We recently had a chat with Camille Abbott about Celebrant life –
• How did you get into being a celebrant?
Haha – it’s all my brother’s fault!
He knew that he wanted to include me in a special way during his commitment ceremony to my now sister-in-law (over 10 years ago). In his typical ‘all or nothing’ fashion, he decided that I should be the person to conduct it.
Like, run the whole ceremony!
I remember asking him during the phonecall “and how would I go about that?” and him responding “isn’t that what the internet’s for?”
So my first ceremony was an induction by fire, but as it turned out, I did pretty well. And when my favourite uncle came up to me afterwards to congratulate me, he also added ‘I think you’ve found your thing, Camille’.
I attained my qualifications shortly after that and, although it took around 18 months to get registered by the Attorney-General’s office, I was excited and nervous in equal parts to start conducting legal ceremonies as a civil celebrant from September 2008.
[ Credit to Dan Evans Photography ]
• Why do you enjoy what you do?
Oh, man – there are so many facets of being a full-time marriage celebrant that absolutely rock my world.
But I think it’s the job-specific perks really set it apart; helping gorgeous couples in love to express themselves authentically in front of their nearest and dearest on one of the most celebrated days of their lives.
Making them feel empowered and confident in doing things their own way. I love to watch them shine and their guests to respond to that with tears, cheers and knowing nods.
The high that I used to get from playing gigs as a musician, when I was much younger, just can’t compare to the experience of conducting a kick-ass ceremony.
• What are the biggest misconceptions about wedding celebrants?
Hmm, I guess one of the biggest would be the idea that my job consists of just the 20 minutes of the ceremony.
On average, I will spend 15-18 hours in meetings, answering emails/phone calls, completing legal paperwork, traveling, conducting rehearsals, writing several script drafts and other associated tasks per wedding.
The other thing that I don’t think is widely understood is that every celebrant does those tasks very differently.
Apart from the Marriage Celebrant Code of Conduct, celebrants don’t operate under any standard of business, require a minimum level of experience or service level or have to charge a set fee.
So, while you can book a celebrant for a couple of hundred dollars to ‘make it legal’, those who run fulltime businesses and offer premium services to deliver unique ceremonies for every couple and those who go the step further to coach couples through the process (understandably) charge more.
It’s like comparing apples and oranges, you know? And most couples don’t understand the difference and the huge impact of choosing the right celebrant for you can have on your wedding day.
• What book or resource should a bride or groom read before their wedding?
Unbridely (my wedding blog) – hands down!
It’s exactly why I created it with the help of my trusted colleagues and wedding industry pros; to help couples navigate their way through the wedding planning process with practical and relevant advice while experiencing less stress.
In the lead up to a wedding, what have you noticed your clients doing that ensures a great wedding experience?
You know what? You can pick them within the first 2 minutes of chatting.
They are the ones who understand that gravity will still occur on their wedding day. They know that it may be sunny, but there may also be rain.
They know that he world won’t stop for them and with that perspective, their expectations are realistic and consequently they have a much better chance of enjoying their wedding day and maybe even some of the planning process too.
I LOVE those couples!
• What trends have you noticed over the last 12 months?
There is a definite focus and an increased appreciation for smaller wedding celebrations.
Less people, but not always cheaper, as such.
I’m finding more couples are treating themselves and their guests to an exceptional experience, whether that be the very best champagne, live music, a food truck for midnight munchies or gin bar.
Micro weddings are gaining in popularity too – an abbreviated ceremony and photos sometimes followed by a separate big party with everyone else later on. Smart!
• How can people get in contact with you?