How to Choose a Celebrant

How to Choose a Celebrant

How do you choose a marriage celebrant. And, what qualities would you look for in a five star celebrant?

Here is a guide to help you choose.

1 or a 5 Diamond Celebrant?

There are no published standards of performance criteria for Celebrants.

However …Dally Messenger, one of Australia’s first celebrants and author of several valuable celebrant texts, wrote the following as a guideline when considering your choice of celebrant:

The No diamond celebrant.

He/she only has a legal view of marriage. The ceremony is not very important. Ceremonies are very short (2-3 minutes). Talks about the law and the forms he has to fill in. — very cheap. Not worth anything really. You’d have to be desperate to book one of these, but, unfortunately, there are plenty of these around.

The One diamond celebrant.

A little bit more humane. Has been known to smile. Does not give clients a real choice (pretends to). Dismisses rehearsals as unnecessary – “waste of your time and mine”. May have one small verse of poetry in a ceremony. Really loves people who say they want something “short and informal” or who start off by saying – “How much do you charge for a wedding?” Many of these are good salesmen and have enough personality to convince you that being one of six weddings in a weekend is fine. When he /she arrives late and dashes out in a mad hurry once the ceremony is over, you become sorry that you hired a cheapie, but then it is too late. There is only one bite at this cherry.

The Two Diamond Celebrant.

Some of my best friends are two diamond celebrants and in certain suburbs they are very popular. They give people a choice (limited). They give a rehearsal of sorts in their lounge room in a quick sort of way. Often they are full of jokes and reassuring banter. They are reasonably interested in the job, but think in terms of numbers i.e how many marriages can they get through in a weekend. If you are not very interested in your wedding ceremony, they are probably good value.

The Three Diamond Celebrant.

They basically have the same mentality as the Two Diamond but provide a better service because they have a PA System. This means that guests hear all the words of the ceremony – a big plus even if the readers are too fast. Music is given some attention but these celebrants do not consider the music to be their responsibility. But you are given a fair choice of ceremony, and a reasonable amount of attention. This celebrant does two or three each weekend.

The Four Diamond Celebrant.

You are now among the professionals. This person has gained qualifications. They take responsibility for all aspects of the ceremony. You have a full choice of ceremony. You get resources and suggestions. There is a productive dialogue about all aspects of your ceremony. They have the attitude that they don’t know it all, and learn something new every ceremony. The onsite rehearsal (unhurried) is a must. Attention is given to readers and slowing them down and making sure they practise. Liaises with musicians and photographers. Musicians are organised close to the wedding party. If CD music is the go, they make sure that a decent CD player with good sound quality is organised. The personal story and the introductions to the readings are well written and personal. You get the full eleven point standard wedding done well. The celebrant is well equipped with good quality PA system. He/ she is impeccably and appropriately dressed. Would never dream of doing more than two weddings in a weekend – but usually one. She makes you feel (and can make you feel) that yours is the most important wedding ever.

The Five Diamond Celebrant.

This is getting hard now. This is about being everything the 4 Diamond status requires. But it is also about being an incurable romantic and loving the job. It is about extra attention to that level of detail, which makes all the difference. It is about the X factor, natural flair, ceremonial skills, sense of humour, sense of dramatic pause. It is about personality AND skill. It’s about beauty in creative writing for speaking, and yes, it is about education – a deep and wide knowledge of what to suggest to you about poetry, music, choreography, ritual and symbolism. Fee? This celebrant is priceless.

A Final note

PS. Some celebrants are good at friendly personality, some are good at marketing, the one you are after may have these qualities – but the one you want should be good at ceremony. A bit like choosing a doctor – the good bedside manner or the one who is expert at diagnosis and operating. It is good if you can find both.

Dally Messenger

International College of Celebrancy

Contact Kari for a 5 diamond celebrant service with care and attention to details, but more importantly for nurturing you towards the best possible ceremony for you.

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the end of love

A Wedding dance like no other

This wedding put a smile on every face, and finished with spontaneous dancing, a special kind of wedding dance in the temple!  It was exhilarating and heartwarming, deep and loving,……….and so much fun!

Congratulations to Tracy and Oliver on your perfect wedding held at Awakening Centre in Maleny, on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. And a huge thank you to Marion Jonkers Photography for the images.

Wedding in the temple

It began outside the temple.  Tracy floated down the wooden steps in a sheer and softly falling wedding dress, with her Mum and her Dad, to the sounds of American Indian drumming.

 

Andy and Laurel, the owners of the Awakening Centre, greeted her at the foot of the stairs and the three passed through drummed music, a musical cleansing, on the journey to her groom, Oliver.  He waited patiently with all the guests on the sandstone paving…with an enormous grin on his face.

Bride and Groom had a moment to greet each other.  Celebrant, Kari welcomed the bride’s family reminiscent of village weddings in times gone by.  All the guests were invited to shed their shoes and enter the bright airy temple in the round with huge glass windows onto the rainforest backdrop.

Tracy and Oliver waited outside to enjoy a tiny moment’s space before their ceremony.  Gently the sounds of the crystal singing bowls lifted up, swam around the space and wafted out to call the bride and groom into the temple space.  They floated in on the strains of pure sound.

And thus a wedding ceremony began, in absolute pure happiness.  We did not imagine the wedding dance to come.

 

wedding in the temple

Handfasting vows

Tracy and Oliver chose a handfasting to make their promises to each other. In a modern interpretation of a traditional ritual, we crafted promises into a series of questions.  It was so easy for them to simply respond “I will”.  At the finalé, they added their special messages to each other.  Oliver began, “You are my puzzle, my world, my best friend,”  referring to the pieces of a jigsaw, just like his interlocking puzzle wedding ring.  Tracy, in turn told him, ” You are my life partner, my soul mate, my lover, my best friend. ”

A song for the signing

As the papers were signed, Andy Copeman sang one of the most beautiful love songs I know, written by Ewan MacColl for his future wife Peggy Seeger.  Andy interspersed the verses with a Sufi poem.  It was simply divine

Dance me to the end of love

The first time I ever saw your face

The first time ever I saw your face

I thought the sun rose in your eyes

And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave

To the dark and the endless skies

 

…….And the first time ever I lay with you

I felt your heart so close to mine

And I knew our joy would fill the earth

And last till the end of time my love

And a spontaneous wedding dance

At the completion of the ceremony and signing, Andy chimed in with “Lay lay, lay lay…” and Leonard Cohen’s endlessly evocative song, Dance Me to the End of Love.

The guests, on a true high spontaneously joined hands and danced in a circle…to the end of love!

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
…….
Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love
Spontaneous dancing after a wedding ceremony

In their words

This is what Tracy and Oliver said:

“We cannot recommend Kari highly enough. Her beautiful spirit and energy and complete professionalism, together with her attention to detail, made our wedding day perfect. We had a small wedding, and we wanted a ceremony that spoke to who we are, far from traditional. We were not very specific in our first meeting with Kari, we came up with very conceptual ideas and Kari turned them into reality, and made them more beautiful than we could have imagined. Kari is able to read and understand a couple extremely well and is a truly beautiful person, and we cannot thank her enough for her part in making our day stress free and truly magical.” Oliver & Tracy

And then there was drinks on the veranda accompanied by the most original platters of food decorations I have ever seen.  And of course these were made with love by Tracy’s food loving parents.  Yes lots of love was there that day.

So Dance me to the end of love, I say.  Just dance me.

Once again, thank you to Marion Jonkers Photography for the images. And to Andy and Laurel at Awakening Centre.

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A French wedding on the beach

A French wedding on the beach

French Wedding in Australia

Aurélie and John are adventurers, so of course they chose a wedding ceremony on a wild Australian beach, with French attitude.  It was the ultimate French Australian wedding on the beach!!

Married on the beach

The clouds and rain in the morning worried us a little.  However the bold Australian sun came out, the clouds cleared away, and the sky became a brilliant blue for their wedding on the beach.
It was not your usual French wedding for sure.  It was not the standard Australian beach wedding either.  It was a combination of who Aurelie and John are, and the adventure they embrace in marriage.

Their ceremony was designed just for them, with fun French traditions, relaxed Australian vibe, and became quite an experience for the French family.  Weddings in France are quite different.

french wedding on the beach, combining Australian relaxed and French attitude

Touches of French

Aurélie is French and John is Australian, so they embraced a bilingual wedding ceremony.  They chose a sublime combination of French poetry for their French wedding ceremony and bare foot in the sand on Mudjimba Beach, on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland for that authentic Australian touch.

During their ceremony, Aurélie and John embraced a French celebratory tradition.  Imagine the crossroads of fragrant roses and bubbles of champagne.  For details on that tradition read this story on Rose de Reims and Champagne

Aurélies’ family and indeed two of her bridesmaids had come over from France only weeks before the beach wedding. To help them feel very welcome and quite at home, the entire ceremony was conducted in both English and in French.  This is something I can do for you too.  Ceremonies n French or tapping into some French cultural traditions is a specialty for my celebrant services.

Check out the story in these awesome photos by Luke Middlemiss.

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And here we leave them, enjoying their reception in the Tipis at Twin Waters Resort.

Thanks and credits to:

Luke Middlemiss for the generous use of his awesome photographs.  Luke is a champion photographer, capturing all the great moments.

Heavenly Blooms for the truly heavenly flowers.  I loved the flower crowns, which worked so well in the beach breeze.

Blush weddings and Events for the styling. Elisha and her team were troopers carrying the decor down the beach, and creating a magical wedding ceremonial place.

The Stylist Collective helped create  Aurelie and the girls’ blushingly beautiful  hair and make-up.

Twin Waters for the beautiful tipis at reception held on the sand by the pond

Fields of Love

Fields of Love

Fields of love

Congratulations to newly weds, Anna and Jon, wed on a stunning day at the Maroochy Bushland Botanic Gardens.  Their wedding was a true love story, simply full of love and care.  Anna and Jon chose to wed, almost exactly five years from their first date. Five years and one day to be precise!  The photos by Luke Going tell the tale of their wedding day.

Today’s story is about married names.  Anna and Jon came up with a new solution to the traditional bride’s change of name…. they considered how much love abounded in their family union; bucket loads, fields in fact… fields of love.

But allow me to first set the scene for a wedding….

a married couple walk down the grassy aisle under a shower of petals

The Wedding location

The Maroochy Bushland Botanic Gardens are one of the most delightful natural places for a wedding on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. It’s not quite a set of fields…. However, natural bush is all around, yet there are sculpted gardens for ceremony locations.  A glade of stone sculptures is divine for a wedding backdrop.  The grassy areas are perfect for a wedding picnic or for wedding photos.  During the wedding ceremony there is no traffic or humdrum noise, but simply the sounds of the bush surrounding you.  It is an exquisite retreat from life for a special occasion.  On a more practical level, there is plenty of car parking, amenities and access to a pavilion for wet weather options.

Focus on Love

A great deal of thought and love and attention to detail goes into every wedding day.  Anna and Jon focused on love, as the defining theme around which all the details were designed. It was a joy to witness their attention to the details of how each special guest would feel, and how their role in the day could be made perfect.  Every family member was considered, thought was given to each child or friend and what to do to make them feel comfortable with the wedding day and the combining of two people’s lives in marriage.  Extra special consideration was given to Jon’s daughter; how to make sure she felt comfortable with the marriage of her Dad to Anna.  Standing beside her Dad, she was proud to be the official “groomsmaid”.     Bless these two for their deep thought and care for others on their wedding day.

Weddings are often about more than two people; bringing two or more families together, a community of friends and a wider circle of acquaintances and colleagues.  The way these two negotiated the path towards their wedding day was a delight to behold.  For example, hanging in the trees, a string of bunting created from photos of loved ones who could not be there.  Consider the role of a daughter, the groomsmaid, who strolled with the gals, then stood by her Dad’s side.

Fields of love

It is a western tradition for a bride to celebrate her marriage, by taking a new name, the surname of her husband.  And the law gives modern brides a few options for how she can negotiate this tradition.  Ask me how.

In fact, it is a tradition of many cultures to celebrate many of life’s milestones with a new name, not just in marriage.

On their wedding day both Anna and Jon, chose to celebrate their union by both taking a new surname, in a kind of acknowledgement of equality and indeed in celebration of a new beginning together, and a new future to plan.

The name they chose?  Fields; fields of love, fields of natural beauty, fields of possibilities stretching out before them.  Congratulations Mr and Mrs Fields, you are a great example to us all.

As a marriage celebrant I can guide you through the minefield of name changes and give you the options… plus an extra something to make it even easier.  To follow in Anna and Jon’s footsteps, there is an easy way, if you organise for it early in the wedding planning.  Ask me how.

And they said:

Thank you Kari, for the most beautiful ceremony!  You were there for us every step of the way – providing guidance with a warmth, depth and spirituality that fit with us perfectly.  We could not have asked for more  …  Jon & Anna Fields xo

Thank you to photographer Luke Going for the story in pictures.  He manages to capture the details of the wedding story, in a natural non intrusive fashion.

Here is a glimpse:

Bride getting ready and pitting on her shoes

finger prints on a tree for a wedding memory

photos hanging on a string under the wedding tree

petals-in-the-aisle

bride-arrives

Bridal party arriving at the fields of love

annajon3

 

Kari conducts a wedding ceremonythe-couple-under-the-arch

Kari conducts the wedding ceremonya couple walk away under a shower of confetti<a
bride leading her bridesmaids down the aisle
annajonlove

annajonin-the-tunnel

annajonlove2

first-dance

Marry Your Best Friend

Marry Your Best Friend

Who to marry?

Or at least make your marriage the best friendship you can muster.

There are many quotes on marriage and friendship.  And often I hear a couple say, I am marrying my best friend.
In this blog, I gift some quotes that describe some aspects of friendship and marriage.

It is unclear who wrote this piece. It has been attributed to different authors including anonymous…. but the message is sweet.

Marry your best friend

“Marry your best friend. I do not say that lightly.
Really, truly find the strongest, happiest friendship in the person you fall in love with.
Someone who speaks highly of you. Someone you can laugh with. The kind of laughs that make your belly ache, and your nose snort. The embarrassing, earnest, healing kind of laughs.
Wit is important. Life is too short not to love someone who lets you be a fool with them.
Make sure they are somebody who lets you cry, too. Despair will come. Find someone that you want to be there with you through those times.
Most importantly, marry the one that makes passion, love, and madness combine and course through you.
A love that will never dilute – even when the waters get deep, and dark.”

 

Or as the inimitable writer Neil Gaiman, penned for his friends, Sxip and Coco on their wedding day:

This is everything I have to tell you about love: nothing.
This is everything I’ve learned about marriage: nothing.
Only that the world out there is complicated,
and there are beasts in the night, and delight and pain,
and the only thing that makes it okay, sometimes,
is to reach out a hand in the darkness and find another hand to squeeze,
and not to be alone.
It’s not the kisses, or never just the kisses: it’s what they mean.
Somebody’s got your back.
Somebody knows your worst self and somehow doesn’t want to rescue you
or send for the army to rescue them.
It’s not two broken halves becoming one.
It’s the light from a distant lighthouse bringing you both safely home
because home is wherever you are both together.
So this is everything I have to tell you about love and marriage: nothing,
like a book without pages or a forest without trees.
Because there are things you cannot know before you experience them.
Because no study can prepare you for the joys or the trials.
Because nobody else’s love, nobody else’s marriage, is like yours,
and it’s a road you can only learn by walking it,
a dance you cannot be taught,
a song that did not exist before you began, together, to sing.
And because in the darkness you will reach out a hand,
not knowing for certain if someone else is even there.
And your hands will meet, 
and then neither of you will ever need to be alone again.

And that’s all I know about love.
Wedding vows to children

Wedding vows to children

Weddingvowstochildren_1

Wedding promises to your children.

Allow me to give you a glimpse of the story of Shireen and Aaron who wed at the beautiful and elegant Spicers Clovely Estate. Their wedding was a very classy occasion. 

However it was also clearly a family affair, including promises to the kids.

A family affair

When I met Shireen and Aaron, it was evident that love for their kids was paramount.  In fact the kids came with them to their wedding appointment with me; gorgeous kids, with a sweet attitude, and calm demeanour.  They played on the veranda daybed while we arranged the wedding ceremony for Aaron and Shireen.

More than wedding vows

This wedding had to be about family as much as it was about two people. Their kids are darlings. It was clear how much love and care they have in their family surroundings.  The family unit is the most important part of Aaron and Shireen’s lives. Part of the aim of this wedding was to unite the  family in name as well as heart.  Designing their wedding ceremony had to include the kids as a really important part of the day.  

Of course they were part of the bridal party, as page boy and flower girl.  They walked down the aisle hand in hand, dressed to perfection, and stole the show… at least from the photographers point of view.  They stole our hearts.

When designing the ceremony, we needed to include something more poignant than appearances as well.

 

Creating Wedding Vows

In the meeting we discussed the meaning and reasons behind wedding vows.  Wedding vows are said from one partner to the other. These wedding vows are often humble and generous promises for future, for commitment and personal endeavour.  They reflect an endeavour to strive for a positive outcome no matter what.  In the case of Shireen and Aaron, it was clear there were other marriage promises in the air.  Their promises to each other seemed to include an unspoken promise to their children.

 

Vows to children

The more we talked about it, the more it seemed appropriate to make this unspoken promise an outward and public promise.  As a symbol of family unity and a commitment to the nurturing of these children, they chose to make a public wedding vow to their son and daughter.

Darlings, we just want you to know that we love you dearly.  

Part of this ceremony today is a promise to you,

that we will always love you,

always care for you,

and always be willing to listen and be present for you.  


Together we will go forward, united in same name as the “Amour” family.

A family story

Their wedding was truly sublime.  A family affair from morning to night.

Thanks to Taylah of Tay and Francis for the stunning images of this wedding at Clovelly Estate.