What is your best understanding of original forms of ID like passports, birth certificates, and drivers licenses being "sighted by the celebrant before the marriage is solemnised"?
Can we receive a scan, or sight them over video chat, or must we the celebrant be standing in the same room as the passports for them to be "sighted"?
We must be in the same room. No ifs, no buts.Read More
I have a celebrant mate of mine whose registration is pending with the AG’s office. But, she has a friend’s wedding coming up towards the end of September, which is the reason why she completed the course. I initially completed the NOIM for her and kept the date in September free (just in case), but what would you recommend I do to help from here? Should I just hang tight and wait for the AG or can I take care of the legals and have the other celebrant deliver the ceremony (other than the legal elements of course)? Also how would this work if the other celebrant has spent the time getting to know the couple and I have simply helped in a legal capacity?
It's definitely possible for an authorised celebrant to manage the legalities of the ceremony while another person (whether a pending celebrant or a friend of the couple) delivers the "ceremonial" aspects of the ceremony.Read More
I've been asked to do a wedding two hours from Sydney and quoted an extra $50 above my usual fee each way, but they want to do a rehearsal the day before which would require me driving an extra four hours plus the time it takes to do the rehearsal. How would you recommend I charge for this?Josh and I, along with every celebrant in the universe, have different ways of calculating travel fees, so this article is definitely just my view and the way I do it. Read More
I have a couple that had a commitment ceremony four years ago and legally changed their names, and are now wanting to get married. What names should I use on the paperwork? What's on their birth certificate?
In a word, no. When a person changes their name legally, they forfeit the right to use the name on their original birth certificate. How this happens is a little more complex than that though...Read More
I've written previously about listing parents' names on the NOIM, and I've had some follow up questions (from a celebrant who had totally read the first post, yay!):
1) Recently received a NOIM by email (interstate couple) where the Father is listed as 'Unknown' - should I be clarifying if this is actually the case (even though I don't have to see evidence), as opposed to the party just preferring not to list? OR am I able to simply rely on their statement?
2) In the case where a person does not wish to include one of their parent's names (eg: a party who has renounced a parent and would prefer to write 'unknown' or write a step-parents name) should I be advising that they must include their biological parent's name (even though I'm not required to see evidence)?
To be honest, this area is quite contentious at the moment (for reasons I'll outline below) so I'm going to answer these questions in two ways: what the Guidelines 2018 tell us, and what I think should be best practice. I will be following up these issues with the AGD and will let you know if/when I get some clarification.Read More
A celebrant asks:
Divorce certificates. They just get me confused as to what I need to sight, how I need to sight it and what I definitely need to record. What I'd really like clarified once and for all is:
-- Do I need to see the original certificate?
-- If it's from a different country, what do I need to look for?
-- If my couple got divorced in a country that doesn't use English as its main language do I need to see a certified copy of the certificate?
-- If one/both of my couple got divorced in Australia and don't have a copy of the certificate, where do they apply for this?
Divorce certificates can be super confusing, not least because the way they've been issued in Australia has changed multiple times. So I'll take these questions one at a time, and hopefully things will become clearer!
Before I jump in though, the first point is to note that it's entirely up to the celebrant to decide whether or not they are satisfied that the party is free to marry. AGD won't help, BDM won't help, the onus is completely on the celebrant.Read More
Like you I want to create beautiful funeral ceremonies. Because I think funerals can be beautiful. An assignment in my celebrant course had me visit a local funeral director with a bunch of questions on how they work with celebrants. The funeral director I met was uncharacteristically young and cool, and he said to come back when I have a business card. Which I've done. But how do I approach other funeral directors? One other I did go and visit was very friendly and I could tell he liked me but also felt my lack of experience would prevent him from booking me. It's different when it's not the clients so much who are finding you, but other professionals. Any suggestions?
Getting into the world of funeral celebrancy is so, so, so difficult. I am yet to meet a busy funeral celebrant who developed a marketing plan and made it work. For every single person I've spoken to, it's been about being in the right place at the right time. All I can do is tell you what I personally have done, and hopefully some ideas will come out of it for you 🙂Read More
Sarah, I've just had a quick look at your website. I noticed you usually stand to the side of your bride and groom, not behind them. It looks really good. I imagine when you first started you tried all spots to stand and this was the best? Any hints on this Sarah?
You're absolutely right Ann, it took me a bit of trial and error and a lot of talking to other celebrants to figure out where I was most comfortable standing during the ceremony. Let me take you through how I worked it out! But first a reminder that this is the way it works for ME; I'm not saying it's right or the only way, I'm not saying the other ways are wrong (even though I will tell you why they don't work for me), I'm simply letting you know that this is how I prefer to operate.Read More
I just did my tax and I'm very frustrated!!! I need advice on what software or system to use to make it easier. Most I see are not designed for a sole owner operator that has not registered for GST (I earn less than 75k); they seem too complicated. I know what I earn and spend this shouldn't be so frustrating. But I never know what category to put things in. I don't know. What do you use? I have a subscription to 17hats I thought that might help but its basically designed for America.The GST question isn't overly important in this issue; most software today can easily adapt to changing to being GST registered, but the question of what software to use, and how to use it, is important. Read More
In an earlier podcasts (I think top tips for new celebrants) you talk about finding a celebrant mentor and see if you can go along to some ceremonies. I am super keen to make this happen but where do you suggest I start to find a mentor? I am not yet finished studying (hopefully the end of Aug) so haven't yet signed up to a professional association. Is it best to wait till I am done and have jumped through the AG's final hoops? If so, what do I do? Stalk a celebrant who's style I admire? Ask some friends who have had ceremonies to refer me? Would love some advice so I can hit the ground running and learn from the wisdom of those before me.First up, a big thanks to Jo for listening to the podcast. I'm glad you're enjoying it and getting something out of it! I haven't checked with Josh about whether or not we have different opinions on this (he's on a mountain somewhere in New Zealand as I write this) but it's eminently possible that we do, so I'm making this post my view, and he can post his if he has a different one! Read More
I'm marrying a couple next year - Party 1 is female; Party 2 is a transgender male. What I want to clarify is that if Party 2 has neither a birth certificate or passport in his common usage name that's not a problem as long as I am satisfied he is who he says he is. For example, is it enough that I know people who know him, and that he is listed on his employer's website? My sense is that it is ridgy didge, but wanted to check that I'm right.This celebrant's thoughts aren't quite right, and the answer is similar to the one I posted not long ago about a bride's birth certificate name not matching her identification documents name. Read More
I have a bride who no longer uses her birth name for anything except forms. Her invites use her preferred name. She has actually said it’s causing her anxiety that her birth name be used during the ceremony. Am I right in saying that during mandatory vows we need to use birth certificate names (as they appear on the NOIM), however nicknames can be used everywhere else, unless of course she has officially changed her name (which it sounds like she hasn’t). Can I also put the pressure on and say that 1. It won’t be legal and 2. I could lose my registration if we did not use her full name at least once?Names are so tricky, but the rules outlined in the Guidelines 2018 are pretty clearcut. Read More
I am marrying a couple of brides this week and when I talked about the ID I'll need to witness beforehand, one piped up that her name on her Birth Cert is different to all other ID but she's never officially changed it. So her photo ID is going to be different surname to her Birth ID. She doesn't have a passport. I thought I'd need to use her original name on all marriage docs (for avoiding future issues with passports etc) but am I correct or can I use her preferred surname even though the paper-trail lacks an official name change?I rang the celebrant about this one because she needed an answer urgently, and it turned out it was even more complicated than first thought! Read More
I have a couple wanting to elope with just their parents and children present. I'm just writing because after looking at the guidelines I'm still a bit unclear and just need clarification on the use of a qualified interpreter. My couple are both deaf and they communicate via Auslan and of course their own beautiful way. Their parents are happy to sign and be there throughout our meetings and on the day. They can sign everything I say, and everything they say in return. Is this sufficient? Or do I need to advise them to organise a qualified person to come along? If the parents are okay to do this, do they still need to fill in a stat dec?Read More
For anyone looking to follow your example of maintaining "an email list of all couples I meet at expos, fairs, open days, along with all who enquire with me" and sending them a weekly newsletter - are there any legal considerations or permission issues (opt in/opt out) we need to consider? Is it fine to just add any email address to a newsletter database or is there particular wording we need to use in sourcing those addresses for that purpose? Cheers.So there's three issues to address here:
- Consent to being added to a list
- Sending commercial messages versus sending spam
- Once you've identified that you're within the law, are you sending an email worth sending
I'm currently studying to become a marriage celebrant, but there is one thing that worries me about setting up my practice once authorised: the home office. I currently live with flatmates in the city, so space is limited. I'm only planning on doing the celebrancy thing as a side gig (at the moment) as an antidote to my corporate day job, so renting full-time office space isn't practical. In your interpretation of the Marriage Act and Code of Practice, would it be appropriate to maintain an "office" in my lockable bedroom, securing documents in a locked filing cabinet, while renting a separate interview space when needed or offering to meet couples in their homes? Can you recommend any other solutions?This is definitely something you shouldn't be worried about at all, there's no need to overthink it! Read More
I know according to section 45(2) of the Marriage Act, couples are required to say "I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take thee, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband); or words to that effect." When it comes to couples personalising their vows, aside from the previous mentioned, do couples have to say certain things, or are they free to say what they see fit?This one's almost easy: they can literally say whatever they see fit, almost... Read More
This relates to the questionnaire you send your couples. I've been doing the same, but as I'm fairly new, don't really have a system in place as to when couples need to get back to me. When you send the questionnaire do you give your couples a deadline, if so do they generally stick to it, and what if they don't?? And when do you tell couples you'll send a first draft, final draft etc? Or do you sometimes have to play by ear according to the couples. So far I haven't had any issues but I imagine some couples dragging their feet could affect getting the ceremony written. Would love your input on this.I definitely have a process and a timeline and deadlines and reminders and it all works! I’m much more process driven than a lot of celebrants (including Josh!) but it works for me, and my couples appreciate the fact that they don’t have to think or remember anything; I tell them exactly when everything is due and send them reminders when necessary. Read More
I'd like to know about your booklet. The idea of printing an expensive booklet seemed a bit outdated to me, given that there are so many resources online and such a diversity of options for couples these days. None of my couples so far have been interested in readings, and I'm reluctant to pin them down as far as ceremony structure goes either, until I know more about them. What does your booklet look like, how many pages etc and what quality do you recommend? Do you find that couples choose structure and content based on the booklet or do you also provide links? And how do you get around the fact that you may want to update it when you find more content? I worry about the expense when I think about how often I come across new stuff and imagine wanting to change things up often.I know not all celebrants provide a booklet of information to their couples, but I have since the beginning of my life as a celebrant, and I find it helps both me and the couple stay on track and organised, and the couples who choose to work with me love the way it helps them plan out their ceremony. Read More
I have a couple coming up. They got married a year ago (pretty much for their families to have a religious ceremony). None of their friends know this though. Before getting married officially for their parents, they said they would only do it their parents' way if they could have a big bash with their friends the way they want this year. The time has come! It's within a month. I met with them yesterday and they were so stressed about their friends finding out etc that they were already married. I explained that we wouldn't have to focus on that and include in the scripting that "this is the day that Jack and Jill are choosing to celebrate their marriage in front of you special people blah blah blah". Instead of doing official paperwork, I offered a commemorative certificate instead (as this doesn't have any legal bearing anyway). Are there any issues with what can/cannot be written on this? Would 'wedding certificate' be safe? I really don't want to say 'THIS CEREMONY IS IN NO WAY LEGAL/BINDING' so I was just going to gloss over it a little how you explained in your previous podcast. Obviously no Monitum will be said and there will be no legal vows but the couple will still write their own. Obviously I won't be doing DONLIMs or submitting anything formal to BDM, but I thought the 'pretty' certificate or a commemorative certificate would be okay. Anything else I should look out for?The Guidelines are pretty clear on this, but let me give you my interpretation of what they say. Read More
I have my first Proposed marriage visa letter. Do I get the couple to fill out the NOIM and groom sign it (bride is overseas). Prepare a letter and then only when she gets in the country get her to sign the NOIM? Or does she need to sign the NOIM in her country before I can give a visa letter?There are multiple different visas a person can apply for in order to emigrate to Australia. If an Australian citizen or permanent resident falls in love with a citizen from another country, applying for a Prospective Marriage Visa (PMV) is one way the overseas partner can start the process of emigrating to Australia. Remember, celebrants are in no way, shape or form allowed to give migration advice to couples. We must be mindful of the boundaries of our role. However, a PMV requires documentation from a celebrant before it can be approved, so this post is about the celebrant's role in this process. Read More
As a reasonably new celebrant (2016) my question to you both is how can I improve my skills and knowledge on writing ceremony scripts? How do you guys keep yourselves updated and up-skilled in this area? Can you recommend any resources, websites etc to increase my creative bank (example quotes, styles of weddings)? What framework do you both use when creating your wedding script?Once again, Josh and I have VERY different views on this, so we're answering this one separately 🙂 First up, it's really important to know that ceremony writing is a very personal thing, and EVERY celebrant approaches it differently. This is just the way I do it, and that's not to say it's good, bad or other. It's just the way it works for me and has evolved over my celebrant career. Read More
Price points seem to be a hot topic everywhere... Would you recommend putting your fees on your website? Some celebrants display their price on their website, others don't. Some also seem to provide services cheaper then a BDM wedding. Which poses that question that some people expect you to compete on price, they aren't comparing the quality of service provided. Only the number they see on the page...You will literally get a different answer on this from every celebrant or marketing guru you speak to. So for this question, both Josh and I are going to offer our views! This article is just Sarah's thoughts. Read More
I'm looking at expanding my services other than just celebrant. At the moment I have a little side gig where it is wedding packages with hair, make up and myself this is run on a separate facebook page. But I'm wanting to possibly offer ceremony styling as well. Just wanted to check it I could advertise this on my celebrant website under a tab "Ceremony Styling" and offer DIY or we setup and dismantle the ceremony. Think simple to start with chairs, flowers and arch. Just before I go making any purchases just wanted some feedback and advice. Thanks!And:
I am currently working for a theatre company and intend to keep working for them, but I want to be able to do weddings occasionally and for friends. However because I’m trained in fashion and costume I thought I’d be able to offer wedding dresses but from what I can understand I can’t? I understand how that can be a conflict of interest now but I was wondering where you draw the line within packages and extras. If I can’t even offer custom veils as an inclusion of a package then I feel like all my other hard earned creative making abilities are of no use?This has all changed! We can now do (almost) anything we like! Read More
The guidelines state that weddings are usually considered 'private in nature' and so playing music, reading poems etc is fine. The examples the guidelines list are all indoors. What if the ceremony is in a public space? Do you have to get insurance for this through an association or does it fall under Public Liability, Personal Accident, Professional Indemnity etc if you went for insurance privately. Would appreciate pros/cons etc of the going with an association if protection is required.I'm going to look at all three questions here; whether or not we need copyright or other licences or insurances for weddings, and what kinds of insurance may be useful, and whether you should get your insurance through an association or privately! Read More
Just a quick question about intellectual property of ceremony drafts. Hasn't happened to me, but have heard of stories of celebrants issuing a draft ceremony for the clients to look over, and then that ceremony being taken by the couple to a cheaper celebrant. Don't know how true it is, but it did get me thinking about my own Ts and Cs and about how I could best protect myself at the end of the day. Look, I know how easy it is to forward on a PDF or a Word Document and there's stuff all we can do about it at the end of the day, but it's just another aspect of this job that's been on my mind a bit lately.So there are three angles I'm going to answer this question from: Read More
NOIM question. I know it says in the Guidelines if a person is in the country for a matter of days you leave the period of residency blank. Is that right? The only time I leave it blank is when they are born here, and I wouldn't want there to be any confusion with an overseas-born person if I left it blank and BDM thought I'd made a mistake and forgot to fill it in.You're absolutely right, the Guidelines recommend leaving the period of residency fields blank on the NOIM. Read More