Married By Josh

After attending a family wedding years ago as a guest, Josh found there was a disconnect between his expectations of what the ceremony should be and the ceremony that took place.

It was a lullaby.

It reflected maybe a funeral.

Just weird.

He knew weddings should be fun, they should be celebrations and this lead him to where he is now.

Josh was kind enough to give up some of his time to come have a chat with me about what he does and why he does it so well.

Based in the Gold Coast, Josh and his wife run three different wedding businesses servicing couples unique needs. As a celebrant Josh helps over 250 couples a year all across Australia to celebrate their union, Josh is relentlessly enthusiastic about his work, clearly loves what he does and is also very good at it.

Oh, and apologies to all the cake makers.

We love you.

and your cakes.

Video Transcript Below

Sam: I’m Sam, Day in the Life of Photography.

Josh: I’m Joshua. Hello.

Sam: Can you tell us a bit about what you do, how you got started?

Josh: I’m a marriage celebrant. I make really awesome marriage ceremonies. That’s my thing. I want marriage ceremonies to be the best part of the wedding. I think they deserve that. I think being the business part of the day, that it should be the centre point of the event that is the wedding. That’s when you get married, that’s when the spotlight has shown on you and your partner. I think the ceremony should just be the best part, the most meaningful part, the most enjoyable part, the most comfortable part. Everything leading up to that is just prepping for that moment that is the ceremony. Everything after that is just an after party. It should be an awesome after party. Not to downplay everything else in the day but I think the ceremony is a meeting or beating the rest of the day then the celebrant’s done a terrible job.

Sam: The rest of the day is a celebration of the ceremony.

Josh: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely. How was the ceremony? Absolutely. I like that.

Sam: That’s great. What do you bring to couples to make that the best part of the day?

Josh: I bring I suppose me to be brutally honest. I suppose what that means is I’ve got heads of experience as a public speaker, as someone who has lead crowds and conversations that matter for years. I bring my PA system. I think sounds really important to a ceremony.

Sam: That’s a big thing. I’ve heard there’s very massive variance in what different celebrants bring to the ceremony. Good quality one is very useful.

Josh: Yeah. I also think there’s a really personal nature to the ceremony. I bring my relationship with you. I suppose what that means is obvious most people before we meet me we don’t have a relationship. My job between now and the ceremony is to form a relationship with you.

Sam: Do you meet with couples a couple of times, once, twice before the ceremony? Or how does that kind of go?

Josh: At least once. At least once because that’s what relationship they’re catching up. I do want to try to get to know you. That’s different for every couple because that’s a personal relationship. For celebrant’s some of us it’s going to be catch up three, four, five, six times. Some couples I’ve met with some of ten times. That’s not to say that they’re a hard client. You might hear that they are and they’re in it for the really difficult people. Everyone’s different. Everyone communicates differently. Everyone has friendships differently. Everyone has relationships and friendships and these meaningful moments at pure weddings, they’re different for everyone. There’s no exact limit. At least once. Probably max 400 times.

Sam: Just absolutely max.

Josh: Absolutely max. [inaudible 03:08]

Sam: How much can couples get into the running of the ceremony and how do they go about that?

Josh: I’ll answer that in the same why it was answered. It’s a unique way of answering. Ask any question and I’ve got a unique answer. Ideally they have no input into the running of the ceremony but stay with me.

Sam: I’m with you.

Josh: Because for 99.99 percent of the clients, they’ve never run a ceremony. They have no idea how to do a marriage ceremony. If you do, then let’s have a chat about that. I’m the expert on that. That’s what I do. When it comes to input, a million percent input on what they do in the ceremony but as far as you doing it, I’d hope that I could take the lead on that. Somebody could misunderstand that and I want to make sure everyone understands that it’s your wedding, not mine. But in the end, I am running it. I’m the guy with the mic. It has to be true for me, true for you, true for the setting, for the environment, for the community gathered around. That’s why I need to get to know before the ceremony. Because if I don’t know you, then I can’t do that. If we haven’t talked about this is special to us or this is not special to us, this is an awkward thing or these people are being in the crowd and that matters for this reason. All of that’s really valuable input but that’s not written grounds to running a ceremony as in regards to the contents of it, what happens.

I ask a lot of questions about that. I had a meeting with a couple this morning. I asked them lots of awkward questions. I said, why me? Why am I your celebrant? I asked why are you getting married? They’re getting married in a month. No one up until this point has asked them why they’re getting married. That isn’t like I’m going to interrogate you like, why are you getting married? It’s more so I want to make sure that I know why they’re getting married. So that when I talk about it …

Sam: So you know what’s special to them and their relationship.

Josh: Yeah. I’m knowledgeable about it [inaudible 05:28] it’s not about me being a smart ass or something. Does that answer that?

Sam: Yeah. It does. That’s what I was getting at, more of the content and what’s special to them and you obviously get that from getting to know them and building that really good personal relationship. Do you have different packages or is it just flat based lead? Like, do your ceremony and we get to know each other like we said whether it’s one or four hundred times, whatever’s needed.

Josh: I have three different brands. Each brand has a package.

Sam: Right.

Josh: Which, probably doesn’t answer the question well for people that aren’t in business. But no, when you got to and say, I want Josh to be my celebrant for my wedding. I only have one thing I do. I do really amazing wedding ceremonies. It’s funny. I always have people … I don’t know if you’ve had this. We’re already having so many guests and there’s not really a scenario where number of guests would, I don’t know, matter. Oh, you’re only having 489 guests, wow. My B package only supports 480 guests. There’s obviously a point where a PA system might matter but not. It’s always funny hearing people say that. It’s beautiful that you know [inaudible 07:01]. I have one package. I do one thing well, awesome marriage ceremonies. There’s an add on to that where I can be your MC but that doesn’t really happen. We’ve gone through the legal hurdles of getting ready for marriage.

There’s a conflict of interest situation where I need to make sure that you reach the legal requirements for marriage and there’s months where we’ve gone through those with being your celebrant and being your MC. The other brands I have one of them’s called the webbing collective and that’s not even my brand, that’s my wife’s brand Brit. A local collecting requirement. She creates elopements and she’s amazing at that. I’m obviously the celebrant for those elopements. We also have another business called the paper ware code where we just literally look after the marriage ceremony paperwork. No guests perse. You do need two witnesses. Sometimes you provide them sometimes we do. But we just do the paperwork and sign.

Sam: Just make it so it’s nice and easy.

Josh: Just make it so because what we value isn’t weddings. What we value is marriage. We value marriage and we value celebrating people. We think that if we can somehow celebrate two people, shine the spotlight on them in a way that matters to them, if we can celebrate a marriage, and if we can make a marriage that’s a pretty good day to get that work. But if I was to leave this Earth tomorrow, I think cool. I’ve done well. We’ve made good marriages, we’ve celebrated people.

Sam: That’s great. That’s good. Catering to basically three different levels of what people want out of a wedding or more like you said, out of marriage.

Josh: Pretty much.

Sam: Married By Josh, who would you say your ideal couple is?

Josh: My ideal couple, I have a couple that they want to get married. When that happens, they want to have an awesome party. They still value that moment where we all pause, kind of the record … we all pause and we just celebrate their marriage beginning. They’re the kind of people that they celebrate anniversaries or they celebrate their first date every year, they’re timing for their first one of the day. They like Facebook memories. They value the little things, those important moments, and they probably value more so experiences over things. The people that hire me, they’re probably like to get in a plane as opposed to getting a new TV. They like to live life. I think that’s my ideal client. Plus, when we get together, we can share recommendations for cafes in Manhattan and stuff like that. Yeah, that’s my ideal client I think.

Sam: How long have you been doing Married By Josh?

Josh: I’ve been a marriage celebrant since May 2009.

Sam: Anniversaries again.

Josh: Knowing years ago. I became a celebrant in May 2009. After about a year of going through the application process and answering questions and references and all that kind of gig, that happened after about a year of study, which came after a couple years of me thinking I wonder if this could be a thing I do. I wonder if me making marriage ceremonies could actually be a thing.

Sam: When you started looking into that, what was it? Were you married at the time or were you not married?

Josh: No. I wasn’t married. I was actually at my aunties funeral. Not that thing. I was at her wedding I distinctly remember driving up to [Harvey Bay 11:08] and just thinking, this is good. This moment. This thing we’re all going to, this is good. We’re excited about this. We’re happy that she’s getting married. He’s a good guy, she’s a good chick. They’re good for each other. Them being in a marriage, double thumbs up kind of effort. We were happy. We were happy and excited. Then it got to the ceremony and that ceremony didn’t reflect that. It reflected, I don’t know, a lullaby. It reflected maybe a funeral. It reflected just weird. I don’t know. I thought there was a really awkward disconnect there between the marriage being created and celebrated and what actually happened. That was a pretty terrible disconnect. Why did that exist? That was easy. That was probably 15 years ago. Happily married now.

Sam: That’s great. Obviously made you clearly bring a lot of enthusiasm and respect to the ceremony.

Josh: Yeah. I’ve heard of other celebrants and they became a celebrant because they thought it’d be good money. I don’t think anyone’s border leaning on celebrant money. I don’t know whether that’s a real thing. I think it’s valuable and I think it’s important. That’s why I do it. It just so happens that I want to actually build a life off the back of this business. First we charge what we charge and we do what we do and that’s why. Not because we’re going to get rich or not because we’re going to rot everyone and rip them off but because we think this is valuable. We think this is important. Good day.

Sam: You clearly want to do it well.

Josh: Yeah. No one wants a terrible ceremony. I imagine that right now as people are watching this, no ones sitting there thinking, I’m still tossing up to either a good wedding or a shit wedding. Let’s not rule out shit wedding.

Sam: Final thoughts. You have one piece of advice to couple’s at any part of their planning stage for their wedding, what do you think it would be?

Josh: Just question everything. What I mean by that is not to be a douche bag and just why, why, why. But if you’re doing something, know why you’re doing it. If you’re getting married, know why. Because when you know your why, that’ll flow right through everything else that you’re doing in the day. That’ll flow through the theme or the close or whatever. If you’re just wearing a wedding dress because that’s what you do at a wedding, then you’re not going to value the wedding dress. If you’re wearing a dress because you love that dress and this is a valuable day to and you want to honour the event by dressing appropriately, then wear a nice dress because that’s what you do when you go to nice places. As opposed to, just doing stuff because that’s what you do. In many of my ceremonies as we’re exchanging rings, I’ll say hopefully you’re not exchanging rings because that’s what you do at a wedding. I hope that today you’re exchanging a ring because you want a symbol on your hand that says, I am married and that’s awesome.

You’ll look at that ring and say, yeah. Married. Life is really good because I’m married. That’s what I hope is happening. Everything is happening. If you don’t value photography, I don’t know how you got to this video. But if you don’t, don’t hire a photographer. There’s no legal requirement for you to have a photographer. I’m sure, would you hate rocking up at a wedding if they didn’t value what you did?

Sam: No.

Josh: Would that be the worst day?

Sam: Yeah, absolutely.

Josh: Would you just rather be in bed?

Sam: Yeah. It doesn’t make for a good time if you’re not there because you want to be there and have all the certain things that you’ve got there.

Josh: I had a couple who they didn’t want videography but mum did. I said, mum had a videographer and the videographer had a terrible day because the videographer was being paid. I think there were about a four and a half thousand dollar videographer. Video is expensive. Video is intense.

Sam: It is a lot off work.

Josh: They’re being paid a lot of money to turn up and just be hated all day. Money is nice. Being appreciated is better. If you value something, get it. If you can’t afford it, save or scrimp or just don’t have that or whatever. Just let everything in the day be valuable and purposeful and meaningful. Let that be the theme of the day. Everything that’s there has purpose and meaning. If you’re going to toss a bouquet, know why you’re doing it. Even if it’s just for fun, at least then you know why. I had a couple a few weeks ago and I was emceeing the reception. I said, do you need to cut the cake? We don’t know why you cut the cake. I don’t know why you cut the cake. Do you know why they cut the cake? I don’t know why. I’ve always heard we had reasons. The photographer goes, we need to get the cutting of the cake shot. I said, they don’t want to get a cutting the cake shot. I don’t want to get a cutting the cake shot. She said, well I want a cutting the cake shot. Well if you want a cutting the cake shot there’s a knife.

Sam: A little selfie.

Josh: Yeah, a little selfie. She managed to convince the couple to get one. That’s cool. Do what you like, it’s fine. Don’t cut the cake if you don’t want to cut the kitchen staff. Be very careful with cutting cakes. If you don’t want a cake, don’t have a cake. Drop the cake. You don’t need a cake. But if want a cake, have a thousand cakes. I’m not advocating for or against any particular thing.

Sam: For or against cakes. No?

Josh: I’m not going to be the guy that sits here and is against cakes. That would not be good for business. Imagine being a celebrant, the anti cake celebrant.

Sam: Niche market.

Josh: Me and my five mates will set over here. [inaudible 17:27] all signs made up. It’ll be great.

Sam: [inaudible 17:34]

Josh: Gosh. At least they’ll remember something from this. They’ll say, fuck cakes.

Sam: That’s awesome. Great note to end on.

Josh: I’m sorry mum. I’m sorry to shine this disgrace your highness.

Sam: Just have to make sure we’re not interviewing any cake makers.

Josh: The last thing I need to do is de friend the cake makers. I love cakes.

Sam: Thanks mate. Thanks a lot.

sam gilmore