Opportunity for a Melbourne celebrant wanting to go full time

Sarah and I have been talking to a Paul Carr, an entrepreneur, friend, and founder of Nudo about trying to find a match between his new wedding venue venture and celebrants.

His idea is packaging entire weddings, from venue to celebrant and everything in-between, by having all of the vendors on a wage. Obviously celebrants can’t be on staff at a venue due to the conflict of interest, but you can do a deal where you do ceremonies for them at an agreed rate.

Fitting into this model may not appeal to all, but I’m willing to bet there are a few that would benefit from the time in the air.

My personal thought is that if you’re new, or new-ish, consider this a year long apprenticeship. The best place to learn about celebrancy is at the end of the aisle and Paul will put you in front of 50-odd weddings in a year.

The added bonus is that Paul pays for your Celebrant Institute membership while you’re at Nudo so you have the support of Sarah and I directly.

From Paul:

Nudo has brought together a team of wedding specialists to offer complete end-to-end packages for wedding couples. They have assembled an awesome team and the last piece of their puzzle is finding an amazing celebrant.

If anyone would like to join our team, we can offer you 50+ weddings in the next 12 months. Nudo will:

  • cover the cost of all sales and marketing
  • offer you a minimum 50 weddings
  • develop a website, brand and portfolio for you to use at your own discretion

If you’re interested, reach out to Paul Carr at paul@nudo.co

Old marketing versus new marketing, example 503,000,091

Old marketing would put the right message in the right place so the right people would find it. The celebrant would advertise in the wedding magazine because people having weddings bought wedding magazines. The tools were at the tool shop so people who needed tools would know where to buy them. The cheap services were advertised where cheap people shopped, and expensive services were advertised where people with too much money shopped.

New marketing requires you to be found, to be stumbled across. For someone to tell someone else “look over there” and when they do, they’re pleasantly surprised as they find an opportunity to invest some of their money in something that resonates with their worldview, their needs, and their wants. New marketing is about aligning stories, creating serendipity, wonder, and aww. New marketing is a long term investment with even longer term gains.

New marketing isn’t about price, it’s about value, identity, authenticity, vulnerability, and care.

The art of differentiation

“Differentiation starts with the choice to do one thing well” says Bernadette at The Story of Telling blog.

I wanted to break that powerful statement down and offer up some food of thought for celebrants today.

The choice

Your celebrant practise, the act and art of you being the celebrant you are is a choice. It may well be that “every” celebrant does it “that way” or that there is an accepted or traditional method of doing something, but you still make the choice. Even if the choice is to change nothing and do the same as everyone else.

To do

The art of being different requires doing. Then failing, flailing, and falling, and finking (I really wanted all the words to start with F), and facing forwards and doing again.

No-one’s been different by not doing.

The truth is that you’ll actually find out how different you are a year or two after you start the doing and you’ll actually be a whole lot weirder and more wonderful than you ever could have imagined.

One Thing

I see celebrants worldwide offer up every single service and ceremony you could think of. If you don’t think you’ve found your difference yet, my challenge to you is to narrow that down to one thing, at least at the start. I’m not saying you can’t do funerals and weddings, but if you’re failing at finding your footing in both, put one on ice for a season and make the choice to do one thing …


You are really bad at a large number of things. I know I’m terrible at earthmoving, kitesurfing, video games, carpentry, the list goes on, but I would count my successes to figuring out what I can do well. 

My question for you, and for the comments, is what do you think you do well. Shout your own praises from the comments section.

And secondly, if you know another member of this community does something well but they need to hear it, mention it in the comments. Or at least send them a text.

Help others make the choice to do one thing well.

Calculating your fee

Liene over at Think Splendid has published a super insightful blog post about how she prices herself for her speaking gigs.

I wonder if we as celebrants have considered not only our costs of doing business expenses, living wage, the average celebrant fee, the market’s response to fees, and everything else we can talk about when it comes to pricing yourself, but have we considered this important point.

How much value are we bringing to our couples?

How much better is their life, their wedding, their marriage, because of what we say and do?

It might cost us $100 to be a celebrant, and the average fee might be $200, and you’d like $300, but what if we are actually bringing $400 of value to our couples’ lives, and what if we had the potential inside of us already to bring $500 of value.

What if we revolutionised the whole game and our couples walked away $600 richer in their soul because their marriage was breathed into life by someone who cared?

Just some food for thought for all of us.

Giving your clients what they want: bad deal

I have been simmering on the idea that our clients don’t actually know what they want, despite almost all wedding vendor websites claiming to give them whatever they want, for quite a while now.

I even had half an article drafted, and then today Liene at Think Splendid wrote this great piece and it nailed the whole idea.

If you offer clients “what they want” without offering your expertise and insight, then your clients are actually getting a bad deal. You are getting paid for your professional opinion: speak up.

Read her piece here then maybe edit your marketing materials to reflect the professional you are. Or if you don’t have a professional opinion, develop one, or shut down. When your clients hire a celebrant, they’re hiring an amazing skilled and talented professional, not a “by the hour” legal signatory to some documents.

Joining an association, Josh’s view

Jo asks

What professional association do I join? One? Two? All? I know this is tricky question and high levels of diplomacy may be required – but how does a newbie choose between the associations? My RTO has given no advice and all associations seem to offer the same or similar benefits.

The good news is that you don’t have to join a celebrant association, it’s a choice you get to make. As for which association, and there’s many, you ought to look at the benefits membership brings you.

As I skim the membership benefits pages of many of the associations, I see insurance being offered by many, although because of my corporate structure I have public liability insurance separately, some offer celebrant software, some offer copyright licensing, and others offer mentoring, meetings, and online forms and Facebook groups (oh so many Facebook groups), and if pushed I personally don’t see immediate benefit to many of them outside of discounted insurance.

Liaising with the Attorney-General’s department

There is however an important aspect of celebrant associations that many associations are dropping, that’s their liaising with the AGD office.

From this week’s issue of Marriage Celebrant Matters

The department met with marriage celebrant associations on 2 May 2018. Sixteen celebrants representing fourteen celebrant associations were in attendance. Issues discussed included improving consultation approaches between associations and the department, changes to the Marriage Act 1961 for marriage equality, and consultation activities including the review of official marriage forms. The meeting also included a presentation by the Department of Finance on the Australian Government Charging Framework. The department held a teleconference with associations on 10 August 2018 and the next face to face meeting is scheduled for mid-October.

Celebrant associations have a seat at the table with the AGD.

Our AGD needs to be held accountable to decisions they make, plus there needs to be open communication between that office and the celebrant population. In recent times our own Sarah Aird has taken that upon herself and if we don’t support associations, or have one worth joining, this kind of work will fall on individual shoulders.

Maybe that’s what the future of marriage celebrancy in Australia looks like?

Celebrancy: The price

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

Henry David Thoreau

Self-employed creatives can talk about price and fee until the end of time. I’ve had celebrants privately, publicly, to my face, and behind my back, make all of the comments about why I charge too much, or not enough, and how that’s a problem, or an opportunity.

Everyone has an opinion on price.

Because our price is so closely linked to our soul, our heart, our skill, and as Henry says: the amount of life you exchange.

How much life are you exchanging per wedding? Are you charging a fair price, or giving away your most valuable asset for free?

New guidance on the meaning of the one month’s notice period

This is a free article from the Celebrant Institute - please share with other celebrants and check out our home page if you're interested in becoming a member

8 July 2018

Most of you probably didn't pay too much attention to the fact sheet that was released on Friday 6 July 2018, in the email advising the new Guidelines were out. I certainly didn't until someone brought an apparent typographical error to my attention. You can have a read of it here:

Fact sheet re one month notice

According to the AFCC, who spoke to MLCS after the fact sheet was released, it is not an error but NEW GUIDANCE on how we are to calculate the one month's notice period.

I wrote this email to MLCS today. I'll keep you posted on the response...

Read More

Guidelines 2018: What’s changed? Part 1

This is a free article from the Celebrant Institute - please freely share and check out our home page if you're interested in becoming a member

In this series of posts I'll be looking at the Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 for Authorised Celebrants 2018: what's new, what's changed, and what's gone. I'm not going to talk about changes such as the checklist for solemnising marriages moving from page 31 to the appendix, or other page or structure changes. What I will be talking about is the changes that affect the way Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants (both Subdivision C marriage celebrants and Subdivision D religious marriage celebrants) do our work, and there are more than you might expect. Let's dive in!

Read More

How to get professional photos to share on your socials

A common conversation amongst everyone in the wedding industry who is not a wedding photographer is asking photographers for photos.

It’s great when you get them, it means your social media feeds have a professional feel over an iPhone photo feel, and it’s literally their job to make art out of events so their photos are always going to be better than yours.

This is a free article from the Celebrant Institute – please freely share and check out our home page if you’re interested in becoming a member

Some ground rules:

  1. Start this process knowing that no photographer owes you photos. They simply don’t, so if you get a photo, they’re doing you a favour.
  2. Never screenshot photos, just don’t, when you screenshot images you take a large high resolution beautiful photo and then recapture it at the size of your phone. It’s like a taking a photo of a photo and it’s the first way to annoy your photographer friends.
  3. Do not edit, crop, change the colour of, or add a filter to any photographs you are given. This is art, and 99 times out of one hundred, you can’t make it better. And if you do edit the photo, then credit the photographer, your’e telling the world that the photographer had the final say on those colours, so maybe if you really like that filter, ask the photographer if they think it’s an improvement.
  4. Different photographers will have different rules for use, but unless they state otherwise, I would assume that these are only to be used in social media posts and blog posts that I own. So I’m not to send them to a wedding magazine or blog, submit them anywhere, or use them on billboards. If I was going to print photos for use in wedding fairs, billboards, or in marketing material, I would generally ask if it was ok.
  5. The easiest way to share photos and give honour to the photographer is to share their blog, Facebook, or Instagram post natively. Natively means not-screenshotting the images, but clicking share on Facebook, so the original post is shared. On Instagram this means sharing their post or story to your own story.

Now that we’ve discussed rules, let’s talk about how to get them.

How to ask

This is the easy part. Asking photographers for their photos is as simple as asking. I prefer email because they can reply in their own time, but if you’re already in conversation with the photographer, perhaps on Instagram DM or Facebook Messenger, then simply pose the question.

Try not to ask on the wedding day, don’t offer business cards or get them to write down your details. On the wedding day we are all-hands-on-deck and no-one cares about tomorrow’s Instagram post.

What to ask?

Can I share some photos from the wedding, I promise to play by your rules, always credit and not edit. You can use whichever words you want, but keep it simple, don’t waste their time, and be polite. (It sounds like a redundant thing to ask, but I’ve seen some of your emails)

Credit and not edit

When posting the photo/s, as early as your story allows credit the photographer. I like to try and make it a little bit cute and personal to, like how I’ve credited Michael Briggs in this Instagram post.

Be sure to @mention them, which means before you start constructing the post you’ve identified what their Instagram username is, if you’re on Facebook, you’ve done the same, and if it’s on a blog then you’re linking back to their website, or if you want to get tricky and they’ve blogged the same wedding, link to their blog post.

On Facebook @mentions work differently than on Instagram, you start with the @name but then choose their business page from the drop down list so it looks like Dan O’Days name on this post.

Pro wedding hack: search for your wedding venue on Google and Apple Maps, and if it's not the right location tap "…

Posted by Married By Josh on Thursday, January 4, 2018

You’re welcome to word and caption to your heart’s content, just make sure it is clear that you didn’t take the photo and that if you’re interested in finding out who the photographer is, that you can click a link.

A quick note on @mentions on Facebook: Each Facebook page has a username and a “display name”. For example my own Facebook username is marriedbyjosh but my display name is Married By Josh.

If you visit a business’ Facebook page you’ll generally see the display name like mine in this screenshot “Married By Josh” and the username beneath.

When creating the post you can start typing @marriedbyjosh and my display name should come up for selection, or if you start typing @married by josh the same drop down box should appear.

When to ask

Sarah notes in the comments, and my friend James Day, both add good notes about when to ask. The average wedding photo contract promises delivery in under eight weeks, and the average delivery time is three to five weeks. So I’d be setting a timer/reminder/note to not ask the day after the wedding but to wait about six weeks.

Final note, what can you give?

This whole post has been about what you can get from a photographer, but consider what you could give as well. If you’re a marriage celebrant you know the couple’s story, and possibly even some vows. They’ve got the photos but you’ve got the captions. You need to be respectful of your couples’ privacy, and not share too much, but I’ll ask couples if they don’t mind some of their story being told in social media, plus those that book me see me doing it for others, and if they would like it to be private, they’ll let me know.

If you’re not a celebrant reading this guide, then maybe there’s other value you can bring to a photographer. Don’t feel like this whole experience requires give and take, but it’s the human way of operating, so at least offer a thanks and if someone’s looking for a photographer, don’t be afraid to refer them.

In praise of the not-young celebrant

This is a free article from the Celebrant Institute - please share with other celebrants and check out our home page if you're interested in becoming a member

I'll never forget my very first wedding expo, where I arrived to the convention centre so green that I didn't realise there was an expectation that I would design a booth. So we painted a board with blackboard paint and brought it to the expo, along with the required chalk, and with minutes to go until the expo doors opened I had to think of something to write.

Some words that would draw the crowds in and pay my rent.

"Fine young celebrant" was my first draft that lasted day one of three at the expo. In hindsight, expecting everyone to heavily appreciate my play on words, was my first mistake. My second was that no-one wanted a "fine" celebrant.

Day two brought with it a wet cloth, a clean blackboard, and a second draft that became my tagline for the next few years: "Fun young celebrant!" Read More

2018 OPD with Sarah on the Gold Coast?

If you’re a celebrant in Southeast Queensland or Northern New South Wales that would like to complete their OPD (ongoing professional development) commitment with The Oracle, Sarah Aird (through Qualtrain) we can do it if we get 30 people in the room.

Completing OPD in a room with likeminded people and an awesome trainer beats the ass off completing OPD online or in PDFs.

So follow this link and select which dates work for you.


Once a date has 30 people’s names next to it we’ll email you with the registration details.

Portable PA speaker system purchasing advice

This is a free article from the Celebrant Institute - please share with other celebrants and check out our home page if you're interested in becoming a member

Jo asks:

Hey Josh, it's one of your favourite subjects - P.A. systems. I am saving up for my first one, not even sure where to start but think my budget might stretch to $2k. Is that too little? Can you provide some options and good suppliers? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Jo, you are so correct, this is one of my favourite subjects. Well before I was a celebrant with opinions on PA systems I was a guest at weddings and even regular events where I struggled to hear the person speaking. Nothing frustrates my brain more than being able to see the lips moving but the sound isn't in my ears. In fact, good stage designers and performance creators base their decisions on the audience's five senses being in line with what they are trying to deliver. Can the audience member at the front, middle, and rear, see, hear, feel, smell, and taste exactly what we want them to. Read More

Maybe I’m incompetent?

The Celebrant Institute, this website, exists for celebrants who struggle with their competence. It’s ok, you’re not alone in thinking “maybe I could do better.” Marriage celebrancy is my full time job, it’s all I do, and more often than not I question how competent I am at running a business, providing for my family, performing marriage ceremonies. My encouragement to you today is that it’s ok, this is human, our brains hate us.

But there’s also a chance that we could be better, so the Celebrant Institute serves that space, for celebrants who are already celebranting but want to be better.

As part of this betterment I’d like to introduce you to the Dunning-Kruger effect. The effect is this: people who think they’re incompetent are not in-fact incompetent, because people who are incompetent are not competent enough to realise their own incompetence.

So if you have any illusion of high-functioning competence, you are most likely incompetent.

And if you query your own competence, perhaps even thinking you are indeed incompetent, you are not incompetent, but instead you are on the scale of competence. I’m willing to bet you’re even more competent than you imagine.

So if you find yourself on this spectrum of competence, that is, you’re not incompetent as a celebrant, but you also don’t think you’re so competent that you’re probably actually incompetent, then come along for the ride as Sarah and I answer your questions about the legal side of marriage celebrancy, the business and marketing side of celebrancy, and of course the performance aspects. We’ll cover it all, and all we ask is that if you value that kind of contribution to your competence, you put your money where your mouth is and become a member.