How to Choose a Celebrant

How to Choose a Celebrant

How do you choose a marriage celebrant?  With so many around, how do you decide how to choose?

What qualities would you look for in a five star celebrant?

Here is a guide to help you choose your marriage celebrant.

On a scale of 1 to 5 Diamonds, how will your Celebrant rate?

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.

They only have 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 they have 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 they arrive late and dash 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. They are impeccably and appropriately dressed. Would never dream of doing more than two weddings in a weekend – but usually one. They make 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.

Wedding vows to children

Wedding vows to children

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Wedding promises to your children.

Allow me to give you a glimpse of the story of Shireen and Aaron who wed at the beautiful and elegant Spicers Clovely Estate. Their wedding was a very classy occasion. 

However it was also clearly a family affair, including promises to the kids.

A family affair

When I met Shireen and Aaron, it was evident that love for their kids was paramount.  In fact the kids came with them to their wedding appointment with me; gorgeous kids, with a sweet attitude, and calm demeanour.  They played on the veranda daybed while we arranged the wedding ceremony for Aaron and Shireen.

More than wedding vows

This wedding had to be about family as much as it was about two people. Their kids are darlings. It was clear how much love and care they have in their family surroundings.  The family unit is the most important part of Aaron and Shireen’s lives. Part of the aim of this wedding was to unite the  family in name as well as heart.  Designing their wedding ceremony had to include the kids as a really important part of the day.  

Of course they were part of the bridal party, as page boy and flower girl.  They walked down the aisle hand in hand, dressed to perfection, and stole the show… at least from the photographers point of view.  They stole our hearts.

When designing the ceremony, we needed to include something more poignant than appearances as well.

 

Creating Wedding Vows

In the meeting we discussed the meaning and reasons behind wedding vows.  Wedding vows are said from one partner to the other. These wedding vows are often humble and generous promises for future, for commitment and personal endeavour.  They reflect an endeavour to strive for a positive outcome no matter what.  In the case of Shireen and Aaron, it was clear there were other marriage promises in the air.  Their promises to each other seemed to include an unspoken promise to their children.

 

Vows to children

The more we talked about it, the more it seemed appropriate to make this unspoken promise an outward and public promise.  As a symbol of family unity and a commitment to the nurturing of these children, they chose to make a public wedding vow to their son and daughter.

Darlings, we just want you to know that we love you dearly.  

Part of this ceremony today is a promise to you,

that we will always love you,

always care for you,

and always be willing to listen and be present for you.  


Together we will go forward, united in same name as the “Amour” family.

A family story

Their wedding was truly sublime.  A family affair from morning to night.

Thanks to Taylah of Tay and Francis for the stunning images of this wedding at Clovelly Estate.

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!

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Celebrant Halfmoon Hideaway

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Celebrant Halfmoon Hideaway3
Celebrant Halfmoon Hideaway4

Hideaway wedding with celebrant Kari

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Hideaway wedding with Morris minor

Hideaway wedding with vintage caravanThe Canape Project

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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

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

A Russian Wedding tradition

A Russian Wedding tradition

We do not live by bread alone, and we cannot survive without salt. In Russia there is a wedding tradition….

But first a story.

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I remember from childhood a story about three sisters, the daughters of a king.  He asked of them, “How much do you love me?”

One replied, “Father I love you like all the diamonds in your crown.”

Another said, “Daddy, I love you as much as all the gold in your vault.”

The third thoughtfully and simply said, “Dad, I love you like salt”.

Unfortunately the king did not appreciate this sentiment, and banished his daughter from his kingdom.

Many years later, during his travels as an ageing man, he stumbled across another far away kingdom, and was welcomed by the royal family.  Not recognising his long lost daughter at the head of the family, she served up a banquet with no salt.  The food was tasteless and terrible, and he spat out the food saying it was inedible.

So she brought to the table a bowl of salt and asked if he wished to add this to the food. “Father, I still love you like salt. I meant that life is not only tasteless without you, I can not live without you.”

There is a Russian wedding tradition of bread and salt.  And it is Alex and Scott who introduced me to this tradition.

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So in love

So congratulations to Alex and Scott married with such joy at Maleny Manor.

Alex and Scott were a delight from day one.  They are so in love, and out to have fun, yet are very comfortable with their respective heritage.IMG_2704

In recognition of Alex’s Russian background she chose to honour a tradition passed down the line of women in her family. And what women!  Her Mother and Auntie came out from Germany and Russia to make it happen!

       Bread and Salt

There is a Russian wedding tradition of Bread and Salt.

“Bread is the head of everything”. This Russian proverb explains the importance of bread in Russia for many centuries.

Bread is life and bread is hospitality.

Salt is a symbol of wealth and prosperity.

The night before the wedding day, Alex’s Mum, Marina and Aunt Ira baked a special bread with salt in the centre.  At the completion of their wedding ceremony, Alex and Scott broke the bread, dipped it in salt and shared this gift of food with each other.  It was a touching moment, a nod to family and a sweet (or should I say tasty) completion to a ceremony.

This tradition symbolises that they’ll never be without the necessities of life and they will always take care of each other.  And I trust that in this case they always will.

This is what they said:

From the very first meeting we were sure that our ceremony was in good hands with Kari.

We felt an instant connection and understanding by her of who we are and what our relationship is all about. The writing of the ceremony was painless, easy and just wonderful, including many personal touches and a great flow. Communication was effortless and we had the most wonderful ceremony reflecting who we truly are. We received many compliments from our family and friends on our ceremony and it will be a treasured part of our magical wedding day.

Thank you Kari! You are all that we ever wished for and more!

Alexandra & Scott

Thank you to Talitha and James from Artography for the wonderful images.