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.

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.

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!

 

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

Thom and Kathryn

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Thom and Kathryn got me in to do the legal bits and pieces of their wedding only. Kathryn had a friend of hers from way back who was a celebrant in Australia who she wanted to do the actual ceremony. But she wasn’t legal and legit in New Zealand. Easy fix!

The morning of the ceremony in the kitchen of  Thom’s folk’s place in Rotorua, over breakfast, we assembled the bride and groom and two witnesses plus whoever else was there and fulfilled the legal requirements of the wedding. Surprisingly these aren’t particularly onerous and can be done pretty quickly if that’s what you want to do – so over bites of toast and cornflakes we managed to fulfill all the legal requirements which left Thom and Kathryn to have exactly the sort of ceremony they wanted, run by the person they wanted.

Then we were able to assemble in the Redwoods (this time with me as a guest) to enjoy a pretty special ceremony before returning to Thom’s family home to party the night away.

I’m more than happy to do things like that if its what you want – there’s no fussiness here and if its just the bare minimum you want or need I’m good with that.

Wedding venue: The Redwoods, Rotorua