Ceremonies by Cath - Catherine Flavell

(102 reviews)
Service Area
New South Wales  View Map
Business Hours
By Appointment
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Expert Advice

As a wedding professional, Ceremonies by Cath - Catherine Flavell offers expert advice to help couples plan their perfect day. Ask a question or read their expert advice.

Do celebrants usually recommend pre-marriage counselling or courses?

Yes we do.  The government produces a brochure  which we are required to hand out to couples as soon as they book our services.  Unlike religious ministers and priests who make you do the course before they marry you, we can't make you but I do say to all my couples that if they feel their relationship requires it, I do recommend it.  I also supply a list of organisations that runs these course and leave it up to the couples.  The idea of these courses are to strip back all the wedding preps such as dresses, shoes, cars, venues etc and allow the couple to concentrate and think about what their relationship means to each other.  Often couples then to get caught up in the wedding preps and sometimes forget about why they are getting married.  At the end of the day a marriage is for a lifetime whereas a wedding is just that day.

How much should I expect to pay for a celebrant?

And is it cheaper to go for a religious officiant? I'm not fussed about the cost just want to know what to budget for. :)

Firstly all celebrants set their own prices so you could find any between the price range of $500 - $1,500, but on average if you are setting a budget I would say set a budget for between $600 and $800 especially if you are in Sydney.  Please appreciate that a celebrant's work is not just the 20/30 minutes that they stand in front of you during the wedding ceremony - it is much more than that - legal paperwork, writing your ceremony, travel time to and from your wedding venue and in total a celebrant can spend on average between 15-20 hours for each couple.  Added to this we have to pay for insurance, celebrant's annual fee, compulsory yearly ongoing development traning, PA system etc etc.  These hidden costs while not related to your wedding do add up for us to remain in our profession. 

My advise is to not shop by price, but shop by which celebrant you will feel comfortable with on your wedding day.  Who you will feel comfortable working together leading up to your wedding that.  To do this, make appointments ot see several celebrants before you make your final decision.  This is the most important gauge that you should use and not by price.  Hope this helps.

If a Couple Doesn't Kiss at Their Wedding, What Else Can They Do?

I am extremely phobic of being touched, but at weddings the couple always kisses. Is it a requirement, or are there different things I can do? If so, what?

No, couples kissing is not a 'legal' requirement of a marriage ceremony.  I have performed many weddings where my couples have not kissed due to their cultural beliefs.  In such cases, my couples have just given each other a slight hug/embrace where (sometimes) their cheeks may brush against each other.  

It also depends on the mood of your wedding and your personalities.  If you are a fun loving couple and can have a laugh at yourselves, I have suggested to my couples that they could 'high 5' each other to which some couples have even gone as far as suggesting 'bumping chests' or 'bumping fists'.  

So its best to talk it out with your fiance and ago with what you both feel comfortable doing.  Hope this helps

Can a celebrant perform a marriage of his own son or daughter?

Pastor of a local small church group wants to perform the marriage of his son and future daughter in law. In Victoria Australia is this legal?

Yes an authorised celebrant can legally perform weddings for anyone who wishes to marry and this includes any of their family members - including their own children. 

can i have a religious ceremony not in a church?

You can include religion into your ceremony, just speak with your celebrant.  As a Catholic, I have including religion for some of my couples who wish to have some religion included into their ceremonies.  However if you are after the same 'full on' religious ceremony that you would get within a church but want your ceremony to be conducted outdoors or somewhere else other than a church, you will need to check with your minister/priest.  I know that Catholic priests are not permitted to celebrate a wedding outside the church but have hard that some have done so.  It also depends on which faith you belong to.  Hope this helps.

If I am getting married overseas, will my marriage be recognised in Australia?

or do I need to have a legal ceremony here too.

If your overseas wedding ceremony is conducted legally according to their Country's laws, then yes your marriage is recognised here in Australia as well.  You will not be required or be able to have another 'wedding' here in Australia, but you can have a 'Renewal of Vows' or a 'Commitment Ceremony' should you wish to have a celebration in front of your family and friends who wasn't able to be at your overseas wedding ceremony.

Your overseas marriage certificate will be the recognised marriage certificate that you will have .

I know how important a celebrant is, but how much is too much?

One celebrant I like charges $1200, but I know a lot of celebrants charge half of that. Why is there such a difference? Is it comparable to music in that it's a "taste" thing? Or a talent thing? It's not like I can "taste test" like a cake or listen to a song.. it's hard to justify because by the time you get the service, you've LONG paid and if you're disappointed it's too late! Advice please!

Hi there. Unfortunately there are no set regulations as to how much a celebrant must charge couples and yes some range from as low as below $350 through to $1200+. We are all individuals and free to charge the fee that we feel best relates to the service we will be providing our potential clients. Having said this, I always believe and have encouraged potential clients to NEVER shop by price. I encourage them to meet with and interview each of the celebrants on their shortlist. Checking out reviews placed by their previous clients is also a big help. How have they interacted with you? Have they really listened to what you want included into your ceremony? Will you be able to have a working relationship with your celebrant - in particular during the composing of your ceremony? Do you feel comfortable with him/her? After all, your wedding ceremony is the most intimate part of your entire day where the bride and groom will be expressing their love for each other. A good ceremony also sets the tone for the rest of your wedding day. I have lost potential clients and whilst it is disappointing, I look on the positive side of things that obviously the couple has found a celebrant that they feel more comfortable with. You mentioned 'taste test', well your meeting with several celebrants can be your 'taste test'. Hope my advice helps you with final decision.

If someone objects to a wedding... what do you do?

I know most people leave this part out... right? But if it did happen, what would you do? :)

Marriage ceremonies performed by civil celebrants do not include the 'objection' question as can be seen in many movies as it is not a legal requirement for celebrants to ask. As a bride and a groom signs the various paperwork presented by their celebrant leading up to the wedding, they are signing that they are two consenting adults who wish to marry each other (it's your choice) and are free to marry without any legal impediment. Any family members or friends objecting to your marriage are not given the opportunity to voice this at the ceremony - although they may have voiced it to the couple from the time they found out at the engagement including leading up to the wedding. If you can foresee that there will be troublesome person who may voice objection at your wedding, perhaps enlist a few friends to be on the alert to quietly escort this person away. Informing your celebrant will also give her/him the heads up as to how to handle the situation instead of it happening without his/her knowledge. Hope this helps you.

Why do you have to kiss at the wedding ceremony?

Does it actually serve a purpose or is it just a thing people do...?

Kissing is not a legal requirement or act within a wedding ceremony. It is a personal choice between bride and groom and whether they feel comfortable doing so in public. I have married many couples who have not kissed mainly due to their culture where kissing in public is not acceptable. As a celebrant, I have always respected what my couple want to do.

Travel documents and name changes

Do you need to change the name on your travel documents urgently or can this wait?

The answer to this question depends on whether the bride intends to take her husband's surname and start using it immediately after marriage. If so then I have always advised my brides that she should ensure she makes sure all her ID documents (driver's licence, passport etc) are changed quickly to reflect her taking her husband's name. She then will have to use these new ID documents to go and change over all her other matters such as bank accounts, tax, insurance policies etc. This way, all will be in order and that whenever she is asked for some ID, she has the correct ID to show.

But if the bride is not taking her husband's surname, then there is no need to change your documents over because everything will remain in your maiden name.

With regards to travel documents. your plane ticket must be ticketed in the name of your current passport. So if you wish to have your travel plans booked in as Mrs ???, then yes your passport needs to be changed over before you start booking plane tickets. Otherwise you may not be allowed on the plane unless you can show proof (valid ID) that you are the same person (Miss ?? and Mrs ???). This is where the confusion and problems arises whenever sufficient ID documents are not available to prove who you are.

The timing to change over also depends on when your passport is due to expire mainly due to costs of getting a new one. The ideal situation is if your passport is due to expire very close to soon after you marry and before you travel. You will need your marriage certificate to instigate a new passport in your new name, so you can't apply for this before you get married. Therefore if your overseas honeymoon is immediately after your wedding in which case it is impossible for you to get a new passport with your new name, then you will need to travel under your maiden name.

Hope the above information has assisted your inquiry.

Can we get married in Australia if we are not citizens?

Hi there, I am wondering if you can help me. Myself and my partner are currently residing in Canberra but we are not Australian citizens, we are English citizens, we are here on two year working visas. We are due to get married back in England in December but in order to make it 'legal' we have been advised that we have to get married officially here first. As we will be here on our own we only want something very small and personal, basically it's just to allow us to get married in the uk. Sorry if I have confused you as I appreciate it's a bit complicated but if you could let me know your thoughts it would be much appreciated xx

Absolutely, many couples have had a 'destination wedding' in Australia and you can marry here in Australia even if you are not citizens of our country. However the second part of your questions is a bit confusing. Once you are legally married here in Australia, I do believe that your marriage will also be legally recognised in England. I'm not sure about the laws in England but here in Australia, if you are already married (say in England) then you are considered as legally married by Australian law, and you cannot have a 2nd wedding ceremony. If you wish to have another ceremony, the celebrant can only conduct a 'renewal of vows' ceremony or a 'commitment' ceremony for the bride and groom. This may be different in England, so I would suggest you double check with the British embassy or Consulate office to (1) confirm if your Australian marriage is legally recognised in England and (2) can you have a 2nd marriage ceremony. I hope this helps you.

Bridesmaid drama!

I have a lot of female first cousins that I'm very close to but one in particular that I've chosen to be in my bridal party (along with my two sisters). I know my cousins and aunts will be upset that they/their daughters weren't chosen and I'm worried about hurting people's feelings. I'm announcing the bridesmaids at my engagement party. Do you have any advice?

It is difficult when you don't want a big bridal party, however I too come from a very large family (24 of us in our 1st cousins generation!). As everyone is equally important to you, perhaps you can designate jobs out to each of them. The jobs could range from doing a reading, ushering guests at the wedding or at the reception, looking after your gifts or the wishing well or getting guests to sign the guest book, one could even be your MC if they are great at public speaking. I think on such occasions, everyone wants to feel they have an important role with your wedding and you can certainly sell it to them like this if you decide to allocate jobs. I would however caution about making it a big announcement at the engagement party, preference would be go speak quietly and privately to each individual.

I just need a celebrant and a license

How do I go about this? Do I need forms to fill out? It will be a very very simple wedding. Just need someone to do it please.

Registry style weddings or elopement style weddings can be catered for by any celebrant. All you need to do is contact the celebrant of your choice and he/she will be able to guide you with the relevant legal paperwork etc. I have a ceremony room within my home office and I have done many such weddings here where my couples have come after work on a weeknight!

Do I have my future father in law walk me down the aisle?

Unsure what category to put this under. I don't speak to my family at all and have always said I want to walk down the aisle on my own. I've had pressure from my future mother in law and other extended members of my fiances family that I should have him. Comments like "surely you would have xxxx walk you". He's a lovely man but there's a lot I disagree with his alcoholism and priorities and he has also made comments that he thinks I'll ask him. What can I do? Advice? Please ??

HI Shelby. Weddings always bring out 'well intended' comments from both family and friends which unfortunately puts undue pressure on the bride/groom or both parties. If you originally had your heart set out to walk down the aisle on your own, then I do believe it is your choice and no one else's - so long as your husband to be also agrees. I have married many couples who are in your situation - particular brides who have a biological dad and an adopted dad where she spares hurting both and chose to walk down the aisle on her own. On such situations, I suggest to my couples to consider this alternative which works brilliantly and these couples always go for this - the bride walks down the aisle on her own (after her attendants) and as she is approaching midway down the aisle, I send the groom up to meet. They meet halfway, kiss each other and then the groom link arms with his bride and together they continue to walk down the aisle as a 'united happy couple'. This way it is sort of like making a statement to the world that the groom is saying to this bride 'come on honey , let's go and get married'. This gesture can also carry the message that this couple's decision to marry was 'theirs' and that they are re-confirming their choice to marry as a 'united couple who knows what they want for their marriage and future life together'. It also doesn't highlight that the bride does not have family to escort down the aisle, but that she prefers to meet her husband to be on her own to start their new journey in life. I hope this helps you and your husband to be to decide what to do, because this has worked beautifully for all my brides who didn't or chose not to have anyone escorting them down the aisle.

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