The end of an era

A couple signing the Certificate of Marriage looked on my Wanda, the celebrant
Mark and Naomi signing the paperwork at their wedding

At the end of June, after more than 12 years as a Commonwealth-registered civil celebrant, I will be retiring. However, because couples – except under special circumstances – are required to give one month’s notice before they can be married, I am effectively retired already.

I would like to thank all the couples whose marriages I solemnised – 107 in total – for the privilege of being your celebrant. Thank you for choosing me and for allowing me to share in the joy and magic of your wedding day.

I have many wonderful memories: from my very first wedding, in 2009 at Black Head Beach (Ashlie and Stu), to a small and intimate COVID-restricted wedding on Kincumber Mountain (Amelia and Ben). But the highlight was definitely in 2010 in the Hunter Valley, when I officiated at the wedding of my daughter, Naomi, and my now son-in-law, Mark.

Thank you to those who supported me, especially my technical assistant and roadie, Jonathan.

All the best,
Wanda x

Weddings in the time of COVID-19 – July Update

A recent wedding at Stanley Park, Newcastle – Chloe and Jared

This is an important update to my previous post.

It’s still possible to get married while government restrictions on public gatherings apply. As stated on the NSW Government website: “Number of people who can attend… must not exceed one guest per 4 square metres for a wedding service (excluding the couple, the people involved in conducting the service and the photographer and the videographer). People attending will be required to provide their name and contact details so that they can be used for contact tracing.”

Weddings in the time of COVID-19

A tiny wedding by the water
A recent five-people-only wedding, of a lovely couple, Sandra and Keith, by the water at Point Clare

Yes, it’s still possible to get married while government restrictions on public gatherings apply. Although the law now limits most indoor and outdoor non-essential gatherings to two people, there is an exception for weddings: On the Australian Department of Health website, it states:
“Weddings can be conducted with no more than 5 people, including the couple, the celebrant and the witnesses.”

So, what this means is that, if you can’t wait until these restrictions are limited, you can only have TWO GUESTS at your wedding, and these will be your witnesses.

So, where have I been?

Hmm… it seems I have gotten into the habit of updating my professional Facebook page and neglecting my own website! Well, to partly correct this, here are a couple of recent updates. Such lovely memories.

Wanda and Alison, with Alison's baby girl, Celina

Thanks to Alison and Laurie for the honour of performing Celina’s naming ceremony, which was held in Canberra during the October long weekend, 2015.

Jaclyn, Andrew and Wanda just after the wedding

A beautiful wedding: Jaclyn and Andrew, Yarramalong Valley, 9 May 2015

“How much do you charge?”

We all like to save money don’t we? I say this because, nine times out of ten, the very first question I am asked by a couple is “How much do you charge?”. This is a fair and reasonable question. In the scheme of things, I believe that my fees are very reasonable and only slightly above what a couple would pay to have their ceremony performed in a registry office. There are celebrants, however, who charge quite a bit more than I do and, if questioned, will make remarks such as, “Oh, you get what you pay for.” While this may be true sometimes, it isn’t always the case. In my case, I feel that what I charge is fair and, even though I could charge more, I know how hard it can be for people to make ends meet, so I don’t.

What would we do without music in our lives?

A couple recently requested Annie’s Song by John Denver to be played during their wedding. I must be an old romantic at heart, because I reckon I’ll shed a tear or two once it’s playing. :-)

While I’m on this topic, I believe that music is an integral part of any good ceremony. If chosen well, it can be a vehicle for the (sometimes overwhelming) emotions felt by the bride and groom, and this is why I ask couples at our first meeting what music they are planning to have. If they are struggling a little, I have a number of samples I can suggest, to get them started. In fact, if a couple decides to use my free-standing PA system (with cordless mike) for amplification, I can even arrange for the music to be compiled and played in order at the appropriate times: usually, the procession, the signing of the register and the bit just after the ceremony, where guests and bridal party mingle. (There is a small fee for the use of the PA system and an operator, but it would be much less than hiring one separately.)

What would we do without music in our lives?

Environmentally-friendly weddings

I have been mindful in recent times in terms of how we use the earth’s resources, in particular our use of fossil fuel. Even if you are sceptical about the causes of climate change, there is a financial incentive to reduce our ‘carbon footprint’: it’s likely that, from mid-2012, there will be a price on carbon, which would cause all sorts of things to become more expensive, including weddings. This would be across the board, eg, hairdressers, beauty salons, florists, bridal shops, reception venues and, of course, celebrants.

Here are some ideas on how to have an environmentally friendly wedding (and help keep costs down):

  1. When choosing a celebrant, ask whether he/she uses recycled paper and email where possible. (Naturally, I do :-). )
  2. Hire bride’s/bridesmaids’ gowns, as well as suits for the men. If you wish to have gowns made, use cotton and pesticide-free fabrics. Alternatively, go ‘op-shop’.
  3. Consider recycled paper for wedding invitations.
  4. Suggest to guests that they use recycled wrapping paper for gifts. Alternatively, request gifts of money only.
  5. This one is more of a cost cutting hint: Find someone creative who can make bouquets from the gardens of family and friends, or even your own garden. This can be for both ceremony and reception. Guests could then take the flowers home.
  6. To cut down on lighting, have both ceremony and reception held during the day.
  7. Hold the reception near the ceremony, to avoid extra car use. (Some reception venues have beautiful locations for ceremonies, too.) Alternatively, hire a bus to transport guests to and from the reception.
  8. Use recycled or washable serviettes for the reception.
  9. Seek out eco-oriented accommodation for your honeymoon.

‘Organic’ or spontaneous weddings

I think it’s nice for the couple to greet each other when the bride joins the groom and I often tell couples that they are welcome to be spontaneous (within reason of course). In fact, the very first couple whose ceremony I performed, a few years back now, were beautifully spontaneous: the bride literally twirled up the aisle while her groom walked down to meet her halfway; then they danced together back up the aisle. None of this had been rehearsed or even mentioned to me but it didn’t matter. In fact it helped to make the event so much more relaxed and fun (especially being my first!).

Some more unexpected things happened after that. For example, they had planned to have an Aboriginal elder doing a ‘welcome to country’ even before I did my welcome, but I wasn’t aware that he was actually going to play the didgeridoo first. I couldn’t understand why the microphone had been placed on the ground (for amplification of the didge). But it was all fine – wonderful in fact – and I just picked up the microphone when it was ‘my turn’.

So, while it’s nice to have everything planned, if something unexpected happens on the day, for whatever reason, there’s usually no problem at all.