What does a Marriage Celebrant do?

Deborah Lilley Celebrant

In Australia officiating at a marriage requires that the Celebrant is an Authorised Marriage Celebrant under Australian law.

So in basic terms, I am a go-anywhere, walking, talking licence to get married!!!
Wikipedia has a longer explanation…

Where do I start?
How long have you got?
In simple terms, there are two sides to my role as a Marriage Celebrant.
The legal stuff, and the fun stuff………


What does a Marriage Celebrant do? The Fun Stuff first

Let me tell you about the fun stuff, and then hopefully you will want to know about the legal stuff too!

Creating a ceremony that is perfect for you. One that is fun, one that reflects you as a couple, and one that is completely unique because you have had input into creating it. My aim is that you and your family and friends will talk about your amazing ceremony for years to come. And I give you the personalised ceremony book that I use on the day, so you can read it again and again and again….

This moment, this moment in time of your ceremony, is the moment that kicks off your Wedding Day. It sets the scene for the rest of the day, so it is really important that it is reflective of that.

I’m a Gemini, and I love to say that I am a perfect epitome of that star sign.
I am 50% an organized, calm, and professional.
And 50% a geeky, vibrant, left of centre fun factory.
I multi-task like a pro, and I am never bored!

And of course, that translates over into my couples’ ceremonies. Your ceremony is not about me, but it is written and led by me, and therefore an element of my personality goes into every single one.

However, you get to say how much, which way you want me to lean on your day.

Do you want me in full retro gear, or more formal?
Do you want puns and oneliners from your favourite movies or a more simple ceremony with a traditional reading?

The choice is yours, and I ask you a lot of questions to ensure my level is just right on the day. But always bear in mind that I cannot be someone I’m not. So if a coloured haired, tattooed, English Celebrant is not in your vision, then I’m not your Celebrant.

What does a Marriage Celebrant do? The Legal Stuff

In Australia, a Civil Marriage Celebrant is the person who is legally responsible for marrying a couple. I am authorized to marry couples according to Australian Law, anywhere in Australia. This is a process of legal paperwork, and some certain words said on the day of your wedding day. This information is a bit dry, but bear with me as it is super important to understand this process, and I promise we will get to fun stuff once it is completed!

The first part of this legal process is to lodge your Notice of Intent to Marry (NOIM)
This document sets out your personal details and your eligibility to marry, and it also documents me as your chosen Celebrant and your nominated date and place for your ceremony.

Your NOIM must be lodged (i.e. given to the Celebrant and suitably witnessed) no less than one calendar month before your wedding day, and no more than 18 months ahead.

At this time I also sight your ID documents that prove you are who you say you are. This is usually a birth certificate and a driver’s licence, but there are other options. If necessary you can show me your ID documents anytime before your Wedding Day.
You can look at and download a NOIM here 

The next part of your legal process is to sign your Declaration of no Legal Impediment to Marry (DONLIM)
By signing the DONLIM, you declare that you believe that you are of marriageable age and that there is no legal impediment to your marriage, i.e. that you are not married to anyone else (or each other for that matter) I also ask my couples to confirm that they are still living at the same address, and still doing the same job, as listed on this document.

On your wedding day, I will solemnise your marriage, conducting your ceremony including some statutory wording. At the end I will then ask you, your partner and your two witnesses to sign three marriage certificates. One for me, one for you, and one to be used to register your marriage.

After your wedding, I will register your marriage with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages BDM) in the State or Territory where your marriage took place. Basically, this means I send them all the documents that you signed, and BDM put your marriage onto their register.
After your wedding day, you can apply to that BDM for your marriage certificate. This isn’t compulsory, but if you are changing your name you will need this to do so in most cases. Costs vary from state to state, but it is around $50.

All of this process is outlined in a government document that I will give you, called Happily Ever Before and After and you can also look at it here –
Happily Ever Before and After

Well, that sounds like fun hey?

And yes, it sure is!

I love being a Celebrant for exactly that reason. It is a fun, upbeat, life-changing job. I can think of no other job that I could be doing that would affect someone’s ongoing life for years to come.

I get an enormous kick out of marrying couples.

I feel like I am giving each couple one of their page-turning moments in their relationship, giving them the gift of marriage, and the start of a new chapter of their lives together. That is pretty special!

But it’s not just fun is it?

Unfortunately not!
It is also a lot of behind the scenes hard work, and there is a business side to being a Celebrant that often gets forgotten.

Aside from the hours spent meeting with couples and writing amazing ceremonies for them, there are the administration and accounting needed to run a small business.

Then there is equipment such as my MIPRO 303 PA system, to keep up to date and running well, and a car that I must keep regularly serviced and reliable.

As a professional Celebrant, it is important that I am up to date and relevant in my industry. This means at the very minimum completing yearly Ongoing Profesional Development (OPD) and paying my annual registration to remain qualified to be a Celebrant.

But every year I do much, much more than that. I hold an up-to-date First Aid Certificate and Mental Health Certificate, I am Prepare/ Enrich facilitation qualified, have my working with Children clearance and a clear Police Check, and I regularly take part in business or Celebrant specific webinars and seminars.

It is also really important that I am insured correctly, and I have Profesional Indemnity and Liability Insurances, as well as Home Business Insurances and Comprehensive Insurance and full RAA road cover for my car.

I am also a member of various Celebrant, Wedding and Local Business Associations and Networks. Here in South Australia, Australia wide, and even Worldwide.

And I work hard to keep great working relationships with Wedding Venues in my local community. Ensuring when they have a couple come to them for a Wedding, the venue can recommend me as a Celebrant who they know will do an amazing job.

All these things use up my time and cost me money. But mostly you will not see even 10% of this as one of my couples. It’s background stuff, but it is no less important than the fun stuff that I am directly involved in with you.

It is these nuts and bolts, behind the scenes things that are what enable me to be present with every couple that I marry, making their day unique and special just for them.

Why do you charge more than other Marriage Celebrants?
Simply put, all of those things above is why I charge the fees that I do.

You are not simply paying for me to turn up for an hour on your Wedding Day to marry you. You are paying to make sure that that person who you get into an agreement with (ME), to whom you entrust the most important part of your Wedding Day, your legal marriage, has the appropriate back up that a Profesional Celebrant should have!

So do you want a super professional, but fun and quirky Celebrant as your Marriage Celebrant?
Don’t dilly, dally, use this link and send me a message to say HI HERE

In the words of Drake, from his song Cameras
The good ones go, if you wait too long”