In this exciting episode of the Celebrant Institute’s Celebrant Talk Show podcast, join your host, Josh Withers, as he continues his series of insightful interviews with recent graduates and new celebrants. This episode features a conversation with Lachlan “Lachie” Grisold, the dynamic Melbourne-based marriage celebrant behind “Weddings by the Beard.” Lachie shares his fresh perspectives on the celebrancy world, discussing his journey from completing his Certificate IV in Celebrancy to creating unique and memorable wedding experiences. Tune in for an episode full of inspiration, practical advice, and Lachie’s unique approach to celebrating love.
Transcript: Welcome to another episode of the Celebrant Talk Show. My name is Josh Withers, I’m your host today. And we’ve got a special episode. Earlier this year, I sat down with a few new Certificate 4 in Celebrancy graduates that have become celebrants recently, and I want to share their story with you. If you’re thinking about becoming a celebrant, if you’re a new celebrant, hopefully their path will encourage you and show you a path that might make a way forward for you. And if you’ve been a celebrant for some time, hopefully just mixing with new blood might be an encouragement for you as you continue on your journey of being an awesome celebrant. I hope you enjoy this episode.
My name is Lachie. I have been a celebrant for a year under the brand name, Weddings by the Beard. It grew itself out and it’s here to stay, apparently. I do most of my work out of Melbourne, but have been tempted to go interstate a few times, and we’ll see how much more often that happens. It’s pretty always exciting to do. – Yeah, it’s a pretty good gig the old doing weddings around the world, hey. – Oh, around the world is the next step. That is, that would be tremendous, of course. – Well, they keep on trying, you get me. I’m in Hawaii at the moment and off to Paris on Friday. So, you know, I hope it’s well- – So it can be done. It can be done. – Tremendous. – Tell us, mate, why on earth are you a celebrant? What happened? What happened to you, childhood, that you thought you should go and speak in front of crowds for a living? – What went wrong? (both laughing) Well, that’s it. I’m one of those real weirdos, has a screw loose, and really enjoys public speaking, would you believe? – I know it, that’s me. (both laughing) – Yeah, we’re in good company. So, a life on stage, musical theater, drama degree, couple of years, traveling around Europe being a tour guide. And then I got home and it was just when the virus that shall not be named landed. And I went, what can I do that I will find fulfilling and will put my hard earned skills to work? And it just happened, I went to a friend’s wedding, Damon Hughes, huge shout out, absolute legend. And Damon was up there having a great time. And I went, ah, that and ran at it. – It’s always interesting. Most celebrants have got one of two stories. One is that they saw a wedding and it was really bad. And they thought, oh, I could do that better. Or the other one is you see someone like Damon, who’s a legend, and you see that and think, oh, that guy does a really good job. I reckon I could do a really good job too, which is cool. – And it’s probably only binary. There would be no in between. – No one sees just like an average Sarah celebrant and goes, oh yeah, that could be a job. Something like that, maybe. Yeah, that’s a job that people do. – And you did the Cert 4. I’m gonna stage a guess that a personality like yours is a little bit like mine, where academic study like a Cert 4 seems like a really cool idea until you get the first module open. – Yeah, yeah. And you’re sitting there going, ah, yes. They say it takes a year for a reason, right? – Yeah, yeah, not for me. Well, not for a smart guy like me. It’s probably. – Oh, no, yeah, no, easily. I know that all the time in the world to manage that as well. – Yeah, yeah. So how did you find the Cert 4? – Look, it was monstrous. I was given all the warnings in the world. And as you said, we just blithely ignore it, saying this will take time, make sure you’ve got energy. And I went, oh yeah, yeah, I can do that in spare time and what have you. COVID made it pretty hard. There’s a number of assignments in there that, you know, you got to sit down with five or 30 friends. And when it’s hard enough to get two people in a room at that period of time, it really dragged out. I think the course itself, when I took it really seriously, prepared me really well. There were large aspects of it that weren’t directly related to weddings that I found maybe difficult to keep up the motivation with. Anything wedding related, really motivated, saw the immediate payback with it. But when it seems like practice filling in for someone’s 80th birthday or whatever, I thought, am I enjoying this? Or is this just a real box tick? So that was a difficult part of it. – Yeah, I understand that. You know, what’s funny is as the certificate for is prepared, there’s just things you get a tick off from like a, I’m not to get too deep down in the nerdery, but there’s government frameworks and for someone to get a search for in celebration, they got to have tick, tick, tick, they got to have all these ticks. And so in designing the search for like, how can we do this and not make it terrible? – Yeah, that would be a task for sure. Hopefully we’ve done the best job we can. – Look, I reckon you have as far as the best job you can do. ‘Cause there was a number of things in there. And you look at the whole, I don’t know if it’s called a syllabus, but I’m gonna call it a syllabus. When you have to just hit a pass on 100, it felt like heaps of markers across over a dozen assignments. I went, yeah, they really need to tick every box. So you’ll walk away going, I can do this. Because the last thing you want to do, especially when you study something like along the lines of being a celebrant and then going into the world and just like, hey, start your own business, go. There’s a whole bunch you need to be prepared or at least aware of. So by the end, there were moments that I was bashing my head against the wall thinking either this is tedious or am I gonna use it? But I tell you, I reckon I’ve used most of it. So huge props to you. (laughs) – Yeah, I’ve got to be honest, zero props to me, 100 props to Sarah. I’m just the guy that turns the light in the fridge off and on. – Absolutely, and Sarah is a legend of the game and having her number on speed dial is very handy and reaching out and having a chat when things, when you have questions and that sort of stuff or having all the materials that have been put together as well. – It’s funny you mentioned that. We’ve obviously got the celebrant. There’s the Celebrant Institute RTO, which is what you’ve studied through. And then there’s the Celebrant Institute membership, which is kind of post study for your practice as a celebrant. And the premise of it literally is just basically to have Sarah on speed dial. And I’m just grateful to have her on speed dial as a friend and a learner as a business planner. (laughs) She’s an asset. – In a huge way. And, but like, you know, I think that whole website I found such use out of in terms of seeing the camaraderie and having blog posts on like, hey, let’s talk PA systems, or let’s talk charging people money and like having a pre, like having a dialogue from a year ago or two years ago, or five days ago to go through and go, hey, I’m not alone in this. People are thinking the same way I’m thinking, have the same concerns that I have and have, if I can, you know, blow a bit of wind up your trousers skirt there, saying you are legends of the game, having answers for these questions that we have. – I’ll humbly accept that, thank you. (laughs) – I feel the bell, yeah. (laughs) – Look, you mentioned money. That’s, I love talking to people about money, just on a general sense, just between friends because I feel it’s the big, it’s the big no-no, like we can talk about religion and politics these days, but for the love of God, don’t talk about money. – Don’t ask how much someone owns, yeah. – Yeah, yeah. And I’m not gonna ask you how much you own, but there’s this aspect of celebrancy that you do the search for, you do the application, you get the letter in the mail saying you’re all G, and there’s a moment where you’ve gotta take it to market. Roll out your, kind of your go-to market, call it a plan, or even just your thoughts on how they’ve evolved since you saw Damon to now. (laughs) – Yeah, right? – Yeah, like how has it evolved about taking yourself to market, getting that booking, charging a buck, that kind of thing. – That’s it, what a journey it’s been in terms of my first ceremony I did was on the 22nd of May last year. So we’re basically coming up on this year in review, being that I think I got the email saying, all right, go for it in late April. I had this ceremony, friend of mine, I found out I was doing the studies and went, you’re gonna be free on this date. And I said, yeah, probably. Let’s see how much of this assignments I can get through. And by the time I sent off the cert for, it’s gotta go off to the Attorney General’s office and stuff, we were pulling it real fine. Of course, it’s the Noim, the month in advance, and we had to have backup plans ’cause I was either getting this email and we could run off and sign the Noim and get started, or we had to get someone else to sign it and transfer it over to my name in the three week period before their ceremony. So that was pretty stressful, but a real fun sort of jumping off point to get certified, get a wedding under your belt, and then go, okay, I can do this in a legal and ceremonial sense. ‘Cause I think the first one is really important. And it’s hopefully for everyone out there, doing the studies, have a friend or colleague or someone kind of lined up because I wouldn’t know what to do. The first one, friend. Second one, friend of a friend. Third one, a mate’s cousin. It was about my fourth or fifth wedding that I did that was someone found me organically, and they were the most wonderful and organized person. They found me off the Attorney General’s registry of all celebrants in Australia. 100%. I went, what is, I’ve never, amazing. – You were just clicking through all 10,000 celebrants. – Right, and somehow landed on this bloke. – Yeah. – And they land on my rudimentary website that I just slapped together off GoDaddy. Yes, that was it. So that was kind of the thing. The benefit of doing the studies was it did, it is kind of well sorted out being like, cool, do legals, think about planning ceremonies, think about formal words and all that stuff. And then it goes, all right, now start thinking about businesses, have you got an ABN? Have you got a website? So you kind of get a lot of that going. Of course, you’re gonna advertise as a practicing celebrant until you are, but a lot of it is like a real watch this space type thing. So the second that my website went up, they were right on it. And so then I went, okay, now how do I get people to find me? And that was a hit and miss or just kind of a real shotgun shot in the dark type thing. I started just putting money into places, trying to get it out there. And if I got immediate responses back, which largely I did, I kept it going. If I didn’t for like two or three months, I scrapped it. Basically, for the large part, if I put money into it, I saw money come out of it, which was really positive. So every dollar I put into Google ads, someone said, Hey, I just saw you out on Google. Every dollar I saw of going into Instagram and Facebook ads, someone, you’d get X followers and then a DM. I’ve joined a few celebrant registries, god me, the name escapes me now for like websites and stuff. Directories. They’re the ones, yeah. And I’ve seen some work come out of that or the very least enough work that I go, cool, I’ve got money out of putting my name on these websites. You can’t go all over them ’cause there’s probably a certain Venn diagram ism to it where someone’s gonna see your face in a number of places, but combination of being a bit reserved, but also sort of going out there, you know? And here we are with the year ahead is looking big for me. So this year just been has been, oh goodness, I probably should have got my number down, but I’ve done a fistful, a dozen, or maybe a little over that sort of weddings. And the next 12 months, you know, we’ve got about 30 coming up, which is really exciting. So to see that sort of growth there, and I don’t know what the 12 months after that’s gonna look like, but you put the effort in and you go up and up and up from there, hopefully. – Money is a good lead in and share as much or as little as you want, I’m not really, I’m not here to getcha. But the money side of it, as much as money is a marketing story, it’s also a product story. You know, there’s a, we were in Baja, California, so Carbo San Lucas a few weeks ago, and there’s a hotel there that has a $500 US, $500 US taco, and I did not buy it, just to clear everything up. And just ’cause I couldn’t imagine, like as much as the $500 taco, very much as a marketing story, in the end, I’m gonna drop down 500 or close to 700 Australian. And I’m just putting a bloody taco in my mouth. So money, yeah, yeah, okay, I don’t know what kind of meal I could spend $500 on, I just, I’d probably be pretty hard to pony a $500 for a meal for myself. – Yeah, oh yeah. – Yeah, talking about money and leading to the product side of things. ‘Cause the marketing story is important, and that narrative is really important. But for you, the obvious answer is, you’re selling yourself as a celebrant, but how does your product differentiate from others in a broad sense? – Yeah, well– – And obviously the money comes into that as well. – Of course, yeah, so when you start off, you’re just a very green celebrant that has to market themselves as, basically, I had to go in with, “Cheap, give me work please.” I’ll say, “Yes, say do you wear anything you need me to do “to do your wedding?” And from there, that energy kind of rolled over into the idea behind, like writing ceremonies that people want, rather than the ceremony that everyone thinks of when they think of wedding, this non-traditionalism route that I think a lot of people sort of wanting more of these days. For every to-have-and-to-hold-for-death-do-you-part, there’s a stand-up comic quasi-routine coming out there. And as much as I’m not that far onto the bombastic side of things, a little bit of sitting down and talking with couples and individuals and say, “Well, what do you want? “What actually do you want to get out of this?” As a celebrant, we have a surprising amount of insight in terms of knowing what has to legally go into a wedding. And apart from that, “Well, what do you want out of this half-hour, 40-minute, “whole evening that people are planning and building?” So when I started, it was very much commercially competitive. Hire me just because you’ve got to hire someone. And a lot of that had quite quick turnarounds. People going, “Hey, we want to get married in three months, “four months, two months, “and we just look at for a celebrant.” And I was free, a lot of celebrants get booked out, right? And I was also cost-effective. But from there, as I developed that, developed my processes, got way better at writing ceremonies and having insight into what makes a good ceremony and the little things that you build, playlists for song recommendations and all the things that are out there. But if you make them your own, then it’s an addition to the product that you can give to them. How to write vow packs, there’s dozens of websites out there. But if you have your own, you can then give that to them and say, “This is also something you don’t have to go looking. “You’ve got it all there as an attachment or an email “that I can send you.” As that’s grown, as I’ve really pushed the narrative of not copy and pasting anything, I suppose, as much as a lot of things are commonly used, we all, not all, but most ceremonies have an asking moment, the I do moment, they have a ring ceremony at some point, usually. So there’s only so many, what’s the sentence, ’cause I was my skinner cat or something like that. Yeah, there’s only so many ways you can say, a ring is a circle and that means I love you, I suppose. But you play around with it and you say, the customizability, I suppose, is one thing that I can play with. ‘Cause at the moment, I’ve got time to sit there and pour hours into a ceremony. We’ll see how that goes in the next 12, 24 X years down the track, maybe I’ll continue to get better at it and have a bank of styles and things to use. So yeah, as that’s grown, as I’ve become more confident and delivering a better product, my price has reflected that. So it started a hyper competitive foot in the door, that was noteworthy to, well, hang on, if I’m gonna put a number of hours into this, if I’m gonna take Fridays and Saturdays of my time and social thing, you start to have that confidence and go, no, I wanna be fairly enumerated. And then you wanna be, you wanna step in and you actually have a dollar value, sort of represent you and what you think you’re worth. As much as a $500 taco is gonna be a very particular person buying it. But there’s that sort of middle ground where you go, if there was, I don’t know what the dollar amount is, but if there was an expensive taco out there, sometimes you look at it and go, hey, that might be a really good taco. It’s within the natural, the economic value of a taco. But you go, how good can a taco be for 20 bucks, 40 bucks? Where do you sit? What taco are you providing these people? We’re right into the metaphor now. I’m ankle deep, I’m waiting through it. – As someone who’s lived in Mexico for the last six months, I’m here for the taco metaphor. (laughing) – Yeah. But that’s it, it’s the same. I would often talk to people about it, talking about like whiskey or wine has like a similar thing there being like, you’ve got whiskey that is strictly like whiskey and Coke whiskey. You’ve gotta, I’ll just alter it, you’re gonna change it. It’s gonna be what you know, and there’s no expectation there. And then as you sort of move through different types of whiskeys, there’s a certain point where you need to have a really discerning palate or whatever, if you wanna like, you know, wave your hands around while you do it. And then there’s this upper end whiskey that I think anyone would look at and go, you’re not buying that for whiskey. You’re buying that to sit on a shelf. And I don’t know where that takes the metaphor, but (laughing) that’s a valuable way to finish that sentence, yeah. – As someone who appreciates a whiskey, I can tell you that there’s no easy way to finish this sentence about whiskey, you should just keep on going. (laughing) But I will wrap up the podcast on this note. I am, there’s people listening to this that have been a celebrant for 20 years, and I hope that they’re revitalized by your energy. But if you could wrap up with the encouragement to the person who’s thinking about becoming a celebrant, because I’ll give mine that I would tell anyone, anyone that asks me about whether they should become a celebrant or not. My first thought is actually to do what Robin Williams did. Robin Williams famously, when people would ask whether they should become a comedian, he would say no. And his bit was that if Robin Williams saying no is the thing that stops you becoming a comedian, you were never gonna make it in the first place. – Heck yeah. – Yeah, which I love. – That’s got such a great, yeah, absolutely. – But I don’t do that ’cause apparently that can sound like you’re an asshole. (laughing) So my actual encouragement is a little bit more encouraging that there’s enough average celebrants. There’s enough cheap celebrants, there’s enough, people that just don’t really care or aren’t passionate. And I’m not really calling anyone, I’m just saying there’s enough of those people. That market is looked after. The market that isn’t a full year, the market that is still aching for more talent is that upper end of the market of people that really care, that are really passionate and is desperately in need of great celebrants. So that’s what it says to you or anyone else. That’s the void waiting to be filled. But I’ll let you end on this. What’s your encouragement to someone thinking about becoming a celebrant today? – That’s great advice. My two cents is, yeah, find something that you’re going to get fulfillment from. It is an incredible thing to do for two people. Weddings are a highlight of some people’s lives and you get to be a part of that. Everyone you meet is at an absolute high point in their life. Two people that are in love or looking to start a dynasty or something like that. So you will only work with wonderful people that tend to be incredibly passionate in love that are looking to make something really wonderful. So if that sounds good to you, I’d dive into it. – Lucky, that’s such a good ending. Thank you. Give us a shout out. What’s your social and website and that kind of thing. – Weddings by the Beard. It is everywhere you’re going to find it, including on the bathroom sink after I shave, Instagram, Facebook, online. Thank you so much for having me.