Gratitude and giving back

Gratitude and giving back

In gratitude

I feel very privileged to be a marriage celebrant here on the Sunshine Coast, in Queensland Australia.  I am grateful for the opportunity to work and live in a beautiful region, in a lucky country.

I also want to give back to the world for the luck I have had in my life, or pay it forward if you like.

Giving back

To this end, for every wedding I conduct, a donation is made to a scholarship fund in Timor Leste, a fledgling country bravely endeavouring to make a good life for its peoples.  Each time a couple is married by me, someone in East Timor is educated for a month!  In this way each couple can not only be happily married, but also feel proud that as a result of their wedding, a young person benefits with education, and the opportunity to contribute to the building of their country.

Madre Lita

I do not do this alone.

Timor Leste

A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit Timor Leste on a holiday. Yes I was a tourist in a country unspoilt by tourism. A place of natural beauty and raw charm. A country of incredibly resilient people, who smile so readily and welcome so warmly.  Why Timor Leste? I had some years ago shared a class at University with an incredible woman. Neither of us knew then of the  daring story to come in her life, but I had retained a respect for this classmate.

Yet, years later she welcomed me and hubby to Timor Leste with such warm hugs, and generous spirit, we were almost overwhelmed with emotion. Kirsty had become the first lady of Timor Leste, yet she met us, mere travellers, at the airport and shared her dedicated work with us.

Education for girls

For this project, I have the amazing assistance and support of Kirsty Sword Gusmao, Timor Leste’s Goodwill Ambassador for Education and founding direcctor of Alola Foundation, for women and children. She in turn has assistance from Madre Lita, and many other diligent workers and volunteers.

I am so honoured to be a small part of this project, which helps young women to an education,

something  more valuable than money can ever buy. Timor Leste Scholarship Gals

a simple yet meaningful wedding

a simple yet meaningful wedding

Congratulations to Tom and Ben finally wed in Australia, so they could be together.

Simple with no unnecessary frills


Tom and Ben needed no frills to show they love each other; no huge flowers, fancy clothes or other frilly stuff to declare their commitment to each other.  Their wedding was a simple ceremony to declare what is deep and meaningful in a natural way amongst the big trees and forest sounds.

They found each other many years ago actually, in New York at a youth Democratic Education conference.  They have since traveled across the world to see and be with each other in their respective countries.

Maroochy Bushland Botanic Gardens

This year they were able to wed in the glorious Maroochy Bushland Botanic Gardens with the sounds of the birds and animals as the backdrop, and their close family around them.

Kari, the celebrant gathered the family in the Mossy Log Grove under the canopy of the trees.

Coo – eeTom&Ben_a_simple_wedding2

We all cooo-eeed to call the couple.  And the birds above answered us too!!

Tom and Ben walked in along the garden path, already hand in hand already joined in spirit, and so happy to be together at last.

And the ceremony began.

Tom&Ben_a_simple_wedding6But the rings!

Oops, the rings had been left in the car.


No problem, a friend was despatched with the car keys, and he came running back in plenty of time for the vows and the exchange of rings to seal the promises made.

A wedding does not have to cost the earth.  Ben was keen to make sure it cost very little, if anything.  He was most miffed when he had to pay for a haircut to fix the one he had insisted his mother do!

The family made delicious and healthy decorative picnic fare to share after the ceremony.  The gardens are open to the public every day.  The couple even chose their wedding clothes from the op shop.  Ben found a local artisan to craft rings from reclaimed silver cutlery.  And Mum crafted the lovely floral headpiece for the bride from garden flowers.

Friends and family, and even grandma gathered to enjoy the gardens.  A teensy early mist of rain meant the gardens were private just for us that day!!!

It was a day about joining two people, not about spending money.  A day to celebrate two people in love, who simply want to be together.  And they are so happy!

It was a true and simple joy to be there.

Tom said afterwards:

We actually never had to look for a celebrant, the universe just pointed to you. I can remember one year ago Ben was telling me on the phone he met our celebrant and set up a date and place for our wedding. It felt so distant to me… Being on the other side of the globe, not even ready to apply for a visa let alone see it approved. It all sounded like a dream.. Or more like some kind of a rough plan.  But still from that point on we were one step closer towards being able to live together.  What I find amazing is that I couldn’t imagine us finding anyone else taking your part. I think most celebrants out there wouldn’t relate or able to understand as well as you did. The way we wanted to keep it all simple (but still meaningful). Both of us just felt so happy with it. Thank you so much!

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
Minutiae exhibition of small works

Minutiae exhibition of small works

Every now and again, I am asked to MC or make a speech.  In fact the first time the idea to be a marriage celebrant popped into my head was at an Exhibition opening at which I was volunteer MC.

So when asked to give the opening address to an exhibition including my own artwork and that of my artist husband Stephen, I jumped at the chance.

The Gallery is Rosebed Street Gallery, in the tiny but creative town of Eudlo.  Run by an inspired woman, Maya Malins, it is an oasis of creativity and talent.

The show is called Minutiae, celebrating small works, in a small town, and the small details of life.  It is open until 23rd February 2014.

Minutiae; notes from a speech by Kari
at the opening of Minutiae exhibition at Rosebed Street Gallery, Eudlo
 on Friday 6th December 2013


At the outset, I’d like to thank the caretakers of this land.

Firstly the traditional landowners, the indigenous elders, but also the traditional ordinary people, who all cared for this country for 10’s of thousands of years.

Secondly the current caretakers, the locals who care for and look after this little country town and make it the oasis of community that it is today.

And lastly the future caretakers, our children’s children who will come to care for this little patch of ground called Eudlo.  Thank you to the caretakers of the land.

       Small decisions

I’d like to recount a memory from my own youth.  Imagine a young Kari, about 16 years old.  Well at that age, I knew it all… of course!  I was just about to graduate from High School, and prided myself on being an independent young woman, with a gentle feminist outlook on the world.  As a recently chosen exchange student, part of my responsibility was to attend a few Rotary meetings.  In those days, Rotary was still reserved for male members, with wives attending only on special occasions.  So already I felt special for being there at a members meeting, but also on behalf of my gender, somewhat miffed as well!

A Rotarian stood as guest speaker to deliver the formal address for the night. He began, “When I was married 40 something years ago, I made a deal with my wife to be.  I said, ‘Darling, I will take care of all the major decisions in our lives…and you my dear, shall take care of all the small decisions in our lives together.’

You can just imagine the hackles beginning to rise on this feminist’s neck, as the young version of me bristled and prepared to shut my ears, and my mind, for the ensuing speech.  Fortunately, before I tuned out completely, he went on to say..” And you know, in 49 years of marriage, I have not had to make a decision yet.”

I swallowed my pride in an instant as his message hit home.

So you see, the small things are really the big things.

The minutiae are the main event.

The detail creates the big picture.

       Tiny details

In preparing this talk, one is drawn to the thesaurus for inspiration.

Minutiae, a lovely word on the tongue, conjures up other notions; particular, individuality, singularity, idiosyncrasy.  Each of the 43 artists exhibiting here has an individual approach, a particular idiosyncrastic mix of skill and creativity.  Small works invite a closer scrutiny, a private moment with the artist and the art, an opportunity for an intimate moment.

Artists are fabulous at seeing the detail.   They are attending to minutiae every moment of their creative lives.   Over many years, they hone a thousand little movements that amount to a large body of skills: their attention to the way to hold a brush so the stroke is pure, or hammer a piece of silver exactly to round, or select a precise colour or shade, locate a bead or a button.  In their work it is the little details that create the picture; a word, a thread, the mark of a potters finger print in a glaze.  And it is the set of minute and many skills that matter; the deftness of a hand or an eye in developing their craft.  The Japanese say it takes 10,000 pots to make a potter.  In music it is 10,000 hours of notes.

As you cast your eye around this exhibition of 100’s of small works, it is the detail that will capture your imagination, the precision, the tiny worlds within these pieces that will entrance.  There are 100’s of facets in every work.

Then there are the attributes you may not see; the precision of stretching a canvas just so, the final sanding to bring out a certain sheen, the placement of a screw or twist of wire to hang the work.  Without these details, the work won’t hang in the gallery.

       Not a small thing

Today I heard a worrying statistic.  In Australia there used to be up to 2700 Art Galleries.  Today 800 remain.

It is NOT a small thing that THIS gallery is still open.  It is a credit to this community, and specifically a few inspired individuals, that it is still a vibrant place of people and art.  It is the huge effort by a few who have kept the doors open, but also credit to the many small things that many do to keep it alive. This little Gallery, and its community, is a giant in today’s gallery scene.

        A big gift

And now as we approach Christmas, we all have the opportunity to think about the little things that matter, family, community, and have the chance to support local in a meaningful way, buy buying local, by keeping our dollars here in this community.

For each work consider who in your christmas list would appreciate a unique piece of art, something NOT bought online.  Remember that each local purchase gives more than once, gives to your loved person, to the artist, contributes to keeping this gallery alive, and keeping events such as this evening happening. Thinking Global, acting local, we can put these fancy slogans into action right here.

And when I think of how just one person can make a difference, I could not allow tonight to go by without mentioning one special person, who today passed away from this world leaving a giant fingerprint on the heart of the entire world’s population.

In appreciation of the humble man, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, I quote him;

“There is no passion to be found in playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

Minutiae is not small.


Take a glimpse at some of the works.

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:

Felt flowers wedding bouquet

Felt flowers wedding bouquet

Have you considered felt flowers for your wedding bouquet? Here is a story of a couple who did…. and how they sourced these amazing flowers for a wedding bouquet that reflected their exact choice of blooms.

Congratulations to Cherie and Josh on their stunning wedding on the Mooloolaba Spit Parklands.

Would it rain, would it not???  A teensy drop of drizzle chased all the beach-goers away, and left the whole beach and parklands to Cherie and Josh for their wedding.  Thank you sky.  Thanks for the cooling blessing of a drop of water, AND for a rain free wedding ceremony.

Rain and Retro

However today’s story is not of rain blessings, nor of beach and delightful parks for a wedding.

Nor is it even about their choice of retro styling their wedding, nor arrival in the heritage red kombi van from Deluxe Kombis. Although I must admit I did appreciate the beautiful restored ruby kombi parked next to my own retro car, a pt cruiser… However I divert myself.

Felt Flowers

Cherie and Josh inspired me with their choice of flowers.  Flowers in the glass bulbs hanging in trees, flowers at the belt of the flower girls, in lapels of groomsmen and in the hands of bridesmaids and bride. But all made from felt.

Cherie found them on Etsy, from a gorgeous maker in Albania called Livija Kandele, who showcases her felted creations on her daughter’s Etsy shop.  By the time wedding flower styles and colours had been negotiated, they were firm friends.  Cherie tells me she will miss her weekly online chat with her new friend, the felter.  Livija, a craftswoman from Albania, wove her creativity into new realms with the design of new flowers especially for this Australian wedding by the beach.

Cherie said: “She had never made wedding flowers before, but sells hand and needle felted brooches, toys and various homeware items, on her daughter’s Etsy store- Liga Kandele.  I actually began talking with Liga initially who coordinated with her mother, and took professional photos of the work to send me as her mother progressed.  Livija agreed that she would be happy to give wedding flowers a try, and I ended up speaking back and forth with both mother and daughter about the detail of the flowers quite regularly.  They were both amazing, and so extremely helpful and accommodating to my very specific requests!”

Cherie and Josh had clear ideas on the colour scheme for their wedding.  In line with their retro theming, and using a classic autumn colour palette, they chose browns and oranges and yellows and cream.  The flowers were quite symbolic too.

They selected Australian yellow wattle for their home country,

English roses for the long time they spent living in England,

North American russet red spotted tiger lily flowers for their time in Canada, and creamy citrus blossoms, traditional for weddings in times gone by.

The combinations were just stunning.

Cherie told me,” The dark orange flower is an orange spotted tiger lily.  This flower was actually the main reason why I started looking into getting flowers made in the first place! I had a Sesame Street “Little Golden Book” when I was little, where big bird walked around the neighbourhood with flowers giving them to different people – describing the different types of flowers as he went.  I always had a fascination and love for the orange spotted tiger lily in the book – it had stuck in my brain all this time! I noticed over the years that I’d never seen a tiger lily quite like that in Australia – they look different here.  So I started researching it for the wedding and found that these type of flowers mostly come from North America.  We had just moved back from living in North America (Canada), so I thought why not include that, plus a flower from England, and one from Australia – the three places Josh and I had lived together 🙂

To set off the flowers and their colours, the boys dressed in browns and carried brown umbrellas.  Very classy!

And the girls dressed in individual retro dresses in mustard yellows, and carried brown polka dot umbrellas.  The overall effect was simply gorgeous, set under the she oak trees in the park.

Photos by Kari – the celebrant!