Coalition of Celebrant Associations

Australia’s Peak Celebrant Body

Why become a celebrant?

Many people are attracted to the role of  Marriage Celebrant for many different reasons.

Some of these reasons are:
  • To be able to provide weddings as part of a range of other ceremonies the celebrant provides in a Civil Celebrancy practice
  • To promote ‘marriage’ as an important relationship for families and society
  • To have a creative and challenging role that offers a great variety of experiences
  • To have a part-time or full-time flexible occupation that can fit in with other family commitments
  • To have an official status or sense of identity
  • To be where “love is”
  • To enjoy working with people and the “theatre” of the occasion
  • To be the centre of attention
  • To make “lots of money”
  • To have “nice retirement hobby”
All the above are possibilities except for the last two points.

The vast majority of marriage celebrants do not make “lots of money”from their marriage work.
  • Independent civil marriage celebrants now work in a very competitive environment.
  • The ratio of the number of celebrants per available weddings is very low. In 2012, this ratio was 7 weddings per Commonwealth celebrant per year.
  • As this represents an average gross income of less than $4000 pa – many marriage celebrants do not cover costs, nor make an hourly rate for their work.
In 1999 when the average number of weddings per celebrant per year was 35, only 4% were able to make a full-time sustainable income from wedding work.

In 2012, the percentage of people able to make a full-time sustainable income from wedding work is 2%.

Therefore whilst being a marriage celebrant may be a “nice retirement hobby”, it will certainly be a very expensive one.
  • Training and Set-up costs can be as high as $20,000
  • Annual costs to maintain one’s marriage registration and marriage celebrancy practice are also high.
  • Many marriage celebrants are not able to recoup their set-up costs, nor their ongoing costs.

So why do people become Marriage Celebrants if the financial rewards are so poor?

Weddings are joyful, happy and fun  as well as being a very meaningful rite of passage ie a very ‘spiritual’ occasion.

Also professional celebrants can take pride in having given a service of great value even if  couples are not fully aware of the work and effort the celebrant puts into their ceremony.

Many civil celebrants, like religious celebrants, have a sense of vocation about their celebrancy work and are passionate about the value of ceremony and ritual in our lives. These are usually celebrants who provide a range of ceremonies in addition to weddings.

That said, it is still true that many competent and skilled celebrants are forced to leave this work because there is an over-supply of independent marriage celebrants.  The average income across the sector is less than $10,000 pa gross. Less than 2% are able to generate a full-time wage equivalent from ceremony work. That is many celebrants do not ave the personal wealth or other income to subsidise their efforts.

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