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.

31 December 2014

Your 2015 wedding - short simple registry style, or longer with more options?

Hello, and welcome.
     I am writing this on the eve of 2015. So many wonderful weddings during 2014, and for so many reasons. The main reasons of course are the open declaring of the love that a couple shares, and their desire to spend their lives together in a formally committed relationship.

     Looking back on this year, brings to mind many wonderful weddings, and I've amassed hundreds of photos to remind me. 
     I enjoy all weddings I attend as celebrant, and I certainly don't plan to have any favourites. Sometimes it just happens however. 
     Here are photos from the wedding of Jordan and Karlo on May 15. It was so much fun! As video-makers, they've captured the joy of their day on Vimeo.


Your wedding is my focus.
That’s my promise.
It's my pleasure.



Jordan is married, boots and all!
We want to get married as soon and as simply as possible.

     Perhaps you want the quickest wedding possible, but there’s much more to it than just signing papers. Compared to getting married in many other countries though, getting married in Australia is quite straight-forward. You don't need Australian residency, for instance.
     First off, you must lodge your Notice of Intended Marriage with your celebrant at least a month before your intended wedding date. There are several other legal requirements which you can’t leave out, such as being informed by your celebrant about local marriage education programs. You’ll be given government leaflets, including an invitation to take part in the new Stronger Relationships program.        
     You’ll receive a free video called ‘Taking the First Step’. You’ll probably need a meeting for all this. From many years of experience, I’ve streamlined the meeting for simple weddings to one hour. The next time we meet, it’s the wedding!
Signing after their simple ceremony in the National
Rose Gardens at Old Parliament House, newlyweds
Markus and Annie  1 November 2014
     In Australia, even for the simplest wedding, you can’t just sign certificates. You must have a ceremony in which you make legally required vows in the presence of at least two adult witnesses. (Must be 18, may or may not be related to you, need not be known to you personally.)
     The simplest wedding ceremony will easily fit on one A4 page. Even when read slowly to let the words carry their full importance, it will only take a few minutes. Signing the certificates may actually take longer!

Why we want everything simple.

     Sometimes couples are just wanting the basics so that their legal marriage can be registered. They may have planned a big beautiful wedding in another place like Fiji or Bali, or another place that’s special to them where getting legally married is more complicated. 
     Sometimes the couple is heading overseas to new employment, say in the United States. They know that it will be helpful in the culture they are going to, to have their longterm relationship recognised in legal marriage. 
     Sometimes couples want to marry in their faith. If the form of wedding ceremony they plan is not recognised by the Australian government as legal then a civil celebrant can legalise their marriage in a short separate ceremony. (Or here's another option: You can bring your pastor to your wedding as Jordan and Karlo did, then include a blessing prayer in your ceremony.)
Gailie and Chan had a quiet,
simple autumn wedding in the
Heart Garden with just two
witnesses. 8 May 2014
     Sometimes a short and simple wedding is all a couple has ever wanted.
     The simple (but still special) wedding I’ve written has a few variations but it basically collects together, all the legal requirements of the Australian Marriage Act. I’ve added a welcome, the option to add personal vows to the legally required ones, and a choice of friendly endings.
     Over the years, I’ve learned to say Welcome in a variety of languages. The bride or groom may have just arrived in Australia, or special guests may have come from overseas just for the wedding, with little knowledge of English. Because their interpreter speaks the language of the newly arrived bride or groom, this helps them feel at home. It can give this significant life event much more meaning.
     (FYI if the bride or groom speaks little English, they must provide an interpreter for their wedding. The interpreter need not be a professional. He or she signs a legal certificate which is then sent to the Registrar with the other wedding papers.)

We want short and simple but still want to add our own vows.

     Even in the simple ceremony, I invite couples to make personal vows to each other. These need not be in English. I remember back in May 2012, the sense of pure romance as Francesca and Aldo read pledges of their love for one another, in Italian. They read from beautiful gold-printed scrolls which Francesca had made.
     Of course, words written on small cards, or as letters to each other, serve the same intimate purpose. 

Karlo reads vows he has written for his
marriage to Jordan, before she reads
vows she has written from her smartphone.
     Occasionally couples will ad-lib their vows. Rather than writing from the heart and then reading, they speak directly from the heart during their ceremony. Sometimes, the emotion of the moment is rather overwhelming however and the mind goes blank! That’s when it’s helpful to have your vows pre-written.
    Simple weddings have sort of become my specialty or niche. Couples who google a registry office wedding in the ACT – where we have none – will often be directed to my blog by my friends, the googlebots. 
     With the Simple (but still) Special Service I provide a registry-style wedding. And when people who plan a short, simple wedding see photos of my Heart Garden, they are really glad they tell me, to be able to marry in such a beautiful place. And at no extra cost. (And bring champagne for a celebration toast with crystal glasses for everyone to drink from!) 
    I am also available to conduct simple ceremonies in any other location, on any day of the week, with any number of guests. Heart Garden weddings are small weddings, always held on weekdays.

We want a longer ceremony, unique to us as a couple.

     I still offer my full service as a celebrant. (But not in the Heart Garden.) 
     Personally, I am really happy when couples make this choice. I'm a writer and I love to help couples with the creation of a ceremony that speaks so clearly, just for them.
Clare and John chose my full service for their wedding at the
Pavilion on Northbourne on July 26 this year. I just loved
the opportunity to help them create their own ceremony.
    With the full service, there are two meetings and several other extras.
     The bride and groom prepare their ceremony, with lots of wording ideas and help available from me. Plus they may refer to other sources. They may like vows they heard in a TV show and found inspiring, or they’ll look for wedding wording ideas on the net. Once they’ve put their ceremony together, I give the wording a final polish. 
     I keep in mind how the ceremony will come across when presented live. I never change the wording of personal vows and I make sure that all legal requirements have been met. (I give the couple an explanatory handout on this at our first meeting.)
     I always wait for the email that OKs the final draft before I print the ceremony on thick parchment. I use the couple’s choice of font. Finally I tie the ceremony together into a booklet, with ribbon of their choice, ready for the big day.

     Whatever sized wedding you choose, I am deeply committed to making every wedding I take part in a wonderful, enjoyable and memorable event. 

     I realise that I play an essential part. As the celebrant. I can make the marriage legal. I have the authority to pronounce a couple ‘husband and wife’ (if that’s what they choose) but I like to keep my role to the side. 
     My preference during the wedding is always to stand to the side, rather than in between the bride and her groom. The groom and his bride are then centre-stage, not their celebrant. (And their photos won’t feature their celebrant as they gaze lovingly at each other while making their vows, or when they are exchanging their wedding rings.)
     I have many weddings booked for 2015 already. This means that 2015 is going to be a very special year in the lives of many couples, young and older. 
     Here’s to the New Year, and all the happiness it will bring!

Bringing in 2015
At the final Heart Garden wedding for this year, on December 29,
newlyweds Anjana and Shakil toast the year just ending, along with 2015,
the first year of their marriage. Here's to the happiest future, Shakil and Anjana!
    And farewell to 2014
Farewelling Vanessa and Mark as they leave the
Heart Garden, married.
3 October 2014
      If you’d like to book me as your celebrant, or have a chat about your wedding plans by phone, email, text or Skype video, I’d love to talk with you. My phone number is 0406 376 375 (9am to 9pm any day).

     Please email me directly or use this Email Contact Form. It’s on one of several Wedding Pages on this blog. (You’ll see these pages to the right on a large screen but on a small screen, you’ll find a menu for them at the top of the blog.)
     My congratulations and very best wishes to you both on your exciting wedding plans. 

Sincerely
Michele

PS My thanks to all the brides and grooms who have given me their permission to use photos from their wedding online. Many other couples choose to keep their weddings private and I always respect their wishes.