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Meet Our Local Leaders

Q+A With TCS Local Leaders

If you’re a TCS Member, you’ll probably be familiar with our three Local Leaders, Roxy (QLD), Alison (NSW) and Dee (Vic).  They’re always there, supporting members, running events, writing blogs, answering questions, and basically just giving our members the best resources they can possibly want in a membership organisation.

Alongside the Mother Hens and TCS Co-Founder/Owners, Sarah and Anna, our TCS Local Leaders plan and discuss what’s happening in the world of celebrancy on a monthly basis, as well as numerous messages in-between.  So, you may be wondering, who are Roxy, Alison and Dee? Well, read on!

Meet Alison

Alison Pickle wearing a smash the patriarchy tshirt

When did you become a celebrant and how/why?

I was registered on 30th November 2018, eight days before I married my dad (to my step-mother, just to be clear). Most people assume that’s why I became a celebrant, but it’s not at all – in fact they only told me they wanted to get married once I was most of the way through my Cert IV.

There are two main things that made me decide to become a marriage celebrant:

  1. My friends got engaged and thought I might randomly be able to marry people, because that’s the kind of skill I might secretly have up my sleeve. I was not, but they were willing to pay for the course. Then I looked into what it took to become a celebrant, naively thinking it might just be a weekend thing, and said “f#&k no, that is way too much work for a one-off”. But their wedding was in France, so they legally married at the registry, and I did the non-legal French ceremony. I loved every second of it.So about a week after returning to Australia, I quit my full-time job and enrolled into the Certificate IV so I could do this for realsies.

2. Before I could get to a place where I would even consider working in weddings, I needed to change my attitude on marriage in general. Divorce runs in my family. In fact, many members of my family have gotten divorced more than once, so I didn’t grow up with a great view of marriage. In most cases, whether married or divorced, the women in my family had been left manage the bulk of household and child-caring responsibilities on their own – even if they had a job outside the home. I saw marriage as a trap for women, sold to us by romantic Hollywood lies. Yes, a touch dramatic, I know, but there is also a lot of research to show that marriage benefits men far more than women.

However, by my mid-20s, the fight for marriage equality changed my view. I’ve been an active ally in the LGBTIQA+ community for many years, and for a decade before it came into law, I was marching the streets of Sydney CBD in my “Str8 Against Hate” t-shirt calling for all consenting adults to have the right to marry. At first, I was just doing it because I didn’t want my friends to have fewer legal rights based solely on who they love, but then I started listening to the other reasons. Once the cis-het dynamic was removed from the narrative, I was able to see that equality and balance could exist between two partners, and I began to understand the many and varied reasons why someone would choose to marry. These stories weren’t based on some Hollywood ideal (because these relationships were not well represented in media), but rooted in something much deeper. Each tale was different and beautiful in its own way, and it opened me up to the idea that marriage, while not necessarily for everyone, could represent a sacred commitment that was bigger than the individual.

It was only with this new understanding that I became excited about telling people’s stories of love and commitment, no matter their sexual orientation, gender, age, race or abilities.

What’s your favourite and least favourite parts of being a celebrant?

So many favourite parts. It’s a job that speaks to so many of my skills, and most of it comes very naturally to me (I know this is a disgusting brag, but it’s true). Telling other people’s stories has been something I’ve done my entire professional life, but usually I’ve done it from behind a desk. Now I get to do it in real-time, and see all the happy reactions.  I love that I can help people celebrate one of the most important days of their lives in a way that perfectly expresses them. I honestly feel like this is the job I have been working towards my whole life.

My least favourite part is definitely all the driving. Audiobooks make it more bearable, but if someone could invent teleportation sometime soon, that would be great!

My other least favourite part is the solo nature of the work. I’m one of those weirdos who really enjoyed the office environment. I miss working as a team on a daily basis.

When did you join TCS, how did you hear about it, and how does it benefit you?

I’m honestly not sure when I first heard about it. Maybe on The Celebrant Talk Show podcast? I’d been part of a different association that I was not enjoying at all! I was even starting to think that maybe I’d made a mistake going into celebrancy because all these people seemed to constantly complain about their couples.

Then I must’ve found out about TCS somewhere in mid-2019. I think I joined maybe a couple of days before the Sydney conference, which was terrible timing on my part because I missed out on the biggest cele event in my hometown. But I could still tell right away that I’d found my people.

The biggest benefit for me has always been the networking side of it. I’ve made so many friends through this group, which has been a lifeline for me as this job can be a bit lonely at times. And I’ve been so inspired by all the creative brains in the group. The networking side has also been so important in building my business because I receive a lot of work from referrals from other celebrants.

Why did you become a local leader, and what do you like about the job?

I’m the new kid on the block in the leadership team, following OG NSW Local Leader Victoria Armstrong. Victoria did such a wonderful job and, to be honest, I’ve been a bit nervous about the shoes I’ve been left to fill.

TCS has been such a vital part of my celebrant life, and I’ve always aimed to give back even more to the community than I’ve received. Now I love that I can do that in an official capacity!

If you could give one piece of advice to new celebrants, what would it be (apart from joining TCS, of course!)

Lead with kindness and confidence.

If you work from an assumption that every couple, vendor and other celebrants are working with the best of intentions, then solving any issue will be more pleasant and productive.

But also back yourself and be your own advocate. You will likely be your own harshest critic (that’s just human nature, I’m afraid), but if try hard to also be your biggest cheerleader, it’ll do wonders for your business.

Tell us about yourself in 50 words or less.

Sydney Inner Westie leftie seeks relaxed, fun couples wanting long-term relationships. Can provide 18 years’ professional writing experience, top-notch pub trivia skills, and Zoom meetings featuring cats named Pancake and Barney. Interests include pop culture, stand-up comedy (watching, not performing), and searching for the best oat flat white in Marrickville.

Meet Dee

Dee wearing a glitter jacket, smiling with a massive lovely grin on her face
When did you become a celebrant and how/why? There were a few overlapping moments… My cousin got married and in helping plan and decorate for their wedding, I got to know them so much more than just ‘my cousin and his future wife’. I sat during their, all be it, lovely ceremony, and thought that the celebrant didn’t quite capture the fun and energy of them.  At the same time I was working in a job that I wasn’t right for… but the best part of this was seeing a Queer Wedding Photographer work and her beautiful images of couples. This was pre-marriage equality and was a ‘political issue’ in the media, was a very real and powerful thing to see in photos.  The aforementioned job, I knew I needed to be doing something where I could work for myself. Add into that the Marriage Equality debate and plebiscite and funneling my energy into the Celebrancy Course just made sense.  I didn’t know if I could turn the qualification into a business and viable ‘job’ but I did know that I had to give it a go.

What’s your favourite and least favourite parts of being a celebrant? SO many favourite parts. The hug with the couple after the ceremony. The moment just before they are both standing in the ceremony space, holding hands, about to get married. The story telling. The stories that couples share with me. That my ‘job’ ends with a hug and a glass of Prosecco.  Least favourite part…. I think it’s the running of the actual business. I’ve automated what I can, but the advertising, social media, administration and ongoing learning can feel all consuming and never ending at times.

When did you join TCS, how did you hear about it, and how does it benefit you? Oh! So, when I was waiting for my registration from AGD to come through, I started following and watching celebrants on Instagram. I was blown away by the stories they shared about all the details that go into being a celebrant. I knew I had a qualification, but wasn’t sure how to turn that into being an actual celebrant.  From going down the rabbit hole of following celebrants that I would like to be like or hang out with, I found The Celebrant Society. I’d looked at other associations, but TCS had me at the Pineapple and Flamingo logo!  When I first joined, I spent DAYS, actually probably weeks, pouring over the posts of information that members had generously shared. I learnt SO much about the actual role of a celebrant from TCS, that when it came time for my first wedding, I felt so much more prepared than I did with just the Celebrancy Course.  Then the Coogee 2019 TCS Conference blew me away with the diverse range of ideas, business models, celebrant styles and overwhelming, the friendship and hilarity. My social circle is full of celebrants! We support each other, build each other up, refer each other to couples and make each other learn and laugh.

Why did you become a local leader, and what do you like about the job? I told Anna and Sarah in my application to be Local Leader that I felt that this was the job that I was born to do! I love gathering people together. I love celebrants. I love mentoring people, especially women, to find the confidence to be the best celebrant they can be and to just GO FOR IT. I love the collaborative nature of TCS and especially the Leadership team. Did I mention that I love gathering and being around celebrants… whether it’s coffee, drinks or learning opportunities, there is something quite special about a group of celebrants together. That I can help facilitate those gatherings is very, very satisfying.

If you could give one piece of advice to new celebrants, what would it be (apart from joining TCS, of course!) Be yourself. You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea, so find YOUR people and be the best cup of tea (Celebrant!) for them. Show this through your social media, website, logo, ceremonies, outfits… everything. You’ll have more fun and you’ll attract your type of people to marry!

Tell us about yourself in 50 words or less. Ok. I am a gay woman, a Lesbian and a proud member of the Queer community. I live in Melbourne’s Inner North with my lovely English partner and our two fluffy dogs. I’m a marriage celebrant and a storyteller. I love making my own dresses to wear to weddings and there are very few times when I will say no to a glass of Prosecco. Especially at a wedding.

Meet Roxy

Roxy QLD Local Leader wearing a red dress and smiling
When did you become a celebrant and how/why? It was 2011 and a friend of mine, who is a theatre producer, got married.  Being a theatre producer, it was a full production of a wedding – lots of moving parts – and I helped her by keeping her calm, as well as some of the practicalities of moving 100 people from not one, not two, but three venues.  Afterwards she said to me ‘You should work within the wedding industry.’  She was right.  I should, and when I discovered celebrancy, it was a ‘bingo’ moment – all the skills from previous jobs could be utilised, plus I could do it as a side hustle whilst I continued my day job.   In 2017 I gave up the day job, and have been a full time celebrant since.  I love it!

What’s your favourite and least favourite parts of being a celebrant? If someone could bottle the high I get from conducting a ceremony and sell it, they’d be a multi-billionaire. It truly is the best feeling in the world, and I love the story-telling part of it. I often see guests turn up with faces which read ‘we have to endure the ceremony, and then the fun bit will start’, and seeing them start to enjoy themselves early on, changing their perception of what a wedding ceremony is like, is gold. My least favourite part can also sometimes by my favourite, and that’s being my own boss.  I hate doing my finances, so reconciling my accounts is always bad day in the ‘office’, and if I’m feeling a bit pants, I can’t really take a day off, but they are very minor grumbles for what is the best job in the world.

When did you join TCS, how did you hear about it, and how does it benefit you? I was a member of another celebrant membership organisation, and wasn’t getting anything out of it other than my insurance.  It was in 2018, and I was feeling pretty, well, lonely really, so I decided to attend an in-person celebrant training event to see if I could make any friends. I didn’t. But what I did get out of it was the trainer pulled me aside and said ‘There’s this celebrant organisations called The Celebrant Society, and I think they might be your sort of people. She was right. I have become a much, much better celebrant as a result.  The training I’ve attended, the information I’ve gleaned from the closed Facebook Group, the social activities I’ve attended, the friends I’ve made… I can honestly say it was the best investment I ever made to my celebrant career.

Why did you become a local leader, and what do you like about the job? I’ve always been the kind of person who likes helping others.  I wasn’t particularly academic or sporty at school, but I did win ‘The Most Helpful Child’ prize, so it’s innate in me.  I also love organising socials and delivering training (especially around marketing and social media), so the Local Leaders job was a no-brainer for me.

If you could give one piece of advice to new celebrants, what would it be (apart from joining TCS, of course!) Look to others for inspiration, but don’t compare yourself to them.  I don’t know if there’s another job in the world where Imposter Syndrome is as rife. I also think the best way to learn how to do this job is by the doing.   The courses give you all the tool to be a celebrant, but storytelling and writing is a skill that only gets better with time.  Listen to podcasts, read or listen to books, watch documentaries and dramas, and really listen to how the story unfolds.  When you deliver ceremonies, you’ll get to see and hear how guests and the couple react, and this will help you hone your skills too.  It takes time, and it doesn’t mean that you’re not fabulous straight away – it just means you’ll get better and better!

Tell us about yourself in 50 words or less. I love dogs.  Pretty dogs. Ugly dogs.  Little dogs. Big dogs.  This dog. That dog.  Basically, just all dogs. I have a weird accent, having lived in the UK for 26 years, which gets weirder the more alcohol I drink. I am a maximalist, vintage-loving, op-shop shopper, and swing from being extremely social to lying on my sofa watching back-to-back episodes of Drag Race.

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Our Local Leaders will make you feel super welcome, even if you’re not based in Queensland, Victoria, or New South Wales, so join us today by heading over to our membership page

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