Starting the Fun Before the Ceremony Has Begun

Things for Guests To Do

Starting the fun before the ceremony has begun… you see, your guests experience of your wedding ceremony will start from the moment they arrive. So why not think of ways to make this enjoyable and comfortable for them right from the get-go.

I arrive at the wedding ceremonies about an hour before the start time, and occasionally a guest will be there before me.  I’ve worked out that when guests are unfamiliar with the ceremony venue, they often arrive extra early, just to make sure they’re on time.

The ideas below are also a great way of getting your guests talking and mingling, ensuring that by the time the ceremony starts, they’re already feeling relaxed.

Ring Warming

Have your wedding bands on display, with a sign explaining that you’d love them to place these in their hands and put their best wishes, love, blessing, or whatever feels right, which you can then carry with you within your rings.

Alternative Guest Books

Traditional couples would set up a guest book at their reception for all to sign. However, once people start partying, they’re likely to forget to sign it. So why not get it set up and started before the ceremony whilst guests are still mingling?

However, if I’m completely honest, I think guests books can be a little bit surplus to needs. Let’s face it, how often are you going to look at it post wedding?

Whereas, a piece of art or something ornamental that your guests have produced… well that is going to give you the post-wedding feels for some time to come.

Love heart-Art

You don’t need to be a Van Gogh or a De Vinci to produce a love-heart background on a canvas for your guests to sign.  Alternatively, you can purchase these little hearts from craft shops and get your guests to sign each one, displaying them in a box frame afterwards.

SILHOUETTE ELEGANZA

For those whose artistic skills are a little bit more advanced, then these silhouettes can be a fun idea.  You could also try copying the basic shape below by magnifying the picture, printing, then tracing onto tracing paper (remember when we learnt to do this at school?) onto a canvas, outlining this in pencil before painting.

GIVE Me An ‘H’, GIVE ME A ‘S’…

You can purchase initials for your guests to sign, or, if you (or one of your family members) are handy with a jigsaw, give this a whirl yourself.  Depending on the type of materials you use, you could then hang these up in your home, or have hanging from a garden wall.

Finger Print Prints

Why not get tactile, and ask your guests to ink their paws to make a communal piece of art. There’s numerous companies that can provide you with a backdrop, and all you need to do is provide the ink pads (and wipes to clean mucky fingers!).

Graffiti It Up

Get your guests to let out their inner Banksie.  You can either buy a brick-wall backdrop which guests can add graffiti and later have photos taken in front of, or provide a canvas with your initials or name, and then guests sign it.

Ask for Advice

Whether your guests are married or not, everyone has an opinion on what makes a good relationship.  So why not ask for their advice – whether it’s silly or serious, it’s bound to make good reading.

If you have any great ideas for keeping your guests entertained before the ceremony starts, please feel free to share with me.

And don’t forget, if it’s a sunny day, make sure your guests are comfortable whilst they wait by reading my hints here.

Roxy Hotten Celebrant

roxy@roxyrocks.com

0478041227

Wine, wine, and more wine

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

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

Ceremonies at a Winery

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

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

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

Wine Ceremony

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

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

Toast During the Ceremony

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

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

Wine-Related Decorations

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

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

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

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

Cork placement holders, available from here

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

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

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

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

And Finally…

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

Roxy Hotten Celebrant

Two Of My Favourite Things: Dogs and Weddings (Part Two)

Dogs and Weddings

Hopefully you had a chance to read Part One of this blog, which was basically a love story between my handsome dog, Valentine McFarty, and Mr HB and I.

As promised in that post, I wanted to provide some ideas on ways you can include your dog in your wedding ceremony.

To Have, Or Not To Have

What’s that saying? Never work with children or animals… Well, I’ve worked with both, many times, and never once have I found it a major problem.  Yes, even the best trained animal can be unpredictable, and if you’re looking for a ceremony which runs as smoothly as Kate and Wills, then it’s probably not such a good idea to have your four legged friend involved.  However, if you are comfortable with the thought of your dog (or any other animal!) going off script then I think they can make such a wonderful asset to your ceremony.

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http://snapweddings.ca/

Getting Your Dog Involved Prior to the Ceremony

Getting your pet involved in your engagement shoot or save the date photos can result in beautifully unique pictures.  You can also include your dog in your wedding invitation – Etsy.com has lots of creative artists who can help you with this idea.

During the Ceremony

Having your furry friend as a bridesmaid, grooms man or flower girl can be a lovely addition.  

There’s some great ways to include your pooch as your ring bearer.  Not sure if my Valentine McFarty is well trained enough to carry the basket in his mouth like the dog below, but there’s other, perhaps safer, options available too.

I recently conducted a wedding where their dog, Ernie, was a big part of the day.   He was there at all my consultations with the couple, he was mentioned during the ceremony, he escorted the groom’s party on arrival, and walked both bride and groom down the aisle.  One of their friend’s made a fingerprint tree with Ernie sitting underneath.  Ernie is very much part of their lives, and therefore very much part of their wedding.  I ‘heart’ Ernie…

During the Reception

Even if your furry friend isn’t at the reception, there’s still ways you can acknowledge them.

What about having you, your partner, and your pet on your cake topper?

I went to a wedding once where Valentine, and other doggies were invited for the ceremony and the reception.  If you’re doing the same, what about some wedding favours for your furry friends?

Fingerprint trees are very popular at the moment, and a great way of having a keepsake of all your guests.  Why not include your dog in the print, or do the fingerprint dog in purple below.  Or, if you’re really adventurous, what about a paw print from your pooch?

Pet Assistants

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.

Love Animals, but are Animal-less?

If you don’t own an animal, but are an animal lover there’s still ways you can show your love for our furry/feathered friends. How about hiring some Alpacas from our wonderful friends at Alpaca Pooch – these lovely, friendly, super cute animals make a great addition to any celebration.  Other ideas include a dove release from White Wings Dove Service or an owl delivering your rings (Raptor Vision).

And Finally…

If you decide against having your dog or pet at your wedding, I have some wording I can use which will give you and your guests a giggle and will acknowledge your pet within the ceremony.  Please don’t hesitate to ask me about this.

Contact me at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478041227. Or you can fill in the contact form here.

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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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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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I don’t suppose you’re available…?

A lot of the time when people ring or email me about my availability, they start off with ‘I don’t suppose you’re available on the xxxxxx date?’

Having come from England where celebrants are rare, and people that use them even rarer, the thought that I now work in a field which is super competitive and saturated with celebrants was at first a bit of a novelty to me  However, I’ve been lucky, and my business in Australia has exceeded my expectations.

I’m still new in the scene though.  I only really started advertising in Australia three months ago, and despite working for five years as a celebrant in London, I’m considered a ‘newby’ in this field.  Therefore I have availability where others who have been around for a lot longer may not. I have some months already fully booked (for example, April 2017 only has one day still available), whereas March 2017 currently has nil.

My tip to get the celebrant on the date you want? Prioritize booking them as early as possible, ideally as soon as you’ve got your date locked in.

And don’t hesitate to contact me to check out whether I’m free on your chosen date.  It’s no-obligation!

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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 two

Many of you told me how much you enjoyed reading part one of my most surprising wedding moment, so here is part two.

In London I was working with these two fantastic guys whom I met at the Gay Wedding Show where I had exhibited to promote my celebrant services.  They were having their wedding at the gorgeous Mayfair Hotel.  The ceremony was taking place in the private theater within the hotel and they were keen to make the most of grand space.

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We worked together to develop some surprise moments which started with the ceremony showing a film of them both, miming to Perfect Day by Lou Reed.  The film had them in the shower, within a field of flowers, driving along a country road, sitting on their sofa… basically hamming it up like proper stars.

They then walked down the aisle to their 150 friends to much applause and the ceremony continued with a real mix of tenderness, genuine laughter, and tears of emotion.  And, as I announced them husbands, there was further applause and then… one of the ‘guests’ stood up and started singing…

‘I’m comin’ up so you better get this party started…’

The ‘guest’ was actually a professional singer, chosen by the guys for her powerful voice which surprised every guest in the room.  And just when it couldn’t get any more surprising, the doors swung open and in walked a bunch of drag queens and dancing girls, filling the theater with sequins, feathers and much entertainment.

It was a great ceremony – very theatrical and fitting for the space they had married in, and suited their personalities to a T.  I was thrilled to be a part of it.

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