In this inspiring episode, we welcome the delightful Dee Wild of Custom Celebrations By Dee – a marriage celebrant radiating joy, warmth and inclusivity from every pore. Based in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, Dee has been officiating weddings for about 5 years now after realising she needed a career that allowed her to truly be herself.

Fuelled by a desire to spread more positivity after Australia’s LGBTQ marriage plebiscite, Dee decided to combine her loves of writing, storytelling and being around love-filled celebrations by becoming a celebrant. From the very beginning, she has made it her mission to attract like-minded couples by showing up authentically as her full, proud, queer self online and in person.

With her vibrant presence, heartfelt spirit and firm belief that every wedding should be a reflection of the unique couple at its core, Dee is the perfect guide for today’s chat on hiring inclusive, values-aligned vendors.

Dee shares her insights on:

  • What inclusivity means in the wedding world, extending beyond LGBTQI+ representation to disabilities, neurodivergence, cultural backgrounds and more
  • Red flags to watch for when vetting potential vendors’ websites, marketing materials and initial communications
  • Thoughtful questions to ask vendors to gauge if they will create an affirming atmosphere for your day
  • Beautiful real wedding examples of couples who crafted ceremonies and celebrations authentic to their identities
  • Practical tips vendors can implement to convey their inclusive practices
  • How the wedding industry can continue evolving to better represent all couples

Whether you’re a couple on your wedding journey or a vendor striving to be more inclusive, this candid conversation will leave you feeling empowered to plan with your values at the forefront. Dee’s warm personality and wise perspective will have you nodding along in agreement and motivated to spread more positivity in this space.

Because at the end of the aisle, your vendor squad should excite and calm you – not cause any doubts about whether they’ll honour every beautiful part of who you are.

Links & Vendors Mentioned:

 Custom Celebrations By Dee Instagram

Find Dee

On Polka Dot Wedding: Custom Celebrations By Dee

On The Web: Custom Celebrations By Dee

On Facebook: Custom Celebrations By Dee

On Instagram:  Custom Celebrations By Dee

On Pinterest: Custom Celebrations By Dee

Find Dorothy & the Polka Dot Wedding team:

On Instagram: @polkadotwedding

On the website:

This podcast was produced by Polka Dot Wedding

The Polka Dot Wedding team is honoured to conduct our work on the land of the BoonWurrung, WoiWorung, Eora and Kuring-gai people. We honour the traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders custodians of the land and pay our respects to Elders past & present.

Episode Transcript

Dorothy:  You’re listening to the Feel Good Wedding Podcast, a podcast by Polka Dot Wedding. My name is Dorothy and I’m the founder and editor of Polka Dot Wedding, and I have been writing about weddings for over 16 years. In fact, I love them. I love everything about a wedding, but I know that a wedding is beyond the pretty.

I know that so much goes into every single one of those details that are chosen, the tips and tricks behind it, the couple’s stories, and the vendor that brings it all to life. And so The Feel Good Wedding Podcast was born because we thought these are stories and conversations that we want to have, and we’re really looking forward to having them with you as our listeners. Can’t wait to show you what we have in store.

The Polka Dot Wedding team is honoured to conduct our work on the land of the BoonWurrung, WoiWorung, Eora and Kuring-gai people. We honour the traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander custodians of the land, and we pay our respects to elders past and present.

Hello,  and welcome back. I am really excited and interested to talk to you today about today’s subject. And I’m thrilled to welcome today’s guest because I have been wanting to chat to her for ages. Today, we’re chatting to Dee Wild of Custom Celebrations By Dee. Now Dee is a Melbourne-based marriage celebrant and she has special insight on today’s subject.

We’re talking vetting your wedding vendors. We talk a lot about planning a day with your values in mind, a day that is authentic to you and not doing anything that doesn’t sit comfortably with you. And we don’t really bring in how choosing your vendors and making sure that they also align to your values plays a really important part in your day.

So Dee is talking with us today about how to make sure that you’re vetting your wedding vendors with your values in mind and how to make sure you’re hiring ethical, affirming wedding vendors that really align with who you and your beloved are. This is such an important topic and I’m really interested to get to know Dee and learn a little bit more about her thoughts on the issues.

So let’s get started. Hello Dee. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Dee Wild: Absolute pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Dorothy: Now, let’s set the scene. Tell me a bit about yourself and your background and how you started becoming a marriage celebrant.

Dee Wild: Ooh, so my name’s Dee. My pronouns are she, her. I am a marriage celebrant in Melbourne.

I became a celebrant because I basically just realised I needed to work for myself and not somebody else, which I think is a common thing. A common theme amongst us celebrants.

Dorothy: Yeah. But look, most people don’t then become a marriage celebrant.

Dee Wild: True, true. Yeah. I think it was I really enjoyed writing and storytelling.

I really enjoyed being home early and all of the time of the plebiscite coming out and I’d been to my cousin’s wedding and I just, I wanted to be around all of that and I wanted something good to come out of the plebiscite. So at the same time as the plebiscite debate in inverted commas was going on, I was just I was studying to become a marriage celebrant.

So a lot on the line with that little boat, but yeah, so that, that’s kind of the stage that got me, got me to becoming a celebrant. Yeah. Yeah. And so now I’ve been doing it for about five years, I think.

Dorothy:  And you’re Melbourne-based?

Dee Wild:  Melbourne based. Yep. In Melbourne’s Northern suburbs. Yep.

Dorothy: Awesome. So, today, you were always well placed because I followed you for so long, and I wanted to talk to you about inclusivity because it’s a big issue in the wedding industry and the world as it should be.

And we talk a lot at Polka Dot Wedding about planning weddings with your values in mind and doing something that’s authentic to you, et cetera. And I think that has to extend to wedding vendors. And it’s not something that we as an industry talk a lot about. We talk a lot about how to reflect yourself.

Dee Wild: Yes.

Dorothy:  But how do you do that with your vendors?  So today I’m going to talk about vetting your wedding vendors with your values in mind,  and hiring ethical affirming wedding pros. So to get started, what does inclusivity in weddings mean to you? I know LGBTQI and, but even beyond that as well. So how does that play out for you?

Dee Wild: It plays out for me in, I think firstly not making assumptions. So an inquiry comes into me and I don’t make any assumptions about who those people are in terms of gender or sexuality or any of those things. It’s not important. What date and where they’re getting married and then the little bit that they tell me about the wedding is what’s important more, far more so than, than anything else.

I did have a realisation recently when talking to another celebrant where, I think I go into a meeting with, you know, two people, unless the names or they’ve given me their pronouns. And I think I go in not necessarily anticipating a male and female couple.  So I think it’s, it’s assumptions.

So we need to get rid of any of our assumptions. And I think that even extends to things like what is a, in inverted commas again, ‘gay wedding’. Cause it doesn’t exist because every single wedding is completely unique and different to the couple regardless. So inclusivity to me means just making sure that everybody feels valued, seen and included.

And I think that comes down to a guest who uses a wheelchair at a wedding. Is it, is it accessible for them? Does that include our queer and gender-diverse community? Does it mean that people who are older or hard of hearing can actually hear the ceremony? I mean, I think it’s – it’s making sure that everybody feels included and welcomed.

And that I think can start really from when they enter the venue and then, particularly the ceremony.

Dorothy: Because it is multifaceted and multilayered too, it isn’t just, and we’re going to get into this, about the way that you address your guests, et cetera, like that. It is, as you say, is it wheelchair accessible?

Are the toilets wheelchair accessible? Are there stairs? Like there’s so many things you really have to think about.

Dee Wild: Yeah, completely. And if there isn’t, then how do we, how do we still make people feel included? And that, yeah, from the, from the very beginning and then obviously throughout the whole ceremony and wedding beyond.

Dorothy: So when we’re starting the search for our vendors, what should couples be looking for when it comes to vendor websites, marketing materials, Instagram, TikTok, and all those, the communications down to the emails to gauge whether they are inclusive or whether it’s just like a picture.

Dee Wild: Yeah. And I’ve experienced this firsthand.

A company can slap a rainbow, you know, on its website, but that doesn’t mean they’ve done the work. It doesn’t mean that every single employee within that business is, is accepting, queer-friendly, and educated to be honest. So, you know, so it seems like making sure that everybody in your industry, in your business, doesn’t say things like, “well, which one’s wearing the dress…”

“Neither or both”, uh, is my, was my not quite polite answer to the vendor’s Wedding Wonderer. I think for me, if you don’t see yourself reflected, then they’re not the vendor for you. And that doesn’t necessarily have to mean that their feed is flooded with – because most of us prefer to post weddings that we’ve been a part of.

And if you haven’t necessarily, you know, had a diverse couple, then you can’t – sure, but I think there are other ways of being able to show that you are inclusive and open to everyone. That starts with the terminology on your enquiry form. Are you just, does the vendor that you’re enquiring with still have bride and groom as the only options?

Or have they, updated that to partner one, partner two? Are they asking you for their pronouns? Do they display their pronouns in their social media accounts? Are they using inclusive language or are they still calling things same sex or outdated terminology that we’ve kind of moved on from? So I think if you have to battle against like a form that doesn’t fit you, or those sort of things that I think, automatically you kind of go, hang on, if I’m having to bend to fit an inquiry form, what’s that going to be like with my communication with this business all the way through to the wedding day and then particularly on the wedding day, because that day is anxious and nervous enough without having someone to worry about a vendor getting their name and pronoun right or asking questions like, “which one’s wearing the dress?”

Dorothy: Oh, every time you say that I have a little internal shudder. So when we are starting a search, what are we looking for beyond that stuff when we’re figuring out, what we’re looking for when it comes to vendors and their values. And I know it’s because we’re talking about what their website should have, but what about their values and how we connect with them and how we make sure that it isn’t just lip speak and lip service?

Dee Wild: And I think it comes down to those conversations as much as we rely on Instagram and our social and our websites to sort of attract couples, it’s also then, the communication. So yes, are they when it’s been communicated? Is that vendor using your preferred pronouns, preferred name, you know, titles is maybe bride and groom isn’t on the inquiry form, but then it’s defaulted to in, in communications.

Again, I think if a couple has to say, and I, and we’re still hearing it, a couple saying, are you okay with, two women, or are you okay with my couple, my partner is non binary. Are you okay with that? It should, it shouldn’t even be a question anymore. So I think if you feel you have to ask the question, maybe look for somewhere else.

Look at where they advertise. Are they advertising with, you know, a business that has changed its entire identity to be more inclusive by calling itself Polka Dot Wedding. It’s, I think it’s those sorts of things. Look for where the couples that you look at and go, yeah, that looks like what our wedding might look like.

Then where are the vendors that are attached to those sorts of weddings?

Dorothy: And I think it even plays out to when they do get it wrong because, you know, I stuff up pronouns. I stuff up language all the time. How do they come back from that. Is it then like, Oh no, you know, I would never do that. I have so many queer friends.

I would never do that. Or is it like a more humble response of, “Oh, I’m so sorry”. And correcting themselves. That’s sort of, for me, that’s part of how it plays out.

Dee Wild: Completely. Any as it’s that, you know, mistaking a, a pronoun or a name or any of those things, it is – it’s saying “I’m so sorry” and you know if you need to make a note, but also they’re not making it a massive deal – in the same way that you know, if I got on and said, called you Dee instead of Dot, then I was like, “Oh, I’m so sorry Dot.” Do you know what – it’s not making it a big deal, but also learning from our mistakes and moving on? Yeah.

Dorothy: So are there specific questions we should be asking vendors to ensure that we’re all aligned with values, expectations, and all the things that we want for our weddings.

Dee Wild: Yeah. And I think it’s, in some ways it’s more the questions that the vendor is asking you.

Does that make sense? So in terms of, I think for me, a big one comes down to how a couple enter the ceremony space. And we know there are so many different ways to do that. Yes, traditionally you had one partner waiting and one person would walk down the aisle, possibly with a parent, traditionally a father, escorting them down the aisle.

Yeah. That’s the traditional mode. And lots of people still go with that because it resonates with them. And that’s absolutely fine. But couples from all different backgrounds and of all different gender and sexuality identities are mixing it up. And I think that’s, a really good way of gauging if your vendors are, if they’re going to stress out, you know what I mean?

If you say, well, actually we’re both going to walk down together or we’re going to be mingling with our guests and then start the ceremony. And if you sort of see that, “Oh, well that’s never been done before” with a slight shaking of the head, then there may be, that’s not, you want someone who goes, “yeah, absolutely”.

What are we, what are we doing? How are we doing it? Let’s talk it through so that I’m in the best position to support you. And capture you if it’s, you know, if it’s photographers or if it’s celebrant or venue, it’s like, yep. Great. Absolutely. How do we support you in, in going with that? So I think it’s almost, I hate putting the onus back on the couple, but I think you have to feel comfortable with asking the questions and then take those responses and be comfortable with those responses back.

Dorothy: And it sounds like in a way that you’re crystallising as well for me that it’s a lot about finding vendors that will support you in the decisions that you want to make, however traditional or untraditional that they are.

Dee Wild:  Yes. Yes.

Dorothy:  And who you are as a couple, like obviously if you’re in a wheelchair, it’s not about supporting that decision, is it? It’s what it is about, supporting how your wedding might be different to anyone else’s and how you can have the best day possible.

Dee Wild: Yeah. And I think it’s supporting, and affirming and asking, questions like, you know, even who’s coming to the wedding.

Have we got, you know, big families or is it chosen family, and asking those sorts of questions just, I mean, and celebrants are inherently nosy anyway so we do ask all these questions. By asking these questions we do get to find out actually one side of the family isn’t coming. And so then that means that when you’re getting people to sit down, you’re not making sure that there’s four seats set for that side of the family when it’s chosen family, so everybody can sit where they, it’s just, it’s those little things that if we get rid of our assumptions, ask questions of how the couple want their day to be and to feel like, then regardless of terminology or pronouns or identities, that’s, oh, I think how we should be approaching it.

Dorothy: Yeah. Yeah. So what are some of the red flags you’ve kind of glossed over some of them already or concerning responses from vendors that may kind of indicate they may be not as inclusive or affirming? And I like, I saw this a lot when Black Lives Matters happened with the black squares and then it was all kind of, the responses kind of showed who people were, I suppose.

And so I think, it’s so much beyond the aesthetic, as you said. So what are some of the things we need to kind of go, “Ooh, no”, I mean, apart from the gut feel, which I think is telling.

Dee Wild: I think that gut feel is telling. And I think there are also… the other thing I would say in all of this is that if a couple is planning a wedding or if a person identifies as non binary or trans, dealing with a wedding vendor is not the first time that they have come out or have had to disclose.

So in some ways the couple, like we’re used to it, you know, so we, I think, so I think for couples it is trusting that gut feeling, you know, we know when to disclose or when to come out very proudly and we know when to maybe be a little bit, and that’s, I find more with travelling – when to be a little bit more circumspect and like, not wear these earrings, you know….

Dorothy: Dee has the most amazing earrings on today. I realised no one can actually see these earrings.

 Dee Wild: I’ll put a picture up on my, on my, so I think, We don’t need to, as wedding vendors, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. It’s just listening to, listening to our couples. And if as a couple, if you get that gut feeling, then yeah, maybe move on. If you, yes, if the website has a rainbow flag on it, but, every single couple is, you know, appears to be a straight couple, or even if every single couple that they’re showing is, you know, standing or it looks like they’re entering in the same way. Does that make sense? Like if, if, if nothing sort of looks like your wedding is going to look like, or what you want your wedding to look like, then that would be a red flag for me.

And back to the inquiry forms as well. If it’s a – if we’re still using bride and groom as our only options, even if the business has, even if every single one of your couples is male, female, they don’t all identify with bride and groom. We have partner in marriage as an actual legal option for the legal vows now.

So partner one, partner two, BDM have updated it to partner one, partner two. So I think if that’s changed and I think across the board, we need to change it.

Dorothy: We’ve been trying, haven’t we? We keep having the conversations. We’ll keep going.

Dee Wild: And sometimes even, sometimes you might have to break up with a vendor.

Do you know what I mean? Like if it gets to the point where you are really, don’t feel comfortable, or it’s been said once too many times, bride or groom, or which one’s wearing in the dress. Like either trying, get it to change or it’s your day so you can, yeah, it’s controversial, but you can break up with a vendor.

Dorothy: If it’s not and I think it’s like when you know better you do better.

So like we said earlier if you get it wrong once that’s fine but you also then have to make the effort to make the change. And if they’re not making the change, then why aren’t they, there’s something around why they’re not making that change because they don’t see it as important to make the change.

Dee Wild: Yes. This is, and this is the other thing. And I think we saw a lot of rainbows put up on websites around marriage equality and that you can even have, you know, supported the plebiscite and the vote, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are equipped with the kind of the nuances to make every couple feel inclusive and valued. And yeah, and I think that’s when, when it can get icky.

Dorothy: So obviously we’ve booked a vendor or we’re trying to book vendors that are aligned with our values, but how can we communicate our values, identities, expectations for an inclusive wedding experience to vendors? Because it may, we may be in a situation where we say, ah, LGBTQI, but as we know, inclusivity extends beyond that. So there is a lot of other stuff that plays into it. It can’t just be one kind of inclusivity. So how do we make sure we communicate all of that well with our vendors so we’re all on the same page?

Dee Wild: Yeah. And I think that comes from giving your vendors as much information as you can early on, and that doesn’t have to mean your… how you met and who proposed to on the first meet.

Although as celebrants, we will like to get stuff very quickly anyway, but it might be more a case of, we are having a wedding with 40 guests. Two of our guests use wheelchairs, so we have booked this venue because of its accessibility. Or, a wedding with 40 guests who are predominantly our chosen family.

Like, I think….And everybody wants to talk about their wedding, so we feel like that little bit of the bottom of an inquiry form of tell me about your wedding, sometimes you just get the bare bones, but I would actually encourage couples to tell a vendor as much as possible, you know what I mean?

Like, maybe it’s “We’re getting married at the local park and it’s a community potluck and our guests are going to sing us in with a choir”. There might be a vendor that just goes, I don’t even know how to coordinate that. Yeah. That vendor might be used to working at venues that, you know, where there is a bit of a, they might prefer that….

Dorothy: So you’re kind of pre-screening vendors in a way.

Dee Wild: Absolutely. I think pre-screen. And I think really look and like, you know, you find a venue vendor through a directory or you see them on Instagram, then have a deep dive of the website and also their socials and just, just see if it’s like you said, it’s that one square seven years ago or four years ago, or is it more of a consistent message?

Dorothy: And I agree with that. I think stalking vendors, which sounds terrible, but like Instagram stories, and TikToks as much, because it’s not just like, like we say the one photo, it’s the language they use to talk to couples, the language they use when something goes awry when they’re called out, when someone calls them out for something.

All that kind of nuanced language that is not necessarily the pretty picture stuff that I find is where the real, like, am I going to get on with this person? Do they align with who I am – really comes out.

Dee Wild: Absolutely. And like we said before, you may not if you haven’t got that wedding to show on your feed, you might not show it on your actual, you know, your pretty squares, but your stories are where you might share things.

So yeah, I would look at, you know, what, what, yeah, I think a good deep dive in the stalk into your vendor’s social is a good idea, which is also a constant reminder to all of us to make sure that those things are updated. It might be that you are absolutely incredibly inclusive and would love to work with queer couples. But you haven’t updated your website in three years. And so it doesn’t reflect that.

Dorothy: Yes. So how can we ensure all aspects of our wedding day from the ceremony to the reception are truly inclusive and reflective of these identities? Cause there’s just so much to think about. So from ceremony to reception, let’s start with the ceremony.

How can we make sure that everyone feels welcome and that everyone is accommodated at our ceremony?

Dee Wild: Yeah. And I think, and that starts with, you know, the initial conversation with your celebrant through to your planning, so your big planning meeting through to, you know, the final run-through or final communications leading up to it.

That is from, you know, the celebrant’s perspective should have on their form preferred pronouns because you also then need, you can use that on legal documents as well. So from the couple’s perspective, obviously the celebrant needs to be using, you know, preferred names, correct names for legal vows, your chosen… the pronouns that you identify with.

So that should be a no-brainer. For me, it’s things in the ceremony, like, you know, I arrive early to make sure that I’m there to greet guests, and, because often the couple is not there, because they’re walking in together or separately, but they’re, they’re not there to, make sure of that. So it is making sure that in our planning meeting, we’ve discussed how many chairs are going to be and who’s sitting in your front rows.

And I always recommend to my couples to actually, it is one more job, but to nominate who they want to sit in those front two rows. And actually, put name tags on them, because nobody ever wants to take a seat. The floor is lava at a wedding. No one ever wants to take a seat. So if you can then encourage people to take the seat that they’ve been allocated and say, You know, “We don’t really want you to be in the front row. They’ve allocated you these seats.” Can we, can, if you’ve got, if there’s a name on your seat, can you, and tell those people as well so that then, because once one person sits down, then the floor becomes a little less lava and people will then start to sit down. So it’s little things like that. If there is someone that needs, is using a wheelchair or has mobility aids then, do we need to move out a chair?

Just little things like, like that, even, you know, do the couple need a seat at some point during the ceremony? Just little things like that.

Dorothy:  But even like having enough chairs for every guest, because there are guests with invisible disabilities that are not going to tell you if they can’t stand for a long time. Little tiny things.

Dee Wild: Absolutely. Absolutely. Have we got kids that, as engaging as my ceremonies are, will get bored. What’s our, what’s our go-to plan? Because we’re not in church, we don’t have to have kids like silent. So what’s our go-to plan in terms of, have we got bubbles for them? Are they going to sit at the front so that they, they can actually see and they’re engaged?

Or are we going to say, “You know, parents with young kids, if they need to go like it’s fine, I’ll give you a copy of the ceremony”, or it’s favourable, like, you can go and let them run around or do whatever, like, we get it, do you know what I mean, like, you’re important to the couple and that’s why they’re here, but at the same time, it’s a big day, so what are we doing for all of that, and that’s all really happens in the, you know, before the ceremony even starts. For me, I never use ladies and gentlemen because it just feels a bit, I don’t know, just, I just doesn’t fit with me?

So for me, it’s always family and friends, assembled guests, and VIPs, which just feels to me not only more inclusive but more – it’s far less formal because my ceremonies are not formal. So if I got up and said, “ladies and gentlemen”, it just, it was, but at the same time, it is far more inclusive. By saying family and friends or assembled VIPs  chosen family and biological family, like using things like that I think help make everybody feel included and welcome.

And it is, I think it’s also, I know one of the things that I think can help a couple, everybody feel included, it’s telling guests what’s going to happen?

Dorothy: Yeah.

Dee Wild: Cause they might’ve left the invite on the fridge or you don’t necessarily give them a timeline, but it’s actually just telling guests, like inviting them to sit down.

Cause like I said, the floor is lava. So it is inviting people if you notice, you know, people with kids or it’s engaging with those guests so that they know who I am as a celebrant and then can hopefully make them feel relaxed and comfortable through the ceremony and through the rest of the day.

Dorothy: I think that’s a really good point of knowing what’s happening, knowing what, what you can expect, I think helps anyone feel better because you know what’s coming and no surprises.

Dee Wild: Exactly. And you know, if neurodivergent guests might be hesitant to sit down or saying, because they don’t know how long it’s going to be. So if you can say, you know, “you’ve arrived, fabulous, grab a spot, the shade or something in about 15 minutes, I’m going to get everybody to come in and sit down or, you know, gathering for the ceremony.

And then our gorgeous couple are going to arrive. The ceremony is going to be about 25 minutes. I promise you, you will be at the bar or down in the vineyard within about half an hour”. And I think sometimes things like that can, you’re right, can help, you know, whether it’s kids or whether it’s actually a 25, did you say 25 minutes?

Okay. Yeah. This leg won’t hold up for 25 minutes. I do need, do need to, to get a seat or…

Dorothy:  I need to go to the bathroom…. I need to go to the bathroom.  Which sounds stupid, but there’s like little, little, little things.

Dee Wild: Absolutely. Absolutely. And as much as it is also encouraging people to sit down and cause, you know, for a photo purpose, it does look better if every seat’s taken, it’s also, they’re not bullying people. Do you know what I mean? I would hate to think that I was bullying someone that was sitting down that actually was, you know, neurodivergent and anxious and actually had put themselves in a position that meant that they could step away easily and then suddenly they’ve been bullied by a celebrant to take a seat and they hate the whole ceremony because of that.

Dorothy: Because they’re uncomfortable.

Dee Wild: So I think it’s sort of, it’s reading people in that moment, but it’s also just allowing that weddings are big days with big emotions and sometimes you just need to let people do what they need to do.

Dorothy: So you’re the expertise of the ceremony, but what about receptions? What are some of the things we can do to make sure we’re accommodating everyone and we’re inclusive with the way that we plan a reception?

Dee Wild: Yeah. And I think that it’s the thing of you know, we buy a house after looking at it for 3.2 minutes or something. And it’s a bit, a little bit the same with the wedding venue in that you look at the ceremony space or you look kind of the overall picture of what it’s going to look like. But then I think maybe a second visit needs to be more about those details. So are there a lot of stairs? Is there accessible parking? Have we got a guest list that is more suited to a cocktail-style reception? Or actually, is it more suited to a seated-style reception? Has the venue got all of our dietary things included? And do they make it a priority?

Dorothy: Or are you gluten-free and you’ve got mushroom risotto again?

Dee Wild:  Yes, exactly. Exactly. Or are you vegetarian and you’ve got pasta with tomatoes? Little things like that. Like, are those things a priority? And do the venue make it easy in terms of the couple, the guests aren’t having to go up and say, “hi, I’m the gluten-free, dairy-free like, thanks for my special plates”, you know what I mean? It’s more, yes, other things.

Dorothy: Do they feel obviously included? Rather than the odd one out.

Dee Wild: Yeah. And I think even now it’s, have we got good alcohol-free options. Cause there are a lot. Yes.

Dorothy: So it’s. I’m on this bandwagon. I think we need to expand from Coke, Sprite and Fanta and we need, there are so many amazing alcohol-free options, I want to see them at venues now.

Dee Wild: Yeah. Yeah. Have you got, yeah? An alcohol-free option that isn’t sparkling water. Like because your guests will still want to toast you. It just doesn’t need to have alcohol in it. So I think little things like, are there gender-neutral bathrooms? Have we, if we’re putting names on tables, have we made sure that we’ve, you know, even got names’ spelling right, like obviously mistakes can happen, but it’s just all those little things that make, make a guest feel like they are a special VIP that the celebrant said you know, half an hour ago, but then yeah, you’ve gotten a cardboard plate for your…..

Dorothy: You’re thinking of the lettuce leaf, the poor little lettuce leaf. So can you share some of the beautiful examples of weddings and moments where you’ve had couples that have made decisions that really reflected who they are and their values and their identities?

Dee Wild: Yeah. And I’m very, very lucky that I get to work with amazing couples who usually come to me with at least ideas on how they want to, and then it’s my job just to enable and encourage and enthuse greatly over those ideas. So, well, I mentioned briefly before, you know when I said about that potluck wedding, I didn’t make it up.

Emily and Michaela had a beautiful, beautiful community-led celebration where everything was potluck. And I mean, it took some spreadsheets. There was no luck involved in this. It was for every guest contributed based on their, you know, skill set, availability, even, you know, they even took into account finances for some of their guests.

So some guests they asked to be the bartenders or to be the person that greeted the person arriving, salad or cheese plate or cupcakes. And so it was just this glorious community-led celebration. That was just one of the most emotional and special ceremonies and weddings ever. One of those ones that I really didn’t want to go home from, uh, because it was just so, you know, the music was all provided by friends. Yeah. That one was felt so utterly true to them and all of their guests, you know, one guest said, I couldn’t have provided, but I could have bought a present, but I can make a cake. So it’s tapped into what people could do. And it just meant as well that. Everybody was talking to one another because they’d already met Sue off the spreadsheet because she was coordinating the site.

Do you know what I mean? There was, there was, yeah, there were connections made beyond the already connected.

Dorothy: It’s like everyone put a bit of themselves into this couple’s day.

Dee Wild: Absolutely. And everybody was responsible in some way for making it be a brilliant day. And that really, you really felt that, that energy come through. So that one’s right up there. Rcently two of my beautiful grooms, both had very different boutonnieres, or lapel thingies, as they call them.

Dorothy: I think that’s a better word for it. Let’s be honest. Lapel thingies is much better.

Dee Wild: And so their families also had the same, uh, lapel thingies, that Bryce and Thomas were wearing and so within the ceremony, they exchanged their lapel thingies to represent that actually they weren’t just marrying each other, but they were joining their families as well.

And that got everybody. I’m not sure if the moms knew it was going to happen because by their reaction, I don’t know that they did know that it was going to happen. It’s little things like, deciding how you want to walk down the aisle and that could mean with a parental figure or on your own or with a sibling.

Things like a handfasting and getting their mums or special people in their lives to be part of that process. Which I’m really leaning into and liking because it’s such a visual and physical literal tying the knot. But when you get to include mums or siblings or friends, there’s just an added element.

Because also those people get up, get to come up mid-ceremony and give the couple a moment of their love and time and a kiss and it just always ends in hilarity and tears, and I, I love those moments, and I love stretching it – not rushing it through, not going on to the next thing, or the, you know, the next part of my, my ceremony.

I like to just let those moments stretch out like the cord, just to sink into them a bit. Anytime a couple is just themselves and just do things, whether it’s inviting, you know, inviting, or as is often more the case, not inviting people that they truly don’t want there. It’s outfits. It’s when you see a couple on their wedding day and they have intentionally gone with something that feels absolutely, truly them, they’re just so much more relaxed and, look amazing.

And so I think it’s, yeah, it’s, it’s whenever couples are just utterly themselves and respectful of other people, but ultimately it’s their wedding and their relationship and they are celebrating, celebrating that. My job is to enable, encourage, get very enthusiastic.

Dorothy: You’re the enabler.

Dee Wild: I’m such the enabler. I don’t know how many times I’ve said, just do it. Just tell them that you’re celebrant and said, no, we’re not doing that.

Dorothy: Yeah. Well, why not? They’re never going to meet you. So they may as well.

Dee Wild: Hey, or even if they do, they’ve forgotten that I was the one that said it. I’m, I have said this for us and I’m employed. I’m there for, and by the couple. So other people’s opinions matter, but they don’t matter to me nearly as much as my couple’s opinion.

Dorothy: And that’s what we were saying about finding people that will support you in your decisions, right?

Dee Wild: Yeah, completely. Yeah. So I think, I think it comes down to those conversations with vendors. Like it just, if you have that conversation and you get that gut feeling that I always say that with your vendors, cause we generally tend to catch up over coffee or drinks. If the idea of going for a coffee or drink with your vendor is a chore, I might not be the right one. It should be, “Oh, we get to talk about the wedding and you know, tell a photographer that we, we don’t like posed photos. And so where are we going to go to have fun photos that aren’t?” You know, they capture us without making us do poses.

Dorothy: Yeah. And part of the reason you attract such amazing couples is because of the way that you convey this part of yourself online.

Like I’ve followed you for a really long time and I know the way that you convey yourself and the way that the imagery you choose and like, it’s just so ‘you’, so we switched to vendors as opposed to talking to couples now.

Dee Wild: Yeah.

Dorothy: What role can vendors play in crafting this safe, affirming, celebratory atmosphere for their couples and to be inclusive, because it’s not just about if you’ve got a disability or LGBTQI everything, it’s about any couple….

Dee Wild: Absolutely.

Dorothy: …. Because it can be important to any couple.

Dee Wild: Yes. And I, well, I think that’s the other thing. It can also be, you know, you may, you might be, for all intents and purposes, a straight couple, but, that doesn’t say anything about your past relationships or the relationships of your family and friends. Yes. Yeah, absolutely. I think for me and thank you so much for saying that.

That makes me feel good. I think very early on, I decided that, that I was going to be, as authentically me as I could, and not so much as a, from a, I guess, marketing perspective, but previously in other, I guess, you know, workspaces and I’ve not been completely out or not being completely, you know, like worn more Melbourne black as opposed to this many colours, but I realised that it was important to me to be I needed to be a little bit more open and vulnerable in order, I think, for couples to be open and vulnerable with me. And my initial logo was a, you know, I think I described it as a rainbow for those who choose to see it that way, but just pretty colours if you didn’t. And I realised actually, if you don’t see it as a rainbow, I don’t actually want you.

I, very early on, I had a few meetings with couples where I saw it in their eyes where they went, “Oh, Oh, she’s gay”. And most of the time it was backed up by, “Oh yeah, that’s fine”. All this, like, they didn’t say anything out loud, but again, it’s like trusting that gut and having seen that look in the eye in other situations.

And so then I decided, actually as my partner says, I just am just full gay on my…. full gay, full lesbian, full queer on my website, because it is about attracting my couples, but it’s also about not attracting people who are going to have an issue with any of that.

Dorothy: So again, it’s like pre-screening, right?

Dee Wild: It’s pre screening…

Dorothy: Here I am, loud and proud.

Dee Wild: Completely. Completely. Loud and proud. And if that’s not for you, then I’m well and truly not for you. So, thankfully, I very rarely get asked, “are you okay with…”, because, I think, I’m very loud and proud on my socials and hopefully elevate other voices, which means that that it’s not a question that has to be, to be asked, but it also means that I am very happy and encourage other couples. Like in my planning session, when it comes down to acknowledging marriage equality, I ask every couple, it’s not just the couples that may identify as queer. I ask every couple because lots of couples have, you know, it was important to them to, that their marriage is now one that is recognised alongside everyone else’s.

So yeah, I think it is things like that, that, that are important and yeah, conveying that in, in a social media can be sometimes challenging, but it is, it’s about the….it’s like you said, the images and wording that I, that hopefully, I use it convey, convey all of that.

Dorothy: So being yourself, because I feel like as much as there are trends in weddings, as you would probably agree, there are trends in, in wedding businesses in the way that… like the colours that are used and the branding, like you said, every couple of years it shifts and everyone jumps on this black and white train or whatever the trend is.

So being yourself with your branding, your wording, your photos, and not kind of going, “Oh, well, am I brave enough to do that? I’ll just do what everyone else is doing because that’s what’s working”.

Dee Wild: Yes, definitely. Definitely. I think it’s also, well, it’s also easier, do you know what I mean? If you get photos back from every wedding, then you can use everything. It’s not, “Oh no, that doesn’t fit in with that palette or that style”. Which can make for a slightly more chaotic Instagram feed, but it is one.

Dorothy: I understand that. How can you, how can you have a consistent feed when every, every photographer is different? Every couple is different.

Dee Wild: Exactly. Exactly. And it depends if my, my semi-professional roadie, who’s my best friend who likes to come to weddings with me, you know, she knows my angles now.

So she, but you know, I always get a couple…. a photo with the couple before I leave. So, but you’re right, that can be very many different styles, different. So yeah, there is no consistency. It’s just whatever I feel like posting that week. So I think if you are true to yourself, you will ultimately it’s less, it’s easier, it’s less tiring than….

Dorothy: So it’s easier, but it’s also, how do you get over – I know with a lot of vendors, there’s a fear in that because right, if you’re not doing what is cool and trendy, you do risk some couples not falling in love with that, right? Because the trendy stuff is what gets the likings and you know, blah, blah, blah, blah. So it can be terrifying to be yourself when it’s not the on-trend thing.

Dee Wild: Yes. Yes. And I think there is something about being an over 40-year-old woman that goes, I don’t care.

Dorothy: So really what you need to do is go and find Dee on Instagram, look through all her posts and let her inspire and empower you to go. “Yeah, no, I don’t care. I just need to be myself.”

Dee Wild: Well, there is a bit of that, but I, I do know, and I and I think as well for some vendors, it can be narrowing down that niche market or who are my people can actually be a challenging one, but I think if you if you are more yourself, you will attract the couples that are more like you.

And therefore, and you know, especially at the moment, everybody’s just saving the bookings, never mind the ideal bookings, just the bookings. But I also think we are, we’re not just the business online. We spend so much time face-to-face. With our couples that yeah, if I don’t present who I am that I’m going to be on the day then it’d be you know, very off-putting if I showed up in complete black monotone and reserved on the… on the wedding day.

Dorothy: That’s the other thing, isn’t it? If you’re not if you’re following the trends rather than being yourself You are switching and so the couple that booked you two years ago when your photos were like all yellow filtered, for instance, and now you’re all in fine art are going to be like, what? Hang on.

Dee Wild: Yeah. Or even, and you know, I guess in celebrants, we are the product. So I’m, I’m always facing front of the camera, but I think for other vendors as well, like I get it. Photographers like to just show photos of the work, but the photographers that we probably engage with the most are the ones who show themselves, even if it’s just through stories, not on the grid, so that we do get to know them as a person because it’s the person that’s going to be…. particularly a photographer that’s going to be with you, you know, eight, 12 hours of the day, that’s going to see you from potentially getting ready to your last drink of the night. Like you want that person to be someone who you’re comfortable with and who you feel you at least, you at least know. Yeah.

Dorothy: Yep. So as inclusive vendors, what should we be communicating and how can we convey that? That inclusion is a core value of our business practices and we are, you know, accommodating to everyone.

Dee Wild: I think it’s, it’s listening to the couples, it’s affirming their choices. And before any of that it is, and I think it means going back and doing a bit of a stock-take on all of our communication with our couples. So if we’re an individual, have we got our pronouns in our Instagram profile, which is a really simple and easy one to do, but is so…. shows that it matters that even though your pronouns, maybe she, her, him, that it’s not necessarily matters to you so much about the pronouns, you understand that it matters to other people and that you are going to make a difference. It’s our inquiry forms. Have we, are we partner one, partner two? If we make mistakes, are we correcting ourselves. Are we sharing other couples that don’t necessarily look like ourselves? Are we always at, and I know it can be tricky if you get in those bookings, but are we always at the same venues, or are we at different venues that might include different, different couples?

Are we showing our support in terms of when it is those, you know, the marker days, are we showing those, are we showcasing, are we showcasing other people that…. from different diverse backgrounds to us? Are we showcasing those as well? Even if we’re not having those clients on our feed, we can still, I think, show our inclusivity.

Where are we advertising? Do you know what I mean? Like, that’s a really big one for me as well. Which sites are you listed on? Yeah, and language in terms around of that bride/groom. Is the venue got a bridal suite or has it got a green room? Little, just little things like that that can really indicate to a couple that they’re not going to have to make the effort to change who they are, to work with you.

Dorothy: Yep. Yep.

Dee Wild: I think that’s the big one. It’s, it’s listening to the couple affirming who they are and what they feel and want for their wedding day. And then making it easy that they’re not having to communicate repeatedly, those things to you.

Dorothy: Yeah. Yep. And how can the industry as a whole, this is a big loaded question to finish on, as a whole continue to evolve and improve, not just in terms of LGBTQI plus representation, but also disability, BIPOC, neurodivergence, like there are just so many elements that I think our industry has yet to even touch on.

I feel like we’ve made some big shifts in LGBTQI+ in the past few years, but I feel like disability, BIPOC, et cetera, is still very much overlooked. So what can we as an industry do to shift this stuff?

Dee Wild: I think, first of all, we need to acknowledge that we still have work to do across a lot. So I think if we acknowledge if we listen to those of our peers and our couples, all of those people that we mentioned are in our industry.

I think we need to listen to them when they say, “Hey, not cool, or actually that’s a better way of saying something”,  like I’ve learned so much just, you know, probably since becoming a celebrant even that the way things have moved and changed and opened my eyes to stuff. So I think it’s, it’s being, it’s not assuming that we know it all, and being open to learn and open to change showcasing our, uh, you know, taking on some of that community over competition and showcasing vendors who are from those backgrounds or those groups that we don’t fit into, showcase them just to raise their voices and elevate their voices rather than them having to do all the work themselves. I think that’s the other one. For me, it’s also in doing things like doing an acknowledgement of country, but doing it well so that it doesn’t feel like, you know, that council meeting we’ve all been to where it has to be said it’s more doing it well and doing it that it’s actually placed at the venue that you’re placed at. So that it’s, it has meaning rather than just doing it because you’re supposed to, you know, I think that we, the wedding industry itself is full of fabulous neurodivergent people. So I think rather than trying to mask or not accept that, just kind of just…..just broadening our senses a little bit in terms of what can and should happen at a wedding that makes everybody feel included.

Dorothy: And there are so many resources now out there that will, no, it’s a good answer; but there are so many resources that just, all they ask of you is to listen and not to fight back and not to like, “Oh, well, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah”, no, just listen and and learn from them.

Dee Wild: And I think I think that’s the other thing as well. It’s that it’s the listening and the learning and not, and accepting that we all get things wrong. And there’s certainly language I’ve used in the past that I wouldn’t use now. There’s certainly perspectives that, you know, I can’t have. So I think it’s, or don’t have. So I think it, it is, it’s, it’s accepting that we don’t know everything and being willing to….to learn and listen and take on that new information.

Dorothy: Yep. Yeah. There’s a lot in how you respond to that stuff, as we mentioned before.

Dee Wild: Yeah, completely. Yep. Yeah.

Dorothy: So do you have any last words of wisdom when it comes to hiring amazing vendors?

Dee Wild: I really think, and I’ve put it in the things that, and it always comes back to this for me is that you can’t be what you can’t see. And so for so long, marriage equality or gay marriage in inverted commas was kind of, it was politicised, but it always, the vision was always of like, and not that there’s absolutely anything wrong with that, but two leather-clad, quite butch-looking women getting married and then two fabulously dressed gay, do you know what I mean?

That was a stereotype and that was all that we got shown to us for a very, very long time. And now even like I said before, the term ‘gay wedding’ annoys me because what is that? It doesn’t actually exist. So I think it’s just expanding, expanding our, well, expanding, but also narrowing down in on each couple in front of us. And that’s who we need to be responding to and looking to. And for a couple, if you’re not seeing yourself in a vendor’s feed and communication, or even how they’re talking to you, then look for one that does. Because there’s plenty out there that are absolutely amazing. And they don’t have to come from your community, necessarily.

They just have to be your people. Sso it might be, it might be more that you have another bond with them over football club or car or, I don’t know, but that one thing that, that is important to you, that’s also important to them. I think that’s the, it’s a bit like making friends, you know what I mean?

Dorothy: I was just about to say that I feel like sometimes it’s like your vendors should be your mates and maybe that’s a little bit too far, but you should feel like you want to be friends with them, especially people you spend a lot of time with on the day.

Dee Wild: And this is, you know, when I, when I buy you that drink at a planning meeting, I’m then going to ask you to divulge how you met, how you feel about each other, how you ….

Dorothy: On our first meeting….

Dee Wild: What I mean like it’s, so that’s also why I’m, you know, quite open about myself, because I’m going to be asking a lot of you to create that customised personalised ceremony.

I need you to trust me. And so therefore I need to be open and honest with you. But also I do think that’s when I come back to, if you wouldn’t want to go out for a coffee or a beer with this person outside of wedding planning, then I don’t think they’re the vendor for you, because you do spend a lot of time with us.

And you are also investing sometimes a lot of money with this person. So the couples are in the power here of making choices too. So the couple definitely has the power there to decide….in a way to decide if a vendor is inclusive, because if they don’t, if they don’t feel included and they don’t feel comfortable and safe, then that’s the, that’s the power and the decision there.

I think so trusting you gut, seeing yourself reflected. Do you want to be friends at least for the next 18 months with this person?

Dorothy: At the most stressful point or some of the most stressful point of your life?

Dee Wild: Yes. And I think that’s the thing as well. I often think of like that moment where you arrive at the ceremony or you’re about to walk down the aisle and you’ve got a photographer and a venue manager and me coming at you and it’s a caring awareness….

Dorothy: It’s like all the people you love most in the world waiting for you.

Dee Wild: I the sight of the three of us makes you go, are they going to say my name, my pronouns, and have they been respectful to my community that are sitting down and waiting for me to walk down this aisle to a song that I chose three months ago and now I’m not sure about, if, if we’re not if the idea of us doesn’t calm, at least calm or excite you, then find another vendor.

Dorothy: I think that’s a perfect way to end it because that’s just like, that’s the perfect advice. I don’t think anyone summed it up in a way that like, with all those things, am I, am I going, “am I calmed by you” or am I like, “Oh God, what’s happening”? Yeah. Yeah.

Dee Wild: I think actually, I think, yeah, that might be the moment where you go, Oh, yep.

Dorothy: Yep. Yep. Yep. Well, thank you so much for joining me today. That was such a delightful chat. I had so much fun talking to you and getting to know you.

Dee Wild: Same. Thank you. Thank you for having me. This is fun.

Dorothy: My pleasure. A big, beautiful thank you to Dee for joining us today. If you’d like to find out more about today’s episode, head on over to au. We have a full written transcript of the show along with all the links on how you can book Dee for your very own wedding day. We would love to hear what you thought of today’s episode. So drop us an email, send us a DM, leave us a review and we’ll be back very soon with another episode of The Feel Good Wedding Podcast.