The Withers Wedding Method

The Withers Wedding Method

I’ve got a very specific and seemingly different way of looking at how to create a wedding, it’s my own little wedding planning method, The Withers Wedding Method. If that was a sexier name I’d probably make a book, but until I get a sexier book title, I’ll drop it here as an episode of The Rebels Guide To Getting Married podcast and vlog.

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Welcome to another episode of the Rebels Guide To Getting Married. I’m your host Josh Withers, I’m an Australian civil marriage celebrant, which means I marry people to other people. And this is a podcast that, the whole reason it exists is just to help you, just to help you plan a wedding that matters, a wedding that is good, a wedding that actually puts a smile on your face and just makes you feel happy, not just to be married, but also to get married. And I know that a lot of people are in that weird place where they really wanna be married, but getting married seems painful, and so this is hopefully just a really helpful moment for you just to find some clarity and some peace and some joy in the whole process. This is a question and answer podcast, it’s a call-in show, Where I get people on the phone and answer their questions. And so this is a great opportunity for me to tell you to do that.

The website to visit to send a question in is

Throw your details on there and I’ll also send you a message and ask can I get you on the phone? We’ll have a chat about your issue, have a chat about what’s going on with wedding planning. I love answering questions, but today is not one of those episodes. Today, I’m riffing off the conversation I had with a couple that I met up with on the weekend. They’re getting married soon. They’re relaxed, and they’re cool, and they just wanna get married, and they wanna have an event that signifies that but they’re low on ideas. So I wanted to give today a bit of a reset. I wanted to try and communicate a new way of thinking about planning a wedding. So this is something you can watch and enjoy and listen to at any point through your whole wedding planning process, but if you’re earlier on in the stage, or if you know someone earlier on in the stage, please tag them in this, and let them know that this exists. Because this is hopefully a really healthy, just a really good way of looking at wedding planning. This is what I like to call the Withers Wedding Method.

So the Withers Wedding Method is just really simply the two of you looking at it very practically, very intellectually, very intelligently. It’s not some new crazy fad, but heck, if it took off as a fad, I’ll take credit for it, ’cause you know what? A boy needs some credit. But hopefully it’s just a really good and healthy way for you to look at wedding planning because I don’t know, if you’ve been swept up in it yet, being swept up in the wedding industry and wedding planning and pictures and inspo can be quite overwhelming for many people.

So hopefully this method would just kind of put you in a really good place. So let me start. Step one is to look at what you have to do.

So I’m talking to Australia weddings right now. I’m an Australian civil marriage celebrant, I do weddings around the world, and I apply the same method there. But it’s a little bit different per country, because some countries have things they really do require off you. But I’m gonna talk to Australian marriage ceremonies today. So to get married in Australia, there needs to be the two of you that are consenting and willing to marry each other, you’re not in a prohibited relationship, you’re both consenting and willing, you’re both 18 or over, you’re able to identify yourself and give one month’s notice so that’s all good, so you can’t get married. So we get to the day of you’re gonna get married. And all that’s required is that the two of you will be present. We need to be on a place we can identify as Australian territory, so land, air, and water, but we need to be able to identify it as Australian territory. This is the address, this is where the ceremony happened, it needs to happen on a day and a time, so we can record the date and the time. And the two of you need to be there, I need to be present. This has been discussed fairly heavily through the COVID times that what does presence mean? And it’s widely understood to mean that you would be physically, I could kinda touch your face, not other kinds of presence where you might be on Zoom or something. And we need two witnesses to be present as well. So with the five or more gathered, we have to do this, everyone needs to know who we all are, we need to say our names at some point, everyone needs to know what I am doing, that I’m a civil marriage celebrant, I’m appointed by law but according to the law in Australia, I need to tell you that it’s a solemn and binding commitment, that your marriage ceremony involves the two of you getting married , if you didn’t know, but there’s some words I have to say to that extent that the marriage is a union between two people entered into voluntarily for life to the exclusion of all others. And if I’ve said those things, and I’ve let you know what marriage is and what’s happening, and your witnesses are aware, so if there’s language things there has to be an interpreter or a translator to let people know what’s actually happening, no one can be there kind of bewildered , the couple and the witnesses just need to know what’s happening and if everyone’s heard me tell you what marriage is, then the couple would say something around the lines of, I call upon everyone present to witness that I, full legal name, take you, full legal name, as my lawfully wedded husband slash wife slash spouse.

If I’ve told you what marriage is and you’ve said the vows that are required by law, then you are legally married. Saying I do means zip, exchanging personal vows, lovely, important, but it doesn’t make you legally married, even signing the paperwork, like grandma loves the paperwork signing photo, but the paperwork doesn’t make you married. Flowers, cake, photographer, venue, chapel, chairs, arbor, none of it makes you married. What makes you married is a celebrant saying a couple of words, and you saying a couple of words and boom, you are married. If the earth opens up and takes you whole at that point then you passed away a married couple. Everything else, and I mean everything else, everything else is optional. So here’s what I mean by optional. None of it is good or bad. I, personally, don’t have any real strong convictions for your wedding about what you would do but there’s not many things that I’m not okay with. But what I will do is ask you this very simple question the whole time through, why? Then if you’re getting a wedding photographer, cake, everything else, that you would know why you’re getting it, that everything that is there on your day, would have purpose. Now that’s not to say that everything would have a deep, meaningful purpose. Like I’m getting a photographer to capture my memories, like do that ’cause they capture memories, some things you can just have ’cause you want to. Like there is nothing in me that needed to have lollies last night but I just really wanted it, you know, like I don’t have any health needs to have a whiskey, I just like it. So sometimes you have something just because you like it, and that is so okay. But at least I know that the reason I’m having a whiskey at night is ’cause I just like it. Not ’cause I need to, not ’cause I’m trying to drink away my sorrows or escape life, I just like the taste. So coming back to your wedding, everything that you have would have a purpose and a place so that you’re not arguing over budgets or there’s no fighting about what matters and what doesn’t matter. It’s just the two of you saying, “These things are important to us. And because we’ve dubbed them so, then it just is.”So I’m gonna start hitting the list of things you can have in a wedding, so that we can, I guess just apply this thought process to it all. Photography is the big one. Photography is one that people often talk about being expensive and what not. And look, I can tell you for a fact that a good wedding photographer has a good price for a reason, and it’s not ’cause they rip off emotions.

And this honestly applies to the whole gamut of wedding industry people. They are talented, skilled people that give a shit about you and your partner getting married and that is a high price to ask of anyone, particularly a stranger that’s a really talented photographer to come and care and to love and to just be involved in your day, that’s a lot. And look, yes, there’s work that goes on before and after, totally, like there’s actually a lot of work, more work than you probably imagine, it’s a professional photography. But all in all, what you’re asking of all of your wedding for vendors, is that in a year or two when my wedding comes around will you still care about me, and turn up and be involved and be present with me? Because any of us can just pick up an iPhone and go click and we’ve got a photo, making a photo isn’t necessarily an art, but making a good photo is. Being present for that moment and being aware of who people are, that that’s mum and this is the situation or scenario around mum, and the photographer captures that moment. Like that’s important, that’s hard work. If you look through most of our camera rolls, like yes, there’s photos of people we love, but we could probably lose most of our iPhone photos and there’d be no real great depression in our world because a lot of them are just 500 photos of our kid doing the same thing hoping we can get one good photo. Your photographer is that skilled storyteller, that’s looking at the whole wedding and thinking how can I capture this and tell this story in a meaningful, important, beautiful way. So they’re not just next week when you post a photo on Facebook, the next decade, 100 years from now, as kids look at those photos on the wall, those photos tell a story, that they’re timeless, that they’re important. This mirrors itself out to you videographer as well. And the video is even harder, ’cause look at the videos you’ve got on your phone. You’ve probably got thousands , I know I do, so many videos of Luna doing things. And like if I had to construct all of this into one, three, four, five, 10 minute video, it could be hard, it would literally take me days just to review the footage, let alone to cut it and edit it into something that fits really nicely with the story and your vows and the speeches and et cetera. It’s hard work. So you would invite a photographer into your wedding if you value that timeless storytelling element that is capturing the photo, having that photo on the wall, and that’s important to you. And you would invite a videographer and if you wanna have that moving picture experience, if you wanna have that visual, moving picture. And moving pictures sounds like a weird way to describe it, but it is that, it’s a film, it’s a video of your wedding. And if you want that told in a beautiful, artistic way, honestly, one of the things I see people really cheap out on is a cheap videographer. Like more than once, I have had a couple who have just paid the 2, 3, 4, or $500 for someone of Gumtree and like, save the money. Like, I just don’t get it ’cause I haven’t seen one of those couples love their film. It’s actually why I include a free film on the ceremony ’cause I’m like if you’re gonna do nothing just have my film ’cause it’s a good quality, beautiful film, it’s just the ceremony there’s no fancy editing but a good film costs money. So I’m breaking today, like the elements of a wedding into a few different sections. One of them is the recording, the capturing, and the storytelling, video, photo. I could see evolving into this, I could imagine wedding podcasts. Can you imagine it? Like a podcast story of your wedding. It’s actually kind of cool. I thought about doing that myself, I think it’s pretty cool. But imagine someone like live blogging your wedding or I don’t know, live Instagram storying, like all of those things are a bit funny, but it’s a valid way of telling a story. So there’s the capturing, the storytelling aspect of that, I put that on the side, all of that is optional, choose things that you want, ’cause I’ll tell you, when actually value those people, you say, “Hey, James, will you come and photograph my wedding.” Or whatever, whoever you’re inviting. When you say, “Hey, I value you and I see what you make, and I wanted you to be at my wedding.” That person will feel so valued, and they will just deliver over and beyond than you could ever imagine. The next element I wanted to look at was pretty, which sounds a little bit condescending, but please stay with me. I’m actually not talking about it in a condescending or a minimalizing way. Pretty is important, pretty things are nice, before I made this podcast and I’m doing a video of it, if you listen to the audio, I thought I should walk down the bench like I just kind of made the place look a bit prettier. I guess, we’re not on some fancy soundstage doing fancy stuff, we’re just in my house, but prettier than it was. Pretty is important, pretty shows what we care about. Like what you can’t see here is the cushions I’ve got surrounding this so that the audio quality is just a little bit better than I probably could have hoped for, not pretty. What’s behind the camera, not pretty, you don’t see it. Pretty, lets us say these things are important to us. When we dress well for an event, see inside, pretty is your wedding dress, and your suit and whatnot. When we dress well for an event, we’re saying this event matters to us. We care. The mere fact I wore a shirt for the video as opposed to just being here shirtless, is me saying, “Oh, this is important. I should wear a shirt.” That being aesthetically pleasing, that bringing our best and showcasing what matters to us is so valuable on a day-to-day note, that when it comes to your wedding, pretty matters. Pretty is why you get a stylist, or a wedding planner, or a coordinator, not that a wedding planner’s job is to starve and many of them do. Pretty is you saying, “These things are important to us as a family and thus we’re going to include them. That we’re gonna highlight these areas, and not highlight these areas, that this table isn’t pretty enough for us and how we celebrate things, so we’re gonna put some decorations on it, that through arbors and flowers and floral installations, all of the elements of pretty, ice sculptures, fireworks.”

We’ve already talked about clothing. That all of these elements are your highlighting and hiding areas of your wedding. It’s like a theatrical production. If you ever noticed that they shine lights on various parts of the stage and other parts aren’t lit, so that other things can happen. It’s so important but also if they had no lights they were just telling the story in a park, like Shakespeare in the Park, then it can still work. So it doesn’t mean you have to go high production like a bloody Metallica live show but it’s you just saying, “These things are important to us.” We’re gonna allocate such and such budget and such and such effort to it. So pretty is important but none of it is required. You can get married in a park with no tables, chairs, flowers, it’s fine. But as you start spending and as you start installing things then it’s you just saying, “These things matter to us.” So hire a great stylist, get a great florist, get a beautiful dress and wear clothes that make you feel amazing but just make sure it all has purpose, that you’re not just getting an arbor because you get married and have an arbor but it would just have purpose because let me tell you I actually hate arbors just ’cause they’re always bloody falling over ’cause they’re never installed well. We’re always doing them in outdoor weddings and they’ve never been installed well, they’re just always falling. So then don’t just have an arbor ’cause well that’s what you have at a wedding, but have an arbor because you found something beautiful that matters to you. And I cannot tell you that as you get a stylist or a coordinator or whoever are doing these things, as you highlight things that are important to you, as you talk about colors or you talk about installations in a way that showcases you care, then once again like I said with photography, you’ll get the best out of them. A slight side note on the pretty thing, is also venue and location for ceremony but that also reigns the whole event. You see if you look at a picture frame and you see a photo in the picture frame, the photo is the main event but the frame presents the photo so that you can see it, it puts it on the wall, that without the frame the photo is just sitting on the floor, that the frame holds it up, and illuminates it and says, “Here is a photo.” Your venue and your ceremony location do that for you. They say, “Here is a ceremony.” And they shape the area. See I could talk about ceremony and location forever and even reception. If you talk to DJs or MCs about doing receptions, they’ll talk about different rooms feeling really good ’cause some rooms just have a great atmosphere for an event, same with ceremony location. like there’s some ceremony locations that I actually hate doing ceremonies at because the positioning of the guests, the couple, myself, the light, the feel, the sound, sucks, and you know what? It might be really pretty but it’s just weird whereas some locations might not be in the top 10 wedding venues in the world, but God it’s a good place to do a ceremony. This is yet another example of pretty mattering. See pretty isn’t some condescending throw in, that’s just pretty, it doesn’t matter, but a certain location can bring a certain kind of vibe, how close or how far away we are from the guests, aisle, sitting, not sitting, that kind of thing, it all adds to this vibe where we create a place for you to exchange vows, and to get married, where we create a place for you to do something important. That’s why pretty matters.

Now, let’s talk entertainment. Entertainment encompasses everything from food, drink, games, play, activities, through to MC, DJ, band, iPod if you wanna go there, isn’t it funny how we say iPod, but none of us actually have an iPod, we have phones, but we call it iPod. It’s cute. But entertainment is also important. Because as many people say, “We want our guests to have fun.” Yes, but let me tell you, what you’re actually trying to do is create a place where you can have fun. Because if you as a couple are having fun, then everyone’s having fun. If you as a couple are in a place where you are just vibing and just rolling with life, and your friends and family are there, and the music that is your soundtrack to your life is playing, and you wanna get into that, then that is a place where you would just, you will be lit up without even trying, and you’ll be in such a good mood that you’ll be vibing, and dancing, and smiling, and everyone else will be having a good time because you’re having a good time. So, create an entertainment kind of arena where you have a ball. Get games that you’ll play. Schedule a reception that you will have fun at. You know, I’ve talked on this podcast before about not dancing at a reception. Like if you are not a dancer, like if you don’t dance, for the love of God don’t have a bloody dance floor, like don’t have a dance floor because you think weddings have to have a dance floor, have a dance floor because you wanna dance ’cause if you dance everyone will dance, if you don’t dance, no one will dance.

If you would rather play cards for the night, get a bunch of cards, if you would rather play board games, if you would rather food, drink, alcohol, not alcohol, coffee, tea, whatever, cocktails, all of that stuff is like, what kind of event would you rock at? Like if you walked into those cocktails with your name on it would you be like, this is the deal. Then get cocktails that are your flavor, your name, like things that are designed for you. Me personally, I’d love to just have a couple of beers and then some neat whiskies, you know. So everyone would have their own event that would actually be really important and awesome for them. Have that event, get a wedding planner that can pull off that vision for you. That’s why you have a wedding planner, is you say, “Hey, I wanna have a ball on Saturday night. Can you help me have a ball? ‘Cause if I’m also making the party, I’m not having a ball.” That’s why you have a winning planner, because they know how to make things that are fun, they know how to make a ball. This again comes down to the whole venue thing, that the venue will be a place where you just rock, and you’re just like, “I’m loving this.” That’s the whole thing going on here, is that you would just create an event where you would feel celebrated and appreciated and loved, where you would just have so much fun that everyone else is having fun, and you’d love it. That’s the whole plan. So a few things to wrap up on, now I haven’t really talked about transport and accommodation and honeymoons and, but all of that sits into the same groove. You see transport is you have to get somewhere, how do you get there? Like if you’re happy to rock up in a Camaro as an Uber, do that. But if you’re like, “Oh no, to this kind of wedding, I wanna rock up this way.” Then rock up that way. Just remember that all of these things have a question mark next to them, all of these things have an asterisk, they all have to have a purpose and a place. So that as it happens, you’re not regretting spending money on things or you’re not just doing things that everyone said you had to do, that this would be an event that was just good for your soul, good for your mind, good for your brain, good for your wallet. So it’s okay to spend money on things, like I went and bought a coffee this morning so that my family could sleep in for a few more minutes ’cause I’m going to the gym at 5:00 a.m. So that’s $4 well spent, yes, I’ve got a coffee machine at home, but instead I decided to do something that would be great for everyone. That’s your wedding, so you deciding to spend money on things so that for a day we can have an awesome day.

I just wanna end it on this note, the very key to the Withers Wedding Method is this, that your marriage will be better than your wedding, that your wedding is just merely day one of marriage. And look, let’s be honest, like you guys have been solid for a while now, so maybe it’s not even day one, maybe it’s day 365, who knows? But it’s just a continuation of the process of you figuring out how to love and how to be loved. So that would be the undercurrent to it all. But there is an important, beautiful life process going on here, that this isn’t about having a wedding, but this is about getting married. And I think if you stayed true to that, if you have that ideal at the very depth of your heart, then that’s how you get both people involved, that’s how you get everyone on board, that’s how you spend a lot of money without feeling bad about it, that everything would have a purpose and purpose would be in all things, that on that day you would get married, and that would be the highlight of the show, that it’s not about being the center of attention or anything like that, but it’s just about you being loved and appreciated by your family because you made the decision, to love and to be loved. So that my friends is the Withers Wedding Method. That’s how I look at creating a wedding that when you employ me to be a celebrant that’s what’s in the back of my mind. Like, why are all these things happening? What purpose do they have? How can I kinda bring them to light? How can I create a ceremony that would just encourage you and make you feel loved and appreciated? All of those things are in my mind when I’m your MC, when I’m emceeing your reception, that everything will just have purpose and place, that ultimately we’ll just be celebrating a marriage, not necessarily a wedding.

This is a podcast, a vlog, it’s just me talking about practical and awesome ways to get married. And at the very crux of it is your questions. So please send a question in, is the website where you can ask your question and listen to other episodes. Find the subscribe links for YouTube or your podcast player. And now please do me a solid, throw this rant to some people. If you found this helpful, if this was good, if you listened to this this far, then do me a solid and share it on your story on Instagram, share it on Facebook, share the podcast with someone, give it a like, give it a writing, a review, it would just warm my heart if more people saw that this existed. Thanks so much for listening, and I hope you have a fantastic day.