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Ten important tips for your first year(s) in celebrant business

In your first few years as a Celebrant it can feel pretty daunting getting your business off the ground. There is a lot to do, a lot to learn and a lot to process. Even though starting a business is a lot of work, it doesn’t have to be majorly stressful and it should at least be enjoyable.

There’s nothing quite like seeing your business ideas take shape as you carve out your space on the internet for your celebrant business. Yes, there will be days that the same business also gives you a migraine and you might slightly lose the will to live, but it’s all part of the process of bringing your dreams into reality and taking the next steps on your new career path.

Here are some of my top tips to help you get your business off to the right start, not just from an administrative point of view, but equally importantly, from a healthy mindset point of view too. And even if you’re a few years down the line, these tips can still be useful.

1. Don’t try to do everything at once

Seriously! You will just give yourself a headache and end up feeling overwhelmed if you try to do everything at once. Prioritise what’s really necessary to get your business off the ground and the things that will see you through for the first few months to a year.

If you have a business plan (make one if you haven’t already), then this should help you to figure out what you need to do first and will help you to put tasks in place to achieve your first year of goals.

You don’t need to be churning out content on social media all day every day, or writing lots of blogs posts or printing off business cards, flyers, brochures, fridge magnets, mugs all at once! Don’t try to do all the courses, read all the books, take up all the free training on offer. Start with the basics and the necessities and the rest can follow!

2. Invest in a really good website

Besides any training that you might do as a celebrant, I personally believe that your next biggest investment should be in your website. Your website is the virtual home of your business. It’s your virtual real estate. It’s where all roads and avenues lead to.

People may find you on social media, on directories or other websites, but you can be sure they will at some point refer back to your website, especially when they start to finalise decisions about who they want to contact or book.

The importance of a good website is just not drummed home enough. Your website is your business home and the place where everything that couples need to know about you and how you work can be found.

Make sure your website is well-built (by a professional if possible), well SEO’d, looks amazing, has great photographs (use stock images if you don’t yet have wedding photos) and hire a photographer for a photo shoot for headshot and portrait images. And use language that shows off your personality and style so couples feel an instant connection with you.

To be really frank, if your website looks cheap and cobbled together, it could give the impression to prospective clients that you don’t care about your business, which of course is not the case!

Here’s a good rule of thumb – does your website look en par with some of your favourite wedding websites? No? Okay, then make it happen! And do shop around, good websites don’t have to cost a fortune.

3. Have a blog section on your website

This is so important that I’ve made it its own separate point! Because your website is so crucial to your business you want to make it a priority to drive as much traffic to it as possible, and one way that you’re going to do this is by building up your collection of useful wedding-related blog posts. Blog post which will draw people to your website because they have Googled search terms which are specific to you and weddings in your area.

Write about your favourite wedding venues in your area. Write a list of tips for how to get married in your area. Interview local wedding suppliers and build up collaborations and contacts.

Blogging really can make all the difference to the amount of traffic finding its way to your website. It’s free, it’s easy-to-do, it’s a no brainer.

4. Don’t compare yourself to others

I talk about this a lot on my various platforms. Comparing yourself to other celebrants is basically a one-way ticket to self-doubt and low-esteem. This is why it’s so important to set your own goals for what you want to achieve as a celebrant. Set your own number of bookings, determine your own work-life balance and work towards them.

Be connected with other celebrants, yes! Congratulate their successes, yes! But don’t use them as a model to measure yourself against. You should be comparing yourself only to how you were the day before, and that’s it.

5. Don’t try to emulate others

This is really important too. Sometimes it can be tempting to take on the style or persona of other celebrants who in your eyes appear to be walking and talking the celebrant walk that you’d love to be walking and talking yourself. This won’t get you anywhere fast. Be yourself from the outset. You’ll be happier for it and it will be less exhausting trying to be someone you’re not.

6. Don’t undercut your prices

I repeat. DO NOT DELIBERATELY UNDERCUT YOUR PRICES. Don’t set your prices from the outset with the only intention of being cheaper than those working in the same area as you. It’s just not good business practice and doesn’t say or do much for your business.

Celebrant and officiant fees in general are already too low as it is (!) without others coming in and diminishing the value further. You may be the new kid on the block but you’ve still got experience (from other walks of life) and training or motivational confidence to do the good job that you’re setting out to do, so don’t set the cheapest prices with the aim of looking more attractive to couples.

This, along with other pricing no-nos is some of what I’m going to be talking about in my pricing strategy webinar next week. This webinar is available for free to members, so if you’ve been thinking about becoming a member, join now to take part in this webinar. It’s going to be a good one! Membership is 10 euros a month. Sign up here.

7. Say ‘hi’ to your celebrant neighbours

It’s nice to send a friendly hello to your celebrant neighbours to introduce yourself and let them know that you’re new in town. There is a chance that your introduction won’t be well received, and you might even be ignored, however at least you’ll go down on record as being the one to initiate a nice gesture and attempt to have some form of collaboration over competition. On a positive note, it could lead to future connections and contacts, and even a working relationship.

8. Join some celebrant Facebook groups

We have an amazing space over at the Celebrants Collective Facebook group. So much generosity, wisdom and advice is shared and it’s a great place to be as a new celebrant. Watch, listen and learn and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’ll be surprised by how many celebrant colleagues are willing to help. Come and join us here.

9. Collate your celebrant toolbox

These are your day-to-day things that you’ll need to run your celebrant business efficiently. Your PA system, microphone, wedding props, stationery, mic stands, lectern, Kindle or tablet, wedding certificates and whatever else you need to carry in your celebrant trunk to do your job. And don’t forget spares of things too! Again you don’t have to get everything all at once, so start off with the basics and keep adding. Oh, and trust me, you will keep adding!

10. And lastly, don’t take celebrant life too seriously

Yes, we are amazingly privileged and lucky to be trusted by couples and families who book us, and entrust us with their precious life events, and being a celebrant really is a very special undertaking. But, you can be professional to the core, whilst still having a cheery attitude and having fun. It’s okay to have a joyous light-hearted approach to what you do. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Okay , that’s it from me. I hope you find these tips useful. Over and out.

Pssst…Have you seen the best selling products in my Resource Shop?

Blackboard which says no
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If you never say no in business, what is your yes worth?

I was trying to tidy up the masses of images on my computer the other day and I came across this photo from the Jelly Bean wedding conference in London, where I was a speaker back in 2018.

It was so amazing to share a stage with awesome wedding professionals, including my friend, the unstoppable force that is Nova Reid from Nu Bride, whose diversity talk had us all in tears! Anyway, that’s a story for another day!

Photo by Carina Photography

One of the other talks that I was really mesmerised by, was that of successful husband and wife photographer team, Lina and Tom. Everything they said about finding yourself as a business owner was spot on, but it was their presentation slide which said, ‘if you never say ‘no’, what is your ‘yes’ worth?’ that really made an impact.

I tell you, it was like a lightbulb moment for me, which triggered so much thought around that one powerful question, even until now.

If you never say no, what is your yes worth?

For me, this question breaks down into one core sentiment and that is – BOUNDARIES.

Why boundaries are important

We have to give ourselves boundaries as celebrants, in order to be in harmony with our business and our work.

It’s about learning what your boundaries are as a celebrant and business owner and understanding how to apply them to all that you do.

If you don’t have boundaries you can’t protect yourself or stop yourself from being in situations or positions that you don’t want to be in.

Without boundaries, you’ll say yes to every couple. Even those who aren’t right for you.

Without boundaries, you’ll say yes to every request, even the ones you don’t fully like the sound of.

Without boundaries, you’ll say yes to things that inconvenience you.

Without boundaries, you’ll say yes to things you’re not comfortable with.

Without boundaries, you’ll say yes to things that don’t suit you.

Without boundaries, you’ll say yes to things that don’t make you happy.

Without boundaries, you’ll say yes to helping people, even when you shouldn’t or can’t.

Without boundaries, you’ll say yes to working all hours, and neglect taking care of yourself.

Without boundaries, you’ll say yes even though deep down your gut says no.

And so this is what happens when you never say no, it devalues the times that you say yes and truly mean yes.  

It’s okay to say no

If you don’t know it already, you need to be okay with saying no, whenever you feel like it.

No doesn’t mean you’re being rude, entitled or aggressive. No just means no thank you, it’s not for me. No thank you, I’ll pass on this one. No thank you, I’m unavailable. No thank you, I’m busy. No thank you, I don’t want to right now. No thank you, it doesn’t interest me.

No, in fact, is a complete sentence all by itself.

Saying ‘no’ is your way of protecting your interests, defining your boundaries and embracing the fact that you made the right decision for you and your business.

So next time you’re feeling pressure to say yes to something that you really don’t want to do, or don’t like the sound of, or are not interested in, remember your boundaries.

Remember your value, remember your worth and remember to reserve your ‘yesses’ for all the things you’re aligned with and happy about.
Sometimes it isn’t easy to say no, but it’s worth it in the long run, when you can live happily and positively in the value of your yes.

Ps: If you’d like to explore your boundaries further or set yourself up with an awesome business strategy to keep you strong and laser-focused for the year, then my two hour power session might just be for you. My most recent January client had this to say,

“Thank you so much for a really productive and insightful two hours this morning.  I got so much from our session. Lots of ideas, tips, insights and a kick! I am getting myself armed for the next stage of business growth and am really looking forward to putting your ideas into practice.  Onwards and upwards.”

You can find out more here.

Psst! Have you checked out the best-selling products in my resource shop?

Do you suffer from Shiny Object Syndrome?

Now I don’t want to worry you too much, dear friends, but there’s a nasty bug going round in SmallBizville. It’s called Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS for short) and it’s prevalent in entrepreneurs and creatives because it feeds on their extensive passion and enthusiasm. Shiny Object Syndrome works by distraction. In much the same way […]

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The Celebrant Collective Celebrant Retreat – Malaga, Spain, 2018

When I first started to put plans together for the Celebrants Collective in early February 2017, one of the things that went straight to the top of my list, alongside creating an educational membership platform, was the idea to have a retreat for Celebrants. There was no umming or ahing or wavering about it, it was something I knew that I had to absolutely make happen. I was so excited by the idea of it that I wanted it to happen there and then, but in fact had to wait another 20 months to see it materialise. But it was so worth the wait.

For me personally, like never before, these last few years have seen such a wonderful rise in connections with other Celebrants from all over the world. The starting up of the Celebrants Collective facebook group and then the membership platform, has introduced me to so many amazing human beings and Celebrants. However, I knew there would come a time where I would want to exchange these virtual connections for some real, in-person ones and I’m so glad that I had the foresight to start the ball-rolling.

And so we came together, 13 Celebrants from the UK, Spain and Ibiza, The Netherlands and the USA, for two days of education, connection and inspiration at the stunning Alhaurín Golf Hotel in Alhaurin el Grande, Malaga. As well as having the pleasure of being joined by all of the attendees, it was fantastic to have onboard Terri Shanks, the founder of the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants and Marie Burns Holzer, Marriage Minister extraordinaire and Wedding Business Coach, as two of the three retreat speakers and workshop leaders.

Day one started off with me giving a wonderful warm welcome to everyone and introducing my idea and context for the retreat. I really honed in on what it means to retreat and drew on my own experiences of having been on previous yoga retreats and how they influenced me so much for this retreat. I wanted to try to recapture those life-affirming, rewarding experiences with our own Celebrants’ retreat, minus the downward facing dogs and headstands!

After my welcome, Terri led a fantastic opening talk, which saw all of us taking part in an amazing group sand ritual (how often do we Celebrants get to take part in a ritual for ourselves!?). It was one of the most profound experiences I have ever had in a professional development context. To be able to pour our energy, gratitude and intentions into a small bottle, along with the sand, was such a powerful thing to do. After each of us had collected up our sand and intentions into a bottle, we then poured the sand back into a collective bowl and after each workshop and talk we added more sand to the bowl to keep adding to our intentions and goals. And on the last day of the retreat, we collected up our blended sands, full of love, intention, energy and goodness and we each got to take our bottles away with us a permanent reminder of what we achieved over the two days, not to mention the bonds that were formed.

Terri also very interestingly took us on a journey of Celebrancy, looking at the origins of ceremony and ritual and bringing us up to the present with where we are now in terms of Celebrancy as a profession. It was fascinating, joining up all of the dots and seeing how everything connects.

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After our talks and workshops we made sure to eat our hearts out with the superb cuisine on offer by the hotel. We ate as much as we talked! If that’s something we did a lot of it was eating, talking and socialising. All so good for the Celebrant soul!

I enjoyed leading my workshop on how to attract our potential couples right from the outset, which was inspired by one of my favourite films, ‘Jerry Maguire,’ and the line, ‘you had me at hello.’

We also enjoyed a really productive hive mind session where each attendee had the chance to ask a question and for our colleagues to offer advice, tips, demonstrations – whatever was needed to provide answers, advice and solutions. And from that sprung some wonderful hand-fasting demonstrations, which I know we all found invaluable and which were brightly infused with ribbons and cords courtesy of Lorraine Hull and her wonderful collection.

Terri also led another fascinating workshop which encouraged us all to think beyond, births, deaths and marriages and to broaden they ways that we can serve our communities. It was hugely inspiring. By the time that day one of the retreat had come to an end, we had thoroughly earned our delicious tapas buffet to finish off the evening.

Day two started with the same energy and enthusiasm. Celebrants Collective Content Editor, Claire Bradford kick-started the day for us with a summary of what we’d done so far, with a look ahead to the rest of the day, again helping us set our intentions and aims for the day. Marie Burns Holzer led us through an LGBTQ inclusivity workshop which touched on so many important areas of running a wedding business, which both outwardly and inwardly promotes inclusivity of everyone, and every type of couple.

I also led another workshop on my favourite topic – blogging for business and fielded questions from attendees about how to improve their own blogs, which was very rewarding. This flowed really nicely into an open mic session with myself, Terri and Marie, where attendees were invited to ask ask anything they liked – and they did!

We finished off the educative side of the retreat with a truly impassioned and forward-thinking keynote speech by Marie Burn Holzer on the future of Celebrancy. Drawing on where we are now, and how we move forward, the room listened to Marie in complete silence (rare for Celebrants, right?). The profundity of her words had us fully engaged for the whole duration and it was such an enlightening and uplifting way to end the retreat. The perfect set-up for our paella party that followed.

Although I had had a really clear idea of what I wanted to achieve for the retreat, and I was quite positive I knew how I wanted to feel during it, nothing really prepared me for how I would actually felt during the retreat. The intimacy, the love, the generosity, the kindness, the support and the bonds formed, really were very special and so much more than I had imagined. As we stood together to close the retreat, we joined in a circle and collected up our sand and our promises. We carried out an impromptu ‘passing of the heartbeat,’ (thanks Lorraine for prompting and Sophie Colligan got a shout out for having previously shared the idea of this ritual in our Facebook group!). As we gathered around and said our thanks and goodbyes, we tried to withhold the tears that flowed. We tried!

What a magical two days, with a group of awesome human beings. Celebrants really do rock.

If you’d like to join us for our next retreat, make sure you’re on our mailing list or in our Facebook group to stay up-to-date!

Celebrants Collective Celebrant Retreat 2019

 

Special thanks to Simon Duggan Photography for capturing our retreat and his fantastic attention to detail. And to my super wedding colleagues and friends, Michael Soffe and Lauren Dibben of Andalucia Weddings, whose help in the planning, budgeting and setting up stages of the retreat was INVALUABLE! Thank you!

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Are you all set for business in 2019?

Everywhere I look at the moment, I see adverts for planners and diaries for 2019, but that’s probably partly because I have been looking for planners online and so thanks to Facebook and its re-targetting mechanisms, I am now seeing adverts for planners EVERYWHERE. But when it’s not adverts for planners, it’s the posts from the many business professionals and groups that I follow, asking about how plans for 2019 are going and checking with their followers to see if goals have been put in place.  It does seem like anyone who is anyone is asking how everyone is set for the year that’s coming, myself included!

What big plans do you have for 2019?

What changes will you make for the year to come?

What kick-ass ideas are you going to add to your business?

What are you going to do to give your business the shake-up it needs?

But one thing I notice that people don’t ask as often, is how the current year has been. How was your current year of business? It’s like we’re so fixated and keen on moving forward and getting organised for the year ahead that we don’t even stop to consider the year that’s just been.

There is so much power in reflection, something we as Celebrants already know. To have the ability to stand back and to reflect on the year, or season or a specific period of time, is an invaluable thing to do. It’s during this time that we have the opportunity to assess and evaluate how that time has gone, the good and the bad, the successes and failures. And so once you have a good grasp of those things, then you’re in an even better position to sit down and put together the most amazing ass-whopping plan of action for 2019. A plan that has been customised to make the most of the things that worked and didn’t work from the previous year, as well as new things to implement as well.

So I thought it would be a great idea to put all of these thoughts and ideas into the very next Celebrant Survival Podcast episode. In this latest episode,  I take you through a 3 step plan of attack for how to systematically review your business. I look at how to assess all areas of it and to identify weaknesses and issues before you even start to plan ahead. And I even share my own horror story which has helped me to massively review a particular work process and in turn has shaped some of my plans for next year.

So if you’re about to start reviewing your business year, or hadn’t even given it a thought, this episode is for you!

And once you’ve listened, please do leave a review or rate the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or the podcast page itself, it would be so appreciated.

And if you’ve not listened to our other episodes you can find them all here.

 


 

The Celebrants Collective is a membership platform for Celebrants, from all over the world, who want to undertake ongoing career development on a monthly basis. From live Q&A sessions with industry experts, a Resources Room and Learning Lounge full of useful and regularly updated celebrant-related material, to celebrant-related articles and tutorials, the Collective is about empowering Celebrants to be the best they can be. Take a look at our full benefits here.

Ps. Have you joined the Celebrants Collective Facebook group. Made up of over 1300 Celebrants worldwide, it’s a great spot for support, advice and camaraderie. Come and join us now.

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Five myths about business websites that need to be busted

Websites, websites, websites – it’s all we talk about nowadays, isn’t it? But, let’s be fair, it’s for a pretty damn good reason! Websites rule, right? And frankly speaking, if anyone wants to get anywhere in whatever business they happen to be in, their website is where they will want to focus a lot of their attention, the place which all avenues lead to.

Yes, it’s true, some people do run a business without a website (shock, horror!) and they do manage to generate business without one, however, it cannot be denied that a website is a truly powerful way of driving business to you, as well getting your name ‘out there’ in yet another way.

A business website is one of the most valuable, necessary assets that any business person can have. And you must think of it like this, as an asset. It is your virtual online shopfront where people will stop, browse, connect and hopefully, procure your services.

A website is where people go to learn more about you. Even if someone has your phone number, your business card or flyer, or saw you on social media, or heard about you by word of mouth, you can guarantee that it is your website where they will end up to find out who you really are and to backup all that they’ve already seen or heard about you.

Think about your own internet user patterns, and how often you check out businesses and their online presence. How much do you end up looking at a business website, regardless of how it was that you first came to learn of the product/service/person?

And on top of that, a website is so much more than just a place where people find out who you are and what you do. It is the foundation of your entire presence online. So getting your website right from the outset and making sure that it functions correctly from the inside out, or from the back end to the front end is paramount.

There are however a lot of myths that surround websites. Ideas floating around which are taken as granted, ideas which people assume are facts and which can lead to some damaging assumptions about how we set up and run our business websites.

Listen to my latest podcast on this where I run through five myths about websites which need to addressed ASAP and some quick tips and practices that you can start putting into place TODAY to get your website working in the best way that websites can. And to make your website into the powerful marketing tool that it has the potential to be.

I’d love to hear from you about your thoughts on your website. Does your website work for you?Is your website doing you justice? Does it showcase who you are, as well as what you do? Is something lacking but you’re not sure what? Are you wondering how you can improve your website? Leave us a comment below and let’s see how we might be able to help you.

And don’t forget that you can subscribe to the Celebrant Survival Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher to listen on the go and to get instant notification of new episodes.

 

And if you’ve not listened to our other episodes you can find them all here.


The Celebrants Collective is a membership platform for Celebrants, from all over the world, who want to undertake ongoing career development on a monthly basis. From live Q&A sessions with industry experts, a Resources Room and Learning Lounge full of useful and regularly updated celebrant-related material, to celebrant-related articles and tutorials, the Collective is about empowering Celebrants to be the best they can be. Take a look at our full benefits here.

Ps. Have you joined the Celebrants Collective Facebook group. Made up of over 1000 Celebrants worldwide, it’s a great spot for support, advice and camaraderie. Come and join us now.