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

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

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

9 Wedding Readings for Children

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

Hilary_Rich_Ring

I Love My Family So Much – Filoi Hemopo

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

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

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

Guess How Much I Love You Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram

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

“Guess how much I love you,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family Comes Together – Glaedr the poet

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

Dr Seuss Quote

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

Never Going to Give You UpRick Astley

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

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

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

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

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

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

Somethings Go TogetherCharlotte Zolotow

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

Sheep and GoatMarleen Westera

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

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

I Like YouSandol Stoddard Warburg

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

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

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

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

Roxy Hotten Celebrant

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.

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www.roxyrocks.com

roxy@roxyrocks.com

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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), 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. I have a few standard options which can be tweaked to make them feel right for you
  3. Write something yourself but ask your celebrant to read them out as a series of questions, eg: ‘Do you [name] promise to not put the empty milk bottle in the fridge. Do you vow to make them a cup of tea every morning, no matter what?’ etc. You can then just say ‘I do’ or ‘I will’ once they’ve been read out.

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.

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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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