Josh wrote an article here on the Celebrant Institute website and received lots of feedback on it, and Sarah had some thoughts on it. Here’s the link to the edited article, and the archived version from before this podcast episode.

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Josh Withers
Welcome to another episode of Australia’s 48th favourite celebrant podcast. So I’ve interviewed 49 people, Sarah, and they said that this is definitely, definitely their favourite except for one person.

Sarah Aird
Okay dude, you need to stop making up statistics. I think that we learned that yesterday.

Josh Withers
Oh, yeah, true.

Sarah Aird
So no more making up statistics. Correct.

Josh Withers
No more. Welcome to the Celebrant Talk Show then in that case.

Sarah Aird
There you go.

Josh Withers
No stats backing out. My name is Josh Withers and the other voice you’re hearing is Sarah Aird. We are not just the co-host of the Celebrant Talk Show podcast, we’re also the co-founders of the Celebrant Institute. And in case you need one more data point to know who we are, Sarah is also, I really like I want to call you the principal, like school principal, because that’s kind of how I understand you’re also identifying a CEO of the celebrant Institute, RTO.

Sarah Aird
Yes. That is the term that they use for us.

Josh Withers
But school principal is how I view you.

Sarah Aird
Sure. I think I’m also called the executive officer and also something, some other like hire something, something anyway. Yeah. I’m called many, I have many hats. They all just mean the same thing. Um, and we’ll go with school principal. I quite like that.

Josh Withers
I like it. Yeah. Uh, I’m recording this podcast in Hawaii, because that’s where we are this week. Uh, Sarah, I believe you’re still in inner city, Melbourne.

Sarah Aird
Yes. I’m in Melbourne where it is 3.30 PM on Monday, the 1st of May, which is not, it’s still April in Hawaii, isn’t it?

Josh Withers
Actually the most confusing thing for me this year doing this travel around the world is, um, I want to produce the monthly email that goes out for the Celebrate Institute subscribers, um, on the first day of each month. And I, I really have to do this. There’s this whole brain fart that goes on. I’m like, what day is the first day of the month? And it turns out that it’s today, the 30th of April, um, in Hawaii. So it’s 7.30 PM here and, uh, glad to be here.

Sarah Aird
You’re not the only person who does that. So fashion critical is an amazing Facebook page that I follow. And she comments on people’s red carpet outfits and she’s hilarious. And yesterday she put a post going, hold the horses. everybody tomorrow is the Met Ball Gala thing. I will be posting. It’s very exciting. And today she posted and went, actually I forgot that it’s America. So the first of May in America is like tomorrow our time. So sorry, I won’t get be getting a post today. I promise it’s not just you.

Josh Withers
Well, uh, look, talk about posting. I did post something. Open up the old internet and just toss some stuff in there. People love it.

Sarah Aird
Okay. So the entire reason that we are recording this podcast today is because I wanted to talk to you about the article that you posted on Saturday. I wanted to provide some more context and I wanted to provide a response from me as well because I haven’t done that yet. So let’s just wind back the clock a few days, shall we? So this all started, Josh, when you sent me a screenshot of a post that a friend of yours, a photographer friend of yours had made on their personal Facebook page, a bit of a rant about a celebrant that he had worked with at a wedding recently. And that celebrant was really trying to do his job as the photographer for him. And it wasn’t going down very well. Yeah, it wasn’t a lot of fun for him. wasn’t a lot of fun for him and it was way outside the bounds of anything I have ever heard of a seller and doing before. So in response to that, so you sent me that, we had a bit of a, “Oh my God, here we go again,” because this is not an isolated incident. I reckon several times a year, you send me messages that photographers have sent you or you’ve seen in a photography group about something that a celebrant has done at a wedding. Often it’s things that we’re aware of that, you know, something like, for example, this is something that I learned in my first year. Like the celebrant has said, “Do we need another kiss to make sure the photographer gets it?” Now, I used to say that in my first year until a photographer told me that was really offensive because it suggested they weren’t doing their job. And I went, “Shit, good point. I hadn’t thought about that. Thanks for the feedback. Now I still like to have a second kiss because I think there should be lots of kissing at a wedding, but I don’t phrase it in terms of putting down another vendor. I phrase it as family and friends. Do we need more kissing so that we always get another kiss? Because they’re getting married. Let’s have all the kissing. But that was a really valuable thing for me. And that is something that might be one of the things that you have sent me over the years or a celebrant being in the kiss shot. And that’s been uploaded to a photographer group. Things that we, again, things that we see happen all the time. A lot of them are because the celebrant in question doesn’t know. They haven’t learned yet. That’s okay. We have to learn these things. But this one was way outside the bounds of that. And there were things that were not, not even, not normal and not okay. And then a couple of days later, I think it was Saturday, you said to me in response to that post, “I’ve written this list for the Celebrant Institute. Can you have a look and see if there’s anything that you would add to the list?” I, in my usual fashion, when you ask me to review a list, I only reviewed the list. I didn’t read the introduction to the article. I just read the list. And I thought the list was pretty good. I sent you back a couple of things that I would add to it, which you did, which was really good. But I thought the list, just the list, I thought was pretty much okay. Yes, some of your style in the way you write is not the way I would have written it. But that’s one of the things that makes us a good partnership is that we have very different styles. We do things differently and we’ve never been afraid to challenge each other. This is your article not mine so I wasn’t about to correct your style. And so I went, “Yep, great, no problem.” It went out. It got some fairly positive reaction on Facebook

but not so much on Instagram. And I sat watching it unfold on Instagram yesterday Um, as a lot of celebrants got really upset about the way it was presented,

not about the message, but about the messaging, if you like.

So the tone, um,

and I sat there yesterday,

watching it unfold and thinking to myself, I don’t know what to do here.

Do I weigh in? I’m worried about looking different.

like I’m being defensive.

On the other hand, Josh is my business partner

at the Celebrity Institute is a partnership between us.

This impacts on me as well, potentially.

I didn’t want to stir the pot anymore.

I didn’t want to give any more kind of ammunition,

I guess, or oxygen.

I also didn’t want to shut it down.

I didn’t want people to stop being able

to air their responses,

because I think it’s really important

that if you’ve had a response, a visceral response like that,

you should have the opportunity to air it.

So for example, I know that some brands

will just turn off comments.

I didn’t think that was gonna be a useful strategy.

I thought about making a post saying something like that,

I thought the points were good,

but I thought maybe the delivery could have some changes,

but I didn’t want to sound like I was being paternalistic

to you, which means, you know, being parental and this is the way you should do things.

Like people were accusing you of being towards them.

So I’ve just been sitting with it for, you know, it’s now kind of 48 hours since the

original post went out and I’ve thought of lots of different ways.

I’ve thought about rewriting the article and so posting them side by side about, you know,

because I do believe that in the message, maybe this is a better way of putting it.

I’ve thought about this doing exactly what we’re doing now, this podcast episode.

I thought about making my own video in response.

None of the options I came up with were perfect.

Part of me wants to go and hide in a corner and not respond to this all

because I don’t like confrontation and this is terrifying.

And I’m not trying to be confrontational to anybody.

Not our not the people who have raised their concerns.

or to you. What I’m trying to say is we got this wrong.

We got this wrong.

Josh got it wrong in the way he wrote it.

I got it wrong because I missed it.

So I want to talk a little bit about me missing it.

The first thing is, as I said, I didn’t read the introduction,

and I think the introduction to the article is where most of the issues are.

And I’m going to talk you through Josh,

where I think the specific issues are in the specific wording,

because I know that a lot of the feedback we’ve been getting

has been very much about your tone, but without giving you specific examples of where that might

be problematic or how it could be done differently to have a different impact. So yeah, I didn’t read

the introduction, which is my mistake, but I don’t read everything Josh writes because I don’t have

time. And yesterday was my Saturday was I was with my family when he sent it to me and blah, blah,

Anyway, the second reason I think I missed it is because I have been reading your stuff

for so long that I am just used to this is the way you write.

Let’s be fair, you’ve been pissing celebrants off for 15 years

in the way that you write because often, and it has put a target on your back and you and I have

talked about that before because often your writing can come across as you know all the things and

other people don’t and it can come across a bit as you telling them they have to do it this way.

Now I think you’ve softened a lot in the last, well certainly in the 10 years that I’ve known you,

I think that you’ve gone very much from I know that you were taught to do it this way but that

way is wrong and this is the way I do it and that’s the only good way because that’s how you used

to be. I don’t think you’re really quite that anymore. You’ve definitely softened and you’ve

definitely moved more into sharing your knowledge and experience and saying this is how I do it,

this is something for you to think about. I think there’s some specific ways that we can change

this specific article. But because I’ve been reading your writing for so long, I’m just used

to it. So it was just like, oh yeah, let’s just Josh being Josh. Sometimes he’s a bit,

we have a bit of a hyperbole with, you know, all celebrants do this or 99% of celebrants

don’t engage with professional development or whatever it is. Because that is the way you write.

your writing is very usually heightened and escalated and that’s the way you get your point

across by being over the top. And that’s, you know, when you are talking to your couples,

it’s generally been okay because a lot of them love that shit. The ones who don’t,

they just don’t hire you and that’s easy. But in this circumstance, you are, we’re trying to

teach and to mentor and to, and there are, what is that terrible saying?

You attract more bees with honey. Is that what it is?

So there’s softer ways of doing that.

And yeah, so that’s why I think I missed it,

because I’ve been reading your stuff for so long and I’m just used to it.

So having said all of that,

now that I’ve looked at it again with some fresh eyes,

I’ve got a few very specific examples of where I think the problems have arisen.

And if it’s okay, I’m just, I just thought I’d take that, take you through them.

Please, please.

So if we start at the top of the original article, um,

I think the first paragraph is amazing.

We talk about the wedding industry being weirdly unique because two people who’ve

never arranged an event before are arranging this massive event.

They’re bringing 15 to 20 vendors together who might never have worked

together before and they expect it all to go off without a huge yes.

Correct. We need to work together to make that happen.

This is the next bit is where I think we get into a bit of trouble is that we

talk about celebrants.

It’s time we sat down and we’re pissing off other vendors.

Instead of saying some celebrants are pissing off other vendors,

there’s been an instant, all of you are doing the wrong thing,

whether that is how you intended it or not, because I’m pretty sure it’s not.

Your intentions are never, I know that your intentions never malicious.

I know that your intentions are to raise all of us up,

but that is how people will have taken it.

Every single one of you is doing the wrong thing. Um,

because it says we, and it says celebrants,

it doesn’t qualify that at any point to say some celebrants are pissing off

other vendors.

Some celebrants are not making this as easy as it could to be a

team that’s working together. So I think that’s the first thing.

And when people have read that and gone, “Jeez,

he’s having a go at me because he’s included me and everyone,”

they’re now in a negative mind frame to read the rest of the article.

I think we also didn’t need, I’m making the grand assumption that you’re already aware

of the legal aspects of being a marriage celebrant and I’m not going to tell you how to make

a ceremony.

It’s a bit condescending.

We didn’t need it.

It’s not relevant to this, to this article.

Can I, can I add some explanatory notes to the, to that?


Because I suppose reading this and getting the feedback on it, like my, well, anyone’s

writing, just I’m sure it’s not personal to me.

writing is just a textual representation of the existing mental models and workflows and

just how they think that’s, if you’ve never written before, that’s kind of what it is.

It’s just, you’ve already got this shit in your brain and it kind of hits a keyboard

and you know, it goes out like that. And so something I think about a lot with the entire

Celebrant Institute, not the RTO, but just our, the membership and their writing is that there’s,

there’s these, sometimes I visualize it as silos and sometimes I visualize it as kind of layers,

foundational layers of being a celebrant and talking to them. And I separate them because,

so the very base layer, the foundational kind of on the ground is the, there’s legal stuff.

They’re just the legals.

You know, we’ve got professional development courses on refreshing the legals.

You’ve got a whole search for, well, it’s not just about the legals, but obviously deeply

covers the legals.

And that stuff is just not even like, there’s like 1% room for creativity.

Like you can have a bit of fun with the vows kind of, no, but yeah, words to that effect.



But like 99.99% of the legal stuff.

That’s not the face.


these, these just are the little laws and the rules and et cetera.

And it’s not, it’s not kind of convertible.

And then, um, and then there’s this next level of like, just base kind of operating as a

celebrant, like the practice of being a celebrant.

And then there’s, yeah, this was the latest thing kind of falls apart from here.

Cause there’s obviously like, uh, this kind of celebrant, that kind of celebrant and obviously

different kinds of ceremonies.

And, but there’s, um, yeah, I suppose in my mind, if we’re gonna talk about legal stuff,

then let’s talk about legal stuff.

And it’s in this frame of mind. This is like, this is just what the words in the act say. So,

you know, sorry. And then, um, and then it says above what this article about is like,

there’s levels of creativity and there’s, yeah, any easy example of script, no script, you know,

um, and, and neither one’s right or wrong. And I’m so excited to talk about them in so many levels.

Um, but it’s, it’s very, um, subjective to everyone. Um, and so I suppose in like, cause

I’ve been thinking about this article for years and, uh, and, and I thought, well, this,

this is sits beneath those creative levels of like, I’m script or no script or whatever.

I, you know, on the, on the bearded, so I’m the diving, so whatever, whatever, wherever you sit

sit in that world, it’s beneath that, but it’s above legals.

And that sentence was me kind of classifying that I read back and I say,

I can see how it can sound kind of sending. Um,

and obviously the addressing celebrant as opposed to some celebrants. Uh,

I suppose in my mind, I, a little bit,

a little bit like the hashtag not all men,

like when people talk about sexual abusers or, uh,

or men are sexual abusers, that I don’t feel offended at that.

Cause I’m like, oh cool.

I’m well aware of my position in that.

I am not one of those people.

So what they’re talking about isn’t me,

even though they’re talking about men,

they’re not talking about me.

But then also I know men who they hear,

they’re like, ah, I’m so angry.

And so I do understand how the addressing

of an audience matters.

And so I see how I miss the mark there.

  • And I think that’s one of the things

that’s been picked up a few times in some of the comments has been this article addresses

us as a homogeneous bunch, as if all celebrants are the same. We know that not all celebrants

are the same. And I think that if we try to address our articles more to some celebrants,

I think that that’s reasonable because we know,

you know, that every celebrant does it differently. We know that, um,

that, and we know that not everything on this list is going to

apply to every single celebrant.

We also know that there are some things on this list that, I mean,

some celebrants probably can, um,

a lot of celebrants probably can relate to some of the things on this list,

but not others. And that’s okay too.

So I think maybe if we, you and I, are more careful about the way we address our articles

to admit that, to acknowledge that there are nuances within the celebrant community

and that there are lots of different types of people out there.

So I guess that’s what I wanted to say about that.

And I think that, as I say, when you start to read something and you’re immediately on the

defensive because you think he’s having a go at me, then he,

then you’re not going to read the rest of the list with a,

with an maybe open or positive mindset that you might’ve read if the introduction

had been phrased differently, even if the, um,

title had been different. You know what?

I’m actually okay with the title of the article because it’s clickbait.

This is what we have to do to get shit read these days.

Like I’ve got a website stats open on an average day we get between 150, so not 150, 100, 250

views on our website.

No one reads, sorry, no one.

I shouldn’t say no one.

But you know, on the first…

Not heaps of people.

Not heaps of people.

You know, and I see our membership numbers, like 96% of the celebrants aren’t a member

of the celebrants.

So I guess I’m also writing, I’m like, well, you know what?

I think this is important.

I’d like people to see it.

Because the reason why people see it

is not for the reason that someone can come and say,

gosh, I can take all the money.

$10 a month isn’t going to–


It’s not a deal breaker.

But I deeply am interested in raising

the standard of celebrancy so that when someone says,

I’m a celebrant, um, the reaction is like, Oh my gosh,

like your craft, your profession is, is, is excellent and profound and amazing.

And we get that to an extent, but also, uh, when I said that,

I hear so many stories like just a few days ago, I heard a story.

Yeah. So I went over to him last week at the celebrant.

Couldn’t remember the name. I cool. Cool. That’s so I’m sorry.

I don’t do that, but, uh, I don’t know how to react to that. You know,

Maybe like if you’re a surgeon, you’re a surgical,

my mate was killed by a surgeon last week when he was doing his transplant.


So in terms of how I would present this because,

you know, a few people have said to me today, you don’t write like that. Well,

no, I don’t. That’s what I’ve said before. Josh and I are different.

We have different styles. I might have presented this as, um,

we have had feedback.

Both Josh and I have had feedback from other wedding professionals over the years

that some of the celebrants they work with are doing some of these things or

many of these things, um, they might,

it might be useful for you to consider if you’re doing any of them in your own

practice, they’re good for you to think about. Um,

and maybe think about different ways of doing things.

If any of these things do resonate with you,

or if something in here is something that you’re doing that you’ve had good

feedback on, maybe ask, you know,

the photographer at your next wedding. Hey, I’ve been doing this. Is this helpful?

Because they’ll tell you.

And also remember that the photographers are different.

Some photographers love the celebrants to help with the group photo.

Some photographers fucking hate it.

So ask the photographer.

That’s I think that’s the biggest point here is to open the lines of communication.

So if some of the things on this list, if you go, well, I do that,

but I know that the photographer likes it.

make sure every photographer likes it because some of them won’t.

And so it’s just about asking the question.

And I know there’s a lot of things that I have learned over my years

through receiving feedback.

I don’t always get feedback because as we canvassed in that

in the Instagram post, some of the photographers are like,

yeah, I’ve tried to feedback to celebrants and it’s not worth it

because they don’t listen.

That when I have received feedback, it’s generally been because I’ve asked for it.

And it’s, and asking for it only makes me a better celebrant.

So I think if there’s something on this list that you’re doing that you think is helping,

please ask and make sure it is helping and that it’s not just that you think it’s helping.

I hope that doesn’t sound awful.

Anyway, I do want to go through the list because I do think that a lot of it is again really useful,

but I think there’s, there’s probably some wording things.

Actually, there’s just one more thing I wanted to say.

The other thing is that I think it’s possible that the people who read the

Instagram post and then moved to, moved on and read the,

the article we’re possibly preaching to the converted.

We’re possibly talking to the people who are already all over this stuff.

And they’re, you know, they’re professional, they really great,

great team players and they’re doing all the right things. Or, you know,

they’re working well together and checking in and communicating and all those sorts of


It’s possible that the people who really need to read this are not the ones who are following

us on Instagram and who are reading our articles.

So that’s another possibility.

And then of course, when you, you are already doing all of these things and it’s presented

to you as a you, because all of us are doing the wrong thing.

Sometimes that can lead to feelings of defensiveness as well.

So it’s possible we’re already preaching to the converted, but anyway.

Yeah. Yeah. Not very fair.

Yeah. So the first one here is that they don’t need us to set up shots.

I think that that’s really fair.

I am checking in with the photographer all the way through.

And by checking in, I mean, I’m making eye contact with them all the way through the


I actually had a ceremony many years ago where I was about to present, I was about to declare

them husband and wife and asked them to kiss.

And I happened to make eye contact with the photographer who started

desperately shaking his head at me because his SD card had run out in his camera.

And he needed to change it before the kiss to make sure he got the kiss shot.

And because I am always checking in and I happened to look at him at that moment,

I could go, okay, I’m just going to wait a minute before they say the next bit.

just while the photographer changes his card over.

So it’s that kind of that communication,

which is eye contact and gestures.

It’s not necessarily a,

hey mate, are you ready for the kiss?

Like, can I go?

It’s only ever happened once in my, you know,

nearly 500 weddings,

but I’m really glad that I’ve got that practice

of always kind of checking in through eye contact.

And yet the signing the same as Josh has said,

closest I would suggest is during the signing you respectfully and politely ask them if they’ve

got everything they need spot on. Um, and I will, I definitely do that also because I’ve had

photographers miss the entire signing because I’m really quick and they got distracted doing

something else. Oops, I was a little bit too quick that day. We just mocked up the signing

during the song. It was fine. It’s no problem. Um, this second one is a really big one and it’s

something that I’m a little bit horrified that we even had to list, but it’s in here.

When you’re on that, like when you’re celebrant, put your phone away. Don’t, don’t be filming

stuff for your TikTok or your, your Instagram. Absolutely the rule can be accepted if an alien

spacecraft arrives. But to be honest, I don’t have my phone anywhere near me. So I would still have

to run to get my phone to capture the alien spacecraft landing. That would be tricky.

Yeah, people. There’s plenty of people with phones and cameras and all the things. I know it’s really

hard to get stuff for social media. I know that it’s really difficult to get stuff from photographers

or even from families, from couples. But yeah, it’s not a good look to be filming stuff on your phone,

especially when you get in the way of the professionals who’ve been hired to be there

to specifically capture those moments. So I think that we can probably all agree that that one’s

not okay. And I think that that one’s written really well. Get out of the way of everyone else

doing their work. Yeah, make sure that people have the space and the time if that means that you

you know need to get there a bit earlier so that you’re set up and ready to go when the photographer

or videographer run in because they’ve been with the bride till the very last minute and now they

they run in and they’re trying to get themselves sorted, you know, maybe that’s okay. But,

yeah, stay out of their way. But I would add here, and I think that we talk about this

later is, is make sure that you check in with them while everyone is setting up. We’ll get

to that. You’re spot on about being in charge of the

vibe at the ceremony and being in control of how it feels. That’s our job. We’ve been

hired to create a feeling and that can then be captured by the photographer and

the videographer and also in the hearts and the minds of all the people who were

there. That was terrible. But that’s,

that’s why we’ve been hired. So we should concentrate on doing that.

You know, be like,

be really careful about making the ceremony as good as possible. Like,

as Josh says in the article, if we need to suggest that chairs could possibly be moved

or, you know, like I know I’ve turned up and the chairs have been not in a straight line

and like the aisle is not in a straight line.

I’m going to ask why that is.

Now, I’ve been to a venue where the venue is like it can’t be in a straight line

because there’s this kink in the way the hill goes and OK, fine.

But at least I’ve asked the question and now I’m satisfied that there’s a reason for it.

So, um, you know, so be it. We, but it’s about communication.

Here’s just a little tweaking with the wording for this one.

There’s a lot of don’ts in this paragraph. And I, um,

like literally the word don’t is in this paragraph quite often.

And I wonder if we can just soften the language a little bit to be things like,

Um, try not to be overbearing and be,

try not to be a drill sergeant. I can really be overbearing.

And I will tell people, I will own up to it. I’ll say, yeah,

I know I’m really bossy. Um, sorry about that.

I just want it to be perfect. So for me,

it’s not necessarily not being, so don’t be overbearing.

It’s sometimes being overbearing,

but then acknowledging it and apologizing for it. So, um,

I wonder if like softening that language a little bit as well would be,

would be softer and, um, less

telling off.

Yep. I think that’s what I’m looking for.

We talk about pay system spot on and we talk about getting the fuck out of the

way for the kiss shot. It’s so interesting to me that, um,

This is, this is a really, and this is something that came up in, I think in the Facebook comments

of somebody saying, “Hey, why don’t you tell the photographers that they don’t need to

tell us to get out of the kiss shot?”

Sorry, I think it was Kelly, I love you, but they do because a lot of celebrants don’t

get out of the kiss shot.

To be honest, it’s mainly religious celebrants who don’t get out of the kiss shot, to be


That’s fair.

see photos of them all the time. And so it’s,

I’m really happy for, um,

for vendors to come and check in with me to make sure that I’m already doing

something that they need me to do. Uh, and that is an often it’s a,

yeah, I’m all over it. Um, so for example,

I was working with a live, um,

duo one day and he came to me beforehand,

somebody I’ve worked with a lot and he said, so just confirming,

you’ll give me a nod when you need me to start playing. Right. And I’m like, yeah,

mate, of course. And he goes, okay, good.

Just checking because the celebrating yesterday didn’t and it just was messy.

So, um, if I’m okay with them checking to make sure

I’m giving them what they need. And so for the photographer,

checking to make sure I’m giving them what they need, getting a kiss shot.

I’m okay with that because then we’re going to make it better. And I, yeah,

I’ve seen too many photos of celebrants peering,

like weirdly, lascivious at the kiss.

It’s very weird.

Can I tell you, this is just a Josh thing that I just love to do because it’s,

I just like to watch the world burn like that. Um,

but if a photographer or someone will come and ask whether I’ll move,

I’ll look him dead in the eye with a really serious face and just say, no, I stand there.

I’ll leave, I’ll leave it for like three or four or five seconds.

I, of course I will.

And look, often when I’m briefing the photographer before the ceremony starts,

because it’s something that is part of my practice, I will go and say to them,

Hey, it’s a pretty standard ceremony.

It’s going to take about 20 minutes.

They’ve got their own vows.

Um, I’ve, they’ve got vow cards.

There’s going to be one reading.

the person will stand over here, whatever it is. And, and I always say,

and I promise I’ll get out of the way for the kiss shot.

So I kind of preempt it. They don’t have to ask cause I’ve already told them again,

some softening language in this one. Don’t be weird about it.

Don’t run or be awkward. A way of softening that could be,

you don’t need to run or be awkward. You know,

like just to be softening rather than starting lots of sentences with the word


Maybe, um, learn to use your PA system spot on.

Um, yeah,

I probably would take out the whole sentence about, um,

don’t blame them to the guests as if someone has screwed you over.

Oh, no, that’s a thing.

I know it’s a thing, but I think it’s a bit harsh. Um, I think,

I think saying just saying a blanket statement about don’t blame other vendors

either publicly or privately,

I think would have just softened that a little bit because I know that they’re

doing it. Um, but I think that that would just soften the message a bit because

it’s still, it’s, it’s really important. We do.

And we do see, we do hear this from lots of celebrants still who,

who do have trouble with the PA system is fine until all the guests arrive and the videographer

plugs in. Those two things often happen at the same time. Often it’s not the videographer

plugging in that is the problem, but it’s some interference maybe with a phone or something

else the guest is standing in between the receiver and the transmitter, those sorts

of things. But because those things happen at the same time, it’s very easy to go, well,

it must be because the videographer plugged in.

I think just a, yeah, just a blanket,

don’t blame other vendors either publicly or privately would just be softer.

Again, I’m trying to, I think the message is important,

but delivering it in a softer way. And look,

you people who are listening, if you disagree,

I would love to hear about it because we both need to make sure that our

language is, is not going to upset people.

Um, and because we don’t, that’s the last thing we want is to,

is to make people upset, um, share it if they want,

tell them how they can get it all good. Before you start the ceremony,

let them know that you’re about to start. That’s really, it’s really important.

Like have that chat. Hey, we’re about to get started. Is that okay? Uh, and,

you know, everyone kind of needs to, to be ready together.

if they’re still setting up their camera or they haven’t put the microphone on the groomsman yet

or whatever it is, they might just need another minute or two. So it’s the checking in. Again,

it’s this constant communication. This is what is super important. I didn’t have any kind of issues

with the language there though. Yes, spot on about their being, if there’s any rituals or things that

aren’t run of the mill, let them know just before the ceremony. This could include if the ceremony

is a bit longer or shorter than normal. The reason I suggested that you add this was actually a story

that a photographer told me many years ago, that there was going to be a candle lighting ritual

during the ceremony and she didn’t know about it and she was therefore in the wrong position

to capture the moment the candles were lit because of where it was in the space and where the bodies

would be between her and the candle. If she’d known about it ahead of time, she would have made

her way around to that side of the room and been there ready to go. So that’s always stuck in my

mind to remember to go, “Hey, there’s going to be a hand fasting and Gran’s going to come up and get

the ties and she’s, I can see her sitting in the front row or whatever it is, whoever’s got the

the rings, you know, just those little things that aren’t, that aren’t normal run of the

mill. And I, it was the same photographer who commented on Instagram and said that she’d

had a situation recently where the celebrant didn’t tell them they weren’t doing the signing

in the middle of the ceremony. They were pulling it out till after the ceremony. And so she

didn’t have chance to get people to hand out the confetti during the signing because that’s

when she usually organizes the handing out of the confetti.

So again, just that comms breakdown. Again, part of that is the breakdown between the

photographer and the couple not having that discussion. But also the photographer and

the celebrant having that discussion beforehand would have been useful. Because even though

that pulling out the signing and putting at the end of the ceremony is becoming a thing

that a lot of celebrants are starting to do in terms of other vendors, they don’t necessarily

know that that’s a thing. So because it’s not normal yet, we just need to tell them

that something different from what they’re expecting is going to happen.

It’s okay, this is a really big one. It’s possible that they want some help with the family and group

photos afterwards, but don’t assume it and don’t announce it unless you’ve spoken to them first.

So this is a really interesting one. I know some photographers who have a very structured way of

doing family photos and they don’t want any assistance with them at all. I know some

photographers who are like, “Oh, celebrant, here’s the list that the family gave me. Can you hang on

to this list and can you call out on your microphone for each group of people to come forward?”

Again, different photographers have different styles just like different celebrants have

have different styles.

So it’s really important that we chat to each other about how that’s going to

work before time, before it happens.

I always chat to my photographers during the signing and I say to them,

I just check in with them. Are you doing a group photo?

Even if the couple have already told me they’re doing one, I check with them.

Are you doing a group photo? Yes. And I say, where would you like to do it?

Because I’m going to send a couple there straight after the processional.

I’m going to say walk down the aisle and they go straight over to that tree

there because that’s where we’re going to do the group photo.

And I’ll explain that.

Which to comment on that,

that’s actually a really good method of moving that energy.

Um, cause trying to get everyone, everyone around is as hard for a group photo.

And so when they go over there, you wouldn’t believe it.

Everyone’s going to follow. And in fact, I put it in my instructions.

I will always say, you know, my housekeeping at the end.

So what’s going to happen now is the couple are going to walk down the aisle.

They’re going to go over to that tree over there.

You’re all going to follow them.

and then there’s going to be a group photo over there.

So please listen out for the photographer’s instructions for that group photo.

I can, I’m not going to do that unless I’ve had the discussion with the photographer though.

If they say I’m not doing a group photo, I go, great, shut my lips.

No comment about a group photo because that’s not what’s going to happen.

And the, what photos are going to happen is not my domain.

That’s the photographer and the couple’s domain.

So I’m not going to make, I’m also not going to make any other comments about who else is going

to be in photos. I sometimes on instruction by the couple, like I’ve had last week, I had,

or a couple of weeks ago, I had the couple say, can you please tell everyone except immediate

family to go to the stable for canapes and drinks and for immediate family to stay here for photos.

Like that was the instruction they wanted me to give in the housekeeping.

I then double checked that with the photographer during the signing

to make sure they were happy with it as well.

And yes, they were.

So for me, again, it’s that communication thing.

Yeah, don’t force them into taking photos that you should take.

I don’t have any issues with the way that is written

because we just shouldn’t do that.

It’s not about us.

It’s about them.

So I’m totally okay with that.

And yeah, this last one, it’s really hard.

they don’t always photos and it’s really nice when they’re good enough to let us have some photos or

video. But yes, send them an email later. Also don’t send them an email like the day of the wedding

or the day after the wedding. My timeline is at the moment is I send it six weeks after the wedding,

even that’s a bit early I think at the moment because a lot of photographers even come back

I can say I’m not quite up to it yet.

So, um, send them an email, you know, eight, 10 weeks later to say,

I’d love to pay you for some photos, um, of the ceremony.

If that’s okay for me to use on my social media and be okay with paying.

I think that’s okay too. Um, Josh, I,

I am like, um, yes.

So your last sentence in there is if you’re like me, a budding photographer,

there’s usually no issue with you taking some photos surrounding the wedding for your social blog

and outside of anything the actual photographer is doing, but I’d run it past the couple when

meeting with them ahead of the wedding. I would also probably run it past the photographer

in my pre-ceremony chat. I would go, “By the way, after the ceremony or like around the ceremony,

I’m just letting you know that I’m taking some photos.” I think that that’s a professional

courtesy to let them know that you’re doing that too. So I think to me, to me it’s a good list.

It’s just there’s some softening in the way that it’s written. I think is what we,

and I think that’s what we’ve been hearing from the feedback of people feeling upset that we’ve

put everybody into the same camp, that everyone’s doing the same thing and that everyone’s doing a

a bad job. We don’t think that. And we’re really sorry that it’s come across that way,

because that’s certainly not the way that it was intended.

And can I echo that, that for the for that I am sorry as well. Mine, as I’ve already

kind of mentioned, but I wasn’t addressing all 10,000 odd celebrants or whatever the

the numbers today. Um, uh,

each and every one of you is terrible.

I purposely didn’t mention names. If you want to mention names,

I’ll be on the list. Didn’t mention names. And, um,

and I suppose if I was presented with that list, I would say, Oh, um,

these points apply to me. These points don’t cool,

but I do now understand how,

how it can be received in a way that has created the response that I’ve received.

And I think that it’s also important.

We are not, we’re not saying we’re sorry that you read it wrong.

We’re not saying that.

We’re not saying that at all.

We’re legitimately putting our hand on our hearts and saying,

we’re really sorry that it came, that it was written in a way

that could be received, not in the way it was intended.

So we’re both going to work on doing that better and, um,

and presenting things as not all some, um,

and the, you know, these are some things that you might want to think about.

So that’s kind of where I am at.

That’s good. I am. I appreciate your, uh, okay.

So as a precursor to this podcast, we had a weird chance and hello,

cause we catch up with friends, but I sort of like leave the, um,

leave the good stuff for the podcast. Cause I, I like, we’re not behind the scenes. Um,

you know, colluding against you if, if, if you’re a person that has responded negatively

because we, yeah, like I’ve already said a couple of times, yeah, my, my heart isn’t

to, to knock you down or to punch down. Um, a few people mentioned like, uh, so me painting

salivants like this does us no help. I’m like, oh, all those other people aren’t reading

this darling, like the couples aren’t reading it and yes, it’s publicly available.

But my heart really was to talk to sell up and say, Hey, I want us to be

appreciated, valued, revered, you know, kind of reminds me a little bit of that.

Um, the women talk about increasing our price and people outrage and like, Oh no,

I want you to have more money.

But that’s another, another podcast for another day.

So, um, Sarah, thank you.

You are welcome.

I hope for everybody out there that’s given some more context and some understanding that we

want to do better and we hope that this goes some way towards providing some of that reflection and

thinking about how we can do better. If any of you have specific comments on any of the specific

wording, whether it be wording that’s in the article or wording that I’ve come up with that might be

softer or different, we’re really keen to hear them because, you know, that’s, to me, that’s the

way we get better is by, you know, constructive feedback. And sometimes the feedback needs to be

specific because sometimes it’s difficult, especially when this is the way Josh always writes,

it can be difficult for him to go, “Okay, but exactly what was the problem?

And why is it a problem this time and it hasn’t been a problem before?”

So, yeah, really, really happy to receive specific feedback if anybody had any.

Yeah, that would be really cool too. Thank you also to everyone who has commented,

to everyone who’s reached out to me privately, and I’m sure there’s been some people who’s

reach out to Josh privately as well. Thank you as well to the people who did find the article

useful. That’s cool. All the celebrants are different and everyone’s going to take different

writing in different ways as well. So that’s another point too. But honestly, we just want

to get better. So any way that we can get better by receiving your comments and your feedback,

waiting for it.