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

8 things to say when exchanging wedding rings

8 things to say when exchanging wedding rings

8 things to say when exchanging wedding rings

The question is does one simply place the wedding ring on your dear one’s finger… or do you say something poignant as well?

In this story we explore the background of the wedding ring, but more importantly, what to say at that special moment when you are exchanging rings.  There’s a list of 8 things to say… and plenty more to ponder as well.

AND my free gift to you .. at the end of the story; a little tip for you to take to your wedding.

a pair of wedding rings

Why a wedding ring?

For thousands of years lovers have exchanged a wedding ring as tokens of their vows……
Of course there is no legal imperative to use rings in your ceremony, but it is a custom that most couples still hold dear for their wedding day. A ring is a gift you wear forever as a reminder of your wedding day, and the promises you gave to each other.  It is indeed precious, of course, because it is made from valuable materials; shiny metals and sparkly stones.  Yet the wedding ring is made absolutely treasured because of its symbolism.

The ring connects to the heart

Shakespeare wrote, “Now join your hands, and with your hands your hearts.” Some believe that the hands are a connection to the heart, and a hand blessing symbolically brings two hearts together.

paired wedding rings making a love heart when put side by side

Your wedding ring

So you’ve been shopping for a wedding ring, trying things on, thinking about what exactly you would like to wear into the future.  All the time anticipating the ceremony, when the ring will be placed on your hand for the first time.

This is something you may not have thought much about. This is where your celebrant comes into the picture to help you with things to say when exchanging your rings.

But before we explore what to say, let’s take a step back and consider the history of the wedding ring.

Where did the wedding ring come from?

According to some historians, the first recorded rings linked with a marriage ceremony date back to the days when early man tied plaited circlets around the Bride’s wrists and ankles to keep her spirit from running away. Approximately 3,000 BC, Egyptians originated the phrase “without beginning, without end” in describing the significance of the wedding ring. These rings were made of woven hemp which constantly wore out and needed replacement.

A gold ring

It was the Romans who originally used iron, gold is now used as a symbol of all that is pure. Diamonds were first used by Italians, who believed that it was created from the flames of love. According to some European cultures, the wedding ring is worn on the right hand. In other cultures, an engagement ring is worn on the left hand, and the wedding ring is worn on the right hand.

his and hers wedding rings set with blue saphires

Which finger?

We all expect wedding rings to go on the left hand ring finger.  It is said that this finger has a vein that goes straight to the heart. Perhaps there is also a Chinese meridian of love making the same connection. However in my celebrant career, I have seen rings on the right hand as per the custom in many European countries.  I have also seen wedding nose rings, wedding ear rings, wedding wrist watches, tattooed wedding rings and more.  And only once have I seen them dropped!!  But that’s another story.

What do I say when I put the ring on his finger?

You need not say anything at all. Sometimes it is what you do that is as important as what you say.  You can simply slide the ring onto his finger… then tug and twist and push until it goes over the knuckle!!! Because generally wedding rings don’t slide on easily!!  I have a tip for that too… but for now read on…

You may like to say a little something. It does not need to be a long message. You have just exchanged vows; the moment which would usually encapsulate your promise. So for the rings exchange need not be wordy.  You are just searching for a few words  to say whilst slipping the ring on your love’s finger

So … drumroll …… here are

8 things you can say when exchanging your wedding rings

  1. With this ring I thee wed
    This is the longtime classic phrase.  The grammar seems old school and a bit foreign. Perhaps it seems a little formal.  But it is very traditional.  And depending on how you say it, can be quite poignant or funny even.
  2. I give you this wedding ing to wear to seal the promises I make to you today
    I guess this outlines the fact that the ring seals a promise of marriage.
  3. I give you this ring as a symbol of my love for you. Let it be a reminder that I am always by your side and that I will always be a faithful partner to you.
    This phrase is kind of an extension to your wedding vows.  It encompasses some of the classic sentiments of marriage, that you want to be faithful.. for always.
  4. I give you this ring as a symbol of my love, my faith in our strength together, and my covenant to learn and grow with you
  5. With this ring, I marry you. With my loving heart. With my willing body. And with my eternal soul.
  6. I give you this ring, as I give to you all that I am, and accept from you, all that you are.
  7. This ring is a circle with no end, just like my love for you. Wear this ring and recall my promise to you today.
  8. As you cherish this ring, so I cherish you

But that’s not all…. there are other options above and beyond 8 things to say when exchanging wedding rings…. You can…..

Or …say it with a poem

A simple and poignant poem is

With this ring, I thee wed
With my body, I thee worship
With my heart, I thee cherish
Would all that I am, I give unto you
Would all that I have, I share with you
From this day until forever done.

Another delightful solution is to choose someone to read the poem, “These are the Hands…” No one seems to know the original author, and it has appeared in several versions. It is also easy to personalise to your own situation. For example, substitute, young for mature, or care for cherish, or the present tense for the past tense for a longer relationship/engagement or for a renewal of vows….. etc. Try this while you exchange rings:

These are the hands, author unknown

These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love,

that hold yours on your wedding day.

These are the hands that will work along side yours as you build your future together.

These are the hands that will passionately love you and care for you throughout the years.

These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief torments your mind and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.

These are the hands that will give you strength when you struggle, and support and encouragement to chase down your dreams.

These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children, and help keep your family together as one.

These are the hands that will, countless times, wipe the tears from yours eyes, tears of sorrow, and tears of joy.

And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled with age, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch—- a touch from these hands.

What other options are there for a wedding ring?

How about a handfasting ritual or a ring warming. Ask me, I’ll tell you how.

unusual wedding ring with uneven row of set diamonds in gold and silver band

And now that you have read to the end, my tip for those reluctant rings on swollen fingers.

On a wedding day we are so excited our fingers often swell up or go cold or dry, or hot… or anything but normal!!

So if you smear a little paw paw cream or vaseline on the inside of the rings before you place them in the ring box, then you will be surprised how easily they slide onto your fingers during your wedding ceremony.

There you go, my celebrant’s tip for exchanging wedding rings.

An intimate wedding

An intimate wedding

An Intimate wedding

…with celebrant Kari.

First of all Congratulations to Anna and Ivan, married in an intimate wedding at a private Montville cottage.  Actually maybe I should admit it was really a luxury house with enormous picture windows looking out over a magnificent view.

Magical Malindi is a gorgeous house in Montville, perfect for the family to stay and enjoy an intimate wedding in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast. The intimacy comes in the garden, a place for a small wedding ceremony amongst the gardens.

First, check out the view… across Baroon Pocket Dam.

On the eighth anniversary of the first kiss; Anna and Ivan were wed in an intimate wedding ceremony with just their close friends and family by their sides.  In fact most of them were staying in the expansive home.

Neither Anna nor Ivan needed to be given away on their wedding day.  They chose instead to arrive together down the grassy path and over the little wooden bridge…..as a reflection of their “togetherness”.  In fact have rarely been apart since their relationship began.

A simple wedding ceremony

When I spoke with Anna and Ivan it was clear they wanted a simple ceremony, one in which they married each other in a down to earth fashion.  Which is why they chose this place, a simple garden, and their special family and friends.

They mentioned the Desiderata, a poem of very practical advice on life.  The word, desiderata is Latin.  It means the things that are wanted or needed or necessary, especially to complete something.  To say something has desiderata means it requires certain virtues deemed important or necessary for success.

What a great metaphor for marriage.  Anna needs Ivan, Ivan needs Anna.  They need each other to continue their success.  This is not to say that an individual is not complete on their own.  Far from it.  When the other is in their life, theirs becomes a relationship in which neither takes life from the other but in love and grace new life is formed in between, which is deeper and more creative than each living alone.

Wedded couple beside a grass tree

Desiderata – that which is needed for success

Here is the poem that inspired their ceremony; a poem…..about life.

Many will recognise the Desiderata, which might seem like an ancient poem of wisdom, but it was actually written in 1927.  It suits a wedding very well, giving thoughts on what constructs a good life.  A good married life may consider the ideas presented by Max Ehrmann.

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (written in 1927)

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

In the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

Intimate wedding at Magical Malindi in Montville 3

Their words

This is what Anna and Ivan said:

“Kari is super friendly and easy going. She understood exactly what we wanted in a ceremony and delivered it in just one draft. She made our ceremony special and totally about us and our family. Everyone commented on the uniqueness of our ceremony and really enjoyed it. We highly recommend Kari!!”  Anna & Ivan

Thanks to Luke Going Photography for the beautiful images:

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meeting love stories

meeting love stories

Love Stories

The young girl who shared her love of flowers, the couple who want to marry by a lake for a very interesting reason, the girls with their eye on a beach ceremony, the couple who want something a little different to the norm, the woman who wants simple elegance for her daughter, le couple qui veut se marier au printemps, the guy who proposed under water…and more.  Yesterday was a great day for stories….. Food for my soul.

Meeting you

Meeting people is one of the beautiful aspects of my job as a celebrant. It may sound cliched, but its true.  Getting to know people more intimately, hearing their love stories is actually what makes my job the best in the world. I am eternally grateful for the stories that are shared with me.

Often at wedding events I meet many people seeking inspiration for their wedding.  Marion Jonkers Photography shared the following lovely image, taken as she walked past my stall.  And thank you to Willow Bud Flowers for the inspiring bottles of blooms.  And thanks to all those people who shared their dreams, their wishes, their desires and their love stories.

Kari celebrant at wedding expo hearing love stories

Hearing Your Love Stories

The stories that are shared with me are precious. Some have said, “one day you could write a book…”.  Well actually I don’t need to publish the book.  The stories I tell are for particular occasions for specific people and places; an intimate tale for a ceremony. A wedding, commitment or indeed a funeral or baby naming ceremony are about stories.  Real stories of people’s lives. They are fascinating, deep, layered and unique tales of individual lives.  They tell tales from a particular perspective and experience.  With these shared stories I can weave a ceremony that is a real reflection of real lives.

Let me write and tell your love story.

I look forward to helping tell the stories of some couples who I met at a recent wedding expo. The glimpses had were enough to entice me to want to explore these stories more deeply.

The stories I mentioned briefly, well these are the stories that make my job the best in the world.

Well that and sipping champagne in the bath! (Thanks to Marion Jonkers for this image as well!)

toasting a wedding from the bathroom - a cheeky moment