Tenielle asks

Hey guys, I’m hoping you can lend me some advice or wording to send to a couple. Met with them on Saturday and whilst they are lovely, the vibe was NOT there. Conversation was really stunted and it didn’t seem like a natural fit from my perspective. I’m really not wanting to take their booking, but I don’t know how to politely tell them, ‘Thanks but no thanks’. I’m especially aware of any legal obligations we have to marry couples and not discriminate against them.

I would use the whole, ‘Sorry I’m double booked!’ route, but their date just opened for my bookings and that would be a blatantly obvious lie.

It’s funny, both Sarah and my first reaction to this was “sure, we’ve felt that way, but never actually done it.” Which highlights an important difference between many celebrants. Sarah and I both pay all our bills with celebrancy. Our celebrant income is our primary, and only, income – and although I’ve never acknowledged it before on this website, I think it’s an important lens to see us both through. This simply means that sometimes we make decisions that lean towards “we got paid” away from “this couple is the best couple ever!”

More importantly though, I’ve got three responses to Tenielle’s question because this situation is not unfamiliar to many of us.


As with anything in life, prevention is better than a cure, so I go so far out of my way to craft my whole sales process – my website, my advertising, which fairs I exhibit at, who I refer to and from, my social media presence, and which venues I work closer with – so that couples that will love what I do, contact me.

I am so enamoured with this process that if I marry a couple who were not the right fit for me, my style, my personality, I over-analyse them to the point of no-return, trying to figure out what attracted them, and why they paid me so much money to play such an insignificant role in their life.

If you read through my content I’ve been creating for the last decade, it’s all designed to offend the right people and attract the right people. It’s no accident that I pick the battles I pick and I’m silent on other issues. Generally speaking, I’m terribly deliberate about my business actions.

Dealing with it in the meeting

One thing I require from my couples is active participation in our meetings, the ceremony planning, and the actual ceremony. So when we meet, even for a sales meeting, I try not to be the number one talker. I definitely lead the conversation, and the entire process, but I work hard to get them talking.

I’m literally typing this sitting in a pub in Western Sydney’s Kingswood waiting for a couple. I like to meet in person over Skype if possible because it brings a level of personality and relationship I thrive in. The couple had suggested meeting at their home, and I turned the meeting around to meeting at the tavern because I wanted to own the situation. Meeting at their home makes it less of a date and more of an interview for a job. I use the word date deliberately, because it is a meeting to make sure we’re right for each other.

I’ve already plastered who I am over the website and social media, and I revisit some of these topics when we meet, but I am always pushing the conversation back on to them with questions like this:

  • Tell me about the wedding
  • Why did you pick that venue?
  • Which other vendors like photo or video have you locked in? What did you love about them?
  • How did you find me?
  • How do you think I could make your wedding amazing?
  • How did you two meet?
  • What does marriage mean to you?
  • Is there anything I can answer for you that’s not answered on my website?

After a barrage of questions like that we’re either best friends or you never want to hear from me again.

Breaking up after the meeting

If you’re charging a good fee, and you have communicated well about who you are, what you do, and what kind of couples book you, and the couple still want to book you then I would question your judgement on the couple. It is totally important that you have a good vibe on the couple, and that you gel, but if you’ve gone through the last two steps and they still want to pay you money to be their celebrant I would take it and write the afternoon off.

However, if you need to break up with them, I wouldn’t lie, and I would not discriminate. I would tell them that for me to do my job best, the three of us really need to be able to communicate and understand each other well, and that after our last meeting I felt that you weren’t able to communicate what you wanted and how you were feeling well, and ultimately I think that would result in me not doing the best job as a celebrant for you.

But I wouldn’t be too worried, I don’t think this couple is going to be in touch 🙂