New Year’s Resolutions for the Bereaved

Very thoughtful article.

Chapel Ridge Funeral Home & Cremation Centre

If you lost someone close to you this year – be it a friend, family member, colleague, or classmate – you are probably entering 2018 with a very different mind set. New Year’s Resolutions might seem silly or trivial, and life feels unpredictable.

While it may not work for everyone, some find planning and working towards a goal is a great way to cope with a loss. Here are some suggestions to help you add purpose and meaning to the coming year.


Many find that giving up some free time for a cause that’s important to them is a great way to get outside of one’s comfort zone. If you want to, choose a cause that relates to the person you lost this year. Whether it’s working with a local charity, helping at a school, coaching a sport’s team, or helping out at a community event. It’s a…

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Baby Naming

Naming-pic1I conducted a name giving ceremony last week for a three month old baby and thought again, what a lovely celebration for the parents, grandparents, uncles aunties, siblings, cousins and friends.

As more and more people are moving away from religious ceremonies, baby christenings are not performed as much and parents are preferring to have a civil ceremony to name and celebrate the birth of their child.   It is a lovely happy occasion with the appointing of Godparents or guardians and the presentation of certificates.

If this appeals to you don’t hesitate to discuss with me and we can create a personalised ceremony to celebrate the birth of your child.

0407 300 970


Nathan and Erica’s secret wedding – and then 2 more ceremonies!


Nathan and Erica had a very small intimate ceremony in their backyard and very few people knew about it.  He did a wonderful job decorating his backyard in Melbourne and creating a lovely intimate atmosphere for his marriage to Erica.

Erica was from Taiwan so after their legal ceremony in Melbourne they celebrated again in traditional Taiwanese fashion!  There were many frocks involved for the pre wedding party and another frock for the main ceremony.  It was a grand occasion!

See my website for information on small intimate weddings.

Chris and Kristen’s wedding in the park

Chris and Kristen wanted a very short simple and casual ceremony with their friends and family in St Kilda Botanical Gardens.  It was a beautiful day and the park had a lovely relaxed atmosphere with many people enjoying the sunshine.  They arranged for me to come at a pre arranged time when the festivities were already in progress.  I performed the ceremony with minimum amount of fuss and the celebrations continued!

The CeremonyDSC05593DSC05588



Beach Weddings


Beach weddings look beautiful but with Melbourne’s unpredictable weather make sure you have a plan B!  You will need to seriously consider your alternative plan not only if it is very cold, wet and windy but also in the extreme heat.  Be mindful that your guests will have arrived a lot earlier than the bridal party so try to arrive on time and you may need to have some shelter and refreshments available!



Personalised Marriage ceremonies Daniel and Bernadeth


Daniel waited a long time to marry Bernadeth.  His bride-to-be lived in The Philippines and Daniel was sponsoring her to obtain a prospective spouse visa. He came to see me and to support his application we filled out the paperwork and I wrote a letter to the Department of Immigration stating that he had hired me to be his celebrant to perform their marriage ceremony.  We set a tentative date and then had to wait for the visa to be granted before they could get married.  Many months later the approval was finally granted and the marriage took place in April this year at beautiful Queens Park in Moonee Ponds.  It was a crisp autumn evening but the ceremony was held outside with the beautiful backdrop of the lake.  Bernadeth’s sister travelled from The Phillippines to be one of the bridesmaids…………

(Daniel’s vows)

….It’s taken us 2 years and almost 6,000 kilometres to get here, But our journey is definitely not over yet.  Today, I commit to spending the rest of my life on that journey with you I promise to love you and care for you, I promise to make you smile and laugh and I promise to always provide for you and look after you – Regardless if you’re being makulit or mabait. I’ll keep trying to learn Tagolog – but I’m not promising I’ll succeed with that one… From this day, to the end of my days I will love you and only you Mahal kita walang iba

(Bernadeth)  When I met you, I had no idea how much my life was about to be changed, but then, how could I have known?  A love like ours happens once in a lifetime.  You were a godsend to me, the one who was everything I had ever hoped for, the one I thought only existed in my imagination.

When you came into my life, I realized that what I had always thought was happiness couldn’t compare to the joy loving you brought me.  You are a part of everything I think, I do and I feel, and with you by my side I believe that anything is possible, because of you, I laugh, I smile and I dare to dream again…….


Daniel and Bernadeth

0407 300 970

I have helped many couple with their prospective spouse visa application, don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like me to be your celebrant and good luck with your application!  Many couples wait a long time and it is a very rewarding experience to be able to help them.







Personalised Marriage Ceremonies Bruna and Alby: The Mandalay, Northcote

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It was a slow beginning to the relationship between Bruna and Alby it took months of text messages and the odd chance encounter on the train before Alby decided to give his mobile number to Bruna.  Then one night in October at a soccer presentation night, Alby discovered the feeling of butterflies in his belly when Bruna went over to say hello. A quick good bye was exchanged at the end of the night with the hope that more would come. Around comes November and Alby invites himself to watch Bruna play indoor soccer; he felt like a young teenage boy full of excitement to see this girl. Finally Alby got the courage to ask Bruna out and they went on a first date on the 26th of November.

On this date there was no shortage of conversation, both were fighting to get their say, Bruna winning that battle of course. It was a great night; both enjoying each other’s company.

A second date followed on the Saturday where they decided a movie would be nice… which ended up with poor Alby discovered that bringing Bruna to an action movie wasn’t such a great idea. As it so happens Bruna is very jumpy during the action bits and has such a thing that with every jump she flings her arms in fright…well let’s just say that Alby went home that night with some nice bruising on his arm.

From then on Alby and Bruna were inseparable, with a deep understanding of each to the point where they would finish off their sentences or would answer each other’s questions before it was even asked. It is like they have known each other for years.

Now fast forward ……… nestled in a cute little restaurant under the Spanish steps in Rome, Alby asks Bruna to marry him and with a little delay she said yes…

I asked Bruna and Alby to finish this sentence – if love is… then marriage is? 

If love is like making a cake…Then marriage is like enjoying what you have created together…….

The following are a few lines from the beautiful vows Bruna and Alby wrote themselves:


…….It amazes me how I feel so at ease and comfortable with you.  Never before have I opened up my most inner thoughts and desires to anyone as I have to you. I have always had this inner me but not willing to share it with anyone before. ……….

Bruna, my Bella, I promise you today to give you all my love now and forever, as your husband till the day my eyes close for the last time.


………I love you for the way you make my heart beat a few extra beats when you hold me tight and for how you look into my eyes and allow all my worries to just fade away and you let me just simply breathe………..I love you for how you love my son like his yours and for how you are willing to make us your family.  I love you for being you…a warm gentle soul, that has lots of time for others, that has compassion, courage, strength, intelligence, wits and a great passion for life…………..

 Vows to include Bruna’s son Wayde)

Marriage is also an affirmation of the family union which includes Wayde and the responsibilities, joys, sharing, love and strength that this family holds for them.  Alby and Bruna know that by loving one another they will give Wayde the greatest gift of all, that of giving and receiving love.  Their shared love and friendship will bring great joy to themselves and to all those who know them.

Vows to Wayde

Alby: Today as I become your husband, we will also become a family.  I promise to be faithful to you and I will be there for you and Wayde always.  No matter what circumstances life brings our way, we will face them together as a family.  I commit myself to both of you from this day forward and forevermore……



If you would like to hire me as a celebrant you can email or visit my website for further information. 

0407 300 970

Personalised marriage ceremonies Kirk and Tess

Kirk and Tess were married at Ballara in Eltham on a beautiful sunny spring day.  They had a large bridal party and it was very special with the rotunda in front of the lake.  They chose classical music by Bach, Pachelbel and Vivaldi for the entrance of the bridesmaids, bride and the signing.  At the end of the ceremony I suggested something upbeat so they chose “Happy” by Pharrel Williams.

After the introduction we went straight into the story of how they met, I loved their story, I think it was another case of love at first sight!


It was a chance occurrence that saw Tess and Kirk meet. After they had exchanged some small talk, they made a spur of the moment decision to give each other their numbers and meet again.

It was when they next met that the seed sprouted, and it did so very quickly. The chemistry was there immediately.  On their first date they talked and talked. It wasn’t until they realised that work was only a few hours away that they called it a night.  They had talked a lot, well over 5 hours!  They both felt like they had known each other for years, and were completely at ease in each other’s company. It was this natural sense of being, the comfort and warmth they felt together that brings them here today.

Not long after that first meeting Kirk had to go to Spain for 3 months for work.  They had grown very close in a short time, to the point Kirk didn’t want to leave without her.  Tess couldn’t wait the whole 3 months for him to come home either. So he offered to pay for Tess to fly to Spain and spend a few weeks with him. Flying around the world to meet after such a short time requires a leap of faith.  For those who know Tess well, they would probably say they were surprised as she would normally run from her own shadow. She was very nervous about travelling on her own to meet him. The trust in each other however, made this an easy decision.

It was a great experience for Tess and they had an amazing few weeks together, even squeezing in a weekend in Paris.  To this day their trip along the Champs Elysees to visit the Palace of Versailles remains a treasured memory.  However Tess had to return home before Kirk did, but there was much time chatting on the phone and their relationship thrived.

Kirk has widened Tess’s horizons and likes to encourage her to try new things even if she is unwilling at first, like getting her to eat 6 snails. They travelled to Europe together again for 2 months last year in August to October.  Kirk has taken Tess to experience many beautiful places and buildings as he loves the history and architecture.  She admits that she has experienced a lot of things that she would never have tried before thanks to Kirk.

Kirk loves the way Tess is so close to her family, and he admires her loyalty and caring nature. ……….  Kirk encourages Tess in all things she does and supports her especially in her work.  In Tess’s words “He believes in me and loves me for who I am and doesn’t try and change me. ……..  He makes me laugh, and tells good jokes.”

Together they love going to the movies, out for dinners, concerts, weekends away, snow trips, road trips and of course overseas trips. I mustn’t forget to mention that they also love their little dogs Gizmo and Lola.  They even travelled to Hahndorf in South Australia to collect Lola as a pup!


…….Day by day I promise to love you and to honour you

To treasure you and respect you

To walk with you side by side, and joy and sorrow

Day by day I promise as your husband

To hold you in my arms, to grow with you in truth

To laugh with you, to cry with you, to be with you and to love you

With all that I am and all that I shall become

This I promise you from the depth of my heart, my soul, for all our life together.

…….    If everyone can please be upstanding it is my great pleasure to present before you the newly married Mr. and Mrs. Stephenson!

I just received an email from them and they are the proud parents of a 5 month old daughter.  Congratulations!
























Personalised marriage ceremonies Gabriele and Gerrit A procession and two wedding dresses!

Gabriele and I have been friends for many years, we met at choir and enjoyed being choir buddies for many years.  We were also both nurses so had another common interest.  We shared a room when our choir travelled to Perth many years ago and got to know each other very well.

I had heard a lot about Gerrit her new man and I was very excited when Gabriele told me they were engaged and thrilled when she asked me to officiate at the ceremony.  She and Gerrit had firm ideas of the run of the events for the day and it was all organized very quickly.

They wanted a prewinter date so they were married on 27th May this year.  We all met at their house beforehand for drinks and nibbles.  We then “processed” the short walk to the hotel where the ceremony and reception were held. The neighbours all came out to cheer us on and it was a lot of fun!





Ceremony excerpts:

……When planning the ceremony with Gabriele and Gerrit it became quite apparent that they did not want anything too formal or too traditional and they wanted as much involvement from their friends and family as possible, which I think is testament to the way they live their lives in general, with many of us being privy to their hospitality, warmth and generosity over the years.

Personal story

I asked Gerrit and Gabriele to tell me a little about their relationship and what making a commitment means to them.  In fact, I gave them a whole list of questions:  Gabriele promptly answered them in her quick decisive manner.  I must say Gerrit did agree with her answers!

…..One thing came through loud and clear: three values are very important to them and they are: honesty, respect and trust…..the qualities they most treasure about each other are their love, openness and directness.

Their goals for a happy marriage include the ability to maintain their own identity, also trust, honesty, communication and fun and laughter.  And for their children they believe their marriage will provide a safe and secure space from which they will venture forth and fulfil their dreams.

In Gabriele’s words:

Gerrit is passionate and enthusiastic in his endeavours. he is sensitive, always cries at movies and is very loving. He is happy to try new things and is adventurous. He likes my cooking. He is open to saying yes.  Life will never be boring with him.

Memorable times.

Our first date was on a rainy night at the Radisson, when I was late for choir rehearsal afterwards. I noticed his good table manners and passion for skiing.  Gerrit was very nervous, and continued to be nervous for our next few dates. We went 5 Rhythms dancing on a few choir free Tuesday nights (child free evenings), which were a fun physical release and a way of getting to know each other.

At our first date, Gerrit reignited my skiing passion. A few practice sessions at Ski City set me up for a few weekends in Mt Buller where Gerrit worked winters.  I remember how excited Gerrit was that I could ski!  The kids tried and enjoyed skiing too……….

Appreciation of music is a strong bond. Both of us love our Tuesday nights. I’m at choir (RMP) and Gerrit rehearses with his band. We try to get out and hear some live music, whenever we can.

Gerrit is dedicated and devoted to Gabriele.  He dutifully sent me the answers to my list of questions about Gabriele and their relationship.  On their first date he also remembered it was raining and the big hug he got……………He loved their lunchtime dates and meeting and spending time with Gabriele’s children.  He also enjoys their times skiing and dancing….

Their three children all participated in the ceremony:  Gerrit’s son Grant was the ring bearer and Gabriele’s two daughters, Erica and Sophia did readings.  They all took part in the unity candle ceremony.


Poem for a Mother’s wedding Robyn O’Connell  read by Erica

Who would have thought, that there would come a time

When I would be standing at your wedding, rather than you being at mine?

That day will come, as sure as can be

But for now, it’s my turn and look what I see

A mum that has been there, through thick and through thin

And now here you stand, your face in a grin

The wish that I bring for my mother right now

Is health and happiness, as you take your wedding vow

So, to you dear Mum, what more can I say?

Than to love the dear friend you have beside you today

I hope you both are as happy, as you can ever can be

Knowing much love comes from your daughter – that’s me!

Once upon a time you two met You’ve shared much love and laughter May your marriage be a fairy tale Happy ever after

I’m glad I’m in the fairy tale And you are too I guess Congratulations, King and Queen From your fairy tale Princess.


Reading: What is a family Author unknown read by Sophia

A family is…

The sweetest feelings  the warmest hugs,  trust and togetherness

Unconditional love,the stories of our lives written on the same page

The nicest memories anyone has ever made, treasured photos

Thankful tears, hearts overflowing with all the years

Being there for one another, supporting and caring

Understanding, helping, sharing,

Walking life’s path together and making the journey more beautiful because…

We are a family, and a family is love.


Candle ceremony

Our family

(Gerrit)  Beginning our new life together does not mean that we will forget the lives we leave behind

It was that past that brought us here, without it we would not have our children

And all the happy memories of their growing into the young people that we are so very proud of…

(Gabriele)  As we light these candles we extend the love w”e share for each other to encompass Grant, Sophia and Erica

And ask them to light a candle and place it in this circle as a symbol of the joining of our families.

We all had a fun night with lots of dancing and good food.  I wish you a wonderful future together!

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