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What it means when they say that weddings are coming back

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.

Baby Got Backend

Morgan Roberts invited me onto his podcast to talk about the back ends of a business. Systems, Tave, Dubsado, all that really boring and important stuff. It's worth a listen if automation is a scary word to you.

When a bushfire ravages a land

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.

Check out an 11 year old celebrant survey

Check out an 11 year old celebrant survey

11 years ago (in 2009), celebrant directory website Celebrante, conducted a survey of about 1400 celebrants. I’m cleaning out my Dropbox folder and found the survey, so I thought it’d be an interesting piece of quarantine content for us all while we’re busy doing not...

When you are not different even Google is against you

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 …

You’ve asked some great questions about the service contract

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.

So, you’re being affected by a pandemic

So, you’re being affected by a pandemic

If you’re a marriage celebrant, or officiant or even just a wedding vendor of some description, and your main clientele are inhabitants of planet earth, you might find yourself in a position in the coming weeks where there is a negative effect on your business and way of life due to a pandemic.

The Coronavirus should remind you to get this one important thing

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.

I’m a CEO now!

I’m a CEO now!

Thank you again for listening! This episode we chat about: Sarah's exciting news Privacy implications of hiring a virtual assistant That old chestnut: thoughts about charging for travel and how to do it As always we welcome your thoughts and feedback at...

“Ceremony writing is my least favourite part”

“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.

Changing from selling to serving

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!

Ten reasons you should take credit card payments

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.

Moving town as a celebrant

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.

You don’t have to do everything

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.

A podcast, not by us, with Jerry Saltz

I’ll be honest, I haven’t been able to kick the thought that as much as this podcast episode seems like the least likely thing to recommend to a pack of celebrants, I just have to. So here it is. Jerry Saltz, the New Yorker art critic weigh Dave Cheng, the chef....

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!

Music for making ceremonies

Maybe you're a better worker than I am so you don't need this, but over here in Josh-world I'm as easily distracted as a mouse in a cheese tasting room. So seeing this resource made for programmers made me curious as to whether or not it might be helpful for people...

Will a hot outdoor wedding cook my PA system?

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?

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.

Which iPad and which apps do you recommend for celebrants?

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.

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.

Do not murder

It's our first episode for 2020, and in this one we chat about: the Celebrant Institute's new partnership with Pod Legal the pros and cons of leveraging the bushfire crisis (or any other charitable cause) for business purposes what happens when a party changes their...

When you’ve got an odd name pronunciation

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.

Partnering with charities? Watch out for the ACCC

Eyewear brand Oscar Wylee is in trouble with the ACCC for its charitable donations. In an era of such transformative social change, more and more businesses are choosing to align themselves with charitable organisations or causes. Whether that be through donations or the facilitation of programs, businesses of all kinds are stepping up to give back.

Record keeping in an online environment

I read the latest Marriage Celebrant Matters Newsletter and it states that “Hard copies of the Notice, DNLI or any supporting documents (divorce orders, parental consents etc) do not need to be kept once lodged electronically with the registry of births, deaths and marriages (BDM). Celebrants may wish to retain these documents until the marriage is registered”

Does this include all the previous hard copies we kept and lodged electronically? Because previously we were suppose to keep the hard copies for X years from what I remember. I think it was 5 years from memory.

40 Questions To Ask Yourself Each New Year

40 Questions To Ask Yourself Each New Year

To bring in the new year, [Stephen Ango asks himself 40 questions]. I liked his list but thought I’d alter it for Celebrant Institute followers so we could reflect on where we’ve been and look at where we’re going. Identify trends, strengths, weaknesses, and things we should simply be proud of as individuals and as a community. Stephen’s is a personal list, and my amendments are focused on your celebrant business. Maybe you want to do both, or just one, it’s all up to you.

Changing the planned date of the marriage on the NOIM

A couple from America have gone gung ho and booked to elope in December. They have their heart set on coming into their wedding on a camel!

I advised them that this our ‘wet’ season and there may be a chance of rain and will need a plan B. However there is no plan B option for a camel to be involved….which is their whole motivation for getting married in this destination. The cameleer has advised them that they definitely need a plan B too. He has asked them potentially plan to have the wedding on 2 consecutive dates (28th and 29th Dec) so that if it is raining on the first date, they can do it on the second date.

I advised them that this isn’t possible due to the NOIM limitations. Anyway I got to thinking, is it totally illegal to fill in 2 NOIMS – one for each date? I feel like this would be a no-no but I guess I want to satisfy my curiosity

Contingency/death planning for celebrants

Now I’ve reached the stage of life where I have a mortgage and a family I figure it’s time to put a grown up will in place.

This got me thinking about what instructions I need to leave for my surviving relatives and the obligations that they have not only to comply with the law but to also ensure a smooth transition for my couples.

I was wondering if you guys have any tips or could give a basic overview of what process you guys have in place?

Names in the ceremony

I have a Jane Brown (married name from her third marriage – the marriage I am looking after will be her fourth)

She uses the name Jane Brown in everyday use, and has Jane Brown on all her current documents. The only document she has with her maiden name (Jane Smith) is her birth certificate.

She has asked if I can use her maiden name, Jane Smith, in the ceremony on the day?

When wanting to be featured or talked about, know this one thing

When wanting to be featured or talked about, know this one thing

A favourite read of mine is the regular Susbtack email from Ariel Stalling. You might know her name from a little blog called Offbeat Bride. In this week’s mailout, Ariel tells the story of how someone a little bit like her was covered in the New York Times.

Before I actually read the words in the piece I thought Ariel was telling the story about how she was covered in the New York Times which would’ve been kind of cool, but then when you sit down and read it you realise that someone slightly similar to her with a really good publicist was covered in the Times instead.

What are the ABIA awards? A guide for celebrants

A reader asks: “I’ve noticed the ABIA awards presentation nights have been occurring but what is the ABIA awards and how do people win the ABIA awards? What is the scoring based on? I see these marks of 99.93 etc.” I’ll answer this question on behalf of ABIA, then with my own opinion, which may or may not include the now famous, Billockery Awards, the celebrancy industry’s most favourable fictionalised awards system.

Please put the (sales) gun down!

Please put the (sales) gun down!

A quick Saturday morning flick through the social media feeds showed me six celebrants doing a bad thing on social media.

They’re not breaking the law, and in their minds they’re not doing a bad or evil thing. Many people would see the same thing I did and think it’s perfectly fine.

But my advice would be to stop.

Parents’ names on the NOIM. Part 3

Party to the marriage is completing their NOIM and has advised me that:
1) her father is not listed on her birth certificate or any other official/legal documents relating to her identity
2) she knows who her father is, and they are involved in each other’s life
I’m aware we don’t have to check evidence of parents names – so just wanted to double check that I am correct in advising that she should list her father on the NOIM despite him not appearing on her birth certificate (as to write ‘unknown’ would be to knowingly make a false statement on the NOIM)?

Communicating timelines with couples

Communicating timelines with couples

Alex asks: My question is regarding communication with couples – specifically timelines. Before I became a Celebrant I remember hearing a few off-hand remarks from a family friend and also a cousin about their Celebrants. The general feedback was that they never heard from their celebrant after booking them, had no idea what to expect (for example commented “we hadn’t heard from her in 4 months”) and both had doubts about how the day would run. I was horrified! To me, managing expectations is super important but I also understand it may be different with each couple. So my question is – sorry it took me a while to get there – do you have any advice on how you communicate a “timeline of events” with the couple – or can you provide an example of one? And also advice for me on ceremony writing….how soon before the wedding do you start it and if requested or preferred by the couple when do you send a first draft for them to review, and how soon before the ceremony do you “lock everything in?”

A review of Wedwordy, a ceremony script creator

A review of Wedwordy, a ceremony script creator

I was email marketed by the team at Wedwordy recently, with their offering of a ceremony script builder. Wedwordy promises to create personalised wedding ceremony scripts “as easy as 1-2-3” so I reached out to them and requested a review. I’ve listened to many celebrants through the ages talk about their ceremony script writing process, some put way too much effort in, and many simply phone it in by inserting names in the right places and clicking print. Some don’t even go that far and thanks to those celebrants the profession has that reputation of saying the wrong names in a ceremony.

Is there room at the top of the market?

Is there room at the top of the market?

Jeff asks: A general price question: when you both set your prices (to their current rates), were you/are you in line with what others charge or are you much higher? Pretty sure I’m the highest priced officiant in my region of 500,000 folks, but @ $650/ceremony I’d have to perform about 27 weddings/week to go legit. That doesn’t work. I have right around 75 weddings on the books for 2019 and it’s great since this is a side hustle, but I want to make the leap but for suuuure can’t at this rate. I’m hesitant because if I jump up to $800-$1000 I’ll literally be charging more than double the price or most others…but I guess someone has to be most expensive, I might as well be that guy…was just curious your thoughts on that.

2018 marriage and divorce statistics, 5.5% increase

The annual release of marriage and divorce statistics by the Australian Bureau of Statistics occurs every year around 27 November. Right on time, the statistics for the full calendar year 2018 were released today at 11.30am. If you’re interested you can find all the information on the ABS website.

The one with the solid tangent

It's a month until Christmas and here we are again with another episode of your favourite podcast! This episode Josh and Sarah chat about the latest newsletter from MLCS, our thoughts about OPD into the future, our obligations in an online environment, not stressing...

How to surprise a couple with a ceremony

How to surprise a couple with a ceremony

Jeff asks: When/how did you now it was ok to not share ceremony content with the couple but just have them trust you on the day of? Couples and guests really love what I put together (I guess I’ve figured out that much ha!) and I have lots of reviews that say it’s great – removing the step of sharing content would literally make things faaaar easier, just wondering how to get couples on board with that or when it’s ok to do that.

Why we deliver the best Cert IV in Celebrancy Australia

If you’re aspiring to be a celebrant in the near future, Sarah and I deliver the Certificate IV in Celebrancy through this very Institute. We’re lucky enough to have experienced, and to continue to experience the full breadth of celebrancy training, students contact us every day with questions their trainers and colleges are answering incorrectly or weirdly.

Josh’s ceremony inclusions

Josh’s ceremony inclusions

Jeff, a Canadian celebrant, asks: I’m wondering what sections you two include in your ceremonies? I have a very similar trajectory for each ceremony, and add or subtract (readings etc) based on what the couple are looking for, but was wondering how others on the other side of the world do it!

What is in your terms and conditions

What is in your terms and conditions

Theresa asks: I’ve had a couple of last-minute cancellations recently – given the circumstances, I’m happy that the weddings didn’t go ahead. Anyhow, it has forced me to take a much-needed look at my T&C’s and was wondering if either of you would be open to sharing how you deal with the following scenarios/what you have in your invoices or statement of fees: 1. Cancellations, 2. The unlikely event that you are unavailable and need to arrange someone else to step in, 3. The unlikely event that you are unavailable and cannot find anyone else to step in.

Becoming a celebrant for a side hustle

Becoming a celebrant for a side hustle

Every week one or two potential new celebrants email or DM me about starting a celebrancy business as a side hustle, hoping to make a few dollars on the side to provide for their family’s extra needs or to put some cash in the holiday account.

It’s understandable. In the past it was a common part time career for a mum, or a school teacher, to undertake and just do a few ceremonies a year.

Dealing with difficult couples

A celebrant asks: This has been the year of a handful of crazies, seriously. I'm thankful it hasn't just been me, others in the region have had the exact same experience with this weird 2019 trend of difficult couples. I tried firing one of the couples earlier this...

Can’t access a birth certificate but has a passport!

Cass asks: I’m marring a couple in October and one of them can’t find his birth certificate and he’s looked everywhere. He seems to think it can’t get posted to him in time to fill out the NOIM. He only has a passport and not a drivers license or proof of age. Is there any other form of ID he can use like Medicare or like proof of residency? Sorry, I tried looking it up and can’t quite figure out how to use other IDs on the NOIM?

Getting the guests to obey you

I recently had a ceremony which was in a very sunny/hot location, I asked the guests multiple times to move over to the ceremony area but they all resisted and stayed in the shade. I walked over and specifically asked them to move over and some did but some still didn’t. What are your tips?

Taking over a ceremony for another celebrant: legal obligations

A celebrant friend has asked me to be a standby in case she cannot officiate her nieces wedding next month. I am meeting the couple this week so we can all feel comfortable and I will also check ID’s so I am happy with that aspect. The best outcome is that I am just there on the day and she is well enough but we are both wanting to be prepared so her niece has a legal and memorable wedding with no glitches. Is this enough?

We’ve got a seat at the AGD’s table

We’ve got a seat at the AGD’s table

Twice a year the Marriage Law and Celebrants Section (MLCS) of the Attorney General's Department meets with representatives of celebrants associations to discuss the potential impact of policies and legislative changes to the Marriage Celebrants Programme. For many...

It’s time to wean ourselves off this teat

It’s time to wean ourselves off this teat

The most popular question I’m asked in person by my wedding industry colleagues, and here on the Celebrant Institute, is which website do I advertise on or which directory do I list in that works?

Somewhere along the way, wedding vendors have gotten really comfortable being fed off the teat of wedding blogs, directories, websites, and magazines.

Written to elicit a response

On todays episode, we discuss our seat at the big table with MLCS, caping celebrant numbers, and the new survey that was written to coerce celebrants into doing less OPD, the implications for the industry and what you can do about it. We also look at the celebrants...

How to say the monitum with warmth

Tracey asks: I’d really love some input about how/where in the ceremony you would say the Monitum. In amongst all the beautiful ‘love’ words it can feel a bit cold and clinical. I’m yet to find a way to bring it into the ceremony without it sounding a bit like an announcement! I feel pretty ok with writing sections of a ceremony. Tying them together is the tricky part for me!

Giving the couple a copy of their NOIM

I have completed a NOIM with a bride for a ceremony next year, the groom lives in the USA and they are submitting a prospective marriage visa application. When signing the NOIM with the bride I provided a letter of support but she also wanted a copy of the NOIM for her lawyer. I said I wasn’t able to provide this and the letter should be enough (I have done a few of these now and no other couple have asked for it and visas have been processed). I double checked this with some other celebrants at the time as I was sure we were not supposed to pass on copies of the NOIM to anyone and they agreed, do not pass it on. Anyway today the lawyer called me asking for the NOIM again. I advised the same thing and she was super nice about it but said in 5 years I am the only celebrant to have ever said no…………. SO am I wrong or is she wrong? I don’t want to hinder their visa application in any way but I also want to follow our rules!

Wedding location on the marriage paperwork

I am doing a backyard wedding next week (the couple have changed their mind at the last minute) so do I need to put their street address as the location, along with the town and state? I can’t find any guidance in the Guidelines about how nailed down the location has to be but I remember in my Cert IV that I had to write location as well as town and state.