What Is the Role of a Celebrant?

A celebrant is a person who performs formal ceremonies, namely wedding and funeral ceremonies, but also including renewal-of-vows ceremonies, baby naming ceremonies, graduation and naturalisation ceremonies, anniversaries, boat naming ceremonies, and many more.

According to the Marriage Act 1961, to officiate at a marriage ceremony, a celebrant must be authorised as a registered celebrant with the Australian government. No other services, including funerals, require a registered celebrant, only weddings.

Australia was the first country in the world to appoint non-clergy affiliated marriage celebrants for people who did not want to be married in a formal religious setting, and also for religious people that did not wish to be married inside a church, or wanted more control over the content and timeline of their wedding ceremony.

In modern-day celebrancy, a celebrant is more likely to be a trained and qualified professional who helps with the planning and design of a ceremony, and then dictates the timing and delivery of the ceremony, liaising with clients and other service providers to deliver a service that aligns with the clients wishes.

What Ceremonies Can a Celebrant Perform?

Celebrants in Australia are employed for a wide variety of ceremonies, events, and celebrations.

Due to the professional nature of the local celebrancy industry, clients may employ a celebrant for:

  • Marriage ceremonies
  • Civil unions for same sex couples and those couples that cannot get married for cultural or legal reasons
  • Funeral ceremonies
  • Ash-spreading ceremonies
  • Anniversaries
  • Renewal-of-vows ceremonies
  • Baby naming ceremonies
  • Significant birthday or event ceremonies
  • Graduation ceremonies
  • Boat naming ceremonies
  • Naturalisation ceremonies
  • Memorials
  • Dedications

To date, only marriage ceremonies require a legally authorised celebrant to direct and perform the ceremony, with the celebrant taking on the legal responsibilities of the marriage ceremony, and the obligation of completing and submitting the required paperwork with government departments.

Who Can Become a Celebrant?

Civil Marriage Celebrants in Australia need to be registered with the Attorney-General’s Department of the Australian government. In addition to meeting certain requirements to prove you are a fit and proper person to be conducting marriages in Australia, applicants are required to have passed a Cert IV in Celebrancy from a registered training organisation.

For more information on how to become a qualified and registered Marriage Celebrant, visit our How to Become a Celebrant page.

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