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:
When unsure how to act, people copy others, outsourcing their own decisions to others. Not only is this true when choosing a shop, or a cafe, but in weddings as well.
Elaine asks: When I obtained my Domain Name of domainname.com.au from Melbourne IT when I first started back in 2014, I was ‘advised’ to secure domainname.net and domainname.com too, to prevent ‘others’ from setting up a similar website. The .com.au is the one I use...
When you mention my name to another celebrant, apparently the most common thing people talk about is how I'm unscripted. Some people call it ad lib. I would never describe my method of creating and delivering a ceremony as ad lib or unscripted. It's a series of riffs....
Every day I wake up and check the technology news – as is my habit – and scroll through the headlines I’m expecting to find a marriage celebrant in there. Why?
There’s gold in the questions you get asked by other celebrants, people in the wedding industry, our clients, friends, and social media followers. Do you know what to do with them?
If you’ve been wanting a way to spy on what other people in the wedding industry are doing with their Facebook Ads, here’s a very easy, open, and regulated way to do so.
When it comes to pricing, and pricing yourself, there are so many contributing factors. The first is that you need to cover costs, the second that you need to make a profit – a wage, and the third that you make a surplus so you have buffer for the future, savings, and the ability to invest in your business.
Before Yeti created a $5 million cooler and adventure brand, the icebox/cooler market (aka the “esky” market, despite Esky being a brand) was a a low-cost and cheap product market. Chris Hladczuk documents their story in a recent release of his email newsletter which I recommend subscribing to.
I wonder how many avenues for networking, referrals, and help, us celebrants are leaving on the table?
What do you do when you’re the one who gets sick mid-ceremony?
How Sarah is preparing for the inevitable COVID exposure and isolation…
As 2021 draws to a close, so does an era of celebrant-industry-driven professional development. Here at the Celebrant Institute our 2021 ongoing professional development program wrapped up on the weekend and we're grateful for the thousands of celebrants who chose us...
Breaking marriage law news – for the second time since 1961: Celebrants can witness NOIMs over the internet! From 22 December 2021 you can witness the Notice of Intended Marriage over a video call. You can send a couple their NOIM as a PDF…
The marriage statistics for 2020 are out, and I’ve got your summary sorted!
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 …
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.
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.
Sorry, we don’t have the answers!
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.
When you hear of social media posts going viral, it simply means people are sharing it. They're tagging their friends in the comments, sharing the post by direct message, and adding to the algorithm that decides who sees what on the internet. There's books worth of...
If you’ve ever played the iconic Australian schoolyard game of handball, you’ll remember that the aim of the game is to intercept the ball on your quadrant/half, then to get it back out as soon as possible. Think about your customer journey and email like a game of handball.
Suzanne asks: “Looking for advice on professional web design v. self design. Objective to attract biz, be good return on investment and not rubber-stamp like. Also some good advice on logo vs personal service brand.” Two important questions here and they’re both worth addressing.
The Copywriting Course’s subject line generator might be just the gold mine you need to start writring that next blog posts, social media post, or recording that vlog or podcast.
Jason Fried has posted a list of questions he asks referees he calls for new employees. I read through the list and thought that it would be equally impressive to see our clients answer some or all of these questions in their reviews. Shape the questions so they serve you, but instead of asking for a plain old review, try asking your couples a question and ask them to share it as a Google, Facebook, or other form of review.
A study has found that adding copy to a new app's website around the lines of "we expect 1000 users to join this year" increased signups for the app by 20%. People respond to the developer's expectations and intentions of the app's growth because those intentions were...
September 2021 is bringing us new marriage forms, and to be sure that we don’t confuse things, let me quote from the Attorney-General office email sent today. If you haven’t received it, check your spam folder and then tell your email client it isn’t spam, it’s the boss.
Continuing a long running series on this website starting with how your price is part of your marketing story, whether or not you should list your prices on your website with answers from Sarah and myself, how to respond when someone asks "how much?", how to be...
As you all know, the Marriage Act 1961 requires that the Notice of Intended Marriage is signed in the presence of one of the authorised witnesses. In the presence of means physical presence: the person signing and the witness need to be physically in the same room....
If you’ve taken our branding advice before, you’re using the same headshot profile photo for your social media accounts and your website, and anywhere else you can upload an identifying photo, avatar, logo. But do you know how it’s performing for your brand and marketing?
I’m not backwards in coming forwards about celebrants raising their price. I’ve given a number of good reasons in the past, but as lockdowns and travel bans continue to fuel the bonfire that is the state of the wedding industry today I was inspired by the idea that we, the wedding industry need not bare the burden that is wedding postponements, we are not wedding insurers, we are professional creatives. We are not wedding insurance. That’s not to diminish your want and desire to be generous and kind to your clients, be that, and more, but you are not their wedding insurance. Their wedding being postponed should not bankrupt you. So assuming you’re already ready to raise your price, if not read this, here’s three practical ways you can increase your price today.
We're tired, and we know you are all tired too. In this episode we catch up on each other's news, and chat about value (and how it's difficult to articulate!) and how OPD is going in 2021. Welcome to another episode of the Celebrant Talk Show podcast. Listen in the...
Tania asks: I have an enquiry from a couple, one party is Visually Impaired. They would have the some of my 'Welcome Kit' translated to Braille, including the NOIM, DONLIM, OCM and Form 15. Therefore, I am comfortable that the party would be aware of what they will...
A member has asked about whether the Celebrant Institute membership includes insurance. It doesn’t, and we’ll be honest with you, that’s because we reached out to a bunch of insurance brokers and insuring you lot in such a general way turned out to be so expensive and hard, that it wouldn’t be worth it for you, or for us, to offer such a broad stroke of insurance, when each of your businesses are so unique and personal.
So here’s the seven insurances I think every wedding celebrant should at least consider, and of course you need to do your own research and consider your own circumstances.
Please note that this is general information only and should not replace financial or professional insurance advice. Talk to a licensed insurance broker, business advisor or insurer for detailed advice.
None of this information has been influenced by an outside business and we have received no payments or discounts for offering this information.
I've got a confession to make: I can recall every single bad review I've had, and I barely remember the good ones. There's one I received while I was in Washington DC in 2015, a few days before I was about to speak at the International Association of Wedding...
Whether you've got 10 or 10,000 followers across all the different social media channels, it's almost certainly true for all of them: less than 3% of your audience is ready to book a celebrant, hopefully you, right now. 7% of your audience needs a bit more information...
Many celebrants don’t know the science and method behind choosing where to position their speaker in a ceremony. This video will take you through the basic elements of choosing where and why and how to position your speaker, and one thing I didn’t note in the recording is that you want it up on a speaker stand at standing head height, you need those audio waves to be able to reach everyone’s ears and if the speaker is on the ground, people past the first row will be struggling.
At the time of writing I personally have attended four court mediation sessions, and two court hearings. Theses are my stories. Dum dum. Ok, enough of the Law and Order jokes, but I am in the middle of a bunch of law suits and I figured that you, my fellow celebrants, would like to hear the stories, and hopefully you can learn from them. What follows is in no way to be considered legal advice, I am not a lawyer, and the advice given to me by my lawyer is confidential. The stories shared are personal anecdotes that would hopefully encourage you to engage with a lawyer.
If you’re feeling a bit stuck on what to post on your blog, or social media, or both, here’s seven content ideas you can easily write right now. Then schedule them up to drop every day, and watch your online personal brand grow!
Reading the news today about the meat manufacturer that paid up $11 million in ransom to cybercriminals after having its business shutdown over a hack recently, my mind turned to celebrants.
I hold grave fears that any day now there’s going to be an Australian marriage celebrant breached by a hacker, and all of their clients’ NOIM, Marriage Certificate, Passport, Divorce, Drivers License, details will be leaked, stolen, sold.
Instagram has shared a post today about how and why people see what they see on Instagram. I’m not going to speculate on how much of this is smoke and mirrors, or politics, or conspiracy theories. Instead, lets take them at their word and believe what they say.
You can read the whole report here, and I’ll share some excerpts and thoughts on it below.
Mel is struggling with mapping out her pricing as a celebrant, and when she mentioned it to me I went straight to a conversation I had with my brother earlier today. He’s looking at starting a new business based on professional skills he holds, and he was looking for some guidance walking into the project. So I’ll tell you what I told him, then give you ten good reasons why you should charge more.
Krystal asks: “I seek perhaps some advice on how I continue to be “out there” without sailing into the boring seas or moving into sharing content on social media that isn’t relevant. Maybe I need to be patient with the process, once my first wedding is over and I’ll feed my future marketing off that.”
After a six month break from podcasting because our world's got crazy and busy, we talk about what was keeping us busy. Namely, reschedules and postponements and cancellations of weddings, and how that's affecting the whole industry. Plus we go over our 2021 OPD -...
To my fellow celebrants, I have a proposal regarding the one month notice period, and I’d like to run it up your flagpole, so to speak, and then take it to the Australian parliament: that the one month notice period required by the Marriage Act, be reduce to one week.
A celebrant asks: RE NSW weddings Covid sign in is doing my head in. Until recently I've asked couples to create their own Safety Plan(via https://www.nsw.gov.au/form/covid-safety-plan/wedding-ceremonies-and-receptions) to cover the ceremony, and reception too...
One year ago today Sarah Aird took over the reins of Life Skills Training, and this year we relaunched as the Celebrant Institute RTO with the contract to provide ongoing professional development for Australian civil celebrants, alongside the Certificate IV in Celebrancy, the cornerstone qualification required to become a celebrant.
When a celebrant dies, what happens to their marriage documentation?
I thought I would spend this fine morning outlining some of the things that I have learned over the course of the last 12 months when it comes to disputes in the wedding industry due to the Coronavirus and COVID-19. Here they are: Suppliers have not experienced a raft...
After posting a guide on making sure you and your business is prepared if and when the Facebook ban hammer falls on you, the Facebook ban hammer fell on us.
Your Facebook page, Instagram page, Google My Business account, your LinkedIn, and god forbid any of you have a Parler account, but they’re all not your property. Running your business on the back of those properties is like going to your local cafe and setting up shop at a table. Putting up a little sign with Married By John Citizen on it, and accepting meetings and enquiries there. It might be ok for the longest period of time (thanks for hosting me, Sisterhood Coffee), but at any time that business owner can ask you to leave and not come back.
If you’ve read your emails from the AGD recently, or heard rumours around the ol’ celebrancy water cooler, you might be a little confused about what is happening with ongoing professional development in 2021.
New OPD consultation survey out now: please respond!
A friend asks me today what the quickest way is to complete the Cert IV in Celebrancy, the qualification needed to become a celebrant in Australia. Friends of my friend reckon she’d be a great celebrant and they’d like her to marry them.
It's been a weird year behind us as a wedding industry. I don't want to dwell on it for fear of crying, but I'm of the belief that sometime soon we need to focus our energies forward, and I wanted to encourage you to do the same, with a framework that answers a big...
A celebrant has written in to the Celebrant Institute asking the question: “How can I, and should I, accept crypto currency for celebrancy?”
I recently spoke via video at the Wedding Business CEO Summit and spoke on the process of creating a customer journey. My talk was called There’s A Fraction Too Much Friction: Automation For Your Customer Journey. I believe this is an important and valuable topic for all wedding business people to get in their life, and I’m so glad I get to share it with Celebrant Institute members.
First Australians have been marrying for thousands of years on the land we now call Australia. Terra Australis, the southern land, was home to people well before the Dutch or the British “discovered” it, so as much as Australian law requires us to identify that we the celebrants are authorised to marry people according to Australian law, common decency would see us acknowledge the truth of the land we stand on to create ceremony.
“I’ve a question about that first meeting – I’ve met a few couples, tried coming from different angles ie. Asking what they have in mind for their ceremony, how they met, build rapport, let them talk or I do most of the talking – introducing myself and how I help them with my process and system. Have not sealed the deal. What do you recommend as discussion points for the first meeting, for high chances of booking soon after?”
Google, in light of legislation being introduced in Australia, has threatened to pull out of the Australian market. I’m sure they won’t, if only because they won’t walk away and leave $59 billion of income on the table and destroy the trust in their brand over a couple of dollars being paid to news organisations.
It’s time to life up our heads from managing, or surviving, in our wedding celebrancy business, and to actually lead our businesses to a place where they bring us joy and happiness again.
Social media, and humanity in general, can become a little bit self-indulgent at times. It’s our tribal, animalistic nature, to look after one’s self first. But something beautiful happens when you turn the camera away from yourself, when you shift the spotlight onto someone else.
Your challenge today is to create an entertaining meme. Not an educational meme, or an instructional meme, or a demonstratable meme. Today we meme for fun.
Today’s challenge is a little more casual after some intense training days, and it’s about Quora.
Today your challenge is to write non-stop for five minutes.
In the beginning there was the text, and the text was good. It was all we knew. We called it ASCII, ASCII codes represent text in computers. When I first used a personal computer in 1991 “computer graphics” were mostly just text in the shape of graphics, like this was a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. And despite us inventing all of the great technologies that allow us to view videos, blogs, photos, and the rest online, in today’s challenge, we’re sticking with the original: text.
For almost the past three years an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil has been my computer that left the home. I’d always loved a Mac but I predominantly left that at my desk and if I left the office for a marriage ceremony, a meeting, a photoshoot or for travel, I would take my iPad Pro.
I’ve written the story of how that’s no longer the case on my personal blog. It’s a two parter, the first part is introducing a new Apple Silicon Macbook Air which replaces my previous MacBook in speed and power, along with replacing my iPad Pro’s portability, responsiveness, and ability to run iOS apps.
Here’s a chart that tells a story about my business. Before you read on or scroll, what story do you think it’s telling?
Today you get a rare and direct peek into my brain. This next diagram explains how I think about content.
David Placek is the branding genius behind some of the biggest names in the technology world. The words Sonos, Intel Pentium, Apple PowerBook, Blackberry, Gimlet podcasts (home of Reply All), and the Impossible burger, all came from David’s branding company, Lexicon Branding. In 2014 Placek released a book which I’d love to read – but can’t find for purchase. Luckily for me, and for you, Om Malik recapped the book in his blog recently.
We’re on the home stretch in this social media challenge, and you guys are absolutely nailing the challenge to the wall, good work!
Many governments are requiring people running events to collect data about who attends the event using QR codes and web forms. Your legal responsibilities regarding COVID and COVIDSafe plans are your responsibility and this article in no way communicates what you must do regarding COVID and any safety plans. But if you need to collect data about people attending a wedding or funeral you are attending, this is a quick and easy way of doing it safely and responsibly.
I started this little streak of content prompts highlighting the fact that there five different kinds of good content. This is the fifth: demonstratable content.
Today’s challenge, once more without stipulation of network or medium, is to entertain us.
Today’s challenge is to mentally stimulate us, to make us feel something, something creative, beautiful, and hearty. Today’s challenge, as is the theme in this current swing of content, can go on any network/s of your choosing, in any medium/s. Just inspire us. Here's...
Good morning students! Today you’re all teachers and we’re taking your audience back to school.
There are five different kinds of good content. Before you click post on anything, ever, forever, it should be at least one. If it’s two, you might get a like, three and you’re having a party, four and you just put a hashtag in front of the word winning.
Today’s challenge is 98% in your hands, 1% in the calendar’s hands, and 1% from me.
Ansel Adams said that we don’t take a photograph, we make it. Your challenge today is to make a photo, a beautiful photo, a photo you’re proud of, that you’d be happy to see hanging in my lounge room. It can’t be just any photo though, we want it to be made of...
One of my favourite uses of Instagram’s Story feature is to document the behind the scenes of what I’m doing. I see a number of benefits to the occasional behind the scenes personal documentary.
After meeting with the Marriage Law and Celebrants Section of the Attorney-General's Department, Josh and Sarah bring you all the updates to marriage forms, OPD in the years ahead, signing NOIMs online, plus we've got some helpful tips on social media content and live...
Today we’re taking that controversial thought in your mind, and we’re turning it all the way up to [eleven, Spinal Tap style].
Today’s challenge is an easy one, you already know everything about it, the key to the challenge though is 1. Articulating it, 2. Telling it, and 3. Sharing it to as many mediums as possible
Today we’re telling your genesis story, the story of how you started, why you started, and how you felt you could do something important and different.
It's a weird world in 2020, one where our workload has significantly decreased, yet in other less familiar ways, our workload has increased dramatically with postponements, court dates, cancellations, emails, sending many of us into a spiral of lots more work that...
If someone speaks well of you, you’ve got to remember that, embed it deep into your soul, and know that you’re good at this.
And once you’ve done that you need to share that testimony
There’s a whole philosophy behind referrals and testimonies, but I’m not sharing them today, because I’m not a psychologist; I’m just a boy, standing in front a celebrant, asking them to testify! Testimonies about how you are good at what you do, and you do it in a certain way that makes a certain kind of person happy.
In computer programming there’s a method of program called Object Oriented Programming, which recognises that some parts of the program are reused a lot. The programmers write the code once, then reuse it every time they need it.
Who would ever think that there would be a need for an [International Day for Nutella] to raise awareness of the delicious nutty goodness? Sara Rosso did.
Podcasts are so much more powerful than most people imagine. My little podcast, [The Rebel’s Guide to Getting Married], has maybe…
I’m willing to bet that you have received a question about what you do before today, and you’ve hit reply with a really good answer.
For your ongoing professional development as a Commonwealth authorised marriage celebrant in 2021, only four hours will be provided by your OPD trainer. One hour of your five hour commitment will be delivered by the Marriage Law and Celebrants Section of the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department.
Sarah chats to Tasmanian celebrant Kathleen Pavlic-Ryan about the brand new online registration system available through Births, Deaths, and Marriages Tasmania!
Luke asks: One of my couples that had a Qld wedding booked, now want to change the ceremony location to NSW since the new border easing. What do I need to know and how do I go about doing a wedding in NSW? Is there a set criteria that determines the couples eligibility for getting married over the border into NSW?
Today’s challenge is to find something boring (like a carrot) yet necessary (like vegetables are for your diet) in your business
Every month you should re-introduce yourself to your social media audience. I think you’d be surprised how many don’t really know you for the real “you”, and those that do, could probably do with a brand re-alignment.
A reader asks: “I have a handful of elopement related questions, and I think they will be more relevant than ever given how our world has changed in 2020 and how weddings have changed/will change in the coming year(s).
Michael asks: Just listened to the podcast episode (with Kathryn Adams), absolutely loved it. I have one common question/scenario that I’m pretty sure wasn’t asked/answered though. A couple postpones their wedding, but one of the suppliers isn’t available on the new date that the couple chooses. Where does that supplier stand in regard to retaining the booking fee? Or anything that needs to be discussed in this situation?
Making lemonade out of lemons is a popular story, obviously backed by Big Lemonade, but it encourages us to make our proverbial lemonade out of the lemons we’re presented with in life. For day one of the 2020 social media challenge, your job today is to find a story...
Tam asks: I have my first wedding coming up next month. My question is in regards to using my PA system. I have Bose S1 with Sennheiser microphone. The wedding is only small (approximately 10 guests). Would you use a PA system? They are having a videographer so I didn’t know if this would play into whether or not to use it? If you suggest not using it, at what size wedding would you? Also I have not yet brought a stand. Is this an absolute must/do you recommend any particular brand/price point to aim for to get a decent one? Complete newbie with all this stuff!
All good questions, Tamika, and I’ll address them separately.
There’s a new fact sheet on the Attorny-General’s department website on correcting marriage paperwork, and it’s an important read. Luckily for us, our own Sarah Aird heavily impacted the final draft. We’re copying and pasting the fact sheet here, but find the original on the AGD website.
I’m writing a social media challenge for Celebrant Institute members to see out 2020…