jac the hitcher is a killer marriage celebrant
Jacinta Mew, aka Jac the Hitcher, tells us how she shakes up the traditional wedding.
A while back, it felt like the universe was telling me to become a celebrant. First, there was the marriage equality vote – I walked past Parliament when the ‘yes’ vote was passed and I wanted to be part of that big party. Then, I was working hospitality at a wedding, and I clocked on at the same time as the celebrant. She did her thing, had a champagne and left – she was probably there for less than two hours. I had a big light-bulb moment then; it was the first time I’d really considered looking into the job. A week later, I was the MC for my brother's wedding, and got so much feedback saying, “You should actually do the marrying. There’s a market out there for a bit of fresh energy.” By the end of the night, I decided I was going to be a celebrant, and enrolled in the course a few days later.
It was six months of study: one week of intensive theory, then an assessment portfolio, which was a lot of research on marriage cultures and script-writing. We had to prep for mock events, including weddings, funerals, baby-naming ceremonies, vow renewals and commitment ceremonies. We did a lot of case studies to focus on legal knowledge around marriage. Once you get your certificate IV in celebrancy, you apply for your licence via the Attorney-General’s department, which involves an online exam, another mock ceremony and more case studies, as well as police checks and references.
The pre-wedding planning requires two meetings: one to start the paperwork, then the fun stuff. I take the time to know my couples and tailor their ceremony completely to them. I send them a questionnaire, and each individual fills it out separately – they don’t share their answers with each other. From there, I take their story and create my interpretation of it, to be read out at the wedding. The first draft takes about eight hours to write, and it’s a lot of polishing and emails after that. We do paperwork closer to the date and a ceremony run-through at the pub, then there’s the actual shindig.
My celebrant alter ego, Jac the Hitcher, is me turned up to 11. She’s the femme-fatale character from a Tarantino movie. She’s fierce and sassy, but also an old-school hopeless romantic. I really wanted to shake things up and be the celebrant I wish I’d had when I got married eight years ago. All the readings and rituals and traditional language doesn’t need to be in the ceremony at all – my approach is to can all that and personalise it. I want to start the day with the biggest high and make the ceremony really bloody fun.
As Jac the Hitcher, I attract people of all ages and backgrounds, but the thing they all have in common is that they don't give a shit about tradition. I've had wedding rehearsals with couples dressed in inflatable T-Rex outfits, and cute elopements over breakfast in pyjamas! I’ve also got a side business called Bitchin’ Hitchin’ – quick, pop-up, Vegas-style weddings minus the Vegas. Soon, we’ll have eight couples getting married back to back in a Sydney dive bar in front of 400 people. It’s sponsored by a beer company and there’s going to be a drag queen! I also teamed up with a photographer to do a fundraiser for bushfire victims, marrying 20 couples over two days in an ice-cream shop.
Being a celebrant really is the best job ever. It’s given me the freedom to work my own hours and it’s a great creative outlet. I love being part of the most special day people will have. I’ve created really wholesome friendships with couples who only came into my life because they booked me. My greatest compliment after a ceremony is if someone says, “That was so Tim and Tanya,” or Bill and Ben. That’s all I want, really.