I often get asked why Celebrants charge so much for a “few hours’ work”. What a lot of people don’t realise is that you CANNOT get married without a Celebrant. They are one (if not the) most important elements of your wedding day. While I charge a lot less than most Celebrants I do so by choice and because I am not a full time Celebrant. If this was my full time job then I would have to charge a lot more. I thought I would write this Blog post to help couples understand why Celebrants charge what they do. Here is a breakdown of our costs.
Meetings and travel – While Celebrants don’t charge by the hour they have to take every hour into account. Some Celebrants meet couples at their homes and therefore have to factor travel time and petrol into their expenses. Travel and petrol to and from our weddings is also an expense we need to factor in. I keep my costs down by holding all of my meetings at home and only travelling within 45minutes of Brisbane. Meetings also have to be factored into the time it takes to prepare for your Ceremony.
Stationery – From the pen that I write with to the paper I write my notes to the printing of documents…. it all adds up. Paper, ink, electricity are all bulk costs that have to be broken down to a per wedding basis when you are a Celebrant. Celebrants also have to buy some of the official paperwork from one supplier who dictates the price of those products.
PA system – This is where there can be a significant difference when it comes to costs. Legally all weddings must be able to be clearly heard by guests. Therefore in most situations Celebrants will use a PA system. PA systems with microphones and headsets are expensive. Some play music and others connect to an iPad etc. The cost of a specialised PA system can be extremely high depending upon what it can do. Not only do these systems need to be maintained they also need a constant supply of batteries. Most Celebrants will also have a speaker stand and expensive case for their system.
Wardrobe – While I don’t have a specific “Celebrant wardrobe” as such I do have certain outfits that I have purchased with weddings in mind. Your wardrobe has to be a bit more diverse than the “normal” wardrobe keeping in mind weather, colours and themes for weddings.
Time – Writing ceremonies, Finding the perfect poem or even writing verses from scratch all takes time. Sometimes I can sit down and write a Ceremony from start to finish in an hour or so because the words will just flow. Other times I will spend a few hours on a ceremony if the couple has specific requirements such as a sand ceremony or a hand fasting etc. No one wedding is more important than the other but they all require time.
Looking over paperwork for accuracy and even just preparation before and during the Ceremony takes time.
Insurance and Annual Fees – Something not a lot of couples know is that Celebrants pay an annual fee to stay Celebrants, we also pay insurance and copyright fees. Many Celebrants are also members of Associations and pay an annual fee towards this and the conferences they attend to help improve their skills. Another fee incurred annually is an ongoing professional development fee. Each year every Celebrant is required to undertake compulsory on-going professional development through an approved organisation. This is on top of the course that we paid for to become Celebrants, as all Celebrants have studied and obtained a Certificate IV to be qualified.
Marketing – Some Celebrants choose to market their services and pay for online listings and attend expos. This is a great expense to many Celebrants, especially those who hold the profession full time.
Phone calls and follow up – Time spent following up and phoning couples also needs to be factored into the expense of being a Celebrant. Not to mention the costs of phone calls.
Miscellaneous – I am sure for some Celebrants I have forgotten a few things and most will provide a small gift for their couples, while others have bubbles and signage etc.
Like any wedding supplier being a Celebrant is a job, a form of income, and while many of us are Celebrants because we love it and we consider it a privilege we can’t do it for free and we have sat down and carefully considered the costs related to our services. I keep my costs down, as previously mentioned, by holding meetings at home, and reducing my travel times and distances. I also do most of my advertising online. Other Celebrants who provide more services, travel further distances, hold more meetings, attend expos, and have bigger and better PA systems charge more for their services because their overheads are higher. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are better or provide a more professional service it just means that their costs are higher and therefore they need to charge more to maintain their level of service.
Like any small business owner and service provider Celebrants all charge differently. Always compare Celebrants and what they offer and chat with them before deciding on the right Celebrant for you. While the most expensive Celebrant isn’t always the best Celebrant they are charging according to what they feel they can offer compared to others in the same profession. Finding the right fit for you is always more important than price.
I hope that this post helps you better understand why Celebrants charge what they do. I also hope that it helps alleviate any concerns some people had with regard to why I charge less than the registry office and thus had fears that maybe I didn’t provide a full professional service. Rest assured I do, I just choose to keep my overheads low and my professionalism high. I hope that I can help provide you with the fun, relaxed and professional service in the future.