Handfasting wedding ceremonies

Handfasting wedding ceremonies

Handfasting Wedding Rituals

A handfasting wedding ceremony is just one way to say I do.

Handfasting rituals

Since ancient times couples have stood together in the ceremony of marriage. There are many rituals that have lasted centuries, that symbolise a couple’s love and commitment. The handfasting ceremony dates back to the time of the ancient Celts. It was often used to acknowledge the beginning of a trial period of a year and a day during which time a couple were literally bound together – hand fasted. It was, however, a temporary agreement, which could be made permanent after the trial period if both parties agreed.  It is from this wedding tradition that we know of the expression to “tie the knot”, or to “get hitched”.

Handfasting or tie the knot

Nowadays, the handfasting ceremony is used symbolically, as part of the declaration and wedding vows. It is a way of asking your intentions.

Would you like to Tie the Knot?

Today a couple can embrace an age-old marriage tradition, making it your own in a modern day ceremony. In a handfasting wedding ritual, a cord is tied about your hands as you take your vows.

In this handfasting ritual, the couple answer a series of questions. For each question a binding, for each binding a promise.

Once you are all tied up, as your marriage celebrant I can release the cords.  For in fact, it is your promises that bind you not the cords!  But you get to keep the cord … for fun!

Thanks to the wonderful  Luke Going for the beautiful images of this touching moment. His work is unique.

Cate and Dave were married by the lake.  They wanted a relaxed wedding, something a little different, not churchy, but laid back like themselves.  They embraced a Handfasting to express their vows.

How does it work?

Here are some ways to approach a handfasting ceremony.  Of course I am here with many examples at my fingertips, a whole list of vows for you to choose from, and a wealth of creative spirit to write for you.  Let’s mix it up, modernise the sentiments and reference the traditions that you want to hold onto.

Traditional Handfasting vows

handfasting with coloured cords
handfasting ribbons and cords
ribbons for handfasting

The traditional handfasting promises are a series of questions.  They acknowledge that life is not always easy, that relationships sometimes have unintentional outcomes.  But a good intent underlies the love.The classic questions begin like so:

Celebrant to groom: Will you cause her pain?
Groom: I may

Celebrant to groom: Is that your intention?
Groom: No

Celebrant to bride: Will you cause him pain?
Bride: I may

Celebrant to bride: Is that your intention?
Bride: No

Celebrant to both: Will you share each other’s pain and seek to ease it?
Both: Yes

Celebrant to both: Please join your hands.

The first cord is draped across the bride and grooms hands.

Celebrant to bride: Will you share his laughter?
Bride: Yes

Celebrant to groom: Will you share her laughter?
Groom: Yes

Celebrant to both: Will both of you look for the brightness in life and the positive in each other?
Both: Yes

Celebrant: And so the binding is made

Modern handfasting questions

But you can devise modern handfasting promises instead.  Something along the lines of:

Do you vow in your married life together to continually break through your pre-conceived views of each other and see clearly.
Couple: We do

Do you vow to act wisely and compassionately with one another and with all beings.
Couple: We do

In my role as a writer, I can chat with you and then devise a series of questions that suit your very own values and ideals for approaching your relationship.

Romantic Handfastings

Or perhaps you’d prefer something rather romantic.

Will you promise your deepest love, your fullest devotion, your tenderest care, and your faithfulness through the pressures of the present and the uncertainties of the future?

Bruce & Emma: We pledge

Do you promise to be an equal loving partner, in a loving, honest relationship, standing by each other’s side, making a shelter of your heart, a home of your arms, encouraging your partner’s daily endeavours?

Bruce & Emma: We pledge

As you face the future together will you pledge to grow in your love for each other, to nurture the love that already is, honour and cherish each other, being there always?

Bruce & Emma: We pledge 

Handfasting ribbons 

You can get quite creative with the handfasting wedding vow format.  Imagine having a different coloured ribbon for each promise. And each wedding promise sculpted around the meanings of those colours.

Red for passion and love

For example the handfasting could become a statement instead of a question:

I promise to love passionately and unwaveringly with my heart, my body and my soul.

A pink ribbon could symbolise unity, honour, truth, romance, and happiness, with the statement:

I promise you my undying love, honesty and commitment in creating and nourishing our loving equal partnership.

A yellow ribbon would mean charm, confidence, joy, balance

Black could equal strength, wisdom, vision and or success

Green stands for prosperity, health, abundance and fertility

Blue often represents tranquillity, patience, understanding and a safe journey

Of course purple is for power, healing, sanctity and sentimentality.

Wedding Handfasting vows
coloured ribbons for handfasting

Contact me now to chat about your handfasting ceremony.

Jo and Jill

Jo and Jill

On 9th December 2017 it became law in Australia that two people could marry regardless of gender. Love and equality finally prevailed.

On Friday 15th of December something truly beautiful and poignant happened; two people fulfilled a wish of a long time.  A community of strangers; family, friends, photographer, celebrant, magistrate, clerks and registrar pulled together to make this marriage happen in time. It would not be the first same sex ceremony I or others had witnessed in Australia, but possibly the first I had seen recognised by Australian law. It was an emotional moment when I read out the words of the new act; a privilege, an honour, and about time. A sacred moment on a sacred day.

Two words had changed in the Marriage Act, substituting “man a woman”, for “two people”, and for Jo and Jill that changed everything.

The first I knew of their love was a phone call on Thursday from Cittamani palliative care telling me a tale of Jo, a woman with a rare cancer, who wished to finally legally marry her beloved Jill.  It was Jo’s persistence that had kept the idea alive. Jill was unsure how it could be achieved. She had read about the one month waiting period. But how could it happen in their own home at short notice? Cittamani nurses decided to ring me and pose the question. As a celebrant I am aware that under exceptional circumstances a shortening of time can be granted by the Registrar.

I met with Jill Thursday afternoon at the courthouse. She had tried to get all the paperwork sorted, signed, witnessed and lodged with the Magistrate. It just wasn’t possible that afternoon, we needed Jo’s signature, and it was 4.30pm.

I met Jo Thursday evening. Evenings are good for her. She had energy. And her bright blue eyes and delightful smile told me all I needed to know about their resolve to be married. Witnessing Jill and Jo together was a love story, quite convincingly profound. I was taken with the dozens of photos on the wall from their 2013 commitment ceremony – a day of promise, filled with family and friends. A true wedding day. I realised I had met two amazingly beautiful women, with a deep connection and strong commitment to each other.

Jill was firm in her wish that the marriage happen, but was feeling torn. Going back to the courthouse the next day was tricky.  She wanted to stay and care for Jo.  This marriage was important. So I offered to go instead. At 8.30 am the next day, Friday, I was outside the Nambour Courthouse at opening time. The local magistrate understood immediately and faxed the application direct to Brisbane, following it up with a phone call to convey the urgency.

On the other end, the Queensland Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages recognised the importance of this request, and sped through the process.

Within the half hour, the stamped approval came back. I could prepare the marriage papers right away: new formats, fresh from the Attorney General, and those important new words, “two people”. I was ecstatic. Jo and Jill were going to be married that afternoon! They were ecstatic.

Several more emails arrived from Births, Deaths and Marriages. They wished to offer a free registered marriage certificate and what’s more they would do it immediately. This is a process that usually takes weeks. I was so delighted by their care and understanding that I offered to hand deliver the papers to the Brisbane office first thing Monday morning, to help out the process. They made a better suggestion, and we made a plan.

I phoned a colleague and asked if she’d be willing to be photographer at this special event in a couple of hours. I knew she’d say yes.  Thanks to Marion Jonkers for the professional photos of this auspicious day.

A garden lovingly created by Jo and Jill as a shared passion, provided the perfect setting for a wedding; beds of herbs, flowers, rock seats and wooden doorways.  Jo’s namesake rose was in bloom. The herbs were fragrant. Everything looked divine for their wedding.

Jo’s friend cancelled all her clients, and turned up with her hair and makeup skills.  “Do what you can!” said Jo, always in good humour. Jo’s Mum and husband were there. Jill’s sister too.  They had come at a moment’s notice.

We sat in the cool of the garden.  I read from Leunig, and spoke of ceremony, love and choosing. With profound tears in my eyes I proudly read the new marriage statement.  They reiterated their vows from years ago, adding the sentence from the new marriage act.  They exchanged wedding rings, held hands and gaze. Their broad smiles were all that was needed to express a deep and sincere joy at finally being married, wife and wife.  “Hey Mrs”.

We embrace ceremony and ritual when something truly profound is happening in our lives. We do this because we need to make a space, in time and place, to honour the unseen world that we carry within us. Ceremony takes a moment away from the usual hum of life, to contemplate and warmly acknowledge an emotional world. Inner feelings become front and centre for the day. A marriage acknowledges this. It is always a special ceremony. This wedding was extremely special and sacred.

After the vows, I enacted the plan to deliver the certificates immediately.  Births Deaths and Marriages Queensland wished to honour this special occasion by delivering the registered marriage certificate that very day. The Principal Project Officer drove north from the Brisbane office.  And I drove south from the northern beaches.  We met at a roadside station, sat at a truckies’ table and exchanged the precious paperwork.

I then drove back to join the reception and hand deliver their certificate.  Jo and Jill had been approved, married and registered within one day!

When Jill was asked how long have you and Jo been together she responded, “a lifetime; and yet not long enough.”

Jo’s Mum told me, “Today is the happiest day of my life.  On the day I married my own true love, I thought that was the happiest day of my life, and I thought I couldn’t get any happier.  But actually today, I am happier, witnessing my daughter able to fulfil her wish to marry her own beloved.”

Jo’s touching speech recognised a day of love and compassion from a community made up of people she had just met, or had never met, and may never get to meet at all. The day was made possible by the goodwill of a community of all kinds of people with different roles and different commitments and different lives, wanting these two to be married in time.

Endings depend on where one leaves the story.  The tale always continues. We rest here with the newly weds, Jill and Jo, for marriage according to the law of Australia is the full commitment or union of two people.


Friday 15th December 2017

(with editing assistance by Glenda and Jessi)

Photos by Marion Jonkers Photographer 

Thanks to Cittamani Hospice, Nambour Courthouse, Queensland Births, Deaths and Marriages, Russell, Marion, Tracey and Emily.

Jo & Jill -5same sex celebrant Kari Marion Jonkers Photographer

Jo & Jill -34same sex celebrant Kari Marion Jonkers Photographer

Jo & Jill -48same sex celebrant Kari Marion Jonkers Photographer

Jo & Jill -208same sex celebrant Kari Marion Jonkers Photographer

Rainbow happiness

Rainbow happiness

same sex weddings australia

Rainbow weddings

Same sex marriages are here to stay in Australia.

Rainbow happiness is everywhere. I feel frivolous and you can’t wipe the grin from my face.

I am available for your wedding whoever you are, whatever kind of ceremony you want. In fact I was the first celebrant in Australia to officially conduct a legal same sex marriage.

LGBTIQ marriage austrsalia votes yesYes

Today was inevitable, but important. Australia voted yes to equality. Legislation will follow in the fullness of time. LGBTIQ couples will have the right to marry, to express their love in a wedding ceremony to seal their marriage in the eyes of their friends, family AND the law. Australia will celebrate in a rainbow of colours.

wedding celebrant

I would love to be your marriage celebrant, to assist you in designing the perfect ceremony for you.You may have no idea where to begin. But I do.

It begins with a fresh canvas. We talk, we laugh, reminisce, smile at memories, tear up over touching tales, share stories. Then I begin to have ideas, throw some scenarios into the mix. We flesh out ideas, bringing in other characters, and discussing who might be involved. Then I begin to write, to navigate through all the ideas and possibilities. And send it to you for feedback. and that’s just the first steps towards your amazing and unique wedding ceremony…. no matter who you are.

But right here I wish to indulge is some thematic fun. Today’s story is a pictures story of rainbow happiness.

Hideaway Wedding

Hideaway Wedding

Megan and Trent wanted to be married close to home. So, they sought a place with freedom, a place for kids and family. They dreamed of a place to hideaway for their wedding.

I suggested Halfmoon Hideaway.  That is to say … a tasteful, modern cottage set in the grounds of an old homestead, high up in the hills of Maleny.

Most importantly, they loved it.

t is a place to stay, to play and to be free to design the wedding of choice.  Basically on this family horse and animals property, they say,”Here’s the garden, go for it!”

The wedding ceremony was held on the raised wooden deck under the huge fig tree was perfect… And I knew they had found the best place when their little girl walked down the aisle towards me.

Gillian offered to chauffeur the bride down the hill in her divine, vintage Morris Minor, white with red upholstery!  She is a gem.

The drinks caravan was there too, courtesy of Vintage Bond Wood bar.

AND the divine and delicious food was created by the lovely Matt of The Canape Project.  Yummmmy!

Hideaway wedding with celebrant Kari3

Celebrant Halfmoon Hideaway

Celebrant Halfmoon Hideaway2

Celebrant Halfmoon Hideaway3
Celebrant Halfmoon Hideaway4

Hideaway wedding with celebrant Kari

Hideaway wedding with celebrant Kari2

Hideaway wedding with Morris minor

Hideaway wedding with vintage caravanThe Canape Project

Celebrant Halfmoon Hideaway5

Celebrant Halfmoon Hideaway6

Celebrant Halfmoon Hideaway7

This is what they said:

A massive thank you for being so patient, lovely and caring Kari! Answering all our questions and suppling info to make sure we knew what to expect on the day. Such a calm lady allowing us both to feel at ease for a relaxed wedding we really enjoyed. Thank you Kari for making our day special.

Mr & Mrs Martens

9 Common NOIM mistakes

9 Common NOIM mistakes

Avoiding 9 common mistakes on the NOIM form

First, the NOIM form

Ready to marry? Then you’re ready to fill in the first piece of paper to start your Marriage process;
the Notice Of Intended Marriage (NOIM).

The Australian Marriage Act “requires that a marriage shall not be solemnised unless a notice in writing of the intended marriage is given to the marriage celebrant.” This is done on the prescribed form, the NOIM.

Having been a marriage celebrant on the Queensland Sunshine Coast for more than 12 years, I have assisted newly engaged couples with their marriage forms.
After many hundreds of weddings, and thus hundreds of marriage certificates, I have seen a variety of mistakes that a marriage celebrant has to deal with.

All these can be avoided by asking Kari for access to your very own personal portal that has easy boxes to fill.  I will send you the link, and off we go together to get your paperwork perfect…. long before the wedding.  Once the portal is filled in, you can get back to the fun part of creating your unique wedding.

If you would prefer to full in a paper form, there is a link here (NOIM):

There are 9 common mistakes which occur on a NOIM form.  And they are all innocent errors. Perhaps this page can help.

NOIM form

9 Common Mistakes on the NOIM

The first form a couple wishing to marry must contemplate is called the Notice Of Intended Marriage (NOIM) form.

There are several common mistakes that are made on the NOIM. Let’s look at those:

1 Black – the official colour on paper forms

If you’re filling in a paper form, preferably use a black pen. Black is an official colour; easy to read. Use block letters or printing to fill in the form.
Or better still,      download an interactive pdf version.
This form allows you to fill in the fields on the computer, and save it as your own form.  Once saved, you can print it ready to take to your celebrant.

2 Names

In the Surname section, write your current surname. Make sure it is written as per your birth certificate, or previous marriage certificate if you took a married name. Use all hyphens, accents, apostrophes or capitals and lowercase as necessary.
For example :          MacDougal-Das Gupta    or    Mc Tavish    or    De Cruz    or    de la Cueva    or    O’Sullivan

Given Names section, list all your names except your surname; first and all your middle names. Make sure all the names from your birth certificate are listed on the form. Write them in full. Don’t leave any out.

For example :       Patricia Martinella Jane Francesca

Hang on…. there’s one exception … don’t include any names that may have been added as a part of baptism and don’t appear on your birth certificate.

3 Occupation

Write your occupation as a proper noun, the person doing the job, not the job or the department.
Thus use Administrator rather than administration, or Human resource manager rather than human resources

4 Conjugal status

I’m afraid “single” does not cut it in the world of government forms.  You need to be more specific!

There are a few choices in this category. It is important to choose the correct one that reflects your actual legal status.

The most common one is, Never validly married. Don’t forget the little word validly. It is also an important word. I mean, that wedding you had in preschool with your little mate, may have been as real as ever when you were 4 years old, and we don’t wish to discredit the sincerity of that occasion at the time..  But the crucial point here is that it was not valid!!!

Other choices are widower or widow if your previous spouse died. Widow for a woman whose partner died, and Widower for a man whose partner died.

Divorced – is the other option, if you have legally divorced from a previous spouse. You will need to present evidence of the divorce to your celebrant. This needs to be the original divorce decree document, not a photocopy.

Annulment –  if your marriage was dissolved through a legal annulment – a very rare scenario.

5 Birthplace

Check your birth certificate. You may have always believed you were born in “Sydney”, but perhaps your birth certificate lists “Darlinghurst” as your birthplace. You and I know this is kind of the same thing, because – yes Darlinghurst is in Sydney. But official departments in Cambodia, for example, may not know this. If your marriage certificates and forms, closely match your birth certificate, you are less likely to encounter difficulties in the future. Who knows what the future may bring. Let’s not create any potential room for future bureaucratic grief.

6 Parent one’s full current name

Some families have Mother and Father, other families have different scenarios.  The gender non specific nature of the current marriage forms allow for a parent to be a non specific gender.  This approach is inclusive of same-sex parents, parents who do not identify as male or female, and parties who only have one legal parent.

If Parent 1 is your Dad, then:

Even if the family just calls him Bill or Jazza , write your dad’s full legal name, including all his middle names;

For example :           Joshua Blake William Forsham-Smythe

6b Father’s full birth name

Occasionally people have a change of name during their lifetime.  What is Dad’s name on his birth certificate?

7 Parent two’s full current name

If Parent 2 is your Mum, what is her legal name today?

For example :             Maria Antoinette Forsham-Smythe       (This would include a married surname or current name)

7b Parent two’s full birth name

This is usually the name they were born with, a maiden/batchelor name; the FULL maiden name, which means all the names including the surname on their birth certificate, even if the name has changed since they or you were born.
For example :             Maria Antoinette Lisette de Vries

To satisfy the requirement under the Marriage Act 1961 it is up to the parties to list their parents using the names as they know them by. Parties do not need to supply evidence of their parents’ names or countries of birth, but it helps if all your ID matches into the future.  This is why a birth certificate can help with your marriage paperwork.

8 Divorce date

Another common error on NOIM forms is the DATE OF DIVORCE. This is the date the court decrees the divorce to come into effect – “becomes absolute”. It is not the date of application, nor the date of the court hearing.
It is the date near the end of the page.


…….and lastly

9 signing the form

Don’t sign the form yet. Your signatures need to be witnessed by an appropriate witness. Most often it is your celebrant who will witness your signatures.  But there are other options.
Here’s the list of “appropriate” witnesses as listed on the form:


There you go…. it’s all in fine print on the form itself.

Lodgement of the NOIM

This form is lodged with (or given to) the celebrant. It is from this form that most of the information for your marriage certificates is taken. So it is important to get it right. Thus your marriage certificate will also be correct. And you want it to be correct! Your marriage certificate forms part of your ongoing legal identity. So you want it to match your other forms of ID too. If it matches, you are less likely to come across issues with your ID papers in the future.

Once your NOIM form is with your celebrant, you can relax. Your celebrant should take care of all the paperwork from here on. A good celebrant will cross check all that you have filled in to make sure it is legal, and fulfils all that is required for your marriage to also be legal.

When to lodge

The NOIM must be lodged with your celebrant at least one month prior to your wedding.  So if your wedding dates is 25th August, then it must be lodged before the 24th July for example.  The form lasts for 18 months from the signature date.  So you may loge the form any time within these parameters, between one and 18 months prior to your wedding.

A Marriage Celebrant

Choosing a good celebrant is also crucial!

Contact me if you have any questions… even if you don’t book with me.  I am happy to assist where I can.

And know that once the NOIM is lodged, the hardest part is over!!!! From here on the fun can begin. Let me show you how.

Now you just need to find that perfect dress!

wine wedding dressThanks to my colleagues, celebrants Karen Faa and Merlin Coughlan, for their input into this article.
Another story will be about choosing your correct ID documents.

A winning wedding in Maleny

A winning wedding in Maleny

Maleny Wedding

Congratulations to Karla and Matt. Theirs was a winning Maleny wedding.
This wedding was nominated as one of only five weddings shortlisted for “Wedding of the Year” by Junebug Weddings.

A story

Most importantly, their day appeared as if out of a storybook. It was a fairytale come true at Maleny Retreat, which is one of Australia’s most breath taking wedding locations. Maleny Retreat offers you freedom. That is to say, you get to design your own wedding.  You are free to create your own style on a blank canvas. For a wedding in Maleny area, it is delightful choice.

Maleny Retreat is a sumptuous canvas to which you can add your detailing and style.

Looking out over the Glass House Mountains, Karla and Matt’s wedding ceremony looked picture perfect. The vista takes in the serene Tibrogargan, and his family of mountain peeks. Guests arrived to drop their gear in luxury tent style accommodation. The party began before the wedding even started!

A sultry sky provided an awesome and dreamy backdrop for the photos taken by the awesome Bec of Ash and Stone Photography.

Take a peek at the storyboard of their ceremony: