In Good Company

Lots of money for one hours work…. a poetry reading for celebrants!

Earlier this year, I was invited to present two sessions for The Celebrant Network’s (TCN) National Conference in Melbourne. The gathering was to celebrate 50 years of celebrancy in Australia. I was confident to accept the offer to speak on Crafting Inspirational Ceremonies, a theme I love to speak into; and hesitant to say yes when they invited me to share an evening of poetry. Writing poetry is only a recent art form that I have been learning and crafting. I felt a tender vulnerability in bringing this work to the public. However, Susie from TCN kindly talked me into accepting… and I am grateful she did.

On the 29th July, on a chilly evening in the city of Melbourne, I read my poems for the celebrant delegates. I had crafted a suite of poems about celebrancy and also read others from my personal collection. I felt warmly received and well supported. Thank you TCN!

This following celebrant poem came into being after seeing a meme that said,

‘Tell Me Again How Celebrants Make a Lot of Money for One Hours Work.’

For celebrants, there are many hidden costs, and so much goes on behind the scenes, and sacrifices made. Wedding bookings are often made 6 – 18months (2 years!) ahead and so, at the peak of my career, I missed many family events and special occasions. This poem speaks into what celebrants give ‘for one hours work’.

One Hours Work

I will love you until time stops, the couple say in front of their guests. I witness, and believe them. It is Saturday, 3:30. Nearby at the stadium, my son is playing his grand final. I leave with a calm demeanour and a measured haste.

Ten minutes before the whistle blows, I see my son. No 12. Skinny long legs and all his dark hair, kelp in the tide. My excitement lifts like a lorikeet. I kick off my shoes.

It’s 9pm. The screen is bright. I check the marriage documents and details before I click submit. Each couple lives in me—talking love and marriage. I listen.

9.30. The words for Monday’s funeral come up on the screen. I read the line, ‘May you go in peace.’  I mean it. I make a few edits, and print. A gecko on the outside of the windowpane peers in.

It’s Monday. My accountant tallies the list, A PA battery registration insurance advertising travel oh, and we couldn’t claim your new work clothes. She figures the hourly rate. Outside the window, two brush turkeys chase each other up the path.

Later, Monday afternoon, I tend to a young man whose heart beats fast, as he speaks his tribute for his nan. His tears let loose, softening the armour of those who said they wouldn’t cry. I hold them close, each family lives in me. I listen.

In my office, photo albums of people I’ve married and those I’ve buried—people I have loved. Ceremony upon ceremony. Nearly half my life I’ve given to this work.

Two magpies sing on the washing line.


After the conference, TCN Committee Member, Susie O’Brien wrote, ‘Stellar sessions……..I am always deeply and viscerally moved by your sessions and always changed in subtle ways.’


Wendy and Leslie Ridgeway
Wendy and Dally Messenger III
Wendy and Scott Broadbridge-Brown
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Bill Stubbs
7 months ago

Hi Wendy,
Thank you again for your wonderful Newsletter.
I just loved ‘One Hours Work’. It truly spoke to me!
I wish I had known/remembered you were in Melbourne recently.
I would have loved to have heard you speak and without doubt would have said ‘hello’ following your presentation.
Kind regards, Bill Stubbs