Wedding Tips From A Professional Wedding Planner

Planning a wedding can be a stressful time for both you and your partner … but it doesn’t have to be! I recently met with one of Brisbane’s most talented Wedding Planners, the gorgeous Janette from Olive Rose Weddings and Events. She is a goldmine of industry know-how, and kindly has written below to help all those couples out there who are planning for their big day.

Wedding Tips Every Couple Should Know

by Janette Howell, Owner of Olive Rose Weddings and Events

Check out my easy to implement wedding hacks to make planning your wedding that little bit easier.

WEDDING EXPOS

  •  Create and print out your own sign up form! THIS WILL BE THE GREATEST THING YOU EVER DO! Print and cut out your details including *** Your name, Email, Phone number and wedding date. Most vendors will have draws and competitions instead of writing your details over and over and over just use these pre-filled out entry forms!!! GENIUS RIGHT!!!! If you only do one thing from my list make it this! This will save your hand and your sanity.
  • Create a specific wedding email address so that all your wedding information is in one place. This is such a great idea! It’s free to setup another email so why wouldn’t you? No need to sift through a million emails to find your wedding things. Make it cute like mrandmrsstafford@ or jenandstandswedding@ or weddingofthecentury@.

Have fun with it. I also recommend creating folders within your new email address and label them for each service (Wedding Planner, Celebrant, Venue, Etc) so that later on when you need to find a particular email it couldn’t be easier. 😉

RSVP CARDS

  • On your RSVP cards, put a space for your guests to request a song. This way you will know what your guests want to hear and they will get excited when their song comes on!
  • Number your RSVP cards so you can easily see at a glance if you’re missing any.

BUDGETING

Weddings can be extremely expensive and can get seriously out of hand when you don’t keep to your budget!

Firstly, work out how much you are willing to spend on your wedding. Secondly, can you afford it? Do you need a longer engagement to save the money, or are your parents chipping in? These questions need to be answered before you start planning your wedding.

If other parties are willing to help pay, organise a chat with them regarding how much they are willing to pay. Or perhaps delegate certain aspects of the wedding each party can pay for. E.g. Reception catering, bar tab, etc.

Once a plan of attack has been made create a budget spreadsheet and keep those (if any) helping pay for your wedding updated with expenses. This will avoid any surprise payments at the last minute.

BE PREPARED

  • Create a Plan B for unexpected weather. I could not recommend this any higher. If you don’t have a Plan B chances are everything that could go wrong will go wrong. So you need to be super organised and on top of this. Talk to your planner or coordinator to discuss a wet weather plan. And to be perfectly honest … wet weather weddings are my all time favourite and they make for STUNNING photos with a chance of a rainbow. Amazing.
  • Create an emergency kit! This is super fun to create and why not make it a fun scavenger hunt between you and your bridal party!!! (Wishing now I did this with my girls). This kit should enclose important lists and schedules for your day as well as health, beauty, sewing, items as well as anything you can think of.  Try searching Pinterest for lists you can use.  

THE DRESS

Make sure someone in your bridal party knows how to strap you in and bustle your dress

This comes in under being prepared but really needs its own section. No point on buying the most beautiful dress in the world and not having a single person that knows how to strap you in or bustle your dress after the ceremony. I suggest taking your mother and one of your bridesmaids to your fitting to learn how to do these two things. Don’t just rely on a safety pin and your girls knowledge of wedding dresses.

Get your seamstress to add a bustle to your gown. If you’re like me and can’t stand the thought of buying an expensive dress only to have to buy a second one for the reception so you can dance in it! Crazy right! By getting your seamstress to sew a hook or button into your gown allows you to hook the bottom of your train up to the lower outside back part of your gown so that it’s lifted off the floor and you can dance the night away.

PAWFECT ATTIRE

When dressing up your pet for your wedding you to make sure what they are wearing is not constricting or distracting for them. You want to make sure they are comfortable and not irritated. We suggest a floral collar or bow tie which can be situated behind the head or under the chin, this also reduces the chance of them pulling it off before the ceremony. Be mindful that clothing will often result in overheating your precious pet especially in Summer.

https://www.lovelenscapes.com

AND FINALLY

Just remember you can’t control everything! And if something goes wrong it’s not the end of the world and in most cases, can be fixed without any issues. But if something really bad goes wrong, well you’ll have a fantastic story to tell for years to come. If your smiling the whole world will smile with you. Have a fantastic day and just relax and enjoy all the things we take for granted because it’s your day to shine and sparkle. You deserve it.

About Janette:

“My passion for weddings showed itself to me when my handsome husband proposed to me. I had always loved weddings but had no idea of all the little details that tied such a beautiful day together.

This is when the obsession started.

I will tell you now Pinterest will be your best & worst friend! There’s so many amazing ideas that it can become a little overwhelming. That’s where I come in. Let me help you blend all your stunning ideas and dreams to make a day not to forget.” Janette Newell, Olive Rose Weddings and Events

Photo https://www.jesstookthis.com/

Destination Weddings

Easy Destination Wedding Guide

Are you planning a destination wedding?  I completely get why you would want to marry overseas or elsewhere in Australia; I love weddings, I love travel… why would a destination wedding not be an attractive proposition?

Whether you’re having an intimate elopement on the beach in Bali, or a celebration in Marrakesh surrounded by all your family and friends, you’ll need someone to conduct your wedding. And, if you’re looking for a creative, warm, professional yet fun celebrant, then I could be the right person for you.

Travelling is one of my passions, and I will do all I can to make your destination wedding ceremony exactly as you hope.  I’ve been fortunate enough to conduct ceremonies in many countries including the UK, Egypt, France and Bali and I love, love, love working with couples to make sure their dream destination ceremony becomes a reality.

How It Works

I am registered to deliver legal ceremonies in Australia.  I can do non-legal ceremonies anywhere in the world.  The way I usually work couples getting married overseas is:

  1. You fill in the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) and lodge it with me
  2. After at least a month, or any any date agreed (but no more than 18 months from NOIM lodged) I’ll conduct a basic, legal only ceremony with at least two witnesses.  From this point onwards you are legally married.  This can be done before or after your destination wedding.
  3. During the above I work with you to develop a personalised ceremony as per my Full Works package
  4. I travel to your ceremony destination in time for the rehearsal (if you are having one) or for your ceremony
  5. My charges are standard fees plus travel costs such as flights, accommodation for the night before the rehearsal until the day after the ceremony.  I also request reimbursement for any specific wedding-related expenses (such as taxis to the venue).

LET’S CHAT!

If you’d like to chat further about your destination wedding, or for a more specific quote, please do not hesitate to contact me at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478 041227 or fill in my contact form.

PS If you are looking to hold your destination wedding as an elopement, read here for tips on how to do this.

Renewal of Vows

When you want to say ‘I still love you’

Renewal of Vows – whether it’s one year, ten years, fifty years or whether it’s just because you want to, a renewal of vows can be a meaningful moment.

Renewal of Vows can be very similar to one of my Full Works or Simple, Short Yet Sweet ceremonies. Whatever you choose, it can include readings, personalised vows, ring exchange, sing-alongs… in fact, it can include everything you want!

I’ve conducted renewal of vows for couples who never had the opportunity to have the wedding they wanted, or for those who want to recreate the magical moment of all that time ago.  I had one couple who wanted to renew their vows with their children in order for them to be included in their commitment to them as a family.

Whatever it is you want, I’m happy to discuss ideas with you to help create a truly meaningful ceremony which really celebrates your relationship.  

Read some of the lovely things said by lovely people whose weddings and renewal of vows I’ve conducted here.

Please contact me at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478 041227.

Eloping – A Quick Guide on How To Do It

Why eloping?

Why consider eloping?  There’s loads of reasons why couples I work with elope. Whether it’s to save money, to negate the ‘inviting the masses’ issue, or you just want a really intimate quick wedding with only you and your witnesses then I’m able to help you with your elopement ceremony, ensuring it meets all your needs.

Whether it’s a quick ceremony, like my Short, Simple Yet Sweet, or a destination elopement, it’s all fairly easy, and I can help make it a reality for you.

How to elope in four easy steps

Submit You Notice of Intended Marriage

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 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.

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?

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

Breaking the news

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?

Sound Easy – What’s Next?

Check out my Short, Simple Yet Sweet package which is perfect for elopements. If this is within budget and you like my style, give me a ring or send me an email.

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. I can give you any advice you may need, such as where to hold your elopement, and will support you through the process. And why not read what others have to say about my services by checking out these reviews.

Email me at roxy@roxyrocks.com or give me a bell on 0478041227. Alternatively, you can fill in my contact form.

Planning An Aussie Wedding From Afar

Are you dreaming of a wedding down-under? Fancy marrying on the beaches of Bondi, or within the lush tropical forests of Queensland? Whatever your vision, you may be wondering ‘What do I need to do to marry in Australia?’

Photo Lee Calleja

WHO CAN MARRY IN AUSTRALIA?

No matter if you’re an Australian citizen living overseas or a non-Aussie, the process is still the same. Anyone can marry on Aussie soil, and many non-Aussies do. The only real restrictions are you:

  • can’t be married to someone else
  • must not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister
  • must be at least 18 years old, unless a court has approved a marriage where one party is aged between 16 and 18 years old
  • understand what marriage means and freely consent to marrying
  • both use specific words during the ceremony
  • must give written notice of their intention to marry to their authorised celebrant, within the required time frame
Photo: Figtree Photography

WHAT’S A CELEBrANT, AND WHAT DO THEY DO?

In Australia, a Celebrant is a suitably qualified and registered person who solemnises marriages under the Marriage Act 1961 and Marriage Regulations 2017.

They conduct the legal elements of your ceremony, and some (like myself) work with you to write and deliver something very unique and specific to your likes and vision for your wedding. Celebrants can be described as a party-starter, a story-teller, a calming influence, and, quite often, by the time you’re married, they can feel like a friend.

Marriage celebrants must also submit all the signed legal marriage paperwork to the registry of births, deaths and marriages in the state or territory in which the marriage took place within fourteen days of the marriage.

Once they have done this, you can then get your Marriage Certificate from that BDM. Your Celebrant can give you advice on this.

YAY! You CAN GET MARRIED IN AUSTRALIA. WHAT NOW?

You’ll need to decide where and when you’d like to marry. There are Celebrants in nearly all cities and some towns in Australia, and many of us travel. Australia is a big country, and it’s not unusual for me to jump in my car on the weekend for a round trip of three or four hours.

If you’re not 100% sure of specific places, you may want to talk to an Australian wedding planner, use Instagram for inspo, or have a chat to me as I can offer suggestions for places which may fit your vision.

You’ll also need to organise your Notice Of Intended Marriage (NOIM). This needs to be submitted to your Celebrant in Australia at least one month before your ceremony date.

Photo Andrew Jarvine

WHAT’S A NOIM AND WHERE CAN I GET ONE?

To marry in Australia, you need to submit a document called the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) with your Celebrant at least one month, but no more than 18 months, before you marry. This document is basically stating that you intend to marry, and once it’s submitted with you Celebrant, they will keep hold of this until after the wedding. They’ll send this, along with the paperwork which will be signed on your wedding day, to the Births, Deaths and Marriages in the State or Territory where you marry.

So, chances are, you will be filling this out before you travel over to Australia for your wedding.

You can find a NOIM and guidance here

WHO CAN WITNESS THE NOIM?

  • If a party signs the Notice outside Australia, it needs to be signed by an Australian Consular Officer, an Australian Diplomatic Officer, a notary public, an employee of the Commonwealth authorised under paragraph 3(c) of the Consular Fees Act 1955, or an employee of the Australian Trade Commission authorised under paragraph 3(d) of the Consular Fees Act 1955.

Note: For the definitions of Australian Consular Officer and Australian Diplomatic Officer, see the Consular Fees Act 1955.

OKAY, I’VE GOT IT SIGNED. WHAT DO I DO WITH THE NOIM?

When I work with a couple from afar, I ask them to scan me a copy of the NOIM once it’s signed by a qualified witness. Then they have the option of either

a) posting the original NOIM to me

b) handing me the original NOIM when they’re in Australia

I will also need to see a form of ID – as you’re travelling, passports are perfect. If you’ve been married before, I will need to see evidence that this marriage is no longer valid. I can advise on this.

Photo Love Lenscapes

EXCELLENT! PAPERWORK IS ALL IN ORDER. ANYTHING ELSE YOU NEED FROM ME?

All Celebrants work differently. When I work with a couple overseas, I usually suggest a Skype so we can discuss what kind of ceremony you’re looking for. This also gives you a chance to see if I’m the right Celebrant for you. Usually I’ll meet via Skype before you do the NOIM, but some couples will already have this prepared. It’s up to you – I’m flexible and can work with you in the way that works best for you.

If you go for my Full Works package, I’ll then work with you to write a ceremony which really resonates and feels right. I’ve worked in the UK as a Celebrant for a number of years, and understand how weddings there can feel when led by a registrar. In Australia we have a lot more flexibility than registrars though we do all the legal side of things like they do.

Australian weddings can feel very different from those in other countries, and a Celebrant like myself or one of my colleagues at the Celebrant Society can talk you through the hundreds of options to get a top notch ceremony for you and your guests.

THIS ALL SOUNDS GOOD. HOW DO I CONTACT YOU TO CHAt FURTHER?

I’d love to talk to you about all of the above, or anything else wedding-y. Please don’t hesitate to contact me on +61 478041227 or at roxy@roxyrocks.com

Insider Tips from a Wedding Photographer

Introducing an Amazing Wedding Photographer

I work with some amazing wedding photographers, and one of my absolute favourite togs is the talented Kirsty from Wildflower Weddings. We first worked together on a mutual friend’s wedding in January 2016, and since then we’ve become close, meeting up every couple of months to chat all things wedding.

Recently Kirsty came to the House of Hotten to hug Valentine McFarty and share with me insider tips from a wedding photographers perspective. Below is everything I learnt, and I hope you find this helpful too.

Timings for your ceremony

Firstly, when thinking about the timings for your ceremony, it’s a great idea to discuss with your photographer what time they suggest it should start.  They have lots of experience on how long everything will take, and can advise how you should take into consideration the time of year and location you have chosen.  For example, in South East Queensland and Northern NSW, sun sets around 5pm in Winter, whereas in Summer you’ll have an extra hour and a half to play with.

Photo: Wildflower Wedding

You may want to consider how much time you would like between your ceremony and your reception starting, and whether you’re going for a short, simple ceremony, or a full Catholic Mass wedding.

SUGGESTED TIMINGS

Winter wedding in Brisbane with a sun set of 5pm, and a half hour ceremony

3.00 to 3.30pm: CEREMONY

3.30 to 4.00pm: CONGRATULATIONS FOLLOWED BY GROUP/FAMILY PHOTOS

4.00 to 4.30pm: BRIDAL PARTY PHOTOS

4.30 to 5.00pm: COUPLE PHOTOS

Things to consider:

  • If you need to travel to your photo location, allow extra time for this. 
  • If you have a large bridal party (more than six members), allow extra time as well.

Summer wedding in Brisbane with a sun set of 6.45pm, and a half hour ceremony

4.30 to 5.00pm: CEREMONY

5.00 to 5.30pm: CONGRATULATIONS FOLLOWED BY GROUP/FAMILY PHOTOS

5.30 to 6.00pm: BRIDAL PARTY PHOTOS

6.00 to 6.30pm: COUPLE PHOTOS

Things to consider:

  • If you don’t want to wait until 4.30 to start your ceremony, you can still do it earlier. You might want to arrange an afternoon tea, nibbles or a grazing platter for your guests
Photo: Wildflower Weddings

Ceremony Lighting

You may have fallen in love with a particular area at your venue where you would like your ceremony to take place. However when holding your ceremony outside, it’s important to consider what the natural light is like. 

During the ceremony, if one of you is in dappled light, or one of you is in the light, and the other in the shade, this can result in less than ideal circumstances for a photographer to get the best possible shots of you.

From a photographers perspective, an ideal ceremony location is one that under full shade.  Direct sunlight plays havoc with facial expressions and really, who wants their wedding photos to be mainly of them squinting?  Plus it can be pretty uncomfortable for those standing within the direct rays.

Photo: Wildflower Weddings

Unplugged Wedding

When a photographer is taking shots of your ceremony, a good opportunity can be missed when Auntie Beryl is in the way, recording every moment with her brand new iPad. Kirsty is the kind of photographer who loves taking shots of guests reactions during the ceremony, and if they’re looking down at their phones, this is something she can’t capture.  Her preference is for your guests to be engaged and in the moment but if you have your heart set on your guests taking candid shots, then she, of course, is not going to stop you.  It’s your wedding, and Kirsty is the kind of photographer who is very flexible and will do whatever works best for you.

Photo: Wildflower Weddings

Confetti Toss

If you’d like your confetti to make maximum impact, ask your guests to toss the confetti nice and high, and not all at once, as you walk past them.  You can ask your Celebrant to make this announcement, or get the person or people handing it out to ask.

And, another tip: the bigger the confetti, the better it will look in the photos.  Rice is fairly indistinguishable in a photo, whereas a larger petal, such as those from roses can look the best.

Photo: Wildflower Weddings

Framing the Ceremony Space

If you’re wondering whether to have an arbour, plants, or décor to focus your ceremonial area; do!  Giving this focus to where the action is happening always results in better photos.  And, if you can remember to do so, try to stand in the middle.  Don’t worry if you forget though. As your Celebrant, I’ll always be keeping on eye on things and will gently help guide you into place if you do start to wander off.

Photo: Wildflower Weddings

Thanks a million Kirsty for these great tips. Some very good advice from one of the top professionals in the industry.

To read more wedding tips check out the following list.

Please feel to contact me at roxy@roxyrocks.com

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:
.
👩 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

Wedding Planning Wisdom Part One

Wedding Planning Tips

As the owner of Roxy Hotten – Celebrant since 2011, I know a thing or two about wedding planning. I also know a thing or two about moon-walking and typing really fast, but there’s not much call for my advice on these, so instead I thought I’d share some of my wisdom.

ONE: AS [BLANK] IS MY WITNESS

How do you choose your witnesses? You’ll need two, and witnesses can be anyone over 18 who is present for the ceremony. Whether it’s your mum, dad, sister, brother, godparent, best friend, adult child, or, in the case of elopements, two randoms who happened to be walking past, anyone can be a witness.

You can choose them beforehand or hold a witness lottery by placing names of those who meet the criteria in a hat, drawn out as part of the ceremony.

It’s always a good idea to have a bit of music playing/ a reading/ interpretive dance whilst signing is happening as it takes about 4 to 5 minutes

TWO: THE HEAT IS ON

During these hot summer days it’s really worth thinking about your guests comfort before the ceremony has started. You may think ‘it’s only a 30 minute ceremony’ but some guests will arrive 30 minutes (or more) beforehand and if the ceremony starts a bit later than expected then it can be a long, uncomfortable wait. If it’s a venue with no bar or shop nearby, it can get a bit dicey for your guests and I’ve had some near misses with fainters. Play it safe and have some water on offer for your guests. If this isn’t an option, let guests know it’s a good idea to bring a bottle with them. Guests who are travelling to Qld/NSW and who aren’t familiar with just how hot it can get will thank you.

Check out this for more information on best day and date to get married.

THREE: ORDER OF BOOKING

Getting started with wedding planning can sometimes be the hardest part. So, what order should you start booking your vendors? 

1) If it’s all feeling a bit overwhelming, or you’re time poor, you may want to use a wedding planner or coordinator. If this is this case, choose them first. They’ll save you a lot of time plus they know which suppliers and vendors will work best to fit in with your vision.

2) Start scouting for ceremony and reception venues. If you’re flexible with the dates, then you’ll obviously have more choice. If you already have a date locked in but are flexible with venues then you can start to book other suppliers

3) Book your celebrant. I, personally, take bookings up to two years in advance, and the more popular dates tend to get booked quickly such as May the Fourth, Saturday’s in peak season, Easter Saturday etc

4) Book your photographer. If you’re overwhelmed by the amount of talent out there, ask your celebrant who they’ve work with and would recommend. Some couples book their photographer before their celebrant and that’s totally cool too

5) Book your make-up, hair, florist, stylist, on-the-day-coordinator, cake, music, food, dog-chaperone, signage or anything else you may want to make your day amazing.

FOUR: BOOM-SHAKA-LA

What music do you need for the ceremony? As a minimum I suggest a song for arrival of the bride(s) and/or groom(s), a song during signing, and then something post-smooch. 

You can also play tunes from when guests arrive, setting the atmosphere from the get-go. 

Music is such a personal choice and I’m sometimes asked for suggestions which is hard to do as my taste is probably very different to yours and visa versa. So I suggest to help you decide, that you close your eyes and picture the actual moment within your wedding where the music is playing. What emotion do you want to feel? One of romance? A feeling of joy? Of high excitement? Then choose some music which fits that feeling – whether it’s Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D Major’, Farrell’s ‘Happy’, or Metallica’s ‘Nothing Really Matters’ – and play it, imagining your wedding at that actual moment. Does the song evoke the right emotion you’re hoping for? If so, bingo! 

FIVE: WHOSE WHO IN THE ZOO?

How do you plan your wedding party? How many people should you have? What do they actually do during the ceremony? Do you even need them?

Choosing bridesmaids/men and groomsmen/women is, of course, completely down to personal choice. There are many ancient traditions as to why we have them (including best men stealing the bride from her family, and bridesmaids checking that the marriage has been consummated) but nowadays most wedding party members are there for emotional support, to help plan bucks/hens parties and to provide company when getting ready on the day.

More and more couples are moving away from this tradition. Take Hannah for example. She has a large close group of friends she’s known for years. Choosing just a few seemed impossible, so she didn’t. She still had friends with her when she got ready, but during the ceremony it was just Sean and her.

Consequently this created a real intimacy which is evident in this great photo by Wildflower Weddings.

You may want to have attendants, and that’s totally cool too. It’s also worth considering whether you’d like them standing up there with you for the whole ceremony, during the introduction and post-signing part but in with your guests for the main part of it, or for them to join your guests once the ceremony has begun.

Whatever you choose, do it because it feels right for you, rather than tradition dictates. It’s your day after all!

SIX: ‘IT’S LIKE RA-A-AAAAIN ON YOUR WEDDING DAY…’

Rain. Ugh. It’s the one thing you have zero control over on your wedding day and even if you choose a non-rainy period there’s still a chance. Our lowest rainfall months in Brisbane are July/August yet these months still average seven days of rain. So, if you’re planning an outdoor wedding, it’s worth having a ‘plan b’ so you don’t spend the whole day prior to your wedding obsessively checking your Bureau of Meteorology app.

Option 1) Chat to your reception venue to see if there’s a suitable spot to hold the ceremony
Option 2) Book an indoor ceremony space as your backup plan. This doesn’t need to cost a fortune if you’re just using it for the ceremony and paying the extra $$ will be worth it for the peace of mind. 
Option 3) Buy some umbrellas. If it rains only lightly then investing in these could mean you’re still able to go ahead.

Finally, if it does rain on your wedding day there’s one thing you are guaranteed and that’s amazing photographs! Check out these pics of couples I’ve worked with who didn’t let rain ruin their day.

SEVEN: THE QUICKIE

In Australia you need to give one months notice in order to marry. And it’s amazing how much you can get done in a month.

Take Kitti and Paul for example. They arranged their whole wedding in this time and had their perfect day. They were focussed, decisive, and despite the short turnaround, still had so many personalised, memorable moments within their ceremony.

A quickly planned wedding does not mean a less than awesome one. If you’re flexible with what day of the week you want your ceremony and reception it can be done.

I offer various types of ceremonies; all can be organised in a month.

Here’s what Paul and Kitti said about their day:

‘Roxy was outstanding from the very start! She was so helpful to ensure we could meet our own chosen deadline with submitting forms (on the same day we first called her!), we had no idea how to make what we wanted into reality but Roxy was a wealth of information and suggestions, and she was very supportive in tailoring our ceremony to suit us. I think above all she is a really genuine, warm, fun and friendly person and it really shows naturally! We couldn’t have been happier with our wedding ceremony, it was just perfect thanks to Roxy and we’re so grateful! Our guests were also very impressed with Roxy, we had lots of feedback of how great she was! Thank you!!!’

EIGHT: DOGS. SIGH. LOVELY DOGS.

Dogs. Oh dogs. How much do I love our four legged yeasty-smelling companions?

Having your dog at your wedding is a no-brainer for some but for others it can be a little bit trickier.

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 lovely Sherron at Howl Yeah!

If your dog can’t attend then you can acknowledge your dog (or cat, or llama, or fish, or snake…) by having their image on your invites, including them in your engagement shoot, immortalising them on your cake topper or on a fingerprint tree. Check out this blog post for more info on how to include your four-legged friend in your wedding.

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.  Check out one of my favourite photographers, Kirsty, who wrote a guest blog for me here

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, as captured below. 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. 

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.

TWELVE: 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 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 family and friends, and when I think back on our day, I’m very appreciative of those few moments in private with him.

THIRTEEN: Time After Time

I am often asked: what time should our ceremony start? About 85% of weddings I conduct start between 2.30 to 4.30pm. However when wedding planning, 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 wedding planning 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. We kept it super-casual and the love they have for each other radiates crystal clear.

Family wedding

Read more at Part Two of Wedding Planning Tips.

Or, if you’d like to chat to me, please don’t hesitate to contact me on 0478041227 or at roxy@roxyrocks.com

Roxy Hotten Celebrant

Starting the Fun Before the Ceremony Has Begun

Things for Guests To Do

Starting the fun before the ceremony has begun… you see, your guests experience of your wedding ceremony will start from the moment they arrive. So why not think of ways to make this enjoyable and comfortable for them right from the get-go.

I arrive at the wedding ceremonies about an hour before the start time, and occasionally a guest will be there before me.  I’ve worked out that when guests are unfamiliar with the ceremony venue, they often arrive extra early, just to make sure they’re on time.

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

Traditional couples would set up a guest book at their reception for all to sign. However, once people start partying, they’re likely to forget to sign it. So why not get it set up and started before the ceremony whilst guests are still mingling?

However, if I’m completely honest, I think guests books can be a little bit surplus to needs. Let’s face it, how often are you going to look at it post wedding?

Whereas, a piece of art or something ornamental that your guests have produced… well that is going to give you the post-wedding feels for some time to come.

Love heart-Art

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 from craft shops and get your guests to sign each one, displaying them in a box frame afterwards.

SILHOUETTE ELEGANZA

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.

GIVE Me An ‘H’, GIVE ME A ‘S’…

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

roxy@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. 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. 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.  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. Round sounding dates like 1/9/19 are very memorable.  But above all, choose a date that works for you. 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

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

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

 

Goodbye 2017 and hello a new era!

Goodbye 2017 and hello a new era!

If you’ve read any of my other blog posts, or seen my Instagram or Facebook pages you’ll see that I have had an amazing, incredible, wonderful 2017.  I conducted over 80 weddings in Australia, Bali and London, chucked in my day job to be a full-time celebrant, attended sessions on social media to learn what the hell I’m meant to be doing, and basically had the best year of my life.

And I know 2018 is going to be even better…

The reason  I’m so confident of this is down to the simple fact that marriage equality is now a thing.  In 2017 I conducted a couple of same-sex commitment ceremonies and, well, as beautiful as they were, it saddened my soul that I couldn’t marry them legally.  Now, I can.  I don’t have to say those hateful words ‘Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and woman…’ anymore.  Hoo-bloody-rah!

Secondly, in 2018 I want to do more creative learning.  I spent time in 2017 learning how to use social media, tailoring my website, and learning all the ins and outs of celebrancy in Australia.  So now is the time for me to start doing some really fun stuff; attending courses and sessions which will hopefully include paints and pencils and textiles and design and writing and all the fun stuff.

I can’t wait for this year.  I’d love to hear your ambitions for 2018, whether wedding related or not. Don’t be shy – come and say hi!

Roxy Hotten Celebrant

 

 

Yes! Marriage is now Marriage!

RoxMarrEqu

Yes! Marriage is now marriage!  It’s not ‘same sex marriage’ or ‘marriage equality’… it’s just marriage.

Words do not express the happiness I feel.  Having to say during a ceremony the words ‘Marriage, accordingly to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman…’ has always grated on me and many of the couples whom I married.

I remember a guest – an Uncle of the groom – coming up to me after the ceremony, thanking me for stating prior to the wording above that this was not the belief of his nephew, niece-in-law, or myself.  When I stated this at the ceremony, there was a huge roar of applause from the guests.  This had the Uncle in tears, and he explained that in all his years, he had never been to a wedding where he felt included, apart from this one.

Now I no longer will have to say a precursor in order to make guests feel comfortable.  Nor will I have to be discriminatory towards anyone based on their sexuality.  I can marry anyone! Love is love when it’s between two consenting people and those who want to make the commitment of marriage will now be allowed to do so.

I’ve always been proud to be a celebrant and I love my job with a true, absolute, deep and real passion.  But today I love it even more.

I can now start receiving Notice of Intended Marriage from same-sex clients from the 9th December, which means I can start marrying same-sex couples from the 9th January.  And I’m pretty sure that the first one I conduct where I say ‘Marriage, accordingly to law in Australia, is the union of two people voluntarily entered into for life’ will be momentous.

I’m signing off this blog with The Biggest Smile Ever, and a little bit of wet around my eyes.

Yours happily,

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

Brisbane’s Top Five Celebrants

I’m one of Brisbane’s Top Five Celebrants!  I was super-honoured to have recently been placed in the Easy Weddings Editors Choice of Top Five Celebrant List.

In the past I’ve won awards for my work in the UK as a Celebrant, but this is the first time since moving to Australia and setting myself up as a Celebrant in late 2016 that I’ve been officially recognised within the industry.

And, although awards and recognition are lovely, I also have a real sense of pride in my work.  I aim so hard to deliver personalised, solid, open-minded, thoughtful and sensitive celebrant services to couples I work with.

I believe that one of the reasons I was chosen because of the positive feedback of many of the couples I have worked with.  You can read reviews either here (Google reviews) or here (Facebook Reviews) or read some of my testimonials here.

So, if you’d like to have a no-obligation chat with me, please don’t hesitate to contact me at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478 041227

Leah_Lee_ceremony(43of130).jpg
Ceremony at Spicers Peak Lodge

Roxy Hotten Celebrant

Booking Your Celebrant – How Far in Advance?

Booking your celebrant – how far in advance should you do this?

You’ve got engaged (whoo-hoo congratulations!) and you’ve told your friends and family.  Now for the planning… venue, photographer, caterer, florist, transport, invitations… oh, and don’t forget your celebrant!

I’m often asked how far in advance I’m booked out?  And at what point in the process should couples start considering who they want as their celebrant? Below are some tips to consider:

  1. It’s worthwhile having a date confirmed when you contact celebrants, unless you’re completely flexible and want to work around a celebrant’s availability
  2. I suggest booking your celebrant as soon as you can after your venue is booked
  3. Saturdays are the most popular days for celebrants, and are often booked out 18 months (or more) in advance.  The next most popular days that I conduct weddings are Fridays, followed closely by Sundays.
  4. Certain months in Brisbane, SEQ, Northern NSW tend to be more popular than others.  For example, I find December and January tend to be quieter than April, August, September and October, so therefore I will have more availability for these months.
  5. When you contact celebrants via email, it is worth being specific about the date, time and location of your wedding.  Whenever I’m contacted with these three pieces of specific information I can inform them straight as to my availability.

Please do not hesitate to contact me regarding my availability for your special day.  You can either email me at roxy@roxyrocks.com or ring me on 0478 041227.  Alternatively you can fill in this contact form.

Roxy Hotten Celebrant

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 a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.’  I know that some find this paragraph insensitive and, as an advocate of Marriage Equality, I am more than happy to include a precursor to this paragraph which helps guests understand that a marriage between a man and a woman is not necessarily the belief of all.
  • 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).  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 big red register (which your celebrant keeps)
    • the fancy looking certificate of marriage (which you keep)
    • the other one (which your celebrant submits to births, deaths and marriages)

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 entrancenicandlee3 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.

dog3
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.

Val9

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

How to make your vows rock!

Writing vows

Do you want to make your vows rock but unsure how to get started? Swayed by the gazillion examples out there in Google-Land?

The most heart-felt and beautiful part of any wedding ceremony can be the moment the couple share their vows. However, this is one area couples seem to get most concerned about.  What to say?  How to say it?  What happens if one is full of lengthy heartfelt sincerity and the other is a quick witty ditty?

Argh!  Panic not though – read these handy tips on how to write your vows and hopefully this will ease your vow-writing-pain to help you wow your partner and express what it is you really want to tell them.

Where to Start

You’ve got the blank piece of paper, you’ve got the pen…. and you’ve got total mind-blank.  So, take a deep breath, pour yourself a beverage (alcoholic or otherwise depending on your preference) and ask yourself the following questions and write down your answers:

Why do you love your partner?  What do they do that makes them different to anyone else you’ve ever been with?

  • What do you want to promise them you’ll always do throughout your relationship?
  • Do you have some flaws that you will try to improve?  
  • Do they have some flaws you’ll promise to overlook?
  • If in the future you have hard times, what do you promise to always do during this period?
  • Where do you see yourselves in your future together?
  • What support will you give them to help them reach their goals?
  • Does your partner have children, or do you have children together (of the fur or non-fur variety)? If so what kind of parent/step-parent do you promise to be?

If you answer these questions, you have your vows!

Forget Your Audience

Try to forget your audience. Write your vows for your partner and not for your guests.  This may sound obvious, but I think it’s easy get hung up on ‘will people laugh’ or ‘will my friends and family think these romantic enough’.  Imagine it’s just you and your partner, and you’re getting one chance to really explain to them exactly what you promise to do throughout your married life together.

It is also worth writing your vows as close to the ceremony date as possible. This might sound a bit ‘what the ….?!’ but writing your vows too far in advance can lead to over-editing and ending up with something which sounds insincere or over-written.

I also provide the option to couples of sharing their vows with me prior to the ceremony.  Getting a second opinion can really help and can give you the assurance you need that you’ve written the right words.

If You’re Completely Freaking Out…

You don’t have to have personalised vows.  If you find that the thought of sharing your feelings about your partner in front of your friends and family excruciating and it’s going to outweigh any enjoyment of your ceremony, then don’t feel pressured to do it.  If you want to omit this part of the ceremony, you may wish to consider other alternatives, which could be 1) share your personalised vows with your partner after the ceremony when it’s just the two of you, 2) opt for something more standard and less personal (there’s a plethora of options or I can help you write something bespoke or 3) write something yourself but ask your celebrant to read them out for you.

Although the sharing of personalised vows can be one of the highlights of the ceremony, don’t let this part of your day overly stress you.  A good celebrant will make this aspect of your ceremony a truly magic aspect of your day and will support you through the process.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to discuss this or anything else weddingy further by contacting me at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478041227.

Roxy signature

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

 

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.

Roxy signature

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

315
www.mildavasile.com

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.

Roxy signature

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.

Roxy signature

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.

Roxy signature

Roxy-005

 

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!

Roxy signature

 

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.

Roxy signature

The Stupid Questions…

Rox36

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.

Roxy signature

 

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…

Roxy signature

Five things to consider when choosing your celebrant.

Choosing a celebrant is such a personal choice.  When you envisage standing in front of your family and friends to share your vows, you may already have a really clear vision as to what your celebrant looks like and how they sound.  However, you may also feel like you have no idea where to even start.  Below are five things to consider which  may help you whilst you search for the right person.

  1. Many celebrants will have had other career(s) prior to coming in to celebrancy and asking them what their celebrant and non-celebrant experience is will give an insight into other skill-sets they have.  For example, I have worked as a journalist and as a project manager and therefore I have skills which help me write quality ceremonies, whilst also being a very organised person.
  2. Consider not only what you may need in a celebrant, but what others may need.  Do you have a ‘tricky’ parent or relative? Do you have children you want to include in your ceremony?  If so, do you feel your celebrant will be able to build a rapport with them and make them feel comfortable?
  3. Try to find someone who ‘gets’ you.  They don’t need to become your new best friend, but it’s great when there’s a rapport built.
  4. Testimonials are your friend – see what others have said, and if their style of weddings is similar to your style and they rave about their celebrant, then it could be a match.
  5. Don’t just go for the cheapest.  Cheap does not always equal good, and I know I personally charge what I feel I’m worth.  I put a lot of effort in to my ceremonies, and this is reflected in my price.

Good luck in your search!

Roxy signature

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.

MAY_CON_THEATRE_SCREENING_1600px_wide

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.

Roxy signature

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!

Roxy signature

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…

Roxy signature

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.

Roxy signature

roxy@roxyrocks.com