My Journey to Becoming a Government-Issued Authorised Minister of the State
There are two common questions I’m asked whenever I meet with a new couple. The first is: “Paul, you have a wonderful body. What do you bench? Do you kettlebell?”
The actual, real question they ask is why I became a celebrant.
It’s a fine question. And I thank them for asking.
I’ve always loved public speaking. It’s a nerve-racking, lunch-spewing thrill. And I dig it. My ex-girlfriend Sandy from St Kilda East used to say: “Paul, life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
It’s a great quote. Hello to Sandy if you’re reading.
In school we used to do what’s called a Beaumont Oratory. We’d choose a topic and get up in front of the class to discuss it.
Lots of kids hated it and would skip class to go make-out behind the portables.
I loved it. Mostly because I’d get up there and run through every win the Melbourne footy club had that year, including best players, goal kickers and how many pies I ate. I was a tubby kid and enjoyed pastry.
It had nothing to do with the assessment, but boy I had fun. I also had no-one to make-out with so I didn't really have a choice.
My fondness for the spoken word led to a two-year spell as a stand-up comedian.
It’s a glamorous title. If you’re picturing big rooms with huge crowds, lots of LOLs and heaps of women, you’d be half right.
Actually you wouldn’t be right at all. There were some shows like that (minus the women) but, for the most part, it’s a tough grind. Bombing and getting heckled are two of the worst experiences alongside dandruff and coffee-flavoured ice cream.
The comedy scene in Melbourne is also a very small pond with lots of fish and very little food.
Two wonderful things came out of my time as a comic – it dramatically sharpened my public speaking skills. I also found more things to talk about other than steak and mushroom pies.
This led to many more engagements as an MC. Particularly at weddings.
Soon after I embarked on a journey of spiritual enlightenment. I was approached in a dream and summoned to become a Government-issued celebrant.
Not really. I thought it suited my background and could be more fun than a slurpy in Summer.
And it has been. The most enjoyable aspect of the process is meeting with couples. Apart from a few legal formalities, couples can do whatever they wish.
It makes a welcome change from the ‘sit, stand, kneel, stand, parry, thrust’ of traditional ceremonies.
So that’s my story. It’s not exactly Shawshank Redemption, but it’s something.
I actually forgot to mention; there’s a third question I’m commonly asked by couples - what form of payment I take. It’s cash and eftpos.
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