It’s not you, it’s me

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.

Prevention

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 🙂

Starting a business

§ MEMBERS ONLY CONTENT

Linda asks:

I have completed my cert 4 at last and am in the process of doing my AG application so now I am thinking about the set up of my business. I have no previous experience in this area and wondering where to start really. Should I be sourcing and / or starting to create a website now ( not go live of course!) do I produce business cards etc, basically when and where is a good time to start if you’re not an expert! Considering it can take up to 3 months to hear back could you suggest a timeline please?


Only members have access to the full article – To access all of the advice and content on the Celebrant Institute website, and to ask questions, you need to be a paid member and if you already are a member, log in here.

Membership is $10 a month, and because we can tell you’re keen to check the site out, if you join via this link only, we’ll give you a three day free trial so you can cancel if you don’t love us like our mothers do.


Insuring your PA system

§ MEMBERS ONLY CONTENT

Ella asks:

I’ve purchased my PA systems and equipment because this isn’t covered under my home contents as it’s business use. Most home insurers will find a way not to pay if I did try to claim if something happened! (Previous industry knowledge). Who do you use for insurance on your equipment? As my other insurance is the association group on – can’t just add it on it.


Only members have access to the full article – To access all of the advice and content on the Celebrant Institute website, and to ask questions, you need to be a paid member and if you already are a member, log in here.

Membership is $10 a month, and because we can tell you’re keen to check the site out, if you join via this link only, we’ll give you a three day free trial so you can cancel if you don’t love us like our mothers do.


Remarkable

Every few weeks contractors hit my suburb with a vengeance, lawn mowers, whipper snippers, blowers, the lot and for the next week the grass is low, but the streets are dirty.

Everyone knows they’ve visited, and all of us residents have mixed feelings about it because although they did the job they were asked to do, they left our homes messier than before. We are all able to remark on the mess they’ve left our suburb in.

Doing the job is one thing, leaving the place better than you found it is another, and delivering excellence where you do the job beyond expectations plus you left the wedding in a better place than anyone could have imagined should be the goal.


Delivering excellence is a remarkable action, an action that can be remarked on, that the people who witnessed it are able to remark on it.

We often think of our couples being able to remark on our excellence, and I hope they can, but I wonder what the family though? How can the guests remark on your efforts? Did the videographer leave the ceremony feeling blessed? Was the photographer enabled to make better photos because of your excellence?


This is the kind of work I want to create as a marriage celebrant: remarkable excellent work. That all who were there are able to remark of me well.

I hope you do the same.

How to sign marriage paperwork on an iPad

I’ve had a few people ask how I sign marriage paperwork on an iPad, and I had the grandest of intentions of preparing a fully professional video detailing that. However we’re expecting a baby any day now and I figured a low quality video with high quality information is better than no video at all.

Enjoy!

In this tutorial I’m using a MacBook Pro, and Apple iPad Pro with Apple Pencil, and the Mac and iOS versions of Notability. The hardware and software may be able to be changed up for your own equipment.

My disappointment every car service

Every time my car gets serviced, at 10,000km a service that’s about four to five times a year, I have this sinking feeling as I drive away from the mechanic’s workshop. After spending six odd hours away from me, and an average of $500 to $700 invoice, the car I drive away in feels pretty much the same as I brought to the workshop that morning at 8am.

I know that a regular service shouldn’t really impact my car’s drive or feel, and I’m not paying them to clean the car, but after spending the morning with a mechanic and my credit card being $700 poorer my gut tells me that the car should feel different.

There’s this disconnect between my intellectual mind that knows that the service is important and holds value, and my emotional side that can’t “feel” the service.

I wonder how much this plays out in other businesses, like in weddings, where we charge a certain amount for a service and a lot of that preparation happens behind closed doors. I wonder if our clients question what they get versus what they pay for?

When it comes to my car being serviced it’s up to me to recognise the value of a service and just get over it, but I wonder if they cleaned the car – a completely unnecessary service for a mechanic to provide – if I would walk away feeling better.

It’s partly for this reason I provide a the best quality PA speaker system and a high definition video recording of the ceremony in my packages. Both things I can already provide at no extra cost to me, and minimal extra effort on my behalf, but the couple feels an increase in value. Not only does it feel better, it actually makes the wedding better, and if the couple don’t have budget for a videographer they do get a good quality video of their ceremony and vows.

I wonder how else we can bridge that gap?

Don’t forget as well, merely adding value doesn’t make it valuable, your client needs to feel its value.

Beginners guide to not getting hacked

Reading the news today I realised that after Kristy Merlino’s email and Mailchimp accounts were hacked, that Kanye West’s iPhone passcode is 00000 and that Facebook doesn’t care about your privacy – it might be possible that other people aren’t 1) as passionate about Internet privacy and security as I am, 2) and even if they were, they might not know how to protect themselves.

Why should you care

If you don’t value your personal privacy, then anything I write won’t convince you otherwise, but there are three reasons you should value your business data security.

  1. The Code of Practice for Marriage Celebrants, section 5 part (c) requires you to keep “facilities for the secure storage of records” which is more related to digital data security than it is to a filing cabinet these days.
  2. Federal law requires you to “Protect personal information from theft, misuse, interference, loss, unauthorised access, modification, and disclosure.” You are also required to “take reasonable steps to destroy or de-identify personal information when it is no longer needed for any purpose permitted under the Privacy Act 1988. This might include shredding documents or storing them in a secure area.”
  3. Even if the Marriage Law section of the AGD office skips you, and the Australian Federal Police decide to leave you alone, you’re at risk at looking silly (screenshot). And second to obeying the law, having a good reputation is paramount to a successful business in this era.

How do you protect your business’ data?

Answering this question truthfully and to the full extent it deserves will take a lifetime, but here’s some starter ideas that you can take home, chew on, and hopefully implement.

1. Passwords

You probably have a bad password

There is only one kind of good password: a unique password.

I don’t care how advanced, fancy, and awesome your current password strategy is, if all of your passwords are the same word, or the same word with a differentiator like a number, a capital letter, or the name of the website, then you have a bad password.

There’s an extremely simple reason behind this strategy of having unique passwords. Every day other businesses, websites, and companies are hacked, and those companies may have data and information on you. Worse, if they are a company you created a user account with, they have your password and username, so when that company is hacked, those hackers now know your password.

If you’re curious as to how many hackers possibly have your personal private data, usernames, credit card numbers, passwords, and phone numbers, enter your email address into this website: https://haveibeenpwned.com. “Have I Been Pwned” is an Australian operated legitimate website that matches your email address against known hacks. “Pwned” is slang for “owned” meaning that someone owns you.

If I know your email password, does that mean I can access your online banking and your Facebook too?

I can’t remember all the passwords!

So if every website, service, and account has a different password you’ll never remember them all will you? So that’s what you need a password manager for. An app that is a secure vault of all of your unique passwords. I personally use 1Password. 1Password can generate random passwords so each place you need a password has a unique password and when that place is hacked, the hackers only have that unique password, not your top secret password you use everywhere.

There are other free password managers, but I like paying for my password manager for the same reason I liked using paid-for antivirus: I wouldn’t hire a free security guard. If I pay for it I can trust it. I pay for a 1Password business subscription so that Britt and I can share our passwords with each other. The 1Password app is on all of your Mac, Windows computer, Android, and iOS devices – even the Apple Watch – so you can access your secure password vault everywhere. I’ve even started storing all of our personal details like Passports, Medicare Cards, and Credit Cards in there so we can access them any time.

2. Two-step authentication

Many services today offer two-step authentication, which simply means that there are two steps to authenticate you. If the service only asks for a password that is one step, but if it asks for a password and an SMS code that’s two step. You’ve probably already experienced this with your bank.

Identify your most important services and make sure that if two-step authentication is available, that you enable it and use it.

My most important services are

  • my email, firstly because that’s all of my conversations but also how you can authenticate me if I’ve forgotten my password
  • my mobile phone account, because that’s the first point of call for most hackers, they’ll steal your number so they can then steal your two-step authentication codes and your “forgot your password” codes
  • my Apple ID, because that secures my three main computing devices, my Macbook, my iPad and my iPhone. If you can access those devices, you can access everything, plus that Apple ID contains backups of all of those devices, plus it has my Apple Pay and credit card information
  • my Dropbox account because that’s my “filing cabinet”
  • my online banking details, because money
  • my Paypal account, because money
  • my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts because those three places comprise my “online identity” and if that is compromised a hacker could claim falsehoods as true and maybe ask you guys for help or money

For all of those services I am doubly sure that I have a two step authentication method and a unique password for each, I like the 1Password “three word” style of password for the same reason this XKCD web comic likes them.

If nothing else, please, for the love of God, just do this, if nothing else.

Pathways to accessing your data

Good passwords and two-step authentication are important, but if a bad actor or hacker can simply walk up to your computer and access everything then you’ve already lost.

Mobile devices

If you have an iPhone or iPad, is your passcode less discoverable than five zeros? I actually made mine a word, because I didn’t want people to be able to watch my number passcode over my shoulder. On the same device, have you activated FaceID or TouchID? If you have a good passcode and FaceID or TouchID enabled, not even the FBI can access that device. This is the main reason I use Apple devices, for their security detail. If you have a new Android phone on the latest operating system, it very likely is very secure, but most Android phones don’t receive regular security updates so if it’s more than a year or two old it’s likely that the phone is insecure.

Desktop or laptop computer

Is the login password to your computer easy to guess? My father-in-law’s desktop computer password used to be his name with a capital first letter. Second to the password for your user account, are the other user accounts also secure? Is there a guest account that can access the computer without a password?

An often forgotten security tip on the more traditional form of computers is hard drive security. The computer might be secure, but can I take the hard drive out and put it into my computer and simply access all the data? On a Mac go to “System Preferences” then “Security and Privacy” and “FileVault” and make suer FileVault is turned on. On your Windows computer go to search and enter “manage Bitlocker” and enable it there.

External disks, USB sticks, CDs, DVDs

Do you have important and private business data on a USB stick, or a backup drive, just sitting on your desk? For a data thief that’s barely called hacking, it’s just simply taking advantage of a silly person.

Trust no-one

Every day I find emails and social media posts from friends and family that have had their email or social media compromised, and the number one culprit is trust.

They’ll receive an email that seems legit, or read a Facebook post which must be true. That direct message which claims to have information it can use against you to expose your embarrassing secret life or a lie about how you’ve already been hacked.

Learn how to identify which emails, messages, phone calls, and direct messages you can trust.

  • Look at the email address it’s coming from, does it seem real like josh@anz.com.au or is it something tricky like josh@anzbankofaustralia.com
  • Think about who is sending the message, click on their profile and see if they look trustworthy
  • If it’s a Facebook page with a too-good-to-be-true competition or offer, firstly, it probably is too good to be true, but secondly, look at the page and maybe it’s weird that Jetstar’s facebook page has a weird full stop at the end of the page name and it only has 2000 fans.
  • If an email is asking you to log on and confirm details it’s most likely false.
  • Almost nothing good comes via a phone call today, if it’s actually important the authority will send you a written letter or email.

Follow your gut

In the end you need to develop a gut instinct for what’s good and bad. Recently I followed this instinct on leaving Gsuite, Google’s email and business services product. Most of us have our email and calendar hosted by Google’s Gsuite for $5 a month but over the past year I’ve started to develop a distrust for Google as a company. I don’t trust them with my personal data, my business data, nor do I trust that they are doing the best things with that data.

So I’ve followed my gut and moved all of my email to Fastmail (10% off if you follow this link).

I’m not going to advocate for you to follow me and do the same, but read the news, read the tech articles, develop a gut instinct for who to trust, and who to ignore. This is your business and you are storing your own and your client’s private data (think of all the marriage paperwork you have with all that private information) and if your systems are compromised the law and the court of public opinion will hold you to account.

Two marketing positions better than “cheap celebrant”

There are only three positions you can take in any marketplace:

  • First
  • Best
  • Cheapest

That’s not to say only three businesses can win in any marketplace, after all, there are almost 10,000 celebrants serving over 120,000 weddings in Australia every year, clearly there are more than three people winning.

Even more arguable is that only two of those positions are winning positions. Trying to win at being cheapest is a race that every participant loses. You’ll invest so much energy and resource into trying to be the cheapest and end up under-cutting all of your colleagues whilst equally not charging enough to stay in business.

(Side note: have you noticed that the only successful “cheap” businesses like Crazy Clarks, McDonalds, Jetstar, Tiger, Aldi, Android, are all major corporations with systems and thousands of staff – unlike your local suburban celebrant undercutting everyone whilst doing twice the work?)

The other two positions are the two I would encourage you to aim for.

First

Be the first celebrant, or if you can’t be the first celebrant, maybe be the first celebrant in your area, or if you can’t be the first in your area, maybe try being the first to do a ceremony over Twitter, or if you can’t be the first on Twitter, be the first on Snapchat, or the first to advertise in a certain magazine, or the first to do a certain technique, or to use a certain piece of equipment, or the first to offer a certain type of ceremony.

Break new ground, make new paths, go where no-one else is going.

Best

Walk the path already made, plant in the already broken ground, but do it better than everyone else.

Be the most entertaining, the most personal, the best sounding, the best looking, the most helpful, the biggest blessing to videographers because you know how your PA system works, or the best friend of photographers by helping them call out people for family photos over the PA system after your ceremony.

Be the absolute best in your area of influence.

Be so good they can’t ignore you.

So good that people can’t help but comment on you, that people are able to remark on you, that you are able to be remarked on – be remarkable.

Cheapest

If you want to win as the cheapest celebrant, here’s what I’d do:

  • Automate the entire enquiry, booking, consultation, notice of intent and any other process
  • Start with a low-ball offer of about $200 then add on extras that when they are all selected your price is much more closer to the average $1100.
  • Remove reviews, recommendations, and testimonies from your marketing processes because if you look at the comments of your local McDonalds Facebook page, or for real horror, the Jetstar Facebook page, no=one has anything good to say about cheap.
  • Minimise the amount of access the couples and the business has to your life – it’s highly likely that the amount of life, energy and experience required from you will be low, and none of your customers are looking for an innovative and inventive “first” celebrant, and they’re not looking for the “best” celebrant, they’re looking for the cheapest. They’re looking to transfer as little value as possible for what you do, so make sure you meet their expectations.
  • Prepare yourself for the inevitable loss where you realise that first and best positions would fill your heart and cheap would barely fill your wallet.

If you think you’ve got what it takes to be Australia’s first best cheap celebrant, let me know, I’ve got just the domain name for you: http://celebrant.cheap. If you pitch an actually really good idea for a cheap celebrant I’ll transfer the domain name to you.

Or you could invest that energy into being the first or the best.

How to get enquiries to reply to your emails

Great question today:

Let’s talk follow up emails. You’ve received an enquiry, or worse, have met with a couple. You’ve sent them an email back, but it’s crickets from their end. How do you word your emails to try and elicit a response from them? I don’t want to rush them, but at the same time I’ve got a business to run.

This is an open/shut case whilst also being a deep cave you can get lost in.

My first point of action is to understand that when people hit your inbox they’re at a number of different stages, here’s a few examples:

  • They think they might be married one day so they’re dreaming of a wedding.
  • They think they’re getting engaged this weekend and they’re keen to start planning.
  • They just got engaged and have no idea what a wedding even costs.
  • They just found out that you exist and would really like you at their wedding as long as you only cost $50.
  • They’re getting married in four years.
  • They’re getting married in four weeks.

What a mixed bag of humans enquiring with you, and often you don’t even know what stage they’re at so your replies have to have that personal edge whilst also addressing people in all of these categories.

Now that we know that anyone from the dreamer to the rusher is emailing you with an enquiry, they all need to know the same thing from you:

  • Can you do what they need you to do?
  • At a date and place they need you to do it at?
  • At a price that they are willing to pay,
  • For an exchange of your value and life that has been accurately and romantically communicated.

And here’s where people get stuck. If any one of those points aren’t met, they don’t always know what to do. It might be that they don’t know hat kind of celebrant they are going to hire so they’ve emailed 50 of us. Or they might find out you’re not available but they really want you so they need to make other plans.

It’s just a hot mess of

  • people like you doing your job,
  • people that almost never plan events, planning an event, and
  • both of you trying to figure out if you both hold the same amount of value for what you say you do.

How to get a reply

The easiest way to get a reply, is to write a good email. Good emails get replies. Unless the people are terrible people then you probably don’t want a reply from them anyway.

Also, you’ve got to remember that when they ask “how much?” they don’t often enquire with celebrants and so they don’t know how to be polite and nice about it.

What does a good email look like?

A good email, particularly in these early days of our relationship looks like this:

  • brief and to the point,
  • whilst offering answers to all questions asked, and
  • communicating the value you’re willing to exchange for a price you’ve communicated, with one final banger:
  • a call to action.

End the short yet powerful email with a call to action.

Not a call to some kind of response like “let me know if that’s ok”

Give them a reason to hit reply. Here’s a few examples:

  • If you would like me to hold this date for you, hit reply and I’ll let you know how to proceed.
  • The next step for us is to meet either in person, on the phone, or on Skype, I’m available on Wednesday at 6pm, does that time work for you?
  • My quote for your wedding is $100,000. That price is valid for the next 5 days, please reply and let me know that you would like to proceed at that price.
  • If you read this far and still care, reply and let me know that I’m a valid person and my mum loves me.
  • You might understand that I receive many emails like yours each day so if you’d like to talk about me being your celebrant, please reply and we’ll proceed with booking in your wedding.

Or words to that effect.

What about meetings?

I end my meetings the same way. “When you both have made the decision about me being your celebrant, please email me and I’ll send you a booking form”.

People are stupid

People are stupid, well most people are stupid, clearly not you because you’re a member of the Celebrant Institute, but many people don’t know what to do next – so you need to lay the path forward for them, that’s what a call to action is.

Charging for travel. Sarah’s view

Mercy asks:

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

Doing deals with other vendors

Pete asks:

I have a question about the legalities of commercial arrangements with third parties given that as a Celebrant we’re government officers and our duty to avoid potential conflicts.

Just about everyone has a people we love section on their website, but, there’s obviously a line somewhere between [accepting a commercial discount on product/services for repeat business and independently giving a genuine recommendation to my clients] and [entering into commercial arrangements for non-commercial discounts / free products as a quid-pro-quo for implied or explicit endorsement & referrals].

I guess I’m just wondering where that line is as I’m currently faced with two potential arrangements – one in my gut I feel is ok, the other in my gut I think is not ok.

The one I think is ok: Is with a sound and lighting hire company who I’ve been hiring and buying sound gear from for over 15 odd years. When I’m booked to be the sound-man for a reception, I hire the big PA & lighting gear from them. I also bought half the components for my ceremony PA from them and do all of my servicing through them. So, they’ve offered me a discount of 25% on hire products for being a great repeat customer who always returns the gear in perfect condition, etc. etc. etc. and this is a discount that they offer to other great customers (i.e. it’s a “commercial discount”). I’m quite open with anyone who asks where I hire and buy my sound gear from because they offer great service, the gear is well maintained and high end, etc. etc. etc. and importantly it’s a genuine recommendation if anyone asks me where I think is the best place to get sound and lighting gear in Brisbane. Why I think this is ok is because it’s a commercial discount that I’ve been offered, the discount is based on being a good repeat customer, etc. rather than a quid-pro-quo, etc. etc. etc. and finally, as the hire is an expense that I pass on to my clients, it’s actually my clients that benefit from this discount, not me.

The one I think is not ok: Is a proposition from a contact that I was a client of, who just left his previous suit shop that does hire and sales to go out and do his own thing. He’s offered to figure out an arrangement where I hire suits from him on a rotating basis so that in effect I’m pretty much wearing a new suit for each wedding I do. He is currently on my “people I love list” based on the exceptional service I received as a client of his, but I’m getting the feeling that he’d like me to include something like an “I’m dressed by @company” to all of my social posts. The first thing that I think might be inappropriate is that while I delt with this person (I bought, and my groomsmen hired the suits from my wedding from this particular person) and he was my sole contact there (and frankly he was carrying that business) our transaction happened while he was working for another company for which he no longer works and I’m a client of ‘company x’ not a client of the contact. Finally, to me, I feel like it’s much more of an endorsement type arrangements as there’s a quid-pro-quo involved because I’m getting something (suits) at a non-commercial discount and he’s getting something (endorsement & social media props) rather than a genuine testimonial. So obviously, given that I’m iffy on it I’m not going to take him up on the offer, but it sparked a thought for me of “where is the line?”. I’m also really interested as to what the literature says about these kinds of things as obviously if the agreement was struck on a commercial basis that was appropriate this is something I’d love to take advantage of so that I’m not recycling the same 5 suits over and over again.

Do you think this would this be ok? If I were to pay a recurring “subscription type” fee to him that on an annual basis would be similar to what my annual expenditure on suits would be with some premium for things like increased dry-cleaning costs, etc. I openly say that “I get my suits from ‘company’ who I like and I’m treated well by” if I’m asked and if one of his suits is in a social post, the company is tagged – as I would with any other supplier. I’m still not a 100% on something like this, but it doesn’t feel distinctly wrong like the current proposition does.

So the good news is that the new conflict of interest guidelines mean that both of these circumstances are pretty much ok, the AGD simply asks that you manage your own potential conflicts of interest, so that you don’t have any. Always remember that the key words in a conflict of interest are in the actual title words: conflicted interests. Does situation A sit in conflict with situation B? Is your interest in one affecting the other. That’s why the AGD maintains a tight hold on the scenarios around celebrants employed by venues and celebrants who are migration agents (you can’t be either) because there are numerous obvious situations where your interests could easily be conflicted on a regular basis.

The most obvious conflicts of interest for the “employed by a venue” situation would be if you deemed the couple not fit to marry and if you were self-employed maybe you’d lose $1000, but because your employer could stand to lose $20,000 then maybe your judgement would be blurred. The migration agent situation is clear enough.

But that’s not to say that both of these situations are within the law. In the realm of the Celebrant Institute website we are not qualified to offer legal advice of any kind at any time. Sarah and I are not lawyers, although I have watched six seasons of Suits, so I know my way around a courtroom. We do however offer advice and insight on the marriage laws and guidelines as we interpret them, and Sarah actually is qualified and authorised to offer training on those laws and guidelines, but when it comes to other laws like consumer law and business law, we’re as intelligent as you are after a quick Google search.

So this isn’t legal advice, this is just Josh advice:

I would commercially marry myself to as few people as possible. The wedding industry’s least favourite people are those that have their hands in everyone’s pockets because they value relationship less than dollars. My argument has always been that we should all expect nothing from each other and make genuine and generous offerings of recommendations based on relationship and talent. If we employ low expectations and high quality recommendations then logic would tell us that it will all come back to us, and if we’re charging enough to run our business then we don’t need the $50 from him and the discount from her.

It’s a simple methodology but its one that has served me well for almost ten years.

If I do ask for money (or value) from you, you’re either getting married by me (or I’m performing some other service for you), you’re attending a workshop I’m running, or you’re a celebrant looking for advice or referrals, I charge for my celebrant directory because it’s an easy path of referral – I list celebrants similar in nature to me and they receive referrals of couples who enquiries with me that I’m not available for, and because my enquiry rate is high enough, its a solid business model, but the expectations are still low on all sides, and if anyone leaves, there’s no hurt feelings. The celebrant directory doesn’t negatively affect anyone.

In a similar vein, you may have read our “PA system for celebrants” article in which I highly recommend a Bose S1 PA system. As of today that article has no sponsorship or commercial arrangement around it, but I’ll honestly tell you that before I published I attempted to get a deal in place which included a package for members and possibly a deal for Sarah and I, but I couldn’t wrangle one in time. I’m still pursuing this arrangement and if it comes into play, I’ll update the page accordingly offering a disclosure that the review was prepared independently but now we’ve entered into a commercial arrangement with someone. I won’t be apologetic or awkward about it, we won’t be the first business to enter into a commercial arrangement and we won’t be the last, and we’ll probably be far more open about it than we are required (its not required) because that’s Sarah and my nature, and plus we’re betting on the fact that you guys aren’t idiots and you’d see right through it if I only l linked to one company. I’d also be expecting you to be smart enough to Google the PA system name and do your own research, and if you’re not smart enough, then our commercial arrangement wins.

I can foresee other commercial arrangements being viewed negatively by industry, but Pete’s suit example doesn’t look to be one of them.

Do note that when you do have a commercial arrangement as a self-employed sole trader you are only required to publicly disclose that arrangement if the marketer has “control” over your posts, that is, they tell you what to post, and how to post it. More on that on the ABC News website.

As we’ve already covered, I can’t talk to the legal side of the suit deal however (it sounds ok), but I’ll let you do your own Google search or ask a lawyer yourself.

Where to host your website

Emma asks

To squarespace or not to squarespace? What are your tips for starting a website?

This article has the opportunity to be a long and nerdy one, so I’m going to be purposely brief so that you can make an educated decision easily.

All business decisions focus on whether we do it ourselves or outsource it. Most of us make the decision to outsource electricity supply but we’ll supply the presentation of the ceremony at the wedding. Some outsource ceremony script writing and some will host their office at home. While others will write their own scripts and then outsource office supply to a co-working space, or another arrangement.

Your website will come under the same decision making process: do we do it ourselves or outsource it. And truth be told, almost none of us are 100% capable of doing 100% of our website ourselves (you’ll still need an internet connect even if you host your own website on your own computer) so with a website it’s more about how much do you want to outsource, and to who?

100% outsourced

You don’t know anything about your website, you probably just pay the invoice every month. If this interests you, talk to someone who does the whole deal like my friend Robey.

80% outsourced

A good example of a 90% outsourced website is something like Squarespace, WordPress.com or Wix. By the way, my personal opinion of Wix is pretty low for a variety of nerdy reasons, but Squarespace is a pretty good product. I tried to love it, but I just don’t. That’s just a personal opinion from someone who has been developing websites since 1997 but I am of the understanding that the general public love it.

The only real downside to Sqaurespace and its competitors is that each of them is going to have a hard upper or lower limit for customisation. Most of you would never notice this, but I do, because I’m that nerd that notices. A good example of this is a friend has a beautiful Sqaurespace website but when they asked me for help building some automations and forms, Squarespace didn’t really place well there. So we simply developed a small site purely for these functions.

The 20% you haven’t outsourced is the content of the website, with Squarespace, WordPress.com or Wix you will need to look after the design, template choosing, and content.

Note: There are two versions of WordPress. There’s the .com and the .org. WordPress.com (WordPress dot com) is very similar to Squarespace, in the way that Ford is similar to Holden. Same but different. WordPress.org (WordPress dot org) is the WordPress referenced below.

60% outsourced

This is where I sit, I pay WPEngine for my hosting, I host my domain names with Hover, I run WordPress.org (WordPress dot org) on that hosting, and I choose my WordPress theme from Elegant Themes, and then did my own custom design along with purchasing and installing custom plugins like Gravity Forms. This seems very DIY but a big element of a website is the hosting of the website and the domain names. It’s a massive part of the work, and I don’t do it, but I also don’t hire a single company (like Squarespace) to do it. I custom built my own solution that suited me. This very website is built the same way on the same companies.

Everything else

This involves nerdy and geekery that I don’t care enough about.

What’s best?

This is such a personal question. I don’t like Squarespace but that doesn’t make it bad, and I’m sure Sarah would love it if I ran this website on Squarespace because in so many ways it is easier – but it’s not easier for me.

But here’s an easy answer: if all of this nerd talk freaked you out – Squarespace or WordPress.com is probably for you. They both have free trials, so give them a go.

Finally, if this freaked you out too much then don’t be afraid to 100% outsource your website to someone creative (I recommend Robey because I love him, not because he gives me anything) … but let me encourage you to take the opportunity to learn how to do this. It’s so empowering to take charge of business efforts like web design. Just keep on learning how to do it better.

Are you starving yourself because you won’t turn left?

This week I’ve been in Vancouver, British Columbia, for two marriage ceremonies and it has been an amazing experience, with the one caveat: in Canada they drive on the incorrect side of the road. You might think this has everything to do with my ability to drive on the right hand lanes on the road whilst sitting on the left side of the car (ok, that’s a little bit of the issue) but the main problem is that I actively avoid turning left.

Turning left from the right hand side of the road is the hardest activity for my brain to contemplate.

Everything in me screams that it is dangerous, it’s wrong, and I should avoid it at all costs.

So as I was driving home close to midnight last night, after a sunset 7pm ceremony on Vancouver Island which involved two hours of driving and a 90 minute ferry ride, all I wanted was to eat dinner before passing out in a bed at my Airbnb.

Without turning to my friend in Apple Maps I thought I’ll just drive until I find somewhere that’s open.

It wasn’t until I’d passed the third restaurant on the left that I realised that I was subconsciously avoiding turning left and there were no open restaurants on the right.

I was starving and wouldn’t turn left to save myself.

I wonder how many of us are making subconscious decisions based on it being too hard – despite relative ease (turning left is like turning right but you have to try and not hit other cars while doing so, some might say it’s like turning right in Australia).

Are Instagram Stories (or Instagram itself) seemingly too hard so you actively avoid publishing them? Is electronic bookkeeping, invoicing, and accepting credit card payments too hard for you at the moment? Maybe moving to an online booking process, and away from paper processes, is your turning left?

What business improvements have you been avoiding because they’re too hard?

I believe that calling out our struggles and our weaknesses is step one to confronting them and either tackling them, paying someone else to tackle them, or learning how we can tackle them.

In my own business I know that there’s a number of “turning lefts” that I’ve been avoiding. Some are regular to-do list items that I’ve left too long, and some are long term goals to reduce expenses and improve our processes.

What is your turning left? Call it out in the comments and maybe even some of them are things Sarah or I could help with.

Getting your financials in order

A pertinent question today as many of us look at last year's financials and taxes and we're in a place where we can make a real effort to make sure our life in July 2019 is a happier one:

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

Answering “How much do you cost?”

Amber asks

Leading from the price on website debate – how do you answer the “How much do your services cost?” enquiry?

I try to start a conversation and speak about value and the experience but sometimes it is just frustrating. For example, l had the following conversation with a Mother of the Bride today. (l have edited out some chatty bits 🙂

MOB: How much do your services cost?

ME: Are you looking to get married, have a wedding or some other ceremony?

MOB: My daughter is getting married and the only day they had available was (18mth away)

ME: Ok, great. Where will the ceremony be?

MOB: (local venue)

ME: Awesome. Does your daughter live local to (venue)?

MOB: Yes

ME: That is great. I would love to have a chat about what they are after. I don’t have a “one price fits all” because every couple and ceremony is different. When would be a good time for me to call your daughter?

MOB: She said a ruff price we already have quotes around $x so if your more than that we don’t want to waste your time.

ME: I understand. My prices start at $x – this is for a legals only ceremony. Let me know if you would like more details or a chat to see if l am the right person to be part of their special day. 😀

MOB: Legals only ceremony not sure what you mean Is that like short and sweet ceremony?

ME: It can be. A ‘legals only ceremony’ is more about the services you require from me. It includes 1 meeting for the paperwork and a ceremony including the legal wording. It does not include a planning meetings, personalised ceremony, rehearsal, pa system, music supply, travel etc.

It is suited to people that want to get married, not necessarily have a wedding.

MOB: Oh ok (insert cricket noises here)

Reading through – l think now l should have done 2 things:

1. Asked more open questions.
2. quoted her my highest possible fee in my first message and saved my time.

So, Sarah and Josh – how do you answer the “How much do your services cost?” enquiry?

In May 2019 my celebrant authority turns 10 and I’ve been thinking about this question for most of it, and I’ve come to a a succinct theory of selling.

Only people with that rare extreme level of confidence should submit themselves to allowing their value and worth to be communicated in a forum like a phone call, email exchange, or instant messenger conversation because it takes a finely tuned sales ability to accurately communicate a price that is directly related to your own time, effort, and self-worth.

So if you’re not that person, don’t submit yourself to that process.

As you’ve already referenced, Sarah and I have talked about pricing on websites last month, but I think that’s just half the answer.

Creating a customer journey

The real solution is to craft a customer journey that all potential and eventual customers take to experience your services.

Part of that journey is discovering your fee, and discovering that fee is part of a process where your value and worth has been also communicated alongside your differentiators so that that price discussion is removed from the “choosing the cheapest celebrant” discussion it sounds like mum is having.

Getting people onto your customer journey

Most of us accept phone calls, emails, Facebook messenger chats, and Instagram DMs, which can seemingly be out of line with having a customer journey.

The secret is to have multiple entry points that allow all of these people to have the same experience.

Website visit: the is my ultimate entry point, and where I’ll send everyone else.

Phone call: I’ll take the call and discuss availability, but I’ll end the call on this note: “to find out about my fees, services, and packages, please visit marriedbyjosh.com and download my information pack”

Social media messages: Pretty much the same as the phone call but I’ll end with a link to marriedbyjosh.com

Preserve your sanity

Hold your sanity, time, and your soul close to your heart, protect them and don’t let that “how much” conversation destroy you. I send them to my website so they experience my carefully created customer journey. If they don’t like that journey, or the fees, they’re not my people and they get the choice to let themselves go – which is a much kinder experience than me letting them go by meekly saying “Seventeen hundred dollars” on the phone with a reply of crickets.

Finding a mentor. Sarah’s view

Jo asks:

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

There’s two ways to provide a service

From the heart and soul of Seth Godin today, I’m copying and pasting this from his amazing blog for you today to chew on over how your provide your celebrancy service:

Two ways to solve a problem and provide a service

With drama. Make sure the customer knows just how hard you’re working, what extent you’re going to in order to serve. Make a big deal out of the special order, the additional cost, the sweat and the tears.

Without drama. Make it look effortless.

Either can work. Depends on the customer and the situation.

But it’s a choice. We can make it with intention.

In my business, I choose effortless. Showcasing the drama can work too, but choose one and stick with it.

Increasing your enquiry conversion rate

A question today about enquiries and how to increase our conversion

I have a question about converting enquiries as I am finding that I get a good amount of enquiries but feel my conversion rate could be way better.

Wondering what I could be doing better or is there something I am not doing? Is it the language I am using in my initial contact too passive or boring? Or maybe I am giving them too much information?

I currently do not have my price on my website so I am guessing some of the enquiries I am not converting are due to that and for follow up I send out a very short follow up email to them a about a month after not hearing anything.

How do I better communicate to my leads in the initial enquiry stage to “seel the deal” with me or at least book an initial catch up meeting.

Would love some constructive feedback on my “first email” and “welcome letter” attachment that I send as my first contact.

We live in an amazing time where the access to new technology, new ideas, and new formats or mediums is changing every day. Literally every day. The way we transact and communicate is equally changing, and most popular advice on sales, closing sales, converting enquiries, and conversion rates is not even aimed at us. Most common sales advice is about building globally strong brands, repeat customers, building client loyalty, and all of that means almost nothing to celebrants. On top of that, most sales advice is for attracting individuals or businesses, not couples.

Our ideal client is a couple, who up until now has never paid for a service like ours, and ideally never will again.

So catching that fish requires skill, talent, and the knowledge that the waters are ever changing.

So with that in mind, I’ll address your points then end with what I’ve done and am doing now.

My conversion rate could be better

Measuring your conversion rate could almost definitely keep you awake at night far more than you should be. The secret in micro/macro size businesses like ours is in what you measure. There are so many different numbers you can measure, and I wouldn’t even recommending my method (I measure my accounts receivable, because all my invoices are due in four months so the total accounts receivable divided by four is my expected revenue).

An easy way to increase your conversion rate is to decrease your enquiries. I’ve done that before by listing my price publicly on the website. Enquiries went right down, conversion rate went right up to almost 90% closure, but my total bookings went right down as well. So if you get two enquiries a year and book both of them, you’ve had a 100% conversion rate without much to show for it.

In fact, as much as I continually forever aim to target my marketing so finely, I’m also aware that for many enquiries I won’t be available, I might be out of budget, or just not the right fit, so the only way I’ve figured out how to combat that is to increase enquiries  whilst also trying to make my marketing efforts, website, and social media act as a filter so that if a couple do enquire, they’re already fairly invested in me as a person and a brand.

Is it the language I am using in my initial contact too passive or boring? Or maybe I am giving them too much information?

Your emails and welcome pack are fine, like I mention below you could make your email a little more brief and your welcome pack deeper with more specific info. If you’ve gotten them past the initial email they can choose to read the heavier load of information.

I currently do not have my price on my website

You’ve most likely already read these two articles, but Sarah, and then I, both covered this topic recently.

How do I better communicate to my leads in the initial enquiry stage + follow up emails

Ask anyone in the wedding industry about follow up and everyone has their secret little thing. So many don’t follow up, many swear by it (I swear by it), but I’d like to point out that good follow up is part of a broader strategy.

I take note that most couples are on a wedding planning journey of between three months to three years. What a massive market to aim for. So I aim to maintain a long term relationship with all these couples by engaging with them three ways.

  1. I reply to their initial enquiry with a short and friendly email that identifies that a) I’m available, b) they know what that means in terms of money and packages, and ending with a c) action step. So many sales are missed because they lack a “next step.” Brevity is my goal here as well, as I as assume they’ve got many emails and they don’t want to spend all day reading mine, plus if they want more from me, there’s my website.
  2. I maintain an email list of all couples I meet at expos, fairs, open days, along with all who enquire with me, and send a brief value-adding email to them every Monday. So every week there’s a touch point from me, delivering value into their lives.
  3. If they offer questions, ideas, or ask for help that I think would make for good social media, blog, or video content I use it. I don’t always mention their names, but I’m relying on them following me on these platforms and seeing that I not only answered their question or problem directly, I also shared the advice with the world, so they feel involved in my business now as well.
  4. 6-12 days after a first enquiry, if it goes un-answered I’ll send a friendly email simply “following up after our last conversation” giving them an opportunity to make a time to meet or book me in.

Would love some constructive feedback on my “first email” and “welcome letter” attachment that I send as my first contact

The first email

So to fill everyone else in, enquiries are replied to with an email pretty much like this and a PDF “welcome letter” attached.

Hi couple name,

Thank-you for your enquiry and congratulations on your engagement. At this stage I am still available for date. Please find attached my welcome letter which will give you some information about me and my services as a wedding celebrant and a short video – so you can have an idea of what it is like to pronounced newlywed (love this part) [link to video].

If you have any questions or would like me to send you my booking form (if you think I would be a good match for you both) or arrange a time to catch up to chat about your plans so far please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Happy Wedding Planning!

All in all this is a perfectly fine email reply, in the original email there’s an extra paragraph related to your side business and at least in an initial email I would try and keep things really focused. Humans are easily distracted and I think your side business could be introduced once they’ve paid you some cash.

If I was going to get picky, this initial email is all about you and how you can make their life better. Everyone else in the wedding industry begins with a congratulations, I feel like it’s almost redundant and if you truly are happy for them, say it in person. Open the email with the important details: yes, I am available to be your celebrant. Use as few words as possible so there’s no chance of confusion or misunderstanding.

People always have questions, and the fact they’ve already asked one in “are you available” probably means they don’t need an opportunity to ask more, so I’d quit all the fancy talk and move on to the locking in dates and making a booking stage. I would even drop the “don’t hesitate to get in touch” and simply wrap up the conversation with a solid “To book me in as your marriage celebrant <click here> or if you’d like to meet before doing so, I’m available on x, y, and z times or we can make a time to cal or Skype.”

The welcome letter

If you ignored all of that last advice you’ve still got a fine email to reply to enquiries with, but the welcome letter needs to go to bed.

Modern businesses of 2018 aren’t sending PDFs unless it’s information that absolutely has to be in a PDF, like a NOIM for example.

PDFs have three problems:

  1. They aren’t responsive to screen size, so they are very commonly painful to read on mobile, and I know that more than 60% of my couples are enquiring on mobile.
  2. They aren’t as pretty as your sexily designed website (true for the celebrant asking the question, as well as almost everyone else)
  3. They can’t be updated. So if info in the PDF changes, only new enquiries get the new info.

The solution: non-public pages on your website.

All of the info in your welcome pack that you want to “hide” from public eyes, but share with enquiries, put that on a special page that isn’t linked to from other pages in your website, and make sure it’s not in a menu bar. In WordPress or Squarespace it’s as easy as making a new page but not linking to it. Depending on your SEO plugin, or website builder, choose the option that hides the page from Google and other search engines. On my website this option is called “noindex” so that search engines do not index the page.

For the celebrant asking the question, I feel like a lot of the info in your welcome pack should be publicly available info, squeezed into the rest of your website and into regular social media posts. But embed that video in there, and answer commonly asked questions so you’re not working double time for no pay.

What is Josh doing?

Earlier this year I got sick of replying to enquiries and getting nothing back, so I instituted the four pointer solution I relayed above, and started building out my weekly email so it actually mattered to people.

And then I took enquiries off my website. If you visit marriedbyjosh.com right now, there is no enquiry form. Instead I give you the opportunity to request an info pack which is my way of putting the cart before the horse. Before I ever hear about you or have to reply to your email you’ve been sent a link to my information pack with all my packages and fees, I answer loads of questions, and plus your email address is added to my email list and I start sending you an email every day.

When you’re ready to enquire you get in touch, because I’ve been keeping in touch with you every week, and you already know how much I am and what I offer.

For July 2018, this sounds like a solid idea, but the waters are always changing, so by this time 2019 it might be a completely different game.

I’ll write more on this in the future, but your emails and enquiry workflows should be all a part of a customer journey you’ve planned.

Pricing on websites; to list or not to list??? Josh’s view

Ella asks:

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…

As Sarah noted, everyone has a different answer on this, and here is mine. Don’t count this post as the final word, it’s just a brain dump on a Wednesday afternoon. I’m sure this is a topic we’ll return to over and over, and I’d invite you to list your thoughts in the comments.


Price, that big bad number we all freak out about.

Firstly we wonder, are we charging too much, or not enough.

Then we look at the profit & loss, or the budget, and start freaking out because our price multiplied by the number of bookings doesn’t match that magical budgeted number.

Finally, we get the couples with feedback like “you’re too expensive” or worse “is that all??”

This is a discussion that has kept me up at night in building my own business, and even just this week in trying to think how to best answer this question.

What is your price for?

I like to view my price as part of my customer journey. It’s just one of the touch points in between a couple finding out that I exist, and booking me. On the same journey there’s emails, web pages, social media, advertising, conversation, and booking forms.

Because my business is a customer jounrney focused business. Because my business is focused on providing an experience to the couple, well before any ceremony takes place, my price is made available by request. So it’s not publicly on the website, but if you enter your email address I’ll automatically send it to your email and even your phone. You can try it now – visit marriedbyjosh.com and request an information pack.

I’m not ashamed of my fee, and want it to be easily known to my couples, but I also want it to be part of the journey. So I ask for their email address, and every week I publish a value-adding email called “On getting married and being married”. Everyone who has requested an info pack gets that email, so they know I exist, and they know my fee, but I’m continuing the relationship and also building value.

Because I want to have the price position of “I might cost a lot, but you’ll get way more than you paid for”. Because I think that’s a position I can win, and for me to give you more than you paid for, we need to establish relationship. You need to join my tribe. It’s not as a simple as scrolling down a list of celebrants and choosing one.

It’s more than likely that your business has a different price position and purpose in your price. So it’s not a matter of displaying your price on your website or not, the better question is “why am I/why am I not displaying my price on my website?”

If your only differentiator is that you’re the cheapest, then the best way to announce that to the world is to display your price, note how much cheaper you are than everyone else, perhaps offer discounts, and maybe post a photo of your soul slowly withering away.

I’ve also used price as a filter, to keep tyre kickers and price-conscious couples away. I increased the leads into my website (through marketing and advertising) then put my fee publicly available, no info pack request needed. This worked if I increased the volume, but the visit to enquiry rate was right down, because there was no relationship and journey for most of the couples.

For most of my existence as a celebrant I had never mentioned price on my website, and only couples that enquiried would receive pricing information. All this did was lead to a large number of enquiries but terribly low conversion rate because not everyone was willing to pay my price.

In the end I’ll always advocate for the average Australian marriage celebrant to be building a powerfully local and small tribe who value them, their service, and their worldview, and those people want you for you, not because of your price. Obviously price is still a thing, but it’s not the last word, nor is it the first. It’s just part of the conversation.

My final encouragement for you is to embrace the conversation. When people say “I haven’t budgeted that much” know that they are booking and luxury service in a wedding, and if you are a good celebrant and you provide a good service, then don’t be dismayed. Learn to communicate your value outside of those numbers we identify as price, communicate it confidently, succinctly, and in a way that a five year old could understand.

So I guess I’m saying don’t hide your price but maybe don’t advertise it like a $2 store would. Make it part of the conversation. When your price is live on your website for all to read, the conversation around it – your website, social media, and marketing – better be really really good. And if you don’t view the enquiry process as a conversation, over a marketplace or bargaining type of arrangement then this advice will probably not help you at all.

Pricing on websites; to list or not to list??? Sarah’s view

Ella asks:

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.

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2017-2018 Tax deductions for celebrants

It's every business owner's favourite time of the year: EOFYmas! As the End Of Financial Year celebrations takeover our lives I wanted to highlight the deductions I think we celebrants should be thinking of, and if you don't have the record of these deductions from the past financial year, maybe try and keep them for this financial year.

I hope this goes without saying, but I'm not your accountant, I'm not the Australian Tax Office, and I'm not your mum, so make sure you run these things past those guys before taking my accounting advice as gospel. If you need an accountant, I can recommend mine but I'm sure there's 100 within cat-swinging distance of your place. Read More

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. Read More