This week, we spoke to Benny Roff, a Victorian-based marriage celebrant that specialises in fun wedding ceremonies. Benny Roff prides himself on being mistaken for a friend of the couple he is marrying and has over 30 amazing reviews on Easy Weddings. Read on to learn about why Benny Roff became a celebrant and his thoughts on the industry.
Tell us a bit about your business and your experience in the wedding industry.
I’m a marriage celebrant and I provide high energy, fun, and personal wedding ceremonies. I first married some friends in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya in 2009, because they asked me to out of the blue. It was held in the Masai Mara Game Reserve, replete with wild Lions and Rhinos (who fortunately kept their distance), and a few top brass politicians (the deputy prime minister actually flew in from Nairobi in a helicopter). I’d sung in a couple of bands, but this was a seriously intimidating public speaking debut. It went across really well, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place, and I managed to get them rolling in the aisles with laughter (especially when I made jokes about the government!) Inspired, I came home and qualified in 2013. At the time there were only a few celebrants really making weddings highly entertaining, and doing it by writing to the couple and their stories and idiosyncrasies, rather than wheeling out formulaic gags. The first year was pretty slow, but I’ve now performed over 250 ceremonies, and it is even more fun than it was to begin with. I think once you are very confident with the basics of running a gig, it’s easier to adapt to whatever is going on in the environment. Nobody is perfect, and little things, sometimes big things, don’t go according to plan on the big day, so it’s my job to make it all feel like it was supposed to happen that way. It’s the great advantage to having a good time, instead of being stiffly formal, everyone is far more prepared to come along for the ride!
What do you do to make your business stand out?
In many ways, it’s to not make it feel like a business. Obviously, that’s not true when I’m advertising or invoicing couples, but on the wedding day, I’m often mistaken for one of their friends. It’s not because I pretend to be anything I’m not, quite to the contrary, but I think that in telling stories and constructing elements of the ceremony that are really familiar, people get that impression.
How do current couples differ from couples a few years back?
Broad cultural shifts always take time to take effect, so it’s not like every couple has changed overnight, but I notice that fewer couples are surprised by what I offer. The idea that a wedding can be fun and personal is not a novelty anymore. In fact, many couples expect it.
What are some current trends you are noticing in the wedding industry?
There are so many more celebrants doing entertaining, personal ceremonies than before. I think that a large part of the industry has really loosened up. Like in earlier years celebrants were so conscious of running up against the religious establishment that they were quite restrained in their output, but now that civil ceremonies are the norm there’s more willingness to update the way people tie the knot. People don’t feel they have to get married to live together, have children, or build a life together. So when they get married it’s because they really want to. Like one individual wants to marry this other individual, so in modern ceremonies, we feature both of those individuals rather than fall back on some big, scary, and frankly dull formalities.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned recently that’s helped your business?
That all of the new celebrants coming up and being fabulous is a huge benefit to me and my business, and that interacting with them teaches me a huge amount about the work. I wish I had enough weekends off to go and watch them all performing, I know I’d learn something every time. Of course, I have plenty to share with them too. We all help each other.
If you could give one piece of advice to a brand new wedding professional what would it be?
Be yourself, but don’t ever talk about yourself. Bring all of your charisma and insight to the show, but make the whole thing from beginning to end about the people getting married. By extension, they should be themselves as much as possible too, encourage that.
What are your predictions for the wedding industry in 2018? What do you think will be the next big thing?