Jill & Alex

Or the wedding I got kicked off…

Getting kicked off the ceremony that I was supposed to be running was such a fun way to end the “wedding season” for this year! Fun because it was all planned and at least the bride, the “celebrant” and I knew what was going on. Everyone else was in the dark.

I had been approached by Jill a few months earlier. This was going to be a casual wedding and she wanted a bit of advice, could someone who was not a celebrant actually do the service? She wanted a friend (a neighbour, in fact) of her and Alex to do proceedings but he wasn’t a registered celebrant.

Sure thing. There are always ways around this and I’ve done this sort of thing before. My own wedding was like this.

There are parts of the ceremony that legally need to be performed by a registered celebrant but they are few in number and the rest can be handled by anyone else. So Jill’s request could basil covered. She wanted to go step further and surprise her husband to be. I could help with that too.

So we got together with Jill and her neighbour to plot. The plan was that I would start the ceremony and Chris, the neighbour, would challenge me, “What gives you the right to marry these two people, you hardly know them?” This was great, and true. The thing about being a celebrant is that, on this special day, you are often the person who knows the couple the least. I always try to get as good a sense of he couple I’m marrying because of this very reason but that only goes so far. So it was fun to be part of a wedding that acknowledged that. Once Chris had made his challenge he was going to take over and do as much as possible while I lurked, reminding him at the last minute the I still had a purpose and he couldn’t complete the paperwork without me.

On the day things worked perfectly and everyone was stunned and surprised. Chris was such a lovely guy that nothing got super awkward and he did a fantastic job. We totally fooled Alex.

This sort of surprise worked at a casual and relaxed wedding like this where everyone was either friends or neighbours and everyone shared the same sense of humour. It made for a memorable day.

While that sort of thing isn’t for everyone I’m glad I was part of it and I’m more than happy to help you come up with a ceremony that honours your special vibe as a couple and includes all the special people in your life.

Colin & Kathryn

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I think they look so happy because they got me into a fez!

This was a great example of a wedding where we managed to weave in a thee without it completely dominating everything. These guys were sci-fi fans – Doctor Who, Star Trek and Stargate especially. Kathryn and Colin wanted references in the ceremony that people who knew sci-fi would get but wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb for those that didn’t.

That made for a lot of fun research. Interestingly, Doctor Who has quite a few quotes suitable for a wedding (especially since one of the more recent Doctors had a companion who was actually married), the various Star Trek series were OK but Stargate, not so much. The little sci-fi touches were in other places too. Such as me dressing as Matt IMG_5612Smith’s incarnation of Doctor Who, complete with the correct version of his sonic screwdriver.

As the MC for the rest of the wedding festivities, later on, I also got to see their awesome cake. Finally, Stargate found a way in – as a wedding cake topper!

It was a really fun wedding that I looked forward to for more than a year as we planned things. And great proof that you can have an out of this world theme without going over the top.

Sarah & Steve

 

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Try and get all the guests in one pic and in the shade

Weddings at home often have a special quality to them. While this one was at the home of Sarah’s parents and not at the couple’s place it still had a few nice touches – one of them which I won’t forget was as a result of the weather.

 

The weather on the day was great (I have, so far, an unblemished record with the weather) but it had been a bit marginal for a couple of days before. The plan was that the guests were seated on one side of the driveway and the ceremony took place just over the other side. The bride was going to arrive in the bridal car and drive right through the ceremony down the drive! That was OK but the drive was a bit damp. Quick thinking from Steve saw his bride walk the last few metres down a blue carpet (tarpaulin) which, ever the gentleman, the groom rolled out for his bride to be.

Another memorable thing was the little touches of Scottish culture in the ceremony. The bride had spent time in Scotland as a girl and had been involved in Scottish dancing growing up. So she was piped in on arrival and her bridesmaids’ dresses were made by the same woman who had made all her Highland dancing costumes as a girl.

It’s these little personal touches and the stories behind them that I love discovering during the service. And those little unplanned moments, like the “blue carpet” that actually become the memorable moments. So often brides and grooms sweat things going wrong on the big day but these little hiccups are the very things that make weddings unique.

Kat & Keith

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The bride and groom don’t feature in this picture but it was too good not to share

For Kat & Keith’s wedding I wasn’t actually the celebrant. I went back to my roots as an entertainer and provided them with some entertainment following their ceremony.

That moment following the ceremony can be awkward for people – especially if you are one of those lucky couples who have a far-flung and quite diverse group of friends. That’s great for you but not always so great for guests at your wedding. There’s little knots of people who don’t know each other well and that early in the day the socialising aspects of alcohol haven’t kicked in. Things can be even more awkward in those weddings where this is the moment that the bride and groom disappear for an hour or two to get some post wedding pics.

So filling that gap with something entertaining that gets people mingling and gives them something to talk about beyond, “How do you know the groom/bride?” is great.

Having managed a Photobooth company for a bit I know that this is one place where a Photo Booth can really earn its keep.

But nothing beats a bit of live entertainment. So much as I did at Adam & Millie’s wedding I facilitated some games and quizzes to get people mixed up. The results of the “Best Wedding Selfie” contest are there for you see at the top of this post. But we also did other games that left us finding out some pretty cool things about other guests – one had been towed behind the /cook Strait ferry and another one had been shot with a machine gun!

Where we went a bit further than Adam and Millie was by doing some improv comedy here as well. Kat and Keith had given us some info about how they met and some of their friends and family and myself and the awesome Clare used this info and some gentle audience participation to do some Theatresports-style games. This is a great way to let people share stories in a fun way without the pressures of giving a speech and meant that by the time it came for Kat & Keith to speak and cut the cake their friends and family were nicely relaxed and ready to kick on for what promised to be a great night!

Leon and Nigel

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If you take a look at this pic, as posted by Leon, on my Facebook page you’ll notice that I’m in the background checking my phone. That kind of sums up a lot of what this wedding was about.

Usually I don’t cop a lot of cheek from my wedding couples but I got quite a bit from these guys, Leon in particular, and it made for a fun wedding! I got several texts from Leon who spotted me in town answering this email or that whilst on the move – he was very concerned for my health and safety!

This was always going to be a fun wedding. The original idea was for us to stage a guerilla raid on the Begonia House at the Botanic Gardens. But here’s some advice – the Begonia House is not available for hire before 5pm. Which is not when Leon and Nigel wanted the ceremony. I am always up for something a little unusual so I was on board 100%. But when the subject was brought up with council we were threatened with trespass and even loss of my celebrant’s license. I was still on board 99.95% but the decision was made to shift the whole thing to Leon’s second home, The Green Man, who were way more accommodating and much less litigious than the council.

This was also my first wedding scheduled for numerological reasons – it was 8/8/16. With 8 being a very lucky number in Chinese numerology and 16 being 2×8 it was certainly a lucky day indeed! I also discovered later that it was the day 30 years ago that the Homosexual Law Reform Bill actually came into effect (having been passed some months earlier). I’m still not sure anyone was aware of that at the time.

The wedding itself was a wonderful thing – family and close friends were treated to some a capella music (including from Leon himself), poetry and laughs.

Although the potential excitement of evading the Council in a pop-up wedding was denied us Leon and Nigel’s day was more than an acceptable alternative!

Venue: The Green Man Pub

Penny & Baz

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I do shed a tear or two at a wedding but this has been the one that has seen me tear up the most!

It was held at Penny & Baz’s place overlooking the Porirua Harbour- the views were amazing and, luckily, the weather came to play. It was a great spot to be married, although a bit of a hike up the stairs and it was a wedding with everything – including an amazing haka to round things off!

The best part of these wedding things is getting to know the people beforehand. Penny and Baz were amazing to work with. They welcomed me into their home for our planning sessions and were really open to suggestions. The main suggestion I had was the one that I give all my couples – it’s your day, the legal requirements are surprisingly minimal so do what you want.

We kept it simple and the real centrepiece of the ceremony is what it really should be – the vows. My advice to Penny and Baz was to put whatever they wanted in there but the vows should give everyone at the ceremony an insight into what makes them special as a couple.  And they delivered.

Penny had slipped me her vows beforehand. couples will often give me a copy of their vows to hold onto – just in case they forgot anything during the ceremony. Baz had it under control though and his vows came as a complete surprise. And wow – heartfelt, strong and inspiring. I was blubbing.

They had both been a bit nervous about what to say but, time and time again, the best vows are those that come from the heart and the gut. Say what you feel – and then party the night away.

Penny and Baz managed both in style!

 

Lisa and Lance

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I love a good wedding story – it’s one of the reasons I love being a celebrant. You get to find out all sorts of unlikely ways that people meet, and the ways people fall in love. For this particular lucky couple the decision that Lance made, one night, to follow through with plans he’d made to go out for the night even though he was tired and didn’t feel like it  meant that several years later here I was marrying a wonderfully down to earth couple in a wonderfully down to earth venue – their front lawn.

I get to go to some pretty amazing places with all the work I do but this was such a perfect venue for this couple.

I don’t think I have laughed as much getting ready for a wedding as I did meeting Lance and Lisa. They were both all about a wedding that was fun, without lots of frills but also deeply personal. There were nice little touches of this all along the way – from the choice of venue, to their vows and the lighting of candles to acknowledge the presence at the ceremony of those  important people who had passed away. In fact there was a beautiful moment that happened as Lisa was lighting the candles and the breeze simply stopped – it was really very powerful.

When we started our meetings to get to know each other (yes booking me as a celebrant can be a little like courting) Lance confessed he might be a bit nervous on the day. When the day rolled around you couldn’t tell  and the moment when he saw Lisa for the first time coming towards him and teared up made me have to rely on years of training to avoid becoming a blubbering mess myself!

But there was plenty of fun in there as well, especially since Lisa and I were running a separate version of the service with a few cheeky surprises for Lance in there!

It was a great wedding for great people surrounded by their friends and family in the perfect setting. I’ve attended a lot of weddings in the past where the ceremony seemed to be in a place that was nice but not really belonging to the couple in an any way. Luckily my couples seem to have the knack of picking just the right place!

Thanks so much Lisa and Lance for having me as part of your special day!

 

Janine and Gabe

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Yes – that’s a mud pack going on Janine’s face

Seems I may be becoming a bit of an expert in weddings performed in kitchens.

For their wedding Janine and Gabe’s friend was hoping to join the ranks of celebrants but her paperwork didn’t get through in time. So I got to do the legal ceremony on the morning of the wedding in the kitchen of the wedding venue, and the friend got to do the actual ceremony for people later on.

This was another fun kitchen wedding – I think Gabe had to be dragged out of bed for it and Janine was having a mud pack applied to ensure she looked even better for the rest of the day. There was a surprising number of witnesses and many had helpful suggestions for me as well (read – hassling)!

We got the legal bits out of the way, the documents signed and then everyone could relax and enjoy the rest of the day. And I got to do marry a couple whilst wearing running shoes!

I’ve since been asked by a few other couples if they get someone else to do the main ceremony whether that person needs any sorts of qualification. Simple answer is – if I’m doing the legal bit the only qualification the other person needs is that they have to be someone YOU want!

Adam and Millie

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It’s not every day this is part of your job description

You know when a wedding begins with the groom riding a bicycle through the assembled guests that this is a wedding of people prepared to take a few risks. And have fun.

My kind of wedding.

Although I wasn’t required as the celebrant for this particular wedding I had another pretty cool role to fulfil – wedding MC and “Games Wrangler”. Given that this was a wedding reception which was light on speeches Adam and Millie had decided they wanted some games during the evening to break things up and get people talking. We’re not talking about physical games here – more cerebral.

So I pulled together a few different rounds – including some trivia about Adam and Millie and bride and groom Jeopardy. It was a great way to loosen people up and get some banter going between tables – although I think I may have copped the worst of it!

These kind of fun and games might work nicely at your wedding. They can be especially good if you have a lot of guests who know you, but not necessarily each other. Its a great way to meet other people, break the ice and even find out a little more about the bride and groom.

And the bawdiness is definitely optional.

Sarah and Warren

IMG_0736Warren and Sarah’s wedding really was a tale of earthquakes and Skype – the lead up to the big day was very unusual, to say the least. To begin with both bride and groom are based in Chile and so all our communication was over Skype – which is a really great way to communicate and make sure you are on the same page. The only thing about Skype is that it normally happens sitting down and so when I finally met Sarah and Warren a few days before the wedding I realised how much taller I was than they were! To be honest at over 6 foot this is always a thing but its just not something that enters the mind when all your communication is over the Internet.

To make it even harder for the pair to organise their wedding Chile was rocked by a series of enormous quakes last year and this never helps the nerves!

When we finally had everyone in the same country the weather looked like it might be a bit dicey but eventually everything played ball and we assembled in bright sunshine on the deck of the Wellesley Country Park with the Akatarawas around us and a beautiful river flowing just below. And ducks. Ducks who were quite happy to wander through “their” deck even as the ceremony was taking place!

We had a fantastic ceremony, short, reasonably casual and personal. The grandmothers of both bride and groom acted as witnesses which was a really lovely link to the past. And, as a fan of KISS, I was delighted to find Warren is an even bigger one. He managed to get a KISS song in the ceremony and I managed to slip some lyrics in – right before the kiss!

Not even the accident on the golf course the day before when one of Warren’s mates chipped the ball into his head could stop things being a perfect day!

Thank you so much for beIMG_0743ing such an awesome celebrant for us, you were the perfect fit for our ceremony and how the whole day ran. Feedback from our guests has been overwhelmingly positive towards yourself and how you ran things, I personally loved the last minute addition of the assassination attempt!

 

Venue: Wellesley Country Park

Photographer: Brady Dyer (and thanks for the pics in this post)

DJ: DJ Tom