Wedding Planning Wisdom Thirteen to Sixteen

THIRTEEN: And breathe…

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

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

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

FOURTEEN: Time after time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FIFTEEN: Doin’ it for the kids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blended Family Wedding

SIXTEEN: Walk On by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wedding Planning Wisdom Nine to Twelve

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

NINE: Snap Happy

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

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

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

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

TEN: The ‘Kiss’

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

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

Photo: Thousand Miles Photography

ELEVEN: Not All Celebrants Are the Same

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

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

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

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

Best Day and Date to Get Married

How to Choose Your Wedding Date

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

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

Most Popular Day of the Week to Marry

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

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

Saturdays (62%)

Friday (14%)

Sunday (10%)

Thursday (5%)

Monday (3%)

Tuesday (3%)

Wednesday (3%)

Most Popular Months to Marry

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

Popular Wedding Months

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

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

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

rainfall per month brisbane

Too Hot?  Too Cold?

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

high low temps brisbane

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

 

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

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

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

How Far in Advance?

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

And Finally

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

Roxy Hotten Celebrant

www.roxyrocks.com

roxy@roxyrocks.com

0478041227

Wine, wine, and more wine

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

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

Ceremonies at a Winery

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

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

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

Wine Ceremony

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

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

 

Toast During the Ceremony

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

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

Wine-Related Decorations

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

 

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

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

 

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

Cork placement holders, available from here

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

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

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

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

And Finally…

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

Roxy Hotten Celebrant

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

 

 

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

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)

 

 

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www.roxyrocks.com

 

How to make your vows rock!

nicleelaughWWant 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 is, in my opinion, 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.  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?  How would you describe him/her to a stranger?  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 your future together?  What support will you give them to reach these goals?

Does your partner have children, or do you already have children together – of the fur or non-fur variety – if so, what kind of parent/step-parent do you promise to be?

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; 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.

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.

If they are critical of your choices, reinforce 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, then watched them laugh, relax and enjoy the ceremony.

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.

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