Hobsons Bay council is holding a meeting with celebrants in a bid to stop couples holding weddings without a permit in the Williamstown Botanic Gardens.

It costs $395 for non-residents and $275 for residents to be wed in one of four locations in the gardens.

Taking wedding photos also requires a permit costing $220.

The council has previously vowed to crack down on unauthorised weddings, but to date no one has been fined.

Celebrant Kim Walsh said his role only extended as far as informing couples they needed a permit to use the gardens for weddings.

“The council was looking for the celebrant to check that people had permits and I said: ‘No way, Jose, that is not our job, that’s the job of council’.”

Mr Walsh said the council should put reserved signs at booked wedding locations to prevent clashes.

“I’ve had cases where weddings have been going simultaneously,” he said. “The council needs to have a person there who is basically running the show, making sure everything is going to plan.

“If you have six or so weddings, at $395 a wedding, that will pay for some council employee to make sure that the site is clear and clean.

“On a separate note, they charge couples $220 just to go in and take their wedding photos there.

“You can have a children’s party there, or a christening, and someone will take 200 photos. Why are people being charged to use a public space just because the word ‘wedding’ is mentioned?

“I think that’s really, really wrong,”he said.

Councillor Angela Altair said that wedding bookings and wedding photography appointments were displayed in glass cabinets at the entrances to the gardens.

“With up to three weddings at each of the four wedding locations each Saturday and Sunday, putting up additional reserved signs would require a staff member to be on site for most of the day.”

She said the council is considering making such an appointment.

“We believe that the minimal cost of a wedding photography permit is a fair contribution to the costs of maintaining this magnificent garden,” Cr Altair said.