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To get married or not to get married…in 2020?

Were you supposed to get married later this year but don’t know what to do? Do you cancel, postpone or go ahead without all your loved ones. Firstly, I am so sorry that 2020 has been an absolutely devastating year for many but hopefully we can find some silver linings amongst the darkness.

I know it’s been a while since my last post but after speaking to a few of my clients who planned their wedding for late 2020 I have found that some are confused, unsure and undecided as to what they can and can’t do so I want to offer some ideas. I want to let you know that you have so many options! Yes, it’s lots to think about but the best thing about this is situation is that you have the opportunity to be really creative, break some traditional moulds and potentially have two dreams weddings!

Here are some options to consider:

Elope and Small Weddings

Unfortunately, this will have to be within your residential state due most of to the borders being closed (depending where you live). But if getting married is the most important part for you then this is a great option. There are some amazing elopement packages in each state. A lot of these packages will include the celebrant, the hair and makeup, photographer, flowers, accommodation for the married couple and usually a dinner package. Alternatively, get in touch with me and I can reach out to my favourite suppliers to collaborate with in order to get you married in style!

Divide up the ceremony and reception

Despite the pandemic, splitting the event up is actually quite a popular option. I’ve been apart of two weddings, which have been split due to a variety of reasons – families being in other countries, medical, etc. So Leah, what exactly do you mean?

Glad you asked. What I mean by splitting is keep the date you have booked for this year but postpone the wedding at the venue and instead just do the ceremony elsewhere. Then once this pandemic has lifted have the reception (party) on your postponed date next year.

Two weddings!

This one is my favourite option because hey I am a chick who loves to get dressed up and this could be an opportunity to get two wedding dresses!

Does that appeal to you? What do I mean?

So like the above option, keep your date this year for just the legal ceremony but postpone the reception for next year and have another (non-legal) ceremony (plus reception) next year. Surely two weddings are better than one right?

We’re still getting married but…

This one might be a tough one for many couples. For many couples getting married is more important than having a party so reducing your guest numbers may be the option for you. If you are struggling for the right words to inform your guests, there are some excellent templates being produced to help. Take a look at some ideas from WedShed.

We’re not reducing numbers but we will be reducing the dancing…to zero.

Eekkk. This would be a tough one for me. Given that my inner spirit dances her way through life I can definitely resonate with couples that would absolutely veto this option. However, for some couples, dancing is not a priority and would rather a chilled out wedding. Check with your vendor as many venues are still able to host receptions in accordance to the NSW Government which allows up to 150 guests subject to the 4 square metre rule. Most importantly if this is the option you choose, you will have to ensure that you record the names and contact details (including contact telephone numbers) of all people attending and conducting the service. These records must be kept for at least 4 weeks, and provided to the Chief Health Officer, if requested. The government has also provided a Covid-19 Safety Plan which you can download here.

So there you have it, a few structures to think about. But I am sure you have more questions. Please if at any point through this blog you have questions and you want immediate answers – send me an email.

Anyway, I also want to provide some information regarding a legal ceremony. If you opt for a legal wedding you have two options:

You can go to the registry. Both of you will need to attend a marriage interview and the marriage officer will assist you with the paperwork and plan your ceremony.

Your second option is to book a celebrant (like me!) I can conduct the legal wedding at or in a place that is special to the two of you. I complete all the paperwork for you and create a ceremony that is tailored to the two of you.

For both options you do need to give the celebrant your Notice of Intended Marriage document no later than 31 days you plan to be married.

For a legal wedding there are three things that must either be said or present:

  1. The couple must have two witnesses over the age of 18 to be present.
  2. The celebrant must say the Monitum: I am duly authorised by law to solemnise this marriage according to law. Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter. Marriage, according to law in Australia, is union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
  3. The marrying couple must each say the Legal Vows: I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, AB/CD, take you, CD/AB, to be my lawful wedded wife/husband/partner in marriage.

Remember, if you do decide to get married this year and have a bigger one next year, the ceremony doesn’t have to include your personal vows, readings, stories, or rituals. You can keep all of those special and personal inclusions to be said in front of your loved ones for a later ceremony and just do the legal ceremony and paperwork to be officially married this year.

If you opt to do a legal ceremony this year and party later, think about a place that is meaning for to the two of you or somewhere that you always go. In Sydney, this could be a beach, a reserve, a park or by a lake. I want you to know that you can also think outside the box. Perhaps you have a favourite restaurant, café, or hotel that you think will be a nice place to get married. Also remember, you don’t have to be standing. You can get married while seated as well.

One thing I will add however, if you do go for a public space and have a few more than 10 people to witness the marriage, you may need to get a permit from the local council so please keep that in mind and do your due diligence to avoid anything spoiling your moment.

I have one last point and it is a question I have for YOU. Depending on when you decide to get married, there will most probably be a few guests that won’t make it due to the pandemic or maybe there are other reasons. Would you want your ceremony to be live streamed for them to watch through a platform like Zoom or Vimeo? If this were a yes from you, I would love for you to send me a YES here! I am currently developing this as part of my service so if you would like to be part of my trial period, I will be offering this for free for a limited time only!

Finally, thank you for taking the time to read the above information. I know it’s a lot to take in. Let it sink in. Take a deep breath and get in touch if you want anything from me.

 

My first surprise wedding
News, Uncategorized

Surprise Weddings!

Can I just start off by saying I BIG RED HEART surprise weddings.

I love being in on a little secret and then seeing the faces of shock and then excitement among guests. The screams, the joyous thrills and the shouts of “I knew it!” or “I told you!” It’s moments like this that make you feel pure joy and happiness for your clients.

My second ceremony last year was a surprise. Now when I say surprise, I mean a surprise to all the guests! The bride and groom were in on it. Legally one partner cannot surprise the other with a wedding ceremony on the day as both individuals need to complete paperwork to give to a marriage celebrant at least 31 days before the date that they intend to get married.

My clients had invited all their guests to their combine 40th and 50th birthday party down in the Royal National Park. It was a great ruse. They had been engaged for over fifteen years and always said they’d get around to making official one day…and so finally they did!

When it came to the evening, it was like any normal big birthday bash. Grazing tables of food, decorations, flowers, cake, tables set for a sit down meal etc. The bride was at the venue early making sure all the final touches were in place and the groom came down on the bus with all the guests…no one suspected a thing. Ok, maybe one or two people made an assumption once they walked into the venue, but for the majority they were none the wiser.

Around 6:30pm, a close family friend hopped onto the microphone to announce that not only were they there to celebrate a double birthday but also a wedding. The crowd went wild!

At that point my excitement had turned into adrenaline or my adrenaline had turned into excitement. I wasn’t quite sure except that I couldn’t stop smiling and took charge of the ceremony on absolute (natural) high.

It was my first couple that were already long term partners and had two children so my ceremony reflected a service about friendship, companionship and what marriage means.

The ceremony was sweet, short and simple but completely reflected my clients as a couple. There was no bridal procession, no readings or bridal party. It was just relaxed and casual and audience participation was frequent which added to the fun.

As surprise weddings are unanticipated, from this ceremony I learnt that I need to think quick on my feet and be ready for the unexpected.

I enjoyed doing this sort of service so much that I am constantly on the look out for more. So if this is something you are considering on doing, get in touch. I’d love to be your celebrant!

 

News

Readings #inspo from the big screen!

Lovers, I am currently doing research for reading examples to incorporate into a ceremony I am going to be officiating. But as you do when you research, you start to go down the rabbit warren of the ether and the next thing you know you are looking for romantic passages from the top tissue box jerkers aka the roms and the romcoms of Hollywood. Here’s a bit of lovin’ literature to keep you inspired and maybe use in your own ceremony?!

I’ve listed in no particular order: enJOY.

The Notebook
I am nothing special; just a common man with common thoughts, and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten. But in one respect I have succeeded as gloriously as anyone who’s ever lived: I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul; and to me, this has always been enough.

P.S. I Love You
Finding someone you love and who loves you back is a wonderful, wonderful feeling. But finding a true soul mate is an even better feeling. A soul mate is someone who understands you like no other, loves you like no other, will be there for you forever, no matter what. They say that noting lasts forever, but I am a firm believer in the fact that for some, love lives on even after we’re gone.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being ‘in love’ which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two. Love is important and you should love each other the most.

Love Actually
Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. The general opinion is starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there — fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the twin towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge — they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.

Sleepless in Seattle
It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together…and I knew it. I knew it the very first time I touched her. It was like coming home, only to no home I’d ever known. I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car, and I knew. It was like…magic.

The Notebook
Poets often describe love as an emotion that we can’t control, one that overwhelms logic and common sense. That’s what it was like for me. I didn’t plan on falling in love with you, and I doubt if you planned on falling in love with me. But once we met, it was clear that neither of use could control what was happening to us. We fell in love, despite our differences, and once we did, something rare and beautiful was created. For me, love like that has happened only once, and that’s why every minute we spent together has been seared in my memory.

Shall We Dance
We need a witness to our lives. There are a billion people on the planet…I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things. All of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.

Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone.

Twilight
It’s an extraordinary thing to meet someone who you can bare your soul to, and who will accept you for what you are. I’ve been waiting, what seems like a very long time, to get beyond what I am. And [now] I feel like I can finally begin…No measure of time with you will be long enough. But let’s start with forever.

The Vow
I vow to help you love life, to always hold you with tenderness and to have the patience that love demands, to speak when words are needed and to share the silence when they are not, to agree to disagree on red velvet cake, and to live within the warmth of your heart and always call it home. I vow to fiercely love you in all your forms, now and forever. I promise to never forget that this is a once-in-a-lifetime love. And to always know in the deepest part of my soul that no matter what challenges might carry us apart, we will always find our way back to each other.

The Time Traveler’s Wife
I want to tell you, again, I love you. Our love has been the thread through the labyrinth, the net under the high-wire walker, the only real thing in this strange life of mine that I could ever trust. Tonight I feel that my love for you has more density in this world than I do, myself: as though it could linger on after me and surround you, keep you, hold you.

Definitely Maybe
I wanna marry you because you’re the first person I wanna look at when I wake up in the morning, and the only one i wanna kiss goodnight. because the first time that I saw these hands, I couldn’t imagine not being able to hold them but mainly, when you love someone as much as I love you, getting married is the only thing left to d, so will you um marry me?

My Best Friend’s Wedding
If you love someone you say it, you say it right then, out loud. Otherwise the moment just…passes you by.

And last but definitely not least. For us Aussies, this one certainly pulls on the heartstrings just that little bit more. Love you Heath.

Ten Things I Hate About You
I hate the way you talk to me, and the way you cut your hair. I hate the way you drive my car. I hate it when you stare. I hate your big dumb combat boots, and the way you read my mind. I hate you so much it makes me sick; it even makes me rhyme. I hate it, I hate the way you’re always right. I hate it when you lie. I hate it when you make me laugh, even worse when you make me cry. I hate it that you’re not around, and the fact that you didn’t call. But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.

I’ll just leave you here with the tissue box.

 

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Perspective

Sometimes it’s nice to see another perspective to give you a whole rounded view of things.

This weekend gone, I was a guest at a friend’s wedding. It was a church service in a Cathedral in Brisbane. The cathedral was impressive from both the outside and the inside. The inside was vast and ethereal. The altar was dramatic and beautiful at the same time. The grandeur of the space made all the guests look minuscule in numbers and all of whom were encompassed by the almighty music reverberating from the golden organ in corner. When the stunning bride walked down the aisle, it was like an angel appearing from a bright light. You could only see her silhouette, but as she walked closer to alter, she began to appear more (w)holy.

Throughout the service, I was waiting to hear certain words like what is acknowledged as marriage in Australia and I had to constantly remind myself that I was at a religious ceremony. The multiple prayers, the standing up and back down again, the repetition of God and Lord Jesus Christ felt so foreign to me. Even though I went to a Catholic high school of 6 years, it was like I had forgotten everything – all the words, the procession, the hand gestures.

It was almost a shock to the system at how different the service was to a ceremony conducted by a celebrant. It’s not that I have never attended marriage in a church before, it’s just that it was the first church service I had attended since becoming a celebrant and I was surprised at how suddenly aware I was of procession and the words being said.

I’ve recently read a lot of civil ceremonies and considered a lot of the wording that is used when conducting a service to unite two people together. Now whilst a religious ceremony has a lot of hat tipping to the big guy upstairs and a few (too many) “Amens”, it made me think about what I could take away from it.

I think it was after my friends had said their vows that the priest said (and I paraphrase) that with an exchange of a few simple words there are many complex meanings. The values of family, children, support of friends and family, a blessing for good health are so core to the church’s preaching that you cannot argue this foundation. In almost every part of the service the word love is used. St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians about love being patient and kind, that it’s always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes, it does not come to an end. Love binds you together. Love and honour each other. And of course, in the words of Jesus, love one another as I have loved you. With the simple exchange of I do or I will it signifies an instant connection between people, family groups and communities because of the love that two people share for one another.

These teachings of how to appreciate and treat the person you are committing yourself to for the rest of your life, are fundamental attributes to marriage and are principles of behaviour which we should always aim to uphold. And it is this perspective that I am reminded of, even though I walked away from religion the moment I walked out of my high school for the last time, it is still important to appreciate, consider and remember these words of wisdom.

So to my friends, and my friends who choose to get married in a church in the future, thank you for reminding me to consider other’s perspectives and to look at things with a more rounded view.

xxLeahxx

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What my friends told me…

Hello lovers!

Welcome to article number two. If you missed the first one, I just outlined what is involved in becoming a marriage celebrant. Obviously being a newbie I am quite keen to absorb as much information as possible so I am able to provide the best service as a celebrant for my clients.

On my quest for information, I thought I would turn to those that could shed some light on the things that I really need to know. My friends! In particular, those that had been recently married by a celebrant.

The questions below were designed to give me ideas and feedback BEFORE I had officiated anything myself. I’ve blended their responses to each question. Have a read, I hope they enlighten you as much as they did me!

What did you look for in a celebrant?

Patience, understanding and a sense of humour, someone who was genuine and easy to deal with. Someone that makes you feel comfortable and reassured. Down to earth, not all about them (some celebrants have some egos!), but most importantly we were looking for someone knowledgeable who would guide us through the legal/paperwork side of things, someone who we could trust to make sure all paperwork was lodged properly.

It’s a bit of an unknown stressful time so when you find someone that you’re confident in and that will do a good job it’s one less thing to do!

Oh and a good PA system with a decent speaker and mic, clear and loud enough for everyone to hear what was happening, that was also able to connect to our music (iPhone). One less thing to worry about.

Does price matter?

Yes! Everyone is always on a budget, and you’re looking to save wherever you can. That said, I appreciate that you are offering a service, a very important service so that’s factored in and most celebrants we liked were in a similar price range of around $500-700, so price wasn’t our deciding factor, it was more personality that was deciding factor. In areas where there aren’t many celebrant options, most of the celebrants charge the same price.

Some celebrants wanted to charge $120 for “out of Sydney” travel when the venue was in Camden. That was a definite no, straight away. If it was out of the Sydney area then that would make sense, so it’s always good to work out a radius you’re comfortable with before you charge travel.

Are celebrants seen as ‘old school’?

No way. Tradition is back. It was very necessary for us to have one as we weren’t getting married in a church with a minister. You’ll find lots of people in the same boat. More and more people are choosing to have weddings that are not in a church and if it was between a celebrant and priest….well you know what we chose! I’ve been to so many bad church weddings, made bad by the weird priests.

Some celebrants are old school, you can tell just by their website and age, however I think there is definitely a movement towards younger, ‘cooler’, more engaging celebrants these days, especially as couples are more and more looking to customise all parts of their wedding to reflect ‘them’.

Is it appropriate for celebrants to try and be funny?

It can be a stressful time for a couple getting married. So many people to please. Stress. Money pressure. A sense of humour is vital, but that may not be the case for every couple. No too many awkward jokes. Only moments where it’s appropriate. Funny is okay just not overboard. But it can depend on who you’re marrying, if the couple has made specific requests on the style of ceremony they want, and humour is not in line with that, then the celebrant should always remember that they are acting as the facilitator of a very personal, very special day, and whilst it’s their job to create a light, happy mood, it’s not their job to be a stand up comedian.

What made you pick the celebrant you went with?

A combination of personality (gentle, down to earth, knowledgeable, warm) and the fact that we didn’t feel the need to shop around after meeting with her. Located close to the venue, available, well presented and made the process easy. Confident but not obnoxious or pushy. Lots of ceremony options and an eagerness to keep the ceremony short and simple. Creativity, our celebrant had us fill out a few questions separately and made the ceremony from the answers. It was great and it told ‘our story’.

Best advice you would give to a celebrant for their next wedding.

Read the room’ and remember you are part of the official bit of the wedding, be respectful, be relaxed, in control and welcoming as you are setting the scene for the rest of the wedding.

Get to know the couple a little before the ceremony, really understand the type of ceremony they would like, and be flexible to customise the ceremony based on the couple’s needs, it will help you with telling their story and feel more genuine. Be very thorough when completing the legal documentation, any mistakes in the legal paperwork is a nightmare to correct.

Oh and have fun!? Enjoy the fact you get to marry two people that love each other.

If you had to do it all over again, what is the one thing that you wish your celebrant did, which they didn’t do the first time?

Fully explain all the elements of post wedding admin!

So there you have it lovers, words of wisdom from my closest supporters. They have provided me with great insight and excellent ideas about what to avoid and what to ensure I do. Thanks to these notes I will make sure that I ‘read the room’, be confident, flexible and down to earth. I will be mindful of what I will charge for travel (I have consulted Google maps already) and I will find myself knowledgeable around the post marriage admin very shortly.  I also I do not hold any aspirations to become a stand up comedian so I promise, no bad Dad jokes from me.

My next article will be on the wedding that I am attending on Friday. Can’t wait to watch my beautiful friend marry the love of her life. 

That’s it from me.

xxLeahxx