How to become a wedding celebrant

Who doesn’t love weddings? Whether it’s your beloved daughter tying the knot or a friend of a friend, there’s just something special about watching two people commit to a lifetime of love. If you’re a regular wedding goer you may have noticed that celebrants tend to come in all shapes and sizes. And chances are you’re a perfect fit! As well as being able to wed your friends and loved ones you could start hiring out your services to earn a little cash on the side. Or even offer free celebrant services in the name of love.

So how can you become an independent celebrant? Here’s our guide covering what you need to know, how to apply and what to expect.


The basics

Religious or not, independent celebrants are empowered with the right to legally perform marriages and civil unions in New Zealand. Depending on your preferences you can be a marriage celebrant, a civil union celebrant or both.

All celebrants are appointed by the Registrar-General, though if you want to be an official part of an approved church or organisation the process is a little different.

Who can apply?

If you’re a New Zealand citizen you’re eligible to become a marriage celebrant. If you’re not a Kiwi you’ll need to prove that there are exceptional reasons why you should be approved as a celebrant.

What it costs

 If you can conjure up $220 you could be legalising marriages in a matter of weeks. The one-off fee empowers you with all the accreditation you need to wed a pair of lovebirds.

How long does it take?

Applications are generally approved in around four to six weeks though this can vary. If you’re planning on becoming a celebrant by a specific date it’s best to start getting organised as soon as you know you’ll be tying the knot.

How to apply

 The good news is the entire application process can be done online. As part of your application you’ll need to provide supporting documents and take an online test. The guidelines are simple and straightforward which makes it easy to put together your application.

So what will you need to show? Basically, your supporting documents need to prove the following:

  • you’re of good character
  • you’ll conscientiously perform the duties of a celebrant
  • your position as a celebrant is in the interest of your community or the general public

You’ll also need at least four 4 signed letters of support from people in your local community. Every letter should include the information in the support letter checklist, plus a personalised opinion on why you would be a good marriage celebrant. Get started by familiarising yourself with the independent celebrant support letter checklist (PDF 37KB).

You’ll need two people to fill in the good character form and will also need to supply a copy of your criminal conviction history from the Ministry of Justice.

Make sure you have a scan or photo of each of your supporting documents. Ideally you should save them to the computer, phone or device you’re using to apply as you’ll need to upload them during the application process.

 Preparing for the online test

Once you’ve got your documents together you can start preparing for the online test. You can find all the information you need on the official Department of Internal Affairs website. Before you start you’ll need to make sure you have a verified RealMe identity. This issues you with a single login to multiple online services including Celebrants Online. You can get your RealMe identity verified at your local PostShop.

Apply online and pay

Ready to take the plunge? Simply complete the online test, fill in the application form, attach your supporting documents and pay the fee of $220 using a credit or debit card. While you wait you’ll probably be asked to attend an interview with your local Registrar of Marriages and Civil Unions.

screen-shot-2017-08-29-at-10-48-07-amStart tying the knot

Congratulations! Your application has been approved and you’re ready to start offering your services as a celebrant. You’ll be informed via email if your application is approved, and will be able to legally marry or join people in a civil union as soon as you receive the notification. Your name will also be added to the public list of local celebrants to people can find your details online and request your services.

Remember, at the end of each year you’ll need to renew your celebrant registration so pencil it into your diary.


Are you a celebrant? We’d love to hear about your experiences with weddings and civil unions so feel free to get in touch!