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My 10 Year Anniversary Celebration!

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.

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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!

It’s still a Wonderful Life

Wow – what just happened?  The entire world paused for a few months!    How did you manage isolation?  Lots of people I know, do not want it to end – they are enjoying too many aspects of this ‘new’ life. I know we are still …not there yet, but perhaps we are adapting a little better.

I do, however, acknowledge the loss of lives and the many people who have been unwell   – and my heart and love reach those families.

So…. working from home has meant: less travel – less pollution – more productive family/relationship time – not getting out of bed quite so early – forgetting what it is like to wear shoes! And the list goes on.

And, although we look forward to when things can slip back into gear,  the social calendar has not been quite so full – no pubs or clubs open – no restaurants open for dinner – no cinemas.

                                                     As a Celebrant – this is how I survived\thrived:

I am so lucky to live close to many nature walks – I only need to go out my back door – I do love the Dandenong Ranges!

I did enjoy conducting some small weddings – no more than five people. Those weddings were especially intimate and so filled with love – but like you, I am now looking forward to the larger weddings.

Have you been one of those couples who have had to postpone? My heart and thoughts go out to you – because I know the story from so many of my already booked couples – this has not been a good time.

But – I am always the glass half full person – so it may have given you more time to consider different aspects you wish to include in your wedding. You may have had more time to save more money for your honeymoon – even though it might still need to be in Australia – we have some beautiful places here. You might have had time to reconsider your guest list. More people – fewer people?

How has this lock downtime affected the relationship you have with that amazing person you are going to marry? Has it strengthened or stretched? These have been interesting times – and I am not sure I know any person, who has not had a challenging moment/day/week with those they love. This is all part of a solid strong and ever-evolving relationship – if you come through it, you are stronger. I also know there have been some who have had deeper clarity – and have realised, the person they were about to marry was not the right person for them – or they the right person for their partner. This can be devastating – but it is so much better to receive that clarity now, rather than the heartbreak further down the years. From all adversity and challenge we learn and discover new strengths and resilience.

Finding out about ourselves, and the person we are about to marry can be very illuminating – and during these last few months, we may have discovered things about ourselves that we did not know. We may have also found out things about our partner we did not know. Relationships are continually changing and growing, but what we have just experienced – and continue to in many respects – may have highlighted this even more.

If you have enjoyed getting to know each other more and want to take it to a deeper level -please consider booking two sessions for “Relationship Strengthening”. I offer this service as part of Soulful Ceremonies. Whilst this IS NOT counselling – I do have a Social Work/Counselling background which enables me to facilitate these sessions. Check it out on my website https://soulfulceremonies.com.au/pre-marriage-education/

Relationship Strengthening is designed to educate couples about themselves and each other – a tool to facilitate a happy and solid marriage. It has 2 sessions – 1½hours each, offered day and evening. I am now also offering this on ZOOM if you prefer not to travel up to Upper Ferntree Gully – but who would not want to travel up to this little slice of paradise? This is a great opportunity to get to know yourself more deeply and understand aspects of your partner you may not know.

Call me now – 0474 128 869 to book your first session.

I would love to hear how creative you have been with your entertainment during these lockdown weeks. I have heard some great stories about adventures people have had within the confines of their own home.

I put together a list of ideas – we still can not resume our normal entertainment just yet – so here are some ideas to stop the boredom or routine.  Here is the link. ENJOY.

FUN AND EASY IDEAS FOR A DATE NIGHT AT HOME –

What do Celebrant’s Do?

SCHearts

 

Hey there – welcome to number two Blog for Soulful Ceremonies.

I love Mondays!!

During my (other) working life I didn’t think I would ever say that! But as a Celebrant – I just love Mondays.
It is the day I finish all the final details to the Wedding/s I have officiated during the weekend – and press the submit button. Yes – we are all online now, so all the details of the couples I work with are entered into the Births Deaths & Marriages (BDM) – Celebrants Section, Web Page. And for the Couples who want it (and who wouldn’t – it’s included in my fee) I also order their Official Marriage Certificate.
It takes the BDM up to 4 weeks to register
the marriage and send out the Certificates
                                                                      – straight to the couple’s house.

So once that’s all completed – I sort through all the photo’s that I have snapped along the day of the wedding – and ones others have sent me – kind of reliving the moment, and highlighting what shots will be fantastic for Soulful Ceremonies future use.
The next step is my favourite – I sit quietly and do my serious planning for the coming week. This usuallycomes after my morning meditation – great space to let go of last week – and anticipate the coming week. This may sound a little kitsch – but it is always exciting – knowing what I have planned –

but also anticipating the unknown.
I have no idea who might contact me
during the week – with so many different requests.

I start my planning with the most ‘urgent’ tasks – this might be completing the first draft of a future Ceremony – so the couple can read through – ask any questions or suggest any changes. I keep telling people who are planning their wedding – that it’s their day and their way. It has very little to do with what I like – this is all about crafting the right ceremony for the right people – and every one is unique.
I always ask the couples who choose me as their Celebrant:
“how would you like your guests
to describe your wedding ceremony
after the day?”
And nearly everyone answers that differently – but it provides a goal for me – and I work toward that.
Responding to all my emails and FB and Insta comments is high on the agenda too. I always attempt to respond to any requests or interests, as quickly as I’m able. All the people ‘out there’ who contact me for the first time – need to know I am responsive and reliable
 I have never let anyone down – hope I never do.
I might have several appointments during the week – and all the other office-based work – fits in around my appointments. A typical week might include:
Meeting with a couple for the first time – checking out if we are a good fit to proceed with their wedding plans. I present them with a Folder which holds a lot of information – they get to keep this
Meeting up with couples to sight their ID and complete their Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) – this can be done up to 18 months before their wedding – but no later than one month before
Meeting with a couple to discuss the Outline for their Ceremony – and if they want particular themes throughout their wedding (I once officiated at a wedding of two scout leaders – who both loved Lego – that was specially themed!). The couple then decide  if they want particular readings or rituals and how it   will fit in with exactly what they have planned
Meeting with a couple for a Wedding Rehearsal. Often this is at the Venue where they will get married – but it can also be at home/ in the park or any space available. We get to practice the timing for the bride walking in – and where to stand etc. We practice what it might be like to say the vows to each other (I have a little pretend vow sheet which helps couples to read, and then look into the eyes of their lover). Consider any environmental challenges such as steps, paths etc and work out how to navigate them
Meeting with a couple to sign the Declaration of No Legal Impediment. This document must be signed as close to the Wedding as possible, but preferably not on the Wedding Day – many more important things to focus on, rather than signing a form before getting married.
It depends on how many meetings I have for the week ahead, as well as how many hours travel is involved, as to what time I allocate to all the remaining important tasks.
And next Blog – I’ll tell you about all the other things I get to do.

Why Did I Become a Celebrant?

SCHearts

Welcome to Soulful Ceremonies First Blog

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy creating them.

When I speak with friends and others in the community there appears to be a belief that Celebrants only have a job on Saturdays – to stand in front of a number of guests, with the Bride and Groom, and officiate a 20 minute ceremony – then go home. Easy gig, right?  Well – if that’s all it is, I don’t think I would love it as much as I do.

Many years ago, when I first had the thought of becoming a Celebrant, I also thought much the same thing. In fact, what stopped me proceeding at that time, was the fact I still had a young child, and I didn’t want to be working at my ‘real’ job Monday to Friday, then take up a Saturday job!  Little did I know what “being a Celebrant” involved.

As time went on – my life changed – my youngest child grew up – I was still working full time, but I still had a strong desire to be the person that people would choose to make their love story come true and officiate at their wedding.

Ten years ago, I was finally accepted by the Attorney’s General Dept as Registered Civil Celebrant – PHEW!

The complete journey was not exactly a romp in the park – it had lots of research, study, videos, and assignments, taking a large chunk out of my busy week. Unfortunately – or fortunately – depending which day I look at it – I also became a Senior Manager within a Palliative Care Service the very same month. Naively – I thought perhaps I could do both!  How mistaken was I!

There were some very ‘stand out in my memory’ weddings I did officiate at in those early years, for some very special friends that I will remember forever – but really, I realised then, just how much time it took to prepare for each wedding. The job I had at the time, left little room for what was required to set up and run my own business as a Celebrant.

One day I realised I really wanted to be a full-time Celebrant – so I left my paid job!

The process was not quite that simple or straight-forward. I find life offers us many choices – and unless we are in a position where we truly trust that we are doing is the right thing – we will always find barriers that prevent us from moving forward. Whilst I loved the field I was working in – I also knew I needed to fully commit to being available to my business ‘Soulful Ceremonies’– if I was going to succeed as a Celebrant. When I opened myself up to that and trusted my decision-making – I became a full-time successful Celebrant!

I can honestly say – I have never regretted that decision – apart from the initial financial uncertainty – but I always trust the Universe to lead me in the right direction – and it hasn’t let me down yet!

Once I am closely involved with the beautiful couples who want to plan for their amazing ceremony to commence their married life together,

I become so immersed with the privilege of helping them to create their ‘love story come true’ day.

Keep posted – and I will fully explain what I actually “do” as a Celebrant in my next Blog.