What Would They Know? Russ Macumber of Russ Macumber Celebrant

by | Ceremony Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Polka Dot Bride
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If you want to inject a shot of zest for life, energy and passion into your Monday morning then I suggest you read this interview with Russ Macumber Celebrant. Exuding fun and warmth, Russ is nevertheless serious about delivering a high-quality ceremony to begin your married life together. It’s important to him that your ceremony is memorable, not only for you but for your guests as well. Russ’ unscripted style comes from many years of public speaking and DJ experience and an ability to read his audience – and in among the serious and touching moments, he could just deliver some surprises along the way! Russ is also dedicated to adding to his sneaker collection, the NBA, music and finding a good parma – so we’d expect he’d have some surprises up his sleeve to add to the fun. Enjoy this interview with this dynamic celebrant!

What attracted you to celebrancy as a profession?

Most wedding ceremonies are forgettable, “when does the bar open?” vibe, boring…at least most of the ceremonies I used to go to. I’ve always thought what a waste! No-one goes to a wedding in a bad mood, all the guests are pumped for the couple and for a chance to hang with their crew and party.

I saw an awesome celebrant officiate for my brother-in-law and sister-in-law a few years back in Albury. He had a real fun energy, was a bit younger (not that age has anything to do with fun energy), and just brought a real friendly vibe to proceedings. He bantered with the audience, made us laugh, and I remember afterwards, drinking champagne in the botanic gardens with all our crew, and saying to each other “who knew a wedding ceremony could be so much fun!”

I got into this to bring some fun, some spontaneity, some real feels type stuff along with big laughs!

Image by Daniel Milligan Photography

What is your background that led you to becoming a celebrant?

Well, probably a mix of ‘performing’. I’ve been a public speaker for 15+ years in my day jobs, and have MC’d events large and small over that time. I was also a DJ for over 10 years in Melbourne’s club scene (my wife and I met at Revolver after one of my sets many years ago). So, once our kids arrived and I hung up my DJ headphones, I was probably unconsciously looking for an opportunity to get in front of large groups again. So it seemed like a good fit and a fun way to bring something different to weddings.

How long have you been in the wedding industry?

I’ve been a celebrant for just over three years, and have stood up front with happy couples close to 200 times. It’s still a rush.

Image by I Got You Babe Wedding Photography

What is great about being a celebrant today?

Couples are feeling more and more free to do their own thing, bring their own character and energy to their wedding. I also love that my couples totally dig my unscripted style, they love being surprised in the moment along with the audience.

How would you describe your style?

Unscripted, relaxed, fun. I never downplay how big a deal a marriage is…but I also know that for every ‘ohh’ sighing moment of reflection, there is an opportunity to turn the ceremony on a dime and bring a huge laugh.

Image by JB Event Photographer

What do you bring to ceremonies that sets you apart?

Making stuff up on the fly, in the moment, based on my ability to really ‘get’ my couples and read and control a crowd.

What sorts of couples does your style appeal to?

Couples that are independent in their planning. Want something different, fun, relaxed, REAL. My wife and I included way too much of what we thought our parents wanted in our wedding…I encourage my couples to keep true to themselves. It’s your day, not your parents’.

To give you time to complete the legalities, how far out from the wedding should couples book your services?

My couples book me anywhere from 6-18 months before their wedding, but I book out pretty far in advance – I’m pretty much full for 2018, and 2019 is filling pretty fast too.

Image courtesy of Russ Macumber Celebrant

What is the process when booking your services?

After I get the enquiry and confirm I’m available, we’ll set up a time to Skype or meet in person. If we vibe, I then send through a booking form and we’re up and away. Simples!

Do you write the whole ceremony? What input do couples have?

I write it all, but with a heap of personalised prep to ensure a unique and relevant ceremony. That said, my ceremonies don’t look like a long word for word script. I have talking points (bullet points) which I refer to and riff off.

How long does it take you to craft a ceremony?

Jeez, it varies; how long is a piece of string?! Could be five-10 hours in total? Sometimes all the prep goes out the window in the moment, if Uncle Bruce keeps piping up and wants to be involved in the ceremony, well, Imma change things up and the structure goes out the window!

How many appointments do you need with the couple?

We meet two-three times before the wedding, pending their needs. Could be in person or via Skype. My couples are usually pretty time poor so I am very efficient at communicating via email between meetings.

Image courtesy of Russ Macumber Celebrant

Do you feel that wedding rehearsals are important? How much guidance do you give the wedding party just before the ceremony?

I always hold a final briefing meeting with my couples in the week or two before the big day, so they are fully aware of what is happening when, on the big day.

Are you able to give us some examples of readings that are popular right now?

Song lyrics are always my fave, I set them up to take the audience by surprise “A contemporary piece by one of BRIDE/GROOMs favourite writers”…Plus I’m a massive hip-hop head so I always love a good deadpan reciting of ole g-funk or Wu-Tang.

What are some ways the couple can get family involved in the ceremony?

I like bringing different stuff that your crew haven’t seen before – singalongs are always fun, as are flash mob readings.

What are some other things should we know about you (as far as being a celebrant)?

I’m super relaxed but very organised – I will be the least stressful part of your wedding day.

Image by I Got You Babe Wedding Photography

How do you plan a work/life balance from day to day?

Very organised blocks. I have set times blocked out every week in my calendar for business, set times for family, set times for Ange (wife). I don’t deviate. Family always comes first, but when I am with my couples I am 1000% present and ready to rock.

What are your interests outside of work?

Family – I have four kids all aged under six! I’m obsessed with the NBA (Miami Heat…but I’ll watch any good game). My sneaker collection. Hip-hop. Disco. House music. Just any music that makes you move.

Your favourite thing to do with your family?

Discovering music we all love and can go crazy to in the car. The halfway point for me with the kids is usually something like Drake, possibly Kendrick Lamar or even Bruno Mars, or something on the vocal house tip.

Image by JB Event Photographer

Thank you Russ for sharing your story. We think that ceremonies with Russ would have a great mix of serious and funny – and we know that your guests will walk away with great memories. To find out more about Russ Macumber Celebrant visit the website.

Headshot courtesy of Russ Macumber Celebrant. 

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