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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.

Rob and Jenny

My last two weddings have been for strangers.  These couples I had not met before their first text message asking me for my services.  Like all times, meeting new people can often be awkward and a little nerve racking and when you’ve only communicated with people via phone, meeting face to face brings a whole plethora of new anxieties.  I am a wedding celebrant and meet new people all of the time but the anxiety attached to meeting brand new couples face to face doesn’t go away even when you do it all of the time.

I had only spoken to Jenny on the phone.  We had texted and talked but not actually met in person.  Breaking the ice with your celebrant is by far the most important thing you can do.  Once we both moved past the apprehension of first time meetings and hellos our relationship and their wedding took on a totally different feel.

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The white gazebo of I do’s

From the moment I met Jenny and Rob, they welcomed me into their home with a cup of tea and their middle child crawled onto my lap to say hello and we drew while we talked. From the first four seconds of spending time in their presence, they were no longer strangers but people I shared tea with and people I talked to about the everyday goings on of life.

When four months later I stood with Rob under a beautifully white decorated gazebo, I was not at his wedding as a stranger.  I was at his wedding as someone he knew.  We had laughed together, shared cups of tea and talked about Jenny’s ongoing DIY projects long before the day they would both say ‘I do’ and now this wedding was about all of us.  The guests, the family, the lady from next door who rushed down a bouquet or some other forgotten necessity and me.  I was personally invested in making sure this day went perfectly and watching Jenny walk towards us, I was genuinely happy to see her and Rob so happy at the thought of what comes next.

At the end of their ceremony my cheeks were so sore from smiling and my happiness so severe that it took a lot out of me.  Giving Jenny and Rob a great big hug as Mr and Mrs Watts was truly a moment of happiness and joy that they let me share with them.  Jenny and Rob, it was a privlege and an honour to spend the day with you and I thank your beautiful friends family for making me feel so included in your special day.  (Someone needs to share that punch recipe immediately and tell that lady she needs to start selling her cupcakes!)  Rob and Jenny I can’t wait to see a photo or two of your day!

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Boonah Bonding

I’ve said it before but I can’t say it enough. Being part of a someone’s day is a privilege like no other and being a part of that day with someone you love is a topper on an already amazing rainbow layer cake. 

In early August the trek to Boonah was one of love and friendship. Megan and Chris have been a part of my life for over eight years and on the 8 August I did all that I could to help them start their life together.   

The ceremony was one filled with laughter, patterned socks and stories of a life about to begin.  And like all good parties, the night ended with dancing with friends and a bacon and egg sandwich. Love and friendship really doesn’t get much better. 😊

Congratulations Mr and Mrs Henderson. You really are a most spectacular couple.   

 Mr and Mrs Henderson

 The fanciest (and the loudest) table of the night. ‘Ssshhh and eat your dessert’ he said. 😳
 Friends!

   
Grown-up mode  

 

 
The fanciest of red carpets.

When she’s all grown up

Getting married young is not so common anymore. If your relationship is ready and you are then sometimes knowing is more than enough.

My baby cousin, (the second littlest) is getting married!  It’s an exciting time for all of us when someone you love is going to tie the knot and it’s twice as special when you love them like a sister.  Girls in our family are a rare species.  I grew up with a broomstick and a purple mask being a Ninja Turtle in the backyard.  (Of course my mask was purple – I was a girl and I certainly wasn’t allowed to have a cool weapon.)  When my cousin was born when I was twelve I thought all of my dreams had come it once.  She was mine!  I was going to get this one.  She would watch Disney Princess movies with me, we would dance and sing and I would cover her in make up.  The fact that she was just as comfortable outside with the slingshots, motorbikes and sandpits is irrelevant.   There was another girl and she was on my side.

Just last month, she sent me a picture of a diamond and it was on her left hand.  She is young, twelve years younger than me, and my left hand is decidedly naked of adornments.  On a bad day, it could have hurt a little but it didn’t and this was my little girl.  She’s been a grown up since the day I let her dance to Sweet Transvestite so many years before she should have.  She’s been a grown up since the first time she had to pick me up from an unspecified location in the city.  She’s been a grown up since I treated her like one when she was still a tween.

Her other half is gem.  He’s been part of our family since his mid teens and it’s hard to imagine life without them together.  Unlike many couples I know batting twice their age brackets they have this weird ability to complement each other.  He knows when to ignore her tantrums (she gets that from me) and she knows when it’s best not to ask.  I look at them and hope to high heaven that at some point in my life I will find myself in a relationship that as just as grown up as theirs.  So in September… of next year… I will marry them.  I will be the one that gets to say ‘husband and wife’ and start her next journey into a grown up world she belongs in.  I’ll just stand and wave from the edge and hope that if I still ask nicely enough she’ll pick me up when I can’t find my cab money home.

I am not the grown up (the one on the right)
I am not the grown up (the one on the right)
They go alright...
They go alright…
Decorations from Event Illusions Toowoomba
Decorations from Event Illusions Toowoomba

Spread your happiness! Anyway you can!

Getting married is a big deal.  Strolling with a friend today, sinking in Tenneriffe’s pretentiousness, we stumbled across a wedding.  Walking along the river walk in a Kmart shirt and a Lorna Jane hoodie I only felt part the pretender I actually was but was happy to bask in the same sunshine as the rich and not so famous.

On the boardwalk, in front of the giant metal sheep, stood a whole bunch of people in all of their finery.  Three men and very nice suits and a celebrant in sensible yet trendy shoes. We continued our walk, gossiping shamelessly about how much the whole hoo ha of an event would cost and how it could be possible to spend that much money on a single day.

As we turned right, instead of left, the limo arrived.  The bridesmaids stepped out and so did a bride.  Covered shoulders in ivory lace and hair in a perfect french roll.  But apart from that, irrespective of her beautiful dress and expensive wedding, the crux of our conversation moved to the people at the wedding.

Nobody is sad at a wedding.  The amount of money you spend and where you have it is irrelevant.  The thing that is always the same is that the two people getting married are happy.  The happiness that they share is then spread like a virus through your loved ones.  It’s something worth catching and definitely something worth spreading – not only to your loved ones but those on the footpath basking in your happiness.

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The Basics

So you’re getting married and you want to know what you get for your buck? Here it is, the short version.

For a basic $450 ceremony I will…

  • Meet with you to work out what you want and what you like before your wedding (You can show me your pinterest board!)
  • Come to the rehearsal with you
  • Bring my very small PA system that hopefully will be helpful
  • Fill in your NOIM with you (NOIM – Notice of Intention to Marry – paperwork to be filled in at least one month before your ceremony)
  • Write your ceremony specifically about you and your partner – I’ll send it to you before your wedding so that you can mark it all over with red pen
  • Perform your ceremony on the day
  • Do my best to entertain you and your guests on your day
  • Put my best handwriting on your wedding certificate
  • Handle your paperwork for the day and even post it to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages so it’s all legal

What do you need to do?

  • Show up for your meetings and your ceremony
  • Find your birth certificates or passports and other forms you might need to prove who you are
  • Organise your change of name forms (if that’s what you are into)

The Small Print…

  • If you’re having a wedding miles from anywhere but it’s really, really beautiful there may be some travel costs involved
  • There are some words I have to say in your ceremony if you want it to be legal, even if you don’t like them 🙁

There is probably something really obvious that I’ve forgotten and if there is just let me know and I’ll fix it.  Happy Wedding Planning y’all.

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PS:  This is Anna and Rob – as much fun as you can have with a microphone!  Congrats guys, loving you both sick.