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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.
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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.
How to become a wedding celebrant in Australia
Celebrant, help wedding vendors not hate you
Marry From Home – is it legal for Australian couples?
It’s time to update and modernise the Marriage Act of 1961
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)
- where in Australia can you marry (why are some territories excluded?)
- 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 get 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.
How to become a celebrant
I didn’t have a backup! Happy World Backup Day
Chat and AI is going to change your entire business
Love is patient, as should you business be
My couple are breaking up, can I just not register their marriage?
Email is the worst
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.
16 Growth ideas for wedding celebrants
Five phrases you should use in your sales pitch
I got scammed, and it’ll happen to you!
The difference between religious ministers and civil celebrants
Creating a marriage ceremony versus re-creating a marriage ceremony
Change your passwords
16 Ways a celebrant can end up in jail for six months
Remote witnessing of NOIMs in 2023
I’m challenging you to learn Markdown
Can AI write an original marriage ceremony?
Cyberattack on AGD’s MarCel portal
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.
Marriage statistics 2021
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!
Are meetings at cafes a business expense?
Celebrant legal obligations online
Top ten tips for new marriage celebrants
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
Being found is the new advertising
Market your celebrant services like Apple markets the iPhone
Maybe it will inspire some of us to rest
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.
Be a little more like Robbie Williams as a celebrant
Tips for completing the compulsory OPD
Where should the celebrant stand in a wedding ceremony? Josh’s view
Utilise the power of the “Zero Price Effect”
Ted Gioia’s 10 rules for public speaking
You must call yourself a marriage celebrant
My iPad lost everything, how can I prevent this?
Remote witnessing of NOIMS – help make it permanent!
Happy Podcast New Year!
- 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
A lesson from Kobe Bryant for celebrants
This is your permission to raise your fees in 2022
How did I do 27 weddings in one month?
The law of social proof and celebrancy
Do I need more than one domain name for my website?
A ceremony as a series of ‘riffs’, that’s how I’m unscripted
Computer and internet security for a modern marriage celebrant
There’s Gold In Them Thar Questions
How to spy on other people’s Facebook Ads
Rounded prices are better than unrounded for weddings
A story for celebrants finding their tribe like Yeti coolers did
Other avenues for networking and referrals
When the celebrant gets sick mid-ceremony…
Preparing for the inevitable re COVID
Not-as-ongoing professional development
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.
Celebrants can witness NOIMs over the internet!
Marriage statistics 2020
Why I hate wedding awards: “I am in competition with no-one”
My secret to business success: email
How to start taking better photos at your weddings
Vaccine mandates and weddings
How to record the location of a marriage ceremony on the water or in the air
The secret to having people share your social media posts
How to get your couples to reply to your emails
Build my own website or pay a pro? Build a business brand or a personal brand?
Writing prompts for social media and blogging
Questions to ask your couples for your review or testimony
Be vulnerable about your growth intentions to actually grow
Say, do you remember? Dancing (with new forms) in September?
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:
1. Fact sheet on Changes to marriage forms and certificates 2021
2. Mocked-up new Notice of Intended Marriage
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:
Should we charge more or differently for public holidays?
JPs witnessing the NOIM via audio visual link – NOT ALLOWED
What does your profile photo say about you?
Three practical ways to increase your price
We’re not going to charge you more money, it’s ok
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.
Welcome to another episode of the Celebrant Talk Show podcast.
Listen in the embedded player below or in this link.
Legalities for parties who are vision impaired
7 Insurances celebrants should have
Wise words about reviews, for Billy Joel and wedding celebrants
The thing about all of your social media followers
How and why you should position your speaker at a wedding
I’ve gone to court for cancelled covid weddings, and lived to tell the story
A week’s worth of content prompts for your blog or social media
Are you ready if someone tries to hack you and steal your client’s personal data
“The truth is most of your followers won’t see what you share” on Instagram
You should charge more, and here’s 10 reasons why
How to be “out there” and trust the process
Advanced OPD topic on how to skin a rabbit
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.
It’s time to change the one month notice period to one week
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.
What are the celebrant’s COVID-Safe obligations in NSW?
Our 1st Birthday Competition
One year ago today Sarah Aird took over the reins of Life Skills Training, and this year we relaunched as the Celebrant Institute RTO with the contract to provide ongoing professional development for Australian civil celebrants, alongside the Certificate IV in Celebrancy, the cornerstone qualification required to become a celebrant.
For the past four years Josh and Sarah have been supporting the celebrant industry with their podcast, the Celebrant Talk Show, and their paid membership program at the Celebrant Institute, so with those four offerings continuing to grow in 2021 we wanted to celebrate the first anniversary of Sarah taking over Life Skills Training and beginning it’s move to becoming the Celebrant Institute RTO.
Our 1st RTO birthday competition
Everyone who registers for even a single OPD workshop this week, from now until 11:59pm Melbourne time on Sunday the 14th of March, 2021, receives an entry into the draw.
- Paid registration for an OPD workshop at www.celebrant.training, for a workshop at any time in 2021 with the Celebrant Institute is how you enter.
- If you tag another celebrant in the social media post you receive an additional entry.
- If you book for more than one workshop, each registration is an entry.
- Winner announced on our social media channels on the 16th of March 2021.
- Competition entries closes 11:59pm Melbourne time on Sunday the 14th of March, 2021.
- May the most tagged celebrant win! Facebook post to tag people in – Instagram post to tag people in.
Registration for our OPD workshops is online at www.celebrant.training
Prize is a new Bose S1 Pro PA speaker, Sennheiser wireless microphone kit, and a K&M stand valued at $2042. Non-transferrable to cash, pickup from Melbourne if the winner is local to Melbourne, otherwise delivery will be arranged.
If you’d rather buy one yourself, we recommend Factory Sound, that’s who is supplying the prize.
Terms and conditions
Entrants to the competition must register and pay for at least one OPD workshop before 13/03/2021 11:50pm AEST. Additional entries available by registering for more than one workshop, and by tagging celebrants in @celebrant.institute Facebook and Instagram social media posts. Eligible winner must be an Australian resident, and be either a celebrant student studying the Certificate IV in Celebrancy, or an Authorised Marriage Celebrant.
Managing marriage documentation after death of a celebrant
12 months defending wedding industry disputes due to covid
Facebook’s a bit salty at us
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.
When Facebook shuts you down, are you ready?
Quick way to complete the Certificate IV in Celebrancy
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.
Where to focus on your celebrancy in 2021
How to accept crypto currencies for your work
Ultimate Guide to Creating Automation For Your Customer Journey
Acknowledgement of Country in our weddings
How to get couples to book you as their celebrant
What if Google didn’t exist?
Be the CEO your wedding celebrant business needs you to be
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.
026 Social Media Challenge: It’s not about you today
025 Social Media Challenge: Meme me baby
024 Social Media Challenge: Can I answer you a question?
023 Social Media Challenge: The writing game
022 Social Media Challenge: You can ASCII me anything
The best tablet computer for celebrants, is it the reMarkable?
021 Social Media Challenge: Charting the course
020 Social Media Challenge: Josh’s Wheeeeeelllll of Content
How to name your celebrant business
019 Social Media Challenge: Combine the five
How to collect wedding guest information for your own COVIDSafe requirements
018 Social Media Challenge: Create demonstrating content
017 Social Media Challenge: Let me, entertain you!
016 Social Media Challenge: Inspire us
015 Social Media Challenge: Be educational
014 Social Media Challenge: Be relevant
013 Social Media Challenge: Who do you love?
012 Social Media Challenge: Something beautiful
011 Social Media Challenge: A day in the life of …
Was the tinsel an acknowlegement?
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.
010 Social Media Challenge: Let’s take the conversation to 11
009 Social Media Challenge: Your genesis story
Are you a workaholic?
008 Social Media Challenge: Beat your own drum and testify
007 Social Media Challenge: Blog a common reply
006 Social Media Challenge: Nutella Day
005 Social Media Challenge: Let’s get podcasting
004 Social Media Challenge: Reuse and recycle
OPD in 2021 is changing
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!
Tasmania (BDM) gets the internet
Sarah chats to Tasmanian celebrant Kathleen Pavlic-Ryan about the brand new online registration system available through Births, Deaths, and Marriages Tasmania!
Moving a wedding from Queensland to New South Wales
003 Social Media Challenge: Carrot Cake
002 Social Media Challenge: Introduce Yourself
Creating elopement packages
What if you’re not available for re-scheduled wedding?
001 Social Media Challenge: Lemonade
Should I use a speaker stand, and should I use a PA for 10 guests?
Correcting marriage paperwork
Do our social media challenge
If you have a non refundable deposit
The one in a hotel room with a lawyer
Where should we get clients to review us?
Replying to new wedding enquiries with Bonjoro
Seth Godin on selling your time
You don’t have to do everything
222 reasons you need to secure your domain name for the love of God, please just do it
Live streaming a wedding, and what about the music copyright?
How to lodge marriage documents electronically with the ACT BDM
Sarah’s gear – a video
What does Instagram Reels’ launch mean for the wedding industry?
The Stage 4 restrictions in Victoria and what they mean for weddings
How to be your own publicist
Preparing for the aftertime
Wedding rehearsals – a video
How to to-do
My entire client journey, end to end
We have changed membership systems
Form 15 Record of Use in Excel
How to make a wedding expo work for you
Look out for a zero dollar invoice for the annual celebrant charge
The Attorney-General’s department has let us know that they are starting to send out those $0 annual celebrant charge invoices today. Make sure you pay that $0 quickly otherwise you’ll be in $0 debt, and the interest on that will be expensive.
Here’s what they’ve told us:
The celebrant registration charge notices are being sent out to celebrants today. As you are all aware the charge has been set to $0 for 2020-21. We are required to send the notice in accordance with the Marriage Act. Celebrants are not required to take any further action in relation to the notice and will remain registered for 2020-21. The value of the charge will be re-assessed for the 2021-22 financial year.
New South Wales’ Uppercase Requirement
We’ll do it live!
Creating an intimate ceremony, and including kids
Sending ceremony recordings instead of written drafts – a new idea!
Luna’s debut on the podcast
How to become a travelling celebrant
Getting ceremony audio to videographers
Annual fee waived!
I’m pretty excited to let our members know that we’ve just received the following email from the Marriage Law and Celebrant Section of the Attorney-General’s Department:
Dear celebrant associations
I am writing to advise you that the Attorney-General has agreed to set the celebrant registration charge for 2020-21 at $0.
The charge is a legislative requirement so celebrants will still receive the registration notice after 1 July. However there will be no invoice to pay.
Setting the charge to $0 will be for 2020-21 only. A decision will be made prior to July 2021, in accordance with the cost recovery guidelines, as to what the amount will be for 2021-22.
Registrar of Marriage Celebrants
So no fee for this year! We’ll still receive a registration notice after 1 July but there won’t be any invoice to pay.
Of course this is only for 2020-2021 and a different decision will likely be made next year, but for now I know this will be a weight off a lot of celebrants’ minds.
I see lots of people on Zoom calls not bringing their A-game to the call.
MLCS & celebrant associations/networks meeting 5 May 2020
What it means when they say that weddings are coming back
Baby Got Backend
When a bushfire ravages a land
How to marry people overseas
A terrible time to buy a business
Check out an 11 year old celebrant survey
11 years ago (in 2009), celebrant directory website Celebrante, conducted a survey of about 1400 celebrants. I’m cleaning out my Dropbox folder and found the survey, so I thought it’d be an interesting piece of quarantine content for us all while we’re busy doing not a whole lot in regards to weddings.
Only one celebrant that responded to the survey charged more than $1000 and most were in the $400 to $600 range.
Less than 15% were full-timers. Which is about the same 10 years later.
78% of the respondents were conducting less than 20 ceremonies a year.
About the same number of celebrants have a service contract. Did I mention we sell a great service contract?
Interesting look at how businesses were set up then.
I’ve always found it interesting that anyone could ever proclaim that they do not need to improve. I guess it’s the posture you need to take to win at being a public presenter, but I could improve a whole lot, and I bet the celebrants in this survey could as well.
“Do you have your own website?”!!!!
Oh website, how have you failed me?
So that’s a quick look at the survey, what are your thoughts on having a glance back over the industry 11 years ago?