A Marriage Celebrant's role

A Marriage Celebrant's role and obiligations

Only people who are legally authorised to do so may solemnise marriages in Australia. Australian Marriage Celebrants have an important role which is critical to the parties to the marriage, not only because of its legal consequences, but also because of its central significance to them individually and as a couple.

It is not a Marriage Celebrant's role to:

• assist couples with migration matters (this is a complex area that requires expert advice, but it may be an offence for a person who is not a registered migration agent to do this) • obtain documents • be involved in any legal matter concerning any party’s relationships or past marriages, or • obtain court orders.

It is critical however to a Marriage Celebrant's role to make sure that everything is done according to the Marriage Act and the Marriage Regulations and that all necessary steps are taken to make sure the marriage will be valid. Celebrants need to be very committed to keeping up up-to-date and ensuring that you are following any changes to the law or practice. The law can and does change, practices and requirements may change and what was once best practice may no longer be so because of these changes.


Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants must fulfill a range of legal obligations, including complying with the Code of Practice for marriage celebrants and undertaking annual professional development activities.

The obligations of Commonwealth -registered marriage celebrants are outlined in section 39G and 39FA of the Marriage Act. Section 39G requires each Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant to: • conduct himself or herself in accordance with the Code of Practice for marriage celebrants prescribed by the Schedule 1A to the Marriage Regulations – see paragraph 39G(a)of the Act (discussed further Part 3.1.5 of these Guidelines) • undertake all professional development activities required by the Registrar of Marriage Celebrants in accordance with the Marriage Regulations 1963 (Cth) – see paragraph 39G(b) of the Act, and • notify the Registrar, in writing, of a change in a person’s details no longer being current or correct on the register, within 30 days; or notify the Registrar of the occurrence of an event that might have caused the Registrar to not register the person if the event had occurred before the person was registered – paragraph 39G(c) of the Act.

Section 39FA requires a Commonwealth -registered marriage celebrant to pay an annual celebrant registration charge, unless an exemption from this charge is granted. Failure to pay the charge will result in deregistration unless an exemption has been granted.


The Marriage Act 1961 provides for three categories of authorised celebrants who may solemnise marriages in Australia: A.ministers of religion of recognised denominations (who are registered under Subdivision A of Division 1 of Part IV of the Act). B.State and Territory Officers (who are authorised by virtue of Subdivision B of Division 1 of Part IV of the Act) , and C.Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants (who are registered under Subdivision C of Division 1 of Part IV of the Act). This category contains both celebrants performing civil ceremonies and ministers of religion who are not aligned with a recognised denomination.  A person cannot be authorised to solemnise marriages under more than one category at any one time.