EMAIL BRUCE  |  PH: (09) 528 3395

Weddings

In sunny summer gardens, restaurants, hot air balloons, public parks, in the bush, watching the gannets, in chapels and churches, in homes or at sea, on islands and cliff tops, in hospital wards, in posh places or do-it-yourself halls, black-tie or relaxed, big budget, low budget, on a year's notice or a few days, with hundreds of guests or 2 neighbours roped in as witnesses, in monk's habit, hat and jeans, relaxed casual, or high street suit, I have conducted marriage ceremonies.

I do so because I believe in marriage. The idea of a man and a woman spending a lifetime as committed companions, probably raising children, and enjoying a solid and stable life - it seems to be built into the human race to want that. And, despite the false starts and fall-overs that people experience, many still aspire to a lasting and happy marriage.

A marriage is a cause for celebration. And you want a celebrant that will help smooth over the nerves which nearly always come and are often a surprise. You will want a celebrant who is competent, organised, experienced, respectful of you and who deeply values all the ideals of marriage.

A good marriage ceremony really comes down to these things:

The tone and mood set by the celebrant
The words that are spoken
The whole senses package - looks, sounds, colours, smiles, music, enthusiasm.
The first one rests significantly on the personality of the celebrant. The second one evolves as a joint venture between you and your celebrant. The third is essentially up to you, every guest, your wedding party, your venue hosts and your celebrant.

Looking For a Celebrant


"Your calmness, your style and your patience helped create a wonderful atmosphere. You brought everyone in - but made us feel as if we were the only ones there. Thanks."

What is a marriage celebrant?

A Celebrant is a person acting in either a civil or religious capacity, who conducts a ceremony or service. In New Zealand, civil marriage celebrants are registered with the Government. I have been on the Civil List since 1994.

Marriage celebrants are appointed by the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages and are subject to annual renewal. Ministers and priests are generally on the 'Organisations' List, and individuals are generally on the 'Civil' List. There is no tie-up at all between being a JP and being a celebrant. You can not have a legal marriage without a Marriage Licence issued in the name of a recognised Celebrant.

The passing of the Civil Union Act created a new category of Celebrant especially for civil unions. They are separate lists. I am a marriage celebrant only and not authorised to conduct civil unions.

Going About Choosing Your Celebrant

Most people are very busy and want the help of a celebrant who is experienced, organised and helpful in the preparation phase, and is relaxed, competent and secure in the public role. Then the whole day gets a good lift.

Not many people are game to book a celebrant sight unseen, so a phone call to 528 3395 works best to establish the first contact or leave a message. Email is a good way of at least registering an interest and finding out about my availability on a given day. If you are going to make a first enquiry by email, please state Day, Time and Location of the ceremony, and it is nice also to have the names of both parties. It is best to avoid calling my mobile to make a first enquiry as I'm often driving and away from the diary.

The next thing we do is fix a time for you to come and meet me - a week night usually - a first chat generally takes 45 - 60 minutes, and some time after that, you can make your decision.

My phone numbers are Auckland (09) 528 3395
or Mobile 0274 761 700
You can email me if you prefer at bruce.mcgrail@xtra.co.nz

Does the Celebrant Provide the Venue?

Home WeddingIf you have no preferred or available venue, or need a back-up wet weather venue in the Eastern Bays area, my house in Kepa Road may under some circumstances be available.

It would be OK for up to 10 people either indoors or on the garden patio. Champagne glasses may be available. Adequate notice would be required to get the spaces looking good.

There would be an additional cost of around $120 including gst and a maximum time of 1 hour. See photo.

My Experience and Credentials

I conducted my first marriage ceremony in 1988 while listed with a church organisation. I was appointed to the Civil List in 1994 after taking a change in work direction. As a Civil Celebrant I have conducted over 800 non-religious marriage ceremonies along with a few of Christian orientation. I also conduct in the region of 150 - 200 funeral services a year.

Celebrants Fee

All rates quoted for period 1 March 2012 to 30 April 2013:
Quoting a fee on a website is tricky and fraught with consequences. However what I can say is this;

My fee does not include the Marriage Licence. You organise that yourselves with the Registrar.

Normal Process and Normal Fee: as at March 2012 the standard fee is $460 which unfortunately is pushed to $529 by GST. This includes as many consultations as you need, every effort to script just the right ceremony with all your own ideas included, use of my marriage ceremony material (see sampler download), and on occasions but not necessarily, a walkthrough or rehearsal.
Fee can be reduced by $15 if you provide my buttonhole.
Fee may at my discretion be reduced by $35 if I will not be needed at a rehearsal.

Under some circumstances the fee may be lower, or higher.

Lower Fee: A registry office alternative where consultation and customisation is minimal and there is no rehearsal is generally the only basis for a lower fee. I may not necessarily provide my buttonhole. If for whatever reason I feel a reduced fee is appropriate, I might offer that but expect it to still start with at least a 3.

The number of guests or brevity and simplicity of a ceremony will not normally have any bearing on the fee, as my commitment of time and travel is the same irrespective.

Higher Fee: virtually always relates to distance and travel and actual disbursements such as costs of getting to and around Waiheke Island; ie return ferry ($35 as at March 2012) taxi transfers on the island - between $12 and $35 each way depending on your wedding venue, and something towards parking costs Downtown, especially on week days when it is expensive.

Rehearsals may also attract a higher fee for two reasons - distance and certainty.

Distance: ie beyond the old metropolitan limits, Kumeu, Silverdale, Patumahoe, for example, $70-80 additional might be a fair add-on.

Certainty: I will always do my best to attend a rehearsal provided it does not conflict with other commitments such as other ceremonies or funerals that may arise particularly on week days. I can not do anything about commitments to other weddings. If you want to buy certainty which would require me to decline a funeral service for a wedding rehearsal, the additional cost will be half a funeral fee $230 incl gst.

A higher fee may be quoted if the ceremony is say on a boat where I am away for two or three hours, or a ceremony way out of town, therefore making unlikely, a second booking of any sort for the day. That would be called a 'Day Lock-out Rate' $690 incl Gst including 100kms. Additional kms at 40cpk and a reasonable allowance for overnight accommodation if required.

Bookings are generally confirmed with a $100 deposit.

You can expect a pretty stress-free process in which your wishes are fully heard. I am a very experienced, fair and generous-minded celebrant, who, it has been said, gives 'added value'.

Where circumstances require and it is reasonable for me to tote furniture to a beach or park, I can include at no cost, a small antique table for signing.

The Marriage Licence

A marriage licence needs to be issued by the Births Deaths Marriages and Civil Unions Office, part of Internal Affairs (Identity Services). You need a form BDM60 called Notice of Intended Marriage, of BDM58 if you are both normally resident outside New Zealand. For the BDM60 locals, three working days are required to process the Notice and issue the Licence. Where there has been a previous marriage, dissolution of marriage papers or a death certificate will have to be presented also. The cost of a licence (as at August 2011) is $122.60. Any office of BDM can provide the BDM60 or you can download if from their website www.dia.govt.nz. You must name the celebrant and you are allowed to nominate two possible locations for the wedding ceremony. It must then be at one of the places named. The Marriage Licence should be in my hands before the day of the ceremony.

The Auckland office is 6th Floor AA Building, Albert Street, and there is an office in the Government Departments buildings at Manukau City.

Wedding Ceremonies Made Easy

What procedure to expect with me

Most couples want two issues addressed as a starting point in working out the ceremony:

topSome idea of what I might say
topThe opportunity to have input into how the vows might be worded

Many also are hoping for some ideas for possible readings. In an attempt to answer all this, I have prepared a Marriage Ceremony Ideas Pack which is emailed to you once the booking is confirmed with deposit. This contains a wide range of text ideas for the different modules that make up the ceremony. Most couples find this really helpful. You can cut and paste and add and subtract to your heart's content. It also means couples overseas until just before the wedding can still work everything out with me. Hard copy is also available, generally posted around 5/6 weeks out from the wedding. Then, around two weeks from W-day we generally meet to go through all the details and finalise the vows and text.

How you use the Ideas Pack might mean we only need one good meeting of an hour or so to have it all sussed. It can be that simple, and yet you will have had every opportunity to be as involved in the process as you wish. There is also a brief questionnaire that can help fill in the gaps.

This Ideas Pack is not available for purchase as yet.