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.

01 June 2015

Canberra’s Top Ten Wedding Venues for 2014 – Guess What’s Number Five!

Tegan arrives for her marriage
with Steve
The Heart Garden
8 May 2015
Hello, and welcome
     Did you happen to see an article in the Canberra Times recently about the Ten Top Canberra Wedding Venues for 2014? And did you happen to notice which place came in at Number 5? My beautiful romantic Heart Garden! I was absolutely amazed, and absolutely delighted. It was ahead of the Hyatt, and St John's Church in Reid. There were more weddings in my Heart Garden last year than at Nara Park. Who'd have guessed it? Certainly not me.

Getting married in winter
     It’s the first day of winter in our nation’s capital and it’s a typical Canberra winter day already. Crystal clear, sunny and icy! 
     I didn’t really feel like going out into the garden from our snug warm house but then I reminded myself how very special today is for the couple who will come to marry in the garden at 2pm. (At their request, no mention of names.) Thinking of them made it easy for me to rug up and be out the door, ready to plant some new flowers and spend some hours sprucing the garden up to look its best.
     At this time of year, Heart Garden wedding ceremonies are often held in my green room, with the bride and groom standing in the bay window. Often the signing table’s in the green room as well, but if the weather’s sunny, still and warm enough, we sign in the garden. Celebration drinks and photos usually take place in the garden, with everyone warmly clad.
     Today at 2 o'clock the sun was shining and the air had warmed a lot. We had the ceremony in the garden, with bride and groom standing in front of a huge ‘guelder rose’ viburnum, still resplendent with golden autumn leaves. The winter-flowering apricot tree is in flower already and its pink blossom-laden branches stretch far out over the lawn.
Cindy and Billy married in the green room in July last year,
then had celebration drinks and photos in the garden.
Simply beautiful and beautifully simple
     I didn’t set out to specialise in small registry-style weddings, it just evolved that way. I set up this service in about 1997 when the ACT Registry Office closed its wedding room and moved to Fyshwick. Since then, registry-style weekday weddings in my large, peaceful romantic garden have become extremely popular. I enjoy the intimacy of these weddings. They’re perfect for couples who want to avoid a lot of stress and fuss. And expense. I describe this popular wedding option as 'simply beautiful and beautifully simple'.
Luke and Cassandra - happy newlyweds under the winter-flowering apricot
Friday 13 June 2014
Here are some circumstances for a registry office style wedding
  •      Bride and groom have been married before (to other partners). They just want a simple legal recognition and celebration of their relationship together.
  •      The couples has already created for themselves, a personal ceremony in which they made heart-to-heart commitments to each other, but it was not a legal wedding. For instance, they may have made their vows on a beach in Bali, or simply in their own home.
  •      The couple is having a big wedding overseas and getting legally married in Australia first (or after) is a much simpler option. I recall a bride and groom who had married in a huge, successful wedding in China with her family and community. They were planning another big traditional wedding in India in the new year, with his family and community. When they married in the peace and tranquility of the Heart Garden, with just one witness each, they looked so relaxed and contented. ‘This is just for us’ they said. They couldn’t stop smiling.
  •      Sometimes couples who have been together for a while, find they are being posted with work to a location where marriage is expected, such as Dubai. Even though they have a very low-key wedding, it’s still a memorable event. Each year from then, it’s still a cause for celebration.
  •      There may be a baby on the way and the parents want to formalise their relationship and have a celebration while they're still able to focus on a wedding.
  •      Sometimes people who love each other dearly simply want to elope. A private, secret Heart Garden wedding is the perfect plan.
     From my vast experience with small simple (but still special) weddings, I have worked out a way to streamline the pre-wedding process. I can also help couples marry exactly one month after they first make contact with me by phone or email. (One month is the minimum time required by law after lodging a Notice of Intended Marriage with any civil celebrant or church in Australia.)
Looking very pleased - Jacinda and Antonio married at
Redbrow Gardens in Murrumbateman on May 9 this year.
I love weddings, big and small
     I’d love to be your celebrant, whatever sized wedding you choose. I will travel to any location in the ACT or surrounding NSW (or further, if needed). I am available for weddings every day of the week. I’ve had a couple of dawn weddings and also some around supper time when the party was already underway. I’ve married couples in their family room, in their lounge room, sitting on their backsteps.
     I’ve been at grand formal weddings (like one in the Senate chamber of Old Parliament House) as well as casual parties, where I’ve been invited to stay and dance. I’ve had several weddings in balloons, flying over Lake Burley Griffin. You can tell from this I hope, that I'm really flexible with when and where. 
     Your wedding is your choice. There are requirements of the Marriage Act which have to be included. These are of course, important. They need to be taken seriously but they don’t need to be a feature. As a writer I can help you blend the legalities into your wording and still keep your ceremony very personal and unique. I will deliver even the simplest one-page ceremony with heart.
Nellie and Truong married amidst the roses
Old Parliament House Rose Gardens 13 April 2015
     You can contact me by email here, or with this email contact form. Or phone or text me any day between 9 and 9 on 0406 376 375. We can talk on Skype if you like, with or without video. I’d love to help you make your wedding plans come to life in just the way you wish.

Sincerely
Michele