A little blog post throwback for year that was 2016 in the world of Josh and Britt.
Spoiler alert: it was awesome.
Note: There were 365 days of awesome in this year, to boil that down to 16 points was hard, so at least 349 people, elopements, weddings, events, and celebrations are missing, sorry!
1. The Elopement Collective
In 2013 Britt and I had a crazy idea: pop up weddings. One venue, one photographer, one florist, one stylist, one celebrant, on one day – marrying and photographing eight or so couples across the day. In 2014 we launched as The Pop Up Wedding Co and straight away the world took notice. Local journalists interviewed us, Seven Sunrise set us up for a Star Wars thing, Seven National News interviewed us, and the Channel 9 Today Show did a live broadcast with us from Perth.
Through 2015 we built the concept and had some awesome wins, even taking it to Hawaii, but we discovered two things that lead us to re-branding the business to The Elopement Collective: a) we were far more passionate about the intimate elopement aspect of pop up weddings as opposed to organising large wedding-like events for eight couples on the same day, and b) the name “pop up weddings” wasn’t trademarkable and the industry was shitting all over the name. Lots of other businesses were taking the concept and doing it terribly, making them tacky, cheap, and yucky.
So, for day one of 2016 we retired The Pop Up Wedding Co and refocused on elopements with a brand that is all about eloping. We have still been running successful pop up wedding events through 2016 and into next year, but we’ll retire them by September 2017 and focus in on what we’re good at: elopements with our collective of photographers, videographers, and florists.
2. Training and coaching
Something I’m really proud of from 2016 is that I’ve had the opportunity to encourage one-on-one over 60 different marriage celebrants/officiants and even photographers and wedding planners across Australia, Canada, the USA, and even in Europe. Usually through coaching or workshops, one of my greatest joys is to help my friends succeed.
In 2017 I’ve got a new program launching soon called Unpopular, and it’s the culmination of the last three years of workshops I’ve been leading, conferences I’ve spoken at, and coaching I’ve given.
Keep an eye out for Unpopular, it’d be rad if you got involved 🙂
3. My worst nightmare happened
In February my worst nightmare took place in the hinterland west of Noosa – I was really late to a wedding. Spoiler alert: I got lost. Ten months on it still haunts me, but thankfully we develop new systems and failsafes to make sure it will never happen again.
I wrote about it all here facebook.com/notes/josh-withers/no-wounds-just-stories/960098687405474
2016 was Britt and my biggest year of travel ever. I lead over 200 marriage ceremonies in five countries on three continents. Over 300,000km of travel on 92 flights. Boy, are my arms tired.
For those really curious, Gold Coast – Sydney is my busiest route, Gold Coast – Melbourne, the second, and Brisbane – Perth the third. Secretly wishing Iceland and the US becomes a more regular jaunt 🙂
And for the frequent flyers following along, I’m not Qantas Platinum yet, only Qantas Gold, but maybe 2017 will be my year hehe.
5. I got to marry people!
This might sound like a given, but I’ve gotten to personally know over 400 people and was lucky enough to speak life into their marriage, to tell their story, to oversee the ceremony where they walk in not married and walk out married. It’s pretty darn special and it’ll always be on my best of list.
6. Making the industry better
Early in the year I was approached by a tech startup intent on making the industry a better place to do business. So I’ve taken on a consultation role with them and hopefully in the new year there’ll be bigger news to announce, but as someone that’s been in the wedding industry for over eight years I’m excited about some machine learning and AI making the process better for brides, grooms, vendors, and venues.
7. Re-launched White Magazine
Ayers Rock is physically, spiritually, and emotionally the centre of Australia. I’ve always wanted to visit and it was only ever a dream to lead a ceremony there. With The Elopement Collective and Heart and Colour I was lucky enough to go this year! elopementcollective.photos/uluru to see the amazing photos!
9. I was away from home a lot
Looking over my Google Calendar to write this blog post I’m reminded of how many early morning flights, long drives, and overnight stays kept me away from home this year. Britt’s an absolute champion for putting up with it 🙂
Ask any Aussie and they’ve got firm opinions on Bali. Britt and I love it. It’s not somewhere we need to visit because we haven’t finished yet (like Iceland or New York), but it’s somewhere we love to live for a week at a time. In 2016 we got to visit three times, and I’d love to show you Matt and Megan’s photos!
11. People changed their wedding date for me?!
This might sound silly, but I spend a lot of time telling couples I’m not available for their wedding simply because I’m already booked for that day. Some couples change their date so they can have me. Mind blown. Luke and Emily where one of those couples – Morgs shot their wedding!
12. I convinced a couple to cancel their wedding
Things you shouldn’t be proud of but somehow are: filed away in this blog post.
13. We renewed our vows!
In January Britt and I travelled to Queenstown with our friends Bek and Phil and we renewed our vows! You’ve got to see the photos here.
14. I married people in …
- THE SNOW!
- A BAR IN MELBOURNE!
- A LAKE IN PEMBERTON!
- OMG FREAKING ICELAND!
- THE YARRA VALLEY!
- PORT DOUGLAS!
- THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE!
- THE RAIN!
- BYRON BAY!
- A REALLY CUTE PARK ON THE GOLD COAST!
- THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE IN OREGON, JUST OUTSIDE OF PORTLAND OMG!
- THE BLUE MOUNTAINS!
- and finally, THE SWAN VALLEY!
And so so so so so many other awesome places but I’ve got no chance of convincing you to click 200+ links.
15. I got better at being married
As far as the published romantics go, I’m a pretty terrible husband. Don’t get me wrong, I’m madly in love with Britt and we are both 100% committed to annoying each other til death do us part.
But I’m still learning how to be a better husband, how to be a better husband to Britt, how to be a better friend, and how to be a better business partner. But 2016 was definitely our best yet! We’ve known each other for over eight years and we’ve been married for four, so I’m even more excited about the lifetime ahead of us.
The secrets to good marriage that I can share thus far is to take her shopping in Paris, spend quality time with her in Berlin, enjoy street food in Portland, and to wander the markets in Bali. In fact if you were to boil it right down, it’s probably got nothing to do with money or flights, but it’s all about quality time together.
16. The best part of 2016 is…
.. that as 2016 finishes, 2017 begins. My hope for the year to come is that Britt and I can dream bigger than we’ve ever dreamt before, that we can have a bigger impact than we have before, and that more people across the globe can enter into better marriages, and have more meaningful and purposeful celebrations and ceremonies around their lives because of the work we do.
Our businesses are focused on the future – ours, and yours.
Not everyone has to hire me as their celebrant, or ask Britt to plan their elopement, or ask us for business advice, but we sincerely do hope that your wedding has meaning and purpose, that your marriage is one that changes the world for the better, and that your business can do the same.