What is your name
What is the name of your business?
Hilary Channing Wedding and Family Celebrant
What town are you based in?
What is your speciality, service type?
I am a Wedding Celebrant, in other words I can marry you!
Did you have a previous career before you started your business?
Yes I owned my own HR Consultancy Business for 11 years which I gave up last year, but miss so much I am starting up again in 2018! I do celebrancy as a part time business with the rest of my time spent helping clients with strategic HR and Executive Recruitment
What year did you start your business?
First wedding ceremony was June 2015
What motivated and inspired you to start your business?
I was recovering from major surgery in 2014 and my husband had bought me a magazine to read on our flight to Malta. There was an article in it about being a wedding celebrant and I thought ….that’s it …..that will do me nicely until retirement!! I just fell in love with everything to do with wedding ceremonies being the epitome of the wedding day rather than something to just get through! It also fulfilled my love of creative writing which I have always loved but not really explored properly before
What do you think were the 3 key steps you took to get everything going in the beginning?
Getting properly qualified was for me the most important aspect and so I booked when I returned from holiday to train with the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants in Wedding and Family Celebrancy. A website was the next step and the third was having the confidence to actually marry two people
I have had the privilege of working alongside Hilary, and she is one of the most wonderfully reassuring people. She is so gentle and lovely through your ceremony. I know George and Tusyan both loved the ceremony Hilary created for their blessing in 2016
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business, attracting new customers?
Website – I get a lot of traffic through my website. Unlicensed Venues – getting in touch with these and getting on preferred supplier lists. Social media is Ok for awareness but I don’t think I have ever received business from it but I’m not a prolific user!
What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
Biggest challenge by far is people not knowing what a celebrant is or does or that they have the option to use one! I am amazed at how much people spend on weddings. Yes when spending the money they do, they seem happy to have a registrar ceremony. This being exactly the same as everyone else, when actually they can have a bespoke and personal ceremony for the same price. I am still working on this one! I am also shocked at the fact that planners and organisers are aware of the options to book a Celebrant as well
If you could positively affect/change the wedding industry in one way what would it be?
Give people the opportunity to know they can have choice in their ceremony. Also I don’t think many couples know the wide range of options that they have. Loads of couples that I work with have really had to work hard to research all the options available that aren’t the standard wedding package so if I could do one thing it would be to market how weddings can really be done differently and cost effectively
What do you think is the key to your credibility in the wedding industry?
Excellent reviews and testimonials from past customers are good for credibility. Always being professional, looking the part for the event, being on time and going out of my way to help people with other bits on the day. Getting on well with other wedding suppliers and networking with them. Always smile at people – it makes such a difference
What do you wish you had known before you started this business?
I wish I had known much more before I started. What I hadn’t taken into account perhaps was the fact that with so many Saturday weddings – your summer can be very long and difficult to get a break!! I turn away quite a few Saturday summer ceremonies as I only do one ceremony per day and the key dates get booked up very quickly. Would prefer all year round weddings but appreciate summer is favourite time
Can you tell us about any habits you have/things you do, which set up success every day?
I have to have a clear strategy and plan that I work to every day and I’m very methodical – I check and recheck everything. I combine my celebrancy business with my HR consultancy, running a small property portfolio, being a Board Member for a Housing Association and helping my husband with his business oh and running a home – the latter of which I do very badly!! If I become overwhelmed I often book a coaching session to get back on track. If I make a mistake I make sure I learn from it!
The most courageous thing i’ve ever done as an entrepreneur is…
Start up my celebrancy business in a field that I had no knowledge of before so had to listen, learn, research and make mistakes…
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My favourite business tool/resource/book/podcast is…
The 5 second rule – Mel Robbins and Flip the switch – Jez Rose
My favourite quote is…
Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you lots to do but never gets you anywhere – Erma Bombeck
If you could go anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
Anywhere, if my mum and dad were there (both have passed away)
If you could pick anyone, who would you most like to have dinner with?
My husband Shaun …..oh ok it would have been Alan Rickman or George Michael. I’m very superficial!!
What are your non-work habits that help you with your work-life balance?
Shopping for clothes and going to South Goa in India for two weeks of bliss
What were you doing the last time you looked at a clock and realised you had lost all track of time?
Writing a wedding ceremony – I can sometimes take hours to get a script just right – not a brilliant use of time but I am a perfectionist
Describe yourself in one word
What movie, no matter how many times you’ve seen it, do you have to watch when it’s on?
The English Patient
Everything to do with the wedding industry really
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Don’t worry about getting old – it happens. I’m well into my fifties now and have two businesses – use your knowledge to help others get going, always give people some of your time and don’t expect to get something back and always, always, smile. I can’t remember who said it – I think Kevin Spacey – if you are lucky enough to do well, its your responsibility to send to the elevator back down.
What single piece of advice would you give a newly engaged couple?
Take your time and look at all the options
The best piece of advice i’ve ever been given is…
Don’t give up…..keep going
How to contact Hilary