Ad-free news, views and advice on the local wedding scene for Canberra ACT and nearby NSW, and on getting married in Australia in general. With Michele Bolitho, registered civil marriage celebrant for well over one thousand wonderful weddings. ... Your day is my focus. That's my promise. It's my pleasure.

27 November 2009

Let's hear it for the grooms!


     Nathalie and Chris were married this month in Commonwealth Gardens. Nathalie emailed me with these kind words, which I am really pleased to share. 
     Hi Michele,
I just wanted to thank you for doing such a wonderful job at our wedding on the 7/11/. Everyone
 mentioned what a wonderful ceremony it was, many saying it was the best one that they had ever attended so thankyou very 
much for that, and for the advice that you gave before the day. ...Thanks again for everything...Nathalie
     I have a few photos from their wedding and the one above in particular, got me thinking. Chris, the happy relaxed fine-looking groom is right in the middle, standing between Nathalie and her lovely attendant, her sister Claire. 
     Brides are beautiful. They routinely feature in the centre of photos, and we pay a lot of attention to them. Of course. But grooms are also pretty special and they can get outshone and overlooked. That’s why I’ve called this post ‘Let’s hear it for the grooms!’. I wish to acknowledge all grooms for the time and care they also put into preparations for the big day. 
     A week ago I was at a large and wonderful wedding (no photos) and the groom just melted our hearts. He was reading his wedding vows to his beloved and he could barely get through them, he was so overwhelmed by emotion. In my vast experience as a celebrant I can honestly say I have seen way more grooms ‘lose it’ than brides. My thoughts are that women can psych themselves for the emotional momentum of getting married but men just don’t anticipate how moved they will be by standing up front, declaring love and commitment. And so I also acknowledge the courage it takes to get married, for both groom and bride. 
     When the groom whose voice had seriously wavered (and I won’t mention names) was signing the certificates, his new wife commented on his tears during the ceremony, and on how much their guests had empathised with him. Somewhat embarrassed, he came back with a quick rejoinder: ‘The drama classes worked then!’ 
     Here are a three more photos from Chris and Nathalie’s wedding.  There are others in the slideshow to the right.

Commonwealth Gardens is being remembered these days as a generous and picturesque venue for Canberra weddings. Being a public place, it's free, but you do need to book it with the National Capital Authority. The Deck at Regatta Point is now a popular reception place and this has given the Rhododendron and Azalea gardens a new lease on life. I especially love the big banks of Chinese Beauty Bush (kolkwitzia) that come into flower in the last week of October/first week of November. (see slide show). 
     The photo below was taken during after-wedding drinks and photos. Chris and Nathalie's photographer was Steven from Creative Image Photography. Steve and I have worked as a good team of wedding celebrant/wedding photographer over the years. He is very friendly and professional. I highly recommend him. (I just found Chris and Nathalie on Steve's blogsite.)
     Nathalie was an exquisite bride. It was my great pleasure to be their celebrant.  Next month I will be celebrant for Nathalie’s cousin, Cody and his bride Zeno.
     If you’d like to email me about your wedding plans, please click here.  I welcome your comments and questions. 
     Till next time
     Sincerely 
     Michele

20 November 2009

Who's go the best job in the world?!!

Hello and welcome
     I've been preparing a post on witnesses to your wedding to help couples understand the process, but that can wait.

     I am so happy. Last evening I was celebrant for Angela and John, so much in love. I was delighted when I found out that the wedding was to be held in a garden in Forrest that belongs to friends of mine from twenty years back, Chris and Rob. It was so good to see them again. Then, at the wedding was another friend from way back, Sarah, who is the groom's sister. I was celebrant for Sarah and Jack many years ago, when Sarah was carrying Hugh. I got to meet a fine young man, being Hugh, and also his fun-loving younger brother Ed. Such are the bonusses of being a celebrant.
    Below is a photo of John, the groom, with his sister Sarah and their mother Val. What a happy occasion!


     This morning - this v hot late Spring morning - there was a wedding in my Heart Garden. It was a small most enjoyable affair. It's good we had so much shade. After the wedding, guests picked fresh cherries and amelanchier berries as they 'lolled around' in the shady garden. The bride and groom were Suzanne and Richard. They had one attendant - their young son Brin played the special role of ring-bearer.








     Again, another happy surprise for me when, in their small group were Margaret and Nic. I offiiciated at their wedding nine years ago. I got to meet Isabella, lovely flower-girl for Suzanne and Richard, who was three months old at her parents' wedding. Here's Isabella with her Dad Nic, relaxing in the hammock.




So - all in all, two wonderful reminders to me that I have to the best job in the world. Lucky me!
     If you'd like to email me about your wedding, please click here.
     Till next time
     Sincerely
     Michele

09 November 2009

Applying to marry in Australia from overseas

Hello, and welcome
     I recently got a call from a friend of a couple living overseas. Could she lodge their Notice of Intended Marriage so it got to a celebrant the required one month and one day before the wedding? Well, yes and no. No, in that she could not fill out the details on their behalf and lodge the form with a celebrant. Yes, in that she could lodge a form they had completed and make sure it got to the celebrant on time.
     Any couple overseas – or in Australia – can download a Notice of Intended Marriage from the Attorney-General’s website. There are four pages, two to fill out, plus two pages of explanatory notes. Once the couple overseas has filled out the form, they can sign their Notice in the presence of an Australian Diplomatic Officer, an Australian Consular Officer, an authorised employee of the Commonwealth or the Australian Trade Commission. Or a notary public. 
     The Marriage Act explains, on the Notice, which Commonwealth employees are authorised. The ‘notary public’ is less straightforward . The qualification of a notary public depends on the country the couple is living in at the time. On the few occasions I have worked with couples who have needed to find a notary public because they lived too far from an embassy or consulate, they’ve only needed to make a few enquiries to find the appropriate person.
     It can often help to know in these circumstances that the Notice of Intended Marriage can be lodged by only one party to the proposed marriage (but of course, both will have to fill in their details and sign in the presence of an authorised witness before the marriage can take place). It’s not unusual for either the bride or groom to be in Australia already so it’s easy for them to lodge the Notice with the celebrant of their choice, and make sure it’s lodged at least one month and one day before the wedding.
     So – here’s how the friend in Australia can help: The overseas couple (or just the bride or just the groom) can fill in the Notice, sign in the presence of a witness, then post or fax the two pages of the Notice to their friend in Australia. She can then lodge it with the celebrant she recommends for them. It’s also likely that she will be asked to pay a lodgement fee on the couple’s behalf (and this is usually a non-refundable payment). Or the couple can pay by bank transfer or PayPal or the like.
     If I'm the celebrant in this situation, I then send a package of guiding notes and ceremony wording ideas by post or email to the couple who are planning to marry. We always have at least one meeting together when they arrive in Australia. It’s good to note here too that your celebrant is your lodging authority. Once the Notice of Intended Marriage is safely with your celebrant, that’s it. The celebrant sends nothing to the Registrar until after your wedding. If the Notice has been sent by fax so as to get it to the celebrant in time, she or he must receive the original Notice from the marrying couple before the wedding can take place.
Lovely Toowoomba Chapel for Civil and Religious Ceremonies
     I was in Toowoomba last Monday in an advisory role to look at a venue that may be suitable for wedding ceremonies and receptions. The consensus was: ‘Not Suitable’, however, while I was there I saw a marvellous location for both ceremony and reception that is totally suitable.  It’s Preston Village Chapel and Preston Manor. Old wonderful buildings have been transported to the hilltop of a small valley, just outside Toowoomba.


     Here’s a quote: ‘Preston Village Chapel, over 100 years old, has been lovingly restored to perfection and seats over100 guests, is fully decorated, has a quality organ, historic Tasmanian oak pews, original polished floors and PA system.’ The owners are a great team. Merrilyn loves running the place and Colin is the enthusiastic landscaper. Both have input into design and development. They have inspiring plans for the future. I wish them great success. Click for their site.
Three weddings soon in the Heart Garden
     When I got back home to Canberra, our Heart Garden was bursting with new blooms. The roses were in full first flush, there was a clematis the size of a dinner plate! See below.

There were flowers everywhere! Canberra had a mass of rain the night before I left and while I was away there was warm constant sunshine. I also noticed that we had moved from the open sunny effect of mid-Spring to the cool shady effect of late Spring.

     There will be three weddings in the Heart Garden in the next four weeks, and I can guarantee the brides and grooms that their venue will be superb. If you, or someone you know in Canberra is looking for a quiet private serene setting for their small weekday wedding, then think about the Heart Garden in Weston. It’s beautiful, it’s unique, it’s welcoming and memorable. (And it’s free.)
     If you’d like to email me about your wedding, please click here. I welcome your questions and comments. 




Till next time

Sincerely 

Michele

25 October 2009

Crisp Gardens and Galleries in Bowning NSW, and a wonderful country wedding

Hello, and welcome


     This is a photo of bride Krysia with her father Derek as he shakes hands with Jonathan, the groom. Krysia and Jonathan are so much in love, there were actually some moments that I felt I had to step back from the highly-charged emotional atmosphere they shared as they were wed!
     It’s an early blog this week as I'm heading north tomorrow (Monday) to advise on two new wedding venues in Queensland – who’s got the best job in the world?!
     Yesterday I officiated at the wedding of Krysia and Jonathan at Crisp Galleries and Lavender Gardens on the Hume Highway, Bowning NSW, a few kilometres past Yass when heading south. As often happens with country weddings, guests also had the pleasure of staying together for the weekend, mostly in nearby Yass. Several guests had actually come from London to share Jonathan and Krysia’s big day.
     I could write so much about the beauty and other endearing qualities of this unique and magnificent venue. As I said in last week’s blog, it’s owned and cherished by Helen, Peter and Sandy Crisp. I must also give Jeanine another mention because she is the devoted gardener who takes so much care to keep the huge gardens looking well-groomed, yet somehow still a little wild, and that’s much of their charm. The photo to the left is the magnificent avenue of New Zealand poplars which yesterday became a spectacular aisle for the bridal party.
     You can visit the galleries and gardens from Thursday to Monday between 10 and 5. In Peter’s gallery you’ll soon see why he is one of our world’s top glass artists. To my mind, artist, entrepreneur and philanthropist Peter Crisp is an Australian living treasure. He’s just not on the official list – yet.
     At the weekend, you can take Devonshire tea during your garden wander. I like to go there with my family and take a picnic lunch. (Personally, it delights me that there are plants from my very own Heart Garden in Weston enjoying their new home in Bowning. They’ve settled in and spread, showing me each time I visit how happy they are to be there.)
The wedding of Jonathan and Krysia, as you can easily see in the photos was a beautiful unique event.
     There are more photos in the slideshow to the right of this post. Perhaps you’d like to leave a comment? (These photos have been moved to the Archive album)
      The party was well underway when I left. The guests were soon to move into ‘the performance space’ for a sit-down dinner and dancing. Concerts are held there – see http://www.petercrisp.com.au/ for details. Excellent catering is part of the service package the Crisp family provides for couples who choose to marry at their beautiful place.
     As a celebrant I highly recommend this venue for a country wedding. It's a magical place. There is truly nowhere else like it. The water features and sculptures are spectacular, especially the waterfall that looks like a huge sheet of living glass. So many guests told me yesterday not only how much they enjoyed the ceremony but also how surprised they were to be sharing the occasion in a place of such natural beauty and splendour. There’s a palpable ambience in these gardens of the love and appreciation of Nature. I can relate to that!
      I welcome your questions and comments. If you’d like to email me about being your wedding celebrant, please click here.


Till next time
Sincerely 
Michele

21 October 2009

The Formal Gardens at Parliament House Canberra ACT - fabulous, floriferous and FREE




Hello, and welcome.

ALL PHOTOS HAVE BEEN REMOVED FROM THIS POST BY REQUEST FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF PARLIAMENTARY SERVICES


UPDATE 18 August 2012:
After a long period of drought and unavailability, the Formal Gardens have been completely refurbished this winter by the team of dedicated creative gardeners who are responsible for their care. I expect that this Spring the gardens will be more beautiful than ever.


UPDATE 1 June 2012:
You can see all 23 photos, taken in the first long weekend in October. (We now have two in the ACT.) There are 23 photos and you can see them all in this Picasa web album. If you read this post first, I think you'll easily work out the references to the photos.

I said last week that I would tell you of an exquisite – and free – public place in our national capital for you to hold your wedding. It’s the Formal Gardens at Parliament House. As you can see here, in early October these gardens are in their prime. They are free, floriferous - as in 'lots of flowers' - and fabulous. They are also quiet, private and most memorable. I think of them as a living national treasure.

On the day I went to Parliament House to take photos for this blog, there was actually a wedding couple on the main lawn with their photographer. I think the photos they got would be stunning. Just look at the light, and the angles – what a backdrop! You'll find more of the photos I took on my visit to the Formal Gardens in my latest slideshow to the right of this blogpost. The photos are much larger there and you can leave a comment if you'd like to.

So, the lawns are a great location for photos after your wedding but I'm writing mostly about places for your ceremony. As you come into the Formal Gardens off Parliament Drive, there are enclosed courtyards on the right and left. I’ve officiated at a few small weddings in the courtyard on the right. It’s an elegant, surprisingly private space for a small wedding (ideal for about 35 or so). 

Years ago, before water restrictions, I took part in several ceremonies in the main part of the Formal Gardens, also called the Chinese Gardens. The annual flower displays were always thoughtfully chosen and colourful, the big beds of yellow roses, just lovely. The long memorial pool right down the middle was not ideal – guests had to stand either side of it during the ceremony, but that was OK. (I wish all public places were designed with wedding ceremonies in mind!). There was traffic noise but not enough to spoil things. 

Here's a photo of the lookout in the centre of the upper level. It's a great location for post-wedding photos with a panorama of eastern Canberra in the background.  You can stand at the end of this walkway and look down on the main part of the Formal Gardens, which is still worth a visit even though the annual flower beds are no more. There are memorials and plaques throughout the Gardens that commemorate significant events in Australian history and our international relationships.






At the entrances to the especially beautiful north or south side gardens, that descend in terraces down the side of the hill, there are grand pergolas of wisteria. 

The bride may come in from the top of the gardens, off Parliament Drive,

or she may make her entrance through the native gardens beside the Formal Gardens. 

My horticulturist son is part of a large team that maintains the gardens at Parliament House and they do a mighty fine job. The lawns and gardens always look immaculate and cared about. Owen is passionate about his work, and it shows. 

You can see in the photo above that the terraced side gardens are sheltered by the bush gardens all around them, and this also means they’re quite private. They’re also quieter than the main garden. 

In early October, the cherry trees are in full flower and pink azaleas create generous banks of colour. The lawns are lush and green. You’d have plenty of room for the bridal party, celebrant and about forty guests on one of the terraces. 

This is the garden on the south side in the late afternoon sun.

This is the garden on the north side

Unlike most public places in Canberra, you cannot book the Formal Gardens with the National Capital Authority. These gardens are administered by the Department of Parliamentary Services in Parliament House. Bookings are simple. Send an email to Facilities Management giving as much information about your wedding plan as possible, like time, date, number of guests. 

We are all well blessed I believe to have such beauty available to us in our national capital. That we can share it for free with the special people in life we invite to witness and celebrate a wedding is just icing on the [wedding]cake! I’d love to be your celebrant at this unique and memorable venue, as I’d love to be your celebrant at any venue you may choose. 

This weekend I'm going to a wedding at a place in the country that’s a great favourite of mine, either for a wedding or simply for a visit to enjoy the galleries and garden, and take Devonshire tea near the tall shady promenade of New Zealand poplars. This magnificent wedding venue, with stunning water features and lovingly tended gardens (by dedicated gardener Jeanine) is Crisp Galleries and Lavender Gardens on the Hume Highway at the southern end of Bowning. It’s owned and cherished by Helen, Peter and Sandy Crisp. Will tell you more in next week’s blog. 

If you’d like to email me about your wedding, please click here. I welcome your questions and comments. 
Till next Tuesday 
Sincerely 
Michele

14 October 2009

Lots of FREE and beautiful public wedding venues in Canberra ACT

Hello, and welcome
Last week I said I’d write more about weddings in ACT public places. We have so many marvellous options, like huge gardens, native (the National Gallery gardens ) or exotic (like the rhododendron gardens in Commonwealth Park). We have superb sites of historical and international significance, like the Carillon and Nara Park. (Did you know that Nara Park symbolises the friendship between Canberra and her sister city Nara, in Japan?)  
From so many free and beautiful options, it can be hard for a couple to choose. The favourite spot used to be Aspen Island, with the wedding near the Carillon. Now it’s probably Nara Park in Lennox Gardens. The new rose gardens at Old Parliament House are also very popular, and they’re often booked out well in advance.

Because public places are public places, no-one can actually use them exclusively. You can however. make a booking to use a public place which will (ideally and hopefully) give you precedence in using that place for your private function at a particular time on a particular day. You book with the National Capital Authority and they send you confirmation, or they let you know that the place you want will not be available.
Here’s a quote from their very helpful website:


Venue Bookings on National Land

Event organisers can now book venues on national land though the NCA website. The form, which can be completed at any time of the day, asks a series of questions about the proposed event.  Once submitted, it is sent to the NCA for processing and then if approved, the event organiser will receive a confirmation email.
The NCA manages all venues on national land within Canberra, which are available for public use at no charge. A small works approval application fee is applied if structures are erected, and a refundable bond may also be required.
 Over 900 events are held on national land each year from wedding bookings,   through to major public events.

You can print the booking confirmation you get from the NCA and show it to anyone who turns up because they want to have a picnic or barbecue. Most people will understand and give you the exclusive use of the place you’ve chosen. Even though you may have a booking, I would always recommend that you send a guest early to ‘stake out’ your spot.

Not only will the notification from the Authority give you strong bargaining power, there’s another advantage of making a booking. I have heard over the years that if you ask nicely, the Authority will see that the lawn is mown and the place tidied close to your wedding date. Now that private contractors look after public gardens, I’m not sure that this offer still holds. It’s certainly worth a try though.

From the many photos on my hard drive of weddings in ACT public places (that I have the permission of all appearing in the photo to publish) I’ve chosen some from a unique wedding held at the top of Black Mountain in February last year. 
Shuang and David were married on February 23. It was a typically hot late summer day and the wedding had a real 'Aussie' feel to it. David was from the US and Shuang originally from China.
The reason I chose this wedding to illustrate my blog about public places is its reference to Canberra as our national capital, especially for visitors from overseas. When you get married in Canberra and invite guests from interstate, their visit is enriched by the opportunity to see and visit our national icons and treasures, like the Captain Cook water jet.

I’ve got some other ideas to share with you about weddings in ACT public places. Next week  I’ll show you photos of an exquisite public place for a wedding with up to about forty guests. It would be a perfect venue for a wedding on the October long weekend, any year. I think you’ll get a surprise to see the elegance and loveliness of this public, yet sheltered and private, wedding place. And of course, like other public places in the ACT, it’s free to anyone from anywhere who makes a booking.

I also intend to write more about unique elements in David and Shuang’s ceremony. If you’re planning a wedding ceremony, their wording may inspire you to be braver about your own input into the wording for your own wedding. Remember always, it’s your day. Once you’ve met all legal requirements in your ceremony, the rest is up to you. When choosing your celebrant, it’s a good idea to make sure that they are comfortable with whatever wording you choose and can help you create exactly what you want. (As I totally love to do!)

I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions, and you'll get a prompt reply. If you'd like to email me about your wedding, please click here.
Till next Tuesday
Sincerely


Michele

07 October 2009

Did you know you can have your wedding at Floriade, Australia’s largest flower garden?

Hello, and welcome.
Garden weddings have always been popular in Canberra. 
Did you know that you can get married at Floriade? It’s simply a matter  of contacting the National Capital Authority and making a booking. Because Floriade is held in a public place, it’s available for free to all citizens for private functions – private functions in a public place, that is. For Canberrans, it's unusual to have a wedding where there are lots of other people but those who live in other capital cities and choose to marry in a public garden, would be quite used to the idea. 


I had a wedding at Floriade several years ago. The setting was splendid. You might think that members of the public could intrude on the space you’ve chosen for your ceremony (as they have the right to do) but this simply doesn’t happen. When a wedding is taking place, people are very respectful. They keep their distance, though some, who love weddings (like me) may stop a short while in the background to enjoy the scene. I’ll write more about weddings in public places in my next blog. 


This year’s Floriade is drawing to a close and I plan to go there one more time. My first visit was at the end of the first week. It was mid-September. I'm glad that this coincided with the annual display of bridal floristry by CIT students. The view from the ferris wheel was spectacular but showed that many tulips had not fully opened.








There will be weddings in my Heart Garden in Weston in November and December. It’s looking just superb at the moment, full of blossoms (including green Yukon cherry blossom), flowering shrubs like pearl bush and lilac, and vines in flower like clematis and akebia, the chocolate vine. There are bluebells, irises, tulips and rhododendrons in many colours. 
If you’d like to have your small weekday wedding in my Heart Garden (at no extra charge), you’d be so welcome to. 


I want to let you know that there’ll soon be a free open afternoon at my Heart Garden  and you are invited to come. The garden had over three hundred visitors on the weekend it was part of the Australian Open Garden scheme in 2005, but the open garden coming up is only for my husband’s work colleagues, a couple of neighbours I have invited and you, dear reader, through this blog. Please email me if you’d like to come, and I’ll send you the details. 

Please note that this invitation is not about weddings, it’s about enjoying gardens - their beauty, aromas and birdlife. The invitation is open to all who’d like to come to the lovely place my blog sets out from each week.

I've included photos above that I took in the Heart Garden in the last week or so. There's a slideshow on the right of this blog with these photos and a few others. I've added descriptive captions. Click the slideshow to enlarge.
If you'd like to email me about your wedding, please click here.
If you'd like to ask me a question about getting married in Australia, or leave a comment, please post a comment below.

Till next Tuesday
Sincerely
Michele

29 September 2009

My top favourite location for a country wedding is Crisp Galleries and Lavender Gardens on the Hume Highway near Bowning, about 40 minutes from Civic. I have a wedding there on October 24 and, if it's OK with the bride and groom, I’ll post some photos after that.The Crips family are dear friends of my family and I love every chance I get to visit their beautiful place. It’s open Saturday, Sundays and and the Devonshire coffee on the weekend is the best. Pauline makes and serves the best scones with real cream and generous jam. I’ll be at a wedding at Crisp Galleries on October so I’ll post some pictures after that.

Lovely country wedding locations around Murrumbateman NSW

Hello, and welcome.
I have just returned from a delightful interlude in the local countryside with my darling husband David. We stayed at the Royal Tara Motel in Binalong. Marilyn and Tom Duffy are the proprietors, and Tom is chef. In the Yass/Canberra region, Tom is the best caterer I know. If you want him to cater for your country wedding, you’ll have to book a long way in advance.
On the way home through Murrumbateman, we passed Springers Rest cafe/restaurant. It's in an interesting building from colonial days, right on the highway. (That's Springers Rest in the photo above.) Jenny is the owner/chef  of Springers Rest and I highly recommend the service that she and her staff provide.  I have found them to be thorough and thoughtful, and very cheerful.


Here are photos from the happy family wedding of Dyan and Andrew in late September last year. Jenny tells me the family of five has been back recently to celebrate the first anniversary of their most special day.






Coming home yesterday, David and I turned off the highway into Hillview Drive to check out Country Guesthouse Schonegg. I have always wanted to go there, and it’s as good as I imagined. Manager Kirsty showed me through the guesthouse. There’s a small courtyard with a backdrop of open fields. It would be perfect for a small quiet wedding. The dining room caters for about 35 guests and 6 couples can stay the night. Richard and Evelyn, the owners/chefs take great pride in producing memorable meals in a casual elegant atmosphere.
We returned to the highway, turned into Murrumbateman Road, then into Nanima Road. Travelling along Nanima Road, we passed  Redbrow Garden. I visited this large garden once during drought and even when it was stressed, it was beautiful. I am sure it's returned to its normal beauty after the recent rains. I have seen lovely settings there for small to medium sized weddings, and there’s accommodation as well. I haven’t had a wedding there yet.
A driveway of blossoms at Redbrow Garden
Next we drove past Poachers Pantry. I’ve been celebrant at several weddings at this unique location.  There’s an old homestead with a garden where weddings are held, and a new restaurant area. The large gardens mix traditional and bush. The staff takes great care to make guests feel welcome and well-cared for. 
I've been invited to stay a couple of times for the reception after a wedding at Poachers Pantry and had a jolly good time. You can make as much noise as you like as there are no neighbours to disturb! Guests usually arrive and leave by bus and that’s another plus for this venue. If the guests stay in Civic, no-one has to drive after the party.
(Wish I could show you more wedding photos from Poachers Pantry but I didn't ask for the necessary permissions from the people in them.)


Springers Rest, Country Guesthouse Schonegg and Poachers Pantry – these are just three of the excellent wedding venues in our local countryside that I can personally recommend. I'm confident you'll get a very friendly welcome, good service and great food if you choose any one of them for your wedding.

It’s good to see the countryside near Canberra looking green, lush and vibrant again. The local country wedding-scene, is, so I’ve been told, mostly uneffected by the Global Financial Crisis. If you want to hold your wedding at one of the places I've mentioned, you’ll probably need to book well ahead. 


If you'd like me to be your celebrant at a country wedding, I'd be delighted to accept. There'd be an extra fee for travel, but not from my home in Weston. I only charge for return travel beyond the edges of Canberra. For instance, the return journey Hall to Poachers Pantry is 25km. That's an extra $30.



Through my weekly blog I am glad to be able to promote local wedding service providers and the good work they do. Please note that I have no financial or business connections with any of them.


If you'd like to email me about your wedding, please click here.
If you'd like to ask me a question, or leave a comment, you'd be most welcome to do so. 
Just click COMMENTS below.


Till next time
Sincerely
Michele

22 September 2009

The comfort of your wedding guests, whatever the weather

Hello, and welcome.
This is all I can show you of the v private wedding held at the Heart Garden on 09-09-09 – just the celebration bubbly and the crystal glasses, ready to go.


Typical of a September ‘change of seasons’ day, we had sun, we had rain, and the weather was a little chilly. We actually had the ceremony and celebration in my meeting room, the green room, overlooking the garden, then we went outside for some fabulous photos. Several photos featured soft showers of pink blossoms, falling on the bride and groom (with a little help from me, the tree-shaker, well out of shot).


Keep in mind that if you plan to marry in Canberra in September, you can get sun and rain in one day, and sometimes the wind comes off the snow! If you’re planning an outdoor wedding, it’s good to have a backup plan that can move the ceremony indoors, even at the last minute.


Your comfort at your wedding is, of course, most important. Thing is though, you may not notice if it’s cold or too hot. You may well be off in a world of your own.


I’ve seen radiant brides in strapless dresses on cold days, just beaming with delight. Meanwhile, their bridesmaids in strappy dresses were shivering and turning blue. I'm not exaggerating when I say I could sometimes hear their teeth chattering!


Sometimes a bride has her heart set on standing in one particular spot, and on the wedding day, that spot happens to be right out in the hot sun. Here’s what often happens:
Guests go for comfort - understandably. On really hot days, while the guests are waiting for the bride, they will naturally move to the shade. At such times, I find it difficult as celebrant, to coax people out into the sun when the bride arrives. Unfortunately, many of the guests hope the ceremony will end as soon as possible so they can get back to the shade.


Your wedding is such a special event, not only for you but also for all the people who’ve joined you on your big day because they care about you so much. Everyone wants to have a good time. You will put a lot of thought into your ceremony and you’ll want your guests to look and listen in comfort, and take it all in. You will certainly not want them to wish it would finish ASAP.


Most months, the weather is fairly predictable in our fair city. If you plan an outside wedding, it’s very unlikely it will rain. In almost 900 weddings where I’ve officiated, I think it’s rained maybe a dozen times. I think your chances of being rained out in Canberra (except in September) are about one in a hundred. This means your chance of sunshine is about 99%. ( Sunshine or cloud, and cloud makes for great photos.) Pretty good odds, I think, of getting a great day.


To make sure everyone is comfortable at your wedding, just be willing to be a bit flexible.  Perhaps be willing to move to a shadier location if the day turns out hotter than you had in mind. Many couples set up a backup plan for bad weather by making arrangements with their reception place to move the ceremony there if the weather is too wet, cold or windy.


So, keep in mind that while the bride and groom may not notice what’s happening with the weather once their ceremony is underway, the guests will be wanting to watch and listen with pleasure. No-one wants to be wishing the wedding would end because they’re finding that the unpleasant weather is distracting them from the main event.


If you'd like to email me about your wedding, click here 
If you'd like to ask me a question or leave a comment, 
you'd be most welcome to do so. Just click COMMENTS below.


Till next Tuesday
Sincerely
Michele

15 September 2009

A Very Happy Start - Part Three

Hello, and welcome.
This is Part Three, the final part of the first blog I posted back in July. I mentioned then that I would add photos from the wedding of Bryony and Josh. Their wedding was delightful.


It was a beautiful day in February. Even though summer was hot, the Heart Garden was serene, cool and private. This is my favourite photo from their wedding.




Bryony wrote afterwards on facebook: 'Thank you again for our beautiful ceremony! It was everything we could have wished for and more. The intimacy and joy of our special day was so perfect.'


I like the photo above because Josh is beaming so much love to his bride, and also because it illustrates so well, something that I would like you to know if you choose me as your celebrant. 
I will not feature in your wedding photos!
Because many celebrants stand between the bride and groom, many celebrants are in the centre of many precious photos. Unless  you specially ask me to stand in the centre during your ceremony, I will stand to the side. It’s easy there for me to talk directly to the marrying couple, or directly to their guests. Mostly though, it means that when you share the most intimate and significant moments of your wedding, like the exchange of vows and rings, you will get memorable photos (like the one above) of just the two of you. 






You can see in the photos just how happy Josh and Bryony are. With their marriage, they have formalised their family within the community. 


Bryony and Josh already have little Seth and when I saw Josh recently, he was thrilled to tell me that a daughter is well on her way. She’ll be born in early November, I think. (Great wedding, great honeymoon!)


If you'd like to email me about your wedding, click here. If you'd like to leave a comment, you'd be most welcome to do so.


Till next Tuesday,
Sincerely
Michele

08 September 2009

No Registry Office weddings in Canberra ACT

UPDATE
19 April 2016
Hello, and welcome

If my kind friends the googlebots have brought you straight to this page, which I loaded in September 2009, here's a link to the latest information about the Simple (yet still) Special Service I offer you. Your simple wedding can be held in the intimate venue of my beautiful Heart Garden in Weston on a weekday, or in any other location on any day at any time, day or night.

The driveway (see below) still looks glorious in early September and it's now paved with concrete.

My all-inclusive fee is $500. There's no added cost for the use of my large, peaceful, romantic garden for your wedding. 
Heart Garden weddings are held Mon-Fri beginning from 10am to 4.30pm. (Not weekends) Maximum number of guests: around 8. (Maybe up to a dozen)

For the same fee of $500 all-inclusive, I also offer the Simple (yet still) Special Service at any other location, on any day, at any time, with any number of guests. If you wish to marry out of town, there may be an extra fee for travel.

Here's a link to my Email Contact Form if you'd like to get in touch with me about your wedding, either with my Simple Service or Full ServiceOr phone  or text me on 0406 376 375, any day between 9am and 9pm.

And here's a link to my homepage with the latest blogpost.
Thank you for your visit. I hope we'll stay in touch. :)

Hello, and welcome
8 September 2009

Many years ago, when the office of the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages was in Civic – it’s now in Fyshwick – there was a small, very pleasant wedding room where couples could get married. It’s a common assumption that the Registrar’s office still offers this service, however, people who plan to marry in the ACT must find a private civil marriage celebrant (or a religious celebrant) to officiate for them. Here's a link to the Attorney-General's list of registered celebrants.




When the Registrar’s room closed, I decided to make my beautiful quiet, private garden in Weston available to couples who would have chosen a registry office wedding.




Our garden has always been serene and inviting. I recall that my dear friend Joan told me she always visited my garden in her mind when she sat down to meditate. Over the years, many students have come here, especially to see its unusual plants. 




When my husband and I first moved to Weston in 1972, our block was bare scraped clay. Now it’s a romantic quarter-acre garden, ever changing and delighting. In 2005 our Heart Garden was part of the Australian Open Garden scheme and was enjoyed by several hundred visitors.

Couples who plan to marry during traditional business hours (Monday to Friday, 9 to 5) are so welcome to have their ceremony in the Heart Garden. There is no extra charge for this. There can be up to about a dozen guests. (The smaller the wedding, the more intimate.)

Here's my email contact form for all enquiries. Or phone  or text me on 0406 376 375, any day between 9am and 9pm.

When there’s a wedding coming up, I weed and feed, mow and blow. I spruce up the garden to the max for hosting these very special occasions. I supply crystal champagne glasses for everyone for the toasts and guests are most welcome to wander around and enjoy. 

There’s actually a wedding in the Heart Garden tomorrow so I must away and continue my preparations. The couple want 09-09-09 to always be a very special date for them.

We got wonderful rain in Canberra yesterday so I'm a bit behind schedule. This wedding will be very small and very private. Just bride, groom, two witnesses and celebrant, so I won’t be posting photos on my blog. I can show you though what the entrance to the Heart Garden will look like when the bridal party arrives. 




This is how our driveway always looks in early September. How beautiful is that?!



Looking up the driveway to Meldrum Street,
 the first week of Spring 2009


Till next post
Sincerely
Michele