Between catering, location, invites and music, organising and planning your wedding is one of the greatest and most important tasks many of us will take on in our lives. Securing the perfect wedding celebrant in Canberra may feel like just another item on your never-ending to-do list, but it isn’t. Instead, your wedding celebrant has the power to make or break your big day.
If you have chosen a non-religious wedding, then you need to find a civil celebrant to ensure you are legally married in compliance with both state-level and national requirements. Marriage in Australia is legislated under Commonwealth law and all civil celebrants must be registered with the Attorney-General’s Department to be able to marry you. But beyond all the legal stuff, how do you decide whether or not a wedding celebrant is right for you and your partner?
In this article, we’ll run through some of the most important things to consider when choosing your celebrant, as well as a list of some of Canberra’s best.
What makes a great wedding & marriage celebrant?
Before you go out and book any old celebrant, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you’re looking for first. To help you gain some clarity, we suggest keeping an eye out for these must-have traits:
- All legal certifications. First and foremost, ensure the wedding celebrant you choose is recognised by the Attorney General’s Department. Without this certification, your ‘I dos’ won’t result in a legal marriage.
- Confident and experienced. The last thing you need on your big day is a celebrant that hasn’t a clue what they’re doing. Instead, they should be confident and experienced.
- Friendly. No one wants an uptight wedding celebrant. Look for an individual with a personality that matches yours – they could be humorous, romantic, serious, or downright silly.
- Organised and reliable. The best in the business always show up on time and organised enough to ensure the ceremony runs smoothly. No hiccups allowed!
- Creative. Your wedding day will be one to remember, and your celebrant can add a touch of memorable creativity and personalisation to your ceremony.
The best wedding & marriage celebrants in Canberra
RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.
To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.
Gina is an authorised Civil Marriage Celebrant who believes that ceremonies should never be created with a “one size fits all approach”. She provides completely unique ceremonies that include a couple’s personal story and a ceremony that reflects who you are as individuals and as a couple, whether it be small or large, formal, informal, traditional, contemporary or thematic.
Facebook user Jessica Ye writes in their review, "Gina did a great job ensuring our wedding ceremony was exactly the way we wanted it. She listened to our needs and delivered. Gina is such a pleasure to work with, thoughtful and kind! We highly recommend her!"
Hannah Noller's philosophy as a celebrant is that rules are made to be broken. All about creativity and originality, Hannah is here to make sure that your ceremony is just as fun as the reception. She creates ideas for ceremony design completely from scratch, so couples can truly feel like they are getting a personal experience that is completely tailored to their authentic selves. If you want to think outside the box a little when it comes time to planning your ceremony, you'll be in more than capable hands with Hannah.
Google reviewer Susannah Crispe wrote the following about their experience with Hannah, "It was love at first wine when we met Hannah! Every step of the process with her was an absolute pleasure - she made us laugh and cry and feel completely at ease. I truly don't think my wedding would have been my dream day without her and if I could give her more stars than 5 I would."
Shannon is a young, modern and fun celebrant who is a self-confessed love addict and also loves a wedding! She loves creating authentic memorable and personal ceremonies that make for a great start to a married life. Shannon is more than happy to catch up for a coffee just to hear your love story.
Facebook reviewer Lishaye said, "Right from the beginning, she was just amazing. We felt so comfortable, and knew without a doubt that she was the one for us."
David Campbell Religious Celebrant helps couples celebrate one of life’s major milestones—marriage—in a memorable and meaningful way. As a part-time Chaplain and more than 20 years in the Navy, David has a unique understanding of ceremony. As a husband of over 30 years, he also firmly believes that marriage should be established on a solid foundation, whether through a traditional wedding or a legal-only wedding for those wishing to elope.
Mao Yize wrote on Riotact, "I will recommend David. He was our celebrant and he provide excellent work. My family likes his humor and he is reliable".
Full time marriage celebrant Judy is an active member of the professional association: Australian Marriage Celebrants. She is also a published writer and a highly experienced public speaker. Needless to say, you’re in good hands with Judy and her friendly disposition is the icing on the 3 tier wedding cake.
Happy couple and Google reviewers Cassie and Zac said, "Judy provided us with what we can only explain is THE best customer service experience we have ever encountered to date."
Darren first became a marriage celebrant for his friend's wedding and has been performing weddings ever since. He’s happy to travel anywhere for a wedding and is supportive of same-sex marriage also.
Google reviewer Victoria says, "We were so happy that we found Darren, he made our wedding so special and so much fun."
Sharyn is an authorised and accredited marriage celebrant who has been helping Canberrans commemorate their most special moments including baby naming ceremonies, funerals, vow renewal, commitments - and, of course, weddings. Whether your celebration is spiritual, traditional or unorthodox, Sharyn is committed to making it memorable, personal and loving, and promises to handle everything with respect and professionalism.
As Brooke C. writes in their Google review, "Sharyn was the celebrant at my wedding recently. Sharyn was professional, personable, accommodating, fun and I would highly recommend her as a marriage celebrant."
If you’re looking for more services in Canberra that can help you on your special day, our articles on Canberra’s best wedding venues and best wedding photographers may be very useful to you. For some sweet wedding sounds check out our article on the best wedding bands, DJs, and musicians.
Your experience with wedding & marriage celebrants in Canberra
Thanks to our commentators who have provided insightful feedback on the best and worst Canberra wedding celebrants.
If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Please comment below detailing your experience with Canberra based wedding celebrants. Who would you recommend? Who would you use again? Who would you steer clear of?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a celebrant and an officiant?
While a wedding officiant is responsible only for the technical, legal side of making your marriage official, a celebrant will also help plan the whole ceremony. On top of providing the appropriate documents, a celebrant can advise you on the structure of the ceremony, any meaningful rituals you might want to include beyond the exchange of the rings, and even help you pen your vows.
What can I expect from a marriage celebrant?
A civil marriage celebrant is authorised by the government to perform legal civil marriages in a dignified and culturally acceptable manner, for those who choose a non-religious ceremony. You can also ask your celebrant to advise you on the structure of your ceremony, any meaningful rituals you might want to include beyond the exchange of the rings, and even help you pen your vows.
When should I start looking for a celebrant?
Finding a celebrant should be a top priority for the wedding planning - after all, without the celebrant you can't actually get married. Given how many choices you have to make when looking for a celebrant and the wide range of services available, plan to allow yourself enough time to find the perfect fit.
What documents do I need to give my celebrant?
At least a month before the ceremony you will sign with your celebrant a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM). Your celebrant is required to see proof of identity confirming who you are plus the date and place of birth. So you will need to show your original birth certificate (not a copy) and drivers licence, or just your passport. If you use your passport you will also need to know the full names of your parents (including your mothers' maiden names) and their country of birth. If either of you has been married before your celebrant will need to sight proof of how the last marriage ended. The next thing to be completed is the Declaration of No Impediment to Marry. This must be done before the ceremony but can be signed a week or so before. The final paperwork is completed after the ceremony when you, your witnesses and the celebrant sign the Marriage Certificates.
Where do I find a marriage celebrant?
The Attorney General’s Department holds database for all registered civil celebrants. You can also search through the Celebrant Association Directories – such as the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants (AFCC) and the Australian Marriage Celebrants Inc (AMC).