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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How I Met My Husband

I recently published a blog about my wedding to Mr HB, and was asked if I could publish a story about how we met.

I suggest you pour yourself a whiskey, plonk yourself on your comfiest seat, and gather round for a little love story: How I Met My Husband, by Roxy Hotten.

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time I was married to a man who wasn’t Mr HB.  Let’s call him H1. One evening, back in 1996, H1 and I were at a gig local to where we lived in the UK, and a mutual friend of ours introduced us to the guitarist of one of the bands.  This guitarist was Mr HB, or just ‘Mr B’ as he was then.  When I met him he had dreadlocks and was flanked by a couple of adoring ladies*.  I remember thinking he was a bit of a, um, a bit of a… well, just a bit arrogant I guess, and didn’t really pay too much attention to him.

(* Mr HB disputes this fact to this day – not the dreadlocked bit, but the adoring ladies bit)

One Upon a Time + 2 Years

Fast forward two years later, and H1 and I were planning on moving to Australia.  The same mutual friend invited us to his house for dinner before we left, and the other dinner guests were Mr B and his new girlfriend.  I quickly realised that my initial impression of him was wrong, all wrong, and that he was a really nice guy.  I also thought he was cute, but, you know, I was married, about to move to Australia, he had a girlfriend, blah blah – so definitely nothing weird happened.

One Upon a Time + 5 Years

Fast forward to 2001.  H1 and I had split up in Australia, and were back in the UK.  Our mutual friend invited us to his house for dinner again, and although H1 and I were no longer a couple, we were (and are) still friendly and so off we went.  Upon arrival, I saw Mr B who launched in to a story about how he had  been dumped by text message, which in 2001, was still a fairly new way of being dumped.  I, being incredibly uncool quickly told him that although I was with H1 at our mutual friends house, I wasn’t with H1 anymore.

Throughout the dinner party we laughed, flirted, discovered lots of mutual interests, and when everyone had gone to bed, I decided it was very necessary to teach Mr B how to play ‘Heart of Gold’ by Neil Young on the guitar.  Now, let me just paint a picture for you here if I may.

  1. Mr B had been a professional guitarist for about 20 years.
  2. I can only play four chords on the guitar
  3. We had both been drinking straight for about six hours

Sitting on opposite chairs, I started to strum and bark out orders like a bossy music teacher…

‘Keep me searchin’ – D! – for a – E MINOR! – heart of gold.  You keep me searchin’ – D!- for a – E MINOR! – heart of gold…’ etc.

Mr B was obviously blown away with my epic guitar playing, and after I felt that he had sufficiently learnt this master-piece from the, er, master, I decided it was time to make my move.

‘Howzaboutcha come overz here and gizzus a liddle kiss’.

I am pure class.

Fortunately Mr B found this a tempting offer, and there you have it. Hollywood-worthy it may not be, but it is our story and therefore very special to us.  If you’d like to share your love story with me, and incorporate it into your ceremony, please feel free to email me at roxy@roxyrocks.com or ring me on 0478041227.

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The day Mr B became Mr HB

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

roxychilkar

Firstly the cons: this is  the hard stuff that keeps me awake at night.

The Hard Stuff

  • The cost. Becoming and remaining a celebrant is expensive.  Here are some of my costs (all costs are approximate from my 2015 expenses):
    • Training fee for initial training, which can range in cost depending on whether you want to do on-line or face to face. I chose to do on-line as I had already been a celebrant for five years in the UK so felt face to face wasn’t necessary, and this cost me $750.  You then have to do a minimum 5 hours of Ongoing Professional Development (OPD) which I chose to do on-line for 2015 ($175)
    • Registration fee to the Attorney General’s Office to gain your qualification ($600)
    • Annual Registration fee to the Attorney General’s Office ($240)
    • Annual Membership fee to a Celebrant Association – Although this is not obligatory, I belong to the Australian Marriage Celebrants http://www.marriagecelebrants.org.au/ but there are other membership organisations you can join ($242)
    • Website – I use WordPress, and manage it myself. To set it all up, buy my domain, etc, this cost approximately $260, with an ongoing fee per year of $129
    • I advertise in a number of places; www.easyweddings.com.au www.weddingclub.com.au plus Google Ad Words, and I would spend on average $500+ on advertising per month
    • Marketing materials – I’m so grateful to my wonderful creative friends who have helped me keep my costs down with this, including the talented Heath at http://www.theleftlane.com.au/ and my designer friend Louisa. I pay for printing for business cards, leaflets, stickers and any other materials and would spend approximately $200 a year on this.
    • Official paperwork. Most of this has to be bought through the Government printers, CanPrint, and would cost me approximately $200 per year.
  • The hours. Wave bye-bye to your weekends.  My friends, family, husband and dog are neglected on weekends.  I’m either conducting a wedding, meeting up with prospective clients, doing paperwork, or writing a ceremony.  I am also often busy on many week-day evenings meeting with prospective clients.
  • The responsibility. My recurring nightmare is to turn up at a wedding without my script. Or my legal paperwork.  Which is an unnecessary worry as a) I’m super organised and b) I always have spares in my car. However, I did make an error on my paperwork for the very first wedding I did in Australia.  My blood froze when I realised, though fortunately I had submitted the correct details to Births, Deaths and Marriages (who were wonderful when I confessed my mistake).  Initially I found the paperwork a little confusing – it’s not hard, but there are documents which look the same but have different purposes.  I’m now a whizz at it… though I still check, check, check… and check again.
  • The work/home balance. When I lived in London, my office was my dining table. I’m fortunate that now I’m in Brisbane I have a great home office which I love working in (especially as it means I can have my dog at work with me).  But for some people, having your home as your workplace can be hard or not practical.  Brisbane has lots of co-working spaces popping up and some are not that expensive.  See http://stylemagazines.com.au/lifestyle/brisbanes-best-co-working-spaces-and-offices/

Reading all that, you may think ‘Why would anyone want to be a celebrant?’  Because there’s the Good Stuff…

The Good Stuff

  • The writing. Finally I get to utilise my writing skills for something more interesting than business reports
  • The people. I’m constantly meeting new people and hear their relationship stories. What other situation could I find out so much so quickly about two strangers?
  • The love. Meeting the couple, who are in love, then meeting their friends and family who love them. In fact, sometimes I fall a little in love with them. So much love!
  • The day itself. The build up.  Seeing the bride and groom for the first time on the day.  Seeing the venue and how they’ve decorated it. Meeting so many people who I’ve already heard about.  And then the conducting of the ceremony.  Seeing the bride, the groom, the family or friend show emotion as I speak the words I’ve worked so hard to get right for the couple
  • The travel. I love travelling so getting to see new places, whether in Queensland or beyond, is a big fat cherry on top of an already top notch ice-cream
  • The independence. My boss is me. (By the way, I’m a great boss)
  • The creativity. What other job can you suggest ‘dancing girls’ or ‘an arrival on a horse’ or conduct a flash mob mid-way through the ceremony?
  • The gratitude. When I receive an email saying ‘thanks’, or have a parent come up to me after the ceremony with happy tears in their eyes, I think ‘what a job’.

You will never hear me moan about the Hard Stuff because the Good Stuff outweighs it a million to one in my mind.  I have found a job which I love so much that it doesn’t feel like work.  If you’re thinking about becoming a celebrant and want advice or just a chat, please feel free to contact me at roxy@roxyrocks.com

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My Husband and Our Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Who cries most at a ceremony?

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

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

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

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

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

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Five things to consider when choosing your celebrant.

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

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

Good luck in your search!

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My most Surprising Wedding Moment Part One

In my five years as a celebrant, I’m happy to report that any ‘surprising’ wedding moments have been planned and well-received.  There’s never been a Ross/Emily/Rachel scene, a la Friends, or a last minute kerfuffle as a blast from the past interrupts the vows declaring ‘STOP!  DON’T MARRY THAT MAN/WOMAN! EVEN THOUGH I’VE HAD A MILLION CHANCES BEFORE, I HAVE CHOSEN NOW TO TELL YOU’.  So below is Part One in an occasional series of Most Surprising Weddings.

The Flash Mob Wedding.  

This was for a gorgeous couple called Helen and Nigel.  They had seen me conduct a wedding for friends of theirs, and when they asked me to conduct theirs, I was excited as we clicked very quickly.

I suggested that they ask their readers to choose their readings themselves and to keep it secret, and offered to liaise with their readers directly.  One was a guy called Nick, and he came up with the idea of singing One Day Like This by Elbow

When the time came for his reading, the last during the ceremony, he stood up the front, acted very nervous, and fumbled about trying to find his ‘reading’ in his pockets.  ‘Oh dear,’ he stuttered, ‘I appear to have forgotten my paper.’ The bride and groom were looking pained, and were muttering ‘Don’t worry mate, it doesn’t matter..hn_W240 (2).’ to him.

Nick then said ‘Actually, I think I can remember it anyway.  Let me try…’ and with that he talked the first line ‘Drinking in the morning sun…’ then began singing the second line ‘Blinking in the morning sun’, and with more confidence and volume, the third and the fourth line.

As the bride and groom started to clock on that Nick was going to sing them a song for his reading, another friend, sitting among the guests, stood up and sang the fifth line, then another friend the sixth, then another, and another, and so on.  In the end there was eight friends and myself (who got to sing a line) all in on it.  And to add a bit of extra musical flavour, I roped my husband, Mr HB, in and he walked up the aisle playing the guitar for the chorus which all eight of us sang.

The bride and groom were blown away with the effort put in for this (we had all rehearsed) and their guests were equally surprised.  And this, dear reader, is why I love, love, love my job!

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Next week: Another surprising ceremony moment involving yet more musical talent

Favourite Wedding I Ever Conducted.

When people find out I’m a celebrant, they often ask ‘What was your favourite wedding you’ve ever done?’  And I always struggle to answer the question.

When I walk away from the couple as they go on to celebrate with their family and friends, I feel a little broken…

After all, I’ve just experienced the following…

The couple who I’ve grown to know and feel a bond with have just got married.

I’ve just met their family and friends whom I’ve heard so much about.

I’ve just seen them looking their very best.

I’ve witnessed all the ideas we came up with in action.

I’ve said the words which I wrote specifically for them, and even made some people cry (in a good way).

I’ve been in a room/field/beach/restaurant/house/garden/etc filled with shed-loads of love.

So, in a nutshell.  My favourite wedding is the last one I did.

Until the next one comes along…

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