As an engaged couple planning your dream wedding celebration in beautiful New South Wales, one of the big decisions you’ll need to make is who will legally marry you on your special day. Many couples love having a close friend or family member act as their wedding celebrant and perform the ceremony. But is this allowed in Australia? Can your best friend legally marry you? Can a friend be my celebrant?
Let’s closely examine what’s involved in having a friend as your wedding celebrant here in Australia.
Who can legally marry a couple in Australia?
When it comes to legal wedding ceremonies in Australia, there are strict rules about who can officially solemnise a marriage. An authorised marriage celebrant must perform a marriage for it to be legally binding under Australian law.
A celebrant is defined as a person who is legally appointed and registered to solemnise marriages. To qualify and register as a marriage celebrant, a person must:
- Complete formal training and be awarded a Certificate IV in Celebrancy
- Apply to the Attorney-General’s Department and pass the competency criteria
- Receive formal approval and registration from the attorney general’s office
- Comply with ongoing professional development requirements
So, in summary, Can a Friend Be My Celebrant? – only a registered marriage celebrant can perform a legal wedding ceremony under Australian law. Your friend, family member, or any non-registered person cannot legally marry you unless they meet the above mentioned requirements. Which might be a pretty big ask.
What is a celebrant? Can a Friend Be My Celebrant?
Let’s take a closer look at what a marriage celebrant is and their important role in your wedding:
- Legal authority to marry – The government appoints and registers them to solemnise legal marriages.
- Expert in marriage laws – They have extensive knowledge of Australian marriage legislation to ensure the process is legally compliant.
- Handles all paperwork – They guide couples through all the required legal documents like Notice of Intended Marriage.
- Writes ceremony script – They work with couples to create a meaningful, personalised wedding ceremony script.
- Officiates the ceremony – They perform the official legal ceremony on the wedding day, declaring the couple married.
- Submits paperwork – They register the marriage with government bodies to legally bind it.
A celebrant is more than just the person who “marries you” on the day. They ensure the entire legal process leading to the wedding is handled correctly. And they personalise the legal ceremony itself to reflect the couple’s love and personality.
Do celebrants legally marry you?
A common misunderstanding is that the location of your wedding is what makes it legally valid. This is not true in Australia.
The celebrant legally marries you, not the location or venue. As long as a registered marriage celebrant performs your ceremony, it will be legally binding anywhere in Australia – whether in a grand hotel ballroom, a backyard, on the beach, in a park, or wherever.
The celebrant has the official legal authority to marry couples, not the venue. So you can choose to get married anywhere you like by a celebrant – the location has no impact on the legality of the marriage. All that matters is using an authorised celebrant.
Can a friend be my Celebrant? What is the role of a celebrant?
To gain a better understanding of their important role, let’s look at the three main responsibilities of a professional wedding celebrant:
The celebrant must ensure all legal requirements under the Australian Marriage Act are met. This includes but is not limited to:
- Providing guidance on giving notice and the Notice of Intended Marriage process
- Collecting and witnessing required documents like birth certificates
- Lodging all paperwork with government registries
- Registering the marriage promptly after the ceremony
They ensure the marriage is legally compliant from start to finish.
The celebrant works closely with the couple to plan a wedding ceremony that reflects their personality, values, and style. Responsibilities include:
- Offering guidance on ceremony structure and elements
- Helping couples personalise meaningful readings, rituals, music, etc.
- Writing a customised ceremony script just for the couple
- Officiating the ceremony and declaring the couple legally married
They aim to create a ceremony focused on the couple’s love story and future life together.
After the wedding, the celebrant guides the next steps:
- Legal name changes
- Applying for marriage certificates
- Notifying government agencies and financial institutions
They ensure the legal details are taken care of even after the wedding day ends.
So, in summary, a celebrant handles the legal process, creates a meaningful ceremony, and provides ongoing support and guidance. All critical to ensuring your day is stress-free, joyful and personalised to you as a couple.
Can I have a friend as my wedding celebrant?
Now that you understand the celebrant’s role, you may wonder, can a friend be my celebrant??
While they can’t legally marry you unless registered, there are a few options to involve your loved ones:
1. A friend or family member trains to become a celebrant
One choice is having your friend or relative complete the training to become a certified marriage celebrant. The steps involved in this option include:
- Completing a Certificate IV course in Celebrancy – 6-12 months duration
- Applying to the Australian Attorney-General’s department
- Interviewing to demonstrate competency for the role
- Receiving formal approval and registration
- Complying with ongoing professional development
The downside is this process takes a significant investment of time and money just for one wedding. The course alone costs upwards of $2500 currently. It’s a big commitment for one ceremony!
2. Loved one acts as a “co-celebrant”
Another approach is hiring a professional celebrant to handle all the legal duties while your friend or family member co-officiates and odes everything else. If they are feeling nervous about writing the ceremony script, get a personlised wedding ceremony professionally written here!
The celebrant would take care of the obligatory legal parts of the ceremony. Your loved one could perform the more ceremonial aspects – welcoming guests, reading vows, pronouncing you married, etc.
This allows them to complete most of the ceremony without needing full certification. The celebrant discretely steps in only when legally required.
3. Loved one delivers a customised, written ceremony
Need a Professionally Written Ceremony for Your Wedding? Your celebrant legally marries you in this option and writes your custom ceremony script. But your friend/family member acts as the officiant, delivering the ceremony on the day.
This way, your loved one can still play an intimate ceremonial role. But the celebrant handles the legal responsibilities and writes a meaningful, personalised ceremony.
4. Loved one performs a separate symbolic ceremony
Your friend or relative could perform a custom symbolic ceremony focused fully on celebrating your love and future life together.
You would also have a simple legal ceremony at the registry office for the paperwork. This separates the legal wedding from your special symbolic ceremony.
So, your loved one gets to co-create a meaningful ritual just for you. And you take care of the brief legal marriage separately.
Can a Family Member Be My Celebrant?
It comes down to what matters most to you as a couple. The options include:
- Asking a friend or family member to become a certified celebrant
- Having a loved one co-officiate with a professional celebrant
- Appointing a loved one to deliver a customised ceremony script
- Separating the legal ceremony from a symbolic ritual by your loved one
The most important thing? Choosing an approach that includes your favourite people while ensuring your marriage is legally valid.
With creativity and the right celebrant as your partner, you can craft a wedding that perfectly blends legal requirements with your personalised vision.
We’re here to make it happen if you need guidance creating a meaningful, compliant wedding ceremony that incorporates your loved ones! Contact us today if you Need a Wedding Ceremony Script Template for Your Friend?
Can a Friend be my Celebrant?
Gary’s goal is for you to have the best wedding day possible! He is an enthusiastic, grounded, fun-loving and relaxed Wedding Celebrant and Professional Wedding MC based in Australia.
He was an electrician who loved his wedding so much, he quit his job and became a full-time celebrant.
He’s here to help you plan your wedding and get the party started!