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How to lead your ceremonies safely during this Covid-19 era

Little by little the world is slowly starting to open up again, as countries and regions try to usher some normality back into people’s everyday lives, whilst still trying to be responsible and keep everyone safe.

You’ve probably experienced it yourself already – the many changes and guidelines being brought in to promote the new normal that we find ourselves in. And so of course as celebrants, lots of these rules and guidelines will affect/have already started to affect how we go about our day-to-day work lives and how we get to carry on leading with love during these difficult and restrictive times.

This week in the Celebrants Collective private members group, I shared an infographic that I made for my own wedding couples, which briefly outlines mine and my teams guidelines and practices that we’ll be carrying out during our ceremonies. This is particularly important for my team right now as some of 2020 weddings will be going ahead this summer/autumn, after all!

Based on what has been determined by Spanish national and local law, as well as our own personal guidelines, our handy guide will encourage confidence in our couples, as well as managing their expectations of their time with us. It’s a win-win situation really, as our couples will appreciate that we’re being responsible and as team, it will make us feel better that we’re being safe and looking after ourselves, too.

I also made the graphic fully customisable for our members so that they can change the colours and text to fit their own business, guidelines and branding, because everyone is going to have different needs and requirements.

What will you be doing/have been doing to let your couples/families know about the guidelines and your own safety provisions? And how will you be doing it/have done it?

Although all countries and areas will likely have slightly different rules and guidelines, and your celebrant training organisation (if you belong to one) might also have their own guidelines, I’m going to outline some of the general safety practices that you can consider. Practices which can help your ceremonies to run safely and smoothly, and fingers crossed, with few changes to how we used to hold ceremonies back in the pre-Coronavirus good old days!

Wearing a mask

Depending on where you are it might not be compulsory to wear a mask. If that’s the case for you, it means you can decide if you want to be a mask wearer or not, and if you want your couples and guests to do the same. Here in Andalucia, it is compulsory to wear a mask if you can’t be more than 1.5 metres distance from someone, inside or out! So this obviously has some implications for weddings here.

Most couples seem to prefer to follow the spacing rules so that they don’t have to have wedding photos of them in masks, but every couple will be different and again it depends on the rules! My team and I are going to socially distance ourselves during the ceremony, so that we won’t need to wear masks whilst we’re leading our ceremonies, but we will have them on us if we need to at other times. In fact, as soon as I finish writing this I’m going to head to my favourite online store Etsy to find myself a trendy, good-for-a-wedding face mask with changeable air filters. I’m currently sporting a clinical-type mask, which means that when I leave the house I look like I’m ready to perform open heart surgery. Not the best look!

Social distancing

I think that having a socially-distanced ceremony gives the perfect excuse to tear up the ceremony rule-book (yeah, I know, there’s not really a rule book) and get really creative about your ceremony spaces. And with ceremonies going ahead in smaller numbers now’s the perfect time to do it. Standing ceremonies will become more popular, easier to manage too, as will spaced out semi-circles and circles of people around the couple. Chairs laid out in semi-circles and curves will also not only make the layout more intimate but will allow for distance between seats.

Not to mention yours and your couples positioning. Getting inventive with ways that you can all stand and be seen and heard, which look good, are safe and still feel cosy. I’m loving the idea of semi-circles of guests and with me and the couples creating our own semi-circle facing the guests, so from above it looks like a big, spacious, softly structured circle. Here’s to getting creative with safety!

Adapting symbolic rituals

Depending on the rules and guidelines in your country or area, especially those related to physical contact and social distance, you might not be able to carry out some symbolic rituals and other ceremony elements. With me being the biggest Beyoncé fan alive and using every opportunity of a group sing-along to showcase that, I’m so gutted that, for my team and I, we won’t be allowing group singing for the time being. G.U.T.T.E.D because our couples love singing at their ceremonies too, but we’ve got to be responsible.

Re symbolic rituals, I want to give a shout out to Celebrants Collective member Nikki W who shared on our Covid-19 wedding measures thread earlier this week, her experiences of doing an adapted hand-fasting at a mini socially-distanced ceremony. I had written off hand-fastings because it would mean stepping into the 1.5 metre no-go zone. But Nikki explained how a person within the couple’s bubble (immediate family/close friend) laid the tying cords on her couple, whilst Nikki said her accompanying words, so she didn’t need to get involved with the practicalities of the ritual itself. Isn’t that awesome? And a really fabulous way of getting a family member involved in a ritual. So before you write-off rituals, have a think about how you can adapt them so that they can still go ahead but safely.

Rehearsals
If you do rehearsals, you could now take your rehearsals online via Zoom and use the occasion to talk through all of the logistics for the ceremony. It’s a good way of limiting your exposure to others, but still getting to talk through the ceremony with all those involved and building up the rapport ahead of the day.

Or if you still want to do physical rehearsals, with the safety guidelines above, you could carry out socially distanced rehearsals too. This obviously goes for any client meetings too, which can be online or at a distance.

Miscellaneous bits and bobs
And lastly, on our guide for our couples, we’ve also spelled out that we won’t be hugging them (sniff sniff) but will be elbow-bumping and chucking in every other socially-distanced greeting around. We’ve also put some guidelines/suggestions for the use of the pen when signing our certificates etc. You might also want to think about the use of microphones if you still need to use them. Will you use them? Will you allow others to use them? Will you provide hand sanitiser and wipes, etc?

So there is a lot to think about in terms of ceremony safety, but it’s all doable. Make a list of every aspect of your ceremonies from start to finish and then work out what you need to do, advise, implement and remove to make your ceremonies and ceremony space, safe, intimate and welcoming.

Feel free to discuss this some more in our awesome Facebook group for celebrants. I’d love to hear what you do or plan on doing.

Photo by Ester Pita

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Four ways to use video in your celebrant business

I’m going to be honest here (as I always am), video is not my favourite form of media. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I can easily get lost in post after post of social media videos – mouth-watering, easy-to-cook vegan dishes, cute dogs doing the stupidest things, wedding fails and everything else that’s thrown my way. But when it comes to actually using video in my business for marketing purposes, well, let’s just say the enthusiasm is not as high.

Video for me is hard-work. My internet speed for uploading videos or even doing live videos isn’t great. Not to mention that I rarely love what the camera does to my face when it’s recording it (what’s that about?).

I’m most definitely a much more confident performer on other mediums (podcasts and blogs) and it’s no coincidence that I was a BBC Radio journalist for almost ten years, but not on tv!

That said, I know that video, when done properly, is a very valid form of marketing. Especially as over the years, video marketing has moved away from being something only used by big brands and businesses, and has become 100% accessible and easy-to-do for anyone with a business and a smartphone. Videos no longer need to be glossy, professional and fancy. Simple and amateur work just as well too.

I’m going to run through some different ways that you can use video in your celebrant business, for those of you who like the idea of putting videos out there or who are interested in using different media to present your thoughts and opinions.

But as usual, I bring my easy-does-it, no-nonsense approach to video use, as I do everything else! If you don’t want to do videos, don’t do them! And if you do, do! But I think it’s good to weigh up or work out if video is for you or not, by taking a look at the ways you can bring video onboard in your business.

1. Live videos

So live videos are basically you broadcasting live and direct on to your social media platform of choice. Most people tend to use Instagram and Facebook for their live output. Of all the types of video output to choose from, live video is my least favourite. I don’t know about you, but for me, most of the time when someone I follow goes live, the timing of their video is usually inconvenient/annoying/pointless/. Delete as you please.

I read somewhere recently that more people watch the recording of live videos than they do the live video itself! This doesn’t surprise me at all. I rarely switch over to a live video when notified, unless it’s Oprah, Beyoncé or Michelle Obama (none of whom do live videos may I add!).

Occasionally, in my Celebrants Collective FB group for members, I will do a live video to start off the week with a motivational message or to do a group check-in, but the only reason I do it as a live video is because of my terribly slow internet (I live in the countryside). If I were to record a video and post it, it would take a long time to upload. Even a short 5 minute video could take up to an hour to upload! Whereas when you do a live video, it posts immediately after transmitting it, which is better for me, time-wise. So that’s something to bear in mind if your internet is as poop as mine.

The questions you need to ask yourself about live video, when it comes to marketing for your celebrant business are:

Who is this live video for?
What’s the point of it?
Is this the right time to go live?
Would this be better as a pre-recorded video (see below)? Or on a different medium altogether (blog post, social media post or podcast!)?

Live videos are meant to bring immediate information to certain groups of people, in your case, people who follow you on social media. So you need to weigh up whether the information you’re sharing needs to be shared in this way and whether it’s serving the purpose you want it to serve.

2. Recorded Videos

Now, this is where I get excited! For me, recorded videos have all the advantages of what live videos might have but allow you to share a video in a more organised, structured and timely way.

Making a quick video for your social media platforms gives you great content that you can share on a number of platforms and it allows your followers to consume it at their leisure. Take my business wife Claire Bradford’s Thursday Thoughts. Every Thursday, she shares a video on her platforms of, yes you’ve guessed it, her thoughts on a Thursday, which actually range from a variety of subjects and issues.

Claire records a very simple video of her talking, which she tops and tails with an animation of her business logo. Her videos are really effective and because she posts them every week, her followers know what to expect and when to expect it, rather than the randomness of a live video.

Also, a pre-recorded video is more forgiving. You can re-record it if you don’t like what you’ve done or said! Or edit it, if you’ve got the skills. If it wasn’t so excruciatingly painful for me to upload videos, I’d do more of them on my own platforms. And even though Claire tops and tails her videos, which makes them look really professional, you don’t have to do that. A simple piece to camera is perfect too.

Celebrants Collective Members can access a fabulous video tutorial ‘How to make yourself a little bit famous with smartphone video’ by ex BBC reporter Penny Haslam, who explains how to make awesome marketing videos on just your phone. Watch it here and make notes!

3. Client communication

Another great way to use video is as a means to communicate with your couples. Some celebrants are quite creative about how they use videos in this way. One member sends out short personalised welcome videos to her couples via text message or What’s app, which is a really nice touch. You could do this at any point of your work process with your couples and families. Especially if you have a little break during the planning process with couples, a little personal video is a nice way of letting them know you’re thinking of them and there if they need anything!

Others have a welcome/thank you/next step or explainer video included in their client emails, which can be a fun and more of a unique way of getting across useful or interesting information. Including short videos in your client communication is a great way to build a good relationship with your couples and to show off your personality and knowledge. And the best bit? Nobody but your clients gets to see these videos!

4. Promotional/Professional videos

And lastly, a great way to use video in your marketing process is by using video which is not your own!! Let the professionals do all the hard work for you! There’s nothing like having snippets of professionally-made videos on your social media feeds.

Make sure to get well connected with the videographers that you work with or are due to work with. Get their details, follow them on social media and keep a look out for videos of weddings that you’ve worked on together. Even if you don’t make the final cut of a trailer or you don’t feature much in a video, it’s a great way to have some professional videos that you’ve been involved in, featured on your platforms.

So there you have it, some useful ways of using video on your platforms, if you want to get a bit more creative with how you market yourself and what you do. And if video isn’t for you, great! You can invest your energy into your tried-and-tested, more preferred forms of media!

Ps. If you’re interested in getting your hands on Penny’s awesome video for smartphone tutorial as well as all of the other amazing webinars, tutorials, and resources, becoming a member will allow that, and so much more! For just 10 Euros a month (15 from September for new members), you can access our treasure trove of resources and celebrant support. Take a look here.

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35 mistakes to avoid making as a celebrant

Having a solid foundation as a celebrant will set you up for a long-term thriving career. It gives you a solid base from which you’ll grow, flourish and prosper your way to becoming the best celebrant that you can be. 

But as with any career, the path to success is never a straightforward or smooth one and sometimes things happen along the way which can shake your foundations.

So I’ve listed 35 common mistakes you’ll want to try and avoid in order to keep your celebrant business in good shape and to help you to carry on enjoying a job that you love, to the maximum.

But I’m warning you, the list is a bit of a biggie! However, don’t forget, it’s just a list, offering a bit of guidance, not a rule book or celebrant bible. I’m not a rule-y, bible-y type.

And of course, I’ve added some of my Natasha-isms too for extra emphasis! I love a bit of extra emphasis. So here goes:

Mistakes to avoid…

  1. Not being yourself. (Be yourself and be unapologetic about it. The end.)
  2. Forgetting to network and get your name out there. (Do it, even if you hate it, like me!)
  3. Not blogging. (I mean, come on!)
  4. Not asking for help when you need it. (Ask!)
  5. Comparing yourself to other celebrants. (Just stop it, already!)
  6. Not charging enough for what you do. (Sort it out, asap!)
  7. Not listening to your gut. (Instincts know best sometimes.)
  8. Discounting your prices when you don’t want to. (Yes, please don’t!)
  9. Not learning from your mistakes and failures. (We all make mistakes.)
  10. Trying to get where you want to be too quickly. (Patience, people, patience!)
  11. Failing to have a mentor or biz buddy of some kind. (Add it to your list.)
  12. Not investing in your professional development as a celebrant. (Tut!)
  13. Getting caught up in industry drama. (Sigh!)
  14. Not demonstrating or acting on your belief in diversity, inclusion and equality for all. (Sorry, there’s no excuse.)
  15. Not respecting your celebrant colleagues regardless of your differences. (Goes without saying, right?).
  16. Working in a way that doesn’t suit you. (You do you!)
  17. Not clearly defining what your ‘why’ is. Why are you a celebrant? (Can’t stress enough how important this is!)
  18. Not reading up on and fully understanding your industry. (So important.)
  19. Dressing for work how you think you should, instead of how you want to. (Tartan fluffy boots? You go, girl!)
  20. Taking more than 48 hours to reply to an enquiry. (Longer looks less interested).
  21. Publicly bad-mouthing or belittling your colleagues. (All the nopes.)
  22. Forgetting to properly thank people who help you. (**Shakes head slowly**)
  23. Not being as business-focused as you are ceremony-focused. (It’s really okay to be both in equal measure!)
  24. Overwhelming yourself with social media. (It’s not worth it and it doesn’t need to be overwhelming.)
  25. Not recognizing that you never stop learning. (Never!)
  26. Forgetting to make your website sound like a human being wrote it. (Take out the jargon, industry speak and clichés and just speak from the heart.)
  27. Competing instead of collaborating. (Win your own race.)
  28. Setting yourself unrealistic goals or setting unclear goals. (Get clear!)
  29. Not defining what success means to YOU! (Success is whatever you say it is, no-one else!)
  30. Not believing in your own abilities. (Start. Believing. Now.)
  31. Thinking that everyone is your client. (Hint: They’re not!)
  32. Not having a support system or individual support. (So important.)
  33. Not raising your prices when you feel it’s time to. (Raise them! Raise them!)
  34. Doing things that you don’t want to do. (Set those boundaries, people!)
  35. Not evolving and adapting. (Won’t get you anywhere fast.)

And there you have it. Thirty-five golden non-rules. Could you add to this list? I’m sure you could! What on this list are you struggling with? What for you is a no brainer?

Main image photo by Pedro Bellido Photography


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How to cope with rejection as a wedding celebrant

I remember the first time a couple decided not to book me for their ceremony. I was GUTTED! What didn’t they like about me? Was it something I’d said? Did I talk too much and not listen enough? Did they find me too expensive? Was it my colour? What did I do? What didn’t I do?

Honestly, these questions played around in my head for days after their knock-back. This particular rejection by this couple had hit me hard because before it I’d had a perfect run of enquiries turning into bookings. 

Up until that point, every couple who I’d either spoken to or emailed had gone ahead and booked me. So this one came as a big shock, as I’d been totally convinced of my celebrant superpowers, and this brought me back to earth with a bump.

After moping about for a few days my husband who is quite often an unintentional therapist said to me,‘ look, you can’t control what they do or why they do it, so just let it go.’  He said this partly to help me and partly because he was sick of me moping about, but whatever his motivation, he was right!

I had no idea why the couple chose another celebrant over me, and no matter how much I tried to figure it out, it got me nowhere. So there was no point in beating myself up about it.

Not getting a booking with a couple who we click with, really smacks. But one thing I’ve learnt is that you’ve got to get over it as quickly as the couple came and went from your life!

In my latest podcast episode, I look at why getting turned down by a couple can feel like a big deal and what you can do to not let it get you down or even worse, lose your confidence and mess with your mojo. 

Listen here or get the latest episode from Spotify, Apple Podcast or Stitcher for Android. 

And as always let me know what you think!


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How does being anti-racist translate to your Celebrant business?

The last few weeks have seen the lid well and truly lifted on racism and racial prejudice, a problem that we all knew was there but didn’t really appreciate the magnitude and far reaching consequences of. And now it’s impossible to ignore.

Stories and experiences of racism have been shared far and wide by celebrities, sports people and every regular person of colour in between, myself included. Sharing these stories helps people to understand the many faces of racism. You can catch me here sharing some of my experiences with six other celebrants of colour and their stories, on this profound podcast episode by Michelle Taylor – The Funky Celebrant.

And now as we begin to look beyond the stories many white people are starting to ask, what can we do? How can we be better allies? Especially for those of you in the celebrant industry, many of you are probably wondering how this relates to your celebrant business, too. How can you run a celebrant business that reflects your anti-racist, inclusive beliefs?

So following up from this post last week where I shared a range of anti-racism resources, here are some things that you can do in your celebrant business to be a better ally and to make people of colour feel welcomed by you and the services that you offer.

EDUCATE YOURSELF!
I cannot stress this enough. Even if you think you’re not racist and you’re very inclusive, I can guarantee you that there is still more to learn. As you know, I am not a race educator or anti-racism expert, which is why I highly recommend you follow my friend and an anti-racist activist and educator Nova Reid. Follow her, learn from her, take her courses. Help yourself to get a better understanding of what racism is, of how complex and multi-layered it is and how you can have a part in dismantling it.

You can also look at my last post for other resources that you can tune into. Getting educated is the first and most important step to take. You need to know what you’re dealing with in order to know how to deal with it.

INCLUSIVE MARKETING
The next step is to be more inclusive in your marketing. I know it’s a really tricky situation to be in when you know you are a diversity-believing, inclusivity-loving celebrant but you perhaps have not worked with any or many couples or families who themselves are ethnically diverse. But this shouldn’t stop you from representing diversity on your platforms and channels.

Say hello to stock photography and images! There are so many great suppliers of free, diverse imagery out there, which you can get photos from to use on your platforms. Canva is just one!

It’s really okay to use images that aren’t of your own couples, in order to show that you live and breathe exactly what you think and feel. When you start to build up your own ethnically diverse images then of course you can start to use those, too. However, just make sure that you’re not using the images as though they are your own couples, that’s another matter entirely!

Now I also hear those of you who worry about being tokenistic – ie appearing to post an image of a black couple for the sake of it, because it will look better to have something rather than nothing. I believe that if you build diversity into your long-term marketing strategies and it’s something that you do with the best intentions, for the right reasons on a consistent basis, then this is not tokenistic.

Tokenism is sticking one diverse photo onto your feeds and leaving it at that! Or publishing one black tile on your Instagram feed and then never publishing anything else diverse again. You should be celebrating and sharing diverse imagery on your platforms so that potential couples/families feel genuinely welcomed by you, not to tick any diversity boxes.

I have a personal rule of thumb that on my wedding Instagram account, I try to make sure that out of every 9 squares, at least 3 are diverse images. Basically a third of my images (minimum) are diverse and inclusive, and not just ethnically diverse, but images which show a range of different couples, too.

And what about hashtags? I also know that hashtags can be very problematic, with celebrants finding themselves unsure of what hashtags to use when it comes to diversity. If you feature a black wedding couple on your feed, should you feature a hashtag #blackweddings #blacklove etc? I’m going to be totally honest here. I don’t know! As I said, I’m not an anti-racism educator, so I don’t know what the correct answer is here, if there is one. So I can only comment on what I do.

Personally, I don’t use hashtags like this when posting diverse couples on Instagram. I use my celebrant Instagram primarily for couples who have already found me or who find me by hashtags that are relevant to who I am as a celebrant and where I work. This is after all what hashtags are primarily supposed to be for, to help people find you. So for me, a black couple looking for a celebrant in Spain are probably more likely to use the hashtag #celebrantinspain, than anything related to colour. This to me is more relevant for my feed than a hashtag to describe the people in the image. Nor would I use #blacklivesmatter or anything to this effect on my wedding photos that feature black couples. It doesn’t feel right for me to use this imagery with these hashtags.

For me, the imagery used is more important than the hashtags and sometimes when used wrongly, hashtags can completely cancel out what you were trying to achieve with your image. Check out the Instagram account for the Catalyst wedding blog, which is one of the most woke wedding blog accounts out there when it comes to diversity and see how they use their hashtags.

INCLUSIVE BUSINESS PRACTICES
And lastly, I would say to make sure that you’re inclusive in your business and ceremony practices. Getting educated will help you to not make cultural or racial assumptions about people, or inadvertently make you alienate people. Or to be culturally inappropriate or racially ignorant. It will help you to help treat people on an individual basis and help them according to their needs and requirements, which I’m pretty confident most celebrants do anyway.

Okay, well I hope these ideas help, or at least reaffirm what you’ve been doing already. Championing diversity is a long-term commitment. A partnership with social justice and equality that needs developing, nurturing and sustaining. A commitment to reflecting and showcasing the good that we as celebrants want and love to see in the world.


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Be the change: Anti-racism resources for creating change and doing better

My word, what a week! I think I have been through every imaginable emotion possible and back again. My brain actually hurts and I’ve even discovered it’s possible to run out of tears.

I don’t need to remind you of the events that have got us here. The events that have the whole world sitting up and demanding to know ‘what the hell is going on here?’

But do you know what? This is something that black people have been demanding to know for a long time. A very long time.

Over the weekend, I wrote about some of my experiences during my 13 years of being a wedding celebrant, a black wedding celebrant, and I highlighted some of the occasions where people treated me negatively because of my skin colour. You can read the Instagram post here.

I quite naively didn’t even think about what writing down my experiences would do to me and how it would make me feel. I totally underestimated how much it would hurt in sharing those experiences (although I’m glad that I did) and neither did I realise how it would expose some of my own failings too.

I am angry with myself that over the years I’ve just dismissed those racist experiences. Written them off as casual happenings. Put them down as insensitive acts by a few ignorant people. Laughed about them even.

And writing about these experiences has made me realise my own complacency. My own denial in just how bad things still are. My own ability to downplay the fact that racism, prejudice, bigotry and racial ignorance are still present in my world and the world that I work in. That I’ve simply brushed these experiences off and told myself not to worry because they’re probably a one-off! But we all know that’s not true, as recent events and shared experiences are telling us.

And in sharing my own experiences, I’m now hearing those of other black celebrants. Like the funeral celebrant whose own client told her that the funeral arranger had not only called to inform her that the celebrant was black but wanted to check that she would be okay with it.

Or another black funeral celebrant who got told by a funeral arranger that because they didn’t get many black clients, there wouldn’t be much work to pass on to her, as though being black means you can only serve black clients.

And another celebrant of colour consistently finding that she’s only being recommended to clients of colour and not to white clients.

These are just some of the stories of black celebrants who find it hard to get work because the colour of their skin is a barrier BUT I know there are so many more black celebrants and their similar stories out there.

I am not shocked. I’m just angry and sad.

If in the wake of everything that is happening, you are someone who is realising that you have your own inner work to do in terms of how you confront and deal with racism, then it’s time to do it. I hope you are that someone.

Now is the time to look at how you think about racism and the racist experiences that you have perhaps witnessed. Or the times you’ve helped perpetuate (unwittingly or wittingly) unequal or unfair treatment of people because of the colour of their skin.

If you’re ready to make a start with educating yourself and being a better ally,  the resources that have always been there are now being made more readily available and being highlighted and shared by more people, for the good of those who want to learn.


I’ve done a roundup of some of what is available. This list is a mere drop in the ocean of what’s out there, which you can quite easily find for yourself too. But these are the resources I’ve heard of, will be participating in myself or are books that I’ve read or have on my list to read.


LIVE SESSIONS
I’ve signed up for this live panel discussion ‘Healing Wounds and Bridging Gaps: An Honest Conversation About Race & Allyship in the Wedding Industry. It’s going to take place today – June 3rd at 1400 Eastern time (US and Canada). You can register and check what time that is for you, here on the registration page.

This Sunday, 7th June, Inner Activist Donna Lancaster and Anti Racist Activist and Educator Nova Reid will be hosting an Instagram live titled – Get your knee off my neck – a grief ritual. They’ll be holding a safe space online to allow for personal and collective healing and a place to release emotions and grief caused by the current injustices and unrest at 10-1200 UK time. Follow @donnalancs on Instagram to get access to this free live session.


BOOKS
How to be an antiracist by Ibram X Kendi
So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo
Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race by Renni Eddo-Lodge
White Fragility – Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about race by Robin DiAngelo, PhD
Me and white supremacy by Layla F Saad


ARTICLES TO READ
How to make this moment the turning point for real change by Barack Obama
How you can be an ally in the fight for racial justice
How to be an ally if you’re a person of privilege
How to be a white ally
Why you need to stop saying all lives matter by Rachel Cargle


TED TALKS
Nova Reid’s Ted Talk – Not all superheroes wear capes – how you have the power to change the world
Heather C McGhee’s Ted Talk – Racism has a cost for everyone


ANTI RACISM AND RACE ACTIVISTS & EDUCATORS ON INSTAGRAM


@novareidofficial

@rachel.cargle

@laylafsaad

@roxanegay74

@ckyourprivilege

@theconsciouskid

@privtoprog


Here’s to doing better and being better allies, friends, colleagues and celebrants.

Main image photo by Clickrec Photography

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Why now is the best time EVER to be a celebrant

This year I’ll be celebrating 13 years as a wedding celebrant. Yup, I know. Sometimes I can’t believe it either. I know I know, I look like I started when I was 12, don’t I? LOL!

When I look at where I am now, and think back to how I got started, sometimes I can’t believe that a) I make a living as a celebrant and b) that I have a successful celebrant business, and have a team of awesome associates who support my vision. What the hell! Talk about dreams come true.

I say this with a touch of disbelief because when I look at the celebrant industry now with all the support, the education, the advice, the Facebook groups, the networks and connections available, I remember that I had none of this when I set out as a celebrant. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. And oh boy, could I have done with it!

Like when I made mistakes. Huge ones.

Like when I wasn’t sure of what to charge.

Like when I suffered from imposter syndrome.

Like when I had a big business decision to make but just couldn’t move forward with it.

Like when I had my first celebrity wedding and had no-one (who gets it) to share the excitement with.

Like when I felt a disconnect between who I am and who I was as a celebrant.

Like when I had problem clients that I didn’t know how to handle.

Like when I really didn’t have a clue how to market myself online or who my ideal clients were.

The list goes on and on.

I don’t regret my path to success and how long it took to get here but I know I could have got here a little more quickly and confidently, if I’d had the support and knowledge that I have now, all these things that are so widely available!

Being a celebrant is awesome but the journey to awesomeness can be full of uncertainty, no matter how much training you have under your belt.
Not knowing if what you’re doing is right or wrong. Making mistakes, not having a support system. Little things, which snowball into big things without help and advice.

This is why I created the Celebrants Collective, to offer the support that I never had but always wanted and definitely could have done with. To have someone there who knew what I was going through and could advise me on what to do. To point me in the right direction and help me develop and learn with confidence. But also to have someone like me, someone who shared my vision and my vibe. It’s so important!

And I’m so pleased (understatement of the year) that three years down the line, the Celebrants Collective is offering all of this to its members and more.

“I wouldn’t have a Celebrant business I believe if it wasn’t for the Celebrants Collective. In the beginning, when you are starting out, it’s a highly affordable way of access to priceless resources, reams of useful information and, thanks to the many wise and wonderful Celebrants in the group, the benefit of very learned and experienced Celebrants. All this combined with Natasha’s never-ending support, kindness and know-how – the ability to draw on her own knowledge as well as knowing which experts to bring in to share theirs. If you are a Celebrant and you are not a part of the Collective, you are missing out BIG TIME!”

Member, Elizabeth Cass-Kanti

“Natasha’s friendly, authentic and supportive energy drew me to join the Collective as I knew it would likely draw similar people to the group. I wanted to be surrounded by fellow Celebrants who were focused on building relationships, connections and creativity over heavy marketing and sales. Being a member of the Collective has given me the confidence to approach this job as a ‘real’ business, introducing me to marketing strategies and business planning in a way that feels organic and part of my work, as opposed to an uncomfortable extra. I also have a network of incredibly friendly folks who are so willing to offer advice, support and encouragement and access to a heap of professional development resources that are encouraging me to expand my own knowledge and up the value of the service I offer.”

Member, Keli Tomlin

“Being a member of the Celebrants Collective gives me confidence and reassurance to be who I want to be and not a clone of other celebrants. It provides answers to questions. The support, energy and encouragement of colleagues (and Natasha!) spurs me on to be better. I find Natasha’s style and her perspective sits so comfortably with me – she’s experienced, knowledgeable, wise and inspiring, but she keeps it very real – I like that realism and the down to earth vibe. I’ve learnt a lot from her about not beating myself up for not being perfect, not being ‘fully booked’, not being an all singing, all dancing super celebrant!”

Member, Jane Blackman

“I was looking for a group where we could collaborate and share ideas which were business focussed as well as ceremony content based. Through the Celebrants Collective, I have attended workshops and Natasha’s celebrant retreat in Spain, meeting celebrants from all over the world which has really given me an opportunity to improve the ceremonies I offer my couples. Natasha is incredibly positive and has been a huge benefit to me. She works incredibly hard to create an awareness of what celebrancy is and how couples would benefit from employing one. Now she is focussing on us and how we can be that much better for the benefit of those couples.”

Member, Karina O’ Donnell

Now is an amazing time to be a celebrant because you have so much opportunity to be the best that you can be. There’s really no excuse.

As a community we are more connected than ever. It’s easy to reach out for help. It’s easy to get advice, it’s easy to learn from others and to get your business up and running more easily. It’s easier to be seen and heard, listened to and taken seriously. There is opportunity and support everywhere!

Like with my members, if you want my personal and focused support to help you on your celebrant journey and to be a part of my educational community, we’d love to have you.

For just 10 Euros a month all of this support, resources, guides, live expert webinar sessions, and video tutorials are available to you. And new from this month, they’ll be monthly coaching calls with me! Yay! This is one of the most affordable ways that I can help you personally.

(Pssst..from September membership goes up to 17 Euros a month for new members. Just so you know!)

Sign up and join us here and let’s get this celebrant educational party started! Whoop!


The Celebrant Resource Shop

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Why it’s okay to NOT offer Zoom ceremonies to your wedding couples

In my last episode of the Celebrant Survival Podcast where I was looking at how the celebrant industry and celebrants might change after Coronavirus, I sang the praises of celebrants who’ve managed to adapt during these times. And brilliantly so.

It’s been amazing to see funeral celebrants carrying out meaningful services all whilst under new restrictions and more challenging circumstances. And wedding celebrants expertly handling Zoom weddings and pre-wedding celebrations like total pros.

This situation has called for celebrants to adapt quickly and to offer their clients services and ceremonies in new and different ways. And celebrants have done just that. I love that a few months ago, a lot of people had never heard of Zoom and now it’s the new buzz word in the world of virtual weddings and funerals.

I was blown away by the first Zoom wedding ceremony that I saw, a little while back. It was fabulous. Awesomely done, expertly put together and very inspirational. 

And not long after, I started to see more and more virtual weddings happening, with the most wonderful celebrations taking place online. It’s a real credit to those celebrants who’ve been able to offer these ceremonies and more importantly, to pull them off.

And now more and more celebrants are offering virtual ceremonies not just to their own couples who either have had to postpone or cancel their original weddings, but also to any couples out there who perhaps have had a change of plan and wouldn’t mind going down the virtual route, or who have no choice but to have a virtual wedding! Or even for couples who just love the idea of a virtual ceremony, full stop.

But are Zoom weddings something that all wedding celebrants should offer?


I must admit when I saw the first few amazing Zoom wedding videos, I had a bit of a pang and started to think that maybe it was something that I should be offering my own couples, but I quickly vetoed the idea.

For me there are lots of reasons why I wouldn’t want to offer Zoom weddings right now: 

I don’t fancy my doorless office space as a ceremony venue. Then there’s the issue of my adorable but intrusive seven year old, and my crappy internet, to name a few. Plus, there’s the fact that my lockdown headspace is not the best headspace for weddings right now (thanks to homeschooling and being in a very strict lockdown). 

I can barely do all the work I need to do, let alone think about planning something as momentous as a virtual wedding. Not to mention the whole Zoom thing and wondering whether I could pull off a Zoom celebration in the exact same or similar style ​as I do in person, with the same results. 

But this is me and how I feel about it! Everyone is different. I’m just glad that I went with my gut feeling and realised that the Zoom route is not one that I want to go down right now. And I’m glad I realised it before I ended up committing myself to something that deep down I didn’t want to do. 

That said, whilst it’s something that I don’t want to actively offer, if one of my couples asked, I wouldn’t say no.

So if you’re feeling a bit like this too, it’s totally okay.

It’s okay to not offer Zoom ceremonies, if you really don’t want to. 

It’s okay to not offer Zoom ceremonies to your couples whose weddings have been postponed or cancelled and they’re happy with how you’ve handled these changes.

It’s okay to not go down the Zoom route, even if others are.

And don’t forget, Zoom weddings (and maybe funerals) aren’t for everyone. Not all couples will want to mark the celebration in this way, as joyful and fitting as it might be. So don’t sweat it if you don’t want to offer celebrations in this way. There’s no right or wrong here.

And if you do have plans to turn into a Zoom wedding superstar, and you’re going to go for it, then good for you! 

For any of you who are on the fence and a bit scared by all of the tech, my celebrant business buddy Claire Bradford has had lots of help from a Zoom expert, who next week is running a special workshop just for celebrants.

He’ll be going through all of the Zoom features and helping celebrants to get comfortable with this incredible software. You can find out more here.

So whether you Zoom or you don’t, don’t stress over it! Lol!


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Permission to just be whatever you need to be

Here in Spain we’re coming up to the 60 day mark for the number of days that we’ve been in captivity, sorry, I mean, isolation. Actually, I’m not sorry. Spain’s quarantine is one of the strictest in the world, so I’m going to allow myself to feel the worst parts of being confined.

I don’t know about you but I’m actually learning to forgive myself for a lot of things, lately.

I forgive myself for shouting at my son.
I forgive myself for being moody with my husband.
I forgive myself for not getting the work done that I want to do.
I forgive myself for being slower to get back to emails than usual.
I forgive myself for feeling restless.
I forgive myself for not having read the books I’ve got on my Kindle.
I forgive myself for being distracted.
I forgive myself for spending more time than usual on social media.

What do you need to forgive yourself for?

We all need to give ourselves a break. We all need to stop expecting to feel normal during this time. If you do, then that’s wonderful, but if you don’t then that’s really okay, too.

I’ve quickly come to realize that I can’t have the same expectations that I had before, because we’re not living under the same conditions. And also importantly, every single one of us is experiencing these conditions in our own unique ways.

I flit between absolutely loving our lockdown life, to worrying about the future, to pulling my hair out because I can’t get any work done, to sitting on my veg patch, pulling up weeds without a care in the world! We’re on a rollercoaster, people. And we’re in for a long, bumpy, exhilarating ride.

You have to take each day and week as they come. You have to find your own ways to ground yourself and get done what you want and need to do. You have to be kind to yourself and get in touch with how you’re feeling.

It’s totally okay to lower your expectations of what you can do and be during this time. Don’t feel pressure to feel like you should be doing something, anything. Don’t force yourself to do work if you’re really not feeling like it. Don’t be active in your business, if your heart isn’t in it. Don’t feel pressure to jazz up your platforms or show the world that you’re living your best life on social media, if you’re not, or you don’t want to.

If you need it, this post is your permission to just be, whatever it is that you need to be, right now. Whatever it is that you want to do. Just do it. Whatever you want to be. Just be it. Everything will right itself, when it and you are good and ready.

Take care,

Natasha x


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Should you be selling your celebrant services at this time?

The other day I was reading a really interesting FB post about selling and marketing during this time. About how small businesses should and shouldn’t be using their social media platforms during this global pandemic. 

It was fascinating to see a range of viewpoints. Some argued about the insensitivity of it all. Saying that it wasn’t right to be actively selling services and products when people are facing difficult times, financially. That outright selling is tacky and insensitive at this time, especially when if it looks like you’re trying to cash-in or capitalize on the situation. 

Then there were others who said that there was nothing wrong with selling right now, as there are still people who want to and have the means to buy what they want and need. 

To me, the question isn’t about whether you should or shouldn’t be selling your services at this time but how you should be selling during this time.

Just because we are in a global pandemic which of course is presenting so many challenges, frustrations and sadness for so many people, life, under its new normal, and business, are still continuing. 

People who love reading continue to buy books, if they can. People who want to learn something, buy courses or join online classes, if they can. Couples wanting to get married in the near future are still making plans for their weddings. I had two 2021 bookings last week that came out of the blue! Commerce is still continuing. Sales are still happening. People are still buyinare

So right now what we should be looking at is how we as celebrants sell what we do, during a time which calls on us to be more mindful, more sensitive and more appropriate. 

First of all, you’ll actually find that my thoughts on this are exactly the same now as they were pre-Coronavirus.

I am a firm believer in the ‘show, don’t tell,’ philosophy of selling and marketing. 

Show people what you do. 

Show people who you are. 

Show your personality. 

Show your passions. 

Show your weddings. 

Show where you work. 

Show where you live.

Show your hobbies and what makes you happy. 


Because showing is selling.

If you’re doing all of this and doing it well, then this is all you need to do to sell your services. You don’t need mega marketing strategies or to put calls to action into every single post. You don’t need to tell people to contact you. You don’t need to tell people to get in touch. You don’t need to oversell. Overreach. Or overcompensate. You just need to be present, have some presence and be your natural self.

Anything else is what’s likely to make people feel icky. To make people feel like they’re being sold to. Which is funny really because although there are people who want to buy things, it doesn’t mean that they want to be sold to and sold to ALL of the time.

If people like what they see on your social media platforms, if they like how you present yourself, they will contact you. They will get in touch.

So selling during this time isn’t wrong. But the emphasis should be on how you do it, not whether you do it.

If you’re struggling for non-salesy content to post online, you can grab my free 28 day planner here, for ready-to-use ideas or extra inspo to inspire your own ideas.


The Celebrant Shop