The pandemic is everywhere. It’s not news anymore and people have adjusted for such a significantly long time that we have coined the phrase the ‘new normal’.
Sorry peeps, there really wasn’t ever a normal. There was an everyday and a routine and a habit but things change and that’s the way the world has worked from the beginning. I am not trying to trivialise the pandemic. Far from it! But what I’ve learned in the last hundred weddings is that normal wasn’t ever really very fun anyway.
In the time of pandemic and cancelled weddings and #postponedontcancel it’s a great opportunity to remember what’s really important. Your wedding is important. Your families and your friends are important. But when it comes to weddings the most important person involved is you and your favourite human.
Love in the time of Covid has taught us that. That the people you love, the people who sit on the couch with you, help you do the dishes and take the garbage out because you don’t want to, these are what’s important in all of the times of the world. And Covid has forced us to remember that.
Be kind to yourself. Be kind to your vendors and your guests but most of all, be kind to your partner. Something they were looking forward to, something big, just like you, has been moved, cancelled, and frought with hard work conversations in the world of uncertain postponements. It will be ok. You will get married. There’s just some extra trash to take out in isolation. XOXO
There’s something about marrying people you know that’s a little bit special. I love all weddings. I love watching your faces when couples see each other for the first time in your dresses and suits, I love watching your loved ones watch you and I love all of the pomp and ceremony that a wedding can be.
But this year I got to marry a couple that were a little bit extra special. Zac and Denny got married at Yabbaloumba Retreat in Cambroon in the Sunshine Coast, Hinterland. It was beautiful. A country retreat with real life slip rail fences, a lake and a ranch house fit for the best barn wedding you’ve ever seen.
But the location wasn’t the best thing about this wedding. Zac was part of a life I lived a long time ago. Zac was once a student. He was one of my boys. In the early years of my other career, I taught in a country town three hours west of Brisbane. I attached myself to a cohort of students and for five years, they were not just my career, they were my kids.
Ten years later, Zac rings me out of the blue. “Bauer! I’m getting married!” And just like that the decision was easy. I walked in on that wedding day and those boys were mine still. But this time Zac had bought in an extra and I’m so glad he did. Denni was the perfect compliment to my not-so-little-kid.
This wedding was an absolute treat. I really have never been so proud to be involved in a wedding and I was so excited to watch my two worlds’ collide in such a spectacular way.
No, not Expo 88 – yes I do remember that. Well, I remember lining up for things in a check jumpsuit and sitting next to a statue reading the paper. I was 8. That’s all I remember. But today we are talking wedding expos.
Last night saw the opening of the One Fine Day Wedding Fair at GOMA. It’s the first time the crew from One Fine Day have made it to Brissy and the crowds did not disappoint. Hundreds of people, potential wedsters and industry pros, crammed the foyer of GOMA for a 5.30 start.
The Wedding Fair peeps certainly know how to throw a styled event. Vendors and spaces throughout the expo couldn’t have looked better but getting access to your potential vendors at expos is tough.
The waiting wedsters stood in lines to talk to vendors and the crowds at this one made it extra tough. The best hint for an expo… treat it like an industry visitor. Open your insta, follow the ones you like the look of for later and spend the rest of your time soaking in the atmosphere, drinking the free bubbles and eating the free cake. Totally worth it!
In all of the moments of a wedding there are a few that are my favourite. Well, there are lots that are my favourite. Today I had a wedding in a park in the Main Street of Gatton. Gatton is a mid sized country town just before Toowoomba. It’s a little drive but what’s a little road trip in the name of love?
Car trips are exhausting apparently… It’s not very often I get to share this job with my family. This wedding so close to my forever home that today I had some company for the drive. Not that my nephew was all that entertaining, but he is cute when he’s sleeping.
Anyway, my favourite part of this wedding was the end. Now, now, let’s not jump to conclusions people! I had a great time. I laughed and smiled and my cheeks ached by the end of the ceremony but today after the ceremony the most amazing thing happened.
Quite a number of guests came to say hello. So far situation normal, but when these guests came to chat, what they said was just the loveliest thing ever. Today these guests wanted to say thank you for making this wedding all about their friends Rebecca and Andrew.
I was slightly confused at first, after all that’s what we were there for, how could it not be about them? But these guests swore everything about what we did today was all about them. I spent some time with Rebecca and Andrew, they told me exactly what they wanted and in a miracle with the creative writing gods, it seems I got it right today.
I’d love to take the credit but alas, I can’t. I may have written that ceremony today, but it was my bride and groom that gave me the words. Listening to their story, sharing parts of their lives and bringing in the people that they love, all I had to do was throw it together. It was an absolute honour you two.
As a wedding celebrant there’s always the big Kahuna. Well usually there’s more than one, there’s a list, but the big Kahuna of venues that you hope and pray that one day someone will let you marry them there.
Maleny Manor is on my list. While my Big Kahuna is an outdoor dream venue that actually doesn’t it exist, I live in hope that some amazing couples will tick off my list and help me reduce that list to one.
This week I did my first wedding at Maleny Manor. From the moment you hit that sweeping driveway and hit that hair pin turn you almost forget you’re in control of a vehicle as the view across the mountain valley opens in front of you.
The open air gazebo makes you feel like you’ve put yourself in the mouth of the valley and the view is almost enough to distract you from why you’re really here. Almost. Maleny Manor is beautiful. The staff, some of the friendliest I’ve encountered and just being there amongst the green made this one of the most beautiful and relaxed venues I’ve ever seen.
While waiting for Kellie to arrive, I mingled and chatted with guests, found myself staring at the greenery and generally doing all I could to soak up the atmosphere. Then Kellie arrived. Kellie and Dave’s love story is one of those really revolting ones that makes you feel a little bit sick on the inside. And then you meet them. And then you realise that they are the quite the loveliest people in the whole world and you have no choice but to like them. They are those kind of people.
The wedding underway, there is nothing else to focus on than the people in front of you. Kellie and Dave, their attendants and their friends and families. The view disappears and the wedding becomes about the people. About making sure the expressions on faces are all based in happiness, that all we can all feel is the love that is shared by these families.
At the end of that wedding, there are only two things that I walked away with. That breathtaking first view of that valley and the warm gushy feeling that comes from really being part of something that is so much bigger than I am. That view will be a hard one to beat, but that feeling, it can never be beaten.
Kellie and Dave were married at Maleny Manor in Maleny. Photographer was Matt Rowe Photography. Check out their instagram for more pictures of Kellie and Dave’s big day. And thanks again guys. It was an absolute honour to be part of your big day!
My job is about love. It’s my job, my hobby, my source of shoe funds and the never-ending opportunity to make champagne toasts with strangers – everything I do (get it??) celebrates the love that you have for each other and your chosen people have for you. Recently I watched a TED talk about a woman who has a problem with the way we talk about love. She suggests that ‘falling in love’ suggests we have little choice or control in love and that if we continue to think of it in this way then we can do nothing but fall subject to its whims and demands.
She suggests that if we ‘step into love’ that we gain control, perspective and choice in the relationship that we are part of. That love becomes a collaborative work of art where the people involved construct and create a vision, a shared goal and relationship based on – yep you guessed it – a collaborative idea.
The reconstruction and reimagining of the idea of love is brilliant. And there is no doubt that the words we choose have a huge impact on the way we think about and interact with the world. There is only one small problem with this re-visioning of romantic love and that is that it requires equal buy in, equal effort and commitment from all parties involved.
Too often in our single lives, my still single life, our experiences of love are far from a collaborative effort. A lifetime of wrong choices, unrequited life, painful breakups, heart breaking lusting and sometimes a faintly bridled veil of contempt taint our experiences of love. Before you met the one, before you got here, to this point of messaging a perfect stranger to tie you together forever, our experiences of love are rarely collaborative, fair or equal.
This hangover of emotions from past love is never truly forgotten. (Unless you are those sickening people who married your first loves – for you the hangover is non existent and just for that, the rest of us hate you just a little bit.) When we are lucky enough to find that human that makes the previous pains ache less, dull slightly and push far away into our subconscious depths, we do fall. We fall uncontrollably and completely out of control in love with these beautiful strangers. Sometimes even when we don’t want to, sometimes it’s a slow burn, sometimes it hits your chest and you feel like you can’t breathe at all and sometimes the other person doesn’t even know about it. But here is where it gets good, that kind of love is short.
I believe we fall, uncontrollably, maddeningly, in love. But it’s a choice to stay there. We may fall into romantic love, but we step into true love. That active choice of collaboration and the building of a life is the love we look for, is the love we spend our lives putting ourselves on reality television for, dancing with drunken boys on dance floors across the globe for and trolling hours swiping left and right just for the faint chance of a love we choose and that chooses us back with equal force.
That’s when we marry them. When we step so far into love that the mud is seeping over the top and into your rubber boots. When that human has squished your heart like a bug and hurt you like no other and the thought of running still hasn’t crossed your mind. That’s when the art begins and the real adventures starts. When you get there, make sure you give me a call. There’s nothing that feeds the soul more than watching two people, boots filled with mud, start that adventure together.
Thanks for the TED Talk Rhonda Lee, I loved it. For those interested check out Mandy Len Catron below.
And just because I think this woman is the bomb, check her out too. It’s her fault I can do this job at all. Before her love was only meant for beauty queens.
I often think that the reason I became a celebrant is purely for the shoes and dresses. Never before in my entire life have I been able to justify the amount of floral I have purchased since I started my career as a wedding celebrant. There are dresses in pastels, bolds, brights, florals, stripes and everything in-between and I purchase each one with the line, ‘that’ll be good for a wedding.’
That line has absolutely ruined my wardrobe. And when I say ruined, I mean broken because it’s busting at the seams with overflowing fabric and sparkles that I have absolutely no chance of ever making it through. I am one of those women that hates wearing things twice. I associate my clothes and shoes with moments of sentimentality of whichever special occasion I wore it at.
The lace, royal blue dress – that’s the first dress I ever bought to do a wedding in. That long, white, floral dress – I married my best friend in that one. That navy and orange floral one – I married my baby sister in that one. That one with the birds on – that was the first wedding I shed a tear in when they weren’t even related.
The list is endless and ongoing. And it brings me to this. When there is a ‘big thing’ or a ‘special event’ that is going to change the way you live your life, you need to wear something you love. A wedding dress, a blue sparkle dress, a flowery dress, a halter dress with hearts on – it doesn’t matter what it is but if it’s something special than make sure you wear something that makes your heart soar. Because every time you open that overflowing wardrobe of financial regret you’ll take a closer look and remember every feeling you felt in that dress. And that is priceless. (Well, that’s what I tell myself.)
Wedding envy is real. Without ever having a wedding I know that it exists. I see it in my brides, my friends, the weddings of strangers and the nuptials of my nearest and dearest. It’s that persnickety little wench that lives inside you that secretly claims ‘I would never have that at my wedding’ and ‘Ew, can you believe they chose pewter?’ She’s there, inside all of us, taking tiny notes on every wedding you’ve ever attended. I know she’s there, because even though I’ve never had a wedding, she sits, with her bottle of free champagne, in pink taffeta and smudged lipstick, right there on my place card.
As a guest, the little wench, let’s call her Bridget, is loud. Before I was a celebrant, she wasn’t just sitting quietly taking notes in the background, I fed her champagne and shots and encouraged her barefoot proclamations of ‘when I get married…’ With every invitation, RSVP and new dress I bought for a wedding I fed her ego with abandon. I wanted Bridget not to write notes, but fill blackboards with information so that my future wedding could be perfect. My guests would proclaim that my wedding would be the best they’ve ever attended.
I still haven’t had the joy (pain) of planning my own wedding but now that I’m a celebrant I’ve had the joy of attending more weddings than I’ve ever dreamed of. While Bridget never truly dies, as a celebrant I’ve managed to teach her a few things. Bridget now has the maturity, experience and exposure of so many weddings that she’s got some new rules when attending weddings and I think she has learned a valuable lesson.
Bridget has learned that when a bride is happy, the rest of her wedding decor choices are irrelevant to her, and any other guest in attendance. A wedding is the reflection of the bride and groom. It’s a personal choice of style that shows the personality of the bride and groom and reflects the life they have built and the beginning of the life they will have together.
It’s not the bride’s problem that Bridget doesn’t like pewter. Nobody getting married should ever give a second thought to what Bridget likes. When Bridget attends a wedding now her only job is to watch the faces of the bride and groom and their nearest and dearest and take extensive notes on all of the things that bring giant, teethy smiles to these people who are getting married and are in love with love.
Every wedding is different. Every bride wants different things. There is absolutely no point trying to build the wedding you’ve always wanted compiled from the ‘don’t’ list from every wedding you’ve ever attended. As a bride and a groom, work out what it is about the two of you that is worth celebrating. If that thing is your undying mutual obsession with Dr Who then yes, your wedding cake should be a sonic screwdriver. If you both love sloths, then put them on everything. If visiting cemeteries in foreign countries was what bought you together and keeps you that way, then make them your table centres.
The fact that all of your guests have inner Bridgets is not your problem. Let them drink champagne and eat cake but it’s your wedding. Make sure that cake is made to look like a flamingo if you want it to. Bridgets will be silent as long as there is a glass in their hand and a cake on their fork. Be that flamingo in a flock of pigeons. Plan the wedding you want, stand tall and proud and flap your feathers in whatever colour they may be.
The poor guy who marries me is going to have to reconcile my flamingo passion with my dinosaur fixation. With any luck he’ll love superheroes and I’ll have the perfect theme. 😉
Writing a ceremony is not something that just happens. It’s certainly not an on demand activity. I can’t set aside a time and tell myself that I am going to write a ceremony on a Tuesday afternoon at 2.15pm. Writing a ceremony takes a lightning strike and they are very rarely convenient.
The last one happened in the middle of a normal workday. I was actually teaching a class of year 7/8 students Latin roots and spelling rules. Not the most exciting of topics, but necessary when teaching my kids how to spell words they’ve never seen before, nevertheless half way through the description of logos and pathos, the sun hit the dinosaur through the blinds in just the right angle and my kids laughed at the way I pronounced logos like a Mexican wrestler, and it hit like a lightning bolt. The world froze and the kids looked at me a little strangely and our lesson took a HUGE tangent.
Pathos – appealing to others based on emotion. We were talking about a Zombie Apocalypse and convincing the authorities that as a zombie, what emotions would you use to convince the authorities of your reason for living or whether you should be ‘taken down’. Out of the mouth of a twelve year old came the line, ‘I’d tell them I loved them.’
It’s not necessarily the most earth shattering revelation nor is it a particularly profound statement that will change the way we view the world. What it did do was start a discussion with some very clever twelve year olds about what it means to be loved. And out of the mouths of babes, it was right there.
Apparently all that love is, is caring about someone else’s feelings more than you care about your own. And that was my lightning bolt. Loving someone, marrying someone, choosing someone is never really about you, it’s about them. It’s about wanting things for that person that make them happy and doing what you can to make that happen and putting what you want second. And if that’s the case, then the world is filled with it. You can see it, touch it, feel it everywhere and in the smallest of moments between people of all kinds.
So watch out newly weds. I’m waiting for a couple who want a very special kind of zombie love in their ceremony and until then, I’m searching, daily, for the moment of love that we share as people.
When you are writing your guest list we all know that there is an A list and a B list. The A list are the non-negotiables. The people in your life that you have to invite to a wedding. Regardless if that list is filled with heart loved must haves or family obligations, the A list is a tough list to write.
The B list is all of those people that you really love spending time with but you’re still trying to decide if you can a) fit them into the venue, b) afford their $120 per head dinner price or c) can make them ‘get along’ with your Aunty Mavis.
Choosing your wedding vendors is pretty much the same. Brides and Grooms Pinterest and google and fall in love with beautiful images of weddings that they can see as their own. As your list of must haves grows, your budget dwindles, quickly, and soon you realise that the wedding in your head, and the one you’ve created on you Pinterest board, is only real in your fading dreams and the wallets of the Kardashians.
The trick is, just like your guest list, find the non-negotiables. Ask your parents, your married friends, people you’ve never met and find out what they remember most about their wedding and here’s the kicker ladies and gents, spend the money on that. Spend the big $$$ on the things that you and the people you love will remember.
The new page on the website is called ‘Peeps that I love.’ I have not used any of them at my own wedding but that’s because I’ve never had one but I would feel pretty good about letting them be part of yours (and hopefully one day mine). These people I have met and I have loved them instantly. They are the kind of people that just make things easy. They were so lovely and friendly and approachable and most importantly they love what they do. And at the end of the day, just like your guest list, you need them to be the people that love being part of the most beautiful moment of your life.