On The Blog

All of the moments…

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?

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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.

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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.

XOX

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The Big Kahuna

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!

Love

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.  image

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.

Wedding outfits

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.)

Flap your feathers, Ssssh Bridget!

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. 😉

Happy Wedding Planning.

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Zombie Love

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.

Wedding Friends

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.

Happy Wedding Planning!!

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A Sydney Summer Wedding

It’s like rain on your wedding day. It’s not a bad omen, it’s just rain.

Getting married is a little hectic.  The day itself has visitors flying through doors at the drop of hat, hugging, messing your makeup, touching your dress and generally getting all teary-eyed at you even though you’re the one that everybody is going to look at.  It appears to be, well, a little overwhelming…

As a guest at a wedding, and a destination wedding at that, it’s nothing but frivolity.  There’s champagne in the morning, leisurely swims, a late breakfast and a bunch of your friends in a room doing hair and make-up together while dancing to the 90s best rhythms on the hotel television.

In Sydney, in December, all of those worlds collided and it nearly spun off its axis.  Dancing in hotel rooms, champagne and petit-four morning teas, hair straighteners and hunts for wrapping paper that ended up with two of us on Oxford Street finding studded bra tops in a cheap shop couldn’t be further from the stress of what was happening upstairs.  The morning was fun – it was spent with love and laughter, with a bride that was part of our tribe and by that afternoon we were going to see it grow by one.  There wasn’t anything that could go wrong.

Billie and Gareth were getting married.  I was going to marry them and the wedding was filled with people that we all loved.  There was absolutely nothing to be nervous about.  Standing in the foyer of a very fancy hotel we waited for a cab.  It was taking a while, but it’s Sydney.  That’s ok, plenty of time to spare.  Standing on the footpath with our tribe of seven plus a mini, we watched the sky blacken and the wind whistle through the trees of Hyde Park.

The wedding was in the Botanic Gardens, under the trees and meant to be in the glorious Sydney sun.  With a wedding at three and a radar that looked dangerously like the white caps of an angry Pacific ocean, this wedding had to be fast.  I got nervous.

Rain on your wedding day is apparently an ominous sign.  Many an outdoor ceremony has been thwarted because the fluffy whites have turned to angry black clouds in the blink of an eye.  A cab ride later and the sky is still threatening to pour at any minute.  “How fast can you talk?” Gareth asks. Not fast enough I think.

The Bride arrives, the ceremony begins and the weather is no longer important.  It wouldn’t have mattered if the heavens opened up that very second, the moment Gareth spotted Billie, the moment she walked in looked at her husband to be, the world could have collapsed and none of us would have noticed.

Before getting married brides, grooms, families and wedding planners do nothing but worry about the small details.  The small details make sure you get the wedding you’ve always wanted but in that moment, in front of your tribe, the details are unimportant.  As long as you stand with those you love, all that matters is that chance to say ‘Yes.’ To say ‘I do choose you’ and the rest of the world becomes irrelevant.  Even if just for a moment, not even the rain or the threat of a wild summer storm makes an ounce of difference.

 

PS:  The rain did hold out long enough – just long enough to clap and cheer.  Then it rained.  A lot.  Enough to swim in on the very wet walk back to the hotel.  Billie + Gareth?  Dry as a Middle Eastern Desert.

Why are you getting married?

Your village needs more dancers. We get married because we want to.

My favourite story as a kid was the Paper Bag Princess.  Elizabeth was a princess who was captured by a dragon and waited for her Prince Ronald to rescue her.  Prince Ronald in the story was a massive loser.   Elizabeth got her pretty dress burned to a cinder when she had to save Ronald and in the end told him to go and jump in the lake.  Elizabeth went and saved herself.

Elizabeth could have all she wanted all by herself.  She didn’t need saving or rescuing and her ‘princessness’ was not reliant on her finding a prince.  Yay for Elizabeth!  As a woman in 2015, you can have (almost) whatever you want.  You can buy your own dresses, dance into your own sunsets and have babies all by yourself.

We don’t get married anymore because we have to.  We get married because we want to.  The brave and happy individual humans of 2015 who are getting married choose their partners in life as someone who adds to the one they already have.  Someone to share their sunsets, their dance steps and the first baby steps.

We by nature are social beings.  We live and love by the feelings and reactions we get from others and getting married is one of those.  It’s how we tell our village, the metaphorical one – the family we have and the family we choose, that we found one we’d like to bring into the fold.  That here is someone else who I want to dance in our sunsets.

Marriage is a communal event.  It’s about you and your partner and the initiation into your village. So when people ask next why do you want to get married?  The answer is easy.  Tell them your village needs more dancers.

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Single Celebrant: I wanna know what love is…

Being a single celebrant is sometimes a little tough, but at the end of the day, it makes me a better single lady.

Being a single celebrant is something that’s a little different and not something Foreigner lyrics can probably teach me.

I believe in marriage for all.   Whatever you identify as, if you both are consenting adults in a relationship built on love, trust and respect, I say knock yourself out.  Get married and hopefully, one day very, very soon, someone will do something about making that legal for everyone.  But what happens when the person who is joining you both in a state of marriage, knows nothing about it?  How can I, as a single person, possibly know what it means to swear your life, holus bolus, to someone else?  The answer is, I can’t.

I am single.  I am ‘never validly married’, I am a spinster, unattached, bachelorette, old maid, the names get worse people, but the point is I don’t have a significant other.  I don’t even have a cat.  (I’m not ready to be the crazy cat lady yet.)  So what can I possibly bring to a ceremony where I have no knowledge of what it means to love someone that hard?  That my friends, is easy.

As a wedding celebrant I meet couples.   I meet couples who are in that sickly, sweet stage of love that some days makes me so ill I question my breakfast.  However, there is one thing that all of my couples have in common.  They love each other.  Lots.  And watching all of those different kinds of love, does something that nothing else can.  It gives me hope.

Hope that love exists and has the possibility to exist in my own world.  I’ve seen sickly sweet love, cheeky love, gentlemanly love, chivalrous love, plain outright desire and all things in between.  Through all of it, it is you, the married couples of my world and yours that have taught me the most valuable lesson of being a single woman.  That love, in all its sometimes strange but glorious forms, is possible.

It is that sense of hope and pure feeling of joy that I get from celebrating the love you have for each other that makes me love this job.  Getting married is about two people, swearing on everything they have, are and will be, that they’ll love each other, in one form or another, for a good long while.  Getting married for the rest of us is just pure hope and joy that we as humans are loveable.

So being a single celebrant keeps life interesting.  It reminds me on those days when the man hunt is beyond slow to non-existent that love and marriage is possible.  It reminds me that people, all people, deserve to be loved and that somewhere out there, there might not be a prince, but there could be a man with a dog.  So thank you ladies and gentlemen out there about to be hitched or just hitched, it is you who reaffirm my faith in love on a daily basis and every time I pronounce you husband and wife.

This is my flamingo Beatrice.  She's a pretty awesome companion, if not a bit quiet.
This is my flamingo Beatrice. She’s a pretty awesome companion, if not a bit quiet.