Lindy Cooke Celebrant

Celebrant versus Registry Office

Since 1973, heterosexual couples in Australia have had the choice as to whether they will be married by a religious or civil celebrant, or a State/Territory officer. Since 9.1.18, all couples in Australia now have the same choice. When the question of a celebrant versus Registry Office or local Court House is discussed, you may like to consider the following.


Registry Office or Local Court House

If you choose one of these options:

  Your ceremony will be simple and follow a standard format.

  You will be restricted to a limited number of guests.

  Although the bridal party will be asked to arrive 15 minutes before the time booked for your marriage, your ceremony may occur before or after another wedding on the same day so the venue will not be yours exclusively for an extended period.

  The Registry provides you with your vows.

  You will not have the opportunity to get to know the person marrying you in the lead up to your wedding day and therefore will not have a chance to develop a rapport with them.

  A ceremony held Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm will cost $442 in NSW including a standard Certificate of Marriage.

  A ceremony held on Friday evening from 6pm to 8pm will cost $557 in NSW including a standard Certificate of Marriage.

  A ceremony held on Saturday & Sunday from 9am to 5pm will cost $557 including a standard Certificate of Marriage.

  A credit card surcharge of 1.4% for AMEX or 0.4% for Mastercard or Visa payments applies.

For further information on arranging a wedding in a Registry Office or local Court House in NSW, click here.


Religious Celebrant

Since the advent of civil celebrants, the number of marriages performed by religious celebrants (such as ministers from a variety of faiths) has continued to decline over the past few decades. This is likely to be due to a number of reasons including the perception that there is a lack of flexibility with regard to what can be included in a religious marriage ceremony.

Following a change to the Marriage Act in 2017, civil celebrants (for a brief window of time) were given the opportunity to distinguish themselves as either a marriage celebrant, or a religious marriage celebrant. A religious marriage celebrant is someone who was able, as a result of their personal religious beliefs, to choose between 9.12.17 when the law changed and the end of March 2018) to offer to perform (without fear of legal action being taken for discrimination) marriage ceremonies not including same-sex ceremonies.

For this reason, it is advisable to discuss any queries or specific requests you may have with the relevant religious celebrant to see if your ideas align.


Civil Celebrant

Lois D’Arcy, a 26 year old mother of two, became the first civil celebrant authorised to solemnise marriages in Australia from 19.7.73. At the time of writing, she was still actively performing marriage ceremonies.

Nowadays, over 70% of couples choose to be married by a civil celebrant. There are many reasons why this should be so.

If you choose me as your marriage celebrant:

  I can, legally, marry you on any day, at any time and anywhere in Australia and then register your marriage in the State or Territory where the marriage was solemnised.

  There are no limits (aside from the size of the venue) as to the number of guests you will be able to invite.

  There are also no limits to the location you choose … on the beach, at a 5 star resort, restaurant, private property, club, non-denominational church, village hall etc … the sky’s the limit, literally!

  I will meet with you, usually four times (twice in my home office, once at a rehearsal and again on your wedding day.) I’ll also liaise with you via email (after each meeting and at other times as well) so that we get to know each other and can discuss everything in detail. I will ask you some simple questions about your story as a couple/family and then reflect you in the ceremony I write.

At our first meeting, I will advise you regarding the legal elements involved when marrying in Australia, show you my resource folder which is available to you once you book with me and, if you decide to go ahead, supply you and your partner with a simple one page questionnaire. I will also complete a Notice of Intended Marriage with you (this is a legal requirement for all couples marrying in Australia.)

At our second meeting, I will collect your completed questionnaires, answer any questions you may have and gather further information from you which I’ll weave into the ceremony I design.

At our third meeting, we’ll sign the Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage and conduct a rehearsal at the venue. We’ll also go over all the details that you’ll need to know on the day, practise the processional with your bridal party (if there is one) and check that your ceremony songs have been downloaded correctly and thus work through my PA so you feel comfortable with how everything will flow on the day.

  I will lend you a copy of my resource folder which contains such things as examples of readings, symbolic rituals, vows etc. as well as details regarding all the legal elements and information regarding many of the organisations you may need to contact if you decide to change your name etc.

  Apart from the legal elements, I am very flexible as to what and who you would like to include in your ceremony. It can be as simple or include as many layers as you like and, depending on your preference, can include spiritual or religious elements if you wish.

  If you like the idea of combining a civil ceremony with some spiritual or religious elements, you may like to consider being married in a church. I have married couples in each of the 4 deconsecrated churches in the local area and am happy to provide further information on this if you’re interested in this option.

  Once my fee has been paid (due by no later than 4 weeks before your marriage), I will supply you with a draft copy of your ceremony. If there happens to be anything at all that you wish to change/add, I am happy to do so.

  I will explain, in easy to understand language, all the different elements which occur in the lead up to, on and after your wedding day. If you have specific ideas you’d like to include, I’m happy to incorporate those. If you’d like options, I have lots of different ideas I’m happy to share with you as well.

  I’m able to put you in touch with many other wedding suppliers whom I trust who can help to make your wedding day one you’ll remember for all the right reasons.

  I offer 3 different wedding packages which cater to a legals only wedding, an elopement, as well as my “Love Is In the Air” package which is very popular with couples. This allows you to choose the package which best represents those things you would like to include and the budget you’re working with. I believe my fees are both competitive and reasonable, particularly when you consider what each of my packages include and the time and effort I give to each ceremony I design. If you’re interested in learning more about what a specific package includes, please let me know the date you have chosen for your wedding. If I’m available, I’m happy to send you further details, including my fee, on request.

  I will arrange for your marriage to be registered in Australia and, if you marry in NSW, I can order on your behalf a standard Certificate of Marriage from Births Deaths & Marriages. This is the one you’ll need to prove you’re married and to change your name legally (if you wish.) If you’re marrying in another State or Territory, I can also provide details on how you can order your official Certificate of Marriage.

  Other than a “legals only” wedding, I offer, at no extra charge, the use of my PA during your ceremony so that your guests can not only hear everything that’s being said but you’re welcome to use it for your music ~ as you walk down the aisle, when you’re at the signing table, when you’re walking back down the aisle and when family and friends come up to congratulate you.

  Each ceremony I write comes from the heart and, unless it’s a “legals only” wedding, will include a personalised introduction. It will take into account all the important details we’ve discussed and all the things that are special to you.

  I am available via phone, email, Facebook Messenger video chat, Skype or in person in the lead up to your wedding day and am happy to answer any queries and help in any way I can.

  While my celebrancy work is my livelihood, my service is a very personal one. I believe it’s all about creating memories from the heart.


038 – 28/02/2017

© Lindy Cooke Celebrant

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