Personalised wedding ceremonies Sarah and Jackson Unity vase ritual

When Sarah and Jackson came to see me they had definite plans in their mind of what kind of ceremony they wanted.  I was thrilled that they placed so much importance on the ceremony and they had obviously given it a lot of thought.  They wanted something a bit quirky and upbeat.  Sarah even told me about a website which had inspired her.  Sarah was born in America, Jackson was born in Australia and they both have Irish ancestors  so they wanted their Irish heritage incorporated into the ceremony as well.  We spent a lot of time planning the ceremony and I really enjoyed the challenge.  I realised that most of the weddings I had conducted were a more traditional style so it made me think outside the box.

They were married at Chateau Wyuna on a beautiful summer’s day.  The ceremony was held near the rock pool on the stunning property and they had a large bridal party.  They preferred their guests to enjoy the ceremony without being distracted by taking photos and asked me to announce this at the beginning of the ceremony.  They also wanted the inclusion of the unity vase/ritual to unite the families and cultures.  Sarah and Jackson and their parents all placed items of significance into the vase as the symbol of the joining of the families.

The ceremony started with the introduction of all of the wedding party.

…….It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the beautiful Chateau Wyuna: standing with me here is the stunning bride Sarah, accompanied by her beautiful bridesmaids Rachel, Elizabeth, Sonya and Stephanie; and the handsome groom Jackson, his dashing groomsmen Mat and Jeremy and the gorgeous grooms woman, Aimee.  And at the bottom of the stairs we have Gemma and Tate the ring bearer.


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First of all I would like to acknowledge that this occasion is being held on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people, and pay my respect to their elders both past and present.

Today is a celebration. A celebration of love, of commitment, of friendship, of family, and of two people who are in it for forever.

You don’t have to have a ceremony to have a marriage. And when you think about it, the whole thing is kind of weird, right? You’re standing on a stage, looking fancy, holding flowers, and being stared at by pretty much everyone who has meant anything to you in the past twenty something years. So why do we do it? The marriage ceremony has been an important feature across nearly every culture, religion, generation, and society. We have thousands of important moments that happen throughout our lives, but this one is regarded as one so critical, we acknowledge its special status by sharing it with others. Why this moment?

Because despite all of our differences, love is what we all share. It’s the great unifier – our one universal truth. That no matter who we are, where we’ve come from, what we believe, we know this one thing: love is what we’re doing right. That’s why you both are standing here…………

And even though this experience is so incredible, words fail us when we try and explain it.  That’s just the way it is with love – it’s meant to be felt, not described. But trying to describe love is one of our favourite pastimes……..

So today, we have some words about love, coming from some of the people who love you the most. I’d like to introduce Sarah’s Aunt Denise who will read a poem, before Sarah’s father, Jeff, gives an Irish Blessing.

Denise will be reading a poem that Jackson liked in high school, and wrote the last stanza in an anniversary card to Sarah one year. They both think it’s beautiful and have grand plans to use the quote in an art piece for their home!

Thought is Surrounded by a Halo – Gwen Harwood

Show me the order of the world,

the hard-edge light of this-is-so

prior to all experience

and common to both world and thought,

no model, but the truth itself.


Language is not a perfect game,

and if it were, how could we play?

The world’s more than the sum of things

like moon, sky, centre, body, bed,

as all the singing masters know.


Picture two lovers side by side

who sleep and dream and wake to hold

the real and imagined world

body by body, word by word

in the wild halo of their thought


Jeff: I’ve been fortunate enough to give an Irish Blessing at most of my children’s weddings, and both Sarah and Jackson have Irish heritage. This blessing is one Sarah really loves

May your mornings bring joy and your evenings bring peace.

May your troubles grow few as your blessings increase.

May the saddest day of your future

Be no worse than the happiest day of your past.

May your hands be forever clasped in friendship

And your hearts joined forever in love.

Your lives are very special,

God has touched you in many ways.

May his blessings rest upon you

And fill all your coming days.


The Asking

Will you, Jackson and Sarah, be each other’s partners from this day forward? will you bring out the best in one another, share your happiest moments together, and love each other absolutely – for the rest of this lifetime and for whatever may come next?

Sarah and Jackson: we will

The Asking

Sarah and Jackson would now like to incorporate a ritual of the unity vase to unite the joining of the families and cultures.  Jackson will begin by pouring Australian dirt into unity vase. [pours Australian dirt into unity vase]

Sarah’s parents – Laura and Jeff; and Jackson’s parents – Mary and Nick, will now place some items of significance to symbolise the joining of the families.

– Sarah’s mum will place some stones she collected from a park where her father  (Sarah’s grandfather’s) ashes are scattered

(Laura places stones)

– Sarah’s dad will place some dried impatiens – his mother’s favourite flower

(Jeff places dried impatiens)

-Jacksons mother will be placing some seashells from the Gold Coast where she grew up

(Mary places seashells)

-Jacksons father will place a prayer book he was given by his father, which symbolizes the role music and the church played in his education and formative years.

(Nick places prayer book)

The Vows

You fell in love by chance, but you’re here today because you’re making a choice. You both are choosing each other. You’ve chosen to be with someone who enhances you, who makes you think, makes you smile, and makes every day brighter.

You’re about to make promises to each other that you intend to keep. There’s a simple premise to each of these promises: you’re vowing to be there. You’re teaming up and saying to each other “every experience I am going to have, I want you to be a part of”

Jackson and Sarah:

…………Personal vows: (read from card)

Ring exchange

You’ve both chosen to wear rings as a reminder of these promises. People often say wedding bands are a perfect circle, with no beginning and no end. But these rings did have a beginning. The metals were formed a long time ago deep within the earth, the meteorite long before that.

Eventually a series of lucky events caused the meteorite to fall from space, and the metals to rise to the surface, where someone collected them. Metal was then liquefied in a furnace at a thousand degrees – moulded, cooled, and painstakingly polished, something beautiful was made from raw elements.

Love too comes from humble beginnings, and through a combination of serendipity and effort, imperfect beings shape it into something extraordinary. It’s the process of making something beautiful where there was once nothing at all. As you look at these rings over the years, I hope you remember that. You’ve created something invaluable, and just as I know you’ll protect these rings, I’m confident you’ll protect the commitments you’ve made to one another.

Jackson, please place the ring on Sarah’s finger and, holding it there, please say: 


Let this ring be a symbol of our love,

May it represent our today, our tomorrows,

Our future and our past.

Sarah, please place the ring on Jackson’s finger and, holding it there, please say:


Let this ring be a symbol of our love,

May it represent our today, our tomorrows,

Our future and our past.


Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives me the greatest pleasure to present to you – the newlyweds, Jackson and Sarah!


Personalised Wedding Ceremonies Helen and Stephen

I have been very fortunate that so many of my past couples have happily agreed to share their special personalised story.  Every wedding is so different which makes my job so enjoyable.

Helen and Stephen were married in the upper gallery at the beautiful artist colony Montsalvat in Eltham, Victoria.   It was a very hot January day in 2012 and the sun streamed through the beautiful window behind us during the ceremony.

Personal story (read after introduction)

Two years ago things weren’t going that well for both Helen and Stephen.  They had both been in long relationships which unfortunately didn’t work out.  Helen moved back home and she helped her mother look after her father who was very ill.  Unfortunately he passed away. However she has her father to thank, as it was at her father’s funeral she spotted a rather cute guy.  Stephen came to the funeral to support Vin (Helen’s brother) who was a work colleague.  Stephen was also invited back to the house for the wake.  It was a fabulous party as Dad wanted it to be, the beer was cold and kept flowing, the tea was hot and there was plenty of food for everyone.  Helen and Stephen chatted briefly and Stephen also chatted for a long time with Helen’s Mum Nancy.  

Shortly afterwards Steve wrote an email to Helen’s brother Vin which was quite funny and he though Helen would find it amusing so forwarded it to her.  Helen hadn’t forgotten Stephen and she now had his email address!  She wasn’t sure if she should but did so anyway.. she sent him an email explaining who she was thinking he would not remember her.  She briefly mentioned how her life wasn’t that great at the moment and was going through a tough time.  I guess she needed him to know that she was no longer attached to anyone!  Steve had remembered her of course and they emailed each other a few times and then he invited her out for a beer. Their relationship was easy and effortless from the beginning and they felt very comfortable with one another. January 2011 they went on a trip together to Ireland.  Once again Steve invited her out for a beer, this time in the famous Guinness Brewery. 

In Helen’s words: Steve and I were in the Guinness Brewery and he said to me “If you drink this pint of Guinness Helen O’Neill I will marry you” so of course I did and then Steve got down on bended knee and proposed there and then to the cheers of everyone in the bar!. 

Every wedding ceremony is of course, the recognition of a marriage that already exists on an emotional level, and Stephen and Helen have already made a commitment by sharing a home together and helping raise Stephen’s lovely daughter Scarlett.  

This ceremony today gives official recognition to a union that has already taken place in the hearts of this couple.  It is Stephen and Helen’s wish at this time to declare their marriage partnership to the world.  These principles of marriage that will build and strengthen their relationship, will involve a strong commitment, an unconditional commitment from the heart, to each other.

Giving away 

One of the most understated but deepest relationships in human life is that between the caring father and mother and the loving daughter.  One of the rare occasions this relationship is acknowledged is at a wedding ceremony.  In Des’s absence Nancy represents all of us, she particularly represents her family, but today in a special gesture she symbolizes her own personal love for her daughter.  “Who presents this woman to be married to this man?

Helen’s mother (Nancy) I do 

Even in the quiet corners of the world up above, Helen’s father Des would have stopped on this day to look down ever so proudly on Helen’s special day, with a smile and beer in hand to see his daughter happily marrying the man she loves.

Following the vows and ring ceremony Helen and Stephen showed their commitment  to Stephen’s daughter Scarlett:


I would now like to ask Scarlett to come forward and stand in a circle with Stephen and Helen

Helen wishes to extend her commitment to Stephen and Scarlett by making some pledges to Scarlett.

(Helen) Scarlett, I have grown to love you as if you were my own daughter.  I promise to love, nurture, guide and guard you for all the days of my life.

It was a very special moment as the photos show.

I would now like to ask Scarlett to come forward and stand in a circle with Stephen and Helen

Helen wishes to extend her commitment to Stephen and Scarlett by making some pledges to Scarlett.

(Helen) Scarlett, I have grown to love you as if you were my own daughter.  I promise to love, nurture, guide and guard you for all the days of my life.

Personalised marriage ceremonies Laura and Ben

Laura and Ben were married at the beautiful Mandalay reception centre in Northcote Melbourne on 20th March, 2010. It is a delightful venue now run by a very friendly Italian family who provide exceptional service and delicious food.

Laura and Ben told me their story of how they met, as you will see, they were both very determined to make this relationship happen! The following is part of their personalised marriage ceremony.

Laura and Ben first met 3 years ago in Federation Square at a bar.   They chatted for quite a while and were getting along very well.  However Laura decided it was time to go home but before she left she spontaneously gave Ben a kiss and ran out with her friends.  Poor Ben was left standing there with no contact details.  Ben was not to be outdone but had to chase her across Flinders Street before he managed to grab her and kiss her in return!  He got contact details this time and soon after they began seeing each other regularly and were very comfortable together.  Ben was in his last year at university and even though he really wanted the relationship to continue, he kept warning Laura not to get too involved with him as he knew he would have to leave Melbourne and would be travelling a lot with his work as a geologist. 

I asked Ben what he liked about Laura.  “I love seeing her beaming smile and hearing her loud laugh.  You can always spot her in a crowd with her blonde hair.  We never have any boring times and she makes me feel very special.  I have a lot of fun with Laura.  She puts up with the fact that I have to be away a lot.  I love coming home to her, she looks after me when I’m sick as I am such a woos and I love the way she cooks!” 

Laura likes the way Ben is very caring, kind and sincere.  He means what he says.  “Ben has taught me a lot about myself” she told me.  He helped me grow into a better person and has taught me things I never knew before.  I love the way he asked me to move to Western Australia, I would never have moved to WA if it wasn’t for him and had the experiences of working in a remote community with indigenous people.  We had two years solid in WA, two years just him and I, that’s a testament to our bond and relationship.  We had a lot of ups and downs but we got through it together.”   

Ben’s brother Callan read the beautiful poem by Pablo Neruda, Sonnet 17

I don’t love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz or arrow of carnations that propagate fire: I love you as certain dark things are loved, secretly, between the shadow and the soul. I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries hidden within itself the light of those flowers, and thanks to your love, darkly in my body lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth. I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where, I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.

Laura follows Ben wherever his work takes them and at present they are living in the north of Australia and have three beautiful daughters all blonde like Laura!

I had the pleasure of officiating at the marriage of Laura’s sister Gemma last year.

Stay tuned for Helen and Stephen’s story next week!



The glamorous 1920’s!

Two Cents Bridal

Let’s go back to a time when jazz was king and flapper’s abounded.F. Scott Fitzgerald mesmerized millions, when he described life in the 1920’s. Today we are still fascinated by the rich culture and suaveness of this time period. Movies romanticizethe time periodand people try to relive it through party themes. Our next collaboration will embody the time! Enjoy as you’re transported back in time…

Ellie Mendez Photography captures this amazing journey through time.

The back drop to this impressive scene? James Ward Mansion in beautiful Westfield, NJ. This magnificentestate could house Jay Gatsby himself with luxury from beginning to end.

Our fantastic hair and makeup artisan’s transform our already beautiful models into goddesses befitting the time period.

Amanda, hair stylist, reported creating the flower girl’s look bystyling with loose curls. Her hair piece really captures the 1920’s feel with her symmetrical Bob hairstyle.This bride has…

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Wet weather weddings!


Everyone wants a sunny day for their wedding.  Picture it: not too hot, not too windy (will ruin my hair!) not too cold (will shiver in my dress) definitely no rain please!! that will ruin everything….actually just a few clouds will be nice because they will add a bit of class to our wedding photos.

If only we could all have perfect weather but unfortunately it does rain in Melbourne and not only in winter and September.  All those prospective brides and grooms out there please remember to have a plan B in case of wet weather.  Believe me as a celebrant I don’t particularly enjoy getting wet and my expensive sound equipment definitely doesn’t like it….oh and did I mention the marriage certificates don’t look great when they are wet either!!

Just give it some thought you can’t change the day but you can have another plan!


Friday Find: Photo Edition

Amazing photo ideas

Bridal and Wedding Expo Blog

by Lauren J Sharkey

If there’s one thing I love, it’s wedding photos!  Seriously, nothing gives me greater joy than seeing the happiest day of someone else’s life (and secretly picturing myself in the white dress!).  Here are a couple of my favorites you might want to consider when choosing a wedding photographer!

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Why elope?

elope!There are many reasons more and more couples are choosing to elope or decide to have a small intimate wedding.

  • The obvious one of course the huge amount of money that can be saved.  Think about the “absolute basics” engagement party/photos, invitations, hens night, bux night, pretty white dress, hair/makeup, celebrant, pretty venue, colour scheme, bridesmaids, groomsmen, flowers, guest list, 3 course dinner, alcohol, gigantic cake, decorations everywhere photographer, videographer, music, rings…the list goes on.
  • Relatives from all over the country may need to make long expensive journey.
  • Some couples don’t want to be the centre of attention and feel the ceremony especially the vows are a very intimate experience.  They just want it to be about them.
  • It s about a lifetime together, not a single day.
  • Contact me for a simple elopement style wedding you don’t have to go to Vegas to elope!

Unique Bachelorette Party Ideas

Ideas for your hens night!

Bridal and Wedding Expo Blog

Hen night.  Hen do.  Last night out.  Whatever you call it, one thing is for sure – a bachelorette party is a rite of passage for any bride!  But if strippers and Chippendales aren’t your thing, or if you’re looking to go out of the box, here are some great ideas for unique bachelorette parties that will be sure to send your girl off with some great memories.

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Wedding Readings

I love these readings!

Tartan Rose Weddings

Readings are a beautiful addition to your wedding ceremony, they can personalise your wedding and celebrate the feelings you feel for each other. You may wish to have your officiant, maid of honour, parent, or best man give a reading or you may even want to give a reading yourself. Here are some beautiful readings that you can encompass into your day.


The Bridge Across Forever By Richard Bach

A soul mate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own…

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Alternative Wedding Cakes – Drip Cakes

the latest in wedding cakes

Tartan Rose Weddings

Wedding cakes are no longer the traditional dense fruit cake covered with thick marzipan and white icing, there are so many options and Pinterest is definitely helping couples broaden their imagination with over 500 million cakes currently Pinned. This year there has been one new trend that as been extremely popular, the drip cake.

The drip cake is made by drizzling a ganache or glaze over the top of an already iced cake so that it dribbles over the edge of the cake creating a gorgeous drip pattern. The cake can be naked, semi-naked, fondant iced or buttercream iced. The ganache or glaze can be in a bold or opposing colour, metallic colour, delicate neutral colour or even chocolate or caramel. The glaze is normally very glossy creating a great juxtaposition against the matte cake icing.

This post looks at main three categories of drip cake; metallic, pastel and brightly coloured, and…

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