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From my family to yours…

As mentioned on my Valentine’s Day Instagram post, I spent the day skiing with my parents (in fact, three weeks skiing with them). Not ideal as a single, 29 year-old, but as a celebrant, my parents are my sounding board and go to for advice on marriage and love. This year, they will have been married for 35 years and whilst I’ve been observing them and their marriage my whole life, I’ve never stopped to ask them what is important to their relationship and what keeps the love alive.

So, for all you lovers out there who are considering, or about to get married, here is a little something from my family to yours.

  1. What is always important to remember from the beginning?

Respect – from the beginning, ensure that you have a good foundation of friendship.

Honesty – have no secrets. “Unless its shopping”, said Mum. “Ah, but even that’s a given if you know your wife’s habits”, said Dad.

Understanding and compromise – from the beginning, know that there will be different thought processes, two individuals won’t always agree.

Clear expectations – make sure you travel down the same road at the same time and pace otherwise resentment can build. Be committed to where you both are going and equally put into the relationship. Don’t expect it to be smooth sailing all the time and be prepared to not put yourself first all the time.

Listen – for males as a general rule – wives don’t always want solutions, sometimes it’s the act of listening that is more important than saying anything.

Trust – you have to trust each other, because without it there is no union or relationship. Don’t give your partner any cause to distrust you.

Enough common interests – you don’t have to do everything together but having shared experiences allows you to build a lifelong bond of memories and connection.

Life – remember that people change over time and you must change together otherwise you will grow apart.

Goals – it’s not about one achieving for the other, it’s about achieving together and most importantly, not at the expense of the other.

  1. Can you describe marriage?

Yes, marriage is a bit like playing poker, knowing when to hold and when to fold. Pick when it’s worth putting all your cards on the table and when a poker face is required.

  1. In a broad sense, what are the biggest challenges that you’ve overcome?

The biggest challenges we’ve had to face individually and as a couple were health issues, living overseas, having children, financial sacrifices and work.

When your health is on the line, you have re-evaluate your life and the relationships you have around you. Living overseas comes with its difficulties, both positive and negative. Having children is a juggling act as children impact on your relationship and the time that you can dedicate to just the two of you. The financial challenges are about making sacrifices for long-term goals but also it is about wanting the same things and agreeing on the same points to get there and know that you just can’t do everything.

Work is a huge challenge upon your relationship but within society work and its role in the home has changed. We now live in an “on demand” society as we are connected in every sense of the word. Our phones are glued to our hands and eyeballs so the challenge is now, how do you be present? How do you resist the urge to be on demand and balance your time?

  1. Has your view of marriage changed?

No. We had a solid friendship before the love came, which continues to this day. We also had parents who set examples for us to follow, both of our parents genuinely wanted to be there for one another, as do we for each other now.

  1. Is there a secret to a long and successful marriage?

No. No journey or road is perfect because humans are complex creatures.

  1. What do you do to keep the love alive?

Date nights, do lots of things together. (In the case of my parents, after 20 years Dad playing golf every Sunday, Mum decided to take it up to spend more time with Dad).

But if one is off doing an activity, the other should have a passion or hobby too and not sit at home building up resentment. Acceptance is also key here. It is important to accept that your partner may want the time and space to do their own thing or achieve an individual goal. You should support them in this decision but afterwards, ensure that you have time together and share your experiences with your partner.

When you’re free of children, and it’s just the two of you, understand and recognise the rituals within your marriage that build throughout time that you don’t even realise are there.

Final notes from Mum and Dad: Embrace the small moments and be in the present.

And there you have it, words of wisdom from two people who know a thing or two about love and marriage.


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.

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.




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.



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.



Hi All,

I am new to this game, which is exciting! But, scary. I thought I’d start off by telling you about my process to where I am today…a marriage celebrant who has yet to solemnise one. You see, it’s not as easy as doing a course and then bam, next weekend I’ve got two weddings to do. No my friends, it is not that simple.

The course itself is relatively easy, time consuming obviously, but I enjoyed learning the legal aspect (it played into my being a lawyer fantasy). Learning the process of a marriage or commitment ceremony allowed my creative juices to flow. The funeral component was a bit morbid, as you would expect, and the administration and business section gave the confidence to make me think, “oh yeah, I can run my own small business” B.O.Y.A.H.

So basically I was ticking off my dreams of being a lawyer and business woman in one. Oh and I get to make people happy. Happy days for me!

So, sweet, I am done, just got to wait for the government to give me a registration number. Right? Wrong. There’s a bit more to it, like, the government department has to conduct police checks, read character references, examples of your work, oh and proof you actually completed the course, of course….and then the waiting game begins for the registration to come through.

A few months later, plus a PA system, a new website and multiple social media platforms, I am up and running and am buzzing with anticipation! I have a commitment ceremony coming up in February and I am super-duper keen to get more under my belt. I also thought I’d start this blog to share with all you lovers about what it is like to be apart of a couple’s happy day!  

However, in the absence of having not yet conducted any unions, I asked a few of my friends who had celebrants to officiate their marriages recently to answer some questions. These were questions designed to give me ideas and feedback BEFORE I had officiated anything myself. If you want to know the bits of wisdom my friends have shared with me, watch out for my next article on my blog and you will find the pot of gold.

Side note: Check out my instagram account @married_by_leah where I post all things #love, #marriage, #weddings, #celebrant related and I slip in a few foodporn shots when I help my mate out to cater weddings… If you need some #menu #inspo, you’ll find it there.

That’s it from me today.