a naughty wedding veil

a naughty wedding veil

A marriage celebrant well might ask, “What does one do with a naughty wedding veil during a wedding ceremony?” Hmmmm….

Congratulations to Gayle and Keith who were married on top of the hill at Ruffles Lodge on the Gold Coast Hinterland.

married on thelawn

But my story gets ahead of itself.  Let’s back track a little….
With spectacular views down to the coast, the exclusive mountain retreat is simply gorgeous.  Gayle and Keith chose this place so their family and friends could all join the retreat and have some time away from the hum of life in a relaxed and luxurious location.

So the groom and his blokes are waiting on the lawn, the guests are assembled.

Beautiful Gayle arrives on the arm of her Dad, her long bridal veil trailing behind.

Here Comes the Bride

The ceremony begins, and the breeze picks up a little. Not looking too naughty yet!


Slowly the naughty wedding veil starts to make an entrance.


The wedding veil wafts romantically around, then starts to assert itself more strongly until a moment is made
behind which a bride and groom could steal a kiss!


We laugh, and finally a Bridesmaid catches the cheeky veil and tames it a little for the rest of the ceremony.


the first wedding kiss

the first wedding kiss

That’s what bridesmaids are for!  Just one of the many jobs a bridesmaid takes in her stride on her friend’s wedding day!
Thanks girls.

Check out the amazing purple and lilac.  What glorious colours!!!

And thank you to Justin from Bush Turkey Studio for the photos.

“Kari, Thank you for your help for our ceremony in October, it was everything we were looking for. You were fantastic!” Gayle & Keith

bridesmaids dressed in purple who tamed the naughty wedding veil
Unusual buttonholes for groomsmen

Unusual buttonholes for groomsmen

Unusual Buttonholes for grooms

Even the celebrant received a buttonhole for this particular wedding….. more on that a bit later….

But first – Preparing the bridal party

It can be such fun preparing for your wedding ceremony.  Once the reception venue and marriage celebrant are booked, and a few legalities for marriage in Australia taken care of, then the fun of creating your wedding day look begins.

You’ve chosen your bridal party, been shopping for bridesmaid dresses, and selected your bouquets.  The girls are set.

Now for the Groomsmen

Attention turns towards the blokes. Hmmm, you have chosen a suit or casual attire, and the shoes, added funky coloured socks or an outrageous tie. Perhaps you’ve added a vintage flair like braces or waistcoats.

pinning the buttonhole on the groomsmen

Next you turn your attention to the groomsmen’s buttonholes.

Most couple’s would try to match the buttonhole to the girls bouquets.

It can be as simple as a rose pinned on a lapel.

pinning a white rose on the jacket of the groom at a sunshine coast wedding

Or something a little more fancy with a leaf curled behind.

And may I say that I have pinned on dozens of groom’s buttonholes.

The pinning process

Could I even consider myself a master of the pinning the buttonhole on the groom? Does it sound like a party game?

Actually, there are ways to make sure the groom’s buttonhole doesn’t flop or droop. And you may ask why do the florists provide two pearl ended pins?

The answer is to stop the droop!  One up one down.  I

As a celebrant, I have become an expert in pinning buttonholes in a manner to stop the droop.

Did you know there are other buttonhole alternatives! The buttonhole does not have to be flowers.

Renée and Gareth are a funky modern couple, with clever ideas, and a fabulous wit.  Their wedding was particularly unique, and will be featured in another story to come.  Today we peek at their buttonhole ideas.

Unusual buttonholes

They chose lego characters for each of their bridal party, including the bridesmaids who carried them with their flowers.  Each lego character is a humorous reflection of the role or person who wears it.  Here is a peek at the bridal party all lined up….at the altar.

lego men decorations for the bridal party of an unusual theme at a wedding. Each member of the bridal party had their own character

Check out these on the wedding day:

robot lego man buttonhole for the groomsman

Chicken costume  lego man buttonhole for the groomsman

businessman with briefcase lego man buttonhole for the groomsman

And for the Groom…..

skinhead lego man buttonhole for the groomsman

And for the piece de resistance…..

They even provided one for the celebrant.

Thanks guys form the bottom of my heart.

Thanks for including the celebrant (the ringmaster) in your design.  I am humbled.

master of ceremonies lego man buttonhole for the wedding celebrant

For another creative look at wedding flowers check out Cherie and Josh’s story:

A Slow Pilgrimage

A Slow Pilgrimage

Tuesday Pilgrims

My husband and I are Tuesday Pilgrims.  Each Tuesday, our day off, we walk the beach.  The first Tuesday we began at Cotton Tree, on the Sunshine Coast, and headed south along the coastline. Returning after a long walk, we sought a cafe, for a caffeine and cake fix.

The following Tuesday we began where we left off the previous week.  And so it goes each Tuesday. We walk as far as feels good on the day, then retrace our steps along the beach back to the start of the day. So actually we have done the whole length twice!  No matter the weather, no matter the tide, we walk.

Long Beach Walk

So far we have made it as far as the Caloundra beaches, beginning at Cotton Tree.

Our destination is the path.  The path is the coastline.  It’s not an arduous journey.  We seek sustenance and caffeine at a local nook after each walk. It’s our Tuesday thing.

We are Tuesday pilgrims

So why pilgrimage?

I call it a slow pilgrimage; spaced out over time, it is timeless.  There is no time constraint as each Tuesday presents a new opportunity to continue the journey.

I call it a pilgrimage.

My husband challenges that description!

So I asked him, what would constitute a pilgrimage? What qualities does it take?

He answered that a true pilgrimage would:

1. Follow a ritual or tradition within a culture, religion or practice, or fulfil a cultural or spiritual requirement

2. Aim for a destination

3. Involve challenges, or be a testing journey

4. Involve hope or faith in a spiritual reward as a result of achieving the destination/goals of the pilgrimage.

“Well”, I say, “It has been rather challenging finding a decent cafe some Tuesdays!!!”  He laughs!

But it made me think.  Why would I call it pilgrimage?  For me it’s about finding a tradition; a new way.  The commitment is to the time taken away from the hum of usual life to follow one of nature’s paths, the coastline. The destination is the beach, the sand, the sea, the elements in all their rawness. Neither storms or heat keeps us from going.  We go regardless, and enjoy the weather of that day, or the surf, or the rain on our hair, or the wind whipping up the sand onto our legs.

And the reward?  It is our smiles as we trek back along that day’s length of beach, realising we have once again taken time to relish the incredible place that is a privilege to make our home.

I achieve a kind of spiritual peace and happiness on a Tuesday.  I have reached my destination.

A new definition of pilgrimage

So my new definition of pilgrimage?

It is TIME plus a way to decide the journey’s PATH.

It does not need a specific destination, just a path to travel on. Of course historically the destination is important.  Pilgrims have sought Mecca, or Jerusalem, Uluru, head waters or healing waters. But I would argue that  pilgrimage can be about the path alone, and what that particular path has to teach us.

Maya Ward expounds on this rather eloquently in her book, The Comfort of Water : a river pilgrimage.  She walked the path of the river from the sea to the source., learning from the river as she went.  Her journey is certainly modern and ancient pilgrimage, all at the same time.  I relish her descriptions of pilgrimage and place.

My Tuesday Pilgrimage is not in the same league.

But it is only a Tuesday pilgrimage after all.

It gives me an opportunity to learn from whatever Tuesday experiences are tossed our way.



One day we were devastated by the amount of dead mutton birds (actually Short Tailed Shearwaters)along the beach. Challenged by weather along their migration from Russia to the southern coasts, many don’t make it.  Their very real annual pilgrimage is a true testing journey, and part of their survival.  We found one, tired but very alive.  This one may eventually make it after a spell with Seabird Rescue volunteers.

My pilgrimage by no means has anything to do with survival.  Yet my well being has improved with Tuesday Pilgrimage in my life.  I have more to give because of it. I am very grateful.

Walking River Pilgrimage

Walking River Pilgrimage

Walking River – a pilgrimage

This year was the tenth anniversary of an extraordinary pilgrimage; the Long Yarra Walk, as told in Maya Ward’s book The Comfort of Water.

She says of her book,

The Comfort of Water: A River Pilgrimage is the story of my three-week journey along the Yarra River. I walked from the sea to the source, through city, forest, farmland, following an ancient songline.  In the book I tell of those 21 days and 20 nights, but since it was a journey through my home city, a place I’d lived all my life, I also include anecdotes from before and after the pilgrimage…

Cover photo of the book, of Comfort of Water by Maya Ward

The Comfort Of Water

The book begins:

Walk the path …………………….. And journey to the source

These are not metaphors …………………. They are instructions.

Maya Ward, the author,  is an extraordinary woman, walker and writer.  She invites us to listen deeply to the path and to the voices of nature.

This modern reinvention or re-exploration of pilgrimage explored the lessons of River.  River can teach the importance of the path of water, and all who live along it’s way.  River teaches history and story; connection to place, the importance of flow. Walking a river pilgrimage is essential to understanding all of this.

The ritual of walking a path evokes extraordinary learning, deep understanding and great forgiveness.  This is pilgrimage.

Maya’s book is both a true tale and a guidebook for path.  I loved following her journey as I imagined my own.

Recently a kindergarten teacher was inspired to use Maya’s text as a guide for a program of education for very young children.  A film was made about their learning.  Songlines of the Yarra, is an 8 minute short film which explores the children’s intimate relationship with the Yarra River and their sense of belonging to time and place.  It has been selected to screen at the Little Big Shots International Film Festival for Kids, Australia’s major annual and travelling children’s film festival.

Return of the Sacred Kingfisher Festival fire lighting ceremony

Ritual and friendships

Maya is my friend.  She has also been a mentor for me in the field of ritual.  We met at a wonderful community ritual celebration some dozen or so years ago.  The community event was the annual Return of the Sacred Kingfisher Festival held at CERES in Victoria.  We were both a part of the artistic team who created the event.  Maya inspires me always to do better, and to think more.  She is one of the most connected people I have ever met when it comes to understanding place, and environment; deep ecology and connection.  Maya helps me to understand the importance of ritual, and the many layers of ritual.

Let me diverge

…to tell the story of a creek.

Another River Ritual

The Merri Creek runs into the Yarra River not far from the centre of Melbourne.  A twenty minute tram ride will get you there.  Maya took much longer walking the river  trail, for the Yarra winds around many bends through the city before you come to Merri Creek.

Return of the Sacred Kingfisher Festival children's dance

Merri Creek

Decades ago the poor Merri had been reduced to a trickle such was the degradation of the environment.  Industry poured raw effluent from pipes directly into the creek.  The steep banks had been denuded of vegetation.  It was used as a tip.  The creek could not flow any more.

Sacred Kingfisher

Sacred Kingfisher’s cry had not been heard along the creek for many years.  He had simply flown away.  Wouldn’t you?

A community turned their love to the creek and put a stop to the decline of the Merri.  The clean up began with bulldozers to remove the rusted car-bodies, rubber tyres and discarded washing machines from the creek bed.  Work continues to this day with countless hours by community volunteers, revegetating, weeding, caring.

The Return of the Kingfisher

One day the Kingfisher was heard along the Merri again.  Ki Ki Ki Ki They had returned!

The Return of the Sacred Kingfisher Festival is an annual community celebration welcoming the Sacred Kingfisher back to its original habitat, along the banks of the Merri Creek in Brunswick. For the CERES community, the Sacred Kingfisher bird has become a symbol of “hope” connecting people and place.

Community River Ritual

It is a community ritual and a working relationship or collaboration with the Wurundjeri people, various cultural communities and performers of all ages and abilities. As long as the Kingfisher returns each year in Spring, it is a sign that we are taking care of our local environment and the home of the Sacred Kingfisher.

The Sacred Kingfisher on it’s annual migration also stops at the Sunshine Coast, my home of twenty years.  Each year I measure the first day of Spring, from the first urgent call of the Kingfisher in my tiny forested garden.  It was the Kingfisher festival, and this team of artists who taught me most about ritual and celebration.  I bring this experience to all of my work as a celebrant.

River Ritual – Creek Celebration

Kingfisher follows River.  Waterways are the arteries of our land.  River and Creek are characters in our lives.  Ritual can connect us to these pathways. Kingfisher invites us in.

Return of the Sacred Kingfisher festival - fire dance
Wedding with kids

Wedding with kids

~ with Sunshine Coast marriage celebrant, Kari ~

Congratulations Hayley and Wade with their darling children, Charlotte and Kobi, married in the delightful Tiffany’s Chapel.

(Check out the photo which I call “Wrapping the bride!”)

We seek ceremony when there is something profound happening.  We do things in ceremony that are symbols of a deeper meaning in our lives.  Some things are not easy to express every day, as we live it.  Some things  are best expressed by ritual.  A wedding does this.  It creates an opportunity to gather the important people, and to enunciate deep feelings in the form of promises or gifts.

Hayley and Wade’s wedding day was a dream come true.  And it was a wedding about family.  Hayley and Wade believe that family is first, family is everything, family is LIFE.

Often a wedding is not simply about two people.  It is about a wider group of people; community, family, heart families.  This wedding was for everyone there.

A wedding could not alter what they already had, for Hayley and Wade had already built a marriage.  I saw it expressed so well in their dear children, Charlotte and Kobi.  As I spoke with the couple, the kids played with my lego basket. (Yes a relic of my own child rearing.  I LOVE my son’s lego basket, and so do many of the kids who come to me with their parents.)  As they played I noticed how gentle they were with each other and the things they created.  Their parents took small moments to acknowledge what the kids were doing, and kids were very respectful of their parents having a talk.  Impressive parenting at work here!

So this marriage was about a family unit, yet acknowledging of the important relationship that holds the family together, the parents.  For Hayley and Wade wished to give the gift of marriage to each other.  They had already promised forever in their kids, but on their wedding day they showed it to each other.

Charlotte and Kobi, (who are, may I say, the best behaved kids I have ever seen!) were delightful partners to the wedding as flower girl and ring boy.  Kobi was quite emotional watching his parents wed.  Who wouldn’t be?  He could deeply appreciate the strong emotions that were being expressed that day. Check out Charlotte wrapping herself in Mum’s bride dress. I sneeked the ones of the “bridal wrap” while Toni, the photographer, was organising the group picture.  Too delightful to miss!

Wrapping a bride

A key to understanding this was their choice of reading:

The key to love is understanding…
The ability to comprehend not only the spoken word,
but those unspoken gestures,
the little things that say so much by themselves.
The key to love is forgiveness…
to accept each others faults and pardon mistakes,
without forgetting, but with remembering
what you learn from them.

The key to love is sharing…
Facing your good fortunes as well as the bad, together;
both conquering problems, forever searching for ways
to intensify your happiness.

The key to love is giving…
without thought of return,
but with the hope of just a simple smile,
and by giving in but never giving up.

The key to love is respect…
realising that you are two separate people, with different ideas; that you don’t belong to each other,
that you belong with each other, and share a mutual bond.

The key to love is inside us all…
It takes time and patience to unlock all the ingredients that will take you to its threshold;
it is the continual learning process that demands a lot of work… but the rewards are more than worth the effort…
and that is the key to love.

Thanks to Photographer Toni Snell for the glorious images.


A Scotsman and a forest nymph marry

A Scotsman and a forest nymph marry

A Mc and a Mac

When McNamara married MacKinnon, there was bound to be somescotsman around somewhere!!!  And what a lovely use of tartan.  And what a choice of place!  Congratulations Sandra and Jason, married at Gardeners Falls, Maleny.  Unique, different, touching, romantic and down to earth, their DIY wedding was simply perfect.

A Scotsman and a Nymph

When Sandra and Jason first met in Canada they recall talking about travelling Australia and the food they both missed.  Jason proceeded to load up the juke box while Sandra picked most of the songs and introduced him to her love for disco.  Not less than two days later Jason had to leave Canada!!  Mere hours before his flight took off they were enjoying their first “date”.  The conversation flowed easily and touched on so many subjects that they would have forgot to order food, if the waitress hadn’t kept reappearing to ask if they were ready to order. Jason’s friends were worried he was cutting it close for time to catch his flight.  There was really no time for eating!

It was not long before they were together again, in Australia.

Sandra describes Jason as her calm in the storm.  Jason describes Sandra as his down to earth rock.  No wonder it threatened to storm on their wedding day.  But come the right time, they stood on a rock mid stream, with not a drop of rain.

They relish each other’s company, laugh at each other’s jokes and make fun happen every day.  These are qualities that will sustain a relationship.  They are also great qualities for planning an extraordinary wedding.

Dressed in wedding Tartan

They turned up to their wedding dressed as Scotsman in family tartan (complete with sporan I may add) and forest nymph.  They wanted something quite unique and intimate for their ceremony, and yet grand in meaning.  Choosing Gardeners Falls, a small out of the way place, with running creek and rainforest all around, they created a wonderland.

Wed Over Water

Sandra and Jason asked if they could be wed on the water.  We took off our shoes and stepped onto a rock in the stream.  Guests gathered on a larger rock close by.  They chose a hand binding ceremony to seal their vows.  In this way drawing on Celtic traditions from ancient times, bringing the ceremony into modern day with our own twist on the promises and bindings.  Jason had prepared a strip of tartan for the bindings.  For wedding rings they had special rings created, each a combination of an Australian saphire and two Canadian diamonds.

Tartan sash

At the conclusion of the service,  Jason draped a MacKinnon tartan sash over his new Mrs MacKinnon, and had photos taken in the middle of the running creek.  He carried her across the water.  Later that weekend they continued the fun by taking their own wedding photos, with just tripod and themselves.

Here is a glimpse of their DIY wedding day:

A Mc and a MAC marry
bride lies on her grooms lap, dressed in tartanhe lies with his head in his brides lapWhat they said:


Kari was an amazing celebrant.  She was just what we were looking for, she listened to our suggestions, went with our ideas adding her own input when we knew what we wanted but weren’t sure how to do it.

Kari got a good feel for how we were as a couple and what we liked.  She even offered us choices to choose her dress colour for the ceremony and was even willing to go barefoot.

Kari helped a lot making our ceremony just what we wanted and we had an amazing day.  Sandra and Jason MacKinnon