Explained: Are ‘Marriage Celebrants’ And ‘Civil Celebrants’ The Same?


Gay couple

Generally, registered marriage celebrants and registered civil celebrants are one and the same.

However, most celebrants refer to themselves as a ‘marriage’ celebrant as opposed to a ‘civil’ celebrant. This is where people can become confused.

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Civil marriage ceremonies are the only civil ceremonies in Australia that require celebrants to be registered by the Commonwealth Attorney General’s (ATG) office in order to solemnise (make legally binding) marriages.

Furthermore, to become registered by the ATG’s office, a celebrant must have completed a Certificate IV in Celebrancy. This must be done through a Recognised Training Organisation (RTO) that is approved by the ATG’s office.

Registered Celebrants must also undertake professional development training every year to maintain their registration with the ATG.

So, if you are looking for a celebrant to perform your marriage ceremony, as long as they are registered, which should be stated in their title, they can legally perform the ceremony.

In relation to other life ceremonies such as Renewal of Vows, Naming Ceremonies and Commitment Ceremonies, a non-registered civil celebrant can perform these as there are no legal aspects to the ceremony.

However, if you are looking for a celebrant to perform a funeral ceremony, you will need to check with the celebrant that they have undergone funeral celebrancy training and that they are willing to do this ceremony.

Not all marriage celebrants have trained in funeral celebrancy and/or are willing to perform funeral or memorial ceremonies.

Joshua Hart holds a Certificate VI in Celebrancy (including Funeral Celebrancy) from Rose Training College and is registered by the ATG’s office to conduct all ceremonies. You can see the full array of ceremonies by Joshua on his website here. Joshua is well known within the gay community, having been the President of BootCo from 2008-10 and again in 2016-17. If you’re looking for a leather wedding, bear wedding or something in between, Joshua has an understanding of the needs of our community and will be happy to assist. Joshua and his partner, Kevin, will be married on June 21st this year to coincide with their 25th anniversary. Joshua can be contacted either via his website or email celebrateurday@gmail.com