A Word About Your Investment (i.e. My Fee)

A beautiful ceremony doesn't just take half an hour - it takes many hours of preparation, years of experience, and a lifetime of knowledge, creativity, and wisdom

What you spend on your ceremony is an investment. But it is also a reflection of your priorities. By and large, when it comes to your celebrant, you get what you pay for.

A cheap ceremony may not necessarily be value for money, as it may be quite expensive if broken down to per hour of effort put in by the celebrant.  More than any other provider, your celebrant can ruin you day. A cake that doesn't turn up, or looks amateurish won't impact on the legality of your marriage. A celebrant that botches your ceremony, or ignores your wishes, or simple delivers a ho-hum 'we've seen all of that before ceremony' can potentially make you a laughing-stock, and will definitely compromise the mood.

Comparing celebrants on fee alone can be a huge trap, because there are many reasons why a celebrant's fee may be lower or higher than other celebrants in the area

Low fees may be an indicator of lesser quality

  • The celebrant may be starting out and hoping to use your ceremony as a learning experience - big risk for you
  • The celebrant may be deliberating undercutting other celebrants in order to gain some work and/or experience and may then resent that you are paying so little - big risk
  • The celebrant may charge a small amount but actually do very little for it - a bare bones ceremony without heart or creativity - your guests will feel short-changed and so will you. This is a growing trend with weddings in particular as celebrants look to US civil ceremonies available on the web as a benchmark.  Frankly, if you're prepared to settle for a 7 minute one-size-fits-all ceremony, the Registry Office is your best bet.

High fees may not necessarily be an indicator of better quality

Higher fees may well be an indicator of greater skill, better quality services, and significant experience. However it is not unknown for a new celebrant to advertise high fees in order to give the impression of experience. High fees can also be an indicator of what I call the "ego tax"!

How do you decide whether a quoted fee is value for money?

You have to look beyond the fee and assess all aspects of the service
  • the experience, knowledge, and skill of the celebrant
  • the extent to which the celebrant listens to your ideas and wishes and works with you to make them eventuate
  • the style and tone of the ceremony
  • whether it will be a unique ceremony custom-created for you or a boiler-plate standard ceremony into which the celebrant just inserts your names (or something in between), and
  • whether the ceremony will set the tone for your wedding or be merely something to endure and get through
  • whether GST is payable
  • whether free gifts are included and whether the gift is something you are happy to spend money on (nothing is free, you are paying for it)
A civil celebrant is appointed by the Australian Government to solemnise civil weddings. However, we are not government employees. Civil celebrants are required to be independent business persons, and therefore we are subject to all of the same expenses that apply to any small business in Australia. If a celebrant does not cover his/her expenses then, like any small business, he/she is going to go out of business - and this could happen at a time that is most inconvenient to you. Also, if the celebrant is part of a bigger package, offered by a venue or other business, you may well be paying GST on the celebrant's fee regardless of whether the celebrant is registered for GST or not.

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