Blog

Be exceptional

Be exceptional

If your celebrant offering, your service, the thing you're selling, is the same as everyone else's, or appears the same, or you portray it as the same, then potential clients will look for the lowest price. Raise your rates. Create demand. Separate yourself from the...

Blogging is coming back!

Blogging is coming back!

In 1997 the term “web log” was shortened to blog and ever since common people like you and I have had the power to write and publish on the internet. For the longest time it was the only way you shared your mission, your life, your opinion, your story.

Marriage statistics 2022

Marriage statistics 2022

It's marriage statistics release day, which as many of you know is my favourite nerdy day of the year! So here's my annual rundown of the marriage statistics for 2022. You know how in Victoria in particular we were all run off our feet catching up with all the COVID...

Embracing DMARC: A Must-Do for Celebrants

Embracing DMARC: A Must-Do for Celebrants

With the digital sphere becoming more integral to our work, it’s crucial we stay abreast of changes that impact how we connect with our couples and our industry. Today, I want to demystify a term that’s been floating around and is about to become even more significant: DMARC.

How to get featured in the media

How to get featured in the media

If you've ever heard my story of going full-time as a wedding celebrant you can skip the next three paragraphs. I'd already been plugging away at celebrancy, not getting quite as much traction as one would like, for four years. One year earlier I'd done my first...

Collecting email addresses at a wedding fair with a QR code and ChatGPT

Collecting email addresses at a wedding fair with a QR code and ChatGPT

Luke emailed me yesterday as I was about to solve for myself the problem he identified: What software would you recommend to use for a marketing list? Again are there any zaps or workflows in setting up the marketing list?

Great question Luke! I’ve been toying around in this realm for a while and have regrettably landed on the most expensive solution around: Active Campaign. I’m going to show you how I created a Zapier zap to collect email addresses at a wedding fair and get ChatGPT to send each person an email instantly after they scanned the QR code and entered their email address. It was such a smooth and professional workflow, I’m really happy with it. But before I show you how I created that I want to talk about email marketing for a moment. Email marketing is amazing and horrible. It’s amazing because people who identify with you and how you roll can and will give you their email address, and you have the opportunity to bring value back to their inbox via marketing emails. It’s horrible because trying to land in someone’s actual email inbox and not their spam folder is an arduous exercise that even yours truly finds hard, and tiring, and annoying. So you’ll try the cheaper products, then you’ll try MailChimp, and the rest of them, and marketing folklore tells us that if you are serious about this you end up on Active Campaign. so that’s where I am. Whenever someone enquires with me, books with me, or if I interact with them at an open day or wedding fair, that email address heads into my Active Campaign contacts list and I try my hardest to bring them immense value and joy. Not spam. So let’s have a look at this zap to collect emails at a wedding fair.

Start playing with generative AI

Start playing with generative AI

The best way to understand computers forever is that they work on a GIGO system. Garbage in, garbage out. Whatever you put in gets computed and is spat back out at you. If it’s garbage in, you get garbage out. So here are a few things you can try to get your hands dirty this week, some ways to put some garbage in and see what comes out.

How to become a celebrant

How to become a celebrant

How many times do we all hear it from a friend, a wedding industry colleague, or someone at a wedding, that they think they'd make a great celebrant and they want more information on it. After being asked the question a thousand times ourselves, Sarah and I developed...

Chat and AI is going to change your entire business

Chat and AI is going to change your entire business

Four points that you should take away from this article: 1) The power of the first-mover and the advantages you can take from being one. 2) Social media is both broadening and shrinking. Broadening into wider broadcast-style models like we used to know as TV and radio, and shrinking into smaller group chats like Wavelength or even iMessage/WhatsApp/Telegram/Signal groups. 3) Generative AI is a new tool for you to use to do your work. 4) AI chat is going to replace the traditional search engine.

Email is the worst

Email is the worst

A terribly poor recording of the Celebrant Talk Show with Josh and Sarah this week, Josh's laptop got drunk. Topics on this episode include: Does ageism exist in celebrancy? Being a celebrant with a disability Email systems and we're changing them and email is hell...

16 Growth ideas for wedding celebrants

16 Growth ideas for wedding celebrants

A celebrant friend was complaining to me recently about the market, we’ve all had the same conversation, either us being whined at, or us doing the whining. The truth is that we are not owed our next enquiry or booking, we need to work for it. So here’s some ideas on how to work for it how to grow your business. Take any of these ideas and deploy in an authentic and meaningful way for you.

I got scammed, and it’ll happen to you!

I got scammed, and it’ll happen to you!

It was about 4pm in the afternoon here in Mexico and I had just emptied my inbox, a noble task in 2023, and the email came in. The email that scares me the most: my main domain name’s renewal had failed due a credit card issue. The last thing I want is for our business’s website and email to fail because the domain name renewal failed.

The difference between religious ministers and civil celebrants

The difference between religious ministers and civil celebrants

Karen asks: What are the differences/similarities, restrictions and allowances between a celebrant-led wedding and a church wedding, that is, by
an ordained minister. I have noticed a lot of confusion and even ignorance about what can and can’t be done when the question of faith is raised. Can a celebrant read a biblical text, what constitutes a church and why can’t all ministers perform weddings? I am a civil celebrant who came from a faith background and I know, there are many others as well.

Change your passwords

Change your passwords

Depending on who you talk to, International Change Your Password Day is January 20 or February 1. Either way, in Australia we’ve missed both those dates, and because I’m writing this in Mexico I just saw the tweet from Fastmail reminding me.

Regardless of the “national date” consider this your reminder to change all of the important passwords in your world. In my humble opinion, all of the important passwords in your life should be changed annually.

16 Ways a celebrant can end up in jail for six months

16 Ways a celebrant can end up in jail for six months

Sarah and I have been reviewing the Guidelines to the Marriage Act and one chapter caught my eye and I thought maybe you didn’t know how many things you could do that would end you up in jail for at least six months, or with “five penalty units” whatever they are.

You can find it all detailed heavily in the actual Marriage Act of 1961, but here’s the list of things a celebrant can do that could end them up in jail.

Can AI write an original marriage ceremony?

Can AI write an original marriage ceremony?

Yes, yes artificial intelligence can write a marriage ceremony, but can it present one well?

You’ve probably read the news about OpenAI’s new GPT-3 chatbot, ChatGPT, so I won’t mansplain AI to you, but I simply wanted to share what AI thought should happen in a marriage ceremony.

The preparation for this blog post involved asking ChatGPT a few questions, and minutes later I’ve got a simple and sweet marriage ceremony prepped. I also asked ChatGPT’s big brother, DALL-E to create a featured image for this post.

Marriage statistics 2021

Marriage statistics 2021

I was about to give myself a long lunch break when my daily statistics release email came through from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (yes, we all know I'm a nerd) and top of the list was the marriage stats release for 2021! This is two whole weeks earlier than...

Maybe it will inspire some of us to rest

Maybe it will inspire some of us to rest

There's a new podcast episode out and Josh is moving to Mexico. Sarah's still not at rest but she has found a spectacular little trick for funerals using iMovie. Still no movement on the NOIM video witnessing push, and we're meeting with the AGD next month. Listen and...

You must call yourself a marriage celebrant

You must call yourself a marriage celebrant

I’m sure that all of you have familiarised yourself with the Marriage Act of 1961, so you probably don’t have to read this, but on the off chance that Sarah Aird has schooled you, like she’s just schooled me, on some things in the Marriage Act, I thought I’d share them here. These are new changes since marriage equality was legislated. Today we’re talking about section 39G, Obligations of each marriage celebrant.

Happy Podcast New Year!

Happy Podcast New Year!

We know, we know, we’ve been away for a whole year, but we’re back! In this episode we talk about where we’re both at in July 2022, and the major things that have happened in celebrancy and at the Celebrant Institute in the last 12 months.

A lesson from Kobe Bryant for celebrants

A lesson from Kobe Bryant for celebrants

Starting from zero is hard. I’ve found that creating from scratch, staring at a blank Word document, or an empty notepad, is the hardest work, like pushing a boulder uphill it requires you to muster everything inside of you. It’s a question new celebrants pose to us here at the Celebrant Institute every week: how to get started.

How did I do 27 weddings in one month?

How did I do 27 weddings in one month?

A few responses to my May 2022 email about having done 27 marriage ceremonies this month before prompted questions from celebrants across our Australian membership base and even internationally. Donna asked “how do you juggle that many” and others asked how I got that many bookings and other questions around the zone. How did I get 27 weddings in one month? Well, first of all, two of them were last-minute additions because a Celebrant Institute member got the spicy cough, and only two were fresh bookings or “new money” if you like. The rest were layovers from the two years of Covid – many couples on their third or fifth date — plus there were a handful of flood postponements as well. In the end, I’ve committed to just getting them done. That said, I’ve always operated at a high level of work in my business, and I’ve always had these words from Kevin Kelly in my mind when getting there:

Not-as-ongoing professional development

Not-as-ongoing professional development

For the most recent information regarding ongoing professional development and OPD for Australian authorised civil celebrants visit celebrant.institute/opd As 2021 draws to a close, so does an era of celebrant-industry-driven professional development. Here at the...

Why I hate wedding awards: “I am in competition with no-one”

Why I hate wedding awards: “I am in competition with no-one”

For over five years now I’ve crusaded against wedding industry awards. I don’t like them, I don’t enter them, and I try to convince my friends and colleagues to avoid them as well.

I understand how nice it feels to be awarded number one. If you sent me an email right now that said “Josh, you are my number one celebrant” I’d probably print it out and put it on the fridge next to one of Luna’s paintings, but the truth is, I believe that wedding industry awards are unhealthy and unhelpful for the wedding industry.

And this letter from Nick Cave …

My secret to business success: email

My secret to business success: email

Any successful endeavour requires a number of ingredients. An award winning cake recipe will have more than one ingredient, and an Olympic gold medal swimmer didn’t just swim their first lap that race.

There’s a process, there’s time, goal setting, and multiple resources being in the right place at the right time.

In the wedding industry there is so much focus on advertising and marketing, getting the enquiry, but less focus on winning that enquiry over, and worse, delivering an exemplary customer experience from woah to go.

Here at the Celebrant Institute we’ve written numerous articles about the value of creating and delivering a customer journey but today I wanted to hone in on one single aspect that apparently is really lacking in the wedding business: email.

How to start taking better photos at your weddings

How to start taking better photos at your weddings

An element of my social media content strategy I’m quite proud of is that I’ve really worked hard at making better photos, photos that I have made – and therefore own – so that I have photos and video for my own social media channels and blog. If you’re interested in pursuing that art as well, Josh Rose has written a really good guide that I think would help you. It’s aimed at taking better holiday photos, but the advice translates directly to weddings as well.

How to record the location of a marriage ceremony on the water or in the air

How to record the location of a marriage ceremony on the water or in the air

Lizzie asks: “My couple is getting married on a boat in The Pittwater located on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Please advise how I best record the “at” on the docs for a wedding adrift.” The Guidelines to the Marriage Act, in relation to the place a wedding would occur, gives this poor advice: “The marriage must be registered in the state or territory where the marriage was solemnised. To meet this requirement, and possible requirements of other countries for recognition of the marriage, marriages in aircraft and ships at sea should be avoided.” I’m not going to say they’re wrong, but they’re not right. Australian authorised marriage celebrants have the authority and the ability to marry couples anywhere and at any time on any day within Australia and its territories.