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Values and Ethics

Philosophy, Code of Ethics, Standard of Service

We are a national professional association and we encourage all our members to high standards of ceremony and upholding the Code of Practice for Marriage Celebrants. We are firm belivers in:

  • providing choice of ceremony
  • conducting ourselves in a professional manner
  • maintaining cultural awareness with our services
  • providing services of dignity and meaning

Our full code of ethics follows. If you would like a printed copy you can download one from here.

Philosophy, Code of Ethics, Standard of Service

(Originally written by Dally Messenger in 1994 - adapted)


To pursue excellence in all that we do.

To strive for Professionalism — for perfection in every detail.

To officiate at the best and most beautiful ceremonies possible.

To give top-of-the-range service to our clients and to the public.

To stay passionately aware that the ceremony is not ours but the clients: and their wishes, their choices, and their contributions are central.

To enjoy the happiness that we have the rare and unique opportunity to be paid to read poetry in public, and that the poetry, prose, music and symbols that we use in our ceremonies, and the artists we encourage, are a significant element in the artistic and cultural development of this country and humanity generally.

To be concerned about unity and cooperation among celebrants. To be motivated to cooperate with the other professionals with whom we operate.

To preoccupy ourselves with standards — standards of preparation, standards of service, and ethics and conventions of behaviour that result in ceremonies which please, thrill, console, and strengthen our clients and our fellow human beings.

To be open to new ideas, new possibilities and responding to needs with all personal ceremonies, public ceremonies, and to be ritually part of paradigm shifts in the social fabric.

The Association and all its members agree to:

Mr Justice Lionel Murphy
1) To hold in respect and honour the memory of the founder of the Civil Celebrant Program, the late Mr Justice Lionel Murphy.

Uniqueness of the Australian Civil Celebrant
2) To encourage all members in the maintenance of the unique concept and nature of the Australian Civil Celebrant and the qualities which Mr Justice Murphy considered essential — bringing service, cultural awareness, choice of ceremony, appropriateness, efficiency, dignity and professionalism.

Standards of Service – Weddings

3) To set and maintain a professional standard of obliging service to the public by which member celebrants will be distinguished, and which will bring above average credit and recognition on this assocation and its individual members.

4) To encourage member wedding celebrants to inform clients of practical sources for personalised ceremonies i.e. prose, poetry, music, choreography and symbols, which will make their choice, and thus, their ceremony, truly meaningful.

(5) To encourage wedding celebrant members to observe sensitivity in the assessment of each client couple and with courteous respect for their cultural rights, encourage them in choosing and/or approving, by their choice, a ceremony which is appropriate and culturally satisfying to them.

Standards of Service – Funerals

(6) To encourage member funeral celebrants, to maintain sensitive attention to clients' needs, and such a high standard of preparation of the biography/eulogy, of efficient checking of the ceremony, and of compassionate organisation and sincere delivery of the funeral service, that members will stand out as the professionals in the industry.

Reasonable Fees

(7) To ensure, through whatever means and structures are appropriate, that the fees charged will be so sufficiently reasonable as to enable the celebrant to observe the high standard of professional service to the public which this assocation encourages and advocates.

Professional Cooperation

(8) To promote a spirit of sharing, cooperation, and mutual encouragement and assistance among member celebrants, indeed all celebrants.

(9) To publish and promote this standard of Service and Code of Ethics and encourage all members to adhere to the principles therein.


(10) To bring to the attention of the community, especially in the media, information about the College Association, its members and their role in the community. To promote the cultural rights of the public, and the image of the unique celebrant role.

Defence of Members

(11) To represent all member celebrants with the government, the public service, the media and with society's other organisations and structures. This particularly includes representing members with elected representatives, the public service especially when the actions of people in their influential position - by guidelines, interpretations, regulations or laws, are detrimental to the public good and/or militate against the celebrant's ability to serve the public appropriately.

Assistance to members

(12) To assist, by every means available, all celebrants, especially all member celebrants, to officiate at the best ceremonies they can i.e. Weddings, Renewal of Vows, Funerals, Namegivings and similar. The Association intends to provide and market the best resources and products available to do this.

(13) To defend, protect, represent and assist member celebrants when their individual rights or position are threatened, or when they have made a mistake, when they are ill, or when they find themselves with a problem of any relevant kind.

Education of members

(14) To acquire, disseminate or publish information on subjects of interest to Civil Celebrants. To support the International College of Celebrancy in its Diploma Courses, Training Programs, and Professional Development.

Friendship among members and other celebrants

(15) To provide for the social interaction and to promote friendship and education of all members and non member celebrants by the organisation of celebrations, functions, seminars and the like.

(16) To do all such other things as are conducive to advance the interest of the general public, the cultural development of Australia and other countries with a similar society, the clients of celebrants, and the interest of celebrants themselves.

Celebrant and client

 To promote an ideal of respect for the client and the clients right to choose and approve their own ceremony.

 To support access by clients to resources through information regarding publications and websites.

 To challenge unaware clients to go to higher levels of quality in their ceremony.

Celebrants and celebrants

 To promote a spirit of respect and cooperation among members and indeed all celebrants
To respect the proprietary work of other celebrants and to promote the right to copyright of personal work.
To promote an ideal of respect for student celebrants, and the right of every suitable person to study to become a celebrant.

Celebrant and society

To enrich the culture by promoting Best Practice ceremonies for all the milestones of human life, all the seasonal change moments, and societal and historical days of significance.
To promote an awareness of the importance of Rites of Passage for individuals and the society, through the media, and by personal communication.



Individual members agree to achieve a number of objectives for the Australian Community. They agree to contribute to the sum total of human happiness by facilitating the most appropriate, meaningful, aesthetically beautiful ceremonies possible for citizens in our pluralistic and multicultural society.

The member celebrant is entrusted with the challenge of sensitively working out the cultural needs of their clients when they decide on a Rite of Passage, such as marriage. In this sense the Civil Celebrant has an important role in developing Australian culture as expressed in the way significant occasions are marked and celebrated. In this way valued relationships will be psychologically strengthened and the Institution of Marriage and the family unit will enjoy social and cultural esteem and support within our society.

Therefore the Association Member Celebrant should seek:

(1) To avoid all attitudes of pretentiousness, authoritarianism and self importance; or of an overbearing style which would intimidate a couple from exercising their rights or their wishes about their ceremony.

(2) To inform clients of sources for personalised ceremonies; i.e. prose, poetry, music and symbols, which will make their choice, and thus, their ceremony, truly meaningful.

(3) To avoid intruding personal beliefs, prejudices and/or preconceived ideas into arrangements for weddings wherein the client couple and their associates wish to express themselves in their own way.

(4) To avoid influencing arrangements merely to suit their own personal convenience.

(5) To see himself/herself as a catalyst of the culture — encouraging the artists of Australia; including composers, musicians, singers, poets, writers, actors, gardeners, designers and photographers.

(6) To be available to attend and assist with a rehearsal, preferably on-site, so as to ensure that the ceremony goes smoothly on the day.

(7) To dress as appropriately as possible, given the style of the ceremony, its level of formality, and the wishes of the bride and groom

(8) To present oneself, given the style of dress required, in the best possible way, neat, clean and dignified, in accordance with accepted standards.

(9) To arrive punctually at an agreed time, and a reasonable time before the commencement of the ceremony.

(10) To organise and orchestrate the ceremony as skilfully as possible, speaking assigned words or poetry (if any) with clear diction and a sincere voice, always keeping in mind that every client's ceremony is special, perhaps the most special, at least a very special moment in a lifetime.

(11) To avoid rushing out of the ceremony venue with unseemly haste, but to wait an appropriate time, so as to give the Rite its due importance and attention.

(12) To establish and maintain:

(a) an office where people can be interviewed in private and where proper records can be kept with privacy and confidentiality. This office should be equipped with the necessary computerisation and office equipment to carry out all appropriate administrative functions conscientiously and efficiently.

(b) a reliable and maintained motor vehicle with a respectable appearance.

(c) communications systems which ensure that clients have reasonable access to their celebrant.

(d) where necessary, sound and speaker systems so that the ceremony can be heard by all present.

(e) a wardrobe of suitable clothes so as to ensure that the celebrant presents herself or himself in an acceptable manner. Celebrants should always dress so that they fit in with the ceremony without in any way competing with the bride, groom and wedding party and with similar appropriateness at other ceremonies.

(13) The Law and Procedures. In the case of marriage ceremonies, to become acquainted, knowledgeable and expert regarding all the relevant sections of the Marriage Act; the conventions and interpretations commonly followed, and the procedures of the registering authorities. The Celebrant shall observe the spirit and the letter of the law under which he/she operates. All relevant forms and records shall be processed conscientiously and filled out neatly and clearly.

(14) Allied commercial interests. To ensure that couples, are free to approach the celebrant to organise a wedding or other ceremony without the chance, fear or possibility of being taken advantage of in any way. For this reason every celebrant's appointment should not be allied with any commercial interest external to the office of celebrant; e.g. in the case of a marriage ceremony, a celebrant should not attempt to sell to clients insurance, wedding rings, photography packages, travel, hire car catering, receptions or wedding venues. The purpose of this is to ensure that couples are free to make their own choices, without being in any way intimidated by the celebrant into any particular purchase; and so that the celebrant be the specialist professional of the central event, the ceremony itself.

(19) This does not preclude a celebrant giving clients a list of musicians, poets, or similar, in which lists the celebrant has no commercial interest or alliance.

(20) To speak out honestly to any appropriate authority which he/she believes that the law, regulations and practices exist which are not in the best interests of the Australian community.

(21) To constantly seek education to do the task better, and to engage in a continual process of self assessment and external assessment to ensure that he/she is not giving offence, and to observing a high standard of expertise in ceremonies which a acceptable to couples and to the public.

Reasonable Fees

(22) Fees should be based on what is paid comparatively to the general community for equivalent work with equivalent skills i.e. in out-of-hours and weekend time. The fee should be such that an intelligent, informed person would judge it reasonable by the relative standards stated. The celebrant should individually determine the fees to be charged for his or her services.

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