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.

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

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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

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My Husband and Our Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why do celebrants cost so much?

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

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

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

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

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The Stupid Questions…

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

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

His questions included;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Who cries most at a ceremony?

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

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

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

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

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

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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!

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