In 2023 I celebrate 5 years of Celebranting. I know that’s only an infant to so many Celebrants out there, but I feel I’ve achieved a lot within this time. I’m also learning so many new things every day, not only in my own lessons and failures but by sharing conversations with other Celebrants – new and old (ahem!) I mean… more experienced.
Here are 5 things I’ve learned since gaining my registration.
Self-Care is so important
I know this concept is getting a lot of attention these days but there is a reason for it. Particularly when it comes to those of us in the service industry. A lot of the time we give our best personality bits to our job. We’re not allowed to be cranky, stressed or emotional (well a little tear or two during the vows is acceptable but nothing more than that!). One major thing I’ve learned is to make sure I don’t give all of my very best self to my job and not save anything for my family, particularly my partner.
This was a hard lesson in 2022, I didn’t even realise I was doing it. But my partner is the first one to call me out on these things (it’s one of the reasons why I keep him around) and even though I did fight back just a little, I worked out he wasn’t getting the parts of me he fell in love with.
It wasn’t something I found easy to work out but with the help of a very good coach (if you haven’t tried coaching give it a go, it’s worked wonders for me this past few months) I was able to see that I needed to give myself more time to just be. For me that means:
- Walking my dog every day.
- Meditating for at least 10 minutes a day.
- Communicating expectations with my loved ones.
- And, particularly, saying no to extra-curricular activities that take too much of my positive energy.
Our flock-tabulous QLD Local Leader Roxy wrote a great blog on exactly this you can find here, so there’s no point in me harping on about it. Just know that self-care is not selfish, it’s necessary – you can’t love others if you don’t love yourself first.
Wedding free weekends are empowering
It’s a good thing to have a wedding free weekend. I remember the exact moment I realised this; it was a Saturday in April (peak wedding season). I was walking along the coastline, past Boulder Beach with my girlfriends. Up ahead in the distance we noticed a wedding on the headland. As we walked closer, I saw who the celebrant was, it was one of my fellow cele-buddies Cara Gallagher. We watched for a few moments, we oo-ed and arr-ed, I took a video for my stories and we carried on. Then it hit me, I felt so happy that I wasn’t working.
This was a new feeling for me. You see in my first two years, I was so stressed about being a busy celebrant that if I had of walked past this wedding back then, I would’ve said to myself in a poor-me-whiny tone “oh why aren’t I marrying anyone today?”.
The really interesting thing about this is, I ran into Cara at a local event a few weeks later. She told me that she had witnessed one of my weddings a few weeks earlier on the beach in Byron Bay – she was with her family on one of her rare wedding free weekend days. We both laughed when we shared our feelings, and they were exactly the same.
Nowadays I mark out dates in my calendar as no work weekends just so I can hang out with my loved ones, and it feels so good to have this amount of control.
Complacency is not cool
There have been two occasions when I became too complacent. The second time was a little harder than the first so I took it as a sign that I needed to pull my head in, otherwise the third time wouldn’t be very pretty.
I’ve always prided myself on writing my ceremonies within a week of the ceremony, this works best for me as I work well under pressure and I’m more efficient that way. Last year, I got into the habit of writing the ceremony the night before and then finalising the words the morning of, which hadn’t been a problem until 5 months into the year.
I had a beautiful wedding on the beach where the couple changed the time of the ceremony two days before the wedding to be earlier in the day, this wasn’t a problem for me. Then, I had another couple who wanted to meet with me the morning of the wedding to sign a Notice of Intended Marriage as they were travelling down from Brisbane – I thought I could do it all.
My usual process for writing my ceremonies is write the ceremony around 5-7 days out from the date, then leave it for a couple of days, write the final draft, record it and listen to it over and over again until I know it (almost) off by heart. I didn’t get the time to do that, I barely had time to read through it before the ceremony. During the wedding I mixed up some wording, and the couple corrected me. It wasn’t the legal wording, but it definitely was not ideal for someone who was being paid to speak professionally.
The second time, I was in a role where I was the Coordinator and the Celebrant. I didn’t triple check some details on the run sheet that I normally do due to being very busy and feeling too confident, and I ended up needing to step into the role of Stylist at the last minute as well. Everything worked out but I was feeling very rushed and I wasn’t on my full game.
Both these occurrences might seem like little things and it wasn’t something anyone really noticed, but I did. I always take these moments as little reminders from my higher self to give myself a good talking to and I told myself not to get too complacent. No matter how experienced and onto the process I am, I can’t ever get too relaxed.
The success is in the follow-up
Two of the hardest parts of hustling for weddings, is every single couple is different in their approach and we don’t get repeat business from the same people. So, we need to be really careful in how we approach our processes. I’ve learned to follow-up on every lead I get. Whether they’ve sent me an Instagram message, or an enquiry through my website, if I haven’t heard back from them within a few days, I send them a follow-up.
And I don’t send them a generic “what are you thinking, can I clarify anything for you” type of email, I send them a link to a blog on my website that I think would resonate with their style. I’ve had great success on conversion with this follow-up technique and it drives traffic back to my website which works wonders for my SEO. Most people come back to this email either with a yes or we’ve found another celebrant, which helps me to let go and move on. You’ve just got to remember that ghosting is all part of the gig, and those couples were never for you anyway.
People will only ever remember how you make them feel.
There’s a famous quote by the wonderful Maya Angelou… “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This is so true in our role as Celebrants. Largely due to the big emotions being thrown all around us, in the lead up to and on the day. Most of the time a couple will choose you because of the vibe you portray and the way you make them feel. I know my couples will 99.9999999% of the time book me if they’re able to chat to me first. This is because of the way I make them feel, it’s not because of the fancy words I use, or my knowledge of the Marriage Act.
A few years ago, I had a coffee date with one of my cele-buddies. I shared with her how bad I felt about a ceremony I’d just delivered that past weekend – I used to beat myself up about the stupidest things. Her response was ‘even if you delivered the bare minimum, you’ll still be delivering way more than most of the Celebrants out there.” Boom! That hit me and it’s stuck to me like bubble-gum. It’s so true, there are so many Celebrants out there who do the absolute bare minimum and if that works for them than of course that’s totally fine. I make it my mission to make everyone around me feel good so if that’s my bare minimum I know I’ve succeeded.