Picking the perfect location

I’m off to a rehearsal this afternoon for a wedding scheduled to take place in the Edinburgh Gardens next week. With recent news reports indicating that the Occupy Melbourne protesters are considering setting up camp in this very location and a few wet and wild days of late, all fingers are crossed that the big day itself is protest-free and sunny!

In the time that I’ve been a celebrant, I’ve celebrated marriages in restaurants, gardens, private homes, vineyards, parks and heritage-listed buildings. Each location has been beautiful and special to the couple, chosen for how it makes them feel.  I feel like I’m getting to know my own town all over again thanks to the stunning places my clients introduce me to.

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But how do you decide where to say your vows? Australian law permits you to marry literally anywhere within our borders, so you have plenty of places to choose from. Here are some points to ponder as you determine where you’d like to become husband and wife.

  • The first thing to do is write out a guest list. Once you have an idea of guest numbers – bearing in mind that this may fluctuate slightly – you know how much space you’re looking for.
  • Is there somewhere that has a special meaning for the two of you? It may be a restaurant where you had a special date, the vineyard that produces your favourite wine, a park that you enjoy exploring together or even the home of a family member. Pick a place that resonates with you.
  • If you’re marrying in a park, garden or other public space, chances are you’ll need a permit. As soon as you’ve decided on a date, contact the appropriate council to determine the next steps. They’ll be able to tell you if there are any conditions you must adhere to – no confetti/rose petals is a common one. Don’t forget to take the permit with you on the day.
  • Find out if any other events are scheduled for the same time as your wedding. We once arrived at a park to find that a childrens’ fair, complete with petting zoo, fire engines and Wiggles tribute concert was booked for the same time as our ceremony! This also applies to events that may close roads before and after your wedding. The last thing you want is for guests to miss out on your CBD ceremony because roads have been closed for the Melbourne Marathon.
  • If you opt for an outdoor ceremony, bear in mind that the weather will play a part in your day. Sunshine’s great but too much of it can lead to squinting and sunburn, which make for um, interesting photos. Look at having a partially shaded ceremony or providing parasols in the case of extreme sun. Wind is another one to be aware of as it’s notorious for stealing sound. Weddings by water, for example, are generally very windy so if you’re having a beachside wedding, consider a slightly sheltered area to stop your voices being carried away.
  • Further to the previous point, have a contingency plan for extreme weather situations. No one likes to imagine that it will rain on their wedding day but it can and it does. Have a back-up plan, whether it’s moving the ceremony or erecting a shelter. It’s far better to have a Plan B in place and decide a day beforehand to use it than to have to stop your ceremony and run for cover as it starts pelting down! Whilst we generally think of contingency plans for rain, it’s also worth considering for intense heat.  No one wants to see the bride and groom faint from sunstroke or for guests to become ill. If you don’t believe me, this article outlines how quickly intense heat can require action.
  • Is the ceremony venue easily accessible? If you were inspired by the landscape in The Lord of the Rings and fancy a wedding in the middle of an isolated field, ask yourself if everyone you want to attend will be able to get there on foot. Unless Nanna has a scooter with 4WD tyres, you might need to reconsider.
  • Can you get to your reception venue from your ceremony venue easily enough? While you might love the idea of a beachside wedding and a Yarra Valley reception, the travel time involved means a slight delay at any point can really ruin your plans.
  • What facilities are on offer at the venue? It sounds really obvious, but find out well in advance if the things that you assume are part of the package actually are. Is seating provided? Is there parking on-site?  Will bathrooms be available for guests?
  • Some people like to watch. Weddings are an intimate event yet most people can’t resist taking a peek at a ceremony if they happen past one.  Casual bystanders are almost always respectful but if you’re not comfortable with strangers observing this special moment in your life, you may like to choose a more private location.

So go! Get married! (And feel free to call me if you need some help…)

Happy birthday to us!

Today marks exactly one year since I became an authorised marriage celebrant.

WOOHOO!

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I was so excited when I received the email stating that I had been authorised as a marriage celebrant by the Australian Attorney General’s Department. It was the culmination of many months of work and finger-crossing. Having loved weddings since I was a little girl, this feels like the role I was born to do.

I get asked – a lot – why I became a marriage celebrant. I should be used to the question by now but I always find myself pausing before I answer. Usually to catch my breath before launching into a long and enthusiastic explanation.

I have loved weddings ever since I can remember. When I was little, the dress was a big part of it (‘PRINCESS, Mummy, LOOK!’) but the older I got, the more it became about the sacredness of the occasion.

Put simply, I became a celebrant because I love love. I love seeing how happy a wedding makes not only the couple involved but their family and friends, too.

At my most recent wedding, the couple asked the bride’s aunty to pick or write something about their relationship. She wrote a beautiful piece from her heart that spoke about marriage and the path that lay ahead of them and they heard it for the first time on their wedding day. I was very glad I’d had the chance to read it before the day, else I would have been crying with them!

I love that I get to work with couples to articulate the depth of feeling they have for one another. I love that they trust me enough to let me be a part of that.

Most of all, I love the people I get to meet. Once you’re past your school years, the window for meeting new people becomes narrower and narrower. Every time I meet a new couple, I usually end up dancing around our living room, telling Dave that I want these people to be our FRIENDS!

I can honestly say that every single person I have met through my work as a celebrant is someone that I would be thrilled to have in my life as a friend. I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to meet these people and be part of such a significant moment in their lives.

Thanks to everyone who has been along for the first year of the ride. You’ve made my year.

Here’s to many more! xx