Weddings

    Just a couple of Australians having a French win. Frame from last night in Paris with yours truly.

    Uluṟu, that beautiful monolith that captures the very essence of Australia. It’s my favourite place in Australia. This iconic natural wonder is far more than an awe-inspiring spectacle - it represents the rich tapestry of indigenous heritage and gathering for ceremony.

    Uluṟu is intrinsically linked with the indigenous Anangu people, serving as an embodiment of their Tjukurpa - a term that captures the moral laws, spirituality, and existence of these people. Uluṟu’s formation stems from a time of ancestral beings, the Dreamtime, whose stories are etched across its vast surface in the form of petroglyphs.

    For countless generations, Uluṟu has been a significant ceremonial site, bearing witness to rites of passage and important celebrations. This land, imprinted with the songs and dances of the Anangu, has been a part of their life’s tapestry, from birth to death and every joy and hardship in between.

    Now, imagine breathing your marriage into life here - a site resonating with tales of love, life, and dreams, where the deep-red soil has observed centuries of human connection. A marriage ceremony at Uluṟu represents a union not only between two individuals but also a communion with our shared human legacy and the ancient rhythms of this remarkable landscape.

    As a wedding celebrant, my commitment at Uluṟu is to ensure that your ceremony encapsulates your story while honouring the deep-seated heritage there. In doing so, we pay tribute to the traditional custodians of this land.

    Joining the long line of stories woven into this sacred land, adding our mark to the generations of human experiences that Uluṟu has borne witness to.

    Photo by Heart and Colour from Steph & Kieran’s elopement with The Elopement Collective.

    Enshittification reaches the wedding industry, revealing The Knot to be rotten

    Three former employees of The Knot have blown thy whitsle. Jennifer Croom Davidson, former Global Fashion Director; Rachel LaFera, former Director of Fine Jewelry; and Cindy Croom Elley, former Account Executive at The Knot, have since left, are out from under NDA, and they’re truth-telling about one of the world’s largest wedding industry companies: The Knot Worldwide.

    The Knot Worldwide is the current name of the parent company of WeddingWire, The Knot, The Bump, Hitched (which formerly had a presence in Australia, and disclosure, yours truly was a paid writer for them), a series of localised wedding directory websites through The Americas and Europe, and the Real Weddings TV show. They started as an AOL channel in 1996 and went to the open web in ‘97, and just before the dot com bubble burst they raised $35 million in their first IPO.

    Since then lots of corporate shit has occurred, most of which bores me as someone who prefers to be on the “tools” in the wedding industry, not in the C-suite, but the trio dropped the bomb on The Lioness in an extremely detailed expose revealing that advertisers don’t get what they’re paying for and the whole business is terribly run.

    This internal chatter among The Knot Worldwide’s customers is confirmed by looking at currently available web review sites; to this day, you can see complaints of contracts unfulfilled and impossible to get out of, and torrents of fake and spam leads. A recent Business Insider article also reveals that things are still amiss, reporting that 70–80 percent of the company’s leads are scams and that little to no inbound results from their advertising.

    PetaPixel sums it up well:

    Whistleblowers within the company say the supposed “swindling” issues began with vendors who purchased premium ads with the promise of generating new client leads, but instead were delivered spam content and even lost rankings within The Knot’s own ad-based search results.

    The enshittification of the internet spares no person and knows no bounds. It is sad to see one of the few companies that made it through the dot com bubble to be revealed as rotten.

    🗺️ Where’s Josh’o? An update

    Just going on the record for everyone who asks where we are, where we’re living now, and if we’re ever coming home to Australia: we’re in Italy then Paris and Singapore between now and getting home to the Gold Coast late August.

    I’m back to work and at your service making weddings and elopements from August 22, 2023.

    I’ve got travel around Australia and New Zealand for weddings and elopements through the end of this year and early next year before we head back to Europe in 2024.

    I’ve also had some requests for the USA if you’re interested in having me there too.

    June, July, and August 2024 for weddings and also elopements with The Elopement Collective and some of our team including Jason Corroto, House of Love Weddings, George Bowden, House Of Lucie, and Pearce Brennan.

    Finally, I wanted to address something a few people have lovingly brought to my attention “I thought you only did elopements”.

    I might be married to the @elopementcollective’s boss, but I create ceremony for all and sundry. Big weddings, small weddings, elopements, and corporate events as a master of ceremonies. As the band was named, I do weddings, parties, anything.

    So very formerly: I do weddings as well. If you know someone getting married somewhere in the world and you reckon we’d be a fit, let them know I exist!

    Fourteen

    The 14th of May is my celebrant anniversary and today in 2023 I begin my 15th year creating awesome marriage ceremonies for adventurous couples who really really like each other and believe that getting married matters.

    They say time is the best teacher so with 14 years a wedding celebrant, 41 years 5 months a human, 10 years 8 months a husband, 4 years 6 months a father, 3 years 1 month a silver fox, 32 years 2 months a computer nerd, 6 years 1 month a Qantas Platinum Frequent Flyer, 7 days a Parisian, and 24 years 10 months as best kitchen cleaner home medalist in my home state, ask me anything.

    The Rebel's Guide to Getting Married

    Most people don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing.

    They imitate others, go with the flow, and follow paths without making their own.

    They spend decades in pursuit of something that someone convinced them they should want, without realising that it won’t make them happy.

    Don’t be those people. Don’t be those people in planning your wedding.

    Reject the status quo. Reject the norm.

    Embrace who you are. Embrace the idea that people like you two get married like ‘this’! Embrace your weirdness, your uniqueness, the things that make the two of you a couple.

    This is the way of the rebel.

    This is the way you’ll find in The Rebel’s Guide To Getting Married.

    Throwback to that time ten years ago when I had awesome not-grey hair

    Me doing my job on Bruny Island on Thursday from two different points of view

    KATRINA  OSCAR 131KATRINA  OSCAR 119

    Follow-up to

    I’ve been extraordinarily blessed to have so many phone calls, messages, offers of help regarding my recent post, I’m not ok.

    I wanted to offer a few follow-up remarks:

    1. Donations: Some of the world’s most generous people have made offers of finance to us. I won’t say no, that’s rude, but I also am not asking. We’re provided for today, and luckily we have things to sell.
    2. Getting a new job: I have very mixed feelings about this. One one hand, I’m a really good celebrant, and people like what I create, and I’ve been blessed to create weddings around the globe, literally from Iceland to New Zealand and everywhere in between, and I really enjoy(ed) celebrancy before March 2020. On the other hand I have a responsibility to provide for myself and my family, and if one job isn’t available, get a new job. I’m honestly open to job offers for those who know my background and skills, the problem is that I have a large backlog of weddings and elopements that have to get done some day, and that would seemingly be a large burden to a new employer, to have me having random days off.
    3. My mental health: I think I’m ok mostly in that regard. I know that the last 17 months have been traumatic and left me scarred, but I’m not sitting here thinking bad thoughts. That said, I could do with seeing someone, I just don’t want to see the kind of psychologists I’ve seen in the past who seem quite clinical and have great breathing techniques - they’re fine - but I know how to breath now. I don’t know who I need to see, or if I can afford that, but if you know, let me know.
    4. Gratitude: A former colleague from when I was on breakfast radio, was kind enough and generous enough to lend me his ear over the phone recently, but he had a hidden and kind motive, to introduce me to The Resilience Project, so I’m working my way through that idea and working on a gratitude journal, and trying to get into that headspace. It’s not natural to me, but I’m getting there. Thanks Mat, you’ve always been so good to me.
    5. Further gratitude: As I’ve mentioned, so many have been kind enough to share, comment, tweet, message, DM, email me. You guys are the real MVP. I wanted to share for the same reason Britt and I shared we were pregnant with Goldie before the “time” you’re supposed to tell everyone. When we lost our first baby we told everyone a few days before we found out that the pregnancy wasn’t continuing. That sucked, but it was the best situation, because our friends and family were on the journey with us. Thank you for being on the journey with us. I don’t share for pity or to ask for donations. I share because we’re all in this together, warts and all.

    TL;DR:

    I’m ok, but not ok, and I’d like new work, but it’s complicated, and I have skills. I should talk to someone, but I talked to Mat, and I’m grateful. Thank you.

    A wedding celebrant’s Covid story: I’m not ok

    I see so many of my friends, and randoms I follow on the Internet, talking about lockdown and Covid has affected them.

    Stories of woe like having to takeaway instead of dine-in, holidaying in Australia instead of overseas, and some people have even been forced to share their home and their office with partners and children. Horrible stuff. And maybe for some of the unlucky ones you’ve had hours cut and some have lost jobs. It’s a tough time for all.

    The average Australian online complains about things I could dream of. How I would love to just go to work today.

    Over here in wedding-world, things are not looking good. The whole industry, all of us, are barely alive.

    Due to the nature of the wedding industry, payment is made before the wedding, often more than a month before, sometimes many months. Which was lovely for a period there, because although we couldn’t work, at least we had money. JobKeeper brought some relief early on as well, though with mixed results, also JobKeeper wasn’t built for an industry that is in perpetual postponement. See how it ended in March?

    That’s the issue with weddings compared to the entertainment and hospitality industry. Weddings are planned well in advance with very particular attendees coming from across the globe, and they are extremely intimate and personal events deeply shrouded in emotion and feeling.

    You might be upset to not see a comedy or music show, but when your wedding is postponed for the second and third time you start to wonder whether the coronavirus is actually reading your wedding invitations.

    Here in August 2021 I’m seeing 90% of the next three months of work being postponed to next year, and I’m getting calls from couples well into next year asking if they can postpone later. Most of these couples are on their third, fourth, and for at least one, their sixth wedding plan.

    Most paid me a year or more ago. Some are just calling quits on the whole thing, demanding a refund - that I can’t afford to give - so they’re taking me to court. I’ve had over $90,000 of cancelled work across our two brands tht my wife and I manage.

    The extra vector of pain for us is that for the last decade we’ve been stupid enough to build an international and interstate brand. Most of my work, almost all of my work in 2019 and 2020, was a flight away. So in rescheduling we need the couple, myself, their guests, and the state government’s to all co-ordinate. Hell.

    Plus no-one in their right mind is booking a wedding today. I wouldn’t. With rolling lockdowns being announced with six hours notice on a Saturday (thanks Queensland, you lovely asses), there’s no way in hell I’d be planning to host a wedding today.

    And the beautiful thing is that I can’t even take a new job today because the couples who have already contracted me for their wedding or elopement expect me to turn up next week - unless they postpone because then they expect me to turn up next year.

    So what do we do?

    I’m studying a Certificate IV in Real Estate so I can take a new job if there is one, we’re selling our investments, and depleting our savings. We apply for the $750 Covid disaster payment and wait for any other assistance my 24 years of taxation might be able to provide.

    I guess the only main takeaway you should have is that if you’re getting married in the next few years, expect to be surprised at the cost - you’ll be paying for the covid-injuries the industry sustained.

    And when events are back on, go support the legends in the arts and entertainment industries, they’re hurting like the wedding industry is.


    I’ve published a follow-up here.

    I’m speaking at the Wedding Business CEO Summit

    Registration is officially open for the Wedding Business CEO Summit!

    This summit is hosted by, and created by my friend Heidi, to help wedding business owners go from overwhelmed & overworked to streamlined & more profitable than ever.

    I’m speaking along with 24 other incredible speakers with topics ranging from finances, pricing, integration, going full-time and everything in between. I’m talking about creating a meaningful and fun customer journey!

    The summit kicks off on Australia Day and it’s going to be 5 action-packed days that you won’t want to miss!

    Click through my short link josh.show/summit to learn more and get your free ticket!

    the difference between a wedding and an elopement and why that’s important

    Call me biased, but I’m really proud of what Britt has created in The Elopement Collective. Not just because she’s my wife or because I’m her celebrant for her elopements.

    I’m proud of what she creates because it has heart, soul, and purpose. Tune in below for a hot take on elopements.

    2020’s really been the year for eloping, and I’ve watched on as everyone in the wedding industry has a go. It’s been interesting seeing what people have made, and how couples have gotten married.

    Here is the thing. An elopement is purely and only about two people getting married. It’s not a small wedding, it’s not a micro wedding, it’s not a pop up wedding. Elopements aren’t a photo shoot with a ceremony at the start, they aren’t a styled shoot with some vows, they aren’t about catering, styling, furniture, photos, film, florals, dresses, or venues. An elopement can have witnesses, but it’s not about them, it’s not about entertaining them, feeding them, occupying them, or hosting them.

    An elopement is 100% and only about two people transitioning into marriage. If someone sees it, that’s cream. If it happens somewhere lovey, that looks pretty, what a bonus. If we get a photo or two, and a film, we’re in luck.

    A wedding is about your guests, family and friends. An elopement is about the two of you.

    I’ll selfishly and proudly say that because The Elopement Collective was born out of a strong belief in the power of marriage and ceremony, we make the best elopements.

    I’m proud of you Britt, you’re my rockstar.

    I’m forecasting that within 12 months the remaining non-greys will be turned to the grey-side as we embark upon what will be our busiest and most taxing year ever. 2021 sees Britt and I with a newborn, a toddler, new 2021 weddings and elopements, and also most of 2020’s couples.

    My friend Geoff at Motion Art Cinema said we should take before and after photos to see how 2021 ages us.

    Bring it on 2021!

    Whatever your wedding photographer is charging you, Luna will beat their packages by 10%.

    Wedding has to start after her midday nap and she’ll need a never ending supply of Smarties.

    This is Maddie and Casey’s elopement, with me creating the marriage ceremony, photographed by Bec Zacher Photography for The Elopement Collective on the Sunshine Coast.

    What do I actually do?

    I lead my whole life in preparation to be your celebrant. Living the joy in my own marriage, leading my family, enjoying my friendships, travelling, living, drinking, sleeping, and eating, preparing for this succinct and breathtaking moment in your wedding. We’ll have meetings, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, coffees and beers. We email, talk, text, and DM, over months and years.

    You walk down this aisle, everyone cheers, and then the crowd hushes.

    You’re standing here, holding hands, and everyone waits for me to start talking.

    What do I say? How do I say it? What vibe do I leave? How long do I speak for? Will it be too long or too short? Do I say and pronounce your name correctly? Will my PA speaker system actually work? How will everyone feel? Will I do anything awkward or weird? Do you trust me? What kind of marriage are we talking about?

    It all comes down to that moment where I bring the microphone to my mouth and starting dropping syllables.

    Someone watching me create a ceremony recently said that I just “ad-libbed” the ceremony because I didn’t read from a script. It’s so much more than that. I have to stand there confident about what I’m going to say after asking myself all those questions I just mentioned, and do it with a calm and happy demeanour, without burying my face and voice in a script.

    I arrive an hour or more early, and I wait while you’re late, then stay around after to help with group photos or to help your Nanna to the reception.

    I live an entire life preparing for these 18-minute-long moments we call a marriage ceremony. And it’s amazing, I’m so grateful I get to be that guy. Thank you for inviting me in.

    The 2019 marriage statistics have been released and there’s been a bit of a drop ...

    The latest Australian marriage statistics have been released, strap in for some nerdiness! Thanks to my Celebrant Institute colleague, Sarah for her help deciphering these numbers.

    Saturday October 19, 2019 - that was the most popular day to be married in Australia last year. In the most popular season, whilst March was the most popular month, and all marriages were down 4.5% from 2018 to 2019.

    The big change was that marriages by civil celebrants continue to increase, with 80.3% of all marriage ceremonies in 2019 created by a civil celebrant.

    And the early data from the ABS shows an almost 32% drop in marriages for the first half of this year.

    When comparing counts of marriages between April and June with averages for the same period over the past five years (2015-2019), in 2020 marriages were down 62%.

    Quick side note, queer marriages were thought to have boomed in 2018 and settled down in number in 2019, but they’ve stayed about the same, from 5.5% in 2018 to 4.9% in 2019.

    This is Olly and Emily and me in Port Macquarie on the 19th of October 2019, photographed by Mitch Pohl and you really ought to see their li’l motion picture by Bottle Brush Films

    Someone asked me recently what my personal brand strategy was.

    I just see go to places, see cool things, make photos of them, and post the photos online where they get 2-3 likes.

    I’m not very good at being strategically cool.

    Scrolling through our wedding photos and remembered a time when people had pocket computers with physical keyboards …

    “How many fingers am I holding up?” Before every ceremony I conduct a quick and easy eyesight with your guests. It’s all part of the #marriedbyjosh service.

    Me at Alex and Laura’s wedding in Adelaide, photographed by Mike Hemus.

    Unknown bride looking person

    As a wedding celebrant, this is my 2020 email template:

    Hi! We start the email with factual text that sucks because COVID is ruining more wedding plans. But then conclude with a sentence ending with an exclamation mark & a smiley face so we still seem like nice people! :)

    ”A crisis doesn’t have to be a negative event. A wedding is a crisis–one ceremony, one day, over and done. All eyes, all attention, all on this moment. That’s why we do it–even though the chronic condition of the marriage itself is always more important.”

    Seth Godin, on a useful crisis

    On the off chance that there are people that can’t make it to your wedding, I stream your wedding with epic video and audio quality, so everyone feels like they’re right there … even though they’re at home.

    Video streaming is included for free for everyone that books me!

    It’s really good that one of our local Brisbane wedding venues can host your little footy final this afternoon, Melbourne.

    We’re glad to help any time you need.

    Lots of love,

    Josh, Queensland.

    Anyone else struggling getting their head in a good and peaceful place at the moment?

    Luke Fletcher just sent me this pic of Luna from this time last year when we were in New York together for an elopement with The Elopement Collective.

    My brain is in a constant state of change, one minute thinking about how nice it is to be at home and to pick Luna up from kindy, next minute I’m thinking about the 44 of our couples who have booked us but don’t have a new date yet and the 180 movements our couples have made to their wedding and elopement plans around the globe, then my mind wanders to the administrative nightmare that is my computer and my inbox and how I should probably accidentally drop the MacBook into a pond to save me cleaning up the files on the desktop, and before long my mind wanders to the reality of our 2020 and where we were supposed to be have been right now, and how a little virus has changed all that. From there it’s not long before I start thinking about the government policies around it all, and what that means for the state of our society and how our futures will all be dramatically different.

    I feel such an emotional burden for our couples, for the people contacting me about new wedding plans, and so many of my friends that are battling the same burdens.

    Like my own personal antenna in my mind is tuning into everything going on everywhere, so much noise, chaos, and pure humanity. It’s beautiful, and strange, and chaotic, and weird.

    It’s a weird 2020, and I feel like it’s going to be a weird 2021, I’m not sure my head will ever be in a peaceful place again.

    Shout out to Rob Bell for his podcast about our antennas. It was a weird embrace to acknowledge where my head is at today.

    It’s a strange time to be a guy who stands in the middle of your marriage ceremony and breathes your marriage to life.

    The most friction in my life this year is my longing desire to see the sun finally set on 2020, whilst also acknowledging my deep desire to be present today, to be aware of what I am learning as running a wedding business becomes ever harder, how I am developing as I attend court mediations on the phone or have hard conversations with people, what weaknesses are being exposed when it all becomes too much, and which relationships really matter when you decide who to call or text about what’s going on, through this pandemic.

    Not that the actual illness has affected me, I’m healthy apart from bloody hay fever, but in protecting ourselves and our community from the virus, we’ve lost so much else.

    It’s a weird situation. Every day I see people commenting about Covid policies, and I can’t help but feel that if we stopped and took a deep breath that we might draw closer together as a community through this instead of forming deeper divisions between us depending on which politician you think is better.