A few recent conversations with celebrants on social media have prompted me to the question: what is membership in a celebrant association for?
Traditionally the associations lobbied the Attorney-General’s office, and the BDMs of each state, on our behalf – but that role has diminished seriously in recent years, with individual celebrants getting more done than an association has.
The associations offered group buying power in insurances, licenses, and OPD.
They offered community, but many celebrants who call this profession their full time job, offering services in the more modern and fun range of the industry, have never felt more unwelcome in associations – this author included. In fact the mere act of producing this blog has exempted me from nominating to be on the AFCC committee.
So in light of the recent changes in the celebrant community let me offer some solutions for either leaving your celebrant association or how to fill the gaps if you’ve never joined one (like about 60% of celebrants haven’t).
The common insurance offered by associations is about $3 million professional indemnity insurance and $20 million public liability insurance. In my ten years as a celebrant the only people that have wanted to see this insurance were wedding fairs, but that aside I still count these insurances as a valuable contribution to running a sustainable business.
I personally use GIO Mobile Protect because of my business structure (a company as trustee for a trust, with employees and contractors in a few different roles) and that costs me about $400 a year. But almost all celebrants do not need this kind of cover. Before I had this kind of business I insured through Duck For Cover and found their service great, and their pricing even better.
A quote from Duck for Cover’s public liability and professional indemnity insurance comes in at $79 for the year (at time of post), Bizcover quoted me $8.80 a month, and a few other companies came in a little more.
The bonus with looking after your own insurance is that you are free to change as you see fit, you can seek out better deals through an insurance broker, and you can even add into it insurance for your PA system and computer equipment perhaps in the event of damage or theft.
Lobbying the higher-ups
Got a problem or question with being a celebrant, ask Sarah and I. Or if you don’t want to talk to us, contact the AGD and BDM yourself. They report to us, we are Australian citizens living in a democracy and you have access to your government. If they don’t resolve it, contact your local Member of Parliament (federal for AGD, state for BDM) and ask them for help. Your MPs exist to help you too.
There are better communities than the heavily regulated ones ran by our celebrant associations. Here at the Celebrant Institute we currently do not run an online community because of the responsibility involved with running a Facebook Group or online form. But seek out community with local celebrants, or find a Facebook Group (there are hundreds), or join the Celebrant Society. Whatever you do, don’t take the pre-made community an association has curated for you, take charge of who your friends, mentors, and coaches are.
A copyright license is very important for many celebrants, so to find out if you need one, read through this checklist – then if you do need one, buy a CAL Copyright Licence here. You’ll need to contact the CAL to enquire about a license for a marriage celebrant.
Marketing and advertising
I’ll tell you that my website receives close to no traffic from the two associations I’m in. AFCC ran a massive advertising campaign in QantasLink magazines (not the main Qantas magazine, the regional airline QantasLink) which was not warmly received.
The story here is easy: don’t rely on an association to sell you, your brand, your product, and your story. Your story is yours to tell, so go and tell the world.
Ongoing professional development isn’t that expensive anyway, and when you take the discount of $20-$30 you’re literally taking that out of the pockets of our OPD trainers. The associations aren’t paying for that discount, the OPD trainers are taking a cut hoping that more of that association’s members attend, so you’re contributing to OPD being what most celebrants call a boring experience because everyone is trying to find the cheapest OPD. The race to the bottom of the market is a boring and broke one.
My advice, find the best OPD supplied by an OPD trainer that cares.
Jenny wrote in and asked about ceremony folders, I’ll share my favourite, but you are free to comment with yours. I like my Oroton folio. I picked mine up for about $100 at an Oroton outlet store.
Do I hate associations?
No, I don’t hate associations, they have been a foundation of the modern celebrant movement. But my nature has always been to question everything, to look at the world through a critical lens and to ask if we could do this better.
I believe that good could happen inside associations, but that good would happen quicker and to a larger scale if the associations were open to new blood in it’s membership and committees and they seem largely afraid of that – so why submit yourself to that fear and loathing when you can provide the same services an association provides without receiving those emails.
In an effort to join the process and volunteer on a committee I’ve tried to join the AFCC committee for the last 3 years and have been blocked each time. So I’ll commit my efforts here at the Celebrant Institute where our members value the work we make. Thank you!