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What does a wedding celebrant cost in Queensland? And why most of us aren't charging enough.

Updated: May 18

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I’ve been Googling again. “How much does a marriage celebrant cost in Queensland?” I’m not 100% convinced that Google is looking in the right places, just this once.

I know celebrants who charge $500 and others who’ll cost you $3000. Price isn’t usually the most important factor in choosing someone to shape the most important day in your relationship. Nor is it necessarily an indicator of the quality of the celebrant.

While I’m not the cheapest Brisbane marriage celebrant I am certainly not the most expensive. Are they better than me? That too is irrelevant and very subjective.

Choosing your celebrant is about finding someone you trust enough to tell your secrets to, believing they can produce a perfect day with exactly the right blend of humour, intelligence and romance that you’re looking for.

But this post is about pricing so I will press on.

What Google says a celebrant costs in Queensland

The first response comes from a company that specializes in quick and cheap ceremonies conducted in a particular city hotel. They tell you some celebrants can cost over $1000! (with exclamation mark!) and go on to say that the average cost is between $700 and $900. This company is considerably cheaper than the registry office, so if you just want the piece of paper with no sentiment I’m sure it’s fine.

The next two come up because they list the registry office price (outdated I might add) as part of a price comparison to their own offerings.

The third is Easyweddings. One of those sites that is free for couples to use but the vendor has to pay a monthly premium to be listed. Anyway, they tell you $400 - $1500 with the average being $780. The Easywedding article also quotes a celebrant as saying that each wedding they do takes about 15 hours. That is a pretty conservative estimate, but maybe that too is an average. Some celebrants have one price whether it’s just the legals, or a full-service wedding.

What does a registry office wedding cost in Queensland?

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The Brisbane Registry charge

(in January 2024):

  • Monday to Friday (business hours) $384.10

  • Saturday (day time) $499.40

  • Friday & Saturday evenings $658.5

The registry have nice, not too quick, generic ceremonies and lovely views across the city. It’s not the worst option if you don’t want something personal.

The celebrants at the registry don’t have to be qualified the way we are, because they’re not doing all the legal stuff. To marry at the registry a couple must also make an appointment to complete all the paperwork in the city office (at least one month ahead of time) with a public servant who knows the rules. The Registry also have pretty strict rules about changing dates and what it will cost if you do.

Why does a celebrant cost so much for 20 minutes work?

I hear that a lot. I wish it were just 20 minutes work.

Every wedding, whether it’s a 10 minute/127 word legals only at the kitchen table, or a 45 minute extravaganza with 2 unity rituals and a 3 hour car ride away takes the same amount of time in admin for the legal paperwork.

  • Prepare, print and meet couple for signing of Notice of Intended Marriage

  • Invoicing and general admin

  • Emails, zooms and phone calls

  • Enter couple’s information in the Births Deaths and Marriages online portal.

  • Prepare, print and meet for signatures on the Declaration of No Legal Impediment

  • Prepare and print Official Certificates of Marriage (2 off) and Commemorative Certificate (ordered from the government printer which we have to pay for).

  • After the ceremony, scan and upload all signed documents and submit to BDM for registration.

I reckon every wedding has the same 4 hours basic admin so that was my starting point. I worked out my pricing based on $40/hour which is approximately what I got (including holiday pay & super) in my previous office job. $160 per wedding.

Then there’s business expenses. Registrations, insurance, software, internet, printing … general business overheads. Based on (hopefully) about 40 weddings a year, that’s $200 per ceremony so the minimum baseline is $360. I round it down and ask $350 for a Legals Only wedding at the kitchen table with no guests.

Other celebrants will be different. Quicker, slower, expect more (or less) per hour and have different overheads. These are mine.

What else does a celebrant do for the money?

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The additional costs for my other packages are based on the extra time they take me.

Most celebrants will arrive 30 to 60 minutes before the start time to set up, check the sound and greet your guests. We are usually on site about 2 hours. Often longer, rarely less.

We also have to allow for a rehearsal because it is the law that we provide one “if required”. There's a growing trend for celebrants to list a rehearsal as an optional extra (at around $200 to $300) and they're usually the ones that are more expensive to start with.

Mostly they are not required, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be done at the venue. If you have a large wedding party or want to go over places for any rituals we’ve included they can be done in the backyard or a local park quite effectively. Whether we actually do a walk through or not I will meet with you in person in the last couple of days to make sure you're feeling confident and excited.

There’s more preparation and meeting time. There are more inclusions, like commemorative scripts (time and materials), preparing playlists and maintaining the sound equipment. There's a whole other blog post about what we actually do in you're interested.

This is how I calculated my prices

A Legals Only at your place will take me no more an hour extra (inc. local travel) so should be $400, but I’ve never charged that much.

Just I DO IT! is my registry style ceremony. About another 10 hours work on top of the basic admin. You choose from a selection of 10 pre-written, simple ceremonies which we then customize; The base price is $700 with a discount if you live in an adjoining suburb and increasing as you get further from my home. That's $34/hour after my business overheads. Way less than a plumber.

A Big Fat Sallybration follows the same structure around how far from Rothwell you are and begins at $1400. EVERYTHING we say on the day will be original material written especially for you. It will take me at least an additional 20 hours work over and above the basic admin and overheads. The big bonus is you'll get to hang out with me more while I get to know you x

My prices on the website as based on where in south east Queensland you're having your wedding, so there are no hidden travel costs. I'd prefer to always be delivering original material, but I know that's not in everyone's budget which is why I offer a registry style gig. I'm still a heap of fun and it will feel pretty personal.

There are a lot of celebrants advertising fully customized ceremonies for under $700.

If I charged $700 for a custom, written from scratch ceremony I'd be making $17/hour. The thing is, for a lot of celebrants it is a side hustle; a hobby that pays for itself. When my kids were small I taught patchwork for less than minimum wage and it kept me in new materials. It was great.

I was a fabulous patchwork teacher and the hobby celebrants are great officiants. This is simply why I'm not able to deliver a custom experience at that price. The advantages of using a full-time professional means I'm available any day of the week for the wedding, for meetings, to come to your place to do the paperwork. I'm also free to travel without having to take time off a real job or organize baby sitting. Win Win.

If you're Googling "what does it cost" I'm guessing you're trying to sort out your budget and a lot is going to depend on whether you prioritize your ceremony over things like matching satin robes for the bridesmaids. I'm pretty cynical about all the things couples are told they have to spend money on the make a great wedding.

I've been around the block a few times now and I can assure you people will remember how they felt, not whether all the chairs had bows on them. If you'd like to hear some more of my outspoken ideas on what you don't need, book a call on the button below and I can answer any questions you might have about this whole roller-coaster journey you're on.

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