“So what do you do for a job?” I’m not sure why it is but I have been asked this more regularly over the last week, most recently at the hairdresser on Friday. This is not an unusual question, it’s one you often ask someone when you meet them for the first time.

My answer is “I’m a marriage celebrant.”

Inevitably, this prompts further questions and comments like, “What an awesome job!”, “Everyone is always so happy” “What a great job”, “How did you get into it?”, “Did you have to do a course for that?”, “What was your favourite wedding?” , “Is this your full time job?”,”I bet you’ve dealt with some interesting people!”, What do you wear?”, “I went to this wedding once…”, “My celebrant was {insert either very positive or very negative comments}. There’s no doubt, I love talking about what I do, anywhere, anytime over a glass of wine or a strong latte.

Maree in her role as marriage celebrant at Bayon & Justine Wedding Ceremony at Stones of the Yarra Valley

Pic Captured by: Beck Rocchi

But I’m still a little surprised even when in these days some people actually don’t know what a marriage celebrant in Australia does. Then I will be asked some questions and comments like this… “So, what do you do again?” “Are you a wedding planner?”, “Are you like, a priest?”, “Are you religious?”, ” Are you the one who stands up there with the people getting married?”, “Do you write all the words?”

My answer is “I marry couples“.

There are a few different official terms to describe us here in Australia – marriage celebrant, wedding celebrant, civil celebrant or authorised marriage celebrant.

Marriage celebrants have overseen the majority of marriages since 1999 and the proportion of marriage ceremonies overseen by a marriage celebrant increased to 72.5 per cent of all marriages in 2013. (Source: The Australian Bureau of Statistics 2014)

I’m regularly surprised when after I have celebrated a wedding ceremony a guest approaches me to say “Thank-you, I have never been to a ceremony like this before. Previously I had only been to church ceremonies which seems so impersonal and long.” Or “I loved how you included so much about them and in such a relaxed way.”

And this really is the beauty of a civil marriage ceremony. They can be as personal as you like, they can incorporate your story, they can include your beliefs, dreams and goals and they can include your most important crew. Apart from some legal wording which must be said, you can be as traditional or as non-traditional as you wish. No “God stuff” needs to be mentioned in your ceremony. In fact, 99% of the ceremonies I conduct, don’t have any religious references. There’s a common myth that you need to include a reading – nope you don’t need to have any readings if you don’t wish to!

Yes, all authorised marriage celebrants are required to complete and pass a lengthy and thorough registered course, provide referees and be deemed a “fit and proper person”. For more information check out the Attorney General’s website info…. http://bit.ly/1MGD0jt

Marriage celebrants are required to pay an annual registration fee and complete professional development each year. Marriage celebrants are appointed by the Attorney General to conduct weddings, they must follow the legalities according to the Marriage Act and uphold the Marriage Celebrants Professional Code of Conduct.

I was thrilled to chat recently to one of my brides whom I married back in February (Hi Lara!). She has decided to embark on a marriage celebrants course. After her own wedding she felt inspired to become a marriage celebrant and work with lovely couples to create their own ceremony.

This is why I love what I do. No two wedding ceremonies are the same because they are designed in collaboration with you to reflect who you are as a couple and they love you share. And this is the way all wedding ceremonies should be.

To get answers to all the other questions above, get in touch – 0409 235 243 or visit my website  www.mareelivy.com.au

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