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?”

Deb, I would tell you that you are totally correct. The Guidelines are not the law, the law is the law and the Guidelines are the Attorney-General’s office Marriage Celebrants Section legal team best interpretation of the Marriage Act of 1961 into circumstances and issues they perceive to be relevant to marriage celebrants.

So as much as the Guidelines are not the law, they are the boss’ best guess as to what the Marriage Act of 1961 means.

So what does this mean?

Well in my interpretation of the AG office’s interpretation of the law I would say that until communicated otherwise, listen to the Guidelines to the best of your ability and knowledge. Breaking a guideline won’t have the local AFP squad bursting down your door anytime soon. But where it might come into play is

  • in your professional review the AG’s office takes of you every now and then,
  • when talking to other celebrants and they don’t appreciate how rouge and crazy you are,
  • keeping your ass out of jail in sticky situations,
  • copying and pasting sections to couples trying to do dodgy shit.

With that said, the Guidelines indeed are not law, and the interpretation is merely that, a human’s best interpretation of the law. The best thing about Australian democracy is that you and I have the power and agency to push back on different issues.

Only recently the Australian public pushed back on the Howard Governent’s re-interpretation of the Marriage Act and Constitution and now everyone in Australia can get married, instead of a select community.

Sometimes we push back and we get the conflict of interest guidelines changed. The Marriage Act of 1961 did not change, but because of my multiple emails, phone calls, and meetings with the Attorney-General’s Marriage Celebrants Section the conflict of interest guidelines were changed. They changed their interpretation of the act because we stood up and questioned it.

Sarah pushed back on the recent misinterpretation of “one month’s notice” and the AG’s office changed the Guidelines.

I’m doing the same thing at the moment in regards to sighting evidence of identity and birth. The Electronic Transactions Act says that “ensures that a transaction under a Commonwealth law will not be invalid simply because it was conducted through electronic communication. If a Commonwealth law requires you to: give information in writing, provide a handwritten signature, produce a document in material form, record or retain information, the Electronic Transactions Act means you can do these things electronically.” So Commonwealth Law actually overrules the Guideline’s guidelines. I’m not telling you to accept passports over email, but until such time as the Guidelines are updated I’ll let you and your lawyer figure it out. Or you can do like I am and email every month until they reply. (Spoiler alert, they don’t reply).

So the Guidelines are just that, guidelines, and the Marriage Act of 1961 is the law that would be argued in court, but unless you want to have every celebrant in the country making complaints about you (it’s so much fun having your lawyer reply to all those emails) I recommend staying within the goal posts set out by the AG’s office unless you have a conviction that the Guidelinesshould change, and when you have that conviction, start with an email, end with a blog post like this one.

These are bad vows, I’m out

Thanks for having us in your ears again! This episode we catch up on what’s been going on in both our lives over the past three months, we follow up on a few issues from the last episode, and we chat about what’s to come in 2019! Topics covered include:

Opportunity for a Melbourne celebrant wanting to go full time

Sarah and I have been talking to a Paul Carr, an entrepreneur, friend, and founder of Nudo about trying to find a match between his new wedding venue venture and celebrants.

His idea is packaging entire weddings, from venue to celebrant and everything in-between, by having all of the vendors on a wage. Obviously celebrants can’t be on staff at a venue due to the conflict of interest, but you can do a deal where you do ceremonies for them at an agreed rate.

Fitting into this model may not appeal to all, but I’m willing to bet there are a few that would benefit from the time in the air.

My personal thought is that if you’re new, or new-ish, consider this a year long apprenticeship. The best place to learn about celebrancy is at the end of the aisle and Paul will put you in front of 50-odd weddings in a year.

The added bonus is that Paul pays for your Celebrant Institute membership while you’re at Nudo so you have the support of Sarah and I directly.

From Paul:

Nudo has brought together a team of wedding specialists to offer complete end-to-end packages for wedding couples. They have assembled an awesome team and the last piece of their puzzle is finding an amazing celebrant.

If anyone would like to join our team, we can offer you 50+ weddings in the next 12 months. Nudo will:

  • cover the cost of all sales and marketing
  • offer you a minimum 50 weddings
  • develop a website, brand and portfolio for you to use at your own discretion

If you’re interested, reach out to Paul Carr at

Scheduling multiple ceremonies in a day


Sean asks “Do you have any advice on taking multiple bookings in a day? Accounting for travel time of course what’s the minimum amount of time you leave yourself in between ceremonies, and is this something you discuss with your couples at all?”

Only members have access to the full article – To access all of the advice and content on the Celebrant Institute website, and to ask questions, you need to be a paid member and if you already are a member, log in here.

Membership is $10 a month, and because we can tell you’re keen to check the site out, if you join via this link only, we’ll give you a three day free trial so you can cancel if you don’t love us like our mothers do.

Old marketing versus new marketing, example 503,000,091

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.

New marketing requires you to be found, to be stumbled across. For someone to tell someone else “look over there” and when they do, they’re pleasantly surprised as they find an opportunity to invest some of their money in something that resonates with their worldview, their needs, and their wants. New marketing is about aligning stories, creating serendipity, wonder, and aww. New marketing is a long term investment with even longer term gains.

New marketing isn’t about price, it’s about value, identity, authenticity, vulnerability, and care.

The art of differentiation

“Differentiation starts with the choice to do one thing well” says Bernadette at The Story of Telling blog.

I wanted to break that powerful statement down and offer up some food of thought for celebrants today.

The choice

Your celebrant practise, the act and art of you being the celebrant you are is a choice. It may well be that “every” celebrant does it “that way” or that there is an accepted or traditional method of doing something, but you still make the choice. Even if the choice is to change nothing and do the same as everyone else.

To do

The art of being different requires doing. Then failing, flailing, and falling, and finking (I really wanted all the words to start with F), and facing forwards and doing again.

No-one’s been different by not doing.

The truth is that you’ll actually find out how different you are a year or two after you start the doing and you’ll actually be a whole lot weirder and more wonderful than you ever could have imagined.

One Thing

I see celebrants worldwide offer up every single service and ceremony you could think of. If you don’t think you’ve found your difference yet, my challenge to you is to narrow that down to one thing, at least at the start. I’m not saying you can’t do funerals and weddings, but if you’re failing at finding your footing in both, put one on ice for a season and make the choice to do one thing …


You are really bad at a large number of things. I know I’m terrible at earthmoving, kitesurfing, video games, carpentry, the list goes on, but I would count my successes to figuring out what I can do well. 

My question for you, and for the comments, is what do you think you do well. Shout your own praises from the comments section.

And secondly, if you know another member of this community does something well but they need to hear it, mention it in the comments. Or at least send them a text.

Help others make the choice to do one thing well.

Calculating your fee

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.

How much value are we bringing to our couples?

How much better is their life, their wedding, their marriage, because of what we say and do?

It might cost us $100 to be a celebrant, and the average fee might be $200, and you’d like $300, but what if we are actually bringing $400 of value to our couples’ lives, and what if we had the potential inside of us already to bring $500 of value.

What if we revolutionised the whole game and our couples walked away $600 richer in their soul because their marriage was breathed into life by someone who cared?

Just some food for thought for all of us.

Is that wedding today?

Hello again and thanks for tuning into The Celebrant Talk Show podcast! This episode we chat about:

  • wedding planners
  • receiving identity documents electronically
  • Celebrant software: which package is bettter?
  • the importance of paying your registration fee as soon as you receive the invoice
  • what happens when a party isn’t consenting?

Let us know any thoughts!

Giving your clients what they want: bad deal

I have been simmering on the idea that our clients don’t actually know what they want, despite almost all wedding vendor websites claiming to give them whatever they want, for quite a while now.

I even had half an article drafted, and then today Liene at Think Splendid wrote this great piece and it nailed the whole idea.

If you offer clients “what they want” without offering your expertise and insight, then your clients are actually getting a bad deal. You are getting paid for your professional opinion: speak up.

Read her piece here then maybe edit your marketing materials to reflect the professional you are. Or if you don’t have a professional opinion, develop one, or shut down. When your clients hire a celebrant, they’re hiring an amazing skilled and talented professional, not a “by the hour” legal signatory to some documents.

Joining an association, Josh’s view

Jo asks

What professional association do I join? One? Two? All? I know this is tricky question and high levels of diplomacy may be required – but how does a newbie choose between the associations? My RTO has given no advice and all associations seem to offer the same or similar benefits.

The good news is that you don’t have to join a celebrant association, it’s a choice you get to make. As for which association, and there’s many, you ought to look at the benefits membership brings you.

As I skim the membership benefits pages of many of the associations, I see insurance being offered by many, although because of my corporate structure I have public liability insurance separately, some offer celebrant software, some offer copyright licensing, and others offer mentoring, meetings, and online forms and Facebook groups (oh so many Facebook groups), and if pushed I personally don’t see immediate benefit to many of them outside of discounted insurance.

Liaising with the Attorney-General’s department

There is however an important aspect of celebrant associations that many associations are dropping, that’s their liaising with the AGD office.

From this week’s issue of Marriage Celebrant Matters

The department met with marriage celebrant associations on 2 May 2018. Sixteen celebrants representing fourteen celebrant associations were in attendance. Issues discussed included improving consultation approaches between associations and the department, changes to the Marriage Act 1961 for marriage equality, and consultation activities including the review of official marriage forms. The meeting also included a presentation by the Department of Finance on the Australian Government Charging Framework. The department held a teleconference with associations on 10 August 2018 and the next face to face meeting is scheduled for mid-October.

Celebrant associations have a seat at the table with the AGD.

Our AGD needs to be held accountable to decisions they make, plus there needs to be open communication between that office and the celebrant population. In recent times our own Sarah Aird has taken that upon herself and if we don’t support associations, or have one worth joining, this kind of work will fall on individual shoulders.

Maybe that’s what the future of marriage celebrancy in Australia looks like?

Celebrancy: The price

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

Henry David Thoreau

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.

Everyone has an opinion on price.

Because our price is so closely linked to our soul, our heart, our skill, and as Henry says: the amount of life you exchange.

How much life are you exchanging per wedding? Are you charging a fair price, or giving away your most valuable asset for free?

Getting your financials in order

A pertinent question today as many of us look at last year's financials and taxes and we're in a place where we can make a real effort to make sure our life in July 2019 is a happier one:

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.

The GST question isn't overly important in this issue; most software today can easily adapt to changing to being GST registered, but the question of what software to use, and how to use it, is important. Read More

Podcast: The one about the wedding porn

Hello again and thank you for having us in your ears! In this episode we chat about the importance of exchanging value and not simply expecting things for free, we give a rundown of what we’ve written about for the Celebrant Institute over the past month, and we talk a bit about Vic BDM’s new online system (spoiler alert, it’s coming “soon”). Let us know your thoughts or questions at!

How to publish Facebook ads that work

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. Read More

The do’s and don’ts of email marketing

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.

So there's three issues to address here:

  1. Consent to being added to a list
  2. Sending commercial messages versus sending spam
  3. Once you've identified that you're within the law, are you sending an email worth sending

Read More

How to get professional photos to share on your socials

A common conversation amongst everyone in the wedding industry who is not a wedding photographer is asking photographers for photos.

It’s great when you get them, it means your social media feeds have a professional feel over an iPhone photo feel, and it’s literally their job to make art out of events so their photos are always going to be better than yours.

This is a free article from the Celebrant Institute – please freely share and check out our home page if you’re interested in becoming a member

Some ground rules:

  1. Start this process knowing that no photographer owes you photos. They simply don’t, so if you get a photo, they’re doing you a favour.
  2. Never screenshot photos, just don’t, when you screenshot images you take a large high resolution beautiful photo and then recapture it at the size of your phone. It’s like a taking a photo of a photo and it’s the first way to annoy your photographer friends.
  3. Do not edit, crop, change the colour of, or add a filter to any photographs you are given. This is art, and 99 times out of one hundred, you can’t make it better. And if you do edit the photo, then credit the photographer, your’e telling the world that the photographer had the final say on those colours, so maybe if you really like that filter, ask the photographer if they think it’s an improvement.
  4. Different photographers will have different rules for use, but unless they state otherwise, I would assume that these are only to be used in social media posts and blog posts that I own. So I’m not to send them to a wedding magazine or blog, submit them anywhere, or use them on billboards. If I was going to print photos for use in wedding fairs, billboards, or in marketing material, I would generally ask if it was ok.
  5. The easiest way to share photos and give honour to the photographer is to share their blog, Facebook, or Instagram post natively. Natively means not-screenshotting the images, but clicking share on Facebook, so the original post is shared. On Instagram this means sharing their post or story to your own story.

Now that we’ve discussed rules, let’s talk about how to get them.

How to ask

This is the easy part. Asking photographers for their photos is as simple as asking. I prefer email because they can reply in their own time, but if you’re already in conversation with the photographer, perhaps on Instagram DM or Facebook Messenger, then simply pose the question.

Try not to ask on the wedding day, don’t offer business cards or get them to write down your details. On the wedding day we are all-hands-on-deck and no-one cares about tomorrow’s Instagram post.

What to ask?

Can I share some photos from the wedding, I promise to play by your rules, always credit and not edit. You can use whichever words you want, but keep it simple, don’t waste their time, and be polite. (It sounds like a redundant thing to ask, but I’ve seen some of your emails)

Credit and not edit

When posting the photo/s, as early as your story allows credit the photographer. I like to try and make it a little bit cute and personal to, like how I’ve credited Michael Briggs in this Instagram post.

Be sure to @mention them, which means before you start constructing the post you’ve identified what their Instagram username is, if you’re on Facebook, you’ve done the same, and if it’s on a blog then you’re linking back to their website, or if you want to get tricky and they’ve blogged the same wedding, link to their blog post.

On Facebook @mentions work differently than on Instagram, you start with the @name but then choose their business page from the drop down list so it looks like Dan O’Days name on this post.

Pro wedding hack: search for your wedding venue on Google and Apple Maps, and if it's not the right location tap "…

Posted by Married By Josh on Thursday, January 4, 2018

You’re welcome to word and caption to your heart’s content, just make sure it is clear that you didn’t take the photo and that if you’re interested in finding out who the photographer is, that you can click a link.

A quick note on @mentions on Facebook: Each Facebook page has a username and a “display name”. For example my own Facebook username is marriedbyjosh but my display name is Married By Josh.

If you visit a business’ Facebook page you’ll generally see the display name like mine in this screenshot “Married By Josh” and the username beneath.

When creating the post you can start typing @marriedbyjosh and my display name should come up for selection, or if you start typing @married by josh the same drop down box should appear.

When to ask

Sarah notes in the comments, and my friend James Day, both add good notes about when to ask. The average wedding photo contract promises delivery in under eight weeks, and the average delivery time is three to five weeks. So I’d be setting a timer/reminder/note to not ask the day after the wedding but to wait about six weeks.

Final note, what can you give?

This whole post has been about what you can get from a photographer, but consider what you could give as well. If you’re a marriage celebrant you know the couple’s story, and possibly even some vows. They’ve got the photos but you’ve got the captions. You need to be respectful of your couples’ privacy, and not share too much, but I’ll ask couples if they don’t mind some of their story being told in social media, plus those that book me see me doing it for others, and if they would like it to be private, they’ll let me know.

If you’re not a celebrant reading this guide, then maybe there’s other value you can bring to a photographer. Don’t feel like this whole experience requires give and take, but it’s the human way of operating, so at least offer a thanks and if someone’s looking for a photographer, don’t be afraid to refer them.

Five ways to make your ceremonies better

A recent Seth Godin post about presentations of the corporate/Microsoft Powerpoint kind, spurred me on to thinking about our presentation style as celebrants. My ceremony presentation style has it's roots in a) what I'm good at and b) what I like. Yours should too, so don't read this and feel judged or ashamed. If your style is you at your best, and in a style that you would like to receive, then be proud. Hopefully these five points might inspire you to expand your presentation style and take you out of your comfort zone, which can only make you better. Read More

Podcast: We don’t think you’re smart enough to get two emails in the one day

We recorded this episode on 6 July 2018, before Sarah had a chance to read the fact sheet from the AGD about the change in the one month’s notice period, so we don’t discuss that in the episode. Sarah will write more about that change soon; suffice to say she’s fighting it because she believes it’s a mis-interpretation of the Acts Interpretation Act.

What do we talk about in the episode?

  • Adam’s question about whether or not to discount to get your first client as a new celebrant, and whether or not to advertise on an aggregate site such as Easy Weddings
  • Victoria BDM’s new online registration system
  • The Celebrant Institute: what it is, why we’re doing it, and why we hope you’ll support us!

As always, please check in at if you have any questions or anything you’d like us to talk about in future episodes!

In praise of the not-young celebrant

This is a free article from the Celebrant Institute - please share with other celebrants and check out our home page if you're interested in becoming a member

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.

Some words that would draw the crowds in and pay my rent.

"Fine young celebrant" was my first draft that lasted day one of three at the expo. In hindsight, expecting everyone to heavily appreciate my play on words, was my first mistake. My second was that no-one wanted a "fine" celebrant.

Day two brought with it a wet cloth, a clean blackboard, and a second draft that became my tagline for the next few years: "Fun young celebrant!" Read More

2018 OPD with Sarah on the Gold Coast?

If you’re a celebrant in Southeast Queensland or Northern New South Wales that would like to complete their OPD (ongoing professional development) commitment with The Oracle, Sarah Aird (through Qualtrain) we can do it if we get 30 people in the room.

Completing OPD in a room with likeminded people and an awesome trainer beats the ass off completing OPD online or in PDFs.

So follow this link and select which dates work for you.

Once a date has 30 people’s names next to it we’ll email you with the registration details.

How to protect the copyright of your ceremony scripts

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.

So there are three angles I'm going to answer this question from:

  1. copyright law, knowing it and protecting yourself
  2. sending scripts
  3. why is your script stolen

And I'll start with the most important one (in my humble opinion): Read More

Get testimonies that matter

Celebrants offer such a personal service, your service is very different to mine, to every other member of this website, and the thousands of other celebrants available. We can communicate our differences in text and photos on our website, through blog and social content, and by meeting people but meeting every single enquirer can become tiresome.

So, let me introduce you to a secret warrior in my sales toolkit: testimonies.

Couples I have already married, via a testimony, are the most experienced people to tell new couples how I am different from other celebrants, whilst also confirming that I am indeed the person talked about on the website and social media.

Testimonies are social proof that you're not a dud, not a scam artist, but you are indeed a person who does the thing you say you do. Because here's the tip no-one else is telling you: in a world where anyone can start a website or social media account, we're looking for indicators that you're authentically, honestly, who you say you are. Read More

2017-2018 Tax deductions for celebrants

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. Read More

Portable PA speaker system purchasing advice

This is a free article from the Celebrant Institute - please share with other celebrants and check out our home page if you're interested in becoming a member

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.

Jo, you are so correct, this is one of my favourite subjects. Well before I was a celebrant with opinions on PA systems I was a guest at weddings and even regular events where I struggled to hear the person speaking. Nothing frustrates my brain more than being able to see the lips moving but the sound isn't in my ears. In fact, good stage designers and performance creators base their decisions on the audience's five senses being in line with what they are trying to deliver. Can the audience member at the front, middle, and rear, see, hear, feel, smell, and taste exactly what we want them to. Read More

The only thing you can rely on in the wedding business

This afternoon a couple got engaged and they have never heard of you, they've not made any decisions about their wedding, and it's highly likely they don't know anything about the wedding industry, how it works, what things cost, and who does what.

The only thing you can rely on in the wedding industry is that today a couple got engaged and all of your previous branding, marketing, advertising, and godowill in the market means nothing. Read More

Maybe I’m incompetent?

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.

But there’s also a chance that we could be better, so the Celebrant Institute serves that space, for celebrants who are already celebranting but want to be better.

As part of this betterment I’d like to introduce you to the Dunning-Kruger effect. The effect is this: people who think they’re incompetent are not in-fact incompetent, because people who are incompetent are not competent enough to realise their own incompetence.

So if you have any illusion of high-functioning competence, you are most likely incompetent.

And if you query your own competence, perhaps even thinking you are indeed incompetent, you are not incompetent, but instead you are on the scale of competence. I’m willing to bet you’re even more competent than you imagine.

So if you find yourself on this spectrum of competence, that is, you’re not incompetent as a celebrant, but you also don’t think you’re so competent that you’re probably actually incompetent, then come along for the ride as Sarah and I answer your questions about the legal side of marriage celebrancy, the business and marketing side of celebrancy, and of course the performance aspects. We’ll cover it all, and all we ask is that if you value that kind of contribution to your competence, you put your money where your mouth is and become a member.

Ten reasons you should take credit card payments

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. Read More

Podcast: I’ve watched celebrants read a newspaper

Thanks so much for having us in your ears again! This episode covers the following:

  • Sarah’s experience performing Eurydice Dixon’s funeral
  • IGTV
  • Paperwork only, legals only, registry style wedding and the legalities surrounding them
  • Copyright for marriage celebrants. Check out the great information on COCA’s website:
  • Exhibiting at wedding expos: styling, collecting info from couples, other tips and tricks

During the episode we talk about how many marriages are firsts for the couple, and Sarah promised to look up the official stats. According to the ABS 2016 data (that’s the most recent we have; the 2017 data will be released in November 2018), 81.2% of all brides and 79.3% of all grooms had not married previously. So Josh was right with his 80% estimate, and Sarah was also right that some of my couples have one partner who has been married before and one who hasn’t!

Finally, head over to and sign up for the mailing list to be the first to know what Josh and Sarah are cooking up next!

As always, drop us a line at if you have any questions or comments 🙂

Listen directly, in the embed below, or subscribe

Podcast: A tribute to the greatest episode

We know, we know, it’s been a long time since we were both in your ears together. We’re sorry and we’ll try to do better!

We know you missed us, so we spent most of the episode talking about some major changes in the legalities of how we do our work:

– changes to the gender and sex questions on the NOIM through an updated Compulsory OPD booklet

– the new Marriage Regulations 2017

– the new Draft Guidelines on the Marriage Act

Hopefully we won’t bore you too much with this boring but important information 🙂

Listen directly, in the embed below, or learn how to subscribe on your device.

Podcast: Gay weddings are not a thing

This is a really important conversation for celebrants to have, because the words, the conversations, communications, inside a wedding are our responsibility. Lara is one of the heads behind Dancing With Her, a publication for LGBTQ+ women in love. Se’s a guest on today’s Celebrant Talk Show to help us use more inclusive, and friendly, language as celebrants and wedding professionals.

Listen directly, in the embed below, or learn how to subscribe on your device.

Podcast: We’re not so desperate anymore

As always, thanks for tuning in! In the episode recorded on 22 March 2018, we talked about:

  • funerals – the world of funerals has been pretty slow in Melbourne throughout February and March, and we talked about how we can manage a seasonal business
  • custom made coffins – Josh talked about meeting a graphic designer who works for a coffin manufacturer Expressions Coffins designs beautiful wraps for standard coffins, that can reflect the personality of the deceased. Definitely worth a look if you’re interested in the world of funerals!
  • Official Certificate of Marriage and DONLIM template – the lovely Peter Willington was good enough to design some writeable PDF templates for the OCM and DONLIM, but we’ve found some users having issues with them, so we discuss the solution. Shout out if you’re still having trouble…
  • second weddings – how do we deal with couples who’ve already been legally married and are now having a big ceremony with their friends and family involved? We know that we have to make it clear it’s not a legal ceremony, but some couples are really unhappy about this. We talk about how we manage this with our couples.
  • gender vs sex on the Notice of Intended Marriage – that pesky descriptor question is a tricky one, and we talk about how Sarah’s advice in an earlier episode wasn’t strictly on point…
  • cancellations, refunds, contracts – having a contract or at least some terms and conditions around cancellations and refunds is super important. Have a look at Josh’s contract at

As always, let us know any questions!

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Podcast: It’s the Mabo of the thing

We know it’s been a while, but welcome back to The Celebrant Talk Show! In this episode we’re responding to questions from you, our lovely listeners. Feel free to send us your questions by email to, or even record yourself asking us your question and send us the audio file!

In this episode we look at:

– what’s going on (or not going on) with New South Wales BDM’s online marriage registration system
– insight into Customer Relationship Management software, in particular Tave and Studio Ninja. If any of you have had personal experience with 17Hats, Dubsado, or any other system, we’d love to hear about it and share it with our listeners!
– how to marry people in Bali (legally here first, emotionally there second)
– how to write the couple’s story – it’s much easier once you have a real live couple to work with! Sarah tells us how she approaches writing a couple’s story, and Josh tells us why he doesn’t write a story at all.
– all things “vibe” – tips and tricks for getting guests in the mood, engaging with the guests and the couple, and dealing with tough crowds
– some tricky legal questions about parties’ fathers and whether or not they should be listed on the NOIM, and about evidence of legal name changes
– who can witness a NOIM, specifically under the title “legally qualified medical practitioner” – download this list of medical specialties registered by the Medical Board of Australia. If the qualification isn’t on this list, they can’t witness the signatures on a NOIM!

As always, we want to know what you think and what you want to hear more of. Hit us up on Facebook or by email at! Thanks for listening 🙂

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Podcast: I think I’ve already mentioned this

Welcome back to another edition of the celebrant talk show. In this edition we cover which BDM’s are on track in regards to marriage equality, hetero-normativeness in our wedding businesses, and address Guy ‘Cliffo’ Clifton’s question on processes in our businesses.

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Podcast: Stupid questions about marriage equality

Marriage equality has come to Australia! Finally! And it came in like a wrecking ball, changing EVERYTHING for marriage celebrants whilst also delivering equality, love, and compassion to a large part of our population.

There’s so many questions to be asked about marriage equality and what it means for celebrants, so we hope you enjoy this ep – Josh is sorry for his terrible audio quality, it was recorded in a Brisbane co-working space which was noisey and echoey, sorry!

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Podcast: Top ten tips for new marriage celebrants

A podcast by request! Emily wrote in and asked for some tips for new celebrants, so here we are, with Josh and Sarah’s top ten tips for new wedding celebrants!

  1. Network, network, network –  with anyone in the marriage industry
  2. Find a buddy/mentor
  3. Read the Guidelines to the Marriage Act cover to cover, and look at them regularly when you have a question
  4. Watch lots of ceremonies to find out different ways of doing things
  5. Learn how to business
  6. Figure out your differentiator, your point of difference
  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
  8. Learn from other industries – business-wise – and ceremony wise
  9. Attend OPD in person! (not distance)
  10. PA system/tech gear
  11. 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.

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Podcast: The one where we throw eggs at Sarah

Get your eggs ready folks, for once Sarah Aird says something controversial. Don’t worry though, anything she said is not as bad as whatever Josh has to say.

This episode is all about money, how much celebrants charge, why they charge what they charge, and we touch on the topics of price-fixing in the celebrant industry and why marriage celebrants should charge cold hard cash for the wedding ceremonies they perform. Show notes below.

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On pricing, by Dally Messenger:

When Funeral Celebrants began in 1974, they inherited a culture.

The Funeral Director was in charge of the dignified disposal of the body.

The Church was in charge of the ceremony.

Funeral Directors ingratiated themselves with the clergy, because the clergy gave them work. As they presided at the last rites, the priest would recommend the Funeral Director who best understood that church’s ceremonial routine.

The clergy were the rulers of the roost – what they said went.

But the clergyman, strictly speaking, was not paid. He received a small amount of money as a gift – known as a stipend, It was presumed that the dead person had well and truly paid for his funeral in advance by his weekly offerings when he attended church.

Then came civil celebrants – who had not been paid “in advance” and who did not do, could not do, a “one size fits all” ceremony as the clergy had done.

But the Funeral Directors only paid celebrants the clergy “stipend”.

After the initial joy and sense of achievement had passed, many celebrants realised they could not pay the bills. Two things happened. Many celebrants ceased doing the work. Others lowered their standards of preparation and delivery. In Australia most of us had weddings to fall back on. A few who had private means kept a high standard and still do.

While this was happening a group of celebrants, of which I was part, politely confronted the better Victorian Funeral Directors and argued that we, in justice, should be paid more than the clergy. Two firms agreed – a Rob Allison of John Alison Monkhouse and Des Tobin of Tobin Bros Funerals. They gave us about double the clergy stipend. For a long while, funeral celebrancy in Victoria flourished.

But Victoria is but one state in Australia – and in the other states the funeral celebrants lacked political will, and to this day they only receive the clergy “stipend”.

Church attendance, however, has declined dramatically so the clergy (about 20% of funerals, we are 80%) have been demanding more.

The field is full of developments – not the least of which has been the takeover of most of the small funeral firms by the big corporation Invocare, whose one ideal is profit according to the norms of why corporations exist. In NSW there is now a campaign to have “the family” prepare and deliver the funeral to make their bill look less and to exercise their power ( They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV advertising every day.).

In 1997, after I was paid $150 for a celebrity funeral that took about 50 hours to prepare and deliver and had 8500 people attending, I started a “Contact the Celebrant first” campaign and declared that I would only work for an hourly rate, from that moment on.

Needless to say, the Funeral Directors (except for one or two) blacklisted me and much more.

So I only dealt with my own constituency (people whom I knew and for whom I had performed ceremonies). I was up front about an hourly rate and a ball park figure.

I averaged $1500AUD (850 GBP) to $2000AUD (1130 GBP) per funeral. I am mostly retired now but I averaged 2 per month for a long while – one month I did 5. As I have always had an income from weddings I never became worried.

An hourly rate is fair – my clients have never given me a complaint – the general public is not the problem – the funerals directors are, and it is not only money it is a question of power.

A final note – I nearly always perform 90% of a funeral ceremony at a venue away from the Crematorium. I average an hour to an hour and a quarter per ceremony – I think a good life deserves a worthy tribute, and I see the funeral service as a very serious responsibility.

Podcast: The only podcast officially banned by the AFCC!

Welcome to the only podcast that’s officially banned by the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants. We’d like to thank our families and our industry colleagues for supporting us thus far!

Seriously though, here’s another sweet podcast episode, enjoy!

  • Emily asks for a podcast episode with top tips for new celebrants, we’ll release it soon!
  • Marriage celebrant matters, the AGD newsletter is out and boy is it fun/boring. We deliver a blow by blow recap of this industry-defining PDF file.
  • CoCA comments “we don’t want the right to discriminate” in the SMH
  • Send in your feedback – why are you, or are you not, a member of an association
  • The Marriage Act (legislation) has not changed yet, so we can’t accept notices (NOIMs) for same sex couples until the marriage act allows us to.  On the 23rd of November the current statement is “celebrants are currently not able to accept a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) from same-sex couples.”
  • BDM (Births, Deaths and Marriages) chat on the new Queensland BDM online marriage registration system, NSW’s Lifelink and Victoria’s Marriages online, and why you might want to, or not use them. Facebook post to the new forms in beta release from the Qld BDM. When the new Qld BDM online system goes live, you’ll access it here.

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Podcast: Never seen paperwork fly like that

Two marriage celebrants with wedding hangovers bring you this November 6 episode of the Celebrant Talk Show,

In follow-up Evie writes in on the topic of titles for the individuals booking celebrants, and Sean asks how does Josh sign marriage paperwork on an iPad.

Topics covered in this talk show

  • AFCC advertising in the “Qantas magazine” – see the ad
  • Stat dec required for proof of date and place of birth – download the template
  • Listing your pricing and packages live on your website for the public to see
  • WTF?!? “CoCA does not support the September 2017 guidelines and position paper on the Conflict of Interest and Benefit to Business because the Policy does not uphold the professionalism of celebrants and the consultation process was flawed.” – read the statement

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Podcast: I’m not a scientist, it’s way above my pay-grade

Josh gets slammed for attempting to secretly rebrand his business, Sarah discusses how marriage equality will change everything and nothing for civil marriage celebrants, the AGD’s biggest job is trying to figure out how to politely name the two parties to the marriage on forms, and that’s our problem as well. Welcome to episode 2 of the all new Celebrant Talk Show.

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