Your celebrant is NOT ripping you off
(it is more than just half an hour)

by Jennifer Cram (10/07/2017)
Categories: | Celebrant | Wedding Budget | Wedding Ceremony | Wedding Planning |
Watch and Wedding RingsOne of the most frequent items of discussion on bridal forums is how much a couple should pay their celebrant. And then come the responses, with suggestions that celebrants are ripping couples off because it is "just half an hour".

Let me put the record straight. Yes, you are paying for my time - but it isn't just half an hour. Just asReview of Jennifer Cram, Brisbane Marriage
                  Celebrant when you go to see a doctor or a solicitor, what makes the visit worthwhile is not that they spend some time with you, but all the knowledge and skills they bring into that short period of time. You pay for the time in which our skills and knowledge manifest themselves at your service, bearing in mind your particular needs and issues.

While the ceremony proper may take about half an hour or so, a lot of time goes into making that half-hour happen.
  • The ceremony needs to be created, which means
    • I need to spend time to learn about and understand who you are and what you want for your ceremony - this can involve meetings, phone calls, emails, and texts, in addition to the detailed questionnaires, which I've spent considerable time on developing
    • I then need to take what I've learned, together with your choices, wishes, and needs, and create a ceremony for you, about you, and authentic to you, consult with you during the process, and make any amendments you ask for along the way.
  • The ceremony needs to be prepared for, which means
    • the ceremony needs to be printed
    • the keepsake copy needs to be created, printed, and bound
    • readings etc need to be formatted, printed and bound
    • The Register needs to be completed, and certificates printed
    • The PA system needs to be checked, charged up, and checked again
    • The quality pens need to be checked
  • On the day
    • I need to pack everything into my case, and then into the car
    • I need to travel to your ceremony venue
    • I need to park and unload
    • I need to bring everything from the car to the ceremony site
    • I need to set up - which means setting up the PA (if needed), and placing the Register and Certificates on the table.
    • I often need to coordinate with the venue's function staff and liaise with musicians, photographers, and videographers to ensure the best result for you
    • I need to interact with arriving guests, ensure the wedding party is in place and relaxed.
    • I need to manage the ceremony and the ceremony space
    • I need to troubleshoot quickly and effectively, should anything go awry
  • When the ceremony is over
    • I need to check the paperwork
    • I need to pack everything up, take it back to the car, and load it up.
    • I need to travel back to my office
But you are also paying for a legal service, without which you wouldn't be married, which means
  • you are paying for my legal knowledge and expertise, including knowledge about your documentation, the Marriage Act, and the legal process that underlies getting married. It is this knowledge that ensures the process is made as simple as possible for you, that any difficulties or issues with your documentation are sorted out, and that nothing occurs or is missed that further down the track will create difficulties or additional expense for you
  • you are paying for the time I take in ensuring you comply with the Marriage Act, and the information I provide you about your rights and obligations.
  • you are paying for processes I must follow to forward your marriage papers to Births, Deaths, and Marriages, for the registration of your marriage
And then there is everything that underpins the service I provide:
  • skills and knowledge built up over a lifetime
  • my qualifications - celebrants are required to undertake formal training before they can be registered. I have undertaken considerably more than the minimum
  • my authorisation - celebrants are required to pay an annual fee to the Attorney General's Department in order to remain authorised to solemnise marriages
  • annual ongoing professional development - celebrants are required to pay to attend five hours of professional development every year
  • insurance
  • the infrastructure without which it would be impossible to provide the service - car, computer, printers, software, stationery, advertising, websites, etc
  • a wardrobe of clothes suitable for wearing to conduct ceremonies

Plus all the sacrifices a celebrant makes in order to provide the service and/or avoid inconveniencing clients

  • time taken away from family, other social occasions, etc in order to be available for weekend ceremonies and meetings, and for after business hours meetings
  • loss of spontaneity - one can't just decide to take advantage of a last-minute holiday special, holidays have to be planned way in advance in order to ensure no bookings are taken for the period, or for some time immediately after in case of flight delays etc
  • the need to avoid takeaways and restaurant meals for several days before ceremonies (a celebrant with food poisoning is not a good look)
  • And of course, never forget that being a celebrant means one has signed up for emotional labour.  Regardless of what is going on in the celebrant's life, the clients take precedence.
Jennifer Cram, Brisbane Marriage Celebrant
                  "Let's talk soon about how you can have the best
                  ceremony ever"