Josh and I spent Wednesday in Canberra at the biannual meeting between the Marriage Law & Celebrants Section (MLCS) of the Attorney-General’s Department and repesentatives of the celebrant associations and networks. I’m delighted to report it was actually productive!
Honestly, the current MLCS team are a dream to work with. They are interested and engaged, they listen, they seem to genuinely want to help make things better, and they actually follow up when they say they’re going to do something! For years I shied away from joining this group, having read all the available minutes of meetings and seeing they really just talked about the same things every meeting and nothing ever got done. Those days seem to be long gone, and it’s extremely refreshing.
This week’s meeting involved a wide range of conversation topics, and there was enough space and time for us to examine many of them deeply. Here’s an overview of what we talked about.
Miscellaneous Measures Bill
There was some info on the Miscellaneous Measures Bill that I’ve previously reported on, noting that it’s now been referred to a Senate Committee that is due to report on 1 February 2024. The Celebrant Institute has been invited to make a submission to this inquiry, which we will do in the next few weeks, but an inquiry like this means passing of the Bill is likely to be slower than anticipated; there may be amendments that come out of the inquiry, and getting those written and consulted on takes time. So after 31 December 2023 we won’t be remote witnessing signatures on NOIMs again for a few months.
Commonwealth statutory declarations
There are some changes to the Commonwealth statutory declaration form and signing process that will come into effect on 1 January 2024: there have been some slight changes to the form, and there will now be three ways to sign a Comm stat dec (paper, electronic, and digital), and communication about these changes will be coming from MLCS (and on the webpage linked above) in the new year. This impacts us mostly for stat decs re date and place of birth where getting a birth certificate is impracticable, and the stat dec signed before a ceremony by interpreters. This is not a massive change but it needs a bit more work from MLCS (particularly re the interpreter documentation) so watch this space for more info to come.
Happily ever before … and after
MLCS has drafted a great new version of the HEBA document, based on some work The Celebrant Society had done. It’s simplifying and neutralising the language, and it also includes some new information that I requested stating that once the couple has said their legal vows, they’re married, and that the celebrant is legally obligated to submit their documents to BDM for registration. This is on the back of many instances this year (including one of my own) where a celebrant has been asked not to submit documents to BDM because the couple has broken up or whatever. Even if they don’t read it when we give it to them, it will great to have something to show the couple to say look, you’re already married, and I have to send the documents in.
The Guidelines review is essentially finished, but MLCS has decided to sit on it until the Miscellaneous Measures Bill passes (or doesn’t); there’s not much point putting a document out for consultation now if it’s only going to have to be updated in a few months. Once it has been updated when the Bill passes (or doesn’t), it will go to the associations/networks again for review, and out for public consultation. We asked how public that consultation will be; will it literally be available to absolutely anyone? I can only see that leading to disaster where people who have no understanding of the Marriage Act or the role of the celebrant are given the chance to comment on the document. MLCS is looking into how targeted they can make it, but it’s hopeful that the consultation will only be sent to stakeholders such as celebrants, BDMs, and maybe family lawyers.
Ongoing Professional Development
As at 4 December, more than 3000 celebrants haven’t done their OPD. MLCS acknowledges the issues with the portal, but because of that they’ve made paper tasks available. Apparently anyone who hadn’t completed OPD was sent an email on 20 October with links to download the activities that they could complete and send back to MLCS. They’re about to start sending those emails again once a week for the rest of the year. If you haven’t done your OPD, get it done ASAP! You don’t want to get stuck doing double OPD next year or even getting suspended for a few months!
They’re hoping to have OPD available earlier in 2024 than it was this year.
They acknowledged that many celebrants are asking for face to face OPD to return; they’re working with the legislated framework they inherited (1-2 hours a year delivered online by MLCS free of charge) and will need time to change the legislation to return to the old system if they decide to go down that path. There are no immediate plans to do so, but if this is something you feel passionate about, feel free to email MLCS.
Updating the Marriage Act
I presented the paper I have written about updating the Marriage Act to the other associations/networks. My hope is that we can get to a point where we agree on the contents so that we can all co-sign a document to send to the Attorney-General – strength in numbers! Once the associations/networks have agreed on it, we’ll also upload it to the website we created for this earlier in the year so all celebrants have the opportunity to send it to their local Federal MPs. I’m not sharing it more widely yet because I want to get the feedback from the other associations/networks first, and I think it’s important that this is a united, concerted effort at the same time rather than bits of it being sent to various places in dribs and drabs 🙂
Mark from the Alliance of Celebrants Queensland reported on his project to have the prohibited relationships definition broadened to take into account more genetics between relations: right now you can’t marry an ascendant, descendant or sibling, because you might end up with babies with birth defects from genetically similar people procreating together. However, you can marry an aunt, uncle, or cousin, which means a person could feasibly marry their parent’s identical twin, who for all intents and purposes is genetically identical to their parent. Cousins whose parents are identical twins are also as close genetically as half-siblings. This is certainly something I’d never thought about, and now I can’t get it out of my mind! We’ve added his work to my paper about updates to the Act.
Out of hours shortenings of time
This has been an issue discussed at these meetings as long as they’ve been happening: at the moment it is next to impossible to access a prescribed authority about a shortening of time application out of hours, especially on weekends and public holidays. This is really only relevant for medical reasons shortenings. I’ve heard of at least 10 situations in the last two years (including one I dealt with myself) where a party to a marriage or a close family member’s health deteriorated quickly over a weekend, but no prescribed authority was available to authorise a shortening of time, and they died before a marriage could take place. My situation happened on Grand Final weekend in Melbourne; the groom’s father was expected to last another week or so when I met the couple on the Thursday. I submitted the shortening application that afternoon, but the next day was the Grand Final Friday public holiday. The father went downhill far quicker than expected, and by the time BDM even opened the email on the Monday morning, he was dead.
Every Registrar before now has said this isn’t their issue, that only BDMs and state courts (where prescribed authorities are based) can make changes to their rosters to enable prescribed authorities to be available out of hours. For the first time, our current Registrar said she was interested, she didn’t know if she’d be able to do anything to help, but she was prepared to look into it, see if she could figure out the scope of the issue, and examine whether there was anything at all the could do.
THIS IS MASSIVE PROGRESS!!!
We all agreed to collect stories from our members about instances of a medical shortening really being needed and not being available out of hours. If you’ve got such a story, please email it to us at [email protected].
And that was it! It was a full and productive meeting, and I’m feeling pretty hopeful about the future 🙂 Let me know if you have any questions!
In this exciting episode of the Celebrant Institute’s Celebrant Talk Show podcast, join your host, Josh Withers, as he continues his series of insightful interviews with recent graduates and new celebrants. This episode features a conversation with Lachlan “Lachie” Grisold, the dynamic Melbourne-based marriage celebrant behind “Weddings by the Beard.” Lachie shares his fresh perspectives on the celebrancy world, discussing his journey from completing his Certificate IV in Celebrancy to creating unique and memorable wedding experiences. Tune in for an episode full of inspiration, practical advice, and Lachie’s unique approach to celebrating love.
Transcript: Welcome to another episode of the Celebrant Talk Show. My name is Josh Withers, I’m your host today. And we’ve got a special episode. Earlier this year, I sat down with a few new Certificate 4 in Celebrancy graduates that have become celebrants recently, and I want to share their story with you. If you’re thinking about becoming a celebrant, if you’re a new celebrant, hopefully their path will encourage you and show you a path that might make a way forward for you. And if you’ve been a celebrant for some time, hopefully just mixing with new blood might be an encouragement for you as you continue on your journey of being an awesome celebrant. I hope you enjoy this episode.
My name is Lachie. I have been a celebrant for a year under the brand name, Weddings by the Beard. It grew itself out and it’s here to stay, apparently. I do most of my work out of Melbourne, but have been tempted to go interstate a few times, and we’ll see how much more often that happens. It’s pretty always exciting to do. – Yeah, it’s a pretty good gig the old doing weddings around the world, hey. – Oh, around the world is the next step. That is, that would be tremendous, of course. – Well, they keep on trying, you get me. I’m in Hawaii at the moment and off to Paris on Friday. So, you know, I hope it’s well- – So it can be done. It can be done. – Tremendous. – Tell us, mate, why on earth are you a celebrant? What happened? What happened to you, childhood, that you thought you should go and speak in front of crowds for a living? – What went wrong? (both laughing) Well, that’s it. I’m one of those real weirdos, has a screw loose, and really enjoys public speaking, would you believe? – I know it, that’s me. (both laughing) – Yeah, we’re in good company. So, a life on stage, musical theater, drama degree, couple of years, traveling around Europe being a tour guide. And then I got home and it was just when the virus that shall not be named landed. And I went, what can I do that I will find fulfilling and will put my hard earned skills to work? And it just happened, I went to a friend’s wedding, Damon Hughes, huge shout out, absolute legend. And Damon was up there having a great time. And I went, ah, that and ran at it. – It’s always interesting. Most celebrants have got one of two stories. One is that they saw a wedding and it was really bad. And they thought, oh, I could do that better. Or the other one is you see someone like Damon, who’s a legend, and you see that and think, oh, that guy does a really good job. I reckon I could do a really good job too, which is cool. – And it’s probably only binary. There would be no in between. – No one sees just like an average Sarah celebrant and goes, oh yeah, that could be a job. Something like that, maybe. Yeah, that’s a job that people do. – And you did the Cert 4. I’m gonna stage a guess that a personality like yours is a little bit like mine, where academic study like a Cert 4 seems like a really cool idea until you get the first module open. – Yeah, yeah. And you’re sitting there going, ah, yes. They say it takes a year for a reason, right? – Yeah, yeah, not for me. Well, not for a smart guy like me. It’s probably. – Oh, no, yeah, no, easily. I know that all the time in the world to manage that as well. – Yeah, yeah. So how did you find the Cert 4? – Look, it was monstrous. I was given all the warnings in the world. And as you said, we just blithely ignore it, saying this will take time, make sure you’ve got energy. And I went, oh yeah, yeah, I can do that in spare time and what have you. COVID made it pretty hard. There’s a number of assignments in there that, you know, you got to sit down with five or 30 friends. And when it’s hard enough to get two people in a room at that period of time, it really dragged out. I think the course itself, when I took it really seriously, prepared me really well. There were large aspects of it that weren’t directly related to weddings that I found maybe difficult to keep up the motivation with. Anything wedding related, really motivated, saw the immediate payback with it. But when it seems like practice filling in for someone’s 80th birthday or whatever, I thought, am I enjoying this? Or is this just a real box tick? So that was a difficult part of it. – Yeah, I understand that. You know, what’s funny is as the certificate for is prepared, there’s just things you get a tick off from like a, I’m not to get too deep down in the nerdery, but there’s government frameworks and for someone to get a search for in celebration, they got to have tick, tick, tick, they got to have all these ticks. And so in designing the search for like, how can we do this and not make it terrible? – Yeah, that would be a task for sure. Hopefully we’ve done the best job we can. – Look, I reckon you have as far as the best job you can do. ‘Cause there was a number of things in there. And you look at the whole, I don’t know if it’s called a syllabus, but I’m gonna call it a syllabus. When you have to just hit a pass on 100, it felt like heaps of markers across over a dozen assignments. I went, yeah, they really need to tick every box. So you’ll walk away going, I can do this. Because the last thing you want to do, especially when you study something like along the lines of being a celebrant and then going into the world and just like, hey, start your own business, go. There’s a whole bunch you need to be prepared or at least aware of. So by the end, there were moments that I was bashing my head against the wall thinking either this is tedious or am I gonna use it? But I tell you, I reckon I’ve used most of it. So huge props to you. (laughs) – Yeah, I’ve got to be honest, zero props to me, 100 props to Sarah. I’m just the guy that turns the light in the fridge off and on. – Absolutely, and Sarah is a legend of the game and having her number on speed dial is very handy and reaching out and having a chat when things, when you have questions and that sort of stuff or having all the materials that have been put together as well. – It’s funny you mentioned that. We’ve obviously got the celebrant. There’s the Celebrant Institute RTO, which is what you’ve studied through. And then there’s the Celebrant Institute membership, which is kind of post study for your practice as a celebrant. And the premise of it literally is just basically to have Sarah on speed dial. And I’m just grateful to have her on speed dial as a friend and a learner as a business planner. (laughs) She’s an asset. – In a huge way. And, but like, you know, I think that whole website I found such use out of in terms of seeing the camaraderie and having blog posts on like, hey, let’s talk PA systems, or let’s talk charging people money and like having a pre, like having a dialogue from a year ago or two years ago, or five days ago to go through and go, hey, I’m not alone in this. People are thinking the same way I’m thinking, have the same concerns that I have and have, if I can, you know, blow a bit of wind up your trousers skirt there, saying you are legends of the game, having answers for these questions that we have. – I’ll humbly accept that, thank you. (laughs) – I feel the bell, yeah. (laughs) – Look, you mentioned money. That’s, I love talking to people about money, just on a general sense, just between friends because I feel it’s the big, it’s the big no-no, like we can talk about religion and politics these days, but for the love of God, don’t talk about money. – Don’t ask how much someone owns, yeah. – Yeah, yeah. And I’m not gonna ask you how much you own, but there’s this aspect of celebrancy that you do the search for, you do the application, you get the letter in the mail saying you’re all G, and there’s a moment where you’ve gotta take it to market. Roll out your, kind of your go-to market, call it a plan, or even just your thoughts on how they’ve evolved since you saw Damon to now. (laughs) – Yeah, right? – Yeah, like how has it evolved about taking yourself to market, getting that booking, charging a buck, that kind of thing. – That’s it, what a journey it’s been in terms of my first ceremony I did was on the 22nd of May last year. So we’re basically coming up on this year in review, being that I think I got the email saying, all right, go for it in late April. I had this ceremony, friend of mine, I found out I was doing the studies and went, you’re gonna be free on this date. And I said, yeah, probably. Let’s see how much of this assignments I can get through. And by the time I sent off the cert for, it’s gotta go off to the Attorney General’s office and stuff, we were pulling it real fine. Of course, it’s the Noim, the month in advance, and we had to have backup plans ’cause I was either getting this email and we could run off and sign the Noim and get started, or we had to get someone else to sign it and transfer it over to my name in the three week period before their ceremony. So that was pretty stressful, but a real fun sort of jumping off point to get certified, get a wedding under your belt, and then go, okay, I can do this in a legal and ceremonial sense. ‘Cause I think the first one is really important. And it’s hopefully for everyone out there, doing the studies, have a friend or colleague or someone kind of lined up because I wouldn’t know what to do. The first one, friend. Second one, friend of a friend. Third one, a mate’s cousin. It was about my fourth or fifth wedding that I did that was someone found me organically, and they were the most wonderful and organized person. They found me off the Attorney General’s registry of all celebrants in Australia. 100%. I went, what is, I’ve never, amazing. – You were just clicking through all 10,000 celebrants. – Right, and somehow landed on this bloke. – Yeah. – And they land on my rudimentary website that I just slapped together off GoDaddy. Yes, that was it. So that was kind of the thing. The benefit of doing the studies was it did, it is kind of well sorted out being like, cool, do legals, think about planning ceremonies, think about formal words and all that stuff. And then it goes, all right, now start thinking about businesses, have you got an ABN? Have you got a website? So you kind of get a lot of that going. Of course, you’re gonna advertise as a practicing celebrant until you are, but a lot of it is like a real watch this space type thing. So the second that my website went up, they were right on it. And so then I went, okay, now how do I get people to find me? And that was a hit and miss or just kind of a real shotgun shot in the dark type thing. I started just putting money into places, trying to get it out there. And if I got immediate responses back, which largely I did, I kept it going. If I didn’t for like two or three months, I scrapped it. Basically, for the large part, if I put money into it, I saw money come out of it, which was really positive. So every dollar I put into Google ads, someone said, Hey, I just saw you out on Google. Every dollar I saw of going into Instagram and Facebook ads, someone, you’d get X followers and then a DM. I’ve joined a few celebrant registries, god me, the name escapes me now for like websites and stuff. Directories. They’re the ones, yeah. And I’ve seen some work come out of that or the very least enough work that I go, cool, I’ve got money out of putting my name on these websites. You can’t go all over them ’cause there’s probably a certain Venn diagram ism to it where someone’s gonna see your face in a number of places, but combination of being a bit reserved, but also sort of going out there, you know? And here we are with the year ahead is looking big for me. So this year just been has been, oh goodness, I probably should have got my number down, but I’ve done a fistful, a dozen, or maybe a little over that sort of weddings. And the next 12 months, you know, we’ve got about 30 coming up, which is really exciting. So to see that sort of growth there, and I don’t know what the 12 months after that’s gonna look like, but you put the effort in and you go up and up and up from there, hopefully. – Money is a good lead in and share as much or as little as you want, I’m not really, I’m not here to getcha. But the money side of it, as much as money is a marketing story, it’s also a product story. You know, there’s a, we were in Baja, California, so Carbo San Lucas a few weeks ago, and there’s a hotel there that has a $500 US, $500 US taco, and I did not buy it, just to clear everything up. And just ’cause I couldn’t imagine, like as much as the $500 taco, very much as a marketing story, in the end, I’m gonna drop down 500 or close to 700 Australian. And I’m just putting a bloody taco in my mouth. So money, yeah, yeah, okay, I don’t know what kind of meal I could spend $500 on, I just, I’d probably be pretty hard to pony a $500 for a meal for myself. – Yeah, oh yeah. – Yeah, talking about money and leading to the product side of things. ‘Cause the marketing story is important, and that narrative is really important. But for you, the obvious answer is, you’re selling yourself as a celebrant, but how does your product differentiate from others in a broad sense? – Yeah, well– – And obviously the money comes into that as well. – Of course, yeah, so when you start off, you’re just a very green celebrant that has to market themselves as, basically, I had to go in with, “Cheap, give me work please.” I’ll say, “Yes, say do you wear anything you need me to do “to do your wedding?” And from there, that energy kind of rolled over into the idea behind, like writing ceremonies that people want, rather than the ceremony that everyone thinks of when they think of wedding, this non-traditionalism route that I think a lot of people sort of wanting more of these days. For every to-have-and-to-hold-for-death-do-you-part, there’s a stand-up comic quasi-routine coming out there. And as much as I’m not that far onto the bombastic side of things, a little bit of sitting down and talking with couples and individuals and say, “Well, what do you want? “What actually do you want to get out of this?” As a celebrant, we have a surprising amount of insight in terms of knowing what has to legally go into a wedding. And apart from that, “Well, what do you want out of this half-hour, 40-minute, “whole evening that people are planning and building?” So when I started, it was very much commercially competitive. Hire me just because you’ve got to hire someone. And a lot of that had quite quick turnarounds. People going, “Hey, we want to get married in three months, “four months, two months, “and we just look at for a celebrant.” And I was free, a lot of celebrants get booked out, right? And I was also cost-effective. But from there, as I developed that, developed my processes, got way better at writing ceremonies and having insight into what makes a good ceremony and the little things that you build, playlists for song recommendations and all the things that are out there. But if you make them your own, then it’s an addition to the product that you can give to them. How to write vow packs, there’s dozens of websites out there. But if you have your own, you can then give that to them and say, “This is also something you don’t have to go looking. “You’ve got it all there as an attachment or an email “that I can send you.” As that’s grown, as I’ve really pushed the narrative of not copy and pasting anything, I suppose, as much as a lot of things are commonly used, we all, not all, but most ceremonies have an asking moment, the I do moment, they have a ring ceremony at some point, usually. So there’s only so many, what’s the sentence, ’cause I was my skinner cat or something like that. Yeah, there’s only so many ways you can say, a ring is a circle and that means I love you, I suppose. But you play around with it and you say, the customizability, I suppose, is one thing that I can play with. ‘Cause at the moment, I’ve got time to sit there and pour hours into a ceremony. We’ll see how that goes in the next 12, 24 X years down the track, maybe I’ll continue to get better at it and have a bank of styles and things to use. So yeah, as that’s grown, as I’ve become more confident and delivering a better product, my price has reflected that. So it started a hyper competitive foot in the door, that was noteworthy to, well, hang on, if I’m gonna put a number of hours into this, if I’m gonna take Fridays and Saturdays of my time and social thing, you start to have that confidence and go, no, I wanna be fairly enumerated. And then you wanna be, you wanna step in and you actually have a dollar value, sort of represent you and what you think you’re worth. As much as a $500 taco is gonna be a very particular person buying it. But there’s that sort of middle ground where you go, if there was, I don’t know what the dollar amount is, but if there was an expensive taco out there, sometimes you look at it and go, hey, that might be a really good taco. It’s within the natural, the economic value of a taco. But you go, how good can a taco be for 20 bucks, 40 bucks? Where do you sit? What taco are you providing these people? We’re right into the metaphor now. I’m ankle deep, I’m waiting through it. – As someone who’s lived in Mexico for the last six months, I’m here for the taco metaphor. (laughing) – Yeah. But that’s it, it’s the same. I would often talk to people about it, talking about like whiskey or wine has like a similar thing there being like, you’ve got whiskey that is strictly like whiskey and Coke whiskey. You’ve gotta, I’ll just alter it, you’re gonna change it. It’s gonna be what you know, and there’s no expectation there. And then as you sort of move through different types of whiskeys, there’s a certain point where you need to have a really discerning palate or whatever, if you wanna like, you know, wave your hands around while you do it. And then there’s this upper end whiskey that I think anyone would look at and go, you’re not buying that for whiskey. You’re buying that to sit on a shelf. And I don’t know where that takes the metaphor, but (laughing) that’s a valuable way to finish that sentence, yeah. – As someone who appreciates a whiskey, I can tell you that there’s no easy way to finish this sentence about whiskey, you should just keep on going. (laughing) But I will wrap up the podcast on this note. I am, there’s people listening to this that have been a celebrant for 20 years, and I hope that they’re revitalized by your energy. But if you could wrap up with the encouragement to the person who’s thinking about becoming a celebrant, because I’ll give mine that I would tell anyone, anyone that asks me about whether they should become a celebrant or not. My first thought is actually to do what Robin Williams did. Robin Williams famously, when people would ask whether they should become a comedian, he would say no. And his bit was that if Robin Williams saying no is the thing that stops you becoming a comedian, you were never gonna make it in the first place. – Heck yeah. – Yeah, which I love. – That’s got such a great, yeah, absolutely. – But I don’t do that ’cause apparently that can sound like you’re an asshole. (laughing) So my actual encouragement is a little bit more encouraging that there’s enough average celebrants. There’s enough cheap celebrants, there’s enough, people that just don’t really care or aren’t passionate. And I’m not really calling anyone, I’m just saying there’s enough of those people. That market is looked after. The market that isn’t a full year, the market that is still aching for more talent is that upper end of the market of people that really care, that are really passionate and is desperately in need of great celebrants. So that’s what it says to you or anyone else. That’s the void waiting to be filled. But I’ll let you end on this. What’s your encouragement to someone thinking about becoming a celebrant today? – That’s great advice. My two cents is, yeah, find something that you’re going to get fulfillment from. It is an incredible thing to do for two people. Weddings are a highlight of some people’s lives and you get to be a part of that. Everyone you meet is at an absolute high point in their life. Two people that are in love or looking to start a dynasty or something like that. So you will only work with wonderful people that tend to be incredibly passionate in love that are looking to make something really wonderful. So if that sounds good to you, I’d dive into it. – Lucky, that’s such a good ending. Thank you. Give us a shout out. What’s your social and website and that kind of thing. – Weddings by the Beard. It is everywhere you’re going to find it, including on the bathroom sink after I shave, Instagram, Facebook, online. Thank you so much for having me.
It’s marriage statistics release day, which as many of you know is my favourite nerdy day of the year! So here’s my annual rundown of the marriage statistics for 2022.
You know how in Victoria in particular we were all run off our feet catching up with all the COVID postponements last year? It’s delightful to see that play out in the numbers: 2022 saw the highest number of marriages on record, 127,161 (for comparison’s sake, 2020 had 78,987 marriages, 2021 had 89,167 marriages, and the previous highest year was 2012 with 123,243 marriages). 2019, the last “normal” year before COVID, had 113,8715 marriages. So yes, we really were as busy as we thought we were last year! It’s worth noting that this doesn’t mean that marriage is more popular or that the numbers will stay this high; it’s utterly impossible to make any real statements about marriage in Australia based on the last three years, and we don’t think it will be until we see the 2024 stats in late 2025 that we’ll really know whether the marriage rate is going up or down in actuality.
Just because graphs are fun, look at this awesome one with that incredible COVID dip and extraordinary recovery:
Marriages of same-sex people were of course higher than the last two years like all the other marriages, but for the first time we have stats on marriages including at least one non-binary person. This is because the new NOIM introduced in September 2021 asks for gender, either male, female, or non-binary (although this question is not compulsory so there’s highly likely to be some marriages out there in which we can’t make any calls on gender). Anyway, in 2022 there were 159 marriages including at least one non-binary person.
The age people get married at continues to climb ever so slightly: 32.5 was the median age for men to marry (as opposed to 32.1 years in 2021), and 30.9 was the median age for women to marry (against 30.5 years in 2021). Again, it’s worth noting that COVID played havoc with these stats as well; the median age at marriage for men actually dropped each year between 2018 and 2021 and stayed pretty stable for women, but 2022’s median ages are the highest on record.
There were more marriages in every state and territory in 2022, not just those affected by COVID lockdowns, and in fact there were more marriages than in the last “normal” year of 2019 in every state and territory except Western Australia. I think that’s pretty interesting, because it suggests maybe catching up on COVID postponements wasn’t the only thing driving higher numbers last year. I have absolutely no idea what else could be responsible, and we’ll really have to wait for a couple more years to see what happens in more “normal” times (although I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s noticing a distinct decrease in bookings for 2024, and certainly an increase in lower-cost package bookings with the cost of living crisis, so who knows what impact that will have).
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Marriages and Divorces, Australia 2022
There was an absolutely standout date for marriages in 2022 being Saturday 22/10/2022 with 2,202 marriages (I love that even the number of marriages was filled with 2s), a whopping 454 more marriages than the next most popular date (8/10/2022).
We were back to more usual numbers of divorces with 49,241 finalised in 2022 after the huge number of 56,244 in 2021 due to administrative changes in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. In 2020 there were 49,510 divorces finalised, in 2019 there were 48,582 divorces, and in 2018 there were 49,674 divorces, so 2022 is a much more typical year. I find it interesting that it’s really gone back to normal given how many divorces we expected to see coming out of COVID lockdowns; I think we should keep an eye on the next few years’ divorce numbers before we make any final analysis about that.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has decided to decrease the stats they release this year, so we don’t have numbers on the split between civil and religious ceremonies. I’m going to email them and see if I can find out this information because I think it’s pretty important. I’ll update if/when I hear more!
So that’s my overview of the 2022 marriage and divorce statistics. Let me know if you have any other questions you’d like me to look into!
Yesterday, 15 November 2023, an omnibus bill was presented to Parliament that included a number of proposed amendments to the Marriage Act 1961.
Important: this bill has not yet been passed by either house, so the amendments are not yet law. They are still proposals at this point, although they’re pretty non-controversial and should go through. We just don’t know when!
Also important: at this stage, remote witnessing of NOIMs still ends on 31 December 2023. Depending on when the bill is passed (currently expected to be Feb-Mar next year), there will likely be a small gap when we can’t witness NOIMs remotely. We’ll keep you posted 🙂
Okay so now that I’ve got the disclaimers out of the way, let’s have a look at the amendments proposed by this bill. Some of this info comes from the explanatory memorandum to the bill, and some of it comes from a confidential meeting MLCS held with the celebrant associations and networks in October to let us know this was coming (which was very much appreciated!).
Remote witnessing to be made permanent
Remote witnessing of NOIMs (i.e. witnessing signatures on NOIMs over Zoom etc) to be made permanent. This one is pretty self-explanatory, we’ve been doing it for two years, we’ve been campaigning to have it made permanent for two years, thank goodness it’s finally (hopefully) happening! Thanks to all celebrants who wrote to their local MPs about this matter; we like to think everyone’s efforts helped get this over the line.
NB: the location of the couple and the witness has not changed. So there is still a list of witnesses for NOIMs signed in Australia, and a separate list for NOIMs signed overseas. All couples can take advantage of remote witnessing, but they still have to abide by the appropriate location-specific witness list. In plain terms, celebrants in Australia CANNOT witness signatures on NOIMs for couples who are overseas at the time of signing.
Required to physically meet before the marriage ceremony
Celebrants will be required to physically meet separately with each party to the marriage before the marriage is solemnised. This is to ensure there are no issues with consent or duress. The meeting can occur any time up to and including on the day of the marriage. Yes, this is a new obligation that we’ll have to figure out how to fit into our processes, and we’ll need to await further advice from MLCS on whether there are any specific requirements for the conduct of those meetings, but honestly if it means there are less issues with people saying they didn’t understand or felt coerced into getting married, it seems like a good thing to me.
NOIMs will officially be able to be transferred to another celebrant by request of the marrying couple. Currently the Act restricts the reasons for transfer to death, absence, or illness of the celebrant, or where “for any other reason it is otherwise impracticable for that person to solemnise the marriage.”
Now this one is pretty interesting. In the compulsory OPD topic in 2017, it said that “AGD considers that ‘other reasons’ could … cover situations where the couple have changed their mind and wish to use a different celebrant, as it would be impracticable for the first celebrant to solemnise the marriage if the couple did not want them to.” I brought this up in the meeting last month and asked if the AGD no longer viewed “any other reason” as including change of mind by the couple, and MLCS said no, but they wanted to clarify that change of mind by the couple was an appropriate reason for transfer. Nothing wrong with having these things clarified, this is excellent!
“Presence” clarified to “physical presence”
Marriages must be solemnised “in the physical presence” of the authorised celebrant and two official witnesses. The Act currently says that marriages must be solemnised “in the presence of” the authorised celebrant and two official witnesses. There’s been a LOT of argy-bargy since COVID about what “in the presence of” actually means; Mum tells me there’s lots of case law supporting the interpretation that it means in the physical presence of, but this bill will amend the Act to clarify that: the Act will now say that marriages must be solemnised “in the physical presence of” the authorised celebrant and two official witnesses. Again, great to have the clarity so there’s no arguments from couples.
One subdivision at a time
Celebrants will only be able to be registered under one subdivision at a time, i.e. they’ll only be able to be Ministers of Religion of Recognised Denominations (Subdivision A), State and Territory Officers (Subdivision B), or Commonwealth-Registered Civil or Religious Marriage Celebrants (Subdivisions C and D). I’ve always been of the impression that’s how it’s supposed to work anyway, but there is a handful of people who are currently registered under more than one subdivision, so that won’t be able to happen anymore. Any current celebrants who are registered under more than one subdivision won’t be affected, it’s only going forward.
Evidence of date and place of birth
The requirements for evidence of date and place of birth will be clarified. At the moment, the way s42(1)(b) is written essentially says parties have to produce a birth certificate, if they can’t produce a birth certificate they can produce a statutory declaration, or they can produce a passport. It really says that statutory declarations are only relevant where a party is unable to produce a birth certificate; passports are sort of left out on their own. So this subsection will be reordered to clarify that stat decs are for when a party does not have a passport and it is impracticable (i.e. practically impossible) for them to obtain a birth certificate.
I’m pretty sure we can take credit for this one; I’ve been bringing it up with MLCS since Alison Pickel brought it up with me after she saw a question about it in a Facebook group :). We do still need them to clarify whether only a birth certificate is sufficient; currently s42(1)(b)(i) says we can accept “an official certificate, or an official extract of an entry in an official register, showing the date and place of birth of the party”. A change of name certificate from BDM actually meets that definition, so I’ve asked they look into tidying it up to simply ask for a birth certificate (again this was an issue brought to me Alison after seeing it in a Facebook group). I don’t suggest you start accepting name change certificates as evidence of date and place of birth; I’m pretty sure BDMs around the country would lose their shit if we started doing that!
The Registrar of Marriage Celebrants will be able to appoint Deputy Registrars to take on some of the statutory powers of the Registrar, freeing up the Registrar for the meaty stuff like dealing with complaints. At the moment just one person is responsible for a LOT of stuff under the Act, and this would enable more decisions to be made. There is a list of powers that would NOT be able to be delegated to a Deputy Registrar, to ensure an appropriate level of oversight of the program.
The timeframe for considering applications to become a celebrant will be extended
Currently when an application is made to become a Commonwealth-Registered Marriage Celebrant, MLCS is required by the Act and the Regulations to make a decision within three months, otherwise the application is automatically rejected. This timeframe will be extended to six months, not because they think they’ll need it in the majority of cases or because they want to take longer to review applications, but because sometimes applications need further information and the people or organisations providing that information take their sweet time. The application then ticks over the three-month line and is rejected, often through no fault of the applicant. They then have to start their applcation again, including paying a new registration fee. This extended timeframe will allow those few cases the time they need to be fully reviewed without penalising the applicant.
Refunding application fee
Finally, MLCS will be able to refund an application fee where someone has applied to become a celebrant but does not hold the appropriate qualification (either a Cert IV in Celebrancy or Indigenous celebrancy skills). Apparently this only happens about half a dozen times a year, but it is usually a person who really can’t afford to not have the $400 or whatever the current registration fee is, and MLCS always feels bad that they can’t refund the money. After this bill passes, they’ll be able to, only in this very specific circumstance.
So that’s it! That’s an overview of the proposed amendments to the Marriage Act 1961 that are now before Parliament for consideration. Again, a reminder that this has not happened yet; we still have to wait for the bill to be passed by both houses of Parliament (hopefully in Feb-Mar next year).
Let me know any questions in the comments.
Hey Josh, it’s one of your favourite subjects – P.A. systems. I am saving up for my first one, not even sure where to start but think my budget might stretch to $2k. Is that too little? Can you provide some options and good suppliers? Would love to hear your thoughts.
Jo, you are so correct, this is one of my favourite subjects. Well before I was a celebrant with opinions on PA systems I was a guest at weddings and even regular events where I struggled to hear the person speaking. Nothing frustrates my brain more than being able to see the lips moving but the sound isn’t in my ears. In fact, good stage designers and performance creators base their decisions on the audience’s five senses being in line with what they are trying to deliver. Can the audience member at the front, middle, and rear, see, hear, feel, smell, and taste exactly what we want them to. read more…
If you’ve ever heard my story of going full-time as a wedding celebrant you can skip the next three paragraphs. I’d already been plugging away at celebrancy, not getting quite as much traction as one would like, for four years. One year earlier I’d done my first wedding expo to some success, and I’d been blogging about weddings for a while which caught the eye of a local journalist writing for one of the free Brisbane Quest newspapers. We had a coffee and she took notes and I heard nothing for months.
Then on the morning of December 3rd the story went live on the Quest website which was a subsection of the Courier Mail website. So technically speaking it was a Courier Mail story but the lowest of the low Courier Mail stories. Nothing in there about politics or how Canberra hates us, so it didn’t really cross the threshold for the big boy paper.
But it was a slower news week, the first week of December. Politics had taken a breather that week, there were no disasters, no new conflicts or pandemics, the world was in a good place. So this good news piece about a celebrant that only does “cool” weddings slipped up the totem pole that is News Corporation’s content management system and ended up on the early morning Courier Mail email newsletter.
That national email out resulted in a phone call from the producers of The Today Show on Channel Nine, and Seven Sunrise, and whatever was on Channel Ten that week, and within 24 hours I was standing in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens with a camera crew and my small legion of fans (Britt and two friends) and this segment went to air.
Still to this day people tell me they saw me on The Today Show. While Karl is still hosting I’ll still put it on my website, it’s good for business. From December 4th 2013 until sometime in March 2020, my brand and my business experienced exponential growth, through continued media exposure, hard work, and producing an exceptional product.
It might sound easy to just get in the media, but my break as a talent on air and in print came from a decade of producing news and entertainment radio shows before it. It’s in my blood what makes a good story and what doesn’t and how to work a story to get it in the right places. If you’ve read this far it means I’m doing a pretty good job of telling a story, you’re invested in my story, and you’d like to try and replicate that success for yourself. If so, then you want to do this course by In The Media DIY and we have a sweet discount available for you.
The course is well-detailed at inthemediadiy.com.au and for Celebrant Institute members we have a half-price offer at $499 and for newsletter readers we have a $298 discount which reduces the price to $699.
The steps are:
- Go through the payment process at inthemediadiy.com.au
- Click on: Coupon
- Enter your discount code from below.
- The price will change.
- Sign up by entering your details.
- You will automatically be sent to the course so you can start.
Discount code for paid members is: Click through for discount code for members (you’ll need to be logged in)
Discount code for non-paid members but readers of the newsletter is: celebrantnewsletter but I’m not going to lie, if you become a member it’s a better deal to pay for an annual membership and then get the members-only discount!
Both codes are valid for use through to 31 January 2024.
So You Want to Marry Your Friends or Family: The Real Costs and Alternatives to Becoming a Celebrant
Are you thinking about becoming a marriage celebrant just to officiate at your friends’ or family members’ weddings? That’s a beautiful sentiment, but there’s a lot you need to know and consider before taking this route.
The Real Financial and Time Commitment
Becoming an authorised marriage celebrant in Australia isn’t something you can do overnight or for free. If you’re planning on being an excellent celebrant, we heavily encourage you to study the Certificate IV in Celebrancy.
Here’s what you’re looking at:
- Course Costs: A Certificate IV in Celebrancy can cost around $2,500 to $5,000, depending on where you study; we offer the course and you can find more information here.
- Time Investment: The course usually takes around 12 to 18 months to complete.
- Application Fees: After successfully finishing your course, you must apply to the Attorney-General’s Department, which incurs another fee and approximately three months’ wait time.
- Annual Fees: To maintain your authority to officiate weddings, there are yearly registration costs.
If you’re not planning on making this a business, these become sunk costs, and it all of a sudden becomes a lot more cost and time effective to hire a professional celebrant.
Business Costs to Consider
If you do decide to make a celebrancy business out of it, there are other costs to budget for:
- Marketing: Website, social media advertising, expos/fairs, and networking.
- Equipment: A good quality PA system, microphone, and tablet computer.
- Transport: Travel costs for destination weddings and even just driving around your own city.
- Time: Preparing for ceremonies, meetings with couples, and the wedding day itself takes considerable time.
Alternatives to Becoming a Celebrant
Before you commit to this pathway, let me offer you some alternatives. Instead of going through the financial and time commitment of becoming an authorised celebrant, you could consider involving a professional.
You can find a celebrant who aligns with your style and values via celebrant.xyz. Here are some ways you could work with an authorised celebrant:
- Pre or Post-Ceremony Legalities: The authorised celebrant can take care of all the legal elements before or after the actual ceremony day.
- Morning Legalities: On the day of the wedding, perhaps in the morning while everyone’s getting ready, the authorised celebrant can handle the legal words and paperwork.
- First Look Legalities: Minutes before the public ceremony, after a first look if there is one, the couple and the authorised celebrant can complete the legal obligations.
- Address the Crowd: Though this is my (Josh’s) personal least favorite because it interrupts the ceremony flow, the celebrant can handle the legals publicly during the ceremony.
As an example, when I marry couples overseas, I usually handle the paperwork either ahead of or after the international trip since I have no legal authority to marry them in foreign nations like Italy or Iceland. But in Australia, I can handle the legalities, usually before the ceremony in the morning or perhaps during the first look.
I’m all for more amazing celebrants joining the industry, and if you think you can bring something special to the role, then by all means, pursue it. But if you’re considering it solely to marry your friends, weigh the costs and commitments carefully. There are alternative ways to be part of your friends’ big day without becoming a celebrant.
Feel free to reach out if you have more questions about the journey to becoming a celebrant or finding alternatives.
A member asked:
I would like you to do an article on how honest should you be with clients? For instance should newly appointed celebrants make the fact they are not experienced known? Or should we fake it till we make it? If a client asks if we have ever done a certain ritual like hand fasting should we be honest and say I have never done one or should we say no problem (and then quickly research it and then wing it on the day)?
In my view (and I’m pretty sure Josh would agree with me), honesty and authenticity are EVERYTHING in this business. Ultimately we are selling ourselves, our point of difference from other celebrants is our unique personality and traits we bring to the work, so being who we are completely and openly is key to both attracting clients it will be awesome to work with, and making our lives easier. We work pretty closely with our clients, and our work can create fairly intimate relationships, and honestly, it’s exhausting to pretend to be someone or something that you’re not all the time.
I see no issue at all with being upfront with clients about your level of experience. It can even be a selling point: “look, I’m new, so I’m charging you less to make up for my lack of experience, but being new also means I’m available a lot more than busier celebrants may be, and I’m super enthusiastic to try out all my new skills!” (Josh may have some things to say about this – I’m not the marketing guru, he is!)
I was absolutely honest with my couples when I started out, and I know of at least one couple who booked me BECAUSE I was honest. I did my first wedding expo when I’d only done one wedding, and that one wedding had been literally two days before the expo! That meant I didn’t have any photos of me in action on display, so it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t highly experienced. One bride came to my stall three times, the third time with her mum; her mum asked me, “how many weddings have you done?” I was honest and said just one. She said, “thank you so much for being honest; I could tell you were new, but I wanted to know if you would lie about it.” They booked me on the spot.
I remember having this discussion with a well-known celebrant when she had just performed her 50th wedding. She was asking me whether or not she should make a big splash about this milestone on her socials, because while she wanted to celebrate, she also didn’t want people to think she wasn’t very experienced. I told her that she should be honest and authentic, that people would likely be deeply impressed at how quickly she’d managed to rack up so many weddings, and that in my experience numbers on the board don’t really make that much of a difference to the average couple; they just want someone they can have a great time with while trusting them to marry them! I also pointed out that anyone who scrolled back through her socials would quickly be able to tell when she’d started posting and therefore how new she was 🙂
In terms of our member’s second question, about rituals or other ceremony components, this for me depends on whether the couple asks outright. I will never actively lie. If they asked me outright if I’d done something I hadn’t, I’d be honest and tell them no, I haven’t done, but I have lots of resources and lots of people I can ask for advice, I’m eager to learn, and I promise to work with you to make it awesome. If they didn’t specifically ask the question, I probably wouldn’t volunteer the information! I’ve gone back and forth on whether that stance goes against my notion of “authenticity and openness at all costs”, and I’ve decided it doesn’t, for me at least 🙂
Considering authenticity in celebrancy also goes towards helping me know what kinds of couples I’d prefer to work with, what kinds of weddings I’d prefer to work on (e.g. I don’t take bookings before 10am because mornings are not my friend), what I’m prepared to do at a wedding (e.g. I’ll never do a wedding in the surf or in a hot air balloon, and I’ll never be nude at a wedding), and even what kinds of language I’m prepared to use during a ceremony (e.g. I’ll occasionally swear if it’s relevant to the story I’m telling and only if the couple have asked for it). I might look at other celebrants on Instagram and think, “I wish I was more like them for X, Y, Z reasons,” but ultimately I need to work in a way that is authentic to what I believe in and how I live my life, otherwise it’s going to be difficult and I’m likely to end up resenting the clients and the job, and that’s no fun for anyone.
I hope this is somewhat useful. Always remember the iconic words attributed to Oscar Wilde: Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.
My friend Jeff is a celebrant in Canada, where they actually call you an officiant, and we were talking about the wedding industry as we often do, and he says “I’ve looked into a lot of other markets, and haven’t seen one that comes anywhere near the Australian market for creativity, and branding.”
Something powerful happened 50 years ago this coming week, on the 19th of July 1973 actually. The Commonwealth Attorney-General at the time, Lionel Murphy, enacted an opportunity in section 39 of the relatively new Marriage Act of 1961 introduced by Sir Garfield Barwick, which was 12 years old at the time – introduced as part of the federalisation that started 60 years earlier, the federal government had been slowly going down the checklist of things it had to take responsibility for, and they’d finally gotten to marriage – the ability for the AG to appoint a civil, a not religious, marriage celebrant.
Up until that point in time in Australia anyone getting married was being married by a minister of religion, or if you were a First Nations Australian your community had its ceremonial rituals, arguably better and more enjoyable than anything that came over on the First Fleet.
But, fifty years ago the Attorney General appointed Lois D’Arcy. Slowly the numbers built from one to what is now 10,126 celebrants around Australia, appointed to solemnise marriages according to the law, not church doctrine. This year over 80% of weddings occurring in Australia will be officiated by a celebrant like Lois D’Arcy. A person from the community, operating a small solo trader business, putting their best selves forward to couples getting married.
All of the “things that should happen at a wedding” that people know from the movies or from church weddings are thrown out the window.
The celebrant must merely tell the couple what marriage is – the Attorney-General Department’s calls it the monitum, Latin for warning – and the couple must exchange vows, a single line whereby they take each other as husband, wife, or spouse. There’s paperwork to sign and I’ve glossed over some of the more technical details, like the celebrant needing to make sure both parties to the marriage are consenting but that’s all inside baseball talk.
For a country plagued by racism, sexism, and a legacy of poor political decisions – cough robodebt cough – to think that Australia has not only had some of the most progressive and liberal marriage laws in the entire world, but for 50 years now you could have been married by someone who is likeminded to you, it’s really encouraging. People from around the world, regardless of birthplace, nationality, skin colour, religion, and now gender, could marry another person as long as you were 18 or over, not already married, and consenting to marriage with that other person.
Those kinds of free market ideals not only enable that free market but also create opportunities for people to be free to be who they are, free to excel at their particular set of skills and talents. This is true for couples getting married, but also for celebrants. I don’t think I would have been any good at being the kind of celebrant other than what I am. People often comment on how I present my ceremonies without a script or reading off a page, and the truth is that I’m no good at doing it any other way. Thank Lionel I am allowed and encouraged to operate my celebrancy practice within my strengths.
It used to be that the venn diagram that decided who would marry you was a pretty simple circle: the church you went to and the minister’s availability.
Now, you get to separate those circles until there’s barely a sliver of intersecting space left, allowing you to find just the right person to officiate your marriage. The perfect celebrant isn’t a universal truth, but an individual one.
These unique market conditions created in 1973 encourage creativity in product, creativity in marketing, and creativity in service.
That leadership in creativity started with the celebrants in 1973 but it’s spread like a virus to all facets of the Australian wedding industry since. From wedding planners to photographers, all of the suppliers to a wedding are branches on a tree that grew from the ceremony. Who creates the best wedding ceremonies? Australian wedding celebrants with their freedom of expression, freedom of creativity, and freedom from thousands of years of wedding tradition and status quo.
Australian wedding creatives lead the global industry today, not only in their service delivery to clients in Australia and abroad, but in education and professional development, with Australians like Jai Long, James Day, Glenn Mackay, Jonas Peterson, Grace Cardona and Andrew Fenaughty, Samm Blake, and so many others that I’m lucky to not only call friend but colleague.
It’s amusing to consider that a country’s entire wedding industry being a world leader in creativity and business aptitude can all be traced back to the federal member of parliament who introduced no-fault divorces to Australia.
Lionel giveth marriage, and he taketh away.
Find out about our campaign to update the Marriage Act so it serves us well in the future at marriageact.plus
Josh wrote an article here on the Celebrant Institute website and received lots of feedback on it, and Sarah had some thoughts on it. Here’s the link to the edited article, and the archived version from before this podcast episode.
Welcome to another episode of Australia’s 48th favourite celebrant podcast. So I’ve interviewed 49 people, Sarah, and they said that this is definitely, definitely their favourite except for one person.
Okay dude, you need to stop making up statistics. I think that we learned that yesterday.
Oh, yeah, true.
So no more making up statistics. Correct.
No more. Welcome to the Celebrant Talk Show then in that case.
There you go.
No stats backing out. My name is Josh Withers and the other voice you’re hearing is Sarah Aird. We are not just the co-host of the Celebrant Talk Show podcast, we’re also the co-founders of the Celebrant Institute. And in case you need one more data point to know who we are, Sarah is also, I really like I want to call you the principal, like school principal, because that’s kind of how I understand you’re also identifying a CEO of the celebrant Institute, RTO.
Yes. That is the term that they use for us.
But school principal is how I view you.
Sure. I think I’m also called the executive officer and also something, some other like hire something, something anyway. Yeah. I’m called many, I have many hats. They all just mean the same thing. Um, and we’ll go with school principal. I quite like that.
I like it. Yeah. Uh, I’m recording this podcast in Hawaii, because that’s where we are this week. Uh, Sarah, I believe you’re still in inner city, Melbourne.
Yes. I’m in Melbourne where it is 3.30 PM on Monday, the 1st of May, which is not, it’s still April in Hawaii, isn’t it?
Actually the most confusing thing for me this year doing this travel around the world is, um, I want to produce the monthly email that goes out for the Celebrate Institute subscribers, um, on the first day of each month. And I, I really have to do this. There’s this whole brain fart that goes on. I’m like, what day is the first day of the month? And it turns out that it’s today, the 30th of April, um, in Hawaii. So it’s 7.30 PM here and, uh, glad to be here.
You’re not the only person who does that. So fashion critical is an amazing Facebook page that I follow. And she comments on people’s red carpet outfits and she’s hilarious. And yesterday she put a post going, hold the horses. everybody tomorrow is the Met Ball Gala thing. I will be posting. It’s very exciting. And today she posted and went, actually I forgot that it’s America. So the first of May in America is like tomorrow our time. So sorry, I won’t get be getting a post today. I promise it’s not just you.
Well, uh, look, talk about posting. I did post something. Open up the old internet and just toss some stuff in there. People love it.
Okay. So the entire reason that we are recording this podcast today is because I wanted to talk to you about the article that you posted on Saturday. I wanted to provide some more context and I wanted to provide a response from me as well because I haven’t done that yet. So let’s just wind back the clock a few days, shall we? So this all started, Josh, when you sent me a screenshot of a post that a friend of yours, a photographer friend of yours had made on their personal Facebook page, a bit of a rant about a celebrant that he had worked with at a wedding recently. And that celebrant was really trying to do his job as the photographer for him. And it wasn’t going down very well. Yeah, it wasn’t a lot of fun for him. wasn’t a lot of fun for him and it was way outside the bounds of anything I have ever heard of a seller and doing before. So in response to that, so you sent me that, we had a bit of a, “Oh my God, here we go again,” because this is not an isolated incident. I reckon several times a year, you send me messages that photographers have sent you or you’ve seen in a photography group about something that a celebrant has done at a wedding. Often it’s things that we’re aware of that, you know, something like, for example, this is something that I learned in my first year. Like the celebrant has said, “Do we need another kiss to make sure the photographer gets it?” Now, I used to say that in my first year until a photographer told me that was really offensive because it suggested they weren’t doing their job. And I went, “Shit, good point. I hadn’t thought about that. Thanks for the feedback. Now I still like to have a second kiss because I think there should be lots of kissing at a wedding, but I don’t phrase it in terms of putting down another vendor. I phrase it as family and friends. Do we need more kissing so that we always get another kiss? Because they’re getting married. Let’s have all the kissing. But that was a really valuable thing for me. And that is something that might be one of the things that you have sent me over the years or a celebrant being in the kiss shot. And that’s been uploaded to a photographer group. Things that we, again, things that we see happen all the time. A lot of them are because the celebrant in question doesn’t know. They haven’t learned yet. That’s okay. We have to learn these things. But this one was way outside the bounds of that. And there were things that were not, not even, not normal and not okay. And then a couple of days later, I think it was Saturday, you said to me in response to that post, “I’ve written this list for the Celebrant Institute. Can you have a look and see if there’s anything that you would add to the list?” I, in my usual fashion, when you ask me to review a list, I only reviewed the list. I didn’t read the introduction to the article. I just read the list. And I thought the list was pretty good. I sent you back a couple of things that I would add to it, which you did, which was really good. But I thought the list, just the list, I thought was pretty much okay. Yes, some of your style in the way you write is not the way I would have written it. But that’s one of the things that makes us a good partnership is that we have very different styles. We do things differently and we’ve never been afraid to challenge each other. This is your article not mine so I wasn’t about to correct your style. And so I went, “Yep, great, no problem.” It went out. It got some fairly positive reaction on Facebook
but not so much on Instagram. And I sat watching it unfold on Instagram yesterday Um, as a lot of celebrants got really upset about the way it was presented,
not about the message, but about the messaging, if you like.
So the tone, um,
and I sat there yesterday,
watching it unfold and thinking to myself, I don’t know what to do here.
Do I weigh in? I’m worried about looking different.
like I’m being defensive.
On the other hand, Josh is my business partner
at the Celebrity Institute is a partnership between us.
This impacts on me as well, potentially.
I didn’t want to stir the pot anymore.
I didn’t want to give any more kind of ammunition,
I guess, or oxygen.
I also didn’t want to shut it down.
I didn’t want people to stop being able
to air their responses,
because I think it’s really important
that if you’ve had a response, a visceral response like that,
you should have the opportunity to air it.
So for example, I know that some brands
will just turn off comments.
I didn’t think that was gonna be a useful strategy.
I thought about making a post saying something like that,
I thought the points were good,
but I thought maybe the delivery could have some changes,
but I didn’t want to sound like I was being paternalistic
to you, which means, you know, being parental and this is the way you should do things.
Like people were accusing you of being towards them.
So I’ve just been sitting with it for, you know, it’s now kind of 48 hours since the
original post went out and I’ve thought of lots of different ways.
I’ve thought about rewriting the article and so posting them side by side about, you know,
because I do believe that in the message, maybe this is a better way of putting it.
I’ve thought about this doing exactly what we’re doing now, this podcast episode.
I thought about making my own video in response.
None of the options I came up with were perfect.
Part of me wants to go and hide in a corner and not respond to this all
because I don’t like confrontation and this is terrifying.
And I’m not trying to be confrontational to anybody.
Not our not the people who have raised their concerns.
or to you. What I’m trying to say is we got this wrong.
We got this wrong.
Josh got it wrong in the way he wrote it.
I got it wrong because I missed it.
So I want to talk a little bit about me missing it.
The first thing is, as I said, I didn’t read the introduction,
and I think the introduction to the article is where most of the issues are.
And I’m going to talk you through Josh,
where I think the specific issues are in the specific wording,
because I know that a lot of the feedback we’ve been getting
has been very much about your tone, but without giving you specific examples of where that might
be problematic or how it could be done differently to have a different impact. So yeah, I didn’t read
the introduction, which is my mistake, but I don’t read everything Josh writes because I don’t have
time. And yesterday was my Saturday was I was with my family when he sent it to me and blah, blah,
Anyway, the second reason I think I missed it is because I have been reading your stuff
for so long that I am just used to this is the way you write.
Let’s be fair, you’ve been pissing celebrants off for 15 years
in the way that you write because often, and it has put a target on your back and you and I have
talked about that before because often your writing can come across as you know all the things and
other people don’t and it can come across a bit as you telling them they have to do it this way.
Now I think you’ve softened a lot in the last, well certainly in the 10 years that I’ve known you,
I think that you’ve gone very much from I know that you were taught to do it this way but that
way is wrong and this is the way I do it and that’s the only good way because that’s how you used
to be. I don’t think you’re really quite that anymore. You’ve definitely softened and you’ve
definitely moved more into sharing your knowledge and experience and saying this is how I do it,
this is something for you to think about. I think there’s some specific ways that we can change
this specific article. But because I’ve been reading your writing for so long, I’m just used
to it. So it was just like, oh yeah, let’s just Josh being Josh. Sometimes he’s a bit,
we have a bit of a hyperbole with, you know, all celebrants do this or 99% of celebrants
don’t engage with professional development or whatever it is. Because that is the way you write.
your writing is very usually heightened and escalated and that’s the way you get your point
across by being over the top. And that’s, you know, when you are talking to your couples,
it’s generally been okay because a lot of them love that shit. The ones who don’t,
they just don’t hire you and that’s easy. But in this circumstance, you are, we’re trying to
teach and to mentor and to, and there are, what is that terrible saying?
You attract more bees with honey. Is that what it is?
So there’s softer ways of doing that.
And yeah, so that’s why I think I missed it,
because I’ve been reading your stuff for so long and I’m just used to it.
So having said all of that,
now that I’ve looked at it again with some fresh eyes,
I’ve got a few very specific examples of where I think the problems have arisen.
And if it’s okay, I’m just, I just thought I’d take that, take you through them.
So if we start at the top of the original article, um,
I think the first paragraph is amazing.
We talk about the wedding industry being weirdly unique because two people who’ve
never arranged an event before are arranging this massive event.
They’re bringing 15 to 20 vendors together who might never have worked
together before and they expect it all to go off without a huge yes.
Correct. We need to work together to make that happen.
This is the next bit is where I think we get into a bit of trouble is that we
talk about celebrants.
It’s time we sat down and we’re pissing off other vendors.
Instead of saying some celebrants are pissing off other vendors,
there’s been an instant, all of you are doing the wrong thing,
whether that is how you intended it or not, because I’m pretty sure it’s not.
Your intentions are never, I know that your intentions never malicious.
I know that your intentions are to raise all of us up,
but that is how people will have taken it.
Every single one of you is doing the wrong thing. Um,
because it says we, and it says celebrants,
it doesn’t qualify that at any point to say some celebrants are pissing off
Some celebrants are not making this as easy as it could to be a
team that’s working together. So I think that’s the first thing.
And when people have read that and gone, “Jeez,
he’s having a go at me because he’s included me and everyone,”
they’re now in a negative mind frame to read the rest of the article.
I think we also didn’t need, I’m making the grand assumption that you’re already aware
of the legal aspects of being a marriage celebrant and I’m not going to tell you how to make
It’s a bit condescending.
We didn’t need it.
It’s not relevant to this, to this article.
Can I, can I add some explanatory notes to the, to that?
Because I suppose reading this and getting the feedback on it, like my, well, anyone’s
writing, just I’m sure it’s not personal to me.
writing is just a textual representation of the existing mental models and workflows and
just how they think that’s, if you’ve never written before, that’s kind of what it is.
It’s just, you’ve already got this shit in your brain and it kind of hits a keyboard
and you know, it goes out like that. And so something I think about a lot with the entire
Celebrant Institute, not the RTO, but just our, the membership and their writing is that there’s,
there’s these, sometimes I visualize it as silos and sometimes I visualize it as kind of layers,
foundational layers of being a celebrant and talking to them. And I separate them because,
so the very base layer, the foundational kind of on the ground is the, there’s legal stuff.
They’re just the legals.
You know, we’ve got professional development courses on refreshing the legals.
You’ve got a whole search for, well, it’s not just about the legals, but obviously deeply
covers the legals.
And that stuff is just not even like, there’s like 1% room for creativity.
Like you can have a bit of fun with the vows kind of, no, but yeah, words to that effect.
But like 99.99% of the legal stuff.
That’s not the face.
these, these just are the little laws and the rules and et cetera.
And it’s not, it’s not kind of convertible.
And then, um, and then there’s this next level of like, just base kind of operating as a
celebrant, like the practice of being a celebrant.
And then there’s, yeah, this was the latest thing kind of falls apart from here.
Cause there’s obviously like, uh, this kind of celebrant, that kind of celebrant and obviously
different kinds of ceremonies.
And, but there’s, um, yeah, I suppose in my mind, if we’re gonna talk about legal stuff,
then let’s talk about legal stuff.
And it’s in this frame of mind. This is like, this is just what the words in the act say. So,
you know, sorry. And then, um, and then it says above what this article about is like,
there’s levels of creativity and there’s, yeah, any easy example of script, no script, you know,
um, and, and neither one’s right or wrong. And I’m so excited to talk about them in so many levels.
Um, but it’s, it’s very, um, subjective to everyone. Um, and so I suppose in like, cause
I’ve been thinking about this article for years and, uh, and, and I thought, well, this,
this is sits beneath those creative levels of like, I’m script or no script or whatever.
I, you know, on the, on the bearded, so I’m the diving, so whatever, whatever, wherever you sit
sit in that world, it’s beneath that, but it’s above legals.
And that sentence was me kind of classifying that I read back and I say,
I can see how it can sound kind of sending. Um,
and obviously the addressing celebrant as opposed to some celebrants. Uh,
I suppose in my mind, I, a little bit,
a little bit like the hashtag not all men,
like when people talk about sexual abusers or, uh,
or men are sexual abusers, that I don’t feel offended at that.
Cause I’m like, oh cool.
I’m well aware of my position in that.
I am not one of those people.
So what they’re talking about isn’t me,
even though they’re talking about men,
they’re not talking about me.
But then also I know men who they hear,
they’re like, ah, I’m so angry.
And so I do understand how the addressing
of an audience matters.
And so I see how I miss the mark there.
- And I think that’s one of the things
that’s been picked up a few times in some of the comments has been this article addresses
us as a homogeneous bunch, as if all celebrants are the same. We know that not all celebrants
are the same. And I think that if we try to address our articles more to some celebrants,
I think that that’s reasonable because we know,
you know, that every celebrant does it differently. We know that, um,
that, and we know that not everything on this list is going to
apply to every single celebrant.
We also know that there are some things on this list that, I mean,
some celebrants probably can, um,
a lot of celebrants probably can relate to some of the things on this list,
but not others. And that’s okay too.
So I think maybe if we, you and I, are more careful about the way we address our articles
to admit that, to acknowledge that there are nuances within the celebrant community
and that there are lots of different types of people out there.
So I guess that’s what I wanted to say about that.
And I think that, as I say, when you start to read something and you’re immediately on the
defensive because you think he’s having a go at me, then he,
then you’re not going to read the rest of the list with a,
with an maybe open or positive mindset that you might’ve read if the introduction
had been phrased differently, even if the, um,
title had been different. You know what?
I’m actually okay with the title of the article because it’s clickbait.
This is what we have to do to get shit read these days.
Like I’ve got a website stats open on an average day we get between 150, so not 150, 100, 250
views on our website.
No one reads, sorry, no one.
I shouldn’t say no one.
But you know, on the first…
Not heaps of people.
Not heaps of people.
You know, and I see our membership numbers, like 96% of the celebrants aren’t a member
of the celebrants.
So I guess I’m also writing, I’m like, well, you know what?
I think this is important.
I’d like people to see it.
Because the reason why people see it
is not for the reason that someone can come and say,
gosh, I can take all the money.
$10 a month isn’t going to–[LAUGHS]
It’s not a deal breaker.
But I deeply am interested in raising
the standard of celebrancy so that when someone says,
I’m a celebrant, um, the reaction is like, Oh my gosh,
like your craft, your profession is, is, is excellent and profound and amazing.
And we get that to an extent, but also, uh, when I said that,
I hear so many stories like just a few days ago, I heard a story.
Yeah. So I went over to him last week at the celebrant.
Couldn’t remember the name. I cool. Cool. That’s so I’m sorry.
I don’t do that, but, uh, I don’t know how to react to that. You know,
Maybe like if you’re a surgeon, you’re a surgical,
my mate was killed by a surgeon last week when he was doing his transplant.
So in terms of how I would present this because,
you know, a few people have said to me today, you don’t write like that. Well,
no, I don’t. That’s what I’ve said before. Josh and I are different.
We have different styles. I might have presented this as, um,
we have had feedback.
Both Josh and I have had feedback from other wedding professionals over the years
that some of the celebrants they work with are doing some of these things or
many of these things, um, they might,
it might be useful for you to consider if you’re doing any of them in your own
practice, they’re good for you to think about. Um,
and maybe think about different ways of doing things.
If any of these things do resonate with you,
or if something in here is something that you’re doing that you’ve had good
feedback on, maybe ask, you know,
the photographer at your next wedding. Hey, I’ve been doing this. Is this helpful?
Because they’ll tell you.
And also remember that the photographers are different.
Some photographers love the celebrants to help with the group photo.
Some photographers fucking hate it.
So ask the photographer.
That’s I think that’s the biggest point here is to open the lines of communication.
So if some of the things on this list, if you go, well, I do that,
but I know that the photographer likes it.
make sure every photographer likes it because some of them won’t.
And so it’s just about asking the question.
And I know there’s a lot of things that I have learned over my years
through receiving feedback.
I don’t always get feedback because as we canvassed in that
in the Instagram post, some of the photographers are like,
yeah, I’ve tried to feedback to celebrants and it’s not worth it
because they don’t listen.
That when I have received feedback, it’s generally been because I’ve asked for it.
And it’s, and asking for it only makes me a better celebrant.
So I think if there’s something on this list that you’re doing that you think is helping,
please ask and make sure it is helping and that it’s not just that you think it’s helping.
I hope that doesn’t sound awful.
Anyway, I do want to go through the list because I do think that a lot of it is again really useful,
but I think there’s, there’s probably some wording things.
Actually, there’s just one more thing I wanted to say.
The other thing is that I think it’s possible that the people who read the
Instagram post and then moved to, moved on and read the,
the article we’re possibly preaching to the converted.
We’re possibly talking to the people who are already all over this stuff.
And they’re, you know, they’re professional, they really great,
great team players and they’re doing all the right things. Or, you know,
they’re working well together and checking in and communicating and all those sorts of
It’s possible that the people who really need to read this are not the ones who are following
us on Instagram and who are reading our articles.
So that’s another possibility.
And then of course, when you, you are already doing all of these things and it’s presented
to you as a you, because all of us are doing the wrong thing.
Sometimes that can lead to feelings of defensiveness as well.
So it’s possible we’re already preaching to the converted, but anyway.
Yeah. Yeah. Not very fair.
Yeah. So the first one here is that they don’t need us to set up shots.
I think that that’s really fair.
I am checking in with the photographer all the way through.
And by checking in, I mean, I’m making eye contact with them all the way through the
I actually had a ceremony many years ago where I was about to present, I was about to declare
them husband and wife and asked them to kiss.
And I happened to make eye contact with the photographer who started
desperately shaking his head at me because his SD card had run out in his camera.
And he needed to change it before the kiss to make sure he got the kiss shot.
And because I am always checking in and I happened to look at him at that moment,
I could go, okay, I’m just going to wait a minute before they say the next bit.
just while the photographer changes his card over.
So it’s that kind of that communication,
which is eye contact and gestures.
It’s not necessarily a,
hey mate, are you ready for the kiss?
Like, can I go?
It’s only ever happened once in my, you know,
nearly 500 weddings,
but I’m really glad that I’ve got that practice
of always kind of checking in through eye contact.
And yet the signing the same as Josh has said,
closest I would suggest is during the signing you respectfully and politely ask them if they’ve
got everything they need spot on. Um, and I will, I definitely do that also because I’ve had
photographers miss the entire signing because I’m really quick and they got distracted doing
something else. Oops, I was a little bit too quick that day. We just mocked up the signing
during the song. It was fine. It’s no problem. Um, this second one is a really big one and it’s
something that I’m a little bit horrified that we even had to list, but it’s in here.
When you’re on that, like when you’re celebrant, put your phone away. Don’t, don’t be filming
stuff for your TikTok or your, your Instagram. Absolutely the rule can be accepted if an alien
spacecraft arrives. But to be honest, I don’t have my phone anywhere near me. So I would still have
to run to get my phone to capture the alien spacecraft landing. That would be tricky.
Yeah, people. There’s plenty of people with phones and cameras and all the things. I know it’s really
hard to get stuff for social media. I know that it’s really difficult to get stuff from photographers
or even from families, from couples. But yeah, it’s not a good look to be filming stuff on your phone,
especially when you get in the way of the professionals who’ve been hired to be there
to specifically capture those moments. So I think that we can probably all agree that that one’s
not okay. And I think that that one’s written really well. Get out of the way of everyone else
doing their work. Yeah, make sure that people have the space and the time if that means that you
you know need to get there a bit earlier so that you’re set up and ready to go when the photographer
or videographer run in because they’ve been with the bride till the very last minute and now they
they run in and they’re trying to get themselves sorted, you know, maybe that’s okay. But,
yeah, stay out of their way. But I would add here, and I think that we talk about this
later is, is make sure that you check in with them while everyone is setting up. We’ll get
to that. You’re spot on about being in charge of the
vibe at the ceremony and being in control of how it feels. That’s our job. We’ve been
hired to create a feeling and that can then be captured by the photographer and
the videographer and also in the hearts and the minds of all the people who were
there. That was terrible. But that’s,
that’s why we’ve been hired. So we should concentrate on doing that.
You know, be like,
be really careful about making the ceremony as good as possible. Like,
as Josh says in the article, if we need to suggest that chairs could possibly be moved
or, you know, like I know I’ve turned up and the chairs have been not in a straight line
and like the aisle is not in a straight line.
I’m going to ask why that is.
Now, I’ve been to a venue where the venue is like it can’t be in a straight line
because there’s this kink in the way the hill goes and OK, fine.
But at least I’ve asked the question and now I’m satisfied that there’s a reason for it.
So, um, you know, so be it. We, but it’s about communication.
Here’s just a little tweaking with the wording for this one.
There’s a lot of don’ts in this paragraph. And I, um,
like literally the word don’t is in this paragraph quite often.
And I wonder if we can just soften the language a little bit to be things like,
Um, try not to be overbearing and be,
try not to be a drill sergeant. I can really be overbearing.
And I will tell people, I will own up to it. I’ll say, yeah,
I know I’m really bossy. Um, sorry about that.
I just want it to be perfect. So for me,
it’s not necessarily not being, so don’t be overbearing.
It’s sometimes being overbearing,
but then acknowledging it and apologizing for it. So, um,
I wonder if like softening that language a little bit as well would be,
would be softer and, um, less
Yep. I think that’s what I’m looking for.
We talk about pay system spot on and we talk about getting the fuck out of the
way for the kiss shot. It’s so interesting to me that, um,
This is, this is a really, and this is something that came up in, I think in the Facebook comments
of somebody saying, “Hey, why don’t you tell the photographers that they don’t need to
tell us to get out of the kiss shot?”
Sorry, I think it was Kelly, I love you, but they do because a lot of celebrants don’t
get out of the kiss shot.
To be honest, it’s mainly religious celebrants who don’t get out of the kiss shot, to be
see photos of them all the time. And so it’s,
I’m really happy for, um,
for vendors to come and check in with me to make sure that I’m already doing
something that they need me to do. Uh, and that is an often it’s a,
yeah, I’m all over it. Um, so for example,
I was working with a live, um,
duo one day and he came to me beforehand,
somebody I’ve worked with a lot and he said, so just confirming,
you’ll give me a nod when you need me to start playing. Right. And I’m like, yeah,
mate, of course. And he goes, okay, good.
Just checking because the celebrating yesterday didn’t and it just was messy.
So, um, if I’m okay with them checking to make sure
I’m giving them what they need. And so for the photographer,
checking to make sure I’m giving them what they need, getting a kiss shot.
I’m okay with that because then we’re going to make it better. And I, yeah,
I’ve seen too many photos of celebrants peering,
like weirdly, lascivious at the kiss.
It’s very weird.
Can I tell you, this is just a Josh thing that I just love to do because it’s,
I just like to watch the world burn like that. Um,
but if a photographer or someone will come and ask whether I’ll move,
I’ll look him dead in the eye with a really serious face and just say, no, I stand there.
I’ll leave, I’ll leave it for like three or four or five seconds.
I, of course I will.
And look, often when I’m briefing the photographer before the ceremony starts,
because it’s something that is part of my practice, I will go and say to them,
Hey, it’s a pretty standard ceremony.
It’s going to take about 20 minutes.
They’ve got their own vows.
Um, I’ve, they’ve got vow cards.
There’s going to be one reading.
the person will stand over here, whatever it is. And, and I always say,
and I promise I’ll get out of the way for the kiss shot.
So I kind of preempt it. They don’t have to ask cause I’ve already told them again,
some softening language in this one. Don’t be weird about it.
Don’t run or be awkward. A way of softening that could be,
you don’t need to run or be awkward. You know,
like just to be softening rather than starting lots of sentences with the word
Maybe, um, learn to use your PA system spot on.
I probably would take out the whole sentence about, um,
don’t blame them to the guests as if someone has screwed you over.
Oh, no, that’s a thing.
I know it’s a thing, but I think it’s a bit harsh. Um, I think,
I think saying just saying a blanket statement about don’t blame other vendors
either publicly or privately,
I think would have just softened that a little bit because I know that they’re
doing it. Um, but I think that that would just soften the message a bit because
it’s still, it’s, it’s really important. We do.
And we do see, we do hear this from lots of celebrants still who,
who do have trouble with the PA system is fine until all the guests arrive and the videographer
plugs in. Those two things often happen at the same time. Often it’s not the videographer
plugging in that is the problem, but it’s some interference maybe with a phone or something
else the guest is standing in between the receiver and the transmitter, those sorts
of things. But because those things happen at the same time, it’s very easy to go, well,
it must be because the videographer plugged in.
I think just a, yeah, just a blanket,
don’t blame other vendors either publicly or privately would just be softer.
Again, I’m trying to, I think the message is important,
but delivering it in a softer way. And look,
you people who are listening, if you disagree,
I would love to hear about it because we both need to make sure that our
language is, is not going to upset people.
Um, and because we don’t, that’s the last thing we want is to,
is to make people upset, um, share it if they want,
tell them how they can get it all good. Before you start the ceremony,
let them know that you’re about to start. That’s really, it’s really important.
Like have that chat. Hey, we’re about to get started. Is that okay? Uh, and,
you know, everyone kind of needs to, to be ready together.
if they’re still setting up their camera or they haven’t put the microphone on the groomsman yet
or whatever it is, they might just need another minute or two. So it’s the checking in. Again,
it’s this constant communication. This is what is super important. I didn’t have any kind of issues
with the language there though. Yes, spot on about their being, if there’s any rituals or things that
aren’t run of the mill, let them know just before the ceremony. This could include if the ceremony
is a bit longer or shorter than normal. The reason I suggested that you add this was actually a story
that a photographer told me many years ago, that there was going to be a candle lighting ritual
during the ceremony and she didn’t know about it and she was therefore in the wrong position
to capture the moment the candles were lit because of where it was in the space and where the bodies
would be between her and the candle. If she’d known about it ahead of time, she would have made
her way around to that side of the room and been there ready to go. So that’s always stuck in my
mind to remember to go, “Hey, there’s going to be a hand fasting and Gran’s going to come up and get
the ties and she’s, I can see her sitting in the front row or whatever it is, whoever’s got the
the rings, you know, just those little things that aren’t, that aren’t normal run of the
mill. And I, it was the same photographer who commented on Instagram and said that she’d
had a situation recently where the celebrant didn’t tell them they weren’t doing the signing
in the middle of the ceremony. They were pulling it out till after the ceremony. And so she
didn’t have chance to get people to hand out the confetti during the signing because that’s
when she usually organizes the handing out of the confetti.
So again, just that comms breakdown. Again, part of that is the breakdown between the
photographer and the couple not having that discussion. But also the photographer and
the celebrant having that discussion beforehand would have been useful. Because even though
that pulling out the signing and putting at the end of the ceremony is becoming a thing
that a lot of celebrants are starting to do in terms of other vendors, they don’t necessarily
know that that’s a thing. So because it’s not normal yet, we just need to tell them
that something different from what they’re expecting is going to happen.
It’s okay, this is a really big one. It’s possible that they want some help with the family and group
photos afterwards, but don’t assume it and don’t announce it unless you’ve spoken to them first.
So this is a really interesting one. I know some photographers who have a very structured way of
doing family photos and they don’t want any assistance with them at all. I know some
photographers who are like, “Oh, celebrant, here’s the list that the family gave me. Can you hang on
to this list and can you call out on your microphone for each group of people to come forward?”
Again, different photographers have different styles just like different celebrants have
have different styles.
So it’s really important that we chat to each other about how that’s going to
work before time, before it happens.
I always chat to my photographers during the signing and I say to them,
I just check in with them. Are you doing a group photo?
Even if the couple have already told me they’re doing one, I check with them.
Are you doing a group photo? Yes. And I say, where would you like to do it?
Because I’m going to send a couple there straight after the processional.
I’m going to say walk down the aisle and they go straight over to that tree
there because that’s where we’re going to do the group photo.
And I’ll explain that.
Which to comment on that,
that’s actually a really good method of moving that energy.
Um, cause trying to get everyone, everyone around is as hard for a group photo.
And so when they go over there, you wouldn’t believe it.
Everyone’s going to follow. And in fact, I put it in my instructions.
I will always say, you know, my housekeeping at the end.
So what’s going to happen now is the couple are going to walk down the aisle.
They’re going to go over to that tree over there.
You’re all going to follow them.
and then there’s going to be a group photo over there.
So please listen out for the photographer’s instructions for that group photo.
I can, I’m not going to do that unless I’ve had the discussion with the photographer though.
If they say I’m not doing a group photo, I go, great, shut my lips.
No comment about a group photo because that’s not what’s going to happen.
And the, what photos are going to happen is not my domain.
That’s the photographer and the couple’s domain.
So I’m not going to make, I’m also not going to make any other comments about who else is going
to be in photos. I sometimes on instruction by the couple, like I’ve had last week, I had,
or a couple of weeks ago, I had the couple say, can you please tell everyone except immediate
family to go to the stable for canapes and drinks and for immediate family to stay here for photos.
Like that was the instruction they wanted me to give in the housekeeping.
I then double checked that with the photographer during the signing
to make sure they were happy with it as well.
And yes, they were.
So for me, again, it’s that communication thing.
Yeah, don’t force them into taking photos that you should take.
I don’t have any issues with the way that is written
because we just shouldn’t do that.
It’s not about us.
It’s about them.
So I’m totally okay with that.
And yeah, this last one, it’s really hard.
they don’t always photos and it’s really nice when they’re good enough to let us have some photos or
video. But yes, send them an email later. Also don’t send them an email like the day of the wedding
or the day after the wedding. My timeline is at the moment is I send it six weeks after the wedding,
even that’s a bit early I think at the moment because a lot of photographers even come back
I can say I’m not quite up to it yet.
So, um, send them an email, you know, eight, 10 weeks later to say,
I’d love to pay you for some photos, um, of the ceremony.
If that’s okay for me to use on my social media and be okay with paying.
I think that’s okay too. Um, Josh, I,
I am like, um, yes.
So your last sentence in there is if you’re like me, a budding photographer,
there’s usually no issue with you taking some photos surrounding the wedding for your social blog
and outside of anything the actual photographer is doing, but I’d run it past the couple when
meeting with them ahead of the wedding. I would also probably run it past the photographer
in my pre-ceremony chat. I would go, “By the way, after the ceremony or like around the ceremony,
I’m just letting you know that I’m taking some photos.” I think that that’s a professional
courtesy to let them know that you’re doing that too. So I think to me, to me it’s a good list.
It’s just there’s some softening in the way that it’s written. I think is what we,
and I think that’s what we’ve been hearing from the feedback of people feeling upset that we’ve
put everybody into the same camp, that everyone’s doing the same thing and that everyone’s doing a
a bad job. We don’t think that. And we’re really sorry that it’s come across that way,
because that’s certainly not the way that it was intended.
And can I echo that, that for the for that I am sorry as well. Mine, as I’ve already
kind of mentioned, but I wasn’t addressing all 10,000 odd celebrants or whatever the
the numbers today. Um, uh,
each and every one of you is terrible.
I purposely didn’t mention names. If you want to mention names,
I’ll be on the list. Didn’t mention names. And, um,
and I suppose if I was presented with that list, I would say, Oh, um,
these points apply to me. These points don’t cool,
but I do now understand how,
how it can be received in a way that has created the response that I’ve received.
And I think that it’s also important.
We are not, we’re not saying we’re sorry that you read it wrong.
We’re not saying that.
We’re not saying that at all.
We’re legitimately putting our hand on our hearts and saying,
we’re really sorry that it came, that it was written in a way
that could be received, not in the way it was intended.
So we’re both going to work on doing that better and, um,
and presenting things as not all some, um,
and the, you know, these are some things that you might want to think about.
So that’s kind of where I am at.
That’s good. I am. I appreciate your, uh, okay.
So as a precursor to this podcast, we had a weird chance and hello,
cause we catch up with friends, but I sort of like leave the, um,
leave the good stuff for the podcast. Cause I, I like, we’re not behind the scenes. Um,
you know, colluding against you if, if, if you’re a person that has responded negatively
because we, yeah, like I’ve already said a couple of times, yeah, my, my heart isn’t
to, to knock you down or to punch down. Um, a few people mentioned like, uh, so me painting
salivants like this does us no help. I’m like, oh, all those other people aren’t reading
this darling, like the couples aren’t reading it and yes, it’s publicly available.
But my heart really was to talk to sell up and say, Hey, I want us to be
appreciated, valued, revered, you know, kind of reminds me a little bit of that.
Um, the women talk about increasing our price and people outrage and like, Oh no,
I want you to have more money.
But that’s another, another podcast for another day.
So, um, Sarah, thank you.
You are welcome.
I hope for everybody out there that’s given some more context and some understanding that we
want to do better and we hope that this goes some way towards providing some of that reflection and
thinking about how we can do better. If any of you have specific comments on any of the specific
wording, whether it be wording that’s in the article or wording that I’ve come up with that might be
softer or different, we’re really keen to hear them because, you know, that’s, to me, that’s the
way we get better is by, you know, constructive feedback. And sometimes the feedback needs to be
specific because sometimes it’s difficult, especially when this is the way Josh always writes,
it can be difficult for him to go, “Okay, but exactly what was the problem?
And why is it a problem this time and it hasn’t been a problem before?”
So, yeah, really, really happy to receive specific feedback if anybody had any.
Yeah, that would be really cool too. Thank you also to everyone who has commented,
to everyone who’s reached out to me privately, and I’m sure there’s been some people who’s
reach out to Josh privately as well. Thank you as well to the people who did find the article
useful. That’s cool. All the celebrants are different and everyone’s going to take different
writing in different ways as well. So that’s another point too. But honestly, we just want
to get better. So any way that we can get better by receiving your comments and your feedback,
waiting for it.
Over sixty years ago the Australian people were gifted one of the most progressive and liberating pieces of marriage legislation the world had seen. Anyone could marry, regardless of skin colour, place of birth, legal status, as long as you were 18 or over, not already married, not directly related, and could give one month’s notice – the law at the time assumed only one of you were a boy and the other was a girl. You had to say a handful of words in front of a celebrant – a regular member of the public deemed fit and proper to conduct marriage ceremonies, or a religious minister – and you were married.
Unlike other jurisdictions around the world where the laws and regulations changed from county to county, or even if they were federalised you needed to meet certain standards.
Even in Australia before 1961 different states had racist, sexist, and bigoted laws prohibiting marriage without permission for different members of Australian society.
But it’s been sixty years.
Apart from when the Howard government clarified that people of the same gender couldn’t marry in 2004, in 2013 the Australian Capital Territory same-sex marriage legislation was fought in court and solidified that marriage was not an issue for the states (or territories) and it also wasn’t a constitutional thing, and in 2017 when marriage equality came to be, the Marriage Act of 1961 hasn’t changed a whole lot. Of course there’s the 2002 proper recognition of celebrants, but the marriage legislation isn’t about us, it’s about people wanting to marry inside the boundaries of the greatest nation on earth, the great land down under, Australia.
So what do we think should change?
- the length of the notice period (personally, I like three days like New Zealand)
- simplification of the paperwork required (what is back of a PDF?)
- modernisation of the definition of prohibited relationships, taking into account what we know today about procreation with relatives (you know you can marry your dad’s twin brother right?)
- civil vows to meet the standard of religious vows
- handing the Form 15 to the couple after the ceremony
- remote witnessing of the notice of intended marriage (as is currently allowed due to special COVID-19 laws)
- modernising of the signing of paperwork (you can buy a house mortgage with a Docusign)
The act isn’t bad, it’s just a bit crusty and a bit dusty, in need of some attention and love.
In a world facing significant change, from artificial intelligence to global boundaries shifting and changing, and relationships today being different from the sixties, how can we modernise the Marriage Act to prepare for the future, not react to it?
What else should be on the list? Get into the comments below and post, what should be updated, modernised, and changed in Australia’s marriage law to set it on a good path for generations to come.
We’ll take your comments, and those of the other celebrant associations and networks and put a submission together that we can all send to our local members of parliament with a unified voice.
We’ve created a shareable website for all celebrants to use as a resource and to share around the wedding industry. Please visit and share: www.marriageact.plus.
A terribly poor recording of the Celebrant Talk Show with Josh and Sarah this week, Josh’s laptop got drunk.
Topics on this episode include:
- Does ageism exist in celebrancy?
- Being a celebrant with a disability
- Email systems and we’re changing them and email is hell
- Changing the Marriage Act of 1961, Josh’s 2023 project.
Some of you may have heard a radio report yesterday about the MarCel marriage celebrants portal being hacked. When I heard about it this morning I immediately found the Hansard record of the Senate Estimates Committee meeting where it was discussed on Monday (for those who don’t know, Hansard is the transcript of proceedings of the Australian Parliament and its committees).
The Hansard record was slightly alarming in that it didn’t provide many details. You can read it here; the relevant discussion is about halfway down (use the Find function in your browser and search for the keyword “marriage”).
Honestly, in the current environment with the Optus and Medibank hacks, I was pretty unimpressed that we hadn’t been alerted to this as people with details in that database. So I sent an email to MLCS:
I was pretty disappointed to read that the MarCel database was subject to a cyberattack three weeks ago but that we haven’t been informed. Although this Hansard record says no data was downloaded, I think in the current climate with the Optus and Medibank hacks, it would be prudent for the Department to be completely transparent with us about such matters.
Can you please contact all celebrants with details of the attack and what has and is being done to protect our information?
Lo and behold, an hour later my phone rang, and it was the lovely Kerrin from the Marriage Law & Celebrants Section on the phone! She wanted to assure me that what had been accessed was an old version of the database that actually holds no data but is used to point people towards the new version (something something – neither she nor I am particularly tech-savvy in that area!), and that therefore no personal details of celebrants had been accessed and nothing had been downloaded. They fixed the gap and we’re good to go.
I noted that given it hit the national media yesterday, celebrants were likely to start asking questions if they weren’t already, and MLCS might need to communicate ASAP with all celebrants to assure them there is no problem. She understood and noted we will discuss it at the MLCS/Associations meeting on 24 November. She will also be taking us through the stringent cybersecurity protections they have in place (such as us needing to change our password almost every time we log on to the portal!)
So that’s the info we have: no drama, more info to come 🙂
Your nerd chimes in
Hey, Josh here on the end of Sarah’s news because I wanted to chime in with a plea to all celebrants: one day soon, and maybe even sooner after this news, one of us is going to be on the news because we got hacked and we need to know how to lessen the risk of it happening.
The hypothetical news report will detail how all of the data on our local computers, in our emails, and our text messages were taken by a hacker. The celebrant’s clients’ passports, birth certificates, parents’ details (like the mother’s maiden name – that old security question), and our notes on the couples, like children’s and pets’ names, addresses, and love story details. Celebrants are hot fodder for identity thieves.
There was a time when locks and deadbolts were new technology and we had to learn how to use them to secure our offices, filing cabinets and homes. You now need to learn how to secure your computers, phones, and data stores. If you can’t put a hand on your heart and promise to your clients that their data in your NOIMs, marriage certificates, BDMs online, and emails are secure, then you need to figure out how.
The featured image for this story was generated by DALL-E AI with the prompt “photo of a computer hacker’s wedding” so that’s why it’s so creepy.
I was about to give myself a long lunch break when my daily statistics release email came through from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (yes, we all know I’m a nerd) and top of the list was the marriage stats release for 2021! This is two whole weeks earlier than usual! Here’s my thoughts, stream-of-consciousness style, as I review the stats for the first time.
Overall marriage numbers were below pre-pandemic levels again, which is unsurprising given the Delta-wave lockdowns in Victoria and New South Wales. 89,164 couples married in 2021, compared with the record low of 78,989 in 2020 (2021 numbers 12.9% higher than 2020) and the last pre-pandemic count of 113,815 in 2019 (2021 numbers 21.7% lower than 2019).
Low numbers were particularly seen in New South Wales (27,311 marriages: 31.0% lower than 2019, 2.1% lower than 2020) and Victoria (18,738 marriages: 34.6% lower than 2019, 12.7% higher than 2020), which is entirely unsurprising. New South Wales was the only state that actually had less weddings in 2021 than in 2020. Marriage numbers in Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory almost returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Monthly numbers are also interesting: usually we see strong seasonal peaks in autumn and spring. In 2021 the first half of the year saw numbers almost back to normal, then they fell off a cliff (although not as dramatic a cliff as April 2020) with the June lockdowns in New South Wales and Victoria. August was a particularly quiet month for marriages last year, with 2,981 marriages compared to 4,636 in 2021 and an average of 6050 in the years 2015-2019. While New South Wales was in lockdown, only 327 marriages occurred in July and 153 in August. While Victoria was in lockdown, the worst month was September, with only 174 marriages occurring, 91% lower than pre-pandemic levels!
Although numbers were lower than pre-pandemic, characteristics of marrying people remain stable: median age for men to marry was 32.1 years, median age for women to marry was 30.5 years, and 80.7% of all marriages were officiated by civil celebrants (remember that includes the State and Territory Registry Offices).
Same-sex marriages represented 3.2% of all marriages occurring in Australia in 2021, with more female couples marrying than male couples. The median age for same-sex couples marrying remained higher than the general population, but lower than same-sex couples in previous years. Note: although I usually call these couples “marriage equality couples” because there may be, e.g., a woman marrying a non-binary person, therefore not being same-sex, the ABS doesn’t include marriages where one or both parties ticked the X or Non-binary box on their marriage paperwork. They say this is for “confidentiality reasons”. I have always found this weird and would love an explanation as to what exactly is being kept confidential in a list of statistics… if we have any statistics-savvy celebrants out there, I’d love to talk to you about this!
Divorce numbers rose in 2021: 56,244 divorces were granted, up 13.6% from 49,510 in 2020. Apparently this is partly due to administrative changes at the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia to increase finalisations and reduce timeframes, which meant more applications could be finalised than previous years and allowed the Courts to reduce a backlog. So we can’t really compare those numbers with any confidence; we’ll need to wait until next year to see what the 2022 divorce data looks like to see if the numbers are really changing. There’s also a reminder in the analysis that divorces can only occur after at least 12 months’ separation in Australia, so only a small proportion of the 2021 divorces granted relate to separations that occurred after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And that’s my initial thoughts! Let me know if you have any specific questions you’d like me to dig around and see if I can answer!
On this special episode, Josh dials in from California to chat with Sarah about their Top Ten Tips for new Celebrants, as requested by Emily. But there are some tips in here for all celebrants, new or not!
- Network, network, network – with anyone in the marriage industry
- Find a buddy/mentor
- Read the Guidelines to the Marriage Act cover to cover, and look at them regularly when you have a question
- Watch lots of ceremonies to find out different ways of doing things
- Learn how to business
- Figure out your differentiator, your point of difference
- Earn your fee … aka don’t just google other fees, but figure out how to charge what it costs you etc, and there’s the sliding scale of learner to expert
- Learn from other industries – business-wise – and ceremony wise
- Attend OPD in person! [We acknowledge this information is old now, for the most up to date information on OPD please visit celebrant.institute/opd]
- PA system/tech gear
- A bonus 11th tip is an ad, for Freshbooks – because honestly, the biggest tip you could get is to get on top of your money. Get on top of invoicing, getting paid, tracking expenses.
Times and topics
01.46 Tip 1 – Network, network, network. Sarah’s all about going to every wedding-related event she can. Josh agrees – it’s about building relationships, not only with other celebrants but with people and suppliers from all across the industry. It’s not just about getting work, but about making our work lives more fun
08.24 Tip 2 – Find a buddy/mentor that you can bounce things off, and ask for help
09.48 Tip 3 – Read the (current) Guidelines to the Marriage Act cover to cover, and look at them regularly when you have a question. The Guidelines will answer 95% of any questions you may have. Even Sarah, who knows the Guidelines really really well, still goes back and checks the Guidelines
12.47 Tip 4 – Watch lots of ceremonies to find out different ways of doing things
16.45 Tip 5 – Learn ‘how to business’. Understand your business accounts, how people want to pay for things, contracts. Know where & how to get advice and specialist help when you need it
20.00 Tip 6 – Figure out your differentiator, your point of difference. What are you good at/not good at? Your brand should reflect this, and explain how this matters to people getting married
27.10 Tip 7 – Earn your fee, aka don’t just google other fees, but figure out how to charge what it costs you etc, and there’s the sliding scale of learner to expert
34.59 Tip 8 – Learn from other industries – business-wise and ceremony-wise. Learn voice tips from other public speakers and even podcast hosts
39.44 Tip 9 – Attend OPD in person! (not distance) Josh has done both and it’s way easier to attend in person; also it’s good to meet other celebrants and learn from them
41.02 Tip 10 – PA System / tech gear. Know your gear and learn how to use it properly. Make sure everyone can hear you!
46.07 Bonus Tip 11 – Get on top of your accounts. Freshbooks accounting software can help with invoices and clients can pay directly from the invoice you send them
There’s a new podcast episode out and Josh is moving to Mexico. Sarah’s still not at rest but she has found a spectacular little trick for funerals using iMovie. Still no movement on the NOIM video witnessing push, and we’re meeting with the AGD next month.
- new forms released 1 September 2021
- changes to compulsory OPD
- new Cert IV in Celebrancy released
- new PD options released
- amazing meeting with the Marriage Law and Celebrants Section – email [email protected] with your examples of why being able to witness signatures on NOIMs over Zoom should be made permanent
For the most recent information regarding ongoing professional development and OPD for Australian authorised civil celebrants visit celebrant.institute/opd
As 2021 draws to a close, so does an era of celebrant-industry-driven professional development. Here at the Celebrant Institute our 2021 ongoing professional development program wrapped up on the weekend and we’re grateful for the thousands of celebrants who chose us for their own betterment – and for the fulfilment of their obligation to the Attorney-General’s department in 2021 to complete four hours of OPD with an authorised registered training organisation and then one hour with the department’s Marriage Celebrant Portal. In 2022 that obligation remains, but is minimised to a department-only delivered “one to two” hours which you will complete through the infamous portal. That means three things for Sarah and I in 2022. In 2022 and beyond we need not worry about applying for, and delivering, a government-blessed professional development program. They’re doing it themselves in “one to two hours”. In 2022 we can – and will – deliver an epic professional development program that will position you stronger and better to tackle the business goals and the art of celebrancy and give you an edge in the marketplace. From 2022 we can work with people who want to develop, instead of celebrants who begrudgingly appear at the workshop because mum and dad told them to. So many stories. So little need to publish them publicly, but if you shout Sarah an orange juice, or me a whisky, we can share too many stories. Like the ones about the multiple celebrants who wanted to send an assistant along to do OPD for them. Today we’re proud to have delivered a really good OPD program. We’re taking a break over the Christmas and New Year period, we’ll be back into normal Celebrant Institute business mid-January, well before winter kicks in we’re excited to show off, and launch, our new Certificate IV in Celebrancy that will really be a game changer, and once we have that locked and loaded we’ll share with you our 2022 professional development program. Of course here at the Celebrant Institute every day is a professional development day, and every day we’re answering your questions that you send through at celebrant.institute/ask.
September 2021 is bringing us new marriage forms, and to be sure that we don’t confuse things, let me quote from the Attorney-General office email sent today. If you haven’t received it, check your spam folder and then tell your email client it isn’t spam, it’s the boss.
The three new marriage forms: the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM), the Official Certificate of Marriage (OCM), and Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage (DNLI) forms, will be available for download from the department’s website on 31 August 2021.
We provide the following guidance material on the changes to marriage forms commencing on 1 September 2021:
From 1 September 2021, all authorised celebrants MUST use the new NOIM, OCM and DNLI forms.
NOIM forms signed and submitted to an authorised celebrant before 1 September 2021 will remain valid for a period of 18 months from their date of receipt by the authorised celebrant. All NOIM forms submitted to an authorised celebrant after 1 September 2021, must be in the new form.
There are no changes to the Form 15 Certificates of Marriage (that is given by the celebrant to the couple immediately following the wedding). Authorised celebrants can continue to use their existing stock of Form 15 certificates. The Form 15 certificates continue to be available for purchase from CanPrint Communications.
We note that the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for authorised celebrants will be updated on 31 August 2021, to reflect the new forms commencing on 1 September 2021.
Please take the time to familiarise yourself with the information provided about the new forms ahead of 1 September 2021.
So on August 31 2021, you will find out how you get to do your work on the 1st of September. Heaps of time.
Also, if you have any questions, or need help from the AGD while Canberra is in lockdown:
During this period all communications with our office must be via email, subject to the below. If you do not have email access you may leave a telephone message by calling 1800 550 343. Please note – we are unable to answer telephone calls during the lockdown period. If you need to contact us via our telephone line because you do not have email access, it is very important that you leave a detailed message setting out your enquiry, and provide us with your full contact details including your ‘A Number’.
Hopefully this isn’t news to any of you, and luckily, if you’re a Celebrant Institute member, Sarah and myself (Josh) are at your beck and call, ask us a question at celebrant.institute/ask.
One thing I will note, if you’re planning on signing a Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage (DNLI) form for a September 1 onwards wedding, I’d leave it until September 1 onwards.
Finally, if you’re wondering what the title means:
We’re tired, and we know you are all tired too. In this episode we catch up on each other’s news, and chat about value (and how it’s difficult to articulate!) and how OPD is going in 2021.
Listen in the embedded player below or in this link.
After a six month break from podcasting because our world’s got crazy and busy, we talk about what was keeping us busy. Namely, reschedules and postponements and cancellations of weddings, and how that’s affecting the whole industry.
Plus we go over our 2021 OPD – ongoing professional development – program in great depth. You’re going to love it! Go to www.celebrant.training to see the whole offering.
To my fellow celebrants, I have a proposal regarding the one month notice period, and I’d like to run it up your flagpole, so to speak, and then take it to the Australian parliament: that the one month notice period required by the Marriage Act, be reduce to one week. Or even better, abolish the notice all together.
Here’s my thoughts on the matter, and I’d like to hear yours in the comments below:
- In most Western countries no notice, or short notice of 24 or 48 hours is required. Australia’s one month notice is unique and the longest in the world that I can find through my research. The UK is the closest at 28 days notice required.
- What is the spirit of the one month notice and is that spirit not adhered in other ways by celebrants ensuring that the couple are consenting? If a couple is of age and of consent, what difference is it if they want to marry today or in a month?
- The administrative burden the notice of intended marriage brings celebrants, the Attorney-General’s Marriage Law and Celebrants Section, and the state BDMs, seems to heavily outweigh the benefit the one month notice could bring.
- The one month notice seems to be in conflict with the current government’s and the AGD’s reduction of red tape and encouragement of a free market.
- The one month notice period is the most misunderstood element of the Australian marriage law, and yet it brings low value to marriages or the country.
- If a shortening of time is required, this is almost always a painful process. Eliminating or reducing the notice would liberate this process.
I am taking this proposal to the AGD’s MLCS in our next meeting in May, and will also table the proposal, and your comments, with my local Member of Parliament.
After posting a guide on making sure you and your business is prepared if and when the Facebook ban hammer falls on you, the Facebook ban hammer fell on us.
When we saw that Facebook had (in my own personal opinion, correctly) responded to the Australian Prime Minister’s pandering to Rupert Murdoch but banning news from Facebook in Australia, I checked our page to see if it had been swept up in the mess, and on Friday morning it had not.
In response to Facebook’s actions I wrote a piece on the Celebrant Institute website about preparing your business for a time that maybe your Facebook page, or other online sites, would not be available to you. Members can read that here.
On Saturday morning, though I noticed that our engagement had dropped from the regular few hundred people who would organically see our posts, to zero.
We’ve lodged an appeal to Facebook on a few fronts, unsure if any of them are the correct course of action. If you know the best way to convince Facebook that we aren’t Rupert Murdoch’s playboy bunnies, please get in touch.
A friend asks me today what the quickest way is to complete the Cert IV in Celebrancy, the qualification needed to become a celebrant in Australia. Friends of my friend reckon she’d be a great celebrant and they’d like her to marry them. So although I already had some idea of what was required, I like feeling out the bounds of our society and seeing what money, time, goodwill, and effort can get you. Not that I want to game the system, but I wondered, if someone sat down with our own Oracle, Sarah Aird, for a week, could they gun through the Certificate IV?
So I sent her a text.
It turns out the Certificate IV in Celebrancy as it stands in 2021 is a far more intense course than even I bargained for.
So the quickest way to complete the Cert 4 in Celebrancy, if you invested 40 hours a week, would be to complete in six months, and even then you have to apply to become a celebrant at the AGD!
Sarah’s current advice is that if you can invest 20 hours a week, maybe that’s four hours a night for five nights a week after work, or that’s investing 10 hours a day across your weekend, you could qualify in a year.
So if you’re still up for the task, apply now.
Or just find a qualified celebrant already in the business and ready to rumble.
It’s time to life up our heads from managing, or surviving, in our wedding celebrancy business, and to actually lead our businesses to a place where they bring us joy and happiness again.
This episode of the podcast is with someone who helps people like us do things like that, Heidi Thompson from Evolve Your Wedding Business. Heidi is hosting the Wedding Business CEO Summit later this month and Josh is speaking at the summit on automating your customer journey.
Celebrant Institute members and Celebrant Talk Show listeners get a free ticket to the summit by clicking here!
This event is specifically crafted for the wedding industry because we have different needs than other industries. Our goal isn’t to throw a pile of new strategies and tasks at you, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and like there’s no way you can do enough. Instead, we’re here to show you how to go from overwhelmed and overworked (like most wedding professionals) to how to make your wedding business more simple, efficient, profitable, and stress-free.
For 5 days, January 25th-29th, Heidi is bringing you presentations from 25 industry experts who have found ways to ditch the overwhelm & stop overworking all while streamlining things and becoming more profitable than ever. You’ll learn about everything from the steps to create new and passive revenue streams, how to create a profit-focused schedule, creating boundaries that will give you your time back, and so much more.
Register for your free ticket to the summit! And there is also an All Access Pass available which gives you access to the summit forever and comes with thousands of dollars of value plus free access to the Celebrant Institute.
After meeting with the Marriage Law and Celebrants Section of the Attorney-General’s Department, Josh and Sarah bring you all the updates to marriage forms, OPD in the years ahead, signing NOIMs online, plus we’ve got some helpful tips on social media content and live streaming wedding ceremonies.
For the most up to date information on Ongoing Professional Development/OPD for Australian Marriage Celebrants, please view celebrant.institute/opd
For your ongoing professional development as a Commonwealth authorised marriage celebrant in 2021, only four hours will be provided by your OPD trainer. One hour of your five hour commitment will be delivered by the Marriage Law and Celebrants Section of the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department. In simple terms this means that a one hour compulsory topic will be provided at no extra cost by the AGD online, and the remaining four hours of your commitment will be fulfilled by either: attending OPD face to face if it is safe and allowable attending OPD in a live webinar online attending an approved conference completing the distance education units and submitting them to the OPD provider The department says of the one hour topic being provided by the AGD:
Every celebrant will need to complete the activity as part of their five hour OPD obligation. So keep an eye on your inboxes in early 2021 for information on how to do that. The news is fresh but our early prediction is that OPD is changing for the better. Even though it’s only one hour difference, a four session is a remarkably different event to a five hour session, online or in person. This will reduce hours needed for renting rooms, trainers, and even catering. A four session can be done after lunch with a coffee break in the middle, whereas a five hour session with lunch needs a break in the middle. Freeing up the schedule and the financial resources allows you to choose better OPD subjects and actually professionally develop yourself. This is a win for celebrants and RTOs. And in case you were wondering, or for many of you, as you might expect, we highly recommend completing OPD with us!