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

Getting married with the Covid-19 restrictions in place

Getting married with the COVID-19 restrictions in place.
Things you need to know.

In the past few days I have had several enquiries from couples who want to “beat the lockdown” and get married as soon as possible. One call was for this coming weekend. Here’s an outline of what we can and can’t do and things you may not have known re the process of getting married in Australia.
As we know the restrictions are that there can be no more than 5 people present at the Ceremony: The marrying couple. The Celebrant. Two (2) witnesses.
One or both of those 2 witnesses could also double as photographer/videographer or consider using your professional photographer as a witness. They don't need to know you personally but do need to be over 18 and have a full understanding of what they are witnessing – which is the legally required content such as your vows, they are not only just witnessing your signatures.
We will be required to adhere to the social distancing rules but that does not mean the marrying couple cannot hold hands and kiss. Let’s be realistic - I’m sure they will be doing that and more behind closed doors!

Giving Notice of Intention to Marry. The one month notice requirement.
Every couple intending to marry need to fill in a Notice of Intended Marriage, (NIM) this has to be lodged with the Celebrant minimum one month prior to the intended date of the ceremony. So if you lodge it on the 3rd April, the earliest you can marry is the 3rd May.
You can download the NIM from the AG’s website here:

You need to provide evidence of date and place of birth as well as photo ID and have your signatures witnessed in the presence of your Celebrant or any of the authorised people outlined on page 4 of the NIM.
With social distancing laws this could be tricky but not impossible. If you know a JP or are not far from a Police Station then they can witness your signatures with a counter or desk between you taking care to keep that 1.5 metres apart. Please ask them to provide their JP number or if a Police Officer their service number with the name of the Station where they are based.
You can then email a scan of the signed and witnessed NIM to your Celebrant. The date the email arrives is officially the date of lodgement. It’s a good idea to get the original via express post or registered mail to the Celebrant asap so it is safely in their hands. You can also provide scans of your Passport, Drivers Licence (if no Passport), Birth Certificates (if no passport - but handy for Celebrant to double check info entered is absolutely correct) and evidence of the end of any previous marriages (either Certificate of Divorce or Death Certificate of late spouse).
When you meet up in person with your Celebrant you only need bring photo ID. This may be on the day of the wedding or prior if practical.

But I want to be married within that one month time frame!
With the help of your Celebrant you can apply for a shortening of time with a Prescribed Authority. Usually a Registrar at a Local Court. Here’s the link to the list of Prescribed Authorities in NSW: https://marriage.ag.gov.au/stateofficers/authorities
Don't be afraid to ask. Your Celebrant can provide you with a letter saying you have lodged the NIM and you turn up with the original NIM and the letter and keep everything crossed.
You do however need solid and valid reasons to be granted a shortening of time. Usually the case is that couples had no idea of the one month notice and have booked and paid deposits if not the full amount to venues, service providers on top of having family members who have booked and paid for travel and accommodation. Providing receipts and evidence of these financial outlays is helpful.
Another scenario is where a close family member may have had notice they have to travel due to work or deployment at short notice and you really want them there.
Honestly, there are no guarantees that you will be granted the shortening of time as this is to the discretion of the Prescribed Authority but it is worth trying if you really can’t move the date of your ceremony.

Lastly – Will Marriage Ceremonies become virtual?
Quick answer, I doubt it very much.
It would mean changing the Marriage Act. Right now the legal requirements are as per what we are allowed to do in the COVID-19 environment. We have reached the absolute minimum people required to be present at your wedding.
Your Celebrant needs to be there in person to officiate the wedding and see that all legal requirements are adhered to, that signatures are all correct and the paperwork is lodged after the solemnisation of your Marriage.
The witnesses need to be physically present to witness the ceremony as well as witness and sign the paperwork.
And you the marrying couple need to be there or there isn’t a wedding!

I sincerely hope that helps.

Liz Taylor JP
Marriage Celebrant

Marie's Gift

Hello, it’s been a while since I did a blog but today I’m inspired.
You see yesterday I had perhaps the hardest role in my 2 years as a Celebrant and in a long time personally.
I conducted a “Celebration of Life” for a very dear friend of over 30 years who I consider family more than friend. It was a tough time as she had suffered a severe stroke and even though she had fought and won many battles with her health over many years this proved to be too much for her little body.
So those closest to Marie (pronounced Maaaaree) gathered ranks around her husband John and together we planned her service and what would happen on the day.
John had discovered a little pink book and inside it Marie had written down what she wanted for her funeral. The colour of the coffin, the flowers colours to go with the coffin and if the cream one with gold handles wasn’t available then to go with rosewood with different coloured flowers! There’s more. Her song choices, which curtains to close and when, and that she wished for John to release a single white dove at the end.
This actually gave John strength and resolve to carry out her wishes.
Yesterday, when it all came together I could see and feel that John was greatly satisfied that this had all happened for his beautiful wife exactly as planned.
Another close friend suggested that we dress a la Melbourne Cup style and even wear a hat. The 200 or so attendees were indeed colourful and stylish, just like our beautiful Mars Bar was throughout her life and it was a truly beautiful and warm celebration of her life.
Today I am going to go and buy a little pink book and write down my own wishes for my funeral and also some information for my husband regarding passwords to my Facebook accounts along with other information regarding bank accounts, credit cards and people who should be notified.
As I put this together I will make up a guideline, or kit if you like, and post it here for you to use to create your own little pink book.
What Marie did was give John a huge gift. It took the stress out of decision making for such things and knowing he had carried out her wishes gave him a lot of satisfaction and inner calm.
I encourage you to think about such things for your own loved ones. To make it easier for them and encourage them to do this for you.
I call it ‘Marie’s Gift’.

So, what is it you do?

Probably one of the first questions I get asked is what exactly it is that a Celebrant does.
Especially when it comes to funerals. The next question is usually “but you do weddings too right?” Well of course I do, and as you will have seen on my Home Page I do a lot more. Baby Namings, Renewal of Vows and Commitment Ceremonies to name just a couple (or three).
So, in case you are wondering, here’s what I do.

For a wedding I meet with the Bride and Groom and literally plan, compose and put together the script for the ceremony that is their wedding. I also take care of all the legal paperwork and submit it to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry in the State the wedding was held in. I am answerable to the Attorney General’s Office and it’s actually quite serious the responsibility I have in getting the legal aspect of the wedding right. A stint in gaol can be a penalty if we do things wrong! So we Celebrants take our roles very seriously in the lead up to the wedding and in conducting the wedding. It’s also our job to make it fun, light and memorable and exactly what our couples want if we possibly can.

When it comes to Funerals I find the best answer to the question is - “well, I am the ‘we are gathered here’ person”.
It’s still a fairly new concept that with Funerals we have the choice between employing the services of a Minister of Religion or a Civil Celebrant to conduct the service for our dearly departed.
Again, I meet with the family or closest to the departed and together we discuss the script of the service, music choices, poetry and readings and I help with putting the Eulogy or Life Story together if the family need help with that too. I then deliver the service, co-ordinate speakers and readers and cue the music and Visual Presentations liaising with the Funeral Arrangers the whole way through.
Friends often ask me if I get caught up in the grief and sadness that comes with funerals and I have to say mostly I don’t. I say mostly because I am only human and some situations are just heart wrenching, but I know that my role is to guide these grieving people through the preparation of a fitting and proper service or tribute to their loved one. Many now adopt the view of celebrating a life and giving them a good send off.

It’s not what people like to talk about but I am very aware that when people find out what I do they have so many questions they want to ask. So I hope this has given you a little insight into what I do, and love to do.

Until next week, keep smiling and go the blues!!!


Welcome to my Blog - Love Locks & Other Rituals

It’s the Queen’s Birthday long weekend and I have a little spare time to work on the website and thought I might try out the old Blog-o-sphere for myself. So welcome one and all. Not sure how often I will do this, I’m thinking weekly but to begin….. Here’s my blog for today.

Love Locks Heart Love Lock


This morning I sat down and did some research for vows, poems and readings as well as updating my resources for rituals, or, ceremonies within the ceremony. Things like Unity Candles, Sand Ceremonies, Hand Fasting, Ring Warming (or blessing) and now the very popular Love Locks.
Love Locks have been around for years and are often seen attached to bridges and other structures.
A couple might have a padlock each with their names engraved which they attach together onto the structure and throw away the keys symbolically locking their love together forever. Isn’t it gorgeous?
Some have one padlock with both their names and a little message. Some keep them on a lovelock tree at home having discarded the keys. And some are small enough that the Bride can wear them on a chain on her wrist.
I loved the idea of tying the keys to a balloon and releasing them into the sky - that is until I read about the possibility of balloon with metal keys getting caught in the engine of a plane!!!! Hmmm, a rethink is needed here.
After some initial giggles at the title I prefer to use, I have found the
Ring Warming (or blessing) Ritual a very popular choice with my couples.
The wedding rings are held in the hands of parents, children (if the couple have children) or if a small gathering all those present can do this. Then each person silently holds the rings and gives them their blessing or wishes for the couple with loads of love and passes them on ending up back in the ring bearers hands ready for the exchange. This can be done at the same time as a reading quietly and meaningfully.
Every time the couple look at their rings they will be reminded for the love and well wishes/blessings of their loved ones forever. Even if the young daughter of the Bride did wish for a scooter! it brings a warm smile to her Mum’s face and will for years to come. (That was at my 12/12/12 wedding - I just knew it would be special!) I’ve since worked on the wording to try and be clearer but what a gem!
I love these rituals or ceremonies within the ceremony. There are those who don’t want any rituals or ceremonies of course. I kind of keep it to myself that they are actually doing exactly that by exchanging rings. Some of you may not know that the exchange of rings is not a legal requirement, it’s a tradition that has become part of the wedding ceremony, a ritual. Yup, purely optional but such a beautiful tradition and we do wear those rings with great pride don’t we? And who doesn’t love seeing the children all dressed up with the important job of carrying those rings? Check out Ben & Sophie below :)
Ben & Sophie
Well I better dash, I’m seeing a couple this afternoon and need to get a little run in as I’m aiming for my 10th City To Surf run here in Sydney in August. I think it might be a walk/run but still lots of fun.
Enjoy your Queen’s Birthday and see you here next week.


Contact Liz
Liz lives in Balgowlah on Sydney’s Northern Beaches right next to Manly and it’s famous ferries.
Postal address: PO Box 1627, Neutral Bay NSW 2089 Australia
Email: liz@liztaylorcelebrant.com
Mobile Phone: 0411 422 681
or from outside Australia: +61 411 422 681