What absolutely, definitely must and must not happen during your ceremony.

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!

Must Not

  • 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 entrancenicandlee3 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.

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How to make your vows rock!

Writing vows

Do you want to make your vows rock but unsure how to get started? Swayed by the gazillion examples out there in Google-Land?

The most heart-felt and beautiful part of any wedding ceremony can be the moment the couple share their vows. However, this is one area couples seem to get most concerned about.  What to say?  How to say it?  What happens if one is full of lengthy heartfelt sincerity and the other is a quick witty ditty?

Argh!  Panic not though – read these handy tips on how to write your vows and hopefully this will ease your vow-writing-pain to help you wow your partner and express what it is you really want to tell them.

Where to Start

You’ve got the blank piece of paper, you’ve got the pen…. and you’ve got total mind-blank.  So, take a deep breath, pour yourself a beverage (alcoholic or otherwise depending on your preference) and ask yourself the following questions and write down your answers:

Why do you love your partner?  What do they do that makes them different to anyone else you’ve ever been with?

  • What do you want to promise them you’ll always do throughout your relationship?
  • Do you have some flaws that you will try to improve?  
  • Do they have some flaws you’ll promise to overlook?
  • If in the future you have hard times, what do you promise to always do during this period?
  • Where do you see yourselves in your future together?
  • What support will you give them to help them reach their goals?
  • Does your partner have children, or do you have children together (of the fur or non-fur variety)? If so what kind of parent/step-parent do you promise to be?

If you answer these questions, you have your vows!

Forget Your Audience

Try to forget your audience. Write your vows for your partner and not for your guests.  This may sound obvious, but I think it’s easy get hung up on ‘will people laugh’ or ‘will my friends and family think these romantic enough’.  Imagine it’s just you and your partner, and you’re getting one chance to really explain to them exactly what you promise to do throughout your married life together.

It is also worth writing your vows as close to the ceremony date as possible. This might sound a bit ‘what the ….?!’ but writing your vows too far in advance can lead to over-editing and ending up with something which sounds insincere or over-written.

I also provide the option to couples of sharing their vows with me prior to the ceremony.  Getting a second opinion can really help and can give you the assurance you need that you’ve written the right words.

If You’re Completely Freaking Out…

You don’t have to have personalised vows.  If you find that the thought of sharing your feelings about your partner in front of your friends and family excruciating and it’s going to outweigh any enjoyment of your ceremony, then don’t feel pressured to do it.  If you want to omit this part of the ceremony, you may wish to consider other alternatives, which could be 1) share your personalised vows with your partner after the ceremony when it’s just the two of you, 2) opt for something more standard and less personal (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.

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Why do celebrants cost so much?

I met with a couple this week who had been quoted so many different prices from many different celebrants, they were utterly confused as to what was good value and what was not.  Some charge less than me, and some nearly twice my price.

It made me realise that it can be a bit of a mine-field out there.  So I thought I’d explain how I came up with my fees.  I can only speak for myself, and I’m certainly not claiming to speak on behalf of all celebrants, but I do realise that this is an area which some couples struggle to understand, so in order to be honest and transparent, here is what you’re paying for when you book me.

  1. I have been a celebrant since 2011, and this experience means I really understand weddings.  I provide couples with lots of ideas and guidance and if there’s any issues along the way or on the day, I’m able to provide solutions
  2. I am professional.  This is my business and I run it as such.  I respond to emails and telephone messages as soon as possible and communicate with you throughout the process.  I use a modern, high spec P.A. system and always tailor my appearance to what is appropriate depending on the bride and groom’s style and vision for their ceremony
  3. I am a full time celebrant which means that I am available for queries, meetings, consultations etc at a time which suits you, rather than you having to fit in around me.  I offer initial meetings during week days, week evenings, and on weekends
  4. I keep up to date with what’s happening out there in the wedding world.  Weddings are my world and I am always researching so I can suggest fun or innovative elements to add in to your ceremony
  5. Being a celebrant is expensive.  I pay a yearly registration fee to the Attorney General, to the Australian Marriage Celebrants for my membership, for my insurance, for my advertising, and I pay to do on-going professional development every year
  6. I write ceremonies which are bespoke and incorporate your story, and I take pride in tweaking every one to ensure it’s really and truly personalised – no cookie cutter ceremonies here…
  7. I care.  I know this may sound corny, or daft, but I honestly do.  It’s important to me that your wedding ceremony is great, like, really really great.  And because I care, I put the time and effort in to a ceremony, in the writing, the getting to know you, the rehearsal and the delivery on the day

I hope the above gives you a flavour on why I charge what I charge.  You can find my current fees here at www.roxyrocks.com/fees and I’m always happy to answer any questions at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478041227.

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The Legal ‘Bit’

I think wedding ceremonies should be 90% about the ceremonial side of things – the meaningful, fun, inclusive, humorous, loving element – and 10% about the legalities. However, the legal part is a necessity and I thought it might be helpful for me to talk you through what needs to be done here in Australia to make sure everything is legit.

Lodging your intention to marry

At least one calendar month prior to your ceremony date (and no more than 18 months in advance) you will need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage This document will need to be signed either in the presence of your celebrant, or a JP, or any other person as listed on page 4 of the form.  Once the celebrant has received this, it is lodged. If you have any queries on this form, or are unable to complete in Australia due to one or both of you being abroad, your celebrant will be able to advise you of your options.

Declaration to marry

Prior to your ceremony, you both will need to sign a declaration of no legal impediment to marriage.  This is usually signed at the rehearsal, or on the day of the ceremony itself (but prior to the ceremony).

Legal wording during ceremony

Celebrant:

I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriage 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. 

Bride and Groom:

I call upon the persons here present to witness that [name], take thee, [name], to be my lawful wedded wife/husband

There are some minor variations that can be made on both of these, but they are minor.  Your celebrant will be able to provide you with these options.

Legal documents during ceremony

You will require two witnesses, and they will watch you sign the following, and then sign themselves:

  1. The official certificate of marriage, which is the document sent to the relevant Birth, Deaths and Marriages by your celebrant for registration purposes
  2. A second official certificate of marriage which will be kept by your celebrant
  3. A certificate of marriage, which is given to you both.  Please note that this is not the legal certificate you will need to use for changing names or to legally evidence marriage.  You will need to apply for an official marriage certificate from the relevant Births, Deaths and Marriages office for a copy of this.

If all of above feels a bit dry and, well, boring, it’s only a small (yet necessary) part of your day, and the right celebrant will make sure people remember the meaningful parts.

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The Stupid Questions…

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I had a groom ring me the other evening and he was very apologetic about what he referred to as ‘his stupid questions’ (incidentally, and this may surprise some people, at least a third of my initial contact calls are with grooms).

His stupid questions were not stupid.  Let’s face it, many of the people I marry have never been married before.

His questions included;

Who should I book first, the celebrant or the venue? Answer: The venue if it’s one which requires booking.  If it’s at home or at a venue which doesn’t need to be booked, and you have your heart set on a specific celebrant, then check their availability first.

Who does the paperwork?  Answer: The Notice of Intended Marriage is a joint effort (the initial document completed by law to your celebrant), but your celebrant will provide guidance on what you need to fill in when.

Do you decorate the ceremony area? Answer: Sadly, no.  I have access to my own supply of lovely things, but they aren’t necessarily your taste in lovely things, so therefore decoration of the ceremony space needs to be arranged by you.

Do you stay for the reception?  Answer: No, I don’t.  It’s really kind when people ask me and I’m always up for staying for a congratulatory glass of something and a photo with the couple.

Can you help me write my vows? Answer: Yes, I can help.  I can’t write them for you, as they are your words, coming from your heart, but I can give guidance and read over them to offer suggestions.

Now, none of the above questions are stupid, are they?  I mean, how many times in your life do you get to organise a wedding (maybe once, or even twice, or if you’re Elizabeth Taylor, eight times)?  So please, please, please, feel free to ask me anything and never worry that you’re going to sound stupid.  You won’t, you’re not, and I’m here to help you navigate a whole new experience.

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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

Ideas to Revolutionise Your Wedding Reading

Ideas to Revolutionise Your Wedding Reading

Wedding readings.  Boy oh boy, readings can be hard work for both the reader and the audience.  I think we’ve all been there.    Friend/Brother/Sister/Auntie/Uncle/etc come up to a reading, and they stumble through the words, making it very uncomfortable for them and everyone else.

So, in the hope of saving both readers and guests from an uncomfortable situation, here are seven ideas which may help you in your search for an appropriate reading.

Get Them To Choose

Ask your readers to choose the reading themselves, and to keep it a surprise from everyone. People really rise to this challenge, and I’ve worked with many readers who have come up with surprising and amazing ideas – poems or extracts which are very unusual and personal.

Say a Song

Choose the words to a favourite or meaningful song. It’s a great moment when people ‘click’ that they recognise the words. It usually takes a few lines, and always evokes a smile.

Don’t Google ‘Readings’

When using the internet to search for readings, rather than typing in ‘wedding readings’ – which will result in an overwhelming abundance of readings type in words which are more specific as to your interest eg: ‘poem dog love’, ‘lyrics love travel’ or ‘funny poem dance couple’.

Love Notes

Share the content of a letter. It could be a love letter between the bride and groom, or the parents/grandparents of one of the party.  I conducted a ceremony where a letter written by the groom to the British Home Office was read by the best man requesting them to process his visa application so he could be with his bride-to-be. I think a little creative licence was used in the re-reading of the letter, but it had many guests in (good) tears.

Be Resourceful

Be resourceful. I conducted a wedding where the couple had come from the same town but had both moved away as adults and met via internet dating.  They had never met when living in the same town but Sarah’s mother, who had passed away some years prior, had taught Jack.  Jack’s reader, Adam, started ‘I know that Sarah’s Mum would have loved Jack.  In fact let’s hear what she has to say about him …’ It transpired that Adam had asked Jack’s parents whether they still had any of his school reports, which they did.  One of the reports had been written by Sarah’s mother, and Adam read out her synopsis of Jack’s behaviour and aptitude in her class.

Kid You Not

If you have children, ask them to collectively deliver a reading. I had a couple marry who between them had seven children aged from 2 to 16 years.  The children wrote their own poem to read, two lines each, with the older children supporting the younger.  As it was held in the family home, even the dog came up on the stage.

Truly Original

If you have chosen creative readers who enjoy writing, you could ask if they would write or say something bespoke for you.  I’ve had readers deliver a poem, a passage, or some wise-words about marriage, written especially for the couple… it’s almost like a gift they can give to you for you to keep thereafter.

Flash Mob Styley 1

If you want to get some other guests involved with the wedding reading, why not do a flash mob style one. The way to do this is to print off the reading you want to do, and hand them out discretely to all the guests when you arrive.

On the paper will be a reading broken down into groups. For example, the lead reader will read the first paragraph. On the second paragraph, everyone who has known the bride or groom all their life will stand up and read this paragraph. On the third paragraph, everyone who has known them for 20+ years will join in. Fourth, everyone who has known them for 10+ years will join in. Fifth, everyone else will join in.

Flash Mob Styley 2

In this version, the reader says the first line of their ‘reading’ which is, in fact, a song. They will then sing the second line. The third line one guest will join in. Fourth line another guest. And so on. I did this with a couple and there were eight singers, with myself included. I sure ain’t no Pavarotti but it truly was delivered with gusto and was a great surprise for the couple who were both musical theater lovers.

You can read about this here.

Sing a Song

If you have friends or family who are musically blessed, you might want to take advantage of their talents. I did a wedding where a friend of the bride and groom performed ‘You’re the One That I Want’ from Grease, slowed down, a cappella, in a room with incredible acoustics.  It was barely recognisable, but so very beautiful and moving.  Not a dry eye in the house…

I got chills

They’re multiplying

And I’m losing control

‘Cause the power you’re supplying

It’s electrifying

Happy planning.

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roxy@roxyrocks.com