As common as confetti?

A jump in the number of marriage celebrants to more than 10,500 has left them performing six weddings a year on average.

A jump in the number of marriage celebrants to more than 10,500 has left them performing six weddings a year on average.

While many older celebrants perform only a handful of weddings a year, a new generation is stealing market share by targeting the children of baby boomers, many of whom dont want celebrants their parents age.

Gen Y couples are going online to search for young celebrants like Sarah Cummings, who married Christy Wei, 27, to James Wang, 28, of Ashfield, at Bradleys Head, Mosman.

Ms Cummings runs Engage Celebrants, a network of fun young celebrants rather than any old celebrant, their website states.

The pun on old was intended.

Ms Wei said she chose Ms Cummings because she was lovely, young and a lot of fun. I kind of wanted someone who is a similar age group, not too old, where we can communicate well together.

Ms Cummings said she was filling a gap in a market by providing celebrants as young as 25. She realised at industry meetings that she was one of the few people aged under 60.

This is not a hobby, she said.

Many [young celebrants] have families and theyre not sitting on retirement income or assets.

Ms Cummings has presided over 40 weddings at $750 each and her network of celebrants has grown from seven to 13 in less than a year.

Top celebrants can perform hundreds of weddings but many see it as a part-time job or hobby. Because of fierce competition for the 83,000 or so weddings held outside places of worship each year in Australia, budget wedding providers have proliferated.

Most celebrants agree the tripling in numbers from 3,317 10 years ago hasnt been good for the industry.

Can you imagine trebling the number of taxis or putting four post offices in one block? said Dally Messenger, who literally wrote the book on civil marriages, the handbook used by most celebrants today.

If you do 20 a year, you get a lot of practice at the legal side and in the ceremonial side. You get a feeling for what works and what doesnt, said Mr Messenger, who was the 17th celebrant appointed by then attorney-general Lionel Murphy in the 1970s.

On July 1, the federal government will introduce an annual registration fee of $240 for existing celebrants and $600 for new celebrants.

A spokesperson for the Attorney-Generals Department said the fees will offset the costs and improve service provided to industry.

Mr Messenger agrees the industry has too many celebrants but said the one-size-fits-all flat fee will cause many good celebrants to retire.

Fact box

Number of weddings 121,000 in 2010

Number of civil weddings 69% or 83,490

Number of celebrants 10,500 in 2010 compared with 3,317 in 2003

Average number of weddings performed by each celebrant six

New fees $240 annual fee, plus $600 for new celebrants.


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