You talkin’ to me?

I get to meet some incredible people as a celebrant. I find after I meet a new couple I usually end up hopping around our living room, exuberantly telling Dave that I just met an AMAZING couple who are SO cool and I want them to be our FRIENDS! I’m a very lucky girl to be able to interact with so many wonderful people on a regular basis.

What I’ve realised lately is that as well as being generally awesome, the couples I marry have been raised well. It seems that many of them were taught by their parents that you look at people when they’re talking to you. Rightly so. It’s a way of demonstrating that you’re listening to and interested in what someone has to say. And it’s (almost) always appropriate.

I may be going against years of etiquette and have Emily Post rolling over in her grave, but I’m going to stick my neck out right now and give you permission to break this rule.

The one time when you can get away with not looking at someone who’s talking to you? Your wedding ceremony.

Red Butterfly Photography

Lately I’ve noticed that many brides and grooms look at me throughout their ceremony instead of each other. It isn’t because they don’t want to look at one another, rather a result of conditioning. As the celebrant, I do most of the talking in a ceremony and as per polite convention, the bride and groom will often fix their gaze on me. (I told you they were well-raised).

But relax. You don’t have to look at me. I won’t be offended, I promise. Although I read the ceremony, I am not the centre of it. I’m simply the teller of a story that is ultimately about you and your partner. Just as with a good book, the focus should never be on the narrator but on what’s at the heart of the story.

Red Butterfly Photography

You only have one wedding ceremony. (Well, unless you’re this couple but most people aren’t). Absorb what’s happening around you and most of all, share it with your partner. Do this through eye contact, holding hands or wiping away a stray tear on your partner’s face – whatever works for you as a couple.

After all, when the ceremony is over and you’re married, which memory is going to move you more? I bet a recollection of the beaming grin that spread across your partner’s face as you said ‘I do’ beats the memory of the way the celebrant’s mouth moved. Hands down.

Red Butterfly Photography

Which is just as it should be.

xx Koren

Photos displayed in this post are by Red Butterfly Photography.

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Chloe and Tom

If the word adorable was to be represented in a picture, I’m pretty sure it would look like the photo below.

Slick Shoots Photography

Meet Chloe and Tom, an absolutely beautiful couple in every sense of the word. They were both so excited to be getting married, yet super relaxed about the process. This may have had something to do with Chloe’s incredible organisational skills – when I asked if there were any colours I shouldn’t wear on the day (to avoid clashing with the bride/bridesmaids), Chloe opened up her folder and whipped out a swatch of fabric to show me what hue they’d be in!

Chloe knew that Tom was the one for her when she went away for her birthday just a few weeks after they met. Upon her return, she learned that Tom had come around, introduced himself to her aunty (who she was living with at the time) and left her a rose and a beautiful card. Tom, for his part, said he knew that Chloe was the one for him when she decided to go sky-diving – he thought ‘this girl is perfect’!

Slick Shoots Photography

They married in the Royal Botanic Gardens in October. Friends and family gathered on the Tennyson Lawn, where Tom was a gregarious host, welcoming and hugging family and friends in between bouts of emotion. Tom had warned me before the day that he may get emotional and he was true to his word! We called for the tissues more than once before Chloe arrived, but as with most grooms, Tom calmed as soon as he saw his beloved.

At the centre of Chloe and Tom’s relationship is their shared love of family, so plenty of references were made to this in their ceremony. Chloe’s cousins and Tom’s godson were the pageboys, and Chloe and Tom’s mothers acted as the witnesses to their marriage.

Chloe and Tom were keen to include others in the writing of their ceremony, so they asked Chloe’s aunty, Tara (who Tom first introduced himself to so long ago) and their good friend Leanne to each select a reading that they felt represented Chloe and Tom’s relationship. The bride and groom didn’t hear them until their wedding day and were touched by what had been chosen. Tara wrote a piece especially for the occasion and Leanne chose a beautiful poem called ‘The One’.

It was a joyous ceremony, made all the more so by Chloe and Tom’s obvious excitement. More than anything else, they were thrilled to be marrying one another with all the people they care about looking on.

Slick Shoots Photography

Immediately after their ceremony, Chloe and Tom climbed aboard a waiting boat and took off for photos with their bridal party before a waterfront reception. The photos taken by Slick Shoots Photography make me wish I’d jumped aboard with them – it looks like they had a ball!

Congratulations, Chloe and Tom! It was my pleasure to work with you and I wish you every happiness in your married life. xx Koren

Chloe and Tom, 15 October 2011
Venue: Tennyson Lawn, Royal Botanic Gardens
Photos: The lovely and talented Kim and Steve from Slick Shoots Photography. More photos available here.
Celebrant: Koren Harvey

Lake House

Ah, the last of the Daylesford posts. Our final stop for the day was Daylesford’s famous Lake House. If you’re a foodie, chances are you’ve already heard of Lake House and its owners, Alla and Allan Wolf Tasker. Since opening Lake House in 1984, they have turned it into a destination into its own right. Located on the shores of Lake Daylesford and surrounded by stringybarks, poplars and pin oaks, Lake House is a one-stop shop for complete and utter relaxation.

Whilst I’m hopeless at cooking, I do have an addiction to reading food magazines and Alla, as executive chef of Lake House, frequently features in my favourite, delicious. Her approach to cooking makes sense to me – cook using fresh, local, in season ingredients. It’s not rocket science but results in delicious, honest food. I was therefore adamant that we at least visit Lake House during our Daylesford sojourn.

Alas, several other people evidently had the same idea and the restaurant was fully booked for the duration of our stay. However, the events team at Lake House are superb and were happy to direct us to their sister cafe, Wombat Hill House, and let us explore the grounds at our leisure.

I'm picturing a happy couple, surrounded by family and friends...

Lake House offers several locations for a wedding ceremony, each just as romantic as the other. A wedding by the lake under the canopy of the silver birches would be stunning any time of the year. I’m picturing leaves of burnt orange and russet in autumn and vibrant green in spring. If you prefer to marry indoors, the Terrace Room with its fireplace, chandeliers and views is equally spectacular. Due to a wedding taking place on the day we visited we didn’t get to see it in all its glory, but knowing the detail put into everything else at Lake House, I’ve no doubt the Terrace Room would be magnificent.

After your ceremony, the deck offers a comfortable spot to enjoy pre-dinner drinks and canapes and take in the lake views. It was an overcast afternoon when we visited but I had no trouble imagining guests sipping bellinis on a balmy summer evening and cheering on a newlywed couple.

Drinks on the deck

And after you’re done celebrating, retire to your room/suite/villa. The next day you can wake up to views over Lake Daylesford or the Lake House gardens, expertly decorated with pieces from local artists. If you really feel like spoiling yourself, head over to the on-site Salus spa.

I could wake up to this view quite easily

By now we were getting peckish, so we followed the Lake House team’s advice and headed up to Wombat Hill House. A renovated cottage set amongst the Wombat Botanic Gardens, it’s a delightful spot for lunch that follows Alla’s philosophy of fresh, local and in-season. I tucked in to a pizza while Dave made quick work of lamb meatballs. Its cosy environs would be a great place for a post-wedding debrief with your nearest and dearest.

Wombat Hill House

Writing these posts has made me long for another Daylesford getaway. I know there are more venues that I’ve yet to explore (hello Villa Parma, Peppers Mineral Springs and Sault, to name just a few) and let’s face it, down time is never wasted. With Christmas round the corner, I think I’ll be dropping a few hints about how relaxing another trip to Daylesford would be!

Lake House
King St, Daylesford

The Convent Gallery

Following a very successful morning at Lavandula in Shepherds Flat, Dave and I climbed into the car and headed back towards Daylesford to visit the Convent Gallery. On the way through Hepburn Springs we passed Villa Parma, resulting in a shout from me and whiplash for Dave as he tried to catch a glimpse of this Italianate beauty.

Recently restored to its former glory, Villa Parma is a stately home now available for groups, families and wedding parties to lease for a luxurious getaway. As the website states that it’s also available for weddings, I’m putting another Daylesford trip on our to-do list so I can check it out! In the meantime, if anyone wants to book a holiday there and invite me along, please feel free.

But back to the Convent Gallery. I have wanted to visit the Convent ever since I bought my first car. The daughter of the lady I bought it off had married at the Convent and pictures of the wedding graced their living room wall. I was entranced and my first visit didn’t disappoint.

Entrance to the chapel, Convent Gallery

The Convent Gallery sits atop Wombat Hill and looks out over Daylesford and surrounds. Built in the 1860s as a private residence, it was purchased by the Catholic Church in the 1880s for use as a convent and girls’ boarding school. It closed in 1973 and spent years in neglect before being purchased by artist Tina Banitska in 1988.

The gardens

After years of renovations, the Convent reopened in 1991 and this year celebrates its 20th anniversary as one of Victoria’s most unique venues. When Dave and I arrived, it was late morning and the Convent was bustling. Couples and families populated the Bad Habits cafe (where we later enjoyed their famous scones) and visitors wandered through the Gallery.

We made our way up to the former nun’s chapel on the first floor. Built in 1904, the chapel has an air of warm intimacy about it. I found it all too easy to picture myself standing on the front platform next to a groom, a beaming bride making her way towards us.

The chapel at Daylesford's Convent Gallery

As it’s non-denominational, the chapel offers an alternative for couples who would like the feel of a church wedding with the freedom to define their ceremony themselves. It also allows you to marry amongst all of Daylesford’s splendour without worrying about what the weather might do to your plans! Best of all, adjoining the chapel is the St Lawrence atrium, a sun-drenched space with views of the convent gardens and a wide balcony for guests to enjoy drinks and canapes on afterwards.

We then set off to explore the gardens. Behind the convent proper is a gravel path set amonst flowering roses and lavender bushes. Take the walk, I promise it’s worth it. We made our way up to the very top of the gardens and enjoyed the view over Daylesford and the convent itself. Looking down over the atrium, I couldn’t help but imagine how lovely it would be to stand in the gardens, champagne in hand, admiring the view with guests milling about.

Now, if someone could just bring me a glass of champagne...

The team at the Convent have really thought of just about everything a couple might need for their wedding day. In addition to the atrium, the St Michael’s room can seat up to 120 guests for a reception and the Altar Bar on the ground floor is available for a post-reception party that stretches long into the evening. And when the bride and groom are ready for some time to themselves, a luxurious penthouse apartment on the top floor can be reserved for the wedding night.

The Altar Bar on the ground floor is on offer as an after-party destination

Now that I’ve been, I can’t believe I waited so long to visit the Convent Gallery. I can’t wait to go back. If you fancy getting married there, give me a call!

If you’d like to see more of the Convent, I’ve posted more pictures here.
 
Corner Hill and Daly Streets, Daylesford
 
Next post – Lake House, Daylesford.