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!
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0478 041227
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:
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
I suggest booking your celebrant as soon as you can after your venue is booked
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.
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.
When you contact celebrants via email, it is worth being specific about the date, timeandlocation 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 email@example.com or ring me on 0478 041227. Alternatively you can fill in this contact form.
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:
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.
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
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 for 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)
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.
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!
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 entrance 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.
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
Share your personalised vows with your partner after the ceremony when it’s just the two of you
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0478041227.
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.
Mr B had been a professional guitarist for about 20 years.
I can only play four chords on the guitar
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 email@example.com or ring me on 0478041227.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0478041227.
There’s a saying in the ‘biz’ when you conduct baby namings, weddings and funerals that you do ‘hatched, matched and dispatched’ ceremonies.
Since becoming a celebrant in Brisbane, I’ve been predominately concentrating on the matched, with some hatched. And now I’m biting the bullet, giving up my day job and foraying into the world of funerals.
When I’ve told friends and family my plan, they have been very supportive, but I often hear them say; ‘Well, that’ll be less happy to do than the weddings.’ However, I don’t think so.
With the weddings I strive to give someone the very best experience of their life – celebrating among those who they love the most. And with funerals, I want people to have a similar experience. I want people to have a funeral which really celebrates them. I want to deliver a funeral or memorial or tribute which is genuine and true and which helps their loved ones to smile and reminisce of this person who was a part of their life. Yes, funerals are sad – it’s part of the grieving – but it’s okay to smile, laugh, groan as you remember the good times and the funny quirks to their personality.
I want to work with the grieving family or friends to produce a ceremony which feels genuine, real, fitting, honest, and helpful in the process of coming to terms with their death.
As much as I hope you’ll never have to use my services as a funeral celebrant, I also hope that if you do, the result will be a real celebration of your loved ones life, and as positive of an experience as possible.
Please feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss this service further on 0478041227 or email@example.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.
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.
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.
Include a ring blessing prior to the ceremony and ask the parents to announce and explain the blessing.
Ask the parents to be witnesses to the signing of the documentation.
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’.
If you are incorporating a unity candle ceremony in your wedding, your parents can also be included in lighting this.
Have your Mum and/or Dad act as ring bearers, and bring the wedding rings to you during the ceremony.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0478 041227.
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.