Having a marriage celebrant perform your wedding ceremony is a very popular option, with almost two thirds of the marriages that began in Australia in 2008 being solemnized by celebrants rather than ministers of religion.
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To become a marriage celebrant, applicants must complete a training course known as the Australian Marriage Celebrants Program, as well as satisfying the Registrar of Marriage Celebrants that they are suitable for the role.
So what exactly does a marriage celebrant do during the wedding ceremony, and can other people be involved to make it more personal to you and your fiance?
A good marriage celebrant will provide you with a variety of ceremony options, or may even help you to write your own ceremony to make sure it is meaningful to you. They should be willing to accommodate friends and family who want to take an active role in the wedding ceremony.
However there are various tasks that must be performed by an authorized celebrant for the marriage to be legal, according to the Marriage Act if 1961. These are:
- The celebrant must agree to be present as the responsible authorised marriage celebrant.
- The celebrant must take an obvious public role in the wedding ceremony.
- The celebrant must identify themselves to wedding party, the witnesses and the guests present at the wedding ceremony as the celebrant that is authorised to solemnise the marriage.
- The celebrant must take responsibility for making sure the marriage is valid and legal.
- The celebrant must recite the words required by section 46 in front of the wedding party, the witnesses and the guests.
- The celebrant must be close enough to the couple getting married to see and hear the marriage vows required by subsection 45.2 being exchanged. This is the most important part of the wedding ceremony and constitutes the marriage.
- The celebrant must intervene in the wedding ceremony if events demonstrate the need for them to do so.
- The celebrant must form part of the ceremonial group during the wedding ceremony, or must be situated close to the group.
- The celebrant must sign the marriage papers that are required to legalise the marriage.
Most marriage celebrants only perform a very limited number of wedding ceremonies each year, so you should begin your search early if you want to find one that you are comfortable with and that you are sure will add something to your special day. The Register of Marriage Celebrants is a good place to begin your search, and you will find celebrants from both religious and non religious organisations.
Look for local celebrants so that you can arrange to meet with at least two or three before you make a final decision about who you would like to perform your wedding ceremony. Your wedding day is the beginning of a wonderful journey and you want to make sure you are happy with the person you have chosen to set you on your way.
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