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.

Kari

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.

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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:

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Elopement at Clovelly Estate

Elopement at Clovelly Estate

glass wedding chandelierAshley and Chris couldn’t wait to marry one and other so they escaped to Spicers Clovelly Estate in Montville and eloped in a romantic and intimate ceremony.

This video was created by Marion Jonkers, their delightful wedding photographer.  Marion does such a personable job with her wedding clients.  She is always cheery and fun to be with, and manages to bring out the best smiles, and create  a story with pictures.

Being an elopement, Ashley did not have a bridesmaid to help her.  This is when as a celebrant, I love to step in and help.  Here I am tying up the bride… in the best way!

Check her out on Marion Jonkers Photography

And watch this delightful Montville elopement love story:

Valentine’s Day Love

Valentine’s Day Love

Happy Valentine’s Day from Sunshine Coast marriage celebrant – Kari

The minute I heard my first love story

I started looking for you,

not knowing how blind that was.

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere

they’re in each other all along

Rumi

hearts for Valentines Day

hearts for Valentines Day

Today’s post need not be long, for love needs few words.

Love requires actions and looks, touches and listening ears, understanding and acceptance.

Rumi, the thirteenth century poet, expressed it in few words, and to this day, we draw on his words at wedding ceremonies.

Valentines Day gives us that opportunity to look to our dear love,

and say with words or gesture,

with smiles or surprises,

I choose you, dear one, to be by my side.

I accept you, my love, for who you are.

I hear you, I trust you, I adore you.

I …….. love you.

Today I simply offer this image from Pieces of My Own Heart.

Made from ceramic, they are part of a collection of 1000 hearts.  Made in love.

May your Valentine’s Day be full of love of all kinds.

And if you’re considering a wedding proposal, then congratulations.  May the answer be yes.

Contact me if you would like to talk about a unique wedding ceremony, perhaps for Valentine’s Day next year.

A poignant wedding reading

A poignant wedding reading

I woke this morning thinking about a particular poem. It would make a particularly poignant reading at your wedding.

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Photo: Shemple On the Lake by Ross Annels and Kari

 

The poem that occupied my thoughts, is one that impressed me many years ago.  I had it on the bathroom wall for years.

Many people commented on it.  Lots had opinions. Several agreed, others added more comments to the initial poem.

It was a great conversation opener.  It required contemplation.

The woman who wrote the poem is Oriah Mountain Dreamer.

She is, in her own words,”first and foremost a story-teller, a lover of words and symbols and the stories that lift our spirits, open our hearts and offer us ways to see patterns and create meaning in our lives.”

The poem comes to me as a poignant set of thoughts to contemplate when one is considering what to say in the wedding vows.

On the surface, it would seem to be questions one might ask of one’s partner.

But to me it is a series of questions I would rather ask myself.

This is why I had it on the wall, a place I could read it every day, and ask myself if I measured up to my own expectation.  Was I asking myself the right questions?  What is important to me? Was I being the best person I wanted to be? If I want a wonderful person in my life, was I enough to match them first?

Here is the poem:

The Invitation ~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It does not interest me what you do for a living.  I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.  I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.  I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been open to life’s betrayals, or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with the wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.  I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself, if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when its not pretty every day, and if you source your life from its presence.

I want to now if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver moon, “YES”.

It doesn’t interest me who you know, or how you came to be here.  I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else fades away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Today I thought of the poem again, and contemplated what else is possible for my own self.

What do you think?

DIY wedding at the family property

DIY wedding at the family property

with Sunshine Coast marriage celebrant – Kari

So much love, so much love, so much love.  Wow what a wedding ceremony to remember!

Here on the Sunshine Coast, there are many perfect places for a wedding.  But none seems quite more perfect for a family wedding than the property where one grew up, played by the creek, planted trees, and created memories.  This wedding day created new loving memories for Renee and Brendan on the family farm.

The marriage ceremony was held down by the creek, in an idyllic grassy glade surrounded by forest and the sounds of whip birds and tusked frogs.  A group of friends and family had created a magical haven.  Let’s wander in and have a peek before the guests arrive…..

A stump by the entry was garlanded with festoons of newly blossomed jasmine and the welcome sign.

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Daisies were tucked into the bark of trees, at the foot of saplings or behind ears.

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A circle of hay surrounded by white roses and daisies tucked into the ground formed a magic fairy circle for a sacred ceremony.

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Hay bales were arranged in arcs for seating.  More hay was sprinkled underfoot for an aisle.

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Local musician, Lee Hardisty played pied piper and led the guests to the ceremony, along by the creek.  His pure sax sound drifted over the forest, gently encouraging a meander to the forest glade.

Enter the Bride and Groom.  Groom softly greeted the guests.  Kari –  the celebrant sent hime for a wander with his mates while she briefed the guests on a surprise ending for the ceremony.

And, the bridal entourage arrived on the trailer of the tractor.  Daughter, Peaches and her cousin walked down the aisle, to Daddy.

Renee walked down the aisle on her father’s arm to the exquisite sounds of thumb piano sweetly played by Lee.

Renee and Brendan could not have been more in love.

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As a marriage celebrant on the Sunshine Coast hinterland, I witness many marriage vows; all heartfelt and meaningful. But on this wedding day, Renee’s vows to her beloved Sav nearly brought me to tears.

Amongst other things she promised to “love you beyond fear, judgement, expectations and anger….. I promise to love you so hard it changes the world…. I promise to hold you when your heart weeps, to plant trees with you and watch them grow, to help you know your own power.”

After the ceremony, guests followed the music back to the farm shed, replete with hanging floral garland, tables of colour, and taste.DIY_wedding_ceremony_venue12

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DIY wedding decor

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And they partied on in the moonlight, starlight and radiance of their family, friends and love.

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Thanks to Maggie Buckle for some of the professional images.  Instagram #@maggijeann

The early ones are my own, irresistibly taken while waiting for the guests.

This is what they said about Kari’s celebrant service:

Kari is a beautiful, warm, kind and connected woman with a sophisticated confidence that makes one feel safe in her presence. Although we had only met her in person once before our wedding day, we knew that she would understand our love and sincerely appreciate the magic that abides in such a ceremony. Her creative heart and generous demeanour left a mark on our hearts at such a special moment in our journey. Thank you Kari.”   Renee & Brendan