Murphy's Law and the Pursuit of Happiness

A History of the Celebrant Movement to the year 2000

by Dally Messenger III

"Murphy's Law and The Pursuit of Happiness" is essential to every Celebrants library; it is the ultimate resource. No one else except Dally Messenger could possibly have written this book.  `How can you understand your proud profession unless you are completely educated and can converse on its history, growth and development?  
If you are deeply committed to your profession and wish to engage others with genuine  knowledge of your profoundly significant work, it cannot be done well without an appreciation of its history. This book by Dally Messenger III will give you insight and strengthen your commitment to the privileged work we do."
(Diane Storey - Celebrant since 1975)

Dally MessengerISBN: 9780867861693
Cover and Author


Now available as and E-book from Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks

At last, Dally Messenger's History of Celebrancy is now released. It is in normal book size - 290 pages - and in six sections i.e. "Volumes". The text has been years in the creation, well researched and documented - yet easy to read, interesting in style, and written by a successful celebrant who has been deeply involved in the development of the program from the beginning.

The first section/volume, "The Background", MLATPOH
prefaces the theme of the meaning of the secular ceremony. It gives the historical context and paints the picture of the world into which the program was established. It discusses the humiliation and indignity of the then Registry office ceremonies, the rationale behind the Marriage Act of 1961 and the attitude of the law and the Churches to divorce. It reports on the 1960s and this period of profound historical change. An important part of the background was the rise of feminism and militant feminism, the success of the birth control pill, other methods of birth control and the social change which followed. It chronicles the contribution of Attorney-General Lionel Murphy and the first independent civil celebrant, Lois D'Arcy.

The second section/volume, "The Early Years",
tracks the Civil Marriage Celebrant Program, from the appointment of the first celebrant, Lois D'Arcy, to the late seventies / early eighties. It talks about the experience of the first celebrants and their enthusiasm, the" Dismissal" of the Whitlam government and the attitude of liberal Attorney-General, Robert Ellicott, who considered abolishing the program. It talks about how the public attitude to divorce and remarriage began to change, and the joy of the general public in the choices they now had. It also discusses the problem of celebrants thinking they had to be counsellors, and the dampening effect of the fixed fee.

The third section/volume, "Progress"
track the development of the wedding ceremony from the initial euphoria to the awareness of the new freedoms and the development of content and meaning. It especially notes the evolution of poetic content and the "theatre skills" developed by leading celebrants. It acknowledges the early pioneers who lifted standards and consolidated them. It tracks civil ceremonies from the gimmicky weddings of the early years to public acceptance that we were mainstream. It comments on the dignity it attained for secular and non-church people.
It follows the evolution of the Naming Ceremony and the Renewal of Vows ceremony and even the initial attempt to establish Gay Marriage.

The fourth section/volume, "Funerals"
tracks the initial resentment and dissatisfaction regarding funerals which existed in the sixties and seventies, the influence of Dr Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, the contribution of celebrant Diane Storey, and the first funerals by celebrants. It records the rejection of funerals by most marriage celebrants and the Australian Attorney-General's Department. It acknowledges pioneers of the civil funeral celebrant movement, and how they assisted families in grief. It contains stories of the World War 11 diggers' funerals of the eighties. It goes into the struggle over money and time with Funeral Directors, and the revival of standards by reforming celebrant Kathleen Hurley and others.


The fifth section/volume, "The Fixed Fee et alia",
is mostly about struggles and political problems. It details the battle with a hostile Attorney-General's department and irresponsible Attorneys-General. It deals with the fixed fee problem, the case of celebrant Jessica Gosnell, and the legal challenge of Professor Michael Pryles. It recounts the rise of the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants and how it led the challenges to the government. It details the particular malevolence of Attorneys-General Duncan and Michael Lavarch and the powerful support of Liberal backbencher, Daryl Williams QC. It describes the first competencies set up by the Attorney-General's Department and the promise of support for the International College of Celebrancy. It recounts the establishment of the National Council of Celebrants.

The sixth section/volume, "The Flowering"
describes the first Pallotti conference and the ones following. It recounts the Attorney-General's national conference to mark the 25th anniversary of our founding. It describes how these annual conferences signalled an increased understanding of our role as celebrants. It records the influence of international lecturers — Mary Hancock who advocated a great range of ceremonies to celebrate and mark important life changes and milestones — David Oldfield from Washington DC opened celebrants' minds to the necessity of Rites of Passage for adolescents and for changes in industry and business. It tracks the rise of Victoria University's, then Monash University's, Post Graduate Diploma in Celebrancy and the International College of Celebrancy's Diplomas. It describes the promise of reform of Attorney-General Daryl Williams QC, i.e.careful selection of celebrants, balance of celebrant numbers, and quality training of celebrants.

Information about Dally Messenger - Author Editor and Publisher

RRP -Hard copy - $49 including postage

ISBN: 978-0-86786-169-3

Retail copies available from the Celebrants Centre (Manager: Yvonne Werner)
Ph: 0411 128 285

A very secure way to pay is to ask us for a Paypal invoice which you pay with a debit/credit card. You can deposit direct into our Bank Account - BSB 814 282 - Account 3130 7885