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.

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.

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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:

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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Jo & Jill -208same sex celebrant Kari Marion Jonkers Photographer

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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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

The Bridesmaids’ story

The Bridesmaids’ story

wedding party amongst the trees and shadows

The Bridesmaids’ story

Today’s story is about the Bridesmaids.  Lift your glasses for a toast to the Bridesmaids, Steph, Sharna, Vanessa, Alyce and Kristen.

First of all Congratulations to Sam and Jai, married in Byron Bay…but more on them in a later story.

bridesmaids in pink

Bestie to bridesmaid?

Sam, the bride, took great care on planning her wedding, and involving her favourite people.  She began by asking them all in a delightful fashion.  As Kristen said, “We went for Friday after work drinks and Sam gave me a little gift box. Inside the box was a handful of tiny brown paper scrolls.  Each had a different memory of us growing up, and some of the crazy things we did!

The very last scroll read Krisso…. Will you be my bridesmaid?  I’m pretty sure everyone in the bar had a heart attack, I squealed that loudly!”

Will you be my bridesmaid?

Sam had been besties with her Bridesmaids since childhood, so all five girls signed up immediately.

How did you find the bridesmaid dresses?

The six girls, maids and bride, spent a day together seeking the perfect dress for Sam’s relaxed and elegant garden wedding to be held at a quaint farmhouse on the hill looking out over Byron Bay.

from pink to mauve in the bridesmaids dresses

A colour palate not a colour

The Bride did not wish to dictate to her friends, so she pretty much gave them free reign on bridesmaids dress. She did show them a picture of the colour palate she’d prefer; earthy colours, pale dusky pinks, mauves, champagne.  Said Sharna, “Sammy’s idea was for all the dresses to be unique and different but from a similar colour palette. We opted for full length as it was elegant and flattering.” They couldn’t find anything that first day.  So off they went back to their own life schedules and continued seeking on their own. Kristen commented, “The first time we saw the dresses all together was the night before the wedding and they just worked perfectly together!!” PHEW! Check out the pix.

Bought One at a time

It is hard to believe that the dresses were bought one by one, separately by each bridesmaid.

What was the bridesmaids highlight?

What was the highlight of Sam and Jai’s wedding day for you?

Kristen said, “Getting ready back at the hotel and seeing how happy Sammy was. She’s usually a control freak and everything has to be perfect but she was just so relaxed and ready to marry the man of her dreams. Seeing her walk down the aisle was pretty amazing!”

Sharna said, “Hard to say as it was all stunningly beautiful.  Probably milling around after the ceremony and getting our photos taken. Getting our hair and makeup done together was fun too.”

Will you wear your dress again?

“I hope so. I love it!” Here we are having a play in the archway after the service…In the distance is Byron Bay lighthouse and the best surf of the week! Not that we were interested!