Skip to main content

Celebrating 50 years of civil marriage celebrants

The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP
Media Release

Today we raise a toast to civil marriage celebrants in honour of the 50th anniversary of the Marriage Celebrants Program in Australia.

On 19 July 1973, then Commonwealth Attorney-General Lionel Murphy QC appointed the first civil marriage celebrant in Australia, offering marrying couples an alternative to registry or religious weddings.

Today, there are around 10,000 civil marriage celebrants who can perform marriage ceremonies on any day, at any time, and at any place in Australia. Civil marriage celebrants now conduct around eighty percent of marriages in Australia.

Civil celebrants have played an important role in the evolution of Australian social and cultural life. They provide individual ceremonies that are personal and meaningful to the individual couple, and have embraced social change including the amendment to the Marriage Act 1961 in 2017 to allow for marriage equality.

I especially congratulate the first appointed marriage celebrant, personally appointed by Lionel Murphy QC — Mrs Lois D’Arcy from Queensland — who is still registered as a civil celebrant these 50 years later.

Thank you to all current and former marriage celebrants for their contribution to the Australian community and for their part in maintaining the institution of marriage in Australia.

Congratulations to all Australia’s celebrants on this important milestone.