Wedding Planning Wisdom Seventeen to Twenty

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.

Stephen Doyle Photography

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.

And that is how you get married in Australia. Easy!

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.

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.

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

Photo Andrew Jarvis

Tune in next week for more wedding wisdom tips!

Wedding Planning Wisdom Thirteen to Sixteen

THIRTEEN: And breathe…

Try to take a private moment post-ceremony with your new husband or wife.

Weddings can be full on and you may want to find a spot for just the two of you to enjoy a glass of champagne or a moment in complete privacy to go ‘Wowza. We’re married!’

Mr HB (my kind, cockney, handsome husband) and I did this after our ceremony. It gave us 20 minutes to get our emotions in check and celebrate all that had happened, before rejoining our guests at our reception. For the rest of the evening I barely spoke to Mr HB as I was chatting to our guests, and I was very appreciative of those few moments in private with him.

FOURTEEN: Time after time

What time should your ceremony start? About 85% of weddings I conduct start between 2.30 to 4.30pm. However the decision on what time to start will be based on factors such as:

1) is your ceremony and reception at the same venue or do you need to factor in travel time between the two

2) chat to your photographer and see how long they need to get any post-ceremony shots and, if a winter wedding, how much day-light they require

3) What time are you serving food and will there be nibbles available post-ceremony? Chat to your venue or caterers about this and ask for their advice

4) Will kids be at the wedding and are they a big part of the day? If so, you may want to start earlier so they can be involved without running out of steam too early into the celebrations

5) How long do you require to get ready pre-ceremony? Are you doing any of the set-up yourself? How long will hair/make up take?

All of these factors will help you decide. And if you want a sunrise wedding, or one at the stroke of midnight, go for it!

FIFTEEN: Doin’ it for the kids

When you’re planning your wedding and you and/or your partner have children, it’s often as much a day for them as it is for you. There’s loads of ways you can involve your offspring in your ceremony:
.
👪 include them in your wedding party as a flower girl, bridesmaid, best man or ring bearer

👪 help them choose a reading, or ask them to choose something themselves. They might want to deliver it together or do shorter ones as individuals

👪 give them a gift after you’ve exchanged rings to show your commitment – a piece of jewellery, cuff links, a watch or a photo of you all as a family

👪 if any of the children are over 18, they can be witnesses

👪 include them in your vows – what kind of parent or step-parent do you promise to be?

👪 choose a ritual they can be included in such as a sand ceremony, handfasting or unity candle

I love this photo of a blended family I married on their back deck. The love they have for each other radiates crystal clear.

Blended Family Wedding

SIXTEEN: Walk On by

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

Happily Ever… Before and After

When you meet with a celebrant they’ll hand you a document provided by the Attorney General’s Department called ‘Happily Ever… Before and After’.

As a one-person warrior on waste, I thought it best to try and encourage my clients to access this electronically, 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

Wedding Planning Wisdom Nine to Twelve

Following on from my last blog post, here is further wedding wisdom to help you navigate the tricky business which is wedding planning. To find my other widsom, click here.

NINE: Snap Happy

Photography. If there’s one thing worth investing in on your wedding day, it’s this (and your Celebrant, of course!). A good wedding photographer knows what shots to get and when. If you can afford a pro, get one! I’ve seen weddings where an inexperienced photographer has missed opportunities because they’re not familiar with how weddings work.

A great wedding photographer will scout the ceremony location to get interesting shots. They’ll take photos of the arrival of the bride and the reaction of the groom. They’ll know how to manoeuvre around the ceremony in a stealth-like fashion. They’ll be ready for ‘the kiss’ but won’t be in your face when it happens.

When choosing a photographer it’s also important that you feel comfy with them and you gel. If you’ve already booked your Celebrant, ask them if they have any recommendations. I find that often I work with the same photographers because my Celebrant style and their photography style is very similar. 

And finally, if you’re wondering whether it’s worth getting a videographer, the answer is a massive yes. Do it if your budget allows. You will never regret having this and great photos to reflect on.

TEN: The ‘Kiss’

The Kiss. This is such a much awaited and iconic moment of the ceremony and whether you want the words ‘You may kiss the bride’ or something less traditional like ‘Give each other a pash’, everyone loves this moment.

However, you might want to mix it up a little as these super spunky couples did. What about everyone joining you in taking a shot? Kelly and Keith prepared little pots of ‘apple pies’ (fireball with cider) which guests held onto until I announced them as married. Dom and Phoebe decided to share a hearty handshake before going in for the kiss. Jaz and Justin, both who are performers, went for maximum impact with an elegant swoop. All were entirely perfect for them and added that little bit extra to an already favourite ceremonial moment. 

Photo: Thousand Miles Photography

ELEVEN: Not All Celebrants Are the Same

Not all celebrants are the same and finding the right one for you can feel a little bit like on-line dating.

Us celebrants come from all walks of life with different styles, personalities, beliefs, experiences and approaches to working with you.  Some celebrants wear bright colours. Some dress like a member of the clergy. Some are risqué. Some are conservative.

Some (fortunately most) are supporters of our LGBTQI community. Some are not. Some will produce a fully personalised ceremony. Some will only change your names. Some will provide you with your ceremony in advance. Some will keep it a surprise from you. Some will meet you face-to-face to get to know you. Some will do it via Skype. 

If you’ve done some on-line scouting for celebrants and there’s a few who seem to fit your criteria, have a chat to them before deciding who is the right fit. It’s a hugely important part of your day and me, well, I love a coffee – or a wine – so am always happy to meet to see if I’m the right one for you.

Starting the Fun Before the Ceremony Has Begun

I arrive at the wedding ceremonies about an hour before the start time, and occasionally a guest will be there before me.  When guests are unfamiliar with the ceremony venue, they often will arrive extra early, just to make sure they’re on time. It’s worth thinking about how to keep them entertained right from the get-go.

The ideas below are also a great way of getting your guests talking and mingling, ensuring that by the time the ceremony starts, they’re already feeling relaxed.

Ring Warming

Have your wedding bands on display, with a sign explaining that you’d love them to place these in their hands and put their best wishes, love, blessing, or whatever feels right, which you can then carry with you within your rings.

Alternative Guest Books

Most people set up their guest books at the reception, but it’s worth getting these started before the ceremony, as often guests forget to sign these once they start partying.

You don’t need to be a Van Gogh or a De Vinci to produce a love-heart background on a canvas for your guests to sign.  Alternatively, you can purchase these little hearts and get your guests to sign each one.

For those whose artistic skills are a little bit more advanced, then these silhouettes can be a fun idea.  You could also try copying the basic shape below by magnifying the picture, printing, then tracing onto tracing paper (remember when we learnt to do this at school?) onto a canvas, outlining this in pencil before painting.

You can purchase initials for your guests to sign, or, if you (or one of your family members) are handy with a jigsaw, give this a whirl yourself.  Depending on the type of materials you use, you could then hang these up in your home, or have hanging from a garden wall.

Finger Print Prints

Why not get tactile, and ask your guests to ink their paws to make a communal piece of art. There’s numerous companies that can provide you with a backdrop, and all you need to do is provide the ink pads (and wipes to clean mucky fingers!).

Graffiti It Up

Get your guests to let out their inner Banksie.  You can either buy a brick-wall backdrop which guests can add graffiti and later have photos taken in front of, or provide a canvas with your initials or name, and then guests sign it.

Ask for Advice

Whether your guests are married or not, everyone has an opinion on what makes a good relationship.  So why not ask for their advice – whether it’s silly or serious, it’s bound to make good reading.

If you have any great ideas for keeping your guests entertained before the ceremony starts, please feel free to share with me.

And don’t forget, if it’s a sunny day, make sure your guests are comfortable whilst they wait by reading my hints here.

Roxy Hotten Celebrant

www.roxyrocks.com

0478041227

Best Day and Date to Get Married

How to Choose Your Wedding Date

Trying to choose your wedding date can feel like a minefield.  Will it rain?  Will it be too hot?  Too cold? Too busy? Have I left enough time to get the vendors I want?

There are lots of factors to consider, and although the below is written with South East Queensland/Northern NSW locations in mind, I am happy to give a second opinion for any area in Australia or beyond.

Most Popular Day of the Week to Marry

Unsurprisingly, Saturdays are the most popular day to marry.  However, since I started as a Celebrant in 2011, I’ve noticed an increase in weekday weddings.  Some venues provide a discount for these, which could account for this increase, and I find that couples wanting an elopement or intimate type wedding often choose a weekday to do so.

My bookings are closely replicated to the findings by the wedding website, Easyweddings.com.au, who, in their 2018 Annual Wedding Industry Report, found the most popular days to marry in Australia are:

Saturdays (62%)

Friday (14%)

Sunday (10%)

Thursday (5%)

Monday (3%)

Tuesday (3%)

Wednesday (3%)

Most Popular Months to Marry

I love a statistic, so have done some analysis on my bookings to give you an idea which months have been the busiest for delivering weddings in Queensland and Northern NSW.  As you can see, there’s a peak in April, July, August, September, October, November and then starts to tail off during the hotter months.  Equally, there’s an ebb in winter (which, incidentally, would be my chosen time of year to marry).

Popular Wedding Months

It’s Like Ra-a-aiiiiin On Your Wedding Day…

If there’s one thing you cannot control on your wedding day, it’s rain.  Let’s face it, no-one really wants a tropical storm on their special day, but, if you have your heart set on an outside wedding, it’s worth thinking about a plan b, just in case.

Below captures an idea of the amount of days it rains per month in the Greater Brisbane Region

rainfall per month brisbane

Too Hot?  Too Cold?

There’s hot, and there’s too hot.  There’s cold, and there’s too cold.  But holding a wedding during the warmest months shouldn’t be discounted outright.  There’s some ways you can look after your guests to ensure their comfort is looked after which you can read about here.

high low temps brisbane

There’s also lots of spectacular venues which offer the comfort of an indoor ceremony with air conditioning, and some of my favourites in Brisbane include Lightspace, High Church and The Joinery

 

[Photo l-r by Stories by Ash, Lover of Mine]

As mentioned, I love Brisbane winters.  After 26 years living in England, I think our winters here are perfect, and the stats below show that even in the evening in the midst of winter, the average temperate drops barely below 10 degrees Celsius.  However, if you’re holding your ceremony further West, you may find it can get into the single figures.  Forewarning your guests is a must and who doesn’t love a good fire-pit or two for your guests to warm themselves up around.  And how cute is this idea from Rach and Danny’s wedding where they provided a selection of scarves and jackets for their guests.

[Photo l-r Wildflower Weddings, Roxy’s Own iPhone Magic]

How Far in Advance?

You’ve decided what time of year to marry, and now you need to start checking availability of your chosen venue, photographer and Celebrant.  I would suggest that if you’re looking to hold your wedding in a popular month and on a popular day (eg: a Saturday in September) you’ll need to book as soon as possible to get your first choice of suppliers.  You can read more about this here.

And Finally

You may choose a date because it has a specific significance.  It might be the anniversary of your getting together, or it might have a nice ring to it.  Dates like May the Fourth are often popular with Star Wars fans, and round sounding dates like 1/9/19 are very memorable.  But above all, choose a date that works for you and, like all wedding planning, try not to get too caught up in what others think.  It’s your day, so do it your way.

Roxy Hotten Celebrant

www.roxyrocks.com

roxy@roxyrocks.com

0478041227

Wine, wine, and more wine

Anyone who knows me well knows I’m fond of a tipple or two of wine.  Preferably white.  Preferably not too sweet.  Preferably cold.

A lot of the couples I work with also like wine and if you find that you and your partner enjoy nothing more than cracking open a bottle of the good stuff, why not give a nod to this in your ceremony?

Ceremonies at a Winery

When you think of wine regions of Australia, Queensland’s growing industry doesn’t necessarily spring to mind.  But this area is growing, with many wineries building in reputation, quality and variety.

Below is a small selection of wineries or vineyards I’ve worked at which are accessible from Brisbane, all of which I recommend

Leahcruikshank3.png
Leah and Pete, married at Sarabah Estate Vineyard.  Photo: Leah Cruikshank

Wine Ceremony

Have you been keeping hold of a special bottle of wine for some time?  Maybe it’s one that was a gift from when you got engaged?  Maybe it’s a bottle from the vineyard where your proposal took place?  Maybe it’s a bottle which you are going to serve at your wedding reception?

An idea is, within the ceremony, to place your vows after you’ve exchanged them into a box with this bottle.  Then, on your first anniversary, you can open the box, pop open the cork, and re-read your vows to each other.

Toast During the Ceremony

If you’re happy to let your guests have alcohol during the ceremony, why not provide them with little mini-bottles of wine for a toast when the announcement that they’re married is made?  I’ve done this with shots of ‘apple-pie’ but it can be done with anything!

Kelly and Keith’s Wedding, photo by A Thousand Miles

Wine-Related Decorations

These great decorating ideas show an acknowledge of your love of wine and would be perfect in a vineyard setting.

Mt Woodson Castle Wedding Venue I San Diego Wedding Venue I Historic Castle I Full Service Catering I Rustic Wedding I Place Cards I Seating Chart on Wine Corks

Wedding Gift Wine Labels Thank You Gift by paperandlace on Etsy
Personalised Wedding Labels via Etsy

Great idea for an alternative wedding table plan..winter weddings can use lots of lighting to bring a little extra sparkle!
Old wine bottles?  Put them to good use with this great idea for table seating.

Cork placement holders, available from here

Related image
Get your guests to sign a cork and store in this shadow box, available from here

Cork hearts – fun to make, and involved drinking lots of wine

DIY mini-wine bottle wedding favors
DIY mini-wine favours – read here for instructions

Cork keepsake frame
A keepsake from your first toast, instructions here

And Finally…

Pinterest, Etsy, Instagram – there’s a million ideas out there and it can get pretty overwhelming.  So please don’t hesitate to brain-storm with me.  I love getting creative with weddings, and it’s always my pleasure to be asked to help with unique ideas.

Roxy Hotten Celebrant

Acknowledging a loved one in your ceremony

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, but 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 and 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, and 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, and 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, and 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 during the ceremony I explained I was wearing this specifically in honour of her.  The bride loved this idea, and 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 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 Thing(s)

A 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

Personalised 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

Whether it’s lighting a candle, placing a flower which has significance to the deceased, or using materials from a wedding dress in a handfasting, there are existing rituals that you can tweak or utilise as is to acknowledge absent guests.

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

Seating

You may want to leave a seat for your loved one, either within the ceremony area, or in a more discrete area, such as 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, and 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

Roxy Hotten Celebrant

Marrying in a Park? What You Need to Know.

Are you thinking of marrying in a park, but are a little unsure as to whether you need a permit?  Do you need to book a park if it’s only a small wedding?  Are you able to play music?  Read this guide to help you navigate this potential ceremony option in Brisbane and the surrounds.
Is a park wedding right for you?
  • How do you feel about on-lookers stopping to watch your wedding?  Do you mind background noise such as children playing?  When doing your research, you may want to consider visiting any potential locations on the same day of the week and at the time you’re getting married to see how busy it will be.
  • If you are thinking of a park ceremony, it’s worth considering what your wet weather option may be, or choose a park which has an covered area you can hire, such as New Farm Park Rotunda or Dreverson Park, Manly. If you’re going for something more open-air, check to see whether your reception venue can be your ‘Plan B’, or look for local community halls or see if any local hotels have a space you can book for peace of mind.
  • How many guests are you having? Similar to indoor venues, some parks designated areas only work comfortably for a maximum number of people.

Do you need a permit?

Do you need a permit to get married in a park?  The short answer; sometimes. The long answer is:
  • Some parks have designated ceremony areas.  With these, you will need to apply for a permit to be assured that your space will be specifically for you at your chosen time, and have the ability to have your area styled.  Some areas come with other facilities, such as access to power.
  • You can marry in parks without a permit, but this will depend on whether you’re looking to hold your ceremony in a designated area, whether you need access to power, whether you are planning on having any structures set up, and, with some Councils, the number of guests.
  • If you were having a small wedding in a park, and were not using a designated area, then mostly you will not require a permit.  However, it’s always worth checking with the Council of that park if you’re unsure.
  • Permits vary in cost from Council to Council, eg: Brisbane City Council fees start at $325.15, and Gold Coast Council start at $100.
Where do I find the Guidelines?
Below are some of the guidelines of Parks in South East Queensland can be found below:
  • National Parks guidelines are here
  • Brisbane City Council guidelines here
  • City of Ipswich guidelines here
  • Sunshine Coast guidelines here
  • Moreton Bay guidelines here
  • City of Gold Coast guidelines here
  • Logan City guidelines here
  • Redland City guidelines here
  • Scenic Rim Regional Council here
  • Somerset Council guidelines here
  • Lockyer Valley guidelines here

Anything else I need to know?

Consider the time of year you are planning on marrying.  Obviously it gets very hot in South East Queensland, and you may want to consider some of my advice on how to keep a hot weather wedding cool.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Roxy Hotten Celebrant

How to Cool Down Your Hot Wedding

Don’t let a hot weather day ruin your plans of an outdoor wedding.  With the below tips, you can keep your guests happy, even when the temperature is rising:

  1. Provide water for your guests upon arrival to the ceremony.  Some will begin arriving anywhere from an hour prior to the ceremony start time (especially if they have a distance to travel), and if your ceremony is located in a remote area without access to a shop, it can be hard for them to wait around without any refreshments.   water
  2. When sending out the invitations, it’s worth highlighting to your guests  anything they may need to bring for the ceremony to help them deal with the heat.  For example, if the wedding is being held in an open, sunny area, you may want to suggest guests wear sun-cream, sun-hats or bring a parasol.
  3. For those really hot days, you might want to consider providing your guests with an Order of Service in the shape of a fan to help them cool down.  You can do these yourself, and a tutorial is hereWedding Fan
  4. Provide some sun-cream and anything else to help them, such as bug-spray.  You can even personalise them and have them as wedding favours for your guests which you can purchase here.sunscreen

And always remember, don’t stress if an unexpected heat-wave happens.  Enjoy your ceremony and with some of the above, your guests will too.

Roxy Hotten Celebrant