Celebrants and Commissioners- What the Difference?
Before I was a part of the wedding industry, I assumed that there were two options for getting married- someone who was religious (like a priest), or someone who wasn't and was allowed by the government to marry people. That's kind of correct, but also kind of not.
In BC, we currently have two common types of people that marry couples outside of the church- celebrants and commissioners. There are a few key differences between these two types of people that I want to share with you so you can make a more informed decision about which type of person to hire for your big day!
So let's start by talking about the similarities between celebrants and commissioners. Both groups are legally allowed to marry you and sign the paperwork needed to make your marriage legal. Both have certain phrases that they have to say in order to make your marriage legal.
So let's get into the differences, shall we?
1) To start off with, and the #1 thing people always want to know, is how much is it going to cost?
Commissioner's pricing is based on prices set by the government. The price starts at $78 for the commissioner just to show up, perform your ceremony and go. Other prices are incurred as you spend time with the commissioner in things such as rehearsals, vow personalization, etc.
The price of a celebrant can be anywhere from $200 to $800, depending on how much time they spend with you, how far they have to travel, how personal they make their ceremonies, etc. Logan and I paid $800 for our celebrant at our wedding, but it was completely worth the extra cash for her to travel all the way up a mountain with us. It took her the entire day.
2) That leads to the second difference: # of weddings done in a day.
While commissioners can attend numerous weddings in the same day, and often do, Celebrants only attend one wedding a day. Their entire day are often based around preparing for that one important and sacred rite of marriage.
3) Ok, so what determines who is a celebrant and who is a commissioner?
Commissioners are government appointed, are trained under a government program and must live in the community they serve. They are only allowed to serve the community they live in and there are a limited number of commissioners per area. Commissioners also must be retired or semi- retired.
Celebrants go through accredited training programs to learn the art of ritual and ceremony. They are technically ordained ministers, although most of them do not boast that title. While commissioners are listed in a government database and not allowed to do their own advertising beyond that, celebrants are responsible for their own advertising and business up-keep.
4) Which parts of your day matter the most to you?
For Logan and I, taking the time to celebrate our union and sharing our unique love was extremely important to us. We wanted to personalize everything from where our wedding was, to the small number of guests at our ceremony, to our hand fasting, to our story being shared. Other couples just want to get the vows over with and spend as little time as possible standing up in front of everyone. Neither option is better than the other. It's just a question of which option is going to work best for you?
Special thanks to Ceri Peacey for helping me with my celebrant research!