How do I choose a great Civil Celebrant?

To select someone who will be intimately involved in your wedding ceremony, I strongly recommend that you meet in person before confirming your decision. You may regret deciding simply on the basis of the celebrant’s website or price. This is a profession with a wide range of prices and the mantra that “you get what you pay for” is often correct. I suggest you decide on a Civil Celebrant with whom you are both comfortable and confident. After all, there’s only one chance to get it right on the day!

Where are your services available?

Whilst I am based in the Daylesford region of central Victoria, I am qualified and happy to perform ceremonies in all areas of Victoria and indeed across Australia.

What is your presentation style?

I would describe my default approach as being quite friendly, warm, approachable, authentic and down-to-earth whilst also being highly professional and thorough. I strongly believe that the Celebrant is not the ‘star’ of the show and should never overshadow the couple in any way, whether in style, content or dress. The video on this website perhaps offers a clearer picture of my overall style and approach.

How do you plan a ceremony?

I like to listen to sit down with you both and listen to your expectations and desires for the ceremony, so that it is highly personalised to your own specific needs. I can provide you with a written basic structure showing an indicative starting point. This structure contains some ‘thought-starters’ based on elements included in some weddings. Most components are not necessary from a legal perspective, but may be considered of value to potentially enhance the overall staging of the ceremony. I am also more than happy to accommodate other ‘out of the box’ suggestions. After our chat, I then draft a ceremony which is reviewed and discussed with you until you are completely satisfied with the outcome.

Is a rehearsal really necessary?

I highly recommend a rehearsal is conducted so that we are all confident in how the ceremony progresses. It’s more about the choreography – our movements and positioning rather than the actual words, which are usually and most efficiently agreed via email well prior to the wedding date. Rehearsals can also serve to settle any last-minute nerves.

Is our personal information kept private?

Yes, I provide full confidentiality regarding all matters discussed and also revealed in your documentation. The content of the ceremony is presented on the day only after your explicit approval of a highly detailed script.

What paperwork needs to be lodged?

You will be required to complete several documents prior to, and at, the ceremony.

  • The “Notice of Intended Marriage” allows a time window to marry between one and 18 months after its completion and lodgement with your chosen Civil Celebrant. This “Notice of Intended Marriage” requires production of original documentation confirming both parties’ (i) identity, (ii) date and place of birth and, if applicable, (iii) evidence of the end of any previous marriage/s. These required documents are detailed below. All subsequent forms are derived from the exact details entered into this initial “Notice of Intended Marriage”. This form is best completed in the presence of your chosen Civil Celebrant, who can also serve to witness the signatures.
  • The second document, called “Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage” must be signed by you and witnessed by your officiating Civil Celebrant within the few days prior to the ceremony. Accordingly this is often completed at the wedding rehearsal.
  • At the end of the ceremony itself, three pre-printed marriage certificates are signed by both parties, their two chosen witnesses and the Celebrant. These are then distributed to (i) the couple; (ii) the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages and also (iii) the presiding Civil Celebrant.

How much written notice is required before a wedding?

Once you have appointed your Civil Celebrant, it is necessary to process the initial “Notice of Intended Marriage” at the very least one month prior to the wedding date. This rule can only be waived in a few very specific circumstances. Accordingly, I think that it is wise to produce the initial substantiation documentation which is required to lodge your notice with your chosen Civil Celebrant as soon as practicable.

What documents must we produce?

The necessary documents that each of you are required to produce are as follows.

(i) Birth Details:

ONE OF… Birth Certificate (or extract)    

OR Passport (NOT cancelled; recently expired OK; NAATI naati.com.au accredited translation into English if required)

(ii) Photo ID: 

ONE OF… Passport (NOT cancelled; recently expired OK; NAATI naati.com.au accredited translation into English if required)  

OR Current Driver’s Licence (NOT expired)  

OR Proof/Evidence of Age Card  

OR Certificate of Australian Citizenship (PLUS any current photo ID)

(iii) Previous Marriage/s: (if applicable)

Absolute (final) Divorce Certificate  

AND/OR Death Certificate (if applicable)

 

The Celebrant must sight original documents or can receive the following in electronic form, including email (scanned) or text messaging a photo of the document…

  • “Notice of Intended Marriage”
  • Passport (scanned original)
  • Birth Certificate (scanned original)
  • Divorce certificates (scanned original or certified copy)
  • Commonwealth Statutory Declaration (scanned original signed in pen)

Will marriage affect my Will?

Yes, Wills are generally invalidated upon marriage. Thus, I believe that Wills are particularly important to be considered before marriage. I will provide a brochure which contains some useful information on this and other implications useful in your marriage preparation.

Do we have to attend a marriage education course?

These courses are not compulsory when you utilise the services of a Civil Celebrant. As it is a question that sometimes arises, I have attended a marriage education course so that I can better answer such questions from my own first-hand experience. If you do want to attend a course, I am happy to suggest some options which are convenient to you.

What are your formal qualifications?

Beyond achieving the Certificate IV in Celebrancy, as a Commonwealth-Registered Marriage Celebrant I have successfully completed the federal Attorney-General’s rigorous legal knowledge, academic qualification and background character checking requirements. Annual re-registration necessitates Code of Conduct compliance and further mandatory Ongoing Professional Development education every year. I am also an active member of the professional associations Australian Marriage Celebrants Inc and Funeral Celebrants Association Australia. Overall, I am confident that I can accurately guide you through the necessary legal as well as creative processes – and hopefully also dilute any possible nerves or stress along the way! Whilst there are no regulatory education requirements necessary to conduct funeral services, I have nevertheless chosen to complete extensive experiential courses including a three-day program and an intensive six-day residential retreat.

What services do you offer?

At an absolute minimum, you will receive these inclusions…

  • initial meeting, at no cost nor obligation
  • verification of original identity documentation
  • preparation, witnessing and lodgement of legal paperwork with Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages
  • inclusion of all legally mandated language and requirements within the ceremony
  • solemnisation of marriage
  • legal compliance assurance
  • unlimited telephone, Skype, VOIP and/or email contact
  • use of lectern, signing table and chairs and also professional standard PA equipment if required
  • compliance with Code of Conduct of the Attorney-General’s Department of Australian Government
  • compliance with Code of Conduct of the professional association Australian Marriage Celebrants Inc
  • copy of ceremony wording supplied after the wedding day
  • dress and presentation consistent with expectations, venue and guests
  • fixed price guarantee on adherence to an agreed Service Agreement

To augment these basic levels of service, the following options can be provided to varying degrees as mutually agreed…

  • personalisation and collaboration in ceremony design
  • advice on and design of rituals and readings as appropriate
  • preparation of music files as required for performance during ceremony
  • wedding rehearsal, at no additional cost
  • personal meetings
  • availability on weekends, after hours and off-peak periods
  • return travel (ex Hepburn Springs) to meetings, rehearsal and ceremony
  • accommodation and other incidentals
  • application for the Registry’s official marriage certificate, including direct delivery by registered post

What price is your service?

At first, this can be like the proverbial “how long is a piece of string?” type of question! Given the many variable factors in each unique ceremony, once the scope of your requirements are clearly defined, a fixed package price will be offered to you during our initial no-cost and no-obligation meeting. Ceremony complexity varies quite widely, ranging from the basic ‘legals only’ procedure to a modest ‘elopement’ service culminating in the elaborate celebration with all the ‘bells and whistles’. Accordingly, prices vary in proportion with the intricacy of the preparation for the celebration. Whatever the style of ceremony, I certainly aim for pricing that is consistently good value, competitive and fair for all parties. Some comments on my pricing can be found in my couples’ feedback. Incidentally, 100% of respondents to my post-ceremony online survey described my prices as “fair”.

Do you offer a written Service Agreement?

In the interests of total transparency, I routinely produce a comprehensive written Service Agreement detailing all agreed services, responsibilities and confirming the fixed package price.

So, what do we do now?

I would love the opportunity to chat with you, perhaps over a coffee or wine, at a mutually convenient time and place. This is at no obligation nor cost to you whatsoever.