The Final Goodbye – Making a Hard Time Easier

Funerals, memorials, celebrations of life…

Funerals, memorials, celebrations of life, scattering of ashes, living memorials; however you would like to celebrate the end of a life, as a Celebrant who works in funerals, I can help you make a hard time just that little bit easier.

If you are looking for a Celebrant to help celebrate that person’s (or animal – I do pet funerals too) life in a way which is appropriate for them, and who is modern, friendly and professional, I can guide you through the process whilst remaining compassionate and understanding during this difficult time.

I’m happy to work with anyone planning a final goodbye, and am a calming presence during what can feel a confusing time.

TYPES OF CEREMONIES DELIVERED

I’ve worked in planning a variety of these celebrations and memorials, including:

  • Working with people given a terminal diagnosis who wish to plan their funeral before they are too ill to do so
  • Suitably recognising those who may not always have been the easiest or popular of individuals
  • Sensitively planning a suitable ceremony for those who have killed themselves or have died in difficult circumstances
  • Conducting memorials which focus on the positive impact the individual has on many lives
  • Small, intimate celebrations with only immediate family
  • Large funerals, acknowledging the impact the individual had on multiple lives
  • Funerals for babies, children or young people
  • Memorials for babies who have been miscarried or were stillborn

Where A celebration can take place

Most people first think of a funeral home when they think about a funeral. But, there are options, many which people aren’t aware. For example, I’ve delivered celebrations:

  • Sports Clubs
  • Pubs
  • Top of a mountain
  • On a beach
  • In a park
  • Crematorium
  • Within a home

Please feel free to give me a ring to discuss your needs.

Telephone 0478041227 or email roxy@roxyrocks.com or fill in contact form here.

Roxy Hotten, Celebrant

Wedding Planning Wisdom Part Two

If you haven’t already, check out Part One of Wedding Planning Wisdom from me, Roxy Hotten – Celebrant. It’s very helpful – I promise!

SIXTEEN – Keep on Movin’

You’re married! Hooray! You’ve done the legals. You’re now walking down the aisle. And you think ‘Okay… where to next…?’ Should we keep on walking? If so, where too?

To avoid that moment of confusion, make sure you think this part through and discuss with any parties involved.

🌺 do you want your wedding party to follow immediately or wait till you’re down the aisle

🌺 are you happy for immediate family to follow straight after wedding party?

🌺 do you want guests to go straight into a group photo? Would you like your Celebrant to announce this?

🌺 do you want the two of you to have a private moment (see Day 13 Wedding Wisdom) before mingling with guests

🌺 do you want a receiving line or would you prefer guests to say congratulations in groups. If so, walk to a spot where guests can congregate comfortably to do so

🌺 do you want guests to be served drinks straight away? If so, make sure you grab one first – guests will follow your example

SEVENTEEN: Stand By Me

How many bridesmaids/men, groomsmen/women can you have?

Choosing who to ask to hold this important role can be tricky, and it’s worth reading Wedding Wisdom Day 5 for more about this. However, one thing you may wish to consider before deciding is the ceremonial space.

It may feel like a very practical reason to have a smaller wedding party, but if your vision is to have them standing with you throughout the ceremony, check how much room is actually available for this and can everyone fit comfortably?

A restricted space with lots of bridal party members may result in one or more of them not being able to see or feel part of the ceremony. If this is the case, you may want your bridal party to take a seat once you and your partner are ready to start the ceremony.

Don’t forget when looking at ceremonial spaces that you will also need to fit a signing table too.

EIGHTEEN: What you MUST do

What you absolutely must do to get married in Australia… Some people think getting married is pretty complicated. Okay, so, yes, the relationship element of it may be, but the legalities of it doesn’t need to be. Below are basically the steps.

1) Lodge a ‘Notice of Intended Marriage’ with your Celebrant 1 to 18 months before your ceremony 
2) Sign a ‘Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage’ prior to the ceremony start
3) Ensure you have two witnesses
4) Oh, and a Celebrant (hello!)
5) Your Celebrant will need to state some legal wording
6) You and your partner will need to state a legal declaration
7) You, your witnesses and your celebrant will then sign three certificates
8) Your celebrant will then lodge documents with Births, Deaths and Marriages in the State or Territory where you married.

NINETEEN: Placement

When I conduct a ceremony I tend to stand next to the couple for the majority of the ceremony rather than in between.

This allows your photographer to get intimate shots of the two of you without my head poking out between you as demonstrated below by Stephen Doyle Photographer below.

It also means your guests can see your faces during the ceremony and it gives a more intimate, relaxed feel to the ceremony.

However, if you’d prefer for me to stand in between I can. If I do this though, I will absolutely never ever be in the kiss shot. That’s a moment for only the two of you to share!

TWENTY: Readings Don’t Need to Be Boring!

If you have someone you’d like to involve in the ceremony (parent, grandparent, child, friend etc) you can ask them to do a reading. You may ask them to choose it themselves and keep it a surprise from you.
This could be:
❇️ A song, either sung or with the lyrics spoken
❇️ An excerpt from a film or a book
❇️ Something which involves audience participation like a quiz about the couple
❇️ Advice on what makes a good marriage (a great choice for elderly readers who may have this wisdom)
❇️ A letter or extract from a diary

Giving your reader the option to choose something themselves ensures they feel connected to the reading, plus it’s a lovely surprise for you. Read here for more details on how this works.

I love this photo of a reader who, after delivering an awesome one, gave the couple and all the bridesmaids a kiss.

TWENTY-ONE: Smell the Flowers

Whether your flower budget is modest or you’re looking for a forest of flowers you may want to consider the following:

💐Are there any varieties you’d like included which have meaning such as the favourite flower of a significant relative or a type which grew in the garden where they lived

💐Bouquets can be heavy. If you’re planning on holding it throughout the ceremony, consider the weight. Or rather than asking a bridal party member to hold it, place it on the signing table during the ceremony

💐Flowers with a scent can provide an extra sensory element to your ceremony

💐Some flowers are more practical than others. Certain varieties may not be available or will wilt as soon as they spend a minute outside on a summer’s day

💐If you’re looking to cut costs, don’t do your flowers yourself on your wedding day, rather delegate this to a friend or family member. You won’t have time nor the inclination to do this on the day… trust me!

💐 A wedding florist can help you to design something visually stunning that will work on a practical level. There’s some incredibly talented florists out there and I’ve been fortunate to work with some greats. If you’re struggling to find one, ask your photographer, Celebrant or venue who we recommend. We see the end results of all their hard work so can help to give you some names

TWENTY-TWO: Mum’s the Word

I don’t know if you agree with me, but sometimes mum’s don’t seem to get much of a look in during the wedding ceremony. And for some, that’s fine; they’re happy to take a back seat. But, if you’d like to include them, here’s some ideas to make them feel special during your ceremony:
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👩 Walk them down the aisle so they are the last to be seated (like Layne did in the photo below, captured by This is Life Photography)

👩 Ask them to do a reading (and why not get them to choose it themselves!?)

👩 Have them as your witnesses. Mum’s love doing this, and it means their signature will be on your marriage certificate

👩 Get them to be the ring-bearers and bring them up to you and your partner

TWENTY-THREE: I Now Pronounce You…

It’s worth discussing how you like to be announced after you’ve had your kiss (or shot of tequila, handshake, fist pump, high five…).

Before you trot down the aisle, would you’d like to be announced as Mr/Mrs, Mr/Mr, Mrs/Mrs, first names, nicknames, or something else completely?

AND FINALLY

As a Celebrant since 2011, I have tonnes of experience. Weddings are my Mastermind subject. I’m always happy to share any knowledge I may have to help you get the best day you can possibly have. Check out lovely things said by lovely people about my services.

Feel free to ask me any questions. You can contact me at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478041227

Happily Ever… Before and After

The Leaflet All Celebrants Should Give you

If you meet with a celebrant they should hand you a document called ‘Happily Ever… Before and After’.

Every Celebrant is required by the Attorney General’s Department to give this to every couple they are marrying. The reason why? Well, it includes important information. It tells you about the legalities of getting married, and suggests pre-marriage/relationship counselling.

The Attorney General’s Department wants couples to consider whether pre-marriage counselling might help them think about all elements of their relationship before they say ‘I do’.

As a one-person warrior on waste, I want to try and encourage my clients to access this electronically by clicking the download button below, but please feel free to let me know if you’d like a hard copy of this document and I will bring it along to one of our meetings.

If you have any questions, or would like further support to find services and advice for couples and families, visit Family Relationships Online website at www.familyrelationships.gov.au or phone on 1800050321

Click below to access this document

9 Wedding Readings for Children

Wedding readings for children within your ceremony can be such a great way of involving them, and making sure they feel included.  Below are some examples which I’ve seen work really well; they tend to be easy for children to read, and the words can feel very appropriate for a wedding.

Hilary_Rich_Ring

I Love My Family So Much – Filoi Hemopo

To be a part of a family like mine
is so divine
where love is shown
hurt is shared
our love for each other is never impaired

we talk
we laugh
we cry
but we are a family
and we do it all together
for as a family we do it all as one

for we are family
a family full of strength
a family full of love
a family no one can touch
that’s why I love my family so much
my family is my life and always will be forever

Guess How Much I Love You Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram

Little Nutbrown Hare, who was going to bed, held on tight to Big Nutbrown Hare’s very long ears. He wanted to be sure that Big Nutbrown Hare was listening.

“Guess how much I love you,” he said.

“Oh, I don’t think I could guess that,” said Big Nutbrown Hare.

“This much,” said Little Nutbrown Hare, stretching out his arms as wide as they could go.

Big Nutbrown Hare had even longer arms. “But I love YOU this much,” he said.

Hmm, that is a lot, thought Little Nutbrown Hare.

“I love you as high as I can reach.” said Little Nutbrown Hare.

“I love you as high as I can reach,” said Big Nutbrown Hare.

That is quite high, thought Little Nutbrown Hare. I wish I had arms like that.

Then Little Nutbrown Hare had a good idea. He tumbled upside down and reached up the tree trunk with his feet.

“I love you all the way up to my toes!” he said.

“And I love you all the way up to your toes,” said Big Nutbrown Hare, swinging him up over his head.

“I love you as high as I can HOP!” laughed Little Nutbrown Hare, bouncing up and down.

“But I love you as high as I can hop,” smiled Big Nutbrown Hare – and he hopped so high that his ears touched the branches above.

That’s good hopping, thought Little Nutbrown Hare. I wish I could hop like that.

“I love you all the way down the lane as far as the river,” cried Little Nutbrown Hare.

“I love you across the river and over the hills,” said Big Nutbrown Hare.

That’s very far, thought Little Nutbrown Hare. He was almost too sleepy to think any more. Then he looked beyond the thorn bushes, out into the big dark night. Nothing could be further than the sky.

“I love you right up to the MOON,” he said, and closed his eyes.

“Oh, that’s far,” said Big Nutbrown Hare. “That is very, very far.”

Big Nutbrown Hare settled Little Nutbrown Hare into his bed of leaves. He leaned over and kissed him good night.”

Then he lay down close by and whispered with a smile, “I love you right up to the moon – AND BACK.”

Family Comes Together – Glaedr the poet

Family comes together
For always and forever
In sickness and in health
In poverty or in wealth
Family comes together
For always and forever
Without any reason
Anytime or any season
Family comes together
For always and forever
In death or in life
In happiness or in strife
Family comes together
For always and forever
In anger or in kindness
Whether all seeing or in blindness
Family comes together
For always and forever
Whether for work or for play
They somehow find a way
For family to come together
Because families are forever

Dr Seuss Quote

“We are all a little weird and life is a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”

Never Going to Give You UpRick Astley

We’re no strangers to love
You know the rules and so do I
A full commitment’s what I’m thinking of
You wouldn’t get this from any other guy

I just wanna tell you how I’m feeling
Gotta make you understand

Never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

We’ve known each other for so long
Your heart’s been aching but you’re too shy to say it
Inside we both know what’s been going on
We know the game and we’re gonna play it

And if you ask me how I’m feeling
Don’t tell me you’re too blind to see

Never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you
Never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

Somethings Go TogetherCharlotte Zolotow

Pairs of things that go together.
Pigeons with park
Stars with dark
Sand with sea
and you with me.
… Hats with heads
Pillows with beds
Sky with blue
and me with you

Sheep and GoatMarleen Westera

“What are you doing?” asks Goat. “I’m looking for happiness,” answers Sheep. “Don’t waste your time, Sheep. Happiness will find you.” “Help me look!” shouts Sheep. “No, I’m much too comfortable here,” says Goat. “Then I’ll look by myself. But if I find happiness, I’m going to keep it,” says Sheep. …

“Well, did you find happiness?” asks Goat. “I thought I had. But I was wrong. I’m sorry.” “That’s all right, Sheep,” says Goat. “Would you like a mouthful of hay? It’s a little dry today.” “It doesn’t matter,” says Sheep. She takes a big bite. It is dry, and a little dusty. But it tastes like happiness.

I Like YouSandol Stoddard Warburg

I like you and I know why
I like you because you are a good person to like
I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it’s special
And you remember it a long, long time
You say, “Remember when you told me something special?”
And both of us remember
When I think something is important
You think it’s important too
We have good ideas
When I say something funny, you laugh
I think I’m funny and you think I’m funny too
You know how to be silly
That’s why I like you
If I am getting ready to pop a paper bag,
then you are getting ready to jump
I like you because when I am feeling sad
You don’t always cheer me up right away
Sometimes it is better to be sad
You want to think about things
It takes time
I like you because if I am mad at you
Then you are mad at me too
It’s awful when the other person isn’t
I can’t remember when I didn’t like you
It must have been lonesome then
Even if it was the 999th of July
Even if it was August
Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
I would go on choosing you
And you would go on choosing me
Over and over again
And that’s how it would happen every time

I Love You as Big as the WorldDavid Van Buren and Tim Warnes

I love you as big as the world.
I love you as deep as the sea.
I love you as bright as the sun.
I love you. And I know you love me!
I love you as blue as the sky.
I love you as long as the days.
I love you as high as the mountain top.
I love you in so many ways!
I love you as strong as the wind.
I love you as soft as the dew.
I love you as far as a star.
I love you because…you are you

Are there any readings you’ve loved that aren’t included above? Feel free to comment below.

Roxy Hotten Celebrant

Remembering a loved one in your ceremony

Remembering a loved one

When an important person in your life isn’t able to attend your wedding, it can be hard.  Whether it’s because they have died or are unable to travel to your wedding, you may be considering ways to acknowledge them. If so, what is the best way to do so, and how?

To Acknowledge or Not?

This is something that only you can decide. In my experience, acknowledging a person who is notably absent can address the elephant in the room.

I conducted a wedding where the brother of the groom had passed only recently.  The groom wanted his absence acknowledged in the ceremony. So I said ‘Dave, has asked me to acknowledge his little brother, James, who I’m sure is in many of your thoughts today. Although James is not here, it does feel like he’s looking on, and probably having a bit of a laugh seeing Dave all suited and nervous.  Although his absence is felt deeply, think of him with a smile. Imagine him taking full advantage of the free bar and throwing a shape or two on the dance floor later on.’

After the ceremony, the groom’s parents came and spoke to me.  They explained that they were so grateful that James had been acknowledged. They had been worried that the whole day would go by without him being mentioned.

At another ceremony, the bride’s grandmother was too poorly to travel.  The relationship between the two of them was very close. She explained to me that her grandmother had had a dream where the bride had married in olive green which was her grandmother’s favourite colour.  I suggested that I wore one of my frocks which was in this colour and she loved this idea. During the ceremony I explained I was wearing this specifically in honour of her Grandmother.  After the ceremony the bride sent her grandmother an extract of the ceremony where this was mentioned.

However, acknowledging someone with words may feel too upsetting, and there are other, less explicit, ways of doing so.

Photos

Whether you have a photo of your loved one somewhere near the ceremonial area or chose to carry a photo in your bouquet or pinned to your jacket, having a photographic reminder can be a wonderful way of feeling as if they are close by you throughout the day.

l-r: Rachel Clingen Roxy’s own,  Shea Christine

Their Favourite things

A sensitive, yet fun inclusion could be serving your loved ones favourite drink or food, or making something from one of their recipes.  Alternatively, you could have one of their favourite songs played or, if the lyrics work, read by a friend or family member during the ceremony.

l-r: Inked Weddings, Roxy’s own, Inked Weddings

Personal Items

Whether it’s a fragment of your loved one’s wedding dress, his favourite tie, a hand-written note, their names embroidered into your dress, or a piece of jewelry or cuff-links worn, this can be a subtle, yet memorable way of including them in your day.

l-r: Zofia and Co.Kay McKee photographer,  Janine Deanna, Lindsay Docherty

I also love this idea of creating a kilt pin with specific items and wearing this somewhere on your dress or suit.

To see how to make these, check out Something Turquoise.

Rituals

If rituals are more your thing, there’s numerous ways to acknowledge a loved one which include:

  • Lighting a candle
  • Placing a flower which has significance in a vase near the signing table upon entering the ceremonial area
  • Using materials from a wedding dress or other symbolic piece of clothing in a handfasting

l-r: Amanda Macy Hall, Wedding Star, EL Simpson 

A place to Sit

You may want to leave a seat for your loved one, either within the ceremony area, or in a more discrete area.  This could be under a tree with one of their favourite flowers or a bottle of their drink so people can go and have a private moment and remember them.

l-r Wedding ChicksSouthern Weddings

And finally….

Sadly my husband’s brother passed away only nine months before our wedding.  His absence was on all our minds in the lead up to the wedding and on the day itself.  However, we had a very happy day. It was the first time many people who had been at his funeral were together again.  Although there were tears, there was much celebration of him and of us.

Please feel free to chat to me about any of these ideas.  You can contact me at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478041227 or by clicking on the contact page.

Roxy Hotten Celebrant

How To Sign The Register

Register Sign

How to sign the register?  Are you confused as to whether it should be your married name?

The answer is ‘no’ – you sign your name in your current signature. Getting married doesn’t automatically change your last name; after all, some couples choose not to do so.

Your name change can happen once you start to get identification in this name. The process is:

1) After your married your celebrant will send your paperwork to Births, Deaths and Marriages in the State where you were married
2) Once this has been registered by the Births, Deaths and Marriage in that State, you can then apply for your marriage certificate which can be used as evidence that you are now legally married
3) You can then begin applying for documents which you can use as ID, such as your passport and drivers licence with your new name

Simples! For a comprehensive list of people to contact regarding name change, please see link here: Super-Handy Name-Change Check-List

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about this or anything else.

Handy links:
Drivers Licence Name Change in QLD

Passport Application for Name Change

Photo: This is Life Photography

Thinking of eloping? Read my handy top tip guide to get you on track.

Thinking of eloping?  Whether you want to do so to save money, to negate the ‘inviting the masses’ issue, or you just want a really intimate commitment with only you and your witnesses then I’m able to help you with your elopement ceremony, ensuring it meets all your needs.

As a starter, I’ve produced some guidance on how to organise the perfect elopement:

  1.  Submit your completed notice-of-intended-marriage at least one calendar month prior to your elopement date with your celebrant.  Unless there is a reason which falls under the exceptional circumstances (please ask me for more advice on these), you will need to  lodge this at least one calendar month before your chosen date to get married.
  2. Think about what kind of elopement you want.
    • Do you want super-intimate with only two witnesses or something with a small, intimate group of family and/or friends?
    • If you do want to invite guests, do you want them to be aware that you are eloping, or do you want to invite them under a different guise?
    • Do you want to include personalised vows in the ceremony?
    • Do you want any readings included?  Would you like any of your guests to say something during the ceremony?
    • Do you want your elopement to be captured by a professional photographer and/or videographer to then share with others at a later date?
  3. Decide where you would like to hold your elopement ceremony.  I have conducted elopements:
    • at parks (depending on your type of elopement, it’s worth checking first to see if you need any kind of permit for that particular park)
    • on beaches, including those on both the Gold and Sunshine Coasts
    • in a coffee shop (with the bride and groom in shorts and thongs)
    • at the home of a couple, just before they were to fly off for a trip of a lifetime
    • at a small family 30th birthday party which turned into a surprise elopement
  4. How are you going to share the news with your family and friends after the elopement?  It must seem an odd question to ask, but quite often couples elope, and then spend days, weeks, even months, before they share the news because, well… basically they’re not sure how to do so!  It’s worth having a think about this beforehand; are there those whom you want to tell first face to face, or are you happy to make an announcement on social media?

Please do not hesitate to contact me about elopements – I have a real sense of adventure and love surprises, so am more than happy to get fully on board to make your elopement totally right for you.

“Thank you foKellDr your wonderful assistance on our surprise evening… even your commitment to your backstory so my family wouldn’t guess you were a celebrant. Thanks for fitting in with our very simple, kinda last minute decision and making it super chilled with was just perfect for us.” Kellee and Ben (left)

 

 

Roxy signature

www.roxyrocks.com

 

How to Show Marriage Equality Support in your Ceremony

Marriage Equality… sigh…

It truly is something which I’m very passionate about and it beggars belief to me as to why we don’t have it.  Please read my post on my thoughts about Marriage Equality, which can be found here.

As you may be aware, by law, all celebrants must include some monitum wording which includes:

‘I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages 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 the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.’

I really don’t like saying the bit in bold.  I truly don’t.  And often couples I work with don’t like me saying it either, and they ask if I can exclude it.  Unfortunately I can’t, but what I can do is include a precursor sentence before the monitum wording paragraph which explains that this is not the views of all of us, and we hope one day to have marriage equality.

I recently conducted a wedding where when I said this, everyone cheered.  It gave me goose bumps; I was so proud that so many like-minded people are out there.  After the ceremony a guest came up to me and shook my hand.  He was in his late 50s and told me that in all his life, he’d never been to a wedding where he and his (male) partner actually felt included.

This in itself is one of many reasons why I will keep supporting change for the introduction of marriage equality.

Marriage Equality. It’s only fair.

Roxy signature

What absolutely, definitely must and must not happen during your ceremony.

Have you been thinking; ‘what must and must not happen during a wedding ceremony?’

Have you wondered what the legalities are within the ceremony itself?

Are you worried you’ll have to say long vows or ring exchange wording?

Well, there’s actually very little which must happen during your ceremony and equally very little that must not happen.  But, before you think this is a nagging, boring post, dictating to you about traditions, read on…

What Must Happen

  • Your celebrant must say the legal wording which is ‘I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages 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 the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.’  
  • Bride and groom must say the mandatory words ‘I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, (name in full), take thee (name in full) to be my lawful wedding (wife/husband/partner).  There are some slight changes in the wording which is a permissible (such as ‘you’ instead of ‘thee’).
  • The following three documents must be signed by the bride and groom in presence of two witnesses, followed by the celebrant:
    • the fancy looking certificate of marriage (which you keep)
    • two less fancy looking ones (one which your celebrant submits to births, deaths and marriages and one which they keep)

That’s it… that’s all the ‘musts’ for a wedding ceremony!

Must Not

  • You must not do something just because it’s tradition. This is your wedding, and you can do it your way.  You may want to follow traditions, and that’s completely fine, but if you want to arrive together, do it!  If you don’t want to exchange rings, don’t!  If you’d prefer to have a shot of tequila rather than ‘kiss the bride’, go ahead!
  • You must not sweat the small stuff.  The best weddings I’ve conducted are where the bride and groom are present and enjoying the ceremony.  I know this is easier said than done, but your guests are there to celebrate with you, and you’re there to marry the love of your life.  Enjoy every second of it and it will be the best day of your life.  No-one will ever say ‘it was a crap wedding because the flowers were a centimeter out of place’.
  • You must not get stressed if something doesn’t go according to plan.  I’ve had ceremonies where someone who was going to do a reading couldn’t as they were so emotional.  I’ve had the wrong song played on the entrance
    nicandlee3
     of the bride.  I’ve had children come wandering up and chat to the bride and groom during the ceremony.   I’ve had my heel caught in the paving and couldn’t move for a few seconds (pictured right). And do you know what… with every single ceremony I’ve always had people come up to me and say it was the best ceremony they’ve ever seen.

Of course, the most important thing is to enjoy your day – please feel free to contact me to discuss further how to make your day absolutely perfect for you.

Roxy signature

Filling in a Notice of Intended Marriage

An ‘Easy To Fill In But Easy To Make Mistakes’ Document

Filling in a Notice of Intended Marriage looks straight forward – and it is.  But there are some common mistakes often made.

If you want to marry in Australia you need to fill in and lodge with your celebrant a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) between one and 18 months before your wedding date. You can find this document here New-notice-of-intended-marriage

If you want to know who can marry in Australia, read this or feel free to contact me.

Wherever you are based, you will need to lodge your NOIM with your Celebrant. Although this is reasonably straight forward, often couples make mistakes. I can help you with filling in the form, or if you’re filling out at home, the below may help you avoiding any mistakes.

General Points

  • Write really really neatly and use capital letters.  Or, if your writing is a bit tricky to read, you can type the information
  • If you make a mistake, don’t use white-out.  Cross the mistake out once with a line, initial it, and write the correct information next to it
  • Do not sign until you are in front of your witness, and, if you’re not using your celebrant as your witness, make sure the person you choose is eligible to witness the document.  The only eligible witnesses in Australia are:
    • Authorised celebrant
    • A Commissioner for Declarations
    • A Justice of the Peace
    • A barrister or solicitor
    • A legally qualified medical practitioner
    • A member of the Australian Federal Police or police force of State/Territory

Mistakes Made on Specific Questions

Question 3: Usual Occupation

Sometimes people will write ‘administration’ or ‘army’.  Think of the following: if someone asked you what you do for a living, you wouldn’t answer ‘I am an administration’ or ‘I am an army’.  Therefore you need to write ‘administration assistant’ or ‘soldier’.

Question 5: Conjugal Status

If you’ve never been married then you need to write the words ‘never validly married’ (not ‘never married’)

Question 10: Mother’s Maiden Name

This question is often misunderstood; it requires your mother’s first, middle and her last name at birth.

If you have any specific questions about any of the other elements of this form, please don’t hesitate to ask me at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478 041 227.  Always happy to help.

Roxy Hotten Celebrant

‘Princess Consuela Banana Hammock.’ A handy name-change check-list.

Name Change After Marrying

Are you considering changing your name once you get married?

It’s a personal choice as to whether you want to – obviously you don’t have to, and you don’t not have to.  Me, well when I got married the second time I kept my first husband’s last name (weird, huh, but it’s my kids last name, you see).  My current husband and I unofficially call each other ‘Mr and Mrs Hotten-Brown’ or ‘Mr and Mrs HB’ for short.  It’s almost like I’m going through life collecting husbands’ names…  And yes, Mr HB is an amazing man without one iota of jealousy in his body and, call us freaks, but my first husband came to my second wedding with his partner.  But that’s a whole other story that I won’t bore you with…

How To Change Your Name

So, getting back onto topic, if you do want to change your name, you will first need to get your standard marriage certificate from the Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) in the State where your marriage took place.  I always email couples I work with details on how to do this after their wedding, and your celebrant can give you guidance on this, but below is a list of where to apply for your marriage certificate via Births, Deaths and Marriages in Australia:

Once you’ve got your hands on your certificate, it’s time to start contacting people to let them know.  It’s a laborious process, and there are undoubtedly some on the list below which are not relevant to you, and some not on the list which are. Below is a starter for ten, but if you’d like to provide me with any suggested inclusions, please feel free to email me at roxy@roxyrocks.com

Name Change Check List

The super-handy name change check-list has proven to be a real help for those considering changing their name.  I have a printed version of this that I give to all couples just after their marry.

Name change check list

Hope this helps, and if you’d like a PDF version of this emailed to you, please don’t hesitate to contact me at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478041227.

Happy name-changing!

Roxy signature

Two Of My Favourite Things: Dogs and Weddings (Part Two)

Dogs and Weddings

Hopefully you had a chance to read Part One of this blog, which was basically a love story between my handsome dog, Valentine McFarty, and Mr HB and I.

As promised in that post, I wanted to provide some ideas on ways you can include your dog in your wedding ceremony.

To Have, Or Not To Have

What’s that saying? Never work with children or animals… Well, I’ve worked with both, many times, and never once have I found it a major problem.  Yes, even the best trained animal can be unpredictable, and if you’re looking for a ceremony which runs as smoothly as Kate and Wills, then it’s probably not such a good idea to have your four legged friend involved.  However, if you are comfortable with the thought of your dog (or any other animal!) going off script then I think they can make such a wonderful asset to your ceremony.

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http://snapweddings.ca/

Getting Your Dog Involved Prior to the Ceremony

Getting your pet involved in your engagement shoot or save the date photos can result in beautifully unique pictures.  You can also include your dog in your wedding invitation – Etsy.com has lots of creative artists who can help you with this idea.

During the Ceremony

Having your furry friend as a bridesmaid, grooms man or flower girl can be a lovely addition.  

There’s some great ways to include your pooch as your ring bearer.  Not sure if my Valentine McFarty is well trained enough to carry the basket in his mouth like the dog below, but there’s other, perhaps safer, options available too.

I recently conducted a wedding where their dog, Ernie, was a big part of the day.   He was there at all my consultations with the couple, he was mentioned during the ceremony, he escorted the groom’s party on arrival, and walked both bride and groom down the aisle.  One of their friend’s made a fingerprint tree with Ernie sitting underneath.  Ernie is very much part of their lives, and therefore very much part of their wedding.  I ‘heart’ Ernie…

During the Reception

Even if your furry friend isn’t at the reception, there’s still ways you can acknowledge them.

What about having you, your partner, and your pet on your cake topper?

I went to a wedding once where Valentine, and other doggies were invited for the ceremony and the reception.  If you’re doing the same, what about some wedding favours for your furry friends?

Fingerprint trees are very popular at the moment, and a great way of having a keepsake of all your guests.  Why not include your dog in the print, or do the fingerprint dog in purple below.  Or, if you’re really adventurous, what about a paw print from your pooch?

Pet Assistants

As much as you love your dog, you may not want to have to keep an eye on him or her all day, and you also may want to consider them going home after the ceremony.  If so, there’s companies who can do this for you such as the First Class Pet Wedding Assistant or Wedding Paws

Love Animals, but are Animal-less?

If you don’t own an animal, but are an animal lover there’s still ways you can show your love for our furry/feathered friends. How about hiring some Alpacas from our wonderful friends at Alpaca Pooch – these lovely, friendly, super cute animals make a great addition to any celebration.  Other ideas include a dove release from White Wings Dove Service or an owl delivering your rings (Raptor Vision).

And Finally…

If you decide against having your dog or pet at your wedding, I have some wording I can use which will give you and your guests a giggle and will acknowledge your pet within the ceremony.  Please don’t hesitate to ask me about this.

Contact me at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478041227. Or you can fill in the contact form here.

Roxy signature

Two Of My Favourite Things: Dogs & Weddings (Part One)

My Love of Dogs

When I worked as a celebrant in London, I rarely had an opportunity to include dogs into ceremonies – for a couple of reasons. 1) not that many couples had dogs and 2) not many wedding venues allowed dogs.  However, here in Australia I’m doing many weddings where dogs are a part of the day and this means two of my favourite things come together.

In this two part post, Part One tells the story of my dog, Valentine McFarty, with Part Two providing ideas on ways to incorporate your dog into your ceremony.

Adopting our Dog

My husband, Mr HB and I wanted a dog since forever.  We’d both grown up with them, but living in small apartments in London whilst working full time made it seem impossible.

It was only when someone suggested that with the help of dog-walkers and friends, we could make being a dog owner a reality that we decided to go for it.  So, with much excitement we contacted Battersea Dogs Home, which was handily located down the road from where we lived.

Like many rescue centers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers make up the majority of abandoned, abused and lost dogs. Therefore it wasn’t surprising that we were matched with two brindle boy Staff’s, one six months old, and one three years old.

Mr HB and I played with both, before unanimously agreeing that the three year old – ‘Mitch’ – was our boy.  Poor Mitch had been in the rescue center for three months, and was suffering from signs of stress. We knew the other puppy would have more chance of finding an adopter.  The home knew very little about Mitch’s past. He had been found wandering on Clapham Common, scavenging through rubbish, and was rather overweight, but as to who his owners were, they knew zilch.

Within minutes we were walking out of the center with Mitch.  We were dog owners!

We Ditch the Mitch

On our half hour walk home from the rescue center, Mr HB and I babbled excitedly whilst Mitch yanked on the lead, desperate to put as much distance from the center and himself as possible.  It was at this time that Mr HB came up with an idea.  Mitch had been found on 14th February 2011 by the rescue center, so why not call him Valentine?!  A genius moment from Mr HB.  Reader, this is why I married him.

Val6

His last name, ‘McFarty’, came from the moment I first saw him in his jacket we bought for London’s many cold winter days.

Me: ‘Oooh, don’t you look handsome’.

Valentine: ‘…’

Me: ‘And what clan do you belong to?’

Valentine: ‘…’

Me: ‘The McFarty clan, you say!  How appropriate…’

I can assure you, he lives up to his clan’s name.

A Dogs Life In London

Valentine quickly settled into life with Mr HB and I, though initially was very quiet and cuddly boy, perhaps frightened that if he showed his personality too much we might return him to the center.  He didn’t play with the plethora of toys we’d bought him, but he did learn many tricks. ‘Bang’ (where he drops dead), jumping through a hoop, ‘high five’ etc.  He also loved coming to the pub, which was handy as we did this a lot.

As time went on, his confidence grew, and soon he would play with his toys, throwing his ball around our flat, and playing tug-of-war with his ropey.  He loved chasing (but never catching) squirrels and foxes in the park opposite our house.  We took him on our holidays, and realised he liked swimming in the sea and ponds, but not in a pool.  He enriched our lives in ways that we never expected, and the cheeky, funny, silly side of his personality came out in droves.

A Dogs Life in Australia

In 2015, Mr HB and I decided to move to Australia.  This meant organising for Valentine to get his Pet Passport, a million or so vet checks and a very, very expensive flight, followed by 10 days in quarantine in Sydney.  And every penny we paid was worth it, as Valentine took to living here like he was a true blue Aussie.

Now we live in a house with a garden he has learnt to bury his bones (though he does struggle to remember where he left them), bark and chase the postman, tease the magpies (who take much joy in swooping him – it’s a fun game), and going for a swim in the sea at least twice a week.

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Some people say Valentine is lucky we adopted him, but Mr HB and I are the lucky ones.  Seeing this boy, who had experienced god only knows what in his first three years, living the life he deserves is the most satisfying thing to observe.

I guess you can say that I am a proper dog lover.  I truly love Valentine, but I also love many other dogs.  I can’t walk past a dog without saying ‘hello’, and many of my friends’ dogs received the same kind of loving I give Valentine.

I hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about my boy, and if you’d like to know how to include your furry friend at your wedding, please read part two.

Roxy signature

www.roxyrocks.com

roxy@roxyrocks.com

0478041227

Parentzillas – when good parents turn bad

Parents: love ’em… but….

Parents; you love them, yes, but their vision on what your wedding should look and feel like does not necessarily complement yours.

A wedding can be a hugely exciting, emotional time for parents and sometimes their best intentions can come off as interfering.  I know when – or should that read ‘if’ – my daughters get married I’ll have to have very strong words with myself to stop myself over-stepping the mark from helpful to interfering.

So, here are some handy tips on how to deal with mums, dads, steppies, or any other significant elder to prevent conflict during the planning and wedding itself.

When Money Is Involved

If they offer to contribute to the wedding budget, ensure expectations are discussed before accepting

Try to do this as a couple if you can, and say something along the lines of ‘We are so grateful for your generous offer.  We just want to check whether you have anything in particular that you want to see included in our wedding.’   If you find they have a shopping list of inclusions, you may decide to politely forgo their offer by emphasising that you’d prefer a more modest wedding that fits your vision.  It’s much better to know about this up-front, than start planning and find out that they want to invite 50 of their closest friends.

How to Battle Criticism

If they are critical of your choices, enforce how their criticisms make you feel

I hear this a lot; a parent who is verbal in their disappointment that their son or daughter isn’t getting married in a church or that they think your colour scheme is all wrong.  Be explicit with them as to how their criticisms make you feel – be honest, yet calm, and use wording such as ‘when you say [this], it makes me feel like [this]’.  You may also want to think about an advocate who can be a bit of a go-between, such as an relative or godparent who has a good relationship with the parent.

Give them a job to do

Being involved can really make a parent feel useful and will help them buy into your vision.  Choose something which plays to their strengths.  Do they have a skill?  Is your mother creative and therefore able to make confetti cones?  Is your father-in-law great at DIY and able to make an arbor? Even jobs like making the wedding favours will give them a sense of purpose and help them feel engaged in the process.  Alternatively, why not ask them to curate a photo display for you – there’s some fantastic ideas here.

Include them in the ceremony

Traditionally, it was only really the father of the bride who had a formal role in the ceremony.  There’s many further ways you can involves your parents or significant elders in the ceremony.

  • Ask them to do a reading – it could be the two mothers or fathers together as a way of helping them to get to know each other a bit better
  • Get the groom to walk both mothers up the aisle, or alternatively, ask the grooms’ parents to walk the groom and the brides’ parents to walk the bride up the aisle
  • If your parents have a long and happy marriage, ask your celebrant to recognise this within the ceremony
  • Provide your parents with corsages, flower bracelets, lapel flowers, or similar with flowers with meaning that is relevant to your relationship with them, and ask your celebrant to mention this during the ceremony
  • Choose your parents to be witnesses and/or ring bearers
  • How about your mums or grandmothers as flower-girls, like these adorable two http://www.today.com/style/these-grandmothers-are-world-s-most-adorable-flower-girls-t100785
  • If there is a particular family tradition or culture, consider including this within the ceremony.  For example, I’ve conducted a non-Jewish wedding, where we including the breaking of the glass in acknowledgement of the bride’s ancestry or a wedding for a Greek bride where they exchanged crowns.

And, finally…

I have many examples where families have been vocal in their disappointment in the bride and grooms choices prior to the wedding day.  In all these cases, I have watched the parents view the dressed ceremony space for the first time and fall in love with it. Guaranteed by the time the ceremony starts they’ll relax and enjoy the whole day.

I’d like to share with you an extract from a letter written to me by a mother of the bride after the wedding ceremony. ‘I feel so bad that I was so upset that my daughter and son-in-law were not marrying in our church.  Now I can see that their wedding was 100% right for them and  I had many of my friends say it was the very best wedding they’d ever been to.  I cannot thank you enough for the perfect ceremony you conducted‘.

Be confident in your choices – trust your instinct, and enjoy your day. And please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any advice about how to include your parent in your ceremony at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478041227

Roxy signature

How I Met My Husband

I recently published a blog about my wedding to Mr HB, and was asked if I could publish a story about how we met.

I suggest you pour yourself a whiskey, plonk yourself on your comfiest seat, and gather round for a little love story: How I Met My Husband, by Roxy Hotten.

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time I was married to a man who wasn’t Mr HB.  Let’s call him H1. One evening, back in 1996, H1 and I were at a gig local to where we lived in the UK, and a mutual friend of ours introduced us to the guitarist of one of the bands.  This guitarist was Mr HB, or just ‘Mr B’ as he was then.  When I met him he had dreadlocks and was flanked by a couple of adoring ladies*.  I remember thinking he was a bit of a, um, a bit of a… well, just a bit arrogant I guess, and didn’t really pay too much attention to him.

(* Mr HB disputes this fact to this day – not the dreadlocked bit, but the adoring ladies bit)

One Upon a Time + 2 Years

Fast forward two years later, and H1 and I were planning on moving to Australia.  The same mutual friend invited us to his house for dinner before we left, and the other dinner guests were Mr B and his new girlfriend.  I quickly realised that my initial impression of him was wrong, all wrong, and that he was a really nice guy.  I also thought he was cute, but, you know, I was married, about to move to Australia, he had a girlfriend, blah blah – so definitely nothing weird happened.

One Upon a Time + 5 Years

Fast forward to 2001.  H1 and I had split up in Australia, and were back in the UK.  Our mutual friend invited us to his house for dinner again, and although H1 and I were no longer a couple, we were (and are) still friendly and so off we went.  Upon arrival, I saw Mr B who launched in to a story about how he had  been dumped by text message, which in 2001, was still a fairly new way of being dumped.  I, being incredibly uncool quickly told him that although I was with H1 at our mutual friends house, I wasn’t with H1 anymore.

Throughout the dinner party we laughed, flirted, discovered lots of mutual interests, and when everyone had gone to bed, I decided it was very necessary to teach Mr B how to play ‘Heart of Gold’ by Neil Young on the guitar.  Now, let me just paint a picture for you here if I may.

  1. Mr B had been a professional guitarist for about 20 years.
  2. I can only play four chords on the guitar
  3. We had both been drinking straight for about six hours

Sitting on opposite chairs, I started to strum and bark out orders like a bossy music teacher…

‘Keep me searchin’ – D! – for a – E MINOR! – heart of gold.  You keep me searchin’ – D!- for a – E MINOR! – heart of gold…’ etc.

Mr B was obviously blown away with my epic guitar playing, and after I felt that he had sufficiently learnt this master-piece from the, er, master, I decided it was time to make my move.

‘Howzaboutcha come overz here and gizzus a liddle kiss’.

I am pure class.

Fortunately Mr B found this a tempting offer, and there you have it. Hollywood-worthy it may not be, but it is our story and therefore very special to us.  If you’d like to share your love story with me, and incorporate it into your ceremony, please feel free to email me at roxy@roxyrocks.com or ring me on 0478041227.

Roxy signature

danroxmarry
The day Mr B became Mr HB

I support Marriage Equality – and you can too…

Today I wrote to my MP, Wayne Swan, to ask him to help in the campaign for Marriage Equality in Australia.  If you believe that consenting adults have the right to marry, then please check out the Equality Campaign website http://www.equalitycampaign.org.au/ and consider writing to your MP.

Dear Mr Swan MP,

As a local resident within your electorate, I wish to show my support for marriage equality in Australia.

I have many reasons why I believe in marriage equality

  • It’s simply unfair not to be able to offer marriage as an option to consenting adults, including the benefits both legally and personally that come from being married
  • I have many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender friends and acquaintances who feel discriminated in our society enough without omitting their access to a basic human right
  • Finally (and this is the most important reason) I am a human being who believes that discrimination based on sexuality and/or gender identification is wrong in a civilized society.

It is time for change. The Marriage Act stipulates that marriage is between a man and a woman; this is outdated. We have numerous examples around the world where marriage equality has been introduced and, to my knowledge, not one single person has been struck by lightening as a result. In fact, I can’t even think of a good reason why anyone would be against it – I mean, surely this is just plain, simple, basic common sense?

I, as one voter, have little influence on the Government. But you, as a man of political connections, have the potential to help stop what is fundamentally discrimination. Please use this influence wisely.

Regards

Roxy Hotten

 

Finding a Wedding Venue which Wows.

As you probably know if you’ve read any of my other posts, I love my job (love, love, loooooove it).  And I love it for a million reasons, but one of the really exciting parts is I get to visit so many venues.

If you google ‘wedding venue – Brisbane’ or the like, it can be pretty daunting.  There are so many beautiful venues on the market, so where do you start?

My tips are the following:

  1. Close your eyes and think of your ceremony. What’s the first vision that comes to mind?  Is it the beach, a hall, a hotel, a church, a rain-forest, a restaurant, a hot air balloon, underwater?!  Trust your gut, and go with it.
  2. Is there anywhere which has a special significance for you both?  For example, I’ve held weddings where the couple had their first date, or in a school playground where the bride’s father, who had sadly passed, had been the Principal.
  3. Do you want the ceremony and reception in the one place?  There are pros and cons for both, and you can access a wider variety of options for the ceremony if you then move on elsewhere for the reception.
  4. Think about how much effort you are prepared to make.  If you’re happy to organise chairs, tables, decorations etc then the world will be your oyster, but if you want to make it easy on yourself, consider a venue that offers this type of support, or look at pop-up wedding companies.
  5. Do you, or a friend/family member, live in a house that you love?  If so, could it cope with the amount of guests you want to invite – are there enough toilets, is the kitchen big enough for caterers, if it rains is there room indoors, etc?
  6. Don’t search for ‘wedding venues’, search for ‘hinterland camping’ or ‘cool bars’ or ‘community halls’ – omit the word ‘wedding’ and you will find options that are less obvious.

You’ll know when you find ‘the one’ and it’s a very exciting feeling when it happens. Good luck with your search, and please feel free to talk to me to discuss your celebrant requirements.  You can contact me at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478041227.

Roxy signature

 

Funerals – a fresh approach to death

There’s a saying in the ‘biz’ when you conduct baby namings, weddings and funerals that you do ‘hatched, matched and dispatched’ ceremonies.

Since becoming a celebrant in Brisbane, I’ve been predominately concentrating on the matched, with some hatched.  And now I’m biting the bullet, giving up my day job and foraying into the world of funerals.

When I’ve told friends and family my plan, they have been very supportive, but I often hear them say; ‘Well, that’ll be less happy to do than the weddings.’  However, I don’t think so.

With the weddings I strive to give someone the very best experience of their life – celebrating among those who they love the most.  And with funerals, I want people to have a similar experience.  I want people to have a funeral which really celebrates them.  I want to deliver a funeral or memorial or tribute which is genuine and true and which helps their loved ones to smile and reminisce of this person who was a part of their life.  Yes, funerals are sad – it’s part of the grieving – but it’s okay to smile, laugh, groan as you remember the good times and the funny quirks to their personality.

I want to work with the grieving family or friends to produce a ceremony which feels genuine, real, fitting, honest, and helpful in the process of coming to terms with their death.

As much as I hope you’ll never have to use my services as a funeral celebrant, I also hope that if you do, the result will be a real celebration of your loved ones life, and as positive of an experience as possible.

Please feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss this service further on 0478041227 or roxy@roxyrocks.com

Roxy signature

 

Confessions of a Celebrant – what’s it like really?

roxychilkar

Firstly the cons: this is  the hard stuff that keeps me awake at night.

The Hard Stuff

  • The cost. Becoming and remaining a celebrant is expensive.  Here are some of my costs (all costs are approximate from my 2015 expenses):
    • Training fee for initial training, which can range in cost depending on whether you want to do on-line or face to face. I chose to do on-line as I had already been a celebrant for five years in the UK so felt face to face wasn’t necessary, and this cost me $750.  You then have to do a minimum 5 hours of Ongoing Professional Development (OPD) which I chose to do on-line for 2015 ($175)
    • Registration fee to the Attorney General’s Office to gain your qualification ($600)
    • Annual Registration fee to the Attorney General’s Office ($240)
    • Annual Membership fee to a Celebrant Association – Although this is not obligatory, I belong to the Australian Marriage Celebrants http://www.marriagecelebrants.org.au/ but there are other membership organisations you can join ($242)
    • Website – I use WordPress, and manage it myself. To set it all up, buy my domain, etc, this cost approximately $260, with an ongoing fee per year of $129
    • Early on, I advertised in a number of places plus Google Ad Words, and I would spend on average $500+ on advertising per month
    • Marketing materials – I’m so grateful to my wonderful creative friends who have helped me keep my costs down with this, including the talented Heath at http://www.theleftlane.com.au/ and my designer friend Louisa. I pay for printing for business cards, leaflets, stickers and any other materials and would spend approximately $200 a year on this.
    • Official paperwork. Most of this has to be bought through the Government printers, CanPrint, and would cost me approximately $200 per year.
  • The hours. Wave bye-bye to your weekends.  My friends, family, husband and dog are neglected on weekends.  I’m either conducting a wedding, meeting up with prospective clients, doing paperwork, or writing a ceremony.  I am also often busy on many week-day evenings meeting with prospective clients.
  • The responsibility. My recurring nightmare is to turn up at a wedding without my script. Or my legal paperwork.  Which is an unnecessary worry as a) I’m super organised and b) I always have spares in my car. However, I did make an error on my paperwork for the very first wedding I did in Australia.  My blood froze when I realised, though fortunately I had submitted the correct details to Births, Deaths and Marriages (who were wonderful when I confessed my mistake).  Initially I found the paperwork a little confusing – it’s not hard, but there are documents which look the same but have different purposes.  I’m now a whizz at it… though I still check, check, check… and check again.
  • The work/home balance. When I lived in London, my office was my dining table. I’m fortunate that now I’m in Brisbane I have a great home office which I love working in (especially as it means I can have my dog at work with me).  But for some people, having your home as your workplace can be hard or not practical.  Brisbane has lots of co-working spaces popping up and some are not that expensive.  See http://stylemagazines.com.au/lifestyle/brisbanes-best-co-working-spaces-and-offices/

Reading all that, you may think ‘Why would anyone want to be a celebrant?’  Because there’s the Good Stuff…

The Good Stuff

  • The writing. Finally I get to utilise my writing skills for something more interesting than business reports
  • The people. I’m constantly meeting new people and hear their relationship stories. What other situation could I find out so much so quickly about two strangers?
  • The love. Meeting the couple, who are in love, then meeting their friends and family who love them. In fact, sometimes I fall a little in love with them. So much love!
  • The day itself. The build up.  Seeing the bride and groom for the first time on the day.  Seeing the venue and how they’ve decorated it. Meeting so many people who I’ve already heard about.  And then the conducting of the ceremony.  Seeing the bride, the groom, the family or friend show emotion as I speak the words I’ve worked so hard to get right for the couple
  • The travel. I love travelling so getting to see new places, whether in Queensland or beyond, is a big fat cherry on top of an already top notch ice-cream
  • The independence. My boss is me. (By the way, I’m a great boss)
  • The creativity. What other job can you suggest ‘dancing girls’ or ‘an arrival on a horse’ or conduct a flash mob mid-way through the ceremony?
  • The gratitude. When I receive an email saying ‘thanks’, or have a parent come up to me after the ceremony with happy tears in their eyes, I think ‘what a job’.

You will never hear me moan about the Hard Stuff because the Good Stuff outweighs it a million to one in my mind.  I have found a job which I love so much that it doesn’t feel like work.  If you’re thinking about becoming a celebrant and want advice or just a chat, please feel free to contact me at roxy@roxyrocks.com

Roxy signature

My Husband and Our Wedding

In 2017 it’ll be my 10 year anniversary of being married to Mr HB, and when I look back on my wedding, it was the happiest day of my life.

One of the things I was most happy about was how easy and stress free it all was and I think this was down to the fact that all I wanted on the day was to be married to Mr HB and for my friends and family to have a hoot on our wedding day.  We were living in Battersea, London at the time, and Mr HB and I had barely two pennies to rub together.  I was working for a disability charity and had a job which didn’t pay very much, and Mr HB was trying to establish himself as an actor.  And, as you probably know, London is an expensive city.  roxydanwedding

Our wedding was held at Wandsworth Registry Office, where
Mr HB’s Parents and Grandparents married, following by a big, messy party at our local pub (which was sadly demolished a few years ago).  My dress cost £68 (approx $120AUD) and our wedding meal was a self-serve BBQ.  Mr HB’s parents secretly paid for the BBQ for us, so we used the money we’d saved for this to put behind the bar so our friends and family could have some drinks on us.

If we had have had more money, we may have done some things differently, but we didn’t, and so we did what we was the most affordable and fun at the time. And it was fun.  Oh my gosh, was it fun.  Our friends were amazing, so kind, and they took the whole day in the spirit it was meant – as a celebration of Mr HB and my relationship and our friendship with all of them.

Nearly ten years on, I look back at that day with fond memories.  I also look back at my relationship with Mr HB with the same.  We’ve done a lot, and had many adventures.  We’ve adopted the Best Dog in the World, Valentine, and we’ve traveled to Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Indonesia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Holland, Germany, Poland and now have made Australia our home.  We’ve suffered hard times, but we’ve suffered them together.  We’ve learnt how to support each others ambitions and passions.  And we’ve celebrated our achievements together, like the time I rode my bike from London to Paris or Mr HB made an appearance in Eastenders.

So, I guess in a way, this post is dedicated to my husband, Danny Brown, and to say ‘thank you’ for being you.  I’m just the luckiest girl in the world.

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Mums and Dads – 8 ways to include them in your ceremony

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Mums and Dads – quite often the second most excited people about your ceremony (after you, of course…!). Traditionally the father of the bride would get his moment, but the poor Mums would barely be acknowledged. So, if you are looking of ways to include your Mum and/or your Dad in your ceremony?  If so, below are some great ways to show them how important they are in your life by having them involved in your special day.

  1. Traditionally, the father would walk his daughter down the aisle and ‘give her away’ to her husband to be.  However, it’s worth thinking about other ways of doing this; including both Mum and Dad walking down with the daughter, the groom entering the ceremonial area with his mother and the brides mother, or having the parents walk in together once all the guests are seated, but just prior to the bridal party.
  2. Have your parents do a reading – either the two Mums or Dads together.  It’s a nice way for them to get to know each other a bit better if they didn’t before, and gives them a bonding moment to always remember.
  3. Include a ring blessing prior to the ceremony and ask the parents to announce and explain the blessing.
  4. Ask the parents to be witnesses to the signing of the documentation.
  5. Give your parents corsages with flowers which have special significance and ask your celebrant to mention this, eg ‘Martha and Chris’s mothers are wearing hydrangeas to symbolise the gratitude they have to their Mums for always understanding them and being a part of their lives’.
  6. If you are incorporating a unity candle ceremony in your wedding, your parents can also be included in lighting this.
  7. Have your Mum and/or Dad act as ring bearers, and bring the wedding rings to you during the ceremony.
  8. Are you parents still together?  If so, ask your celebrant to acknowledge the years they have been married and that they probably know a thing or two about marriage.  You might even want to get your celebrant to find out from them any wise word(s) they may wish to share, and read them out during the ceremony.

For these and more ideas, chat to Roxy at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478 041227.

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Choosing a celebrant, home or away?

Choosing a celebrant…. it can be hard to arrange a wedding from afar, especially if you don’t have friends or family at the location of the event to help you.  So, what are your options for choosing a celebrant?

OPTION ONE: Choose a celebrant close to where you live

Choosing a celebrant close to where you are located gives you the option of establishing a more personal relationship with them.  If you don’t want a ‘stranger’ marrying you, then building this relationship is of course much easier face to face.  It also means that you can meet with a number of celebrants before choosing the right one for you.  Of course, the downside is that there’s an extra cost attached to this as your celebrant will usually charge for their usual price for a ceremony, for travel costs, and sometimes extra towards their travel time as well.

I have done a number of destination weddings, both in Australia, Egypt, Europe and beyond, and I determine my charges according to where the ceremony is located.  I charge my usual price for the ceremony (see www.roxyrocks.com/fees ) and if a flight and hotel are required, I usually charge this cost directly to my clients or, if they prefer, they can arrange on my behalf.

If within a couple of hours drive to Brisbane, I charge for travel costs only (not my time) and everything beyond is negotiable.  I love (love!) travelling, and am fortunate that this job takes me to many countries and places I otherwise wouldn’t visit.  So, where possible I try to keep my costs reasonable to the couple, and in most cases, have been able to come up with a mutually satisfying deal for both of us.

Don’t forget, always seek advice on the marriage laws in the country you are marrying if choosing a destination wedding.

OPTION TWO: Choose a celebrant close to your wedding location

Of course, choosing  a celebrant close to the wedding location has the downside that you might not get to meet them face to face until the rehearsal or the wedding day itself. However, I’ve worked with many couples based overseas or elsewhere in Australia, and thanks to modern technology, feel I’ve still built a rapport with them using Skype, email and/or phone conversations.

The pros of this is that your celebrant may have great insight in to the wedding location than you have, plus there will not be the travel costs incurred from Option One.

“Roxy, thanks again for planning a perfect moment for Dee and I. Even though we were over 3000 mile apart, I had faith you would make our ceremony special. Your prompt responses and flexibility with the logistics put me at ease. You sincerely cared about making our moment magical, which is what makes you great. Sincerity can’t be faked, and you are genuinely sincere. I am very glad I picked you.” Robert, Buffalo, New York State

Let me know if you’d like to have a no-obligation chat about either of the above options. Happy to talk you through the pros and cons further to help you make the best decision for you and your partner.

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Why do celebrants cost so much?

I met with a couple this week who had been quoted so many different prices from many different celebrants, they were utterly confused as to what was good value and what was not.  Some charge less than me, and some nearly twice my price.

It made me realise that it can be a bit of a mine-field out there.  So I thought I’d explain how I came up with my fees.  I can only speak for myself, and I’m certainly not claiming to speak on behalf of all celebrants, but I do realise that this is an area which some couples struggle to understand, so in order to be honest and transparent, here is what you’re paying for when you book me.

  1. I have been a celebrant since 2011, and this experience means I really understand weddings.  I provide couples with lots of ideas and guidance and if there’s any issues along the way or on the day, I’m able to provide solutions
  2. I am professional.  This is my business and I run it as such.  I respond to emails and telephone messages as soon as possible and communicate with you throughout the process.  I use a modern, high spec P.A. system and always tailor my appearance to what is appropriate depending on the bride and groom’s style and vision for their ceremony
  3. I am a full time celebrant which means that I am available for queries, meetings, consultations etc at a time which suits you, rather than you having to fit in around me.  I offer initial meetings during week days, week evenings, and on weekends
  4. I keep up to date with what’s happening out there in the wedding world.  Weddings are my world and I am always researching so I can suggest fun or innovative elements to add in to your ceremony
  5. Being a celebrant is expensive.  I pay a yearly registration fee to the Attorney General, to the Australian Marriage Celebrants for my membership, for my insurance, for my advertising, and I pay to do on-going professional development every year
  6. I write ceremonies which are bespoke and incorporate your story, and I take pride in tweaking every one to ensure it’s really and truly personalised – no cookie cutter ceremonies here…
  7. I care.  I know this may sound corny, or daft, but I honestly do.  It’s important to me that your wedding ceremony is great, like, really really great.  And because I care, I put the time and effort in to a ceremony, in the writing, the getting to know you, the rehearsal and the delivery on the day

I hope the above gives you a flavour on why I charge what I charge.  You can find my current fees here at www.roxyrocks.com/fees and I’m always happy to answer any questions at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478041227.

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I don’t suppose you’re available…?

A lot of the time when people ring or email me about my availability, they start off with ‘I don’t suppose you’re available on the xxxxxx date?’

Having come from England where celebrants are rare, and people that use them even rarer, the thought that I now work in a field which is super competitive and saturated with celebrants was at first a bit of a novelty to me  However, I’ve been lucky, and my business in Australia has exceeded my expectations.

I’m still new in the scene though.  I only really started advertising in Australia three months ago, and despite working for five years as a celebrant in London, I’m considered a ‘newby’ in this field.  Therefore I have availability where others who have been around for a lot longer may not. I have some months already fully booked (for example, April 2017 only has one day still available), whereas March 2017 currently has nil.

My tip to get the celebrant on the date you want? Prioritize booking them as early as possible, ideally as soon as you’ve got your date locked in.

And don’t hesitate to contact me to check out whether I’m free on your chosen date.  It’s no-obligation!

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The Legal ‘Bit’

I think wedding ceremonies should be 90% about the ceremonial side of things – the meaningful, fun, inclusive, humorous, loving element – and 10% about the legalities. However, the legal part is a necessity and I thought it might be helpful for me to talk you through what needs to be done here in Australia to make sure everything is legit.

Lodging your intention to marry

At least one calendar month prior to your ceremony date (and no more than 18 months in advance) you will need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage This document will need to be signed either in the presence of your celebrant, or a JP, or any other person as listed on page 4 of the form.  Once the celebrant has received this, it is lodged. If you have any queries on this form, or are unable to complete in Australia due to one or both of you being abroad, your celebrant will be able to advise you of your options.

Declaration to marry

Prior to your ceremony, you both will need to sign a declaration of no legal impediment to marriage.  This is usually signed at the rehearsal, or on the day of the ceremony itself (but prior to the ceremony).

Legal wording during ceremony

Celebrant:

I am duly authorised by law to solemnise 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 the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. 

Bride and Groom:

I call upon the persons here present to witness that [name], take thee, [name], to be my lawful wedded wife/husband

There are some minor variations that can be made on both of these, but they are minor.  Your celebrant will be able to provide you with these options.

Legal documents during ceremony

You will require two witnesses, and they will watch you sign the following, and then sign themselves:

  1. The official certificate of marriage, which is the document sent to the relevant Birth, Deaths and Marriages by your celebrant for registration purposes
  2. A second official certificate of marriage which will be kept by your celebrant
  3. A certificate of marriage, which is given to you both.  Please note that this is not the legal certificate you will need to use for changing names or to legally evidence marriage.  You will need to apply for an official marriage certificate from the relevant Births, Deaths and Marriages office for a copy of this.

If all of above feels a bit dry and, well, boring, it’s only a small (yet necessary) part of your day, and the right celebrant will make sure people remember the meaningful parts.

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The Stupid Questions…

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I had a groom ring me the other evening and he was very apologetic about what he referred to as ‘his stupid questions’ (incidentally, and this may surprise some people, at least a third of my initial contact calls are with grooms).

His stupid questions were not stupid.  Let’s face it, many of the people I marry have never been married before.

His questions included;

Who should I book first, the celebrant or the venue? Answer: The venue if it’s one which requires booking.  If it’s at home or at a venue which doesn’t need to be booked, and you have your heart set on a specific celebrant, then check their availability first.

Who does the paperwork?  Answer: The Notice of Intended Marriage is a joint effort (the initial document completed by law to your celebrant), but your celebrant will provide guidance on what you need to fill in when.

Do you decorate the ceremony area? Answer: Sadly, no.  I have access to my own supply of lovely things, but they aren’t necessarily your taste in lovely things, so therefore decoration of the ceremony space needs to be arranged by you.

Do you stay for the reception?  Answer: No, I don’t.  It’s really kind when people ask me and I’m always up for staying for a congratulatory glass of something and a photo with the couple.

Can you help me write my vows? Answer: Yes, I can help.  I can’t write them for you, as they are your words, coming from your heart, but I can give guidance and read over them to offer suggestions.

Now, none of the above questions are stupid, are they?  I mean, how many times in your life do you get to organise a wedding (maybe once, or even twice, or if you’re Elizabeth Taylor, eight times)?  So please, please, please, feel free to ask me anything and never worry that you’re going to sound stupid.  You won’t, you’re not, and I’m here to help you navigate a whole new experience.

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Who cries most at a ceremony?

Let’s face it.  Weddings are pretty emotional.  There’s the arrival music, the vows, the readings, the kiss, the rings, and sometimes there’s grooms crying and sometimes there’s brides crying and sometimes everyone is having a bit of a boo hoo hoo.  And that’s totally totally fine.  If there’s ever a free hall pass to cry, it’s at a wedding.

In my view, I love it when people cry.  In fact, I practically demand at least one crier!  I’ve had weddings where the couple provided a pack of tissues per guest as they knew there’d be a lot of criers.

As far as the bride and groom are concerned, I would estimate that the crying ratio is 65% grooms, 35% brides.  Yes, you read that correctly.  More grooms cry than brides.  And why is that?

I believe it’s because the brides run through and visualise the ceremony many times in their head, so when it actually happens they’re more prepared.  Whereas for many grooms, they haven’t prepared themselves emotionally.

I have no problem with brides or grooms crying.  It’s a genuine reaction to a genuine moment, and I always have a spare tissue or two on hand, just in case.   All part of the service…

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My most surprising wedding moment – part two

Many of you told me how much you enjoyed reading part one of my most surprising wedding moment, so here is part two.

In London I was working with these two fantastic guys whom I met at the Gay Wedding Show where I had exhibited to promote my celebrant services.  They were having their wedding at the gorgeous Mayfair Hotel.  The ceremony was taking place in the private theater within the hotel and they were keen to make the most of grand space.

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We worked together to develop some surprise moments which started with the ceremony showing a film of them both, miming to Perfect Day by Lou Reed.  The film had them in the shower, within a field of flowers, driving along a country road, sitting on their sofa… basically hamming it up like proper stars.

They then walked down the aisle to their 150 friends to much applause and the ceremony continued with a real mix of tenderness, genuine laughter, and tears of emotion.  And, as I announced them husbands, there was further applause and then… one of the ‘guests’ stood up and started singing…

‘I’m comin’ up so you better get this party started…’

The ‘guest’ was actually a professional singer, chosen by the guys for her powerful voice which surprised every guest in the room.  And just when it couldn’t get any more surprising, the doors swung open and in walked a bunch of drag queens and dancing girls, filling the theater with sequins, feathers and much entertainment.

It was a great ceremony – very theatrical and fitting for the space they had married in, and suited their personalities to a T.  I was thrilled to be a part of it.

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My most Surprising Wedding Moment Part One

In my five years as a celebrant, I’m happy to report that any ‘surprising’ wedding moments have been planned and well-received.  There’s never been a Ross/Emily/Rachel scene, a la Friends, or a last minute kerfuffle as a blast from the past interrupts the vows declaring ‘STOP!  DON’T MARRY THAT MAN/WOMAN! EVEN THOUGH I’VE HAD A MILLION CHANCES BEFORE, I HAVE CHOSEN NOW TO TELL YOU’.  So below is Part One in an occasional series of Most Surprising Weddings.

The Flash Mob Wedding.  

This was for a gorgeous couple called Helen and Nigel.  They had seen me conduct a wedding for friends of theirs, and when they asked me to conduct theirs, I was excited as we clicked very quickly.

I suggested that they ask their readers to choose their readings themselves and to keep it secret, and offered to liaise with their readers directly.  One was a guy called Nick, and he came up with the idea of singing One Day Like This by Elbow

When the time came for his reading, the last during the ceremony, he stood up the front, acted very nervous, and fumbled about trying to find his ‘reading’ in his pockets.  ‘Oh dear,’ he stuttered, ‘I appear to have forgotten my paper.’ The bride and groom were looking pained, and were muttering ‘Don’t worry mate, it doesn’t matter..hn_W240 (2).’ to him.

Nick then said ‘Actually, I think I can remember it anyway.  Let me try…’ and with that he talked the first line ‘Drinking in the morning sun…’ then began singing the second line ‘Blinking in the morning sun’, and with more confidence and volume, the third and the fourth line.

As the bride and groom started to clock on that Nick was going to sing them a song for his reading, another friend, sitting among the guests, stood up and sang the fifth line, then another friend the sixth, then another, and another, and so on.  In the end there was eight friends and myself (who got to sing a line) all in on it.  And to add a bit of extra musical flavour, I roped my husband, Mr HB, in and he walked up the aisle playing the guitar for the chorus which all eight of us sang.

The bride and groom were blown away with the effort put in for this (we had all rehearsed) and their guests were equally surprised.  And this, dear reader, is why I love, love, love my job!

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Next week: Another surprising ceremony moment involving yet more musical talent

Favourite Wedding I Ever Conducted.

When people find out I’m a celebrant, they often ask ‘What was your favourite wedding you’ve ever done?’  And I always struggle to answer the question.

When I walk away from the couple as they go on to celebrate with their family and friends, I feel a little broken…

After all, I’ve just experienced the following…

The couple who I’ve grown to know and feel a bond with have just got married.

I’ve just met their family and friends whom I’ve heard so much about.

I’ve just seen them looking their very best.

I’ve witnessed all the ideas we came up with in action.

I’ve said the words which I wrote specifically for them, and even made some people cry (in a good way).

I’ve been in a room/field/beach/restaurant/house/garden/etc filled with shed-loads of love.

So, in a nutshell.  My favourite wedding is the last one I did.

Until the next one comes along…

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Ideas to Revolutionise Your Wedding Reading

Ideas to Revolutionise Your Wedding Reading

Wedding readings.  Boy oh boy, readings can be hard work for both the reader and the audience.  I think we’ve all been there.    Friend/Brother/Sister/Auntie/Uncle/etc come up to a reading, and they stumble through the words, making it very uncomfortable for them and everyone else.

So, in the hope of saving both readers and guests from an uncomfortable situation, here are seven ideas which may help you in your search for an appropriate reading.

Get Them To Choose

Ask your readers to choose the reading themselves, and to keep it a surprise from everyone. People really rise to this challenge, and I’ve worked with many readers who have come up with surprising and amazing ideas – poems or extracts which are very unusual and personal.

Say a Song

Choose the words to a favourite or meaningful song. It’s a great moment when people ‘click’ that they recognise the words. It usually takes a few lines, and always evokes a smile.

Don’t Google ‘Readings’

When using the internet to search for readings, rather than typing in ‘wedding readings’ – which will result in an overwhelming abundance of readings type in words which are more specific as to your interest eg: ‘poem dog love’, ‘lyrics love travel’ or ‘funny poem dance couple’.

Love Notes

Share the content of a letter. It could be a love letter between the bride and groom, or the parents/grandparents of one of the party.  I conducted a ceremony where a letter written by the groom to the British Home Office was read by the best man requesting them to process his visa application so he could be with his bride-to-be. I think a little creative licence was used in the re-reading of the letter, but it had many guests in (good) tears.

Be Resourceful

Be resourceful. I conducted a wedding where the couple had come from the same town but had both moved away as adults and met via internet dating.  They had never met when living in the same town but Sarah’s mother, who had passed away some years prior, had taught Jack.  Jack’s reader, Adam, started ‘I know that Sarah’s Mum would have loved Jack.  In fact let’s hear what she has to say about him …’ It transpired that Adam had asked Jack’s parents whether they still had any of his school reports, which they did.  One of the reports had been written by Sarah’s mother, and Adam read out her synopsis of Jack’s behaviour and aptitude in her class.

Kid You Not

If you have children, ask them to collectively deliver a reading. I had a couple marry who between them had seven children aged from 2 to 16 years.  The children wrote their own poem to read, two lines each, with the older children supporting the younger.  As it was held in the family home, even the dog came up on the stage.

Truly Original

If you have chosen creative readers who enjoy writing, you could ask if they would write or say something bespoke for you.  I’ve had readers deliver a poem, a passage, or some wise-words about marriage, written especially for the couple… it’s almost like a gift they can give to you for you to keep thereafter.

Flash Mob Styley 1

If you want to get some other guests involved with the wedding reading, why not do a flash mob style one. The way to do this is to print off the reading you want to do, and hand them out discretely to all the guests when you arrive.

On the paper will be a reading broken down into groups. For example, the lead reader will read the first paragraph. On the second paragraph, everyone who has known the bride or groom all their life will stand up and read this paragraph. On the third paragraph, everyone who has known them for 20+ years will join in. Fourth, everyone who has known them for 10+ years will join in. Fifth, everyone else will join in.

Flash Mob Styley 2

In this version, the reader says the first line of their ‘reading’ which is, in fact, a song. They will then sing the second line. The third line one guest will join in. Fourth line another guest. And so on. I did this with a couple and there were eight singers, with myself included. I sure ain’t no Pavarotti but it truly was delivered with gusto and was a great surprise for the couple who were both musical theater lovers.

You can read about this here.

Sing a Song

If you have friends or family who are musically blessed, you might want to take advantage of their talents. I did a wedding where a friend of the bride and groom performed ‘You’re the One That I Want’ from Grease, slowed down, a cappella, in a room with incredible acoustics.  It was barely recognisable, but so very beautiful and moving.  Not a dry eye in the house…

I got chills

They’re multiplying

And I’m losing control

‘Cause the power you’re supplying

It’s electrifying

Happy planning.

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roxy@roxyrocks.com