Firstly the cons: this is the hard stuff that keeps me awake at night.
The Hard Stuff
- The cost. Becoming and remaining a celebrant is expensive. Here are some of my costs (all costs are approximate from my 2015 expenses):
- Training fee for initial training, which can range in cost depending on whether you want to do on-line or face to face. I chose to do on-line as I had already been a celebrant for five years in the UK so felt face to face wasn’t necessary, and this cost me $750. You then have to do a minimum 5 hours of Ongoing Professional Development (OPD) which I chose to do on-line for 2015 ($175)
- Registration fee to the Attorney General’s Office to gain your qualification ($600)
- Annual Registration fee to the Attorney General’s Office ($240)
- Annual Membership fee to a Celebrant Association – Although this is not obligatory, I belong to the Australian Marriage Celebrants http://www.marriagecelebrants.org.au/ but there are other membership organisations you can join ($242)
- Website – I use WordPress, and manage it myself. To set it all up, buy my domain, etc, this cost approximately $260, with an ongoing fee per year of $129
- Early on, I advertised in a number of places plus Google Ad Words, and I would spend on average $500+ on advertising per month
- Marketing materials – I’m so grateful to my wonderful creative friends who have helped me keep my costs down with this, including the talented Heath at http://www.theleftlane.com.au/ and my designer friend Louisa. I pay for printing for business cards, leaflets, stickers and any other materials and would spend approximately $200 a year on this.
- Official paperwork. Most of this has to be bought through the Government printers, CanPrint, and would cost me approximately $200 per year.
- The hours. Wave bye-bye to your weekends. My friends, family, husband and dog are neglected on weekends. I’m either conducting a wedding, meeting up with prospective clients, doing paperwork, or writing a ceremony. I am also often busy on many week-day evenings meeting with prospective clients.
- The responsibility. My recurring nightmare is to turn up at a wedding without my script. Or my legal paperwork. Which is an unnecessary worry as a) I’m super organised and b) I always have spares in my car. However, I did make an error on my paperwork for the very first wedding I did in Australia. My blood froze when I realised, though fortunately I had submitted the correct details to Births, Deaths and Marriages (who were wonderful when I confessed my mistake). Initially I found the paperwork a little confusing – it’s not hard, but there are documents which look the same but have different purposes. I’m now a whizz at it… though I still check, check, check… and check again.
- The work/home balance. When I lived in London, my office was my dining table. I’m fortunate that now I’m in Brisbane I have a great home office which I love working in (especially as it means I can have my dog at work with me). But for some people, having your home as your workplace can be hard or not practical. Brisbane has lots of co-working spaces popping up and some are not that expensive. See http://stylemagazines.com.au/lifestyle/brisbanes-best-co-working-spaces-and-offices/
Reading all that, you may think ‘Why would anyone want to be a celebrant?’ Because there’s the Good Stuff…
The Good Stuff
- The writing. Finally I get to utilise my writing skills for something more interesting than business reports
- The people. I’m constantly meeting new people and hear their relationship stories. What other situation could I find out so much so quickly about two strangers?
- The love. Meeting the couple, who are in love, then meeting their friends and family who love them. In fact, sometimes I fall a little in love with them. So much love!
- The day itself. The build up. Seeing the bride and groom for the first time on the day. Seeing the venue and how they’ve decorated it. Meeting so many people who I’ve already heard about. And then the conducting of the ceremony. Seeing the bride, the groom, the family or friend show emotion as I speak the words I’ve worked so hard to get right for the couple
- The travel. I love travelling so getting to see new places, whether in Queensland or beyond, is a big fat cherry on top of an already top notch ice-cream
- The independence. My boss is me. (By the way, I’m a great boss)
- The creativity. What other job can you suggest ‘dancing girls’ or ‘an arrival on a horse’ or conduct a flash mob mid-way through the ceremony?
- The gratitude. When I receive an email saying ‘thanks’, or have a parent come up to me after the ceremony with happy tears in their eyes, I think ‘what a job’.
You will never hear me moan about the Hard Stuff because the Good Stuff outweighs it a million to one in my mind. I have found a job which I love so much that it doesn’t feel like work. If you’re thinking about becoming a celebrant and want advice or just a chat, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org