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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Attributes of a successful celebrant

Looking from the outside in, people might see a celebrant as someone who turns up at a venue with her bag of tricks, takes centre stage for an average of ten to fifteen minutes, then goes back to wherever she came from. To many, the role of a celebrant seems too easy and something anyone can do – and get paid for as well!

However, like any successful production, there is a lot behind the scenes that never shows on the day. Before you set yourself up as a celebrant on the basis that anyone can be a celebrant, take a reality check.

We’ve all encountered people who seem to have chosen a business which seems eminently wrong for them. An exaggerated example might be ‘Faulty Towers’ where a man who obviously hates people, is running a hotel where he has to deal with people all the time. So you need to remember that as a business person you might fail not because you are performing badly, but because celebrancy is not the business for you.

There are certain attributes that the successful officiant has. This includes:

  1. Enjoys people:  Ceremonies are all about people. The celebrant needs to be a skilled communicator, able to tease out the needs of the client who may know very little about the ceremony she wants the officiant to perform.
  2. Is a great listener:  She needs to hear not only what the client is saying, but also what she isn’t saying. Not all clients are able to express themselves clearly and concisely.
  3. Is flexible: No matter how experienced she is, she allows the clients to have the type of ceremony they want instead of the kind of ceremony she feels they should want. She will advise but not insist.
  4. Is unflappable;  Reacts to the unexpected in a calm manner, especially when the clients themselves are going to pieces.
  5. Is a diplomat:  Weddings, for example, can be full of tensions. Everyone involved wants his or her say – the mother of the bride, the maid of honour, and even the bride and groom are sometimes divided on the details of their wedding.
  6. Is patient:  Although she is the expert, she encourages clients’ input and treats their comments and queries with respect, recognizing that what suits one client may not suit another.
  7. Is immune to emergencies:  The ceremony may be preceded by death in the family, or sudden breaks between one set of family members with another, but the day of the ceremony reflects all the expectations as if none of these things happened.
  8. Is always up to date with the fashions and trends of the day:  If she wants her clients to have confidence in her ability, she won’t be hearing of a new style of ceremony from her clients. She’ll be already prepared to celebrate it by the time her clients hear about it on television or on the Internet.
  9. Is both creative and practical: If the style of ceremony requires props, she will know not only what props are required but how to arrange them in the most practical and visually attractive way.
  10. Is aware that details make the difference:  Remembers the little things that clients often forget, like the matches for a candle lighting ceremony. It is remarkable how often clients will search far and wide to buy an unusual candle for a ceremony then forget the fact that it has to be lit.
  11. Shows initiative If she is accepting bookings from interstate or overseas, then she is also able to supply the client with a list of other services which they may require. While she may not necessarily recommend these services, she will certainly check them out as to their quality and reliability.
  12. Knows the marriage act inside out:  to assure the marriage is legal.

From article by Vlady Peters BA, JP, CMC

Extract from How to be a Profitable Celebrant: Practical Tips on Running a Profitable Celebrancy Business Find it on Amazon and Smashwords

Official marriage certificate

How long does it take for my marriage to be registered by Births Deaths and Marriages so I can get the official marriage certificate?

In Victoria your celebrant can track the progress of your certificate online. Depending on what time of year you got married the certificate can take up to 8 weeks ( eg March and October).
You need to download an application form and can apply online or pick it up in person once you know your certificate is ready. The cost is $31.00.

You will need the official certificate for identification purposes if you wish to change your name.
For more information go to

The show must go on, broken foot and all

I suspected that my foot was broken when I rolled it on Saturday evening but I had a marriage to perform on Sunday morning so the xrays would have to wait!  I iced my foot and then bandaged it with a pressure bandage to keep the swelling down, took some pain killersIMG_1591 and prepared for the small intimate ceremony in my backyard.  I wore black pantihose to hide the bandage and performed the ceremony with only one shoe on!  Gus and Peggy took it in their stride and it didn’t spoil their day.  The sun shone and they were very happy!

Wedding Rehearsal…..Questions answered

wedding rehearsal

 Where and when should I hold my wedding rehearsal?

1…In an indoor ceremony arrange a rehearsal a week before the wedding if convenient for everyone needing to be present

2…In an outdoor ceremony, rehearse at the time of day and week as the wedding ceremony couple of weeks before the wedding day

Who attends the rehearsal?

1…The Celebrant attends to help with the setting of the bridal party

2…Bridal attendants who will be part of the wedding party

3…Readers who will be included in the wedding ceremony

4…Parents who might be involved in the wedding ceremony

5…Musicians who will time the various wedding ceremony events

6…Those people who have been given a role as helpers in various capacities

7…A number of stand-ins for absent participants who will later be told anything they need to know

How do I decide on my ceremonial site?

1…Position your wedding party in different areas to find the most attractive focal point for your ceremony and for your wedding photographs

2…Decide on the best place for the table and chairs for the signing of the documents so it can be seen by all the guests and allow for easy photography

3…Look over the area and see if aisles are desirable for the processional and how to define them – aisle-runner, plants, ribbons, flower petals, protected candles, attractive pebbles or sea shells

4…If you intend to use an aisle-runner, appoint specific people and advise them when the aisle runner should be put in place, such as when the bride arrives at the ceremony venue just before she is ready to make her entrance

5…Instruct the same people when the runner is to be remove – preferably once the guests have left the ceremonial site

6…If rose petal path is to be created, appoint specific people how and when you want the area covered

7…Ask that on the wedding day the petals are placed some thirty minutes before the wedding ceremony and have them covered with a sheet so that the wind doesn’t disturb the petals beforehand if the wedding is outdoors

8…On the day arrange that the sheets be taken off as the guests begin to arrive

9…Have the same people who created the petal area, sweep up the petals at the end of the ceremony

How do I arrange the seating at an outdoor site?

1…Decide whether you will provide seats for all or only some of your guests

2…Decide on how to arrange the chairs so that all the guests can see the wedding party

3…Rather than placing them in straight lines, try curving the lines of the chairs towards where the bridal party will be standing

4…Try placing the chairs in a semi-circle around the bridal party

5…To generate feeling-good atmosphere, make the distance between guests and the wedding party shorter rather than longer

6…Initially set up chairs for two-thirds of the expected guests and the rest of the chairs stacked close by

7…Continue to add rows of chairs as guests begin to arrive so that there’s no empty chairs no matter how few or how many guests arrive

8…If there’s an aisle between the chairs, encourage guests to fill both sides irrespective of which side of the family they belong to

How do I arrange the seating at an indoor site?

1…Make a floor plan of how the venue will actually look on the day of the ceremony

2…Mark out areas which will be taken up with flower pedestals, wedding arch, potted plants, speaker’s stand, music stand and other large decorations

3…Place a few rows of chairs to see how close the guests can be seated without encroaching upon the wedding party

4…Using chairs, create a suitable aisle for the bridal party

5…Decide where to place chairs for young attendants who will take part in the bridal march but will not be standing with the adults

6…Place a special and a favorite toy on the chair to identify the seating for the child

7…Leave extra chairs for the carers of the children

8…Make your entrance and your exit being aware of how much space you’ll have once the venue is completely set up for your wedding day

What props do I bring to the rehearsal?

1…Half a dozen programs to follow the ceremony format

2…Substitutes for bouquets so that the attendants can decide how to carry them and how to hold them

3…Imitation wedding dress train and veil to make sure that the bride and her attendants know how to handle them on the day

4…Shoes being worn at the wedding day to test their comfort and practicality

5…Ring pillow to help the ring bearer become familiar with his task

6…Flower girl baskets filled with bits of paper for practicing tossing petals

7…Recorded music being used on the wedding day

8…Candles, chalices, roses, handfasting ribbons and other props that require practicing an action

9…Video recorder to record the whole process from processional to recessional to be viewed later to see if anything needs to be changed

10..Rehearse the children in the clothes and shoes they’ll be wearing on the day to discover if there’s anything too tight, too loose, too big, too scratchy or just generally uncomfortable for the child

Which part of the ceremony do I rehearse first?

1…Place the whole bridal party at the ceremonial site as if the ceremony is to begin – this includes the bride and groom, the celebrant, and all the bridal attendants

2…From that position, acting as if the ceremony has just finished, begin the recessional

3…Having practiced the recession several times, practice the wedding march

4…When you’re happy with both the recessional and the processional, practice the actions of the wedding ceremony itself – father handing over the bride, couple facing each other to begin their vows, readers walking towards the speaker’s stand, Best Man handing over the rings

From the book ‘1,000+ Answers to Your Wedding Questions’.

Opportunistic networking in the wedding business

I have always been an opportunistic person.  If there is an opportunity from which I may benefit I won’t rest until I seize upon it!  There is a Dutch saying which my mother used quite often when she spoke about me:  loosely translated it goes something like this  “When she has an idea in her head it is not in her backside”.  So in the last couple of weeks two opportunities came my way.  The first one was a photographer named Maree Jaeger who started following me on twitter.  I thought to myself this could be a good networking opportunity particularly as I really liked the look of her work.  We met up for coffee and we both realised immediately that we have similar values especially the way we approach our work and the way we deal with our clients.  We are also both wedding “tragics”.  What is it about weddings?  I love it when I perform a ceremony and everyone is quietly looking and listening and I think to myself they are all thinking about their experience with love and maybe thinking back to their own wedding, and I am happy that I struck the right chord with my couple.  I am looking forward to working with Maree.    Find the link to Maree Jaeger Photography here

I am meeting with a florist next week who found me on  facebook maybe I will have a similar experience with her, will keep you posted.