You're reading a free article from The Celebrant Institute, a membership program by Sarah Aird and Josh Withers. Members get to read all the articles, ask for advice and coaching on running a sustainable celebrancy business, and ask urgent marriage law questions.

Jo asks

What professional association do I join? One? Two? All? I know this is tricky question and high levels of diplomacy may be required – but how does a newbie choose between the associations? My RTO has given no advice and all associations seem to offer the same or similar benefits.

The good news is that you don’t have to join a celebrant association, it’s a choice you get to make. As for which association, and there’s many, you ought to look at the benefits membership brings you.

As I skim the membership benefits pages of many of the associations, I see insurance being offered by many, although because of my corporate structure I have public liability insurance separately, some offer celebrant software, some offer copyright licensing, and others offer mentoring, meetings, and online forms and Facebook groups (oh so many Facebook groups), and if pushed I personally don’t see immediate benefit to many of them outside of discounted insurance.

Liaising with the Attorney-General’s department

There is however an important aspect of celebrant associations that many associations are dropping, that’s their liaising with the AGD office.

From this week’s issue of Marriage Celebrant Matters

The department met with marriage celebrant associations on 2 May 2018. Sixteen celebrants representing fourteen celebrant associations were in attendance. Issues discussed included improving consultation approaches between associations and the department, changes to the Marriage Act 1961 for marriage equality, and consultation activities including the review of official marriage forms. The meeting also included a presentation by the Department of Finance on the Australian Government Charging Framework. The department held a teleconference with associations on 10 August 2018 and the next face to face meeting is scheduled for mid-October.

Celebrant associations have a seat at the table with the AGD.

Our AGD needs to be held accountable to decisions they make, plus there needs to be open communication between that office and the celebrant population. In recent times our own Sarah Aird has taken that upon herself and if we don’t support associations, or have one worth joining, this kind of work will fall on individual shoulders.

Maybe that’s what the future of marriage celebrancy in Australia looks like?