Singer, actor, celebrity, charity worker – as if there weren’t enough strings to her bow, the beautiful Tottie Goldsmith has now added another. Several months ago, she became a qualified marriage celebrant.
Chatting with Tottie in her recently renovated bayside apartment, it’s clear this is a year of fresh beginnings – a new home, a new career and a revitalised trajectory for The Chantoozies, who are launching a new song and video clip.
But more about that later. Let’s start with the most recent career development – becoming a marriage celebrant.
What was it that inspired Tottie to be the one who blesses couples exchanging matrimonial vows? ‘Three people suggested it to me,’ said Tottie. ‘I’ve always had this belief that if you get a message from the universe three times, you must act on it. The first person to suggest it was my Dad, the second was a producer and the third was my sister-in-law. So I figured I’d better do something about it.’
But it wasn’t as simple as Tottie imagined. ‘The course isn’t easy at all. I wanted to get it over with as soon as possible but it took about seven months on-line and I worked at it constantly – even when travelling. But then the course I was studying with lost their accreditation so I had to sit for it again through the Attorney General’s office.’
That didn’t deter Tottie. She persisted, started from scratch, studied hard, graduated and then finally had cause to celebrate when she was granted her licence. ‘It was a really exciting day. I felt I’d achieved something. Just seeing the certificate with my name on it made me feel really proud. The first wedding I did, when I first said the words, “I’m a civil celebrant authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to the law in Australia,” it felt extraordinary.’
Performing a marriage ceremony comes naturally to Tottie. ‘It’s an incredible thing and I’m so glad I did the course.’ she said. ‘It really suits me. I love people, I love being involved in this sensitive but happy time and the response I’m getting from people is fantastic. I almost become a part of the family and I’m really honoured to be part of such a special time in their lives.’
Initially Tottie meets with the betrothed couple to see if they have the ‘right vibe’ between them and to talk about how the couple wants the ceremony to proceed. Then she sends them some ideas in an email with a template of how she thinks the couple might like the service to run. ‘I also like to see them a couple of times before the wedding to make sure we’ve covered everything and then we have a rehearsal.’
So was she nervous before conducting her first wedding four months ago? ‘I was a little, but because I’ve done so much MC work, I knew I’d be fine. I also rehearsed with a couple of friends of mine who played the bride and groom to practice the technical stuff – like when to pass the rings and juggle the microphone and it was all fine.’
Tottie is also a big supporter of gay marriage and is hopeful she’ll be able to conduct weddings for gay couples in the future. ‘In my family, I have a gay cousin and a gay aunt and their relationships are just as deep and profound as anyone else’s. Love is not gender specific. Really decent deep people rise above gender when it comes to love so I think that’s also a place in the market where I’ll be able to work well.’
A surprising twist to Tottie’s new career is that she’s also recently been asked to conduct funerals by families who don’t hold specific religious beliefs, but want a spiritual send-off for loved ones.
‘I was asked to do this,’ said Tottie, ‘I told the family I’d find someone else more suitable but they insisted they wanted me. It was an incredibly profound experience to sit with these people and talk with them about this woman I’d never met, but I felt I really knew her by the time we’d finished. Sitting with this family was an honour. I then went home and wrote up a condensed version of what everyone told me. We also talked about what music to play and how to structure the service, so it’s actually quite creative too.’
Like weddings, performing the funeral service was equally rewarding. ‘The woman who hired me rang the next day and said, “That was perfect. The whole family loved you. I think this is your calling.” I was really moved by this and it did feel right. Because I lost my Mum so recently, I really ‘got it’ and was sensitive to what they needed. I want to provide a safe, comfortable place for these people who are grieving.’
Of course the only problem for Tottie now is juggling her new vocation with her already established career as a singer. Especially as her band, The Chantoozies, has had a resurgence of popularity in the past year, meaning her calendar is heavily booked. With many weddings taking place on weekends, at the same time most venues want the band, how is she going to manage to continue doing both?
‘It will be tricky,’ she said. ‘There’s one day coming up where I’ve got a wedding at 2pm, then we drive out to a vineyard and I’ll have to get changed in the backseat ready to perform on stage. In one instance, I had to turn down a Chantoozies gig to do a wedding and in another instance, I turned down a wedding to do a music gig. So yes, it’s a juggle.’
But at the moment, the band takes priority. The Chantoozies are preparing to shoot a film clip for a new single they’re about to release so all Tottie’s energy is going in to that.
I’d love to tell you more about the new song, but Tottie says she’s sworn to secrecy. ‘We made a public declaration and put it on Facebook that we’d have a new single out by the end of March. It might be early April at this stage, but after having made such a big announcement, we’re determined to follow through with it.’
Tottie says she and her three fellow band members are all close friends. They don’t have management, because after so many years in the business and knowing each other’s strengths, they don’t need it. ‘We work really well together, ‘ said Tottie. ‘We’ve go an incredible sisterhood and an incredible work ethic and we’re better than any management team out there.’
So what does Tottie hope will happen with her song? ‘I’m hoping Smooth FM at least will pick it up. And other radio stations. I’m hoping the film clip goes viral, because it has an essence to it that could go viral and I’m hoping that once we get more attention, the venues will pay us double the money and we’ll have double the fun!’
Tottie said a recent session with a life coach made her realise just how important The Chantoozies are in her life. ‘If somebody said to me, you’ll never be able to sing with The Chantoozies again, I’d be devastated. It means that much to me. It’s that much fun. If we haven’t done a gig for ten days and I go to sound check and I’m on stage with my best friends surrounded by music that we love and it all pulls together and it happens, then I feel happy!’
‘There’s a lot going on right now, but I’m looking forward to all of it. It’s going to be a good year,’ said Tottie. Her smile says it all.
If you’d like to know more about Tottie’s work as a singer, actor or celebrant, check out her website which is at: www.tottiegoldsmith.com.au