Mercy asks:

I’ve been asked to do a wedding two hours from Sydney and quoted an extra $50 above my usual fee each way, but they want to do a rehearsal the day before which would require me driving an extra four hours plus the time it takes to do the rehearsal. How would you recommend I charge for this?

Josh and I, along with every celebrant in the universe, have different ways of calculating travel fees, so this article is definitely just my view and the way I do it.

It’s a very personal decision, choosing how and when to apply travel fees, and things to consider include how much time you’re willing to spend away from your family and other bookings and life, as well as how badly you want the specific job you’re quoting for.

I don’t have a family (no partner or kids), nor much of a life if I’m honest, and I prefer to have one booking even if it’s not the most profitable arrangement I could get for the day, so I’m fairly transparent about how I calculate travel fees, and I tend to apply them the same way for every couple I meet.

I advertise that my premium wedding package includes travel within 40km of my home in Glen Iris, Victoria. Outside of that I reserve the right to charge travel fees, although I don’t tend to actually start charging them until I’m travelling over 70km from home. If a couple books me for a wedding that is, for example, 200km from my home, I do the following calculation:

  • 200km there plus 200km home equals 400km
  • 80km is included in my package
  • Therefore I’m going to charge them for 320km
  • I charge at 66c per kilometre (the ATO mileage rate has gone up to 68 cents per kilometre in 2018, so I might just change to that).
  • 320km x $0.66 equals $211.20
  • I like to round my figures out, so I’d probably quote them $210 per attendance at the venue

That last part is important, because it covers me for a rehearsal if they want one. If I’m charging to travel to the venue on the wedding day, I’m also going to charge them to travel to the venue for a rehearsal. I’m also happy to run rehearsals in backyards or parks, or final meetings at my usual restaurant, to avoid us all trooping out to the venue a second time.

Some celebrants suggest charging more than the ATO mileage rate because that really only covers petrol and wear and tear on your car, and you should still charge for your travelling time. But I choose not to do that (for no other reason than that then my travel fees get really high and I get scared that the couple won’t book me – yes, I’m a bit gutless!).

In addition to the mileage calculation, I personally won’t drive more than four hours in a single day; it’s too exhausting, and I don’t have anyone who accompanies me to weddings, so I don’t feel that it’s safe for me to do that. If a couple’s wedding venue is further than a two-hour drive from my home, I’m also going to charge them for a night’s accommodation. Again, I’m a bit gutless and I tend to just throw out $150 as an accommodation charge; it’s not too tricky to get a hotel room for that amount in most country towns in Victoria, and I feel guilty charging them for something more “special”. If I want to stay in a fancy room, I can pay the difference myself.

The accommodation situation can help with the rehearsal situation; in order to avoid me making two trips to their venue, some couples choose to have me stay the night before their wedding, and run the rehearsal the day before. I’m more than happy to do that, although it has on occasion left me with a lot of hours to fill in weird places the day of the wedding (last time I had to check out at 10am and the wedding wasn’t until 4pm; I just drove to the closest big town and went to the movies!).

I haven’t yet been asked to quote on an interstate or overseas wedding, and to be honest I don’t think I’d be particularly interested in doing either unless I could somehow make a holiday out of it. I’m ultimately a home body and I like coming home, sitting on my couch, and eating pizza after a wedding 🙂

So that’s how I manage travel. Does anyone want to let us know in the comments how they do it?