by: Anthony Walsh – Brisbane Celebrant
The proposed move by the Federal Government to change the way Civil Marriage Celebrants are registered can only cause harm to marring couples. The annual “Celebrant Registration” fee will not only significantly increase costs of all civil marriages it will also have devastating impacts on one of the most important days in a couples life as marrying couples will have no guarantee that the celebrant of their choice, and with whom they have booked their wedding ceremony, will be still registered at the time of their ceremony.
A Couples choice of a celebrant is based on many individual factors, including the experience, reputation, personality and style of the celebrant, not just the fact that the celebrant has a licence to do the legal paperwork. Many couples book their wedding well in advance. I have a number of bookings which are 10 – 14 months in advance. The seven days to transfer a Notice of Intended Marriage gives couples no time to choose another celebrant, nor is there any guarantee that another celebrant with the same qualities will be able to be found in time. According to the Coalition of Celebrants Association, ‘this could affect one half of all civil weddings ie 35% of all marriages given 70% of marriages are performed by Commonwealth Celebrants’.
A wedding ceremony and celebration is a complex and difficult task. It can and often is considered to be one of life’s most stressful events. Event planning and coordination, balancing family and friendship relationships, meeting expectations and desires, balancing financial and other pressures all adds to the range of feelings and emotions being experienced by marrying couples. Having to find another celebrant at last minute can only add extra stress and can affect the couple’s confidence and therefore kill the enjoyment of what they dream will be one of the happiest days of their lives. It is difficult enough when serious illness or injury may strike a celebrant, but the possibility having to change celebrants will be greatly increased by the non payment of an annual fee being attached to the grounds for dismissal.
The primary point of difference between Independent Civil Celebrants and State appointed Marriage Celebrants is the provision of a personalised ceremony tailored to the needs and desires of the couple. Unlike State appointed celebrants in registry offices and churches, independent celebrants do not have a standard set script for the ceremony and ceremonies are personalised to capture the essence of the couple’s relationship. The quality of the wedding services will decrease with the structuring the Commonwealth Marriage Celebrant Program on an annual cycle of ‘casual contractors’. When I became a Celebrant it was not on the basis of an annual appointment, nor was it my intention to be providing a government service and having to pay the government for this privilege.
Civil Celebrants already have significant costs. As marrying couple book or provide the venue, Civil Celebrants do not solemnise marriages at the same venue. Increasingly couples are choosing to be married in outdoor spaces. This necessitates the need for equipment and experience in delivering ceremony under a variety of more challenging situations. A Celebrant’s motivation to invest in extra training, professional association support, clothing, computer, a public address system and other equipment depends upon the expectation that there will be time to recoup set-up expenses and achieve the ability to make decent return on investment for one’s work. All costs are passed onto the marring couples therefore increasing the costs of getting married.
As I clearly state on my website (www.marriagecelebrantservices.com.au) “Marriage ceremonies are a public expression of one of the most precious and beautiful of all gifts, the love that you have in your hearts for one another and I offer you the freedom to express those feelings in your own special way. There are a number of suggestions which I offer to Brides and Grooms that allow you to compile your own civil ceremony, one that is reflective of your own particular style and personalities”. This is what makes Civil Celebrants different and why the proposed changes to the legislation regarding Civil Celebrants should be abolished. We do make a difference and we should not be singled out because we provide a quality service in the wedding industry.
Anthony Walsh CMC, is a qualified, registered Civil Marriage Celebrant, Brisbane celebrant, public speaker and workplace trainer. Anthony’s personality, relaxed style, and commitment to the betterment of people around him, stand him in good stead as a marriage celebrant. His web site is www.marriagecelebrantservices.com.au