Forty years ago today, the 19th July, Australian Attorney- General, Lionel Murphy, typed a letter of appointment for Mrs Lois D'Arcy to become Australia's first civil marriage celebrant. It was not a decision that was supported by many of his colleagues and other members of parliament at the time. Murphy's foresight and stance on marriage reform saw the beginning of a new and exciting era in celebrancy.
Today we take for granted the privilege it is to have the freedom to get legally married on a mountain top, by the beach, in your own home, at an exclusive resort or at any venue you please, whatever time you desire, with the celebrant of your choice.
Over 70% of Australians now embrace this option to to create a ceremony that reflects their own values and beliefs.
The Wikipedia entry on celebrancy states, 'Australia was the first nation whose government appointed non-clergy celebrants with the specific intention that they would create ceremonies that might be as culturally enriching and, if required, as formal as church weddings, i.e. that these ceremonies would not be inferior in status to religious weddings.'
What a great country we live in, that couples can create unique and personal ceremonies that can be funny, stylish, themed, crafted with stories and poetry... in fact, as long as they comply with the legal requirements, with whatever takes their fancy.
In 1994 I put the wheels in motion to become a registered celebrant and in 1995 received notification of my appointment. Little did I know how much this role would enrich my life, bring new friendships (couples, and colleagues alike), and take me around the country in my role as an office bearer of a national celebrant association.
Almost 1000 ceremonies later I am still loving my work as a celebrant, and constantly striving to do things that little bit better, to meet the needs of my couples, to really please them and their guests!
May we never take for granted, but celebrate and honour the early pioneers of celebrancy and to all those who uphold the high standards of this profession.