Should I Become a Celebrant

How To Become a Celebrant

Are you considering becoming a celebrant and aren’t sure if it’s right for you? Before you commence any training or qualification, have a careful think about it and ask yourself, “Should I become a Celebrant?”

Ask yourself, are you…


Marriage celebrants need to do lots of careful planning and there are some strict legal timeframes that need to be adhered to in order to facilitate a marriage occurring.


Couples can become very stressed in the planning of their weddings as there are lots of details to consider, and getting married is a big decision. As such, you’ll need to be empathetic, considerate and compassionate to the way your clients may be feeling. They may ask you lots of questions and it’s important not to get impatient with them, similarly they may project some of their stress onto you – and whilst this isn’t acceptable if they become abusive, you will need to come to terms with dealing with people that are in a heightened emotional state.


Clients will only come to you when they know that you exist – otherwise you’ll be practically invisible in a sea of other wedding celebrants! This means that you need to work hard to market yourself, get referrals, build strong relationships with your clients and establish a presence for yourself online.

A confident public speaker?

As a Civil Celebrant, although some ceremonies will be small and intimate in other situations you will be speaking in front of large groups of wedding guests. This means that your skills as an MC must be strong, you must be able to control and entertain the crowd and you must always display a level of appropriateness when dealing with the crowd as per what the individual couple has requested of you. Naturally, this requires you to be mature and intelligent as a celebrant.


There are loads of celebrants so you’ll need to stand out from the crowd – and on such a big occasion as someone’s wedding day, clients these days don’t want a boring, out of the box ceremony. Couples will commonly ask their marriage celebrant to help them plan ideas for the ceremony to make it a fantastic day, so you’ll need to be full of good ideas. You must also have flair and creativity in your writing skills.


As a Civil Celebrant in Australia, you’ll be dealing with legal responsibilities and this means that you need to be on the ball, compliant and diligent in tying up all loose ends with the paperwork for your clients’ marriage licenses. You’ll also need to assume responsibility for related legal matters such as occupational health, copyright and confidentiality.


This means financially (as you will need start up cash), having a car or other reliable transport, having all the office equipment necessary etc. Also, you will need to be emotionally prepared and willing to take on the emotional stresses of being a celebrant.

If you answered ‘yes’ to the above then congratulations, being a celebrant may just be the right career path for you! Of course, you’ll need to ensure to get proper training and become qualified in order to be a celebrant, but knowing for sure that you want to become a celebrant is the first step to embarking down this highly rewarding path. The happiness you’ll help bring to couples is an incredible feeling!

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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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