Presiding over the marriage of besotted lovers is a long way from working in the depths of forensic analysis at the University of NSW's Department of Anatomy.
Port Macquarie civil marriage celebrant Julie Ash embraced a seachange to the Mid North Coast after working as a technical officer in forensic medicine in Sydney.
During her career she conducted around 3300 autopsies and was the overseer of the body donation program for the University of NSW.
"I'd been working with department for 18 years and fast approaching retirement. I thought, I need to do something happy now," Ms Ash laughed.
"I had a certificate four in embalming and it's not everyone's cup of tea, but it was extremely interesting.
"I was thinking at the time that I would approach the Port Macquarie Hospital to do a few autopsies here because I had trained their staff.
"I loved the job but it was very physically demanding and I was just getting too old for it. Becoming a registered marriage celebrant instead in 2013 was an opportunity to be out from behind closed doors.
"Changing from each job is definitely chalk and cheese. The roles are just so different. I'm loving the weddings because it's the happiest day of people's lives.
"I did love my forensics but now I like guiding people and I love assisting people with their big day. Ask any celebrant and you'll find that we do it for the passion, not for the money.
"Celebrancy is a very rewarding job, but also at times demanding. It is just wonderful being a part of such a big event in the history of a couple."
Ms Ash is one of 35 celebrants in the Hastings being recognised at this year's National Celebrants Day, organised by the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants on Friday, November 20.
More than 9000 celebrants provide a service to the community for weddings, funerals, memorials services, naming ceremonies and other occasions in Australia.
"Having a national day is recognition for the service celebrants do provide. It's nice that we have a day to be a part of and celebrate because there is a lot of work, support, care, professional and compassion involved," Ms Ash said.
Ms Ash is a sub-committee member of AFCC and a registered marriage celebrant with Julie Ash Ceremonies by Julie.
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