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.
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?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0478041227
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
As the owner of Roxy Hotten – Celebrant since 2011, I know a thing or two about wedding planning. I also know a thing or two about moon-walking and typing really fast, but there’s not much call for my advice on these, so instead I thought I’d share some of my wisdom.
ONE: AS [BLANK] IS MY WITNESS
How do you choose your witnesses? You’ll need two, and witnesses can be anyone over 18 who is present for the ceremony. Whether it’s your mum, dad, sister, brother, godparent, best friend, adult child, or, in the case of elopements, two randoms who happened to be walking past, anyone can be a witness.
You can choose them beforehand or hold a witness lottery by placing names of those who meet the criteria in a hat, drawn out as part of the ceremony.
It’s always a good idea to have a bit of music playing/ a reading/ interpretive dance whilst signing is happening as it takes about 4 to 5 minutes
TWO: THE HEAT IS ON
During these hot summer days it’s really worth thinking about your guests comfort before the ceremony has started. You may think ‘it’s only a 30 minute ceremony’ but some guests will arrive 30 minutes (or more) beforehand and if the ceremony starts a bit later than expected then it can be a long, uncomfortable wait. If it’s a venue with no bar or shop nearby, it can get a bit dicey for your guests and I’ve had some near misses with fainters. Play it safe and have some water on offer for your guests. If this isn’t an option, let guests know it’s a good idea to bring a bottle with them. Guests who are travelling to Qld/NSW and who aren’t familiar with just how hot it can get will thank you.
Check out this for more information on best day and date to get married.
THREE: ORDER OF BOOKING
Getting started with wedding planning can sometimes be the hardest part. So, what order should you start booking your vendors?
1) If it’s all feeling a bit overwhelming, or you’re time poor, you may want to use a wedding planner or coordinator. If this is this case, choose them first. They’ll save you a lot of time plus they know which suppliers and vendors will work best to fit in with your vision.
2) Start scouting for ceremony and reception venues. If you’re flexible with the dates, then you’ll obviously have more choice. If you already have a date locked in but are flexible with venues then you can start to book other suppliers
3) Book your celebrant. I, personally, take bookings up to two years in advance, and the more popular dates tend to get booked quickly such as May the Fourth, Saturday’s in peak season, Easter Saturday etc
4) Book your photographer. If you’re overwhelmed by the amount of talent out there, ask your celebrant who they’ve work with and would recommend. Some couples book their photographer before their celebrant and that’s totally cool too
5) Book your make-up, hair, florist, stylist, on-the-day-coordinator, cake, music, food, dog-chaperone, signage or anything else you may want to make your day amazing.
What music do you need for the ceremony? As a minimum I suggest a song for arrival of the bride(s) and/or groom(s), a song during signing, and then something post-smooch.
You can also play tunes from when guests arrive, setting the atmosphere from the get-go.
Music is such a personal choice and I’m sometimes asked for suggestions which is hard to do as my taste is probably very different to yours and visa versa. So I suggest to help you decide, that you close your eyes and picture the actual moment within your wedding where the music is playing. What emotion do you want to feel? One of romance? A feeling of joy? Of high excitement? Then choose some music which fits that feeling – whether it’s Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D Major’, Farrell’s ‘Happy’, or Metallica’s ‘Nothing Really Matters’ – and play it, imagining your wedding at that actual moment. Does the song evoke the right emotion you’re hoping for? If so, bingo!
FIVE: WHOSE WHO IN THE ZOO?
How do you plan your wedding party? How many people should you have? What do they actually do during the ceremony? Do you even need them?
Choosing bridesmaids/men and groomsmen/women is, of course, completely down to personal choice. There are many ancient traditions as to why we have them (including best men stealing the bride from her family, and bridesmaids checking that the marriage has been consummated) but nowadays most wedding party members are there for emotional support, to help plan bucks/hens parties and to provide company when getting ready on the day.
More and more couples are moving away from this tradition. Take Hannah for example. She has a large close group of friends she’s known for years. Choosing just a few seemed impossible, so she didn’t. She still had friends with her when she got ready, but during the ceremony it was just Sean and her.
Consequently this created a real intimacy which is evident in this great photo by Wildflower Weddings.
You may want to have attendants, and that’s totally cool too. It’s also worth considering whether you’d like them standing up there with you for the whole ceremony, during the introduction and post-signing part but in with your guests for the main part of it, or for them to join your guests once the ceremony has begun.
Whatever you choose, do it because it feels right for you, rather than tradition dictates. It’s your day after all!
SIX: ‘IT’S LIKE RA-A-AAAAIN ON YOUR WEDDING DAY…’
Rain. Ugh. It’s the one thing you have zero control over on your wedding day and even if you choose a non-rainy period there’s still a chance. Our lowest rainfall months in Brisbane are July/August yet these months still average seven days of rain. So, if you’re planning an outdoor wedding, it’s worth having a ‘plan b’ so you don’t spend the whole day prior to your wedding obsessively checking your Bureau of Meteorology app.
Option 1) Chat to your reception venue to see if there’s a suitable spot to hold the ceremony Option 2) Book an indoor ceremony space as your backup plan. This doesn’t need to cost a fortune if you’re just using it for the ceremony and paying the extra $$ will be worth it for the peace of mind. Option 3) Buy some umbrellas. If it rains only lightly then investing in these could mean you’re still able to go ahead.
Finally, if it does rain on your wedding day there’s one thing you are guaranteed and that’s amazing photographs! Check out these pics of couples I’ve worked with who didn’t let rain ruin their day.
SEVEN: THE QUICKIE
In Australia you need to give one months notice in order to marry. And it’s amazing how much you can get done in a month.
Take Kitti and Paul for example. They arranged their whole wedding in this time and had their perfect day. They were focussed, decisive, and despite the short turnaround, still had so many personalised, memorable moments within their ceremony.
A quickly planned wedding does not mean a less than awesome one. If you’re flexible with what day of the week you want your ceremony and reception it can be done.
I offer various types of ceremonies; all can be organised in a month.
Here’s what Paul and Kitti said about their day:
‘Roxy was outstanding from the very start! She was so helpful to ensure we could meet our own chosen deadline with submitting forms (on the same day we first called her!), we had no idea how to make what we wanted into reality but Roxy was a wealth of information and suggestions, and she was very supportive in tailoring our ceremony to suit us. I think above all she is a really genuine, warm, fun and friendly person and it really shows naturally! We couldn’t have been happier with our wedding ceremony, it was just perfect thanks to Roxy and we’re so grateful! Our guests were also very impressed with Roxy, we had lots of feedback of how great she was! Thank you!!!’
EIGHT: DOGS. SIGH. LOVELY DOGS.
Dogs. Oh dogs. How much do I love our four legged yeasty-smelling companions?
Having your dog at your wedding is a no-brainer for some but for others it can be a little bit trickier.
As much as you love your dog, you may not want to have to keep an eye on him or her all day, and you also may want to consider them going home after the ceremony. If so, there’s companies who can do this for you such as the lovely Sherron at Howl Yeah!
If your dog can’t attend then you can acknowledge your dog (or cat, or llama, or fish, or snake…) by having their image on your invites, including them in your engagement shoot, immortalising them on your cake topper or on a fingerprint tree. Check out this blog post for more info on how to include your four-legged friend in your wedding.
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. Check out one of my favourite photographers, Kirsty, who wrote a guest blog for me here
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, as captured below. 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.
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.
TWELVE: 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 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 family and friends, and when I think back on our day, I’m very appreciative of those few moments in private with him.
THIRTEEN: Time After Time
I am often asked: what time should our ceremony start? About 85% of weddings I conduct start between 2.30 to 4.30pm. However when wedding planning, 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 wedding planning 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:
👪 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. We kept it super-casual and the love they have for each other radiates crystal clear.
Don’t let a hot weather day ruin your plans of an outdoor wedding. With the below tips, you can keep your guests happy, even when the temperature is rising:
Provide water for your guests upon arrival to the ceremony. Some will begin arriving anywhere from an hour prior to the ceremony start time (especially if they have a distance to travel), and if your ceremony is located in a remote area without access to a shop, it can be hard for them to wait around without any refreshments.
When sending out the invitations, it’s worth highlighting to your guests anything they may need to bring for the ceremony to help them deal with the heat. For example, if the wedding is being held in an open, sunny area, you may want to suggest guests wear sun-cream, sun-hats or bring a parasol.
For those really hot days, you might want to consider providing your guests with an Order of Service in the shape of a fan to help them cool down. You can do these yourself, and a tutorial is here
Provide some sun-cream and anything else to help them, such as bug-spray. You can even personalise them and have them as wedding favours for your guests which you can purchase here.
And always remember, don’t stress if an unexpected heat-wave happens. Enjoy your ceremony and with some of the above, your guests will too.
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 email@example.com or on 0478041227.