JENNY JOY - JOYFUL CEREMONIES
I grew up on a farm in Hastings, on the Mornington Peninsula. My childhood was spent being a violin nerd, reading all the Babysitters Club books, climbing trees, riding my little motorbike all over the paddocks, and strangely holding mass wedding ceremonies under a massive paperbark that was deemed the Love Tree in primary school (obviously the more sinister Hate Tree was next to it, and was kept well away from). I was the youngest of four much older siblings, a surprise late arrival.
I did one year of uni then worked at Telstra, which inspired me to find a job that didn’t make me watch the clock all day whilst my brain oozed out of my ears. I discovered Auslan and learned the language full time for a couple of years, then became an interpreter. I loved it, especially working with a women’s footy team who had a couple of deaf members. I wasn’t working long before I got a terrible shoulder injury and had to bow out and find a new career, which was a bit of a blow. Kind of like finding your soulmate and then getting dumped a few months in for no good reason.
I knew I had to do something that I loved and even though my arms weren’t working too well I knew I could talk and I loved connecting through storytelling. I found broadcasting and studied to be a celebrant at the same time. The course I’d started by correspondence fell by the wayside until my friends Penny and Kent got in touch and asked if I could marry them. I said geez I’d love to but I never finished my course or applied to the government for my registration, even though I learned how to do the ceremony bit. I just got distracted. So they asked me to do a ceremony for their friends and family after they did a sneaky registry office wedding. I did it (at Ceres in East Brunswick) and felt such a high afterwards that I found a six month face to face course I could do straight away, got my qualification, applied to the Attorney General and got my celebrant number a few short months later. That was ten years ago and I’ve come a long way in terms of skill set and experience over that time. My strengths lie in holding a space, as well as really gaining a strong understanding of who the couple is so I can craft a ceremony that really reflects who they are and how they mean to go forward. It’s a magical job, standing up with two people who are making that commitment in front of their loved ones. It’s so intimate, and so epic all at the same time. The waves of hope and positivity that ripple onto the couple bounce on to me so I’m pretty lucky.
I've also been a broadcasting trainer, reiki healer, writer, babysitter, DJ, breakfast radio presenter, youth worker, etc, etc, etc. Recently I went to see a psychic and she told me to stop f***ing around and pick a job, as I had about nine or ten on the go. I was a multi-passionate, a dabbler. I knew I had to back myself in one focus so I picked weddings because I might as well face it, I’m addicted to love.
The legislation changing makes me so happy, and so angry. I can’t believe it took so long to change a few little words that ultimately don’t hurt anyone and make all the difference to a marginalised group of people. I’m part of that group, and the thing is, I believe in celebrating love and commitment. I believe in ceremony and ritual and the enormous power of those things in life. I just never had any idea it would take such a long time for the law to become kinder to everyone. I’m taking bookings now from same sex couples and when I’m preparing their paperwork it’s a pretty emotional process for me personally. This is paperwork we as GLBTIQ people haven’t been able to access for so long. I understand when people want no part of the institution of marriage – it can seem so outdated and irrelevant – but it’s each person’s choice to be able to participate or not. Finally, things are as they should be. I had a huge freak out the night the law finally changed after going through the lower house. I thought I’d messed up and shouldn’t have put all my eggs in one basket because nobody was going to call. Then in the morning the phone started ringing. And ringing. And my email went ballistic. It’s ace, I finally get to marry everyone. I’m a lady lover from way back and I knew our time would come but it’s been a heck of a long slog to get there.
I work with each couple to craft a ceremony that clearly reflects who they are. Both as individuals and as a team. I have no interest in perpetuating the outdated notion of the daughter being passed from her father to her spouse, like a piece of property. Marriage has evolved, just like most other parts of life, and modern ceremonies reflect that.
I moved to Castlemaine because my wife and I wanted to move out of Melbourne but did a whoopsie and went South East first and bought a funny little place in a coastal village called Warneet. We lived there for two years. We lasted twelve months being super polite and stressed before one of us cracked and told the other we hated it and were so bored and lonely and couldn’t deal with the local delicacy being Vegemite pizza. We’re food wankers and need organic fancy local produce around us. We need good coffee, and music, and cinema, and art, and a community who we can hold hands in front of without being nervous. We house sat for some mates in Urquhart St for a few weeks and were both like, “Ohhhh, that’s where we’re meant to be,” and moved up six months later.
We knew we wanted to have a family, and thought long and hard about where we wanted that to happen before moving up here. My dad was in hospital after a heart attack and I was talking with him about it, and he said, “Find your community of people and you’ll find where you’re meant to live”. He was right. We originally lived in Thornbury and Northcote, so Castlemaine feels really nice. It’s spacious and cruisy and there’s so much happening, but it feels like less of a pressurised environment. There’s not so much fear of missing out, that frantic zipping from this exhibition to that gig to that café to that talk to that shop all in one afternoon. You can take your time and breathe. Sometimes I miss going to matinee gigs at the Northcote Social Club, and getting Pho at Lam Lam. I’m in the city a bit for work, and I love stopping in to the Preston Market to stock up on Asian veggies and pantry staples, and sometimes I come home with a boot full of Bonsoy cos it’s a smidge cheaper.
It took a while but after four years of trying, our beautiful baby boy Luce (rhymes with smooch) arrived. He loves it here, especially doing things like going to the artists market and looking at all the people, and having a bit of a boogie to the Itchy Scabs. We have made so many great friends up here, and we feel confident that Luce will have a really great childhood in Castlemaine. He already has heaps of mates, aunties and uncles who love him and who he loves. We’re stoked with the quality of people around us and feel so lucky. Since he arrived I’m feeling a pull to stay a bit more local so I’m not spending energy on the highway drive, and I can be with my family a bit more. So I’d ideally love to be booking the majority of my weddings locally!
I met Tracey when I was working in breakfast radio and couldn’t stay awake past 8 pm, so I was really fun to date. It took us a while to stop going red in the face and laughing inappropriately and accidentally smashing plates to sort ourselves out enough to become a couple, but once we did we were good to go. I’ve never known anyone like Tracey, she sees the world in this amazing way and I’ve learned so much from her. Trace has made me a better feminist, cook, dancer and person. We have a mini schnauzer called Clemmy J, a cat, Dr Flossie who we got from the Castlemaine RSPCA and a flock of chooks. Our son Luce is the greatest baby I’ve ever met, I really like him as well as loving him. I’m excited about being able to have chats with him once he can talk, and going on adventures together as a family. For now I’m very much enjoying his Godzilla impression whenever he’s about to drink water or eat cantaloupe.
Having our baby in Castlemaine has been ace. Great local doctors, fabulous local parents who have been so supportive as well as being amazing friends while we’ve been finding our feet as mums in particular. Your world expands and shrinks in equal measures when you become a parent. It’s important to be able to talk about all the things that feel true all at once, even though they often contradict each other. All the emotions magnify times a million when you have a kid. We had to do a bit of educating at the hospital in Bendigo about inclusive language around same sex parents but I’m not scared of writing a terse email when I need to so it’s all good! We don’t have any family in the area, so that’s been a bit hard but it’s great when relatives make the trek to come visit.
Favourite places in the area: Theatre Royal for Felicity’s caramel slice and a really good coffee. Drives around Harcourt, it’s so beautiful and I love all the farm gate produce. Getting together with other parents and babies and toddlers at the Dove in their gorgeous courtyard. The artists and farmers markets that are on once a month, the Wesley Hill market every Saturday. Everything happening at the Old Woolen Mill is just a cracker – such a great, dynamic space. The Botanical Gardens for a stroll or a picnic with a cheeky pie from Johnny Baker's. Gigs and burgers at the Bridge, sewing classes at the Old Gaol with Julie Red. Ice cream with Carly Fern at Ice cream Social. Sushi and records in the arcade where Record Low is. It’s cheesy but I always love coming home to our house and being together.
Advice for people thinking of moving here: If you have to commute when you first move up here, work out exactly how long you’d be happy to do that for, and what’s sustainable. Trace and I sat down and worked out that for six months it could kind of work, and it was pretty much exactly on that time frame that she found work in Bendigo as a social worker. It helped us to be prepared for that, mentally and emotionally. We recently got a car that has cruise control which is essential for those long Calder Highway trips. Highly recommend having that going on if you’re going to be back and forth to Melbourne regularly!
Find a good plumber! We’ve had a few false starts with people who came and broke our pipes and then never came back to fix them. Twice!
I think bartering is really great in the country. If you have a skill you can share, offer it up. You might be able to trade for child minding, or a hot meal dropped off at your door, or some help in the garden, or all sorts of things. It’s great to muck in and offer help when you can. It all goes round and round. If someone’s having a meal train after their new baby arrives, jump on it. It’s a good thing to do. If someone’s gathering food or supplies for a local person in need, give whatever you can. Giving is good. We all help each other out and that’s a beautiful thing.
I’m setting up a great business for people who want to get married with a local florist friend of mine, Laura who goes by the name Queen of Stems.
Here’s my website. I’d love to marry you!