In this vibrant episode of the Celebrant Talk Show, host Josh Withers welcomes the enthusiastic Melissa Edwards, a newly minted celebrant who completed her Certificate IV in Celebrancy with the Celebrant Institute.
As part of our series on fresh celebrants, Melissa shares her inspiring journey – from witnessing her sister’s wedding to becoming a celebrant herself.
With a passion for creating inclusive ceremonies and a unique, relaxed style, Melissa is redefining the celebrant scene.
Join us for an enlightening conversation full of practical insights, personal stories, and the highs and lows of starting out in this beautiful profession. Whether you’re a budding celebrant or a seasoned professional, Melissa’s story is sure to motivate and entertain. Don’t miss out on this episode full of heart, humour, and helpful tips!
In this short run series on the celebrant talk show we’re talking to brand new celebrants. celebrants that have recently got their cert foreign celebrancy and they’re fresh out of the gate making ceremonies for awesome couples that are getting married. Today we’re talking to Melissa I hope it’s an encouraging chat for you and if you’d like to know more about studying the cert foreign celebrancy how to become a celebrant and if you already are a celebrant then there’s so many resources for you along with a membership and encouragement program go to the website celebrant.institute and if you want to find more episodes of this podcast celebrant.fm My name is Melissa, I’m Melissa Edwards and I became a celebrant in I think it was February this year. What a journey. It was a long journey. Doing the study for the the actual act of becoming a celebrant is a little bit more than some people realize so I want to talk about that in a second but first of all what’s your why? What’s your what’s your reason for wanting to to get yourself an A number and become a celebrant? Yeah okay so I went to my sister’s wedding and I’d also helped her through the whole process. She’s not a very sloppy person and I am and I’d helped her write the vowels, research readings all that sort of thing and she sort of said oh you’ve got a bit of a knack for this and I thought yeah it’s really fun and I enjoyed kind of helping her with I don’t know just a lot of the wording and then at the ceremony I was watching the celebrant and had a chat with her after about what it kind of entailed and little seeds sort of planting and I thought oh I think I could like this and yes I ended up going for it and I really enjoy it. I feel like there’s two kinds of celebrants that an aspirational celebrant says there’s a celebrant that was amazing and you think I was so inspirational I want to be like that person or was there the celebrant who left you wanting more? I hope and trust that the celebrant you saw was a great one? She was great she was yeah quite gracious warm she was just a really good speaker and it flowed really nicely it was a really sweet lovely warm ceremony and I quite like that yeah and she was a little older she was maybe a bit more tradition the warmth still came through and I sort of started thinking well I’d be younger and a bit different in my style and how would do it so I thought it started getting the wheels turning of how I would do it if it was me and my style and you know how I would get it going so it was nice to see the difference but also see some of the traits that are like. Okay well so tell us so what was your you that you wanted to hope to take to market the thing that you thought you could do exceptionally well or different that you thought would be interesting to couples? Some of my friends that had gotten married often the celebrants were a bit older or quite very formal in their approach even though the content was really great and I suppose I wanted to have great content but maybe be a bit more relaxed and current in how what might be appealing to maybe people more in the age frame of 30s 40s 50s that might appeal yeah and also I’m in quite an inclusive celebrant I’m gay and I wanted to appeal to people’s non-binary gay whatever heteros as well just a very kind of open everybody’s accepted sort of feeling with my ceremonies and I have been doing that yeah so that’s been really great I live in Ballarat near Dalesford it’s quite a queer community and so I’ve been connecting with with the community and having some interest so it’s been really good. I don’t know if I’ve shared this story on the podcast before but one of my one of my earliest conversations with a couple as clients potential clients that were two girls get married and this would be let’s look at 2013 so a good was it was the 2017 that the marriage came in? Yeah around then it was before the pandemic. It was like A, P, B, P before the pandemic happened. Before my friend had become celebrant in the queer community did it during COVID because it had just been legalized so yeah you’re right I think. Yeah so it must mean we are 2013 that I met with this couple and and like I said it was my first time as a as a celebrant maybe a couple potentially to be there celebrant and I sat down and I bring a lot of energy to some meetings just to kind of as an active leadership like you know I know that you don’t know what’s going on that kind of thing and so so like just bring some some kind of joy and leadership and so I came out of the gates and said I’m so excited to be a celebrant because unlike so many of my clients so many of my clients so many of my couples you two can can do what you like you’re not bound by by years hundreds and thousands of years of tradition you’re not bound by religious tradition you’re not even bound by law you can just do what you like. And and I said what do you mean we’re not bound by law? I said oh well because you know and they said what do you mean? I said well because it’s your your marriage wouldn’t be and I’m just kind of stumbling at my words dying because I’m realizing that they didn’t know that they couldn’t get married. Oh no you’re mortifying. They’re crying, I’m feeling stupid. Oh my gosh. Wow wow this is a point that they didn’t know well okay. Oh this is disappointing for that moment but I I still maintain that uh that and it’s funny out of the um out of the the couples I’ve met that have been allowed to marriage since 2017 a lot of them um kind of like uh the teenager who finally leaves home and buys a big tin of Milo because you know he can finally book and finally eat all the Milo I want take that mum and dad kind of the same way with their wedding they’re like aha I’m finally gonna get that traditional wedding that you guys have been holding back from me and so no like just make our numbers say half would be like that and half would be like oh cool like we are we are we’re fresh blood we’re like we’re like a new kind of a new cutting from the tree we’ll do something innovative and unique and special so it’s a cool time to be working. Yeah definitely I think so too yeah. So how did you find the study? Okay so oh it was epic really epic but wonderful uh okay so um you know some parts of it were dry for me I enjoy the practical side more than the theory side but you know it’s still amazing and you need to learn it uh so the assessments in the beginning it was really good learning I really enjoyed it um it was a lot to get through but valuable and I think one of the best parts was sort of learning later when you are a celebrant that you’ve got so much material to read from you don’t have to memorize everything it’s important to learn it as you’re learning but later on you’ve got the guidelines you’ve got the marriage act you’ve got so much to look back on and always get the information from so it’s going to be okay you know you feel at the time like oh my gosh you’re so much info how am I going to remember all this you don’t have to remember it all but you need to know the essentials um absolutely it’s definitely going yeah and it was wonderful to really learn it because I think there’s been a fair few celebrants that maybe didn’t get as detailed training and felt very unequipped and I feel like I got so much detail so much great information so much support better than many others and I feel very grateful for that uh and it continues after I mean you can stay with you guys with the celebrant institute um you know posts and everything there’s so much info still and support there I think so if you did if you do it through the pdf you’ve obviously got access to those pdfs and those documents forever because yeah I’m assuming they’re in your drop box categorized they’re very handy yeah but but then if you’ve done the um uh it must be the start of 2022 30 years or more together uh but yeah we have to add to a very online course and the same thing you can still access that forever so if you if you do the course today and yeah you become authorized tomorrow um uh you still go back and access that forever which is really really helpful because that certainly wasn’t the case when I became a celebrant yeah there’s so many templates that I use all the time you know because there’s so much you need I mean you’re doing welcome letters you’re doing all these sort of follow-up things there’s just you never know what’s going to be thrown at you and I feel like I can always find something in there that will help me uh yeah it’s been really really great actually um and just the basics of even invoices and receipts and all all that it’s helpful to sort of see examples and you change it and do your own thing with it but you feel like you’ve got everything you need to start and then you go out from there with your own you know branding or whatever on it but um yeah it’s been awesome I love that I’m really happy that that’s there yeah were you the kind of person who thought that the course couldn’t have been as big um as as it was made out to be no I thought it was going to be pretty big um because I did ring around quite a few celebrants beforehand ones that I thought looked amazing and asked them what they recommended for the training and they said you guys which is why I did it oh that’s so good and um and I read reviews and I sort of did a bit of research and I saw that it was much more detailed than the other ones and that’s what I wanted so although it is a lot um it’s worth it I think so yeah I kind of knew it was going to be a lot but um maybe not to the extent but that’s okay it’s it’s a big undertaking so you’ve got to be serious about it but it’s really valuable how long did it take the um the Attorney General’s office to to uh process your paperwork the full three months to me the full three months the stories I’m hearing these days it takes the full three months give or take a day yeah I would say so yeah it was a wait um that’s okay because I was still preparing a lot of things and um yeah I think I needed a little breather maybe after everything so it was it was kind of okay for me I didn’t mind yeah and you know I also have a work life where I work four days a week and I do my celebrancy on one day a week and then you know when I do other bits and pieces as well so I fit it in with my life it’s um with my other job so I kind of go at my own pace with everything um yeah so that’s okay for me you’ve already talked a little bit about um how you hoped to bring yourself to market uh but I you know you’ve been a celebrant for a few few hours now how have you found how have you found that process uh coming to market uh you know web social directories etc that kind of thing it’s been a real learning process uh learning about seo was a big thing that I’ve been researching and learning and at first I couldn’t even find in a google search once I first started and had my website up it wasn’t popping up it took a fair bit of work to get that to happen and I pretty much did ads on you know you do google business um instagram facebook uh starting to really pump that and that really started to get things happening and actually get some movement and people to actually find my website and then going through and making the searches of what people you know what you’ve chosen for the search is more specific because first it was melbourne celebrant I’m not in melbourne and I don’t want to waste my money on what I’ve been for the ads being melbourne based uh so just refining things so you’re getting better value for your money are the ads really reflect you and it just started to happen more and more and also on facebook I really have used that a lot facebook wedding groups and for me the lgbtq balorak group because people post up there and say does anyone know an inclusive celebrant and I’m on there straight away um chatting to them and sending my link so yeah that’s kind of how I’ve been growing it and I’ve got many more ideas it’s you know it’s early in the baby stage is still and I’m always delighted when someone contacts me it’s very exciting you go oh it’s working um yeah but there’s more and more and I’m going actually tomorrow night I’m going to a wedding industry ball in balorak and I’ve been going to expos I wasn’t uh registered in time to have a stall but I still went to a wedding expo near me and had a chat to celebrants and they were wonderful in balorak area and they will give me the contact and said let’s hang out let’s connect um let’s talk about ideas and we’re happy to give you guidance as well it’s been really welcoming so I think also at the ball it’s going to be nice to connect with other vendors and suppliers just to so everyone kind of see each other’s faces and then when you do cross paths you’ve got some familiarity so um networking in that way is helpful too hopefully for referrals down the future yeah so and I just got magnets for my car with my business logo got the business cards made and um yeah I’ve got other plans to join some expos as well and things like that so things in the works and getting photos getting photos done so you can put things on instagram and facebook you got to do all that stuff yeah and learning how to actually post things and do it well or getting better as you go well I hope that um that the celebrants are cheap not just the training through the RCA but the membership would be a blessing to you with that stuff as well because that’s uh obviously that’s the kind of stuff we’re passionate about and we’re posting that all the time and um of course you can always jump on the ask page as well and if we can um help us find more particular uh with with that said I um I wanted to wrap up the podcast uh with with with uh one final question uh or like what have you found the toughest across the entire journey from wanting to come a celebrant to today you know it was um like choosing uh where to study the study the application come into market what’s been the biggest struggle for you when I got my first wedding and then they cancelled that was I’m sorry that was a real hard one so I haven’t done a wedding yet but I have some booked now which is great for you know next year or further in the year um and I was so excited when I had my first wedding booked and then they and they paid their booking fee and you know we started doing the norm and all that but then they cancelled um so that was a real disappointment and then it was like dead silence for about a month and um that was a real challenge but it got me motivated and I went all right well I’m not doing something right here I’m not being seen enough okay I didn’t work with them but I’m gonna keep going and and then I did get another booking um once I really pumped up the advertising so yeah I had a bit of a downtime then where I felt really disappointed because it was like a high and then a low but I went you know you feel your little sads and you eat lots of chocolate that day and have a bit of a Netflix day and then you go all right well come on let’s just keep going how am I gonna how am I gonna up this so that I actually get out there and it gets bumping so yeah yeah I’d say because I was just so over overjoyed to have a booking like it was mind-blowing um yeah it was really disappointing but yeah it was a real growth experience after that I think yeah so it’s kind of helpful in its own way and you do get ghosted and you get so close sometimes and it doesn’t happen and then it and then when it does and it’s all solid and it’s happening it’s it’s really wonderful so you know you have you have your ups and downs with um starting out I think yeah absolutely no it’s all part of the journey I’m writing a book at the moment called the rebels gods getting married and I uh I mentioned in there when when we’re talking about contacting vendors just hit reply and let people know because I know you might be contacting 30 vendors but for the vendor you might be the one person that that in quiet today and we’re human and we love to hear from you we love to hear feedback or whatever it might be because uh don’t leave us hanging let’s say it sucks when it goes you hey it’s been a pleasure to uh talk to you today I wish you all the best on your celibate journey and I look forward to looking forward to seeing you grow and grow and grow and thanks for choosing the celibate institute to study with oh thank you you guys were wonderful and that’s why I did the interview because you know gratitude and really appreciate the lovely work you’ve done so pleasure pleasure chatting you.