A celebrant is a person appointed by the Registrar-General to perform marriages, civil unions, funerals, and other ceremonies.

Anyone can become a celebrant; however marriage and civil union celebrants must be registered with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. 

How can I become a marriage or civil union celebrant?

There are two types of marriage or civil union celebrant:

  • Church or organisational celebrants
  • Independent celebrants

If you are a church minister you can be nominated by the church’s governing body to be a marriage or civil union celebrant. Similarly, if you belong to another religious or philosophical organisation then the organisation can nominate you.

To become an independent marriage or civil union celebrant, you must apply to the Registrar General. Applications to become an independent marriage celebrant or civil union celebrant must be made online.

The application fee is around $150 if applying to be an organisational celebrant, or around $220 if applying to be an independent celebrant.

You will probably find out within two weeks of applying, whether or not your application has been successful – however it’s possible that the Registrar General will request more information from you or ask you to visit your local Registrar of Marriages for an interview.

The Registrar General has to be satisfied that: 

  • you are a person of good character (e.g. Justice of the Peace)
  • you normally live in New Zealand
  • you will conscientiously perform a celebrant’s duties
  • appointing you as a marriage or civil union celebrant would benefit your community. 

If you would like to find out more about what is involved in being a marriage or civil union celebrant you can do a computer-based course or visit the govt.nz website for more information.

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How do I find a celebrant?

You need to feel comfortable with the person you have chosen to be your wedding celebrant because they will play an important role on your wedding day. You can try asking your friends and family to recommend someone, search the Celebrants’ Association of New Zealand website or the Department of Internal Affairs website

It’s a good idea to meet with your prospective celebrant first before you ask them to take on the role. You’ll need to allow yourself enough time for ‘shopping around’ in case the first celebrant you meet is not a ‘good fit’ with you.  

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How much can I expect to pay for the services of a marriage celebrant?

Celebrants might charge anywhere from about $150 up to $800 – or more (and you may even find one who’ll do it for free). It can vary depending on where you are in New Zealand, the amount of experience the celebrant has had, the length of the ceremony and how much you want them to do for you.

For example, apart from the basic ceremony the fee may include: 

  • providing you with readings and the wording of your vows 
  • attending rehearsals of the ceremony
  • coordinating with the photographer or videographer
  • travel costs

If you’re price-conscious but still want the services that a celebrant can provide, it’s a good idea to decide what you want the celebrant to do for you, find out from them what services are included in the fee, and whether the fee can be reduced if some of those services are omitted.