Celebrant Fees - What Do You Really Get?

I’ve never felt the need to justify how much I charge as a Marriage Celebrant but when you have a run of apparent tyre kickers or people wanting you to “do better than that” or are shopping around and never get back to you even though you have responded quickly with information - there comes a time when you just want to cry out loud...
“Do you have any idea what a Celebrant does?”
The answer is of course “No, not really.”
Most see the Celebrant at the ceremony and think, wow, not bad for 30 minutes work!
But the thing is, you can see the hours a photographer puts in, you can see the abundance of beautiful flowers, the details and work in the dress, the outfits. You can see the food, the setting, the cake, the cars, the preparation involved along with the labour. And you know the DJ or band are there for 4 hours minimum. But the Celebrant?
Well she/he is just there for 30 minutes. Surely they aren’t worth the $850 fee they are asking?
(Full disclosure - that’s what I charge plus $60 for the Marriage Certificate if required for name changing purposes -it’s a choice, not a requirement.) Can’t they do better than that?
It’s truly a tip of the iceberg scenario. And guess what?
You can get married without all those things but you can’t get married without a Celebrant!!!
So let’s compare the procedures and cost of a Saturday wedding at the Registry Office with the services of a Celebrant.

According to the BDM website you can only get married on a Saturday at Parramatta Registry between 9am and 4pm for a fee of $557. Chippendale is only available Monday to Friday as is the Old Wollongong Courthouse. The other Venue offered by BDM is the Handpicked Cellar Door at Pepes on the Beach in Wollongong and only on alternate Fridays. Both Wollongong Venues charge $565.
FYI Chippendale is $442 on a weekday only, as per above.
These fees include the lodgement fee for the Notice of Intended Marriage (NIM) $169 and the Marriage Certificate $60.

Numbers can be quite limited at the BDM venues (not just because of COVID-19) especially the Registries, so these are generally small weddings.
The process is as follows:
You fill in an application form which is available online, go in for an interview to lodge the paperwork and present required docs. Book your date and then turn up on the day 15 minutes prior to your booked time.
The Ceremony lasts 15–20 minutes, and you can exchange rings “if you wish.”


  • Will travel to the Venue of your choice.
  • Will provide the use of a professional PA (Sound System) to ensure all guests can hear the Ceremony and (in my case) even provide a device with the music tracks already loaded where required.
  • Will write a personalised Ceremony where you can include rituals, invite family and friends to be involved in the ceremony with readings or rituals. And give you a keepsake copy of your wedding ceremony to have forever.
  • Will engage yourselves and your guests to create an atmosphere of celebration and inclusiveness. This makes the ceremony the reason for the party – because it is!
  • Will meet with you either in person or via video conferencing services to guide you through the processes and get to know you to work with you to provide the ceremony YOU want to have and not the ceremony that everyone else had.
  • Will guide you to ensure you have all the correct paperwork in place and help with solutions if not.

FYI a certified and authorised Celebrant has to perform 5 hours Annual Ongoing Professional Development at their expense as well as pay the Attorney General an Annual Fee on top of normal running of a business costs. Most reputable Celebrants are members of Celebrant Associations which is another ongoing cost to keep professional standards up. With changing laws and requirements these peer groups are a constant source of support and knowledge.
Now for the process & costing.
After deciding that you are a good fit with each other and confirming you wish to go ahead…

The Paperwork - usually at the Celebrants home or office.
The Celebrant needs to sight documentation (Photo ID, evidence of date & place of birth and evidence of end of any previous marriages).
Notice of Intended Marriage (NIM) is lodged with your Celebrant who holds it until your marriage is solemnised and then submits it to BDM with other paperwork for registration.
This 1
st meeting is also to get to know and feel comfortable with each other and start forming ideas and discuss what you had in mind for your Ceremony.
With this I have to prepare the NIM, print some information for you to take with you, provide a clean, comfortable and safe place to meet with light, electricity, a bathroom and at least a glass of water plus provide resources to offer ideas or examples.
If meeting elsewhere - travel costs, or internet costs if meeting online.
This meeting usually goes for about an hour. I value my professional services at $100 per hour.
So with lodgement of NIM, materials, resources and my professional guidance
I value this first meeting at $300.
I actually ask for a $350 Booking and Lodgement Fee to secure my services for the date of your wedding.

Creation of your unique ceremony.
I often try to incorporate this discussion into the first meeting because everyone is time poor these days. So the more info I can garner along with ideas I can offer help towards designing that personal and unique ceremony. So that meeting can often go to 90 minutes if we are on a roll.
I then sit down and type up the ceremony which can often take up to 2 hours as I carefully design and personalise each component and then I send you the first draft.

A Celebrant is a creative writer too, did you think of that? And with that a Taylor-Made ceremony (yes I had to get that in) is worth a lot more than the paper it is written on. There are legally required components that must be worded correctly as per the Marriage Act so we are not only creating with our writing but ensuring the legal requirements are covered and adhered to.
This is a big reason for using a Celebrant with good experience and resources.
I value this step in the process at $300 (with or without a 2nd meeting because this discussion would lengthen the first meeting – it pans out)

Not all Celebrants worry about a rehearsal but I honestly feel it is the best nerve calmer, especially with a larger Bridal party (Bridesmaids & Groomsmen) and I have been told by many couples that they are so glad we did a rehearsal. Everyone then knows what they are doing and when and where they are supposed to do what is required of them.
Many charge an extra fee for rehearsal. I actually include it in my fee. But if I were to include travel time, provision of my sound system (we need to hear the music and time the entrance of Bride etc (processional) as well as the recessional with the songs) and allowing an hour for the rehearsal
I should charge $200 minimum for a rehearsal. I don't - because it would blow my fee out to way above the average (my fee is already at the higher end of the scale) and this would impact bookings severely.

The Big Day – Solemnisation of Marriage
Let’s just make a list:

  • Presentation: Hair, make up, a tailored, dry cleaned & pressed dress or suit etc. It’s important we’re on show too!

  • Travel costs and travel time to and from Venue, parking costs where applicable.

  • Certificates, folders, pen, the Ceremony in a presentation folder or book. Sometimes a few props like an electronic candle, paperweights even umbrellas can be needed.

  • Professional PA (Sound System) with brand new batteries at every Ceremony for microphone and headset receivers.

  • Music tracks and device to play those tracks on if providing music.

  • I always aim to arrive 1 hour prior to the scheduled start time. This ensures I have ample time if I encounter any traffic snarls enroute. It also ensures I get a good parking spot before guests arrive and that I can set up everything without distraction.

In the past I have had to help turn chairs around and reset the area with the decorator who had set it up back to front to what the B&G had requested and we had rehearsed. Or help transfer to the Plan B wet weather venue. All hands on deck!
BTW at 80% of weddings I end up pinning the buttonholes onto the lapels of the groom and groomsmen too!
By the time I have arrived, set up, officiated the ceremony, checked the paperwork and then pack down and get back in my car I have usually been onsite for close to 2 hours and still have to drive home and register your marriage.
I should value this step at more than $250 don't you think?

In conclusion, according to my breakdown above I really and truly should be charging a minimum fee of $1000 + $60 for the Marriage Certificate where requested.

So it’s up to you.
A simple Registry Office Wedding suits lots of people and that’s great.
But when you garner the services of an authorised Marriage Celebrant you are getting the care, the personal touch and the professional services and extras that are invisible to the onlooker but will ensure you really do get the Wedding Ceremony you dreamed of that will run smoothly and seamlessly and be legally binding. Doesn't that give you peace of mind?
Money cant buy that stuff, or... by spending that bit extra you are ensured that it can.
You’re worth it and so am I.

Written by Liz Taylor JP & Authorised Marriage Celebrant
liztaylorcelebrant.com Ph: 0411 422 681