Author: Josh Withers

Words to an aspirational celebrant

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.

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How to video chat really well

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.

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What it means when they say that weddings are coming back

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.

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When a bushfire ravages a land

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.

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Witnessing a NOIM over Zoom in the COVID-19 lockdown

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.

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When you are not different even Google is against you

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 …

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You’ve asked some great questions about the service contract

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.

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The Coronavirus should remind you to get this one important thing

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.

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“Ceremony writing is my least favourite part”

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.

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Changing from selling to serving

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!

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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.

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Moving town as a celebrant

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.

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You don’t have to do everything

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.

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What are your travel fees for?

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!

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Will a hot outdoor wedding cook my PA system?

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?

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How to make marriage paperwork PDFs, and where to send them

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.

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Which iPad and which apps do you recommend for celebrants?

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.

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Comparing a Josh wedding ceremony and a Sarah ceremony

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.

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When you’ve got an odd name pronunciation

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.

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