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