We’ve had a couple of anonymous questions on this in the last week, so I’m going to pop them both in here:
I’m looking at expanding my services other than just celebrant. At the moment I have a little side gig where it is wedding packages with hair, make up and myself this is run on a separate facebook page. But I’m wanting to possibly offer ceremony styling as well. Just wanted to check it I could advertise this on my celebrant website under a tab “Ceremony Styling” and offer DIY or we setup and dismantle the ceremony. Think simple to start with chairs, flowers and arch. Just before I go making any purchases just wanted some feedback and advice. Thanks!
I am currently working for a theatre company and intend to keep working for them, but I want to be able to do weddings occasionally and for friends. However because I’m trained in fashion and costume I thought I’d be able to offer wedding dresses but from what I can understand I can’t? I understand how that can be a conflict of interest now but I was wondering where you draw the line within packages and extras. If I can’t even offer custom veils as an inclusion of a package then I feel like all my other hard earned creative making abilities are of no use?
This has all changed! We can now do (almost) anything we like!
It’s true that the old Conflict of Interest/Benefit to Business Guidelines did not allow authorised celebrants to provide other products or services to their celebrant clients. So you could be a hairdresser for Jane, but not her celebrant; or you could be the celebrant for Jill but not her hairdresser. We also weren’t allowed to cross-promote our businesses if we had multiple wedding-related offerings. So you couldn’t put an ad for your hairdressing services on your celebrant website and vice versa.
The issue was that if you were both the celebrant and another supplier for the same couple, and as the celebrant you saw a legal impediment with the marriage, would you be prepared to say hey, I’m not going to marry you due to this legal impediment, if you were then likely to lose the income from the other product or service as well.
In December 2016-January 2017, the Marriage Law and Celebrant Section of the Attorney General’s Department undertook a review of the conflict of interest guidelines through a survey of all celebrants. In October 2017 updated Conflict of Interest/Benefit to Business Guidelines and a position paper on the updates were published.
In a nutshell, celebrants are now allowed to offer almost any additional product or service to their celebrancy clients, or indeed offer their celebrancy services to clients of another product or service they provide. As well as being the couple’s celebrant, we (or our spouse or family member) can also provide and charge for any of the following (and it’s not limited to this list):
- accessories for the ceremony (sand, jars, ribbons, chairs, runners, arches, etc)
- fees for same-day lodgement of paperwork
- venue hire
- MC or DJ services
- wedding planning
- photography (I’m not entirely sure how one person could be both the celebrant and the photographer, but I’m sure some enterprising person will figure it out)
- hair and makeup
- dress hire, suit hire, dress design and creation
- car hire
- pre-marriage counselling.
We can also cross-promote any other service or product offerings we have to our celebrant clients.
What we CANNOT do is:
- be the celebrant and the migration agent for the same couple; that’s against the Migration Agents’ code of conduct.
- be the employee of a wedding venue without first satisfying the Registrar how you’re going to manage any conflicts of interest.
- only sell a couple your celebrancy services if they also purchase your other service or product, or vice versa; couple must always have a choice about all of their suppliers. You can offer packages, but couples must be able to say no thank you, we don’t want that bit.
Now this is not saying that conflicts of interest won’t arise. What it’s saying is that the MLCS is now going to allow us to manage our own conflicts of interest; they’re going to trust that we’re sufficiently well versed in our roles as celebrants that we would not solemnise a marriage where there’s a legal impediment just because of another service we were providing to the couple.
Both the celebrants who have asked questions this week are totally good to go in with the situations they’ve outlined!
My understanding is that you still have to declare to the MLCS any new business you’re adding to your portfolio under the fit and proper person test. That’s covered in the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Marriage Celebrants 2018 at page 119.