It was exactly ten years ago today; I was feeling very excited and nervous about my first ‘real’ Wedding I was about to officiate. (There had been a practice wedding on video for my course) It had been planned for a couple of months, but the day was suddenly here. I was so pleased the weather was reasonable – because in a few hours we were heading out in the Bay on a catamaran.
Terry and Jill were from UK and on a holiday of a lifetime. They had decided that while they were enjoying this holiday – they would actually get married – and tell everyone back in the UK when they returned home. They were staying with friends here in Melbourne and had asked them if they knew any Celebrants who could arrange their marriage. It just so happened I worked in my full-time job with this friend.
I had been registered as a Celebrant for a year, but I was in a senior full-time job, that took most of my time and energy, so had put on hold, any thought of practicing my Celebrancy role. However, I jumped at the opportunity when asked if I knew of a Celebrant! “Of course,”, I answered, “she is standing right in front of you!
I rang Terry and Jill in the UK before they left on holiday – to introduce myself, explain documentation and ask what sort of Ceremony they would like. I immediately felt a connection with them on the phone and my excitement started to build. I thought if I told them it was my first wedding – they might be hesitant in proceeding with me – so I came across as confident, knowing exactly what I was doing – which of course I did – but I made sure I triple checked everything!
Terry and Jill travelled around New Zealand before coming to Australia and were so unfortunate to be in Christchurch the day the earthquake hit. I recall so vividly, their friend coming to me at work, concerned that she couldn’t find their Itinerary – and wondered if they were in Christchurch. I also remember reassuring her, that New Zealand was a large country (being a Kiwi myself) and I was sure they would be safe somewhere else. Within a few hours however, it was confirmed that they were actually in Christchurch – and were not contactable. Of course, this caused great alarm – and a sense of helplessness fell on the rest of the day.
By the next day, we knew that Terry and Jill were safe and had managed to get out of Christchurch. Although no physical injures – it had left an emotional scar that they will carry with them for many years.
I met with them when they arrived in Melbourne and we discussed how they would like to proceed with the ceremony. They had arranged a catamaran that they hired for 5 hours – including the Skipper and his partner providing a wonderful BBQ on board, and this is where they wanted the ceremony to take place.
My dilemma was – I had been trained to complete the ceremony – and then discreetly pack up and leave – leaving the couple to celebrate. This was going to be somewhat difficult – as we would be out on the water for 5 hours!! Terry did suggest the possibility of me swimming back to shore – but I remember declining the offer!
So, the day arrived when I parked the car – checked and double checked that I had all the paperwork I needed and walked along the wharf to find the catamaran – set up for my first ceremony and awaited the arrival of the bridal party!
Terry and Jill, along with their 2 friends from Melbourne (who I worked with) the Skipper and his partner – and myself, left the wharf and travelled into Port Phillip Bay.
Whoohoo – how lucky to get my first wedding – and it was on the water! I felt so exhilarated.
The noise of the motor meant it was a little difficult to hear clearly out on the deck – so we decided to pull into Williamstown for the ceremony.
Of course, this was the moment that all was disclosed – as they were the first couple on the first page of my Marriage Register. Rather than a negative approach to this being my first wedding, Terry was thrilled to have the honour of the first page entry!
I had created a ceremony around this couple – even with the little I knew about them, I wanted to make it personal and deeply meaningful. It was beautiful! Along with the couple, I even remember tearing up!! This was the moment they made their ‘forever together’ life, legal, witnessed by their close friends and me, their Celebrant.
This was also the moment I realised what an amazing job being a Celebrant was going to be! I was on such a ‘high’ due to the complete happiness of all on board that catamaran.
After the ceremony, and the candle lighting and the signing of all documents – we pulled up anchor and took to the seas again! What followed was a truly fabulous time – I felt so privileged to be part of that group for the next few hours, sharing BBQ’d prawns and champagne, with lots of laughter and love.
This was such an awesome beginning to my career as Celebrant – there has never been a wedding since, that I haven’t ‘felt the love’ and felt the privilege of being the chosen Celebrant.
So – here I am – 10 years later – still being excited with the anticipation of every wedding ceremony I attend and officiate at. My authentic self shows through in every ceremony – and is always reflective of the couple beside me. This is Your Day and will always be Your Way.
And what did Terry and Jill have to say about their Wedding Day, 10 years ago?
“We largely knew what to expect with the ceremony on the catamaran, as you had taken us through the process in writing and when we met before the day, we have joyful memories of the event and you had planned everything down to the last degree, there were absolutely no last minute hitches. Your preparation in such a confined space worked well, the candles were a delightful touch. Your calmness and professional approach made us relaxed and fully able to enjoy our wedding.”
Here’s to the next ten years!