When a celebrant describes themselves as a ‘love hustler’, ‘wedding whisperer’ and a ‘party starter’, you know you’re going to have a fun and unique event! That’s exactly what you’ll get with Jo Booth Event Celebrant. Her energy and enthusiasm for her job shines through in today’s interview. With a background in event management, Jo knows exactly what’s needed to create an amazing event and a memorable ceremony. She has multiple packages to suit different types of weddings, and is also up for anything – if you want to get married on horseback? Sure! Or on skis? Or a standup paddle board? She’ll make it work. You can also hire her as your MC for your reception. Talk about multi-talented!
Where are you based?
Sydney, I live next door to the CBD. St Mary’s Cathedral is in my backyard.
Do you travel for weddings?
For sure. I love a good road trip.
How long have you been a celebrant?
I’ve been a celebrant now for exactly six months as I type this, and I already know that this will be my new career. I friggin’ LOVE hitching people. You are getting people on one of the best days of their lives (hopefully) and you are all there to celebrate the amazing gift of LURVE!
Why did you want to become one?
I decided to become a celebrant during the marriage equality plebiscite (debacle). I could see how painful this was for my gay friends, that they had to stand up, protest and fight to justify what should have been a given. I decided I need to be part of the solution. After having a ‘spirited discussion’ with an acquaintance who had an opposing view I decided, right there and then “Well I am going to marry any two people who want to be married. So, stick it!”. I really owe that person a beer because I followed through and new door has opened, and I am LOVING IT.
Image: Girl in the White Dress
What do you love about your job?
You are getting people on one of their best days. Everyone is there to celebrate LOVE. Families and friends come together to usher in the next chapter of two people’s lives. I mean what a brilliant concept. In this world of so much noise and competition, two people have found each other and decided to bind their lives together. I get to make that happen FOR REALS. I bloody love my job.
How would you describe your celebrant style?
Oh I love to laugh, and I think humour brings out the best in us. However, I tell couples I can do serious and sombre if that’s what you want, its just not a great ‘colour’ on me. But it’s THEIR day, if they want formal and romantic then that’s what I’ll do. But me, I am relaxed and open, and I think I’m pretty funny. I mean I make myself laugh all the time.
What sets you apart from other celebrants?
I will go the extra mile for every one of my couples. If anyone asked for me to do an interpretive dance of how they met I would only ask “to what music?”. I really like to quiz my couples, ask loads of questions about what they envision for their ceremony, how do they want to feel, how do they want their guests to feel. Just as importantly what DON’T you want. Have they been to a ceremony and saw something that doesn’t ring true for them? I want to know everything so I can tailor a ceremony that will not just meet their expectations but hopefully blow their socks (or heels) off.
Image: Girl in the White Dress
Tell us three surprising facts about your job…
- I rehearse my ceremonies many times before hand. First of all, to my dog (she is a harsh critic) and then I record it and I listen to it while I get ready and then when I am travelling to the ceremony. That way my head isn’t down reading the whole time and it can be a more natural ceremony
- Celebrants often forget to eat – the adrenalin pumps for ages after a ceremony and you’re on a high, until the adrenalin dumps you like a bad boyfriend and you are exhausted. Then starving.
- Most of us carry an ‘emergency kit’ – this is for the bridal party just in case something happens. They need a safety pin, or there’s a little stain or someone forgot to eat. “Never fear I have a protein ball in my bag. Hold tight”
How far in advance do couples need to book you in?
Look, I’m not gonna lie. Because I am a newbie my calendar is kind of open right now. Having said that I have completed five weddings and have 10 more booked for the next 10 months. But as long as we have a month’s notice to get the paperwork sorted, if I am available for your date I would love to chat about it with you some more.
What’s the process after booking you in?
Once the couple has gotten in touch I send a booking form and they need to pay the booking fee if they want me to hold their date for them. Once that is sorted then I will send them a special booklet I have created called “How to build a whizz bang ceremony and other important marriage stuff”. This booklet has ALL the info and hints they will need to get them excited about their ceremony and how create the one of their dreams.
Next, we will meet to fill out the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) and we chat about the ceremony they are looking for, the venue and I dig around to get more info on them as a couple. At this meeting I also give them (and send a soft copy by email) of the Couples Questionnaire. This is my secret weapon to find out all about them. Its better done individually (I get so much juicy and funny responses separately) and sent back to me separately. It’s this questionnaire and that interview that helps me write an amazing ceremony script. IF THAT’S WHAT THEY WANT. If they want short and sweet of course I can do that too. I always like to do to a rehearsal with couples if possible, if not in person then a long chat over the phone is good too. I find these take away a lot of the nerves for couples as they know what to expect and have some faith in what’s going on. I will also send an Order of Service before the big day so they can see what order things will happen in and just double check I have everything right.
Any tips for couples writing their own vows?
My whizzbang ceremony builder booklet is super helpful with lots of examples of vows to help inspire couples and get the juices flowing. But really if they just ask themselves a few questions that usually teases out what they want to say;
- How do they want their spouse to feel when they hear the vows?
- How does your spouse make you feel?
- What do hope never changes in your relationship?
And ask your celebrant for advice. If you are keeping them secret ask your celebrant to compare them and check the length and tone of each. They will let you know if anything is glaringly different.
How do you approach the wedding day?
As I said before, I like a rehearsal with the couple about 7-10 days before the ceremony, just to ensure everyone is clear on who stands where, who holds what and what to say and when. Then I rehearse and rehearse again (my poor, poor dog has to endure so many ceremonies) and then I go through my checklists. I mean I have checklists for all my checklists.
How do you make each ceremony you do super special?
By listening to the couple. It’s that easy. Listen to what they want, the tone and vibe they are wanting to achieve and understanding how they and their guests want to feel. Oh, and I ask LOTS of questions. Lots and lots of questions. Occasionally I might surprise the couple with a reverse vows or the guests doing a ring warming or doing a flash mob reading but I make sure I know my couples really well before I introduce something like that. Whenever I have surprised my couples it has always been a brilliant surprise. Promise.
What’s your advice for brides and grooms for keeping stress to a minimum on their big day?
Try to remember the whole process is supposed to be fun. This should be something you do together so make sure you share the tasks, share the love and ask family and friends to help out. Get them to do small tasks and that way they will feel like they really contributed to your day. Also remember it is just the first day of your marriage, it’s the days after that really count.
You’re also a wedding MC! Tell us more about that…
My background is actually event management. I am and have always been a little bossy boots. I like things to be just so. Planning and executing events in order to achieve and outcome is something I really love. I started MCing events as it was getting hard to find the right MC. Once I did a couple, I kept getting asked to do others but just as favours, not paid. Then I became a celebrant and realised those many weddings I did for free, well now I could make that into a career and make weddings REALLY SPECIAL. Going from the ceremony to the reception all with the same celebrant (now MC) – THAT’S GENIUS!
Most memorable wedding you’ve been a part of?
My very first one. Marrying a friend, I have known since we were seven years old. It was her first marriage at 49 and she was literally marrying the man of her dreams. The faith and trust they put in me plus the fact it was in front of a lot of people I knew, well it was just the most special wedding. I will never forget it but then you never forget your first do you.
Best testimonial you’ve ever received?
Well, all of them really. For the couples to take time to thank me and leave a review I think is the highest compliment. But when they say how the ceremony made them feel and use the words, I treasure the most like laughter, genuine, romantic, positivity, sincerity, professional and bloody funny – well then I know I have hit the mark.
Thank you Jo for taking part in our Expert Interview series today! It’s easy to see why the couples you have married chose you for the job. Your passion and love for love is inspiring. If you’d like to find out more about Jo and the packages she has available for ceremonies or as your reception’s MC, head on over to the Jo Booth Event Celebrant website.
Headshot and images courtesy of Jo Booth Event Celebrant