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Author name: Lisa Cockington

Greening Your Wedding Day: 9 Easy Eco-Friendly Ideas To Get You Thinking

We look forward to a wedding day for a very long time, and when it comes, it’s so easy to get caught up in everyone else’s expectations rather than sitting down and thinking about what’s truly important to you. It’s not just about how much your budget is, but also what you spend your money on, and what impact that has. Take a few minutes here to think about how eco-friendly your choices could be.


Let’s set the scene from my book of fables….

Once upon a time in a quaint village, there lived a couple, Sarah and James, who dreamed of having an eco-friendly wedding. But there was a challenge. The village had never seen such a wedding before, and many were skeptical about their unique idea. Some believed it would be too difficult to pull off, while others were resistant to change.
Undeterred, Sarah and James decided to press on. They sent digital invitations instead of paper ones, repurposed vintage decorations, and chose local, organic catering. Their wedding day was set in a lush forest, under a beautiful eco-arch, surrounded by friends and family. As they exchanged vows, they released biodegradable confetti, and the reception was lit by solar-powered lanterns.
Only a few people turned up at first, there was talk of sorcery and lack of respect for traditions, the older generation were shaking their heads, but eventually curiosity got the better of them.  One by one they arrived until the whole village was present – FOMO was strong!  This was the biggest wedding the village had ever had, and soon the apprehension was replaced with joy at the beauty and significance of the moment.  The village elders realised that this could be the way to keep their village thriving for future generations.
For Sarah and James, their commitment to an eco-conscious celebration not only overcame the doubts of the village but also inspired everyone to embrace sustainability. Their wedding became a fable of love and perseverance, reminding all that even in the face of challenges, simple changes can make a difference.

Cute huh?

You don’t need to change a whole village like Sarah and James but it doesn’t hurt to consider contributing in some way towards a brighter, greener future, and to slowing climate change.

The Round Up

I’ve done a bit of round up of all the articles and ideas about eco-friendly weddings and here are my top 9 ideas.  I’ve also given some thought into ordering them in terms of which ones might have the greatest impact.  (The greatest is first) I can’t claim the order is scientific, purely a judgement call here in case its helpful!

  1. Green transportation.  Consider group transport where and how far you are asking guests to travel.
  2. Choose a venue that is making efforts to be green, and put in place a plan for left over food to reduce wastage. If appropriate to your situation, serving an entirely vegetarian meal will have a lower impact on the earth.
  3. Choose local foods in season, and local suppliers – this amounts to a lot less travel, refrigeration and increases the chances of items being re-usable.
  4. Go paperless: electronic invites or website, marriage paperwork, menu’s (how about a bar code to scan), or 1 menu per table. Washable serviettes etc. If electronic isn’t your thing.  How about recycled paper, or for a more personal touch home made paper?  (I also have a cute little idea involving seeds – you can read about it here.)
  5. Eco conscious decorating – re-use, recycle, upcycle, re-sell – avoid single use items.
  6. How about vintage clothing and sustainable wedding jewellery? Lab diamonds are also more eco friendly than mined ones. You could encourage guests to look for vintage clothing too.
  7. Flowers – if fresh – choose seasonal ones, and even better use silk, dried or felt ones that can be re-used. Consider also using live plants (potted) for living colour.
  8. Consider eco-friendly unity ceremony ideas, such as tree planting – this could be done into a decorative large pot to take home.
  9. Discuss the concept of charity registries and experiences over physical gifts

Key Messages For Going Green

The ideas above are just examples, but they are based on the following basic principles

  1. Keeping it local
  2. Avoiding waste and single use items
  3. Consider fair trade when you do buy
  4. Go electronic rather than paper

Finally – if you’re up for it – find some subtle way to let people know about your choice to be eco friendly -it can be subtle or overt, but keep in mind the bandwagon effect. You can read more about it here.  You’ve made the effort because you think its important, why not help others to consider doing the same?  Who knows, maybe its the beginning of a trend with your friends?

Welcome! A Love Note From the Editor

Hi there – and welcome to the first edition of “A Wedding Like No Other”! 

This has been a dream of mine ever since I entered the wedding industry as a celebrant. I’ve always been a creative person, loved writing, and with an extensive background in health and wellbeing, I’ve always had quite a lot to say!

Why Another Wedding Magazine?


One of the things I’ve noticed about the wonderful world of weddings is that there’s a lot of focus on aesthetics. I get it. For many people, they’ve spent their whole life dreaming of this day and have picture-perfect images in their minds. But as someone who is not particularly traditional, who believes in the power of moments, not things, and wants to leave the world a better place, I can’t help thinking there is so much more that can be aspired to in a wedding.

So, this magazine aims to fill the large gap in existing wedding information and create new ideas and visions for couples who want to break away from traditional norms and incorporate their values and passions into their weddings. As a celebrant and an MC, I’ll be creating content that covers the whole wedding experience for couples, and explores ways to weave unique touches throughout the day that reflect who you are, and possibly what you stand for.  These tweaks don’t have to be overwhelming, and can create something so unforgettable that they leave you and your guests feeling like it has been “totally you” and “the best day ever.”  Can you already sense my excitement?

Published monthly, the online articles should become a familiar treasure trove of information under a variety of topics. In this month’s edition, there are articles related to aligning your wedding with your values in the areas of sustainability, cultural inclusions, and the power of change. 

The magazine also aims to inspire couples to create ceremonies that are truly unique in the way they reflect a couple’s personalities and passions (or should we say obsessions!). There are articles on destination weddings, including the ever-popular Bali weddings, themed weddings (as well as highlighting a Harry Potter-themed wedding I did recently), and a special cornerstone article this month on how to create “a wedding like no other.”

Each month, I hope to introduce a variety of wedding suppliers who also want their values to shine, as they share more about themselves and what’s important to them. And this month, one of them, Jake Daulby, has an amazing fundraising event on Feb 4 that you might be interested in – so make that your first stop so you don’t miss out.  Perhaps we’ll meet at the Woolshed?

Since getting married isn’t something you do every day, or even more than once or twice in a lifetime, I know that the planning process can be confusing. So there will always be an area devoted to Q&A – which I fondly call “what, why, where, when” – (or some combination of this) which aims to answer all the questions about weddings that you never knew you had.

As a team of one at this stage, there is so much more to share. Slated on my editorial board are future articles planned in the categories I’ve already mentioned, along with human connectivity, the personal touch, giving back to the community, wedding inspo “bytes”, and other types of unforgettable events. And for wedding vendors – there’s even a section just for you, for that little touch of inspiration.

You’ll find everything arranged by category to make it easy to jump to what’s important to you, but no need for an index in an online magazine, just keep scrolling!

In the future, I’d love to collaborate with others, invite readers, vendors, and experts to contribute their stories, advice, and ideas. If you have ideas of what you would like to see in this magazine or questions you would like answered, please drop me a line [here]. My aim as celebrant & MC is always to inspire and make your wedding journey as easy and amazing as possible – and this venture is just a natural extension of this. I am beyond excited to launch this first edition.  I can’t wait to inspire as many people as possible in the creation of unique, personalized, value-driven weddings and celebrations!

A Word of Thanks

If you’ve made it to this magazine, and you’ve read all the way down to here, thank you so much for giving it a look over. You, as the early adopters, will be critical to the success of this magazine. Please feel free to share things that interest you on social media and help grow a larger audience who would benefit from this, or drop me a line with some feedback. I’d love to hear from you.

Woman looking relaxed due to 17Hats doing all the admin

How 17Hats Is Game Changing: A Solopreneur’s Secret Weapon

In the beginning – my solopreneur journey

It was 2021.  I’d just left my big corporate job determined to shrug the constraints of “working for the man” and embrace my side hustle as an artist.  I knew all about being an entrepreneur, it was in my blood.  It drove me every day, only to be deflated by endless  red tape. Now I could realise my dreams and live an amazing life.”

But no-one told me how hard it would be.  Ok, maybe they told me, but I discounted it because in my mind I was superwoman – I could do it all.  I had all the requisite skill sets.  What I didn’t realise though was that there aren’t enough hours in the day, even if you don’t sleep, to wear every hat you need in a solo business.  I spent more time on admin, emails, the sales journey, email marketing and developing shareable content, than I did painting. Disillusioned by not having enough time to successfully break into the market, I took stock of what I wanted, and changed careers.

I decided to become a celebrant – after all there’s a new crop of recently engaged couples every year, at least there would be a warm, ready made market, right?  But this time I decided to do things differently.  As I completed the lengthy study required to be a celebrant in Australia, I doubled down and set up my business plan, business systems and website at the same time. I started from scratch but I knew I wanted, no needed, to automate as much of the requisite admin as possible.  I needed a really good CRM.

17Hats as a title spoke to me instantly.   I needed a way to pull together all those different roles that you need.  Next surprise – it’s set up primarily for solopreneurs. Yes!  I was so tired of paying for things that a solo operator didn’t need, and that didn’t have the essentials that every small business did need.  I heard some other celebrants talking about it positively so I was encouraged.  A deeper dive and webinar later and I was sold. 

17Hats was more than just a CRM, it was a lifesaver

17Hats was more than just a CRM, it was a total business management system.  And it addressed my biggest fears:


Q: How much sleep would I lose worrying about what I hadn’t done, or hadn’t remembered to do, as my client numbers grew?  After all a celebrant can hardly run a business if she makes an important mistake for the biggest day of her clients lives.

A: Trustworthy, dependable, automated workflows ticked all the boxes and meant I could sleep easy every night.

Q: How could I unleash my creativity and deliver an outstanding event, let alone build my business if I spent all day emailing, quoting, onboarding and following up every client?

A:  Integration of all the systems of my business, seamlessly progressing all the business steps, most of the time without me!  Online scheduled meetings, resulted in quotes, contract and invoices autogenerated; paid bookings auto changed in my calendar to firm dates; auto reminders  went out as needed, I could go on and on.  Endless possibilities

Q:How could I ensure that every client felt like the superstars of my universe when realistically I  had 30 other weddings ahead of theirs?  I didn’t want them to ever feel like I was too busy for them.

A:  In 17Hats the automation and  integration is centred around every single client and personalised based on the growing information that 17Hats gathers together.  And when I say automation – it could also be semi automated, allowing me to review and customise everything that was automatically created based on triggers, before it went out.  Like having a PA drop the documents on my desk for a quick proof and signing.

Q: How will I respond to enquiries within 5 minutes  — the recommended time frame to secure millennial bookings?  (FYI Millennials are impatient, will message any time of day/night and 50% will book the first vendor who gets back to them!). 

A: 17Hats, my lifesaver, has a fully functioning phone app, which notifies me as soon as an enquiry comes in, and I can send off my response (even customise it) within minutes, regardless of where I am. 

My business ran, not walked out the gate thanks to 17Hats

“On 5pm, 29th July, 2022, when my marriage celebrant registration came through, I flicked the switch on my website, my listing site, announced to the world that I was open for business and sat back with my 17Hats systems ready to go.

That night I received my first enquiry.  My response took a matter of minutes as 17Hats notified me that it was waiting for me, I opened the app and sent the prepared email.

I waited anxiously  to see what would happen”

So many well meaning people had explained to me that my business would take a while to get off the ground – as I’d have to wait for a friend or family member to get married so I could get started.

What they didn’t realise though was that thanks to all my business systems being streamlined, effective and efficient, I had time to list my services in different areas, promote myself heavily on social media and other proactive strategies.  It also meant that when I did meet with couples, the level of professionalism of my systems created an enormous sense of trust with prospective clients – which is so important in any industry.

Within 2 weeks I had booked my first wedding.  Clients continued to enquire, follow my prompts and schedule meetings online that automatically appeared in my calendar and sent out the zoom links if required.  All I had to do was turn up!  And afterwards – within half and hour of meeting – off went the quote, contract and invoice, and then all it took was a few clicks for clients to agree to and pay online.  The systems were sooo easy for customers that they usually booked within a day.

In my first year, I booked over 40 weddings. I was ecstatic, and still am to this day.  Every morning now begins with my “17Hats Power Hour”.  Coffee at a cafe and a quick work through of all the tasks for the day as they appear on my dashboard – one of the greatest 17Hats features!  Individual pages for every client, but one single dashboard that summarises everything that is needed on any particular day.  And due to the level of automation – I can usually cover it all in an hour.

Without a doubt my success relates to the solid backing of 17Hats for driving all of my business requirements, and allowing me to interact with clients in ways that they love.  They don’t want time delayed responses, emails going back and forth to book appointments, vague systems and difficult processes. Instead they receive clear prompt communication,  24/7 access, a client portal with all their details, easy invoicing and payment systems, and most importantly, a celebrant who has time to deliver them a world class service.

Does your solo business experience sound similar?  Are you tired of the incessant admin that distracts you from what’s important?  Are you always “busy” but not necessarily productive in the areas that count? 
If so, just sit back for a minute and imagine what you could achieve if all your admin was streamlined, automated and wrapped, in a neat little box on your desktop – called 17Hats.

Editors Note: If you’d like more information about 17Hats, drop me a line here – I love helping others to streamline their business. In fact, I love this system so much I became an Ambassador and can also provide you with support services. Lastly – you can use the referral code: lisacockington for 50% discount! Just head here. PS – a tip for you – you can only use the referral code once, so best not to use it for a trial – and if you think you are going to go ahead – sign up for the full year to get maximum discount (its quite significant on an annual plan). And another bonus –contact me about a hack to keep getting discount every year!

This article was originally posted on 17Hats.com on October 23, 2023. You will find it here

The Top 8 Wedding Questions of 2023: Simple yes/no answers

I’m sitting in a coffee shop, meeting with a new couple, something, by the way, that I love to do.

We’ve chatted a bit, and they are starting to feel comfortable with me.  They look at each other a bit nervously and then say “This might be a bit of an odd question, but, we want to write our own vows – can we do this?”  I thank them for their insightful question, and proceed to tell them, yes, of course.  What I don’t tell them is that I’ve been asked this so many times that its hard to believe that the whole world doesn’t know this by now!

As a seasoned celebrant, I’ve encountered a myriad of questions from couples planning their big day.  Don’t get me wrong – I want, and I mean really want, you to ask any questions you have. None are silly. But this year, I thought I might beat you to it – by compiling the top eight questions I’ve been asked in 2023, complete with straightforward yes-no answers. Whether you’re deep in wedding planning or just starting out, these insights are sure to shed some light on common queries and concerns.

1. Can a Friend Marry Us?

Short Answer: No.

Details: While having a friend officiate sounds appealing, legally, you’ll need a celebrant. There are workarounds, but a celebrant will have to play an essential role. I’ve written a whole article about your options here

2. Can We Have a Surprise Wedding?

Short Answer: Yes.

But there’s a caveat: You can’t surprise your partner. Both parties must complete some legal paperwork at least one calendar month prior. Beyond that – you can surprise who ever you like.  Surprise weddings are unique but require careful planning.  Make sure you engage your celebrant right at the beginning so that your wedding is not thwarted by a legal technicality.

3. Can We Write Our Own Vows?

Short Answer: Absolutely, yes!

Insight: Personalized vows are not just allowed; they’re encouraged. Most celebrants, including myself, believe in making vows as personal and meaningful as possible, and will provide you support to do so.

4. Do We Have to Say Our Vows in Front of Everyone?

Short Answer: No.

How It Works: There are technical ways to handle this. You must recite the legal vows, but there’s flexibility how this is done.

Section 45 Form of Ceremony from the  Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961 (p68) states that:

Where a marriage is solemnised by or in the presence of an authorised celebrant, not being a minister of religion, it is sufficient if each of the parties says to the other, in the presence of the authorised celebrant and the witnesses, the words: “I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take thee, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (husband or spouse)”… or words to that effect.

This means that as long as the mandatory words are said and able to be heard by your celebrant and your two witnesses – this is sufficient.  There are a variety of ways this can be done.  Extending on this – you also can privately share your personal vows in a variety of ways that don’t involve all of your guests hearing them.   

For more tailored advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch

5. Do We Need to Follow a Traditional Format for Our Wedding?

Short Answer: No.

Freedom in Planning: Aside from a couple of legally required statements, vows and the signing, you’re free to design your ceremony. Ceremonies are usually driven by tradition, not legalities. Ring exchanges, for example, are actually optional.

Short Answer: Yes.

Role of a Celebrant: We’re not just about ceremonies; we’re the paperwork gurus! From start to finish, your celebrant will guide you through all necessary steps and documentation.  It’s actually our job!

7. Do We Need a Wedding Rehearsal?

Short Answer: No.

Flexibility: Rehearsals are optional. Most details can be discussed and resolved as your wedding day approaches, ensuring a smooth flow.  But if you are anxious about this by all means request a rehearsal – there may be an additional charge for this if it requires travelling some distance to a venue, or you can just physically rehearse somewhere locally.

8. Do We Need Special Permits for Our Wedding Venue?

Short Answer: It depends.

Venue Specifics: Public places might require council approval, and this varies based on the event size and location. For private venues, permits are generally not needed, but consider liquor licenses and insurance for non-traditional locations.

There you have it – my top eight wedding questions of 2023. Keep an eye out each month on my How, What, Why When section of the magazine for more questions answered each month.   And if you you have other questions or need specific guidance, feel or send me a message.  I’m here to make your wedding planning as smooth, easy and joyful as possible!

Can a Friend Legally Marry You in Australia? Exploring Celebrant Rules and Creative Ceremony Options

Can a Friend Marry Me?

This is a common question celebrants are asked. It’s good to ask and wonder about things, and here’s the lowdown from my perspective, the possibilities, the limitations, and the “good to knows.”

So – can a friend marry me – the short answer?

No. (That’s very short, isn’t it?)
At least, not in Australia.
In Australia, you can only be legally wed by an authorized civil celebrant or a minister of religion.
So, unless you are getting married in a church, you will need to book a celebrant.

So – can a friend marry me – what’s the longer answer?

There are a few options or workarounds to this – but it doesn’t change the fact that you need to book a celebrant.

  1. You may have a friend (or a relative) who is also a celebrant. Nothing in Australian law prohibits this friend or relative from marrying you. An easy tick!
  2. You may have a friend who is willing to train to be a celebrant. However, the course and registration process can take 12 – 18 months, the person must be of “good standing” in the community and approved by the Commonwealth of Australia, and the cost of the Certificate IV training is probably greater than the cost of a celebrant. A not so easy tick.
  3. The Co-Pilot solution. You can book a celebrant to work with a friend and deliver the ceremony together. The celebrant must complete all the legal parts, and your friend can do the rest. A workable tick.

The “Good to Knows” about  friends becoming celebrants and co-piloting weddings


The Friend Who’s Agreed to Train As A Celebrant

Keep in mind that this is a big commitment for this person – and juggling all the study and practical requirements (yes, there are practical assessments of conducting ceremonies, etc.) on top of a day job may be challenging. This may lead to a blowout in time, meaning they aren’t qualified in time for your wedding date. There are also factors outside of your control that affect meeting this deadline, such as the turnaround time frame on assignments and government registration.

The second thing to consider is that it is likely that your ceremony will be your friend’s first wedding. The risks with this are fairly obvious – it’s not likely to be their best work, and there may be issues or unexpected stressors with the legalities. Something for you to weigh up in your choices.

The Co-Pilot Solution

Often, people like this idea for two reasons. One – they’d love to have someone who is special to them marrying them, and secondly – it’s thought to be a cheaper option. The first is a lovely thought, but the second has implications you should know.

Firstly – it’s not necessarily cheaper. This is because the majority of the fee you pay a celebrant is not for the time spent “doing things” in a ceremony. You’re paying for their expertise in the planning and preparation in the lead-up to the wedding, and of course, the processing of the legalities. A co-pilot will need support and advice in how to create a ceremony, and the components within it, how to deliver it, etc. Think of the celebrant as needing to be a mentor. (And the end quality of the ceremony is a reflection on their business too). It’s often as much work (if not more) for the celebrant as there is one more person to communicate and collaborate with. Plus, on the day – whether they are speaking or not, they are still devoting that time to your wedding.

It can be difficult to find a celebrant willing to Co-Pilot – for two reasons:

  1. As mentioned above – if you are wanting a cheaper price – it’s usually not worth it for the celebrant – as the workload is almost identical.
  2. And if you do find a celebrant offering this option at a reduced rate, most will not want to do so on a Saturday in peak wedding season, as they are foregoing a full paying wedding – so be prepared to do this in quieter months or on a different day.

I

Summary

So, a friend who isn’t trained as a celebrant can’t marry you, but they can participate in your ceremony alongside a celebrant
And there you have it – the long and short of having a friend marry you, and some things to think about in terms of options.

If you have any questions, I’m always happy to hear from you.

 

Imagine a wedding that’s not only amazing but makes a difference in the world!

Picture this: 

“You’re strolling through Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park, awestruck by its beauty, when you come across a sign that reads, “Your heritage is being vandalized every day by theft losses of petrified wood, 14 tons a year, mostly a small piece at a time.”

You’re initially shocked but continue your journey, observing a few people pocketing small pieces of wood along the way. These pieces seemed like amazing keepsakes. But why were they doing this when the signs explicitly warned against it? 

A few years later you happened to meet a ranger who worked at the National Park.  He explained to you that the theft of petrified wood had been significantly reduced.  Relieved, you asked how the change occurred.  To your surprise you discovered that all they did was to take down the signs and the occurrence of theft reduced.

Whaaat?

This story, inspired by a true event at Arizona’s National Park, highlights a phenomenon – the unintended consequences of behaviour normalisation. The signs that were used to deter theft actually had an opposite effect by normalising the unwanted behaviour.  Visitors actually internalised a message that if it was so common, it must be ok, everyone was doing it.   Weird huh?  Or not…

The Bandwagon Effect

“The bandwagon effect” is a powerful driver of human behaviour. People are drawn to choices based on what others are doing. More importantly, research has shown that we are even more drawn to choices made by people we like and respect.  We want to be “a part” of that group. 

How does this relate to your wedding? Don’t get me wrong, In no way do I want to suggest that your wedding should not be about fun, love, laughter and celebration.  Of course it should.  It should be everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

However, if you’re someone who wishes to make a positive difference in the world, and you want your wedding to reflect your authentic self, it’s worth considering the bandwagon effect. Your special day will be celebrated by many family and friends. What you do or don’t do can influence the way your guests perceive the world and the choices they make.

Weddings can make a difference

Let’s consider an example: incorporating an Aboriginal Acknowledgment of Country in your ceremony. By doing this, you are more likely to normalize and promote the value of respecting our first nations people. On the other hand, if you skip it due to concerns about making people uncomfortable, you may unintentionally contribute to normalizing its absence.

Now, think about other important issues like climate change, eco-friendly wedding considerations, sustainable weddings, reallocating the wedding budget to cherished charities, supporting local businesses, and fostering personal connections. Your wedding is a pinnacle moment in your life and an opportunity to add depth and value to your day, your guests, and the world.

Conclusion

Staying true to your values on your wedding day can elevate it to another level, but it doesn’t need to be stressful, or detract from the enjoyment of the day.  Most of the decisions and actions just require a little extra thought in the planning.  Weddings can make a difference – either by demonstrating what’s important to you, or directly through sustainable choices. And in my case, if I’m your celebrant I’ll take the load off your shoulders by listening to what’s important to you, supporting you with ideas that are authentic reflection of who you are – and ones that will add deeper meaning to your amazing wedding celebration.

The True Cost of Choosing a Celebrant: Why it’s more than just the price tag

“Mia and Kyle just got engaged!  Did you hear? This is going to be a super organised wedding – you know what they are like.  Mia’s got a list of everything to do, time frames and a budget for everything.  She’s scoured the internet for average prices for vendors and is going to aim for as many bargains as she can, starting with the celebrant.  And she has a permanent search in for coupon codes and discounts… Do you know of any celebrants that have sales at the moment?”

Does this sound familiar? Or even worrying?  Yes I may have exaggerated about looking for coupon codes for celebrants, but in all seriousness, sometimes in the overwhelm of the cost of a wedding, couples revert to the obvious strategy of saving money where ever they can.  There’s nothing wrong with this, and it’s great to think carefully about what you spend your money on.  But mindful and intentional spending is a totally different thing to looking for bargains.  And not getting it right, can be more expensive than you think.

When should cost be the most important factor?

Let’s start with the humble carton of milk.  This is called a “commodity” in the retail world.  Why?  Because there are some items that at their base are the same thing, regardless of how you package them.  Milk is Milk.  Ok there are plenty of varieties of alternative milks these days – but lets just talk about cows milk.  If you just want milk, you’re going to choose the cheapest carton.  There’s an important caveat to this – but I’ll discuss this later.  It’s also like petrol – we spend ages looking for the cheapest price at the pump, and don’t worry that a cheaper petrol will be inferior – because they’re all the same – right?  Petrol is Petrol.  It’s a commodity.

People.  People are not a commodity.  It doesn’t matter how you spin it, no one person is exactly the same as another, and the skill set they bring to a task varies.  For some tasks it doesn’t matter.  If the job is manually repetitive and everyone can do it to the same level, well perhaps it doesn’t matter.   But when the service you want requires people skills that result in a range of outcomes from absolutely mind-blowing  to average or perhaps even worse – on one of the most important days of your life, well now it really matters.  

If you want to save money in a wedding, focus on reducing the cost of “things” – aka “commodities”.  Its so tempting to want to have all the bells and whistles, but these little things actually really inflate the cost of a wedding, and they are not, and I’ll repeat it, they are not the things that make an unforgettable wedding.  It’s the people. The human connections.  The emotions.  The fun.  The special moments. And the sense of meaning.

Engaged couples often make a crucial mistake when choosing a wedding celebrant by focusing solely on cost, yet its your celebrant who plays a pivotal role in helping you realize your dreams and create unforgettable moments.

The role of the celebrant

A celebrant isn’t just there to tick the legal boxes and get you married. To make your special day truly magical, a great celebrant invests time getting to know you, grasping what makes your heart tick, and helping craft a ceremony that stands out as the highlight of your wedding. They don’t just show up on the day but stand by your side from the moment you engage their services.  

They are also the vendor you are likely to spend the most time with, and a great celebrant can help to guide you through the minefield of planning decisions that lay ahead.  A great celebrant will also ensure your wedding is highly personalised and authentically you.  You’re not a commodity either, and the combination of experiences you desire, your values, your desire for meaning  will be different to others.  On top of this, you can’t know what you don’t know in terms of options.  Your experiences of weddings to date will only have provided you with a small amount of information.  A great celebrant will open doors for you that you never knew existed!

The hidden costs of cheap

If your father had serious heart issues and could see a specialist or his general practitioner for a quarter of the cost,  who would you want him to see?  You’d want the best right?  As a general rule,  we don’t buy cheap products expecting high quality.

I’m not saying that cheap necessarily means low quality – but if you are making choices based on price alone and going for the lowest you can find, your bargain basement prices are rapidly increasing your risk of poor quality for one of the most important days of your life.

Imagine spending $30k on a wedding only to have a low energy, boring ceremony that didn’t reflect you as a couple at all. That left you a little, well, “ho hum”? Or worse still, what if the celebrant missed an important legal step or didn’t show up? How much could cheap services actually cost you?

Key takeaways

On average, couples in Australia spend $34,715k on a wedding (2023 Australian Wedding Industry Report)  A celebrant may cost between $500 and $2k which pales in comparison to the overall expenditure, but may be one of the biggest influencers of your wedding experience.  

A great celebrant will be highly skilled in designing a ceremony around you, reflecting your values and your personalities.  They will put the hard yards in to truly understand what you want, and offer what you’ve never thought of.  They will aim for nothing less than perfection, and be skilled in addressing anything unanticipated.  They will reassure you every step of the way, and find ways to make the whole experience as easy as possible for you, not for them.  They may also offer MC services, allowing you and your guests to have a seamless, amazing leadership all day long.

If you want to spend your money wisely – my recommendation is to focus on the people who are skilled enough to deliver the wedding day of your dreams, that is highly personalised, fun and meaningful, and then adjust the cost of the commodities around that.

Editors Note: Look out for next month’s article on how to find a great celebrant!

Let me introduce……Jake Daulby

Music – Musician, Entertainer, Vocal Coach, Producer

Making the world more beautiful and growing connections with music”

Jake, tell me about your business, and why you do it?

I’m very lucky, that I know my life purpose is to share music, perform and entertain. I love music, and I am in the business of celebrating music, giving it the proper tribute that it deserves and sharing that love of music with others.

I perform either as a Solo Acoustic artist (voice, guitar, stompbox), Acoustic Duo (voice, guitar, drums), or a Band (voice, guitar, bass, drums) depending on what an event requires. 

I love performing for weddings. I love being able to use music to help create the perfect mood for the moment, and taking everyone on a journey throughout the course of the day, starting from gentle acoustic ballads for the ceremony and evolving to filling the dance floor with during the reception with party bangers and anthems.

I love what I do, as I get to experience first-hand how music can deeply touch one another, how it brings people together and allows human beings to connect more deeply than any other form of communication.

I also love the healing properties that music can provide. That someone could come to a show after having horrible day or week, and for that few hours that I perform, I can potentially help take them away from that misery (even for a moment), giving them a licence to smile, laugh, dance, sing, and create new memories.  They can leave a show feeling refreshed, and feeling connected hopefully giving some clarity to tackle their next challenge life throws.

Being a musician means I’m never bored, as I am always learning new skills and growing to make sure I’m always able to deliver the best show and performance possible. I enjoy the challenges my work can offer, because at the end of the day, My goal is to serve music, and to serve the people by using my craft to celebrate music and the incredible songs that have touched all of our lives throughout the years.  My aim with every performance is provide an experience that leaves my audience feeling better than when they arrived.

What’s on the top of your list for changes you  would you like to see in the world?

I would like to see more support and education for people in the arts. 

I believe there are a lot of artists who are exploited, especially when it comes to the business aspect of art, and  I honestly think it’s because most artists aren’t savvy when it comes to business. Artists who want to step into the professional realm need to be educated about the importance of finding the balance between being a unique authentic artist that creates art of the highest quality, but also the importance of “how can i use my art to run a business but remain true to my art?”. 

If more artists were educated in this way, we would have less “struggling” artists, who end up burning out trying to make ends meet (working harder, not smarter). Ultimately they can lose their vision (and themselves), start to compromise their art trying to fit into a niche of what they think is popular, or what they think people.  Instead we can encourage artists to produce quality art whilst maintaining their integrity and authenticity, which really is what everyone truly wants.

I want to help ignite peoples passion in the arts, the importance of art when it comes to growing a cultural movement, and the connection art can provide.

I am currently a committee member of “Musicians Australia” , which is Australia’s Musicians Union. We are working on increasing the minimum pay for working musicians,  we are also working on an Act that will hopefully prevent the exploitation of musicians (particularly by booking agents) by capping the percentage an agent can take from an artist for booking a show. We are also working close with venues, so both the hospitality  industry and the performing arts industry can work together harmoniously to help create a thriving arts culture that will benefit everyone.

You have a very specific event coming up that others can support – tell us about it.

I am hosting a Charity Event on February 4th, 2024 from 12pm at the Woolshed on Hindley. 

“Jake Gets Shorn at the Woolshed” is a fundraiser for Australian Charity SUPPORT ACT, where I will be shaving off my dreadlocks to help raise money for people who work in the music industry that are unable to work due to illness, mental health issues, or other crisis they may suffer. Tickets are available via OzTix.

I think we are currently in a time where a lot of people are afraid to be their authentic self, resulting in a lot of people pandering to each other in hopes to not stand out or cause any waves.

If we can all remain authentic, we then have the freedom to create  beautiful, unique things of the highest quality because it will be something we truly care about and will be born out of passion. 

People who live a life fuelled by their passion, create more beauty for everyone. I’m lucky enough to have found my passion, and aim to live a life of example in hopes it inspires others to find theirs and help make this world even more beautiful,

What do couples love about you?

Couples are very happy with the variety of songs and genres perform. My specialty is Mash-Ups, where i will take a song and “Mash” other songs into it. I find this a really effective way to get everyone involved and having fun as I will tailor my sets so they cater to everyone. Whether it be the “oldies”, young kids, and everyone in between I keep the energy and the vibes where they need to be so everyone will be entertained. I put 100% into every show and I am told the energy and fun I put in is infectious.

I will read a room, and will perform for what the moment requires. For the ceremony, I will sing more mellow acoustic songs getting everyone in the mood for wedding vows. For receptions, I will start with more relaxed music while guests mingle and eat, and as the night progresses will step up the energy, opening up to full party numbers that get the dancefloor going. 

I also aim to be as “stress free” for couples as possible. I understand that there is a lot to organise when planning a wedding. so the last thing they need to worry about is whether or not the entertainment they have booked is going to be reliable and/or deliver what they need to make their wedding a memorable one.

I will adapt and tailor packages  to suit what ever the couple requires for their special day and ensure clear communication when they book me, so we are all on the same page and there is no confusion.

OK – so people are keen to know more – what should they do?

I recommend for couples to check me out at a live show, or watch some of my videos on YouTube so they can get an idea of my performing style; as (generally speaking) music is quite subjective. 

If you are planning your wedding or event and you LOVE music I guarantee that booking me to perform for you will be one of the best decisions you make for your special day.

Thanks Jake!

You’ll find Jake on Instagram – @jakedaulbymusic

And on You Tube @JakeDaulbyMusic

Don’t forget “Jake Get’s Shorn at The Woolshed” on Feb 4 – and I may see you there!

Or if you can’t make it – you can donate here

Details

Creating Special Moments

Our most precious memories contains a range of magical defining moments.

They are usually not about our greatest achievements as such, but the experience that accompanied it, and the little things that made it special.

Sometimes, yes, its about that magical wedding proposal, but sometimes its not, its about personal, unique experiences

Let me tell you about one, nothing to do with weddings, nothing really to do about money, and EVERYTHING to do with the experience.
It comes from Chip and Dan Heath’s book The Power of Moments, which I highly recommend.

Enter a hotel called The Magic Castle.  You’re visiting because it has such amazing reviews. “Best Hotel Ever” kinda status. When you enter it and look around – you might consider it to be “average” in appearance, and possibly calling it a “hotel” is even a stretch.  What gives it the outstanding reviews?  Its the little unique and amazing experiences it offers.  It has many unusual experiences, quirky magicians appearing around the place being just one of them.

But try this one on for size:

You’ve ventured out to the pool and are lying on a cabana. As you gaze around you spy a glossy, cherry red phone on the wall.  Curious, you pick it up and call it.  A voice answers:  “Hello This is the Popsicle Hotline – what flavour would you like?”.  You choose raspberry, your favourite, and within minutes a waiter with white gloves and a silver tray appears by your sunlounge. He lifts the lid of the tray to reveal your popsicle.  And its all for free. And you can order as many as you want!

What a magical experience!  Who wouldn’t enjoy this and re-tell the story to friends?  Its different, unique and a personal touch to their service, that costs very little.

People will overlook outdated or minimal decor etc in lieu of poignant defining unique experiences.  This is how special memories are made.  When you organise an event, anything from a dinner party to a wedding, don’t you want it to be a special celebration that will be remembered as a magical moment in history? Something that your loved ones will remember with great fondness and passion?

It’s not about how much money you spend or how fancy it is, its about designing the special touches that make a difference.   And when you arrived in this hotel, you were curious, almost expecting something to wow you. This is because the reviews prepared you. Before you even arrived you were getting ready for that unknown moment. That’s called guest preparation.

Chip and Dan Health believe there are four triggers to powerful moments

ELEVATION: They rise above the everyday experience – A wedding should always tick this box (and who would expect a Popsicle Hotline!)

INSIGHT: They may shift your point of view of yourself or the world – Setting the stage to help others look at things a little differently is easy to do and quite powerful. Think things like an Acknowledgement to Country, or a personalised message to each guest.

PRIDE: They capture moments of accomplishment or courage – There is nothing more courageous than publicly declaring your feelings for someone, but not everyone needs to do this – it depends on what signifies accomplishment or courage to each person.

CONNECTION: They are often social events that strengthen the bonds we share with others. – There are many ways to strengthen social bonds during a ceremony or reception, and leave you and your guests feeling connected and on a social high.

Priya Parker in The Art of Gathering (another book I’d highly recommend) talks about how important it is to prepare your guests for your gathering so that they are open to the experience you are about to provide. Sometimes this is about setting the stage before they arrive – eg the invitation says how much you value everyone being “in the moment” together and to leave phones in the box on the way in, or starting a ceremony with something that takes their thoughts from a “let’s go throught the motions, then move on to party” to a highly charged anticipation of the witnessing and contributing to something truly wonderful.

This may all sound a little overwhelming, but many of these things simply require a little forethought to really craft an event that you’ll be talking about for years. I can’t wait to offer you ideas that fit with who you are, and what you want your “best day ever” to look like.

Love the life you live, and may it be full of special memories.

Unlock the Secrets to a Themed Wedding: Chloe & Cody’s Romantic, Quirky, Harry Potter Wedding

If you’ve ever considered a themed wedding, here is the tale of how Chloe and Cody blended a Harry Potter theme into their day, whilst still celebrating the essence of their love, and creating magical and romantic moments. Read on for inspiration for your own unique themed wedding.

“May your love be as enduring as a golden snitch, and your journey together as magical as a wizard’s adventure”

(excerpt from Chloe and Cody’s wedding ceremony script, Lisa Cockington, 2023)

Background

Chloe and Cody’s Wedding  06.10.2023

These guys had known each other for years, had dated for years, and had been trying to get married for a while.  When they finally set the date – they knew they wanted it to be something low key and fun, like they are. 

With a shared love of Harry Potter – they gave me the brief of creating something that had blended the theme into their ceremony without it being full on.  Ie they weren’t wanting to get dressed up as characters within the book. They also had come up with a number of ideas that they would incorporate into the setting and the style of their wedding.

The starting point was that they both identified with one of the Harry Potter houses – Chloe with Slytherin and Cody with Hufflepuff – so this led to the theme colours of green and yellow.

Whilst looking around at venues, Chloe fell in love with Kuitpo forest (SA) as it felt like the Forbidden Forest, and nestled amongst the trees was Kuitpo Hall, a quaint little stone building that could easily have been Hagrid’s Hut or any of the other old world buildings in the novels. This would set the perfect mood for their wedding

Then Chloe and Cody let their guests know that this day would be a little different by sending invitations they designed as if they were straight from the books – Marauder’s maps with the invitations coming from Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs.  They didn’t have to say it was themed – it was obvious to all who knew them!

And so the themed setting of their wedding was established, and now all they had to do was add the details.

Their Wedding Day

When I arrived as the celebrant – the most striking thing in Kuitpo Hall was the Groom and Groomsmen’s matching bright yellow sneakers!  It brought an immediate smile to my face, and I’m guessing the guests as well – as their quirky nod to Cody being from HufflePuff.  Everything else within the little stone cottage looked like a traditional wedding, apart from one thing beneath the arbour  – A big brown Sorting Hat!  (More on this later).

Then Chloe arrived, and her traditional white dress had been altered slightly to contain green flowers – signifying her allegiance to Slytherin.

As the bridal party walked down the aisle, to the Harry Potter Theme Music, instead of holding flowers, they each proudly paraded a beautiful hard copy Harry Potter book in front of them!

And so the green and yellow theme had been blended into traditional elements, and  Harry Potter had been announced.

And then for the ceremony.  Harry Potter must have controlled my hands as I wrote the script and love story, using countless references to magic, wizardry, love potions, forbidden forests etc at every opportunity within what was still a traditional script.  But it was enormously fun to see the look on their faces every time the words that they may be have been expecting morphed into harry potter versions.

Their love story was true to who they are, but just told in a setting akin to a Harry Potter book with sentences like these:


…..“Their journey continued with a proposal that would have made the ghosts of Hogwarts applaud with joy.”……

…..”In the end, their love story has been like a magical door hidden deep within the forest, waiting for them to enter and discover its secrets”……

….”Their love, like a well-brewed potion, can and will withstand any magical or muggle challenge”…..

When it came to their vows, we called upon some tried and tested wizardry to decide who would go first.

I raised the Hogwarts Sorting Hat.

I gave it a spin on the understanding that whoever it was pointing towards when it landed, would go first with their vows. Their vows were traditional but of course a little fun and quirky just as they are.  They were beautiful. And in the ring exchange, just a little magic was woven in:

Cody, I give you this ring as a symbol
of my love and devotion, 
just as a wand chooses its wizard, 
my heart has chosen you. 
With this ring, I promise to stand by your side 
through all of life’s adventures and challenges 

As they exited the hall – triumphant in their marriage, there was no doubt in anyone’s minds that this was a beautiful match, and a marriage that was uniquely authentic to who they were as individuals, and it was all the more memorable for it.

Reflections

The feedback from Chloe and Cody was that not only did they love it, but so did their guests.  It was a great way of showcasing their personalities, creating something unique that would be unforgettable to their guests, whilst still honouring the meaningful significance of their love and their union in marriage.

It also was a relatively low cost way of creating special memories, as the focus was on the theme, and not expensive decor or food.  The whole day in fact was low key, relaxed and fun, with a stand up reception right outside the doors of that quaint little stone cottage.

Themed weddings aren’t for everyone, but they are incredibly special for others, and as we see in this one – they don’t have to be overwhelming.  Just some gentle massaging of traditions to give a fresh look to a beautiful wedding ceremony.

Image Credits: Noah’s Way Photography