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

How To Sign The Register

Register Sign

How to sign the register?  Are you confused as to whether it should be your married name?

The answer is ‘no’ – you sign your name in your current signature. Getting married doesn’t automatically change your last name; after all, some couples choose not to do so.

Your name change can happen once you start to get identification in this name. The process is:

1) After your married your celebrant will send your paperwork to Births, Deaths and Marriages in the State where you were married
2) Once this has been registered by the Births, Deaths and Marriage in that State, you can then apply for your marriage certificate which can be used as evidence that you are now legally married
3) You can then begin applying for documents which you can use as ID, such as your passport and drivers licence with your new name

Simples! For a comprehensive list of people to contact regarding name change, please see link here: Super-Handy Name-Change Check-List

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about this or anything else.

Handy links:
Drivers Licence Name Change in QLD

Passport Application for Name Change

Photo: This is Life Photography

Booking Your Celebrant – How Far in Advance?

Booking your celebrant – how far in advance should you do this?

You’ve got engaged (whoo-hoo congratulations!) and you’ve told your friends and family.  Now for the planning… venue, photographer, caterer, florist, transport, invitations… oh, and don’t forget your celebrant!

I’m often asked how far in advance I’m booked out?  And at what point in the process should couples start considering who they want as their celebrant? Below are some tips to consider:

  1. It’s worthwhile having a date confirmed when you contact celebrants, unless you’re completely flexible and want to work around a celebrant’s availability
  2. I suggest booking your celebrant as soon as you can after your venue is booked
  3. Saturdays are the most popular days for celebrants, and are often booked out 18 months (or more) in advance.  The next most popular days that I conduct weddings are Fridays, followed closely by Sundays.
  4. Certain months in Brisbane, SEQ, Northern NSW tend to be more popular than others.  For example, I find December and January tend to be quieter than April, August, September and October, so therefore I will have more availability for these months.
  5. When you contact celebrants via email, it is worth being specific about the date, time and location of your wedding.  Whenever I’m contacted with these three pieces of specific information I can inform them straight as to my availability.

Please do not hesitate to contact me regarding my availability for your special day.  You can either email me at roxy@roxyrocks.com or ring me on 0478 041227.  Alternatively you can fill in this contact form.

Roxy Hotten Celebrant

Thinking of eloping? Read my handy top tip guide to get you on track.

Thinking of eloping?  Whether you want to do so to save money, to negate the ‘inviting the masses’ issue, or you just want a really intimate commitment with only you and your witnesses then I’m able to help you with your elopement ceremony, ensuring it meets all your needs.

As a starter, I’ve produced some guidance on how to organise the perfect elopement:

  1.  Submit your completed notice-of-intended-marriage at least one calendar month prior to your elopement date with your celebrant.  Unless there is a reason which falls under the exceptional circumstances (please ask me for more advice on these), you will need to  lodge this at least one calendar month before your chosen date to get married.
  2. Think about what kind of elopement you want.
    • Do you want super-intimate with only two witnesses or something with a small, intimate group of family and/or friends?
    • If you do want to invite guests, do you want them to be aware that you are eloping, or do you want to invite them under a different guise?
    • Do you want to include personalised vows in the ceremony?
    • Do you want any readings included?  Would you like any of your guests to say something during the ceremony?
    • Do you want your elopement to be captured by a professional photographer and/or videographer to then share with others at a later date?
  3. Decide where you would like to hold your elopement ceremony.  I have conducted elopements:
    • at parks (depending on your type of elopement, it’s worth checking first to see if you need any kind of permit for that particular park)
    • on beaches, including those on both the Gold and Sunshine Coasts
    • in a coffee shop (with the bride and groom in shorts and thongs)
    • at the home of a couple, just before they were to fly off for a trip of a lifetime
    • at a small family 30th birthday party which turned into a surprise elopement
  4. How are you going to share the news with your family and friends after the elopement?  It must seem an odd question to ask, but quite often couples elope, and then spend days, weeks, even months, before they share the news because, well… basically they’re not sure how to do so!  It’s worth having a think about this beforehand; are there those whom you want to tell first face to face, or are you happy to make an announcement on social media?

Please do not hesitate to contact me about elopements – I have a real sense of adventure and love surprises, so am more than happy to get fully on board to make your elopement totally right for you.

“Thank you foKellDr your wonderful assistance on our surprise evening… even your commitment to your backstory so my family wouldn’t guess you were a celebrant. Thanks for fitting in with our very simple, kinda last minute decision and making it super chilled with was just perfect for us.” Kellee and Ben (left)

 

 

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www.roxyrocks.com

 

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), 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. I have a few standard options which can be tweaked to make them feel right for you
  3. 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 roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478041227.

Roxy signature

Parentzillas – when good parents turn bad

Parents: love ’em… but….

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.

When Money Is Involved

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.

How to Battle Criticism

If they are critical of your choices, enforce 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. Guaranteed by the time the ceremony starts they’ll relax and enjoy the whole day.

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. And please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any advice about how to include your parent in your ceremony at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478041227

Roxy signature

Finding a Wedding Venue which Wows.

As you probably know if you’ve read any of my other posts, I love my job (love, love, loooooove it).  And I love it for a million reasons, but one of the really exciting parts is I get to visit so many venues.

If you google ‘wedding venue – Brisbane’ or the like, it can be pretty daunting.  There are so many beautiful venues on the market, so where do you start?

My tips are the following:

  1. Close your eyes and think of your ceremony. What’s the first vision that comes to mind?  Is it the beach, a hall, a hotel, a church, a rain-forest, a restaurant, a hot air balloon, underwater?!  Trust your gut, and go with it.
  2. Is there anywhere which has a special significance for you both?  For example, I’ve held weddings where the couple had their first date, or in a school playground where the bride’s father, who had sadly passed, had been the Principal.
  3. Do you want the ceremony and reception in the one place?  There are pros and cons for both, and you can access a wider variety of options for the ceremony if you then move on elsewhere for the reception.
  4. Think about how much effort you are prepared to make.  If you’re happy to organise chairs, tables, decorations etc then the world will be your oyster, but if you want to make it easy on yourself, consider a venue that offers this type of support, or look at pop-up wedding companies.
  5. Do you, or a friend/family member, live in a house that you love?  If so, could it cope with the amount of guests you want to invite – are there enough toilets, is the kitchen big enough for caterers, if it rains is there room indoors, etc?
  6. Don’t search for ‘wedding venues’, search for ‘hinterland camping’ or ‘cool bars’ or ‘community halls’ – omit the word ‘wedding’ and you will find options that are less obvious.

You’ll know when you find ‘the one’ and it’s a very exciting feeling when it happens. Good luck with your search, and please feel free to talk to me to discuss your celebrant requirements.  You can contact me at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478041227.

Roxy signature

 

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
    • Early on, I advertised in a number of places 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

Roxy signature

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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Mums and Dads – 8 ways to include them in your ceremony

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www.mildavasile.com

Mums and Dads – quite often the second most excited people about your ceremony (after you, of course…!). Traditionally the father of the bride would get his moment, but the poor Mums would barely be acknowledged. So, if you are looking of ways to include your Mum and/or your Dad in your ceremony?  If so, below are some great ways to show them how important they are in your life by having them involved in your special day.

  1. Traditionally, the father would walk his daughter down the aisle and ‘give her away’ to her husband to be.  However, it’s worth thinking about other ways of doing this; including both Mum and Dad walking down with the daughter, the groom entering the ceremonial area with his mother and the brides mother, or having the parents walk in together once all the guests are seated, but just prior to the bridal party.
  2. Have your parents do a reading – either the two Mums or Dads together.  It’s a nice way for them to get to know each other a bit better if they didn’t before, and gives them a bonding moment to always remember.
  3. Include a ring blessing prior to the ceremony and ask the parents to announce and explain the blessing.
  4. Ask the parents to be witnesses to the signing of the documentation.
  5. Give your parents corsages with flowers which have special significance and ask your celebrant to mention this, eg ‘Martha and Chris’s mothers are wearing hydrangeas to symbolise the gratitude they have to their Mums for always understanding them and being a part of their lives’.
  6. If you are incorporating a unity candle ceremony in your wedding, your parents can also be included in lighting this.
  7. Have your Mum and/or Dad act as ring bearers, and bring the wedding rings to you during the ceremony.
  8. Are you parents still together?  If so, ask your celebrant to acknowledge the years they have been married and that they probably know a thing or two about marriage.  You might even want to get your celebrant to find out from them any wise word(s) they may wish to share, and read them out during the ceremony.

For these and more ideas, chat to Roxy at roxy@roxyrocks.com or on 0478 041227.

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Choosing a celebrant, home or away?

Choosing a celebrant…. it can be hard to arrange a wedding from afar, especially if you don’t have friends or family at the location of the event to help you.  So, what are your options for choosing a celebrant?

OPTION ONE: Choose a celebrant close to where you live

Choosing a celebrant close to where you are located gives you the option of establishing a more personal relationship with them.  If you don’t want a ‘stranger’ marrying you, then building this relationship is of course much easier face to face.  It also means that you can meet with a number of celebrants before choosing the right one for you.  Of course, the downside is that there’s an extra cost attached to this as your celebrant will usually charge for their usual price for a ceremony, for travel costs, and sometimes extra towards their travel time as well.

I have done a number of destination weddings, both in Australia, Egypt, Europe and beyond, and I determine my charges according to where the ceremony is located.  I charge my usual price for the ceremony (see www.roxyrocks.com/fees ) and if a flight and hotel are required, I usually charge this cost directly to my clients or, if they prefer, they can arrange on my behalf.

If within a couple of hours drive to Brisbane, I charge for travel costs only (not my time) and everything beyond is negotiable.  I love (love!) travelling, and am fortunate that this job takes me to many countries and places I otherwise wouldn’t visit.  So, where possible I try to keep my costs reasonable to the couple, and in most cases, have been able to come up with a mutually satisfying deal for both of us.

Don’t forget, always seek advice on the marriage laws in the country you are marrying if choosing a destination wedding.

OPTION TWO: Choose a celebrant close to your wedding location

Of course, choosing  a celebrant close to the wedding location has the downside that you might not get to meet them face to face until the rehearsal or the wedding day itself. However, I’ve worked with many couples based overseas or elsewhere in Australia, and thanks to modern technology, feel I’ve still built a rapport with them using Skype, email and/or phone conversations.

The pros of this is that your celebrant may have great insight in to the wedding location than you have, plus there will not be the travel costs incurred from Option One.

“Roxy, thanks again for planning a perfect moment for Dee and I. Even though we were over 3000 mile apart, I had faith you would make our ceremony special. Your prompt responses and flexibility with the logistics put me at ease. You sincerely cared about making our moment magical, which is what makes you great. Sincerity can’t be faked, and you are genuinely sincere. I am very glad I picked you.” Robert, Buffalo, New York State

Let me know if you’d like to have a no-obligation chat about either of the above options. Happy to talk you through the pros and cons further to help you make the best decision for you and your partner.

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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 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 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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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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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