I met one of my neighbours this morning and he mentioned he was becoming a celebrant soon so he could marry two friends who are getting married soon. I gave him the spiel I give anyone and everyone becoming a new celebrant, but I thought it’d be something worth putting down in a blog post, and hopefully if you’re a hopefully future celebrant then this can be an encouragement to you too.
Video chat, video conferencing, Skyping, Facetiming, or now, Zooming, is going to be a fairly major way we communicate through this season and into the future. The problem is, I see lots of people on Zoom calls not bringing their A-game to the call. The reason presenting yourself well on a video call matters is because in that online video chat environment we’ve already lost a few of our primary senses from the human interaction, smell, taste, and touch. That leaves our sight and hearing. In the same way that someone without hearing or sight will say that their other senses are heightened, in a video call, we’re missing the hug we might have started the interaction with. We haven’t had a chance to buy each other a drink, or shake hands, or simply see our smiles and smell our perfume, and feel at home together. So let’s make the visual and the audible sensory experience as good as our tools and technology allows us to.
There’s a lot of talk about weddings coming back as COVID-19 restrictions are eased. This is not an article about when and what restrictions are being eased, but a reminder as to how Australia works and how to know if weddings are a) allowed or legal, b) when they’re allowed, c) what will be allowed.
This article does remind you though how Australian governance works. You see, Australia as a nation is a lovely idea, but really, you live in a state. That state, be it Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, or a constant state of joy, has made a number of decisions as to how certain things are governed. Many things are a state business, and they have then handed many things on to the [Commonwealth of Australia] for their governance. This article is an oversimplification of a complex structure, so please don’t quote me anywhere.
I drove through a recently bushfire affected region last week. The ground was still blackened, but not as much as the tree trunks. The foliage and grass that would normally cover the bush floor was slowly achingly coming back to something that resembled life, and those trees that survived, still stood tall. The stand out from the drive though were the two things flourishing today.
Maria asks: I am hoping to be able to travel and marry people in other countries so how do I go about doing that? I understand the law is different in each state in the US and of course Canada so is there an easy process to get the legal requirements to marry people overseas?
With Police Officers and JPs being the most popular witnesses to notices of intended marriage forms when a celebrant cannot attend the witnessing, and with many celebrants unable to attend a meeting to sign a notice of intended marriage because of social distancing directives, the Attorney-General’s department is investigating an alternative.
A really powerful way for you to spend your time and energy whilst weddings are essentially furloughed, is to evaluate, reevaluate, and evaluate even more, your current business systems and marketing strategies. I like to view my marketing strategy as a journey, and the end of that journey is when someone “walks into my store” and makes a purchasing decision, and my “store” is my website. On a recent Google Office Hours webinar, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, made this comment on being different to a webmaster who has a ringtones website who was complaining of traffic dropping and their search engine position dropping …
We didn’t want to clog up your inbox with another COVID-19 email about how we’re responding to the pandemic, in fact we’ve tried to not add to the noice and be helpful where we can.
In previous posts here on the Celebrant Institute – like this one – we’ve talked about how a great service contract is a really good starting point for defining the relationship you have with your clients, so when disaster or pandemic strikes, neither of you are “wondering where we stand” because it’s in writing already and agreed upon already. We’ve had a few questions about the service contract and wanted to address them here.
If you’re a marriage celebrant, or officiant or even just a wedding vendor of some description, and your main clientele are inhabitants of planet earth, you might find yourself in a position in the coming weeks where there is a negative effect on your business and way of life due to a pandemic.
There are so many issues surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) that I’m not even going to pretend like I have the answers today. Think Splendid (one, two, and three) and the Wedding Photo Hangover cover it well. But one thing you should be thinking about in these times is as weddings move and are cancelled, what does that look like for your business? The bedrock foundation of any business transaction (between you and a couple for example) is how that relationships is defined. What is expected of you both, and are those expectations being met.
Jeff asks: I’m heading into my busiest year yet, I’m so happy I get to work alongside so many great humans who want to be married! The downside (if we can call it that) – my ceremony writing process is my least favourite part (is that bad?). I’ve done the work of automating as much of the process as humanly possible while creating a very fun customer journey, but when it comes down to writing the ceremony I’m just not that psyched. And then when you multiply the procrastination to start by x amount of weddings it’s easy to fall behind. Couples and guests have always said they love the ceremonies I write (phew!) but it can be exhausting and seems hard to scale.
Many of us have a problem with selling. It’s understandable, most of us have been sold to before, and we’ve hated it. A “salesperson” is often the sleaziest person in the room, and none of us want to be “that guy.” But here we are, trying to pay our mortgages or rent with some cash we earn from being a celebrant. And traditionally, that requires sales. So, I, Josh-saviour-to-the-celebrants, has a solution!
If your couples don’t have an easy way to pay you with credit card, I’m of the belief that you’re not only missing out on cash flow and cash, but you’re also missing out on the goodwill you would generate by making your couples’ lives easier.
Here are ten reasons I think you should either enable credit card payments (if you already have the option) or look at extending your payment options to include credit card.
Kath asks: Hey Josh, Just wondering if you have any advice on what I should be doing in preparation to “move/expand” a celebrant biz interstate. I am moving to Hobart mid year and would like to make a start on some marketing now which will in turn affect my bookings for the end or the year and the beginning of next. Apart from reaching out to some lovely local celebs in the area to say hello and booking in to attend an expo, do you have any ideas on what I should or could be doing online (website copy, SEO, blogging, google listing, marketing, back end kind of stuff) while I am in this early transition stage.
My favourite computing device is my iPad. I’m actually travelling for up to six months of this year with only my iPad – it’ll be my main computing device. There’s two or three little bug bears that really annoy me about the iPad, but the main one is how the Instagram app is still phone-only. There’s no iPad app for Instagram.
Linda asks: As a regional celebrant I am struggling with travel and how to incorporate this into my fees. I have an “anything over 200km round trip” clause which may seem a lot but its realistic to where I live. My problem is more about inquiry meetings, extra meetings and rehearsals. Obviously I cant charge for an inquiry meeting but do I just have a set higher wedding fee which kind of covers longer distances overall whether the wedding is near or far? Hope you can help!
A Celebrant Institute member asks: “I know celebrants are required send all the legal documents after the wedding day or submit via lifelink within 14 days of the ceremony but what actually happens if we forget?” Sarah’s on holidays this week but luckily for you, this is a question even I can answer.
Sophie asks: When performing a ceremony out in the blazing sun with no undercover area nearby are either of you protecting your speaker/receivers etc from the direct sun? I’m nervous about it all overheating and thought you guys might have found a solution? I thought maybe of attaching an umbrella somehow to my stand?
While I’ve talked a lot about how I sign my paperwork on an iPad, you’re welcome to choose your tablet and software of choice, I haven’t detailed exactly where the paperwork comes from.
Of course you can [download blank marriage paperwork] from the Attorney-General’s office, and if you wanted to find the shortest link between the AGD website and signing it on an iPad, you could literally treat that blank paperwork like blank physical paper. But there’s a better way and it depends which state you live in.
A member asked for help with the Queensland BDM pushing back on a marriage registration and wanting more info on parents.
Jake asks: I’m currently taking bookings faster than I planned would happen and have decided that an iPad might be a better way to keep everything in one place , meaning my emails/ceremonies, and documents. But the main reason is I would like to be able to have my couples sign the the paperwork on the iPad (form 15 , NOIM) all that jazz. I just wanted to know what you would recommend in size and what programs/apps would make this possible.
A topic we don’t cover enough here in the Celebrant Institute membership is ceremony presentation and style. It’s such a personal topic and each of us has our own style. But today we thought we’d lift the cover and show you all how Sarah and I both present a ceremony. Presented below are two videos, full recordings of a recent ceremony we have both presented recently.
I married a couple recently and the bride had one of those names where there was a few different ways it could possibly be pronounced. In that situation, when we first meet, I introduce myself with my name, and expect the same in return, I’ll then note how they pronounce their own name. But she didn’t!
I feel the same way about business.
If you’re not already familiar with the reason why, when faced with two cafes next to each other most of us will choose the busier cafe, the reason is social proof.
Sophie asks a very important and pertinent question (which I’ve slightly edited for brevity): A question regarding the safety of couples sending digital copies of their ID via email or within a system like Dubsado. A groom works in IT and raised concern when I asked him to send through copies of their ID to draft their NOIM. I replied saying that I thought uploading their docs via a form in Dubsado would be safe. He replied ’In regards to the Dubsado application or other applications with securing sensitive documents\data, I’m in IT and been involved in data breach incidents. All applications and back end data need to follow ISO 27001 standards, so hopefully Dubsado are complying. Part of the standard is that, these documents provided are extremely sensitive and should not be emailed and secured within the application. Data travelling via networks (internet) need to be encrypted, and not all email accounts or tools do this. Hence why I shared the documents\data via a shared drive for you to sight the files only, then I delete. I informally recommend, not to save these documents\data within the application, unless they are fully encrypted, or deleted 6-12 months after the ceremony. Especially not to save this data on your desktop or email account, and NEVER click on an email or link your don’t know the recipient.’ Wondering what you guys know and think of this? I should probably contact Dubsado directly too, but at times have had couples email and even text me through pics of their ID – is it way too risky and should I use Skype/FaceTime aka ‘real time’ to never run into the issue? Obviously receiving a pic is a lot more convenient most of the time!
To bring in the new year, [Stephen Ango asks himself 40 questions]. I liked his list but thought I’d alter it for Celebrant Institute followers so we could reflect on where we’ve been and look at where we’re going. Identify trends, strengths, weaknesses, and things we should simply be proud of as individuals and as a community. Stephen’s is a personal list, and my amendments are focused on your celebrant business. Maybe you want to do both, or just one, it’s all up to you.
I thought I’d share a quick and small story about a wedding I didn’t get booked for.
A favourite read of mine is the regular Susbtack email from Ariel Stalling. You might know her name from a little blog called Offbeat Bride. In this week’s mailout, Ariel tells the story of how someone a little bit like her was covered in the New York Times.
Before I actually read the words in the piece I thought Ariel was telling the story about how she was covered in the New York Times which would’ve been kind of cool, but then when you sit down and read it you realise that someone slightly similar to her with a really good publicist was covered in the Times instead.
A reader asks: “I’ve noticed the ABIA awards presentation nights have been occurring but what is the ABIA awards and how do people win the ABIA awards? What is the scoring based on? I see these marks of 99.93 etc.” I’ll answer this question on behalf of ABIA, then with my own opinion, which may or may not include the now famous, Billockery Awards, the celebrancy industry’s most favourable fictionalised awards system.
A quick Saturday morning flick through the social media feeds showed me six celebrants doing a bad thing on social media.
They’re not breaking the law, and in their minds they’re not doing a bad or evil thing. Many people would see the same thing I did and think it’s perfectly fine.
But my advice would be to stop.
Alex asks: My question is regarding communication with couples – specifically timelines. Before I became a Celebrant I remember hearing a few off-hand remarks from a family friend and also a cousin about their Celebrants. The general feedback was that they never heard from their celebrant after booking them, had no idea what to expect (for example commented “we hadn’t heard from her in 4 months”) and both had doubts about how the day would run. I was horrified! To me, managing expectations is super important but I also understand it may be different with each couple. So my question is – sorry it took me a while to get there – do you have any advice on how you communicate a “timeline of events” with the couple – or can you provide an example of one? And also advice for me on ceremony writing….how soon before the wedding do you start it and if requested or preferred by the couple when do you send a first draft for them to review, and how soon before the ceremony do you “lock everything in?”
I was email marketed by the team at Wedwordy recently, with their offering of a ceremony script builder. Wedwordy promises to create personalised wedding ceremony scripts “as easy as 1-2-3” so I reached out to them and requested a review. I’ve listened to many celebrants through the ages talk about their ceremony script writing process, some put way too much effort in, and many simply phone it in by inserting names in the right places and clicking print. Some don’t even go that far and thanks to those celebrants the profession has that reputation of saying the wrong names in a ceremony.
On this week’s podcast episode I talked about contacting our local member of parliament to request a change to the Marriage Act of 1961. The act requires two official certificates of marriage be prepared, which in a digital age where we’re creating PDF certificates, is a little redundant.
We always want to keep you in the loop as to what we’re suggesting, so here’s Sarah and my submission to the MLCS for OPD from 2021 onwards.
Victoria asks: I downloaded Notability on my iPad so I could easily get signatures on my doc as you said you found that one the best – however when it opens the filled in versions of the PDFS from the AG’s site as that’s what I use – they appear blank. Any tips on how to get them to appear filled in?
Jeff asks: When you look back on leads, what seems to be working? Do you have a rough breakdown of where/how couples are finding you? Do you find Instagram/Facebook ads work? Venue referrals? The Google…?
Jeff asks: A general price question: when you both set your prices (to their current rates), were you/are you in line with what others charge or are you much higher? Pretty sure I’m the highest priced officiant in my region of 500,000 folks, but @ $650/ceremony I’d have to perform about 27 weddings/week to go legit. That doesn’t work. I have right around 75 weddings on the books for 2019 and it’s great since this is a side hustle, but I want to make the leap but for suuuure can’t at this rate. I’m hesitant because if I jump up to $800-$1000 I’ll literally be charging more than double the price or most others…but I guess someone has to be most expensive, I might as well be that guy…was just curious your thoughts on that.
A repetitive theme in my writing is the encouragement for you to create your own content. I really do believe that creating original, helpful, relevant, personal, content is a majorly easy way for you to have a win today.
As more Australian states start delivering digital drivers licenses it’s important for Australian marriage celebrants to know if they can use digital drivers licenses as ID when solemnising marriages.
I’m eventually going to start sounding like a broken record, but we all need to get it into our head: ads as we used to know them no longer work.
People hate ads.
Sephora has identified that not every customer desires the same journey, so they created a fork in the road to cater for two different personality types.
Jeff asks: When/how did you now it was ok to not share ceremony content with the couple but just have them trust you on the day of? Couples and guests really love what I put together (I guess I’ve figured out that much ha!) and I have lots of reviews that say it’s great – removing the step of sharing content would literally make things faaaar easier, just wondering how to get couples on board with that or when it’s ok to do that.
If you’re aspiring to be a celebrant in the near future, Sarah and I deliver the Certificate IV in Celebrancy through this very Institute.
We’re lucky enough to have experienced, and to continue to experience the full breadth of celebrancy training, students contact us every day with questions their trainers and colleges are answering incorrectly or weirdly.
Jeff, a Canadian celebrant, asks: I’m wondering what sections you two include in your ceremonies? I have a very similar trajectory for each ceremony, and add or subtract (readings etc) based on what the couple are looking for, but was wondering how others on the other side of the world do it!
Theresa asks: I’ve had a couple of last-minute cancellations recently – given the circumstances, I’m happy that the weddings didn’t go ahead. Anyhow, it has forced me to take a much-needed look at my T&C’s and was wondering if either of you would be open to sharing how you deal with the following scenarios/what you have in your invoices or statement of fees: 1. Cancellations, 2. The unlikely event that you are unavailable and need to arrange someone else to step in, 3. The unlikely event that you are unavailable and cannot find anyone else to step in.
Every week one or two potential new celebrants email or DM me about starting a celebrancy business as a side hustle, hoping to make a few dollars on the side to provide for their family’s extra needs or to put some cash in the holiday account.
It’s understandable. In the past it was a common part time career for a mum, or a school teacher, to undertake and just do a few ceremonies a year.
The most popular question I’m asked in person by my wedding industry colleagues, and here on the Celebrant Institute, is which website do I advertise on or which directory do I list in that works?
Somewhere along the way, wedding vendors have gotten really comfortable being fed off the teat of wedding blogs, directories, websites, and magazines.
A member asks, “Can you claim a tax deduction for the cost of holding a couple meeting at a cafe? Paying for their coffee? I hear different answers to this.”
Tracey asks: I’d really love some input about how/where in the ceremony you would say the Monitum. In amongst all the beautiful ‘love’ words it can feel a bit cold and clinical. I’m yet to find a way to bring it into the ceremony without it sounding a bit like an announcement! I feel pretty ok with writing sections of a ceremony. Tying them together is the tricky part for me!
You can update the software on your Bose S1 speaker, and it comes with new features like using your speakers with the Bose Connect app, whilst also making the speakers operate with greater stability.
Thanks very much for your helpful article about PA system recommendations. I hope Bose & Sennheiser are kind to you! I upgraded to both recommended items & during testing at home & at a venue it worked perfectly, but once the ceremony started there was some audio issues; couple of those high pitches squeaks and I think a bit of cutting out. It wasn’t a disaster but also wasn’t great, and I’d like my audio to be as good as poss so just trying to figure it out before the next ceremony.
Sophie asks: “After a beach ceremony last weekend I vowed to never lug my massive speaker around again – its ridiculously heavy, I’m pregnant, plus sand = a terrible time. I loved your set-up at the conference and def did not write enough notes at that time about what was going on. Bose S1 Pro, check. If I go with 2 speakers like you had do they have to be connected with a cable? I don’t think yours did but some audio store people are telling me I’d have to? I’m not too tech savvy but have reasonable intelligence so I know I can work it all out when I get going. Ideally I’d like 2 speakers playing all audio at once – me speaking through a headset (something decent Rode or the like), couples into a handheld (Senheiser right?) and music played through Bluetooth. This is pretty much what I’ve told the few places I’ve approached so far but then it gets complicated quick when they’re talking to me about mixers and cables etc etc and I’m lost. Any quick and not too laborious help??
When I post on social media, I’ve got one plan in mind. Not to sell, not to do a deal, not to whinge or complain. I want to be known. So when people that like me make a decision about a celebrant, I’m who they think of. When I saw this recent meme about the mortifying ordeal of being known and loved it resonated with me so much I had to work it into a talk for our recent conference.
As you’re viewing this blog post you’ll note that in the URL bar, the part where you type the blah blah blah dot com bit, next to the domain name ‘celebrant.institute’ you’ll see a little padlock 🔓 icon that is a sign that this website is communicating with your web browser securely. If you share any information with this website, by logging in, making a comment, typing in a credit card number, or even just reading blog posts, that content is all secure. Running a secure website today is not only popular and a good look, but it is important for your brand identity and your search engine optimisation. As an example, here’s a screenshot of a website I visited today and I was surprised how negatively I felt about the brand knowing that they had not installed an SSL certificate on their website and made it a secure connection.
Liene at Think Splendid shares five powerfully simple ways to get more enquiries to your wedding celebrant business today. They’re so simple that you are hopefully already doing them, or if you’re not, this is a quick and swift reminder.
The art of MCing a wedding reception is definitely one most celebrants could master, but it’s a little different to being a marriage celebrant, so here’s master MC, Glenn Mackay, of G&M Event Group at the 2019 conference on how to perfect the art.
If you’re looking for more from Glenn he was a guest on the Celebrant Talk Show on a totally different subject, listen here.
If you want people to appreciate that what you offer is better, that what you offer is actually good, the market needs to have more actually good businesses in it. It seems like you should be able to stand apart by being good when surrounded by a sea of mediocrity, but real life rarely works that way. If you want people to appreciate that what you offer is better, that what you offer is actually good, the market needs to have more actually good businesses in it. It seems like you should be able to stand apart by being good when surrounded by a sea of mediocrity, but real life rarely works that way.
Everyone knows a guy who knows a guy who can get you on the front page of Google. I’d argue that you might not want to be on the front page of Google for everything, but it doesn’t hurt for the right people to be able to find you.
In this article I’m not going to add to the SEO noise, you can read a million articles about SEO practises and there are even more people willing to take your cash to make it work for you.
But if you don’t mind kicking around the shed that is your website, here’s a check list of things you can change or improve on, and they’re backed up with good research. As opposed to the standard old wives tale SEO advice that most people’s parent’s next-door neighbours are dishing out.
I believe with all my mind, body, and soul, that service people aren’t paid per hour, they’re paid for how much value they bring to that hour. So here’s my July challenge for all celebrants …
If I have ever brought you any value…
If my practice as a celebrant has inspired you, challenged you, or if I have personllay helped you in any way, can I ask for your help?
I’ve been telling couples that after their marriage ceremony the Queensland Births, Deaths, and Marriages will email them with “an opportunity to order their marriage certificate” but I had not actually seen one of those emails yet. I’m guessing you hadn’t either.
So here’s what the Qld BDM emails after you register a marriage online with them:
Some emails get quick replies from me, others have to wait a week. Sometimes I’ll go a few days without posting on social media, but I haven’t missed a wedding yet. I have a simple set of priorities in my life. My family, Britt and Luna, are first. Second is a marriage ceremony, third is my friendships and wider community and family. Fourth is sales and marketing, and replying to enquiries. Fifth is the admin side of the business, and sixth is tidying up my office.
Britt’s grandma always said that you should start how you want to finish.
Your stories are more powerful than you think. This article is about sharing the stories about you and your celebrancy that you’ve forgotten to share.
I’m flying to Europe soon and I’ve put in for a first class upgrade. On Qantas you can apply for an upgrade and it costs you thousands of frequent flyer points. That’s how you fly first class, either that or you pony up the cash for it. In the history of flying the smallest handful of people have been upgraded to first class on a whim.
But if you talk to most people that don’t fly that often they will share the myth that if you are dressed well, looking sharp, feeling pretty, and you are nice to the check-in staff, the boarding staff, and the cabin crew, that you will hopefully be chosen for an upgrade.
That’s the problem with the areas of life that we don’t touch on often, they’re filled with mystery and intrigue …
In the chaotic and wild adventure that planning and hosting a wedding is I always try to remain a calm, cool, friendly face to my couples. This sounds like a great idea, but you need systems and processes to allow yourself to be that cool and calm.
I was inspired recently by Hans Hofmann, the artist, who talked about simplicity as “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” …
Would you follow yourself on social media? If you saw that a friend of yours commented on one of your posts so it floated up to your news feed, and you clicked through to your profile, would you follow it?
In a post yesterday I described the hard work of finding your ‘Almost Nobody’. This, I argue, is your life’s work, and something that will forever be changing. A good example of me doing that work in my own business is by filtering out the ‘Everybody’ and making room for the ‘Almost Nobody’ to feel comfortable on my social media.
Almost Nobody, wants you to be their celebrant and that is really good news. Everybody, wants a celebrant that is nothing like you. This article will help you get that prized enquiry from Almost Nobody!
A few recent conversations with celebrants on social media have prompted me to the question: what is membership in a celebrant association for? Traditionally the associations lobbied the Attorney-General’s office, and the BDMs of each state, on our behalf – but that role has diminished seriously in recent years, with individual celebrants getting more done than an association has …
Stop talking, ask questions and listen, and you’ll learn about them. In order to think like your customer, you must focus on your customer. Your customer could be a prospect, an existing client, a boss, a co-worker, a friend or family member. Your desire should be to create value for your customer, not just to communicate information about you (or just talk about yourself), your company, products and services, and therefore you need to have walked in their shoes. Before you make your value pitch (in whatever form that takes), a prerequisite is having a deep sense of what your customer values.
We spend a lot of time looking at other celebrants, but here’s a helpful and practical way to look at your competitors and actually form a competitive advantage.
“Inside baseball” is one of my favourite Americanisms, it’s a figurative adjective meaning the details are appreciated by only a small group of insiders or aficionados. It usually refers to a detail-oriented approach to the minutiae of a subject, which requires such a specific knowledge about what is being discussed that the nuances are not understood or appreciated by outsiders.
Mark asks, I was hoping you could explain the etiquette for posting photos on your Website, Facebook and Instagram account when supplied by a professional photographer please.
Hi, I am a new country celebrant with three weddings booked late this year, early next year but none performed so far. I am attending a wedding expo soon ( in the country) and am not sure what to do. I have collaborated with a supplier to use an arbor, have my logo enlarged to easel size and have business cards. But wondering what else I need. I dont have photos of me officiating yet obviously. What information type material should I have with me, what questions do you usually get asked, do I just stand there and smile, “have chockies to reel them in”? Please help!!
Have you heard of sonder?
Elle asks: I have a wedding where I am marrying the couple on a boat, we are all going to get on and cruise for 10mins until the couple get a feeling like yep lets pull up here and then I will do their ceremony, then the boat will carry on for couple of hours whilst everyone has drinks, food and watches the sunset. So in regard to Location of marriage on paperwork, NOIM and Marriage Docs as I won’t know the coordinates until we literally pull up, do I just write the coordinates in quickly before I call everyone in to kick ceremony off or can I fill when we go to sign docs? And am I just writing the coordinates, or do I need to put the boats name also?
Veronica asks: How to you get clients to pay the booking fee, without sounding desperate or annoying?
Tori asks: I would really love to hear from you both (knowing that you prefer rehearsals Sarah, and you don’t tend to do them Josh), what is your approach to ensuring a ceremony runs as smoothly as possible and flows well when couples elect not to have a rehersal? As a new celebrant with just two ceremonies under my belt, I noticed a real difference between the first ceremony which had a rehearsal (with all the bridesmaids and groomsmen), and the second when the couple were quite adamant they preferred to go with the flow on the day. How do you go about still ensuring everyone involved feels comfortable and knows where to stand/where to move to during the ceremony when there is no rehearsal? I had a ‘talk through’ with my rehearsal-free couple and explained a few points to brief their bridesmaids/groomsmen with, but I don’t think this occurred as on the day I could some of the bridesmaids in particular were visibly confused/looked a little uncomfortable not knowing what they were doing. Any tips would be appreciated! Thanks 🙂 Tori
A celebrant friend has been going back and forth with a couple who want a celebrant that’s not her. Maybe they’ve been on the blogs and Pinterest and they’ve decided that this is how you deal with a celebrant, or maybe their friends and family have told them how to act this way, regardless, they are taking themselves on a different customer journey to the one my friend would normally take her couples on.
Today she asks, “should I fire them?”
Hello everyone, and thanks for bearing with us since December! As always, we love being in your ears, and here we are again with another episode of the Celebrant Talk Show Podcast 🙂 This episode we chat about:Sarah’s Cert IV training and how it works Marriage Celebrants Matters Autumn newsletterVIC BDM RIOThe Frustrated StateHow to go full-time as a celebrant
Kelly asks: What do we legally have to say? Just read guidelines and act section 45/46 and I’m reading we only need to say monitum and a couple the legal vow. I read/was trained that we have to introduce ourselves as the celebrant with the lucky job of marrying the shit outta the couple before us…but do we actually have to? I’m looking at making my intro less formal and hoping I’ve read it right.
My couples tell me they love it, wedding vendors are always surprised, and other celebrants are always blown away. They are bewildered by my ability to perform a marriage ceremony without a script or notes.
The recent post on sighting ID included some powerful language from the Attorney-General’s office:The Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for authorised celebrants is issued to assist celebrants to comply with the Marriage Act and Regulations. Ultimately it is up to the celebrant to comply with all of the requirements of the Act. I appreciate that some of the language used in the Guidelines is of a directive nature, rather than of best practice nature.Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Marriage Celebrants Section
For the past six months I have been pursuing a line of inquiry with the Attorney-General’s office Marriage Celebrants Section over the line in the Guidelines section 4.4.2: It is not acceptable for a celebrant to accept a NOIM and/or supporting documents via videoconferencing services such as Skype. Actual documentation must be received by the celebrant.
Tenielle asks: Hey guys, I’m hoping you can lend me some advice or wording to send to a couple. Met with them on Saturday and whilst they are lovely, the vibe was NOT there. Conversation was really stunted and it didn’t seem like a natural fit from my perspective. I’m really not wanting to take their booking, but I don’t know how to politely tell them, ‘Thanks but no thanks’. I’m especially aware of any legal obligations we have to marry couples and not discriminate against them.I would use the whole, ‘Sorry I’m double booked!’ route, but their date just opened for my bookings and that would be a blatantly obvious lie.
On a road near my house there’s a billboard that promises to expose my business to many thousands of people. A similar promise has been made by the producers of Married at First Sight and other TV shows. Everyone wants to sell us exposure. I would argue that exposure is the last thing we need.
The Unofficial Guidelines on the ‘Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Marriage Celebrants’ for Marriage Celebrants
Deb writes in asking “I appear to get myself into hot water time and time again, by saying that the Guidelines are just that GUIDELINES, and the act and the regs are the actual LAW. Am I right?”
Anka asks: I’m wanting to start blogging this year and making myself known as the “celebrant in the know” within my area with some personality thrown in as well but I’m not sure exactly how to start? Any suggestions or topics?
Anka asks: Lately I’ve noticed a lot of celebrants on Facebook have started advertising that they can do weddings overseas?? I didn’t think we could? Im presuming they might be just completing paperwork at the airport before they depart? Or did u miss something
Thoughts on creating remarkable work, as a marriage celebrant.
I’ve had a few people ask how I sign marriage paperwork on an iPad, and I had the grandest of intentions of preparing a fully professional video detailing that. However we’re expecting a baby any day now and I figured a low quality video with high quality information is better than no video at all…
Every time my car gets serviced, at 10,000km a service that’s about four to five times a year, I have this sinking feeling as I drive away from the mechanic’s workshop. After spending six odd hours away from me, and an average of $500 to $700 invoice, the car I drive away in feels pretty much the same as I brought to the workshop that morning at 8am…
Reading the news today I realised that after Kristy Merlino’s email and Mailchimp accounts were hacked, that Kanye West’s iPhone passcode is 00000 and that Facebook doesn’t care about your privacy – it might be possible that other people aren’t 1) as passionate about Internet privacy and security as I am, 2) and even if they were, they might not know how to protect themselves…
Old marketing would put the right message in the right place so the right people would find it. The celebrant would advertise in the wedding magazine because people having weddings bought wedding magazines. The tools were at the tool shop so people who needed tools would know where to buy them. The cheap services were advertised where cheap people shopped, and expensive services were advertised where people with too much money shopped…
Liene over at Think Splendid has published a super insightful blog post about how she prices herself for her speaking gigs.
I wonder if we as celebrants have considered not only our costs of doing business expenses, living wage, the average celebrant fee, the market’s response to fees, and everything else we can talk about when it comes to pricing yourself, but have we considered this important point.
There are only three positions you can take in any marketplace: First, Best, Cheapest. That’s not to say only three businesses can win in any marketplace, after all, there are almost 10,000 celebrants serving over 120,000 weddings in Australia every year, clearly there are more than three people winning.
Great question today: Let’s talk follow up emails. You’ve received an enquiry, or worse, have met with a couple. You’ve sent them an email back, but it’s crickets from their end. How do you word your emails to try and elicit a response from them? I don’t want to rush them, but at the same time I’ve got a business to run.
Sarita asks: I’m a relatively new celebrant and just after some advice on the world of wedding directories. There seem to be loads. Apart from the obvious ones like easyweddings, ABIA, there’s lots of smaller ones like polka dot bride, wedding guide, celebrant society, etc etc & a huge variation on how much it costs to list with them. Have you any tips, recommendations on where to go and where not to go. I feel like I should be listing somewhere (shouldn’t I?) but where to go!
Self-employed creatives can talk about price and fee until the end of time. I’ve had celebrants privately, publicly, to my face, and behind my back, make all of the comments about why I charge too much, or not enough, and how that’s a problem, or an opportunity.
“I just did my tax and I’m very frustrated!!! I need advice on what software or system to use to make it easier. Most I see are not designed for a sole owner operator that has not registered for GST (I earn less than 75k); they seem too complicated. I know what I earn and spend this shouldn’t be so frustrating. But I never know what category to put things in. I don’t know. What do you use? I have a subscription to 17hats I thought that might help but its basically designed for America.”
I don’t know.
If there’s anything you can expect from me today and into the future is that I’m not going to talk BS. The good news is that I know as much about Facebook advertising as most marketers and advertisers do, and they don’t know either, because there is no one perfect ad that will close all the deals and make all the bookings. So as much as I don’t know how to publish Facebook ads that work, I do know how to publish Facebook ads that work for me, so I’ll take you through that process and also weave in some professional best practises and see if we can’t help you.
A quick and easy weekend exercise for everyone today: read the front page of your website and your about page. Look at your recent social media posts and your bios on the networks. Are you talking about the product or the user?
A pertinent question about building and maintain an email list today: For anyone looking to follow your example of maintaining “an email list of all couples I meet at expos, fairs, open days, along with all who enquire with me” and sending them a weekly newsletter – are there any legal considerations or permission issues (opt in/opt out) we need to consider? Is it fine to just add any email address to a newsletter database or is there particular wording we need to use in sourcing those addresses for that purpose? Cheers.
Veronica asks: After reading this article and listening to the podcast “A tribute to the greatest episode in the world”, you mentioned speaker placement. Being a newbie to the industry, where would you suggest is the best place for the speaker so I majority can hear?
A question today about enquiries and how to increase our conversion: I have a question about converting enquiries as I am finding that I get a good amount of enquiries but feel my conversion rate could be way better. Wondering what I could be doing better or is there something I am not doing? Is it the language I am using in my initial contact too passive or boring? Or maybe I am giving them too much information? I currently do not have my price on my website so I am guessing some of the enquiries I am not converting are due to that and for follow up I send out a very short follow up email to them a about a month after not hearing anything. How do I better communicate to my leads in the initial enquiry stage to “seel the deal” with me or at least book an initial catch up meeting. Would love some constructive feedback on my “first email” and “welcome letter” attachment that I send as my first contact.
Ella asks: “Price points seem to be a hot topic everywhere… Would you recommend putting your fees on your website? Some celebrants display their price on their website, others don’t. Some also seem to provide services cheaper then a BDM wedding. Which poses that question that some people expect you to compete on price, they aren’t comparing the quality of service provided. Only the number they see on the page.” As Sarah noted, everyone has a different answer on this, and here is mine. Don’t count this post as the final word, it’s just a brain dump on a Wednesday afternoon. I’m sure this is a topic we’ll return to over and over, and I’d invite you to list your thoughts in the comments.
I’ll never forget my very first wedding expo, where I arrived to the convention centre so green that I didn’t realise there was an expectation that I would design a booth. So we painted a board with blackboard paint and brought it to the expo, along with the required chalk, and with minutes to go until the expo doors opened I had to think of something to write.
Tenielle asks: Just a quick question about intellectual property of ceremony drafts. Hasn’t happened to me, but have heard of stories of celebrants issuing a draft ceremony for the clients to look over, and then that ceremony being taken by the couple to a cheaper celebrant. Don’t know how true it is, but it did get me thinking about my own Ts and Cs and about how I could best protect myself at the end of the day. Look, I know how easy it is to forward on a PDF or a Word Document and there’s stuff all we can do about it at the end of the day, but it’s just another aspect of this job that’s been on my mind a bit lately.
It’s every business owner’s favourite time of the year: EOFYmas! As the End Of Financial Year celebrations takeover our lives I wanted to highlight the deductions I think we celebrants should be thinking of, and if you don’t have the record of these deductions from the past financial year, maybe try and keep them for this financial year.
I hope this goes without saying, but I’m not your accountant, I’m not the Australian Tax Office, and I’m not your mum, so make sure you run these things past those guys before taking my accounting advice as gospel. If you need an accountant, I can recommend mine but I’m sure there’s 100 within cat-swinging distance of your place.
Jo asks: 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.
The Celebrant Institute, this website, exists for celebrants who struggle with their competence. It’s ok, you’re not alone in thinking “maybe I could do better.” Marriage celebrancy is my full time job, it’s all I do, and more often than not I question how competent I am at running a business, providing for my family, performing marriage ceremonies. My encouragement to you today is that it’s ok, this is human, our brains hate us.
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!