The Highland Fling – Michelle and Sarath are married

Kangaroo Valley Bush Retreat wedding Kasthala 43 200x300It was  an overcast day in January when I drove to Kangaroo Valley for Michelle and Sarath’s wedding.  The region (and the weather) made Sarath and his family feel right at home.

You see they are from Scotland. Michelle lives there too but her family is from Australia.  Thanks to the wonders of technology most of our planning was done via Skype so by the time I first met them face to face in December it was like catching up with old friends.

 

The couple chose Kangaroo Valley Bush Retreat for their wedding. Wow what an amazing venue.  Luckily the rain held off so we held the ceremony in the stunning rock cathedral.  The groom and his groomsman looked splendid in their traditional Scottish attire – kilts and all.  Whilst we were waiting for the bride the boys did a little jig. His sister who was sitting in the front row confirmed that he was following all the traditional rules of kilt wearing!

We celebrated Sarath and Michelle’s links to the Scottish Isles with a gorgeous handfasting ceremony. This involved both of their mums tying ribbons around their wrists which remained whilst they stated their vows.  This ritual is a Celtic tradition and is believed to be the basis for our current saying ‘tying the knot’. It represents the binding together of two hearts, two lives and two families for as long as the ties remain.

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Once Michelle and Sarath exchanged rings the guests headed up to the viewing deck while we finalised the paperwork. Roger Chapman did an excellent job of sounding the couple’s entrance to the deck with that other wonderful Scottish tradition – the bagpipes.  Then it was time for another Celtic tradition – a shared drink from the Quaich.  A Quaich is a two-handled shallow cup which has been used for generations as a way of showing trust (after all it’s hard to stab someone with your sword when you are using both hands to hold the cup!) and more recently as a symbol of two lives being joined together.  Sarath’s father filled the Quaich with mead and presented it to the couple.

 

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I absolutely love performing ceremonies that reflect the couple’s heritage and this one truely represented who Sarath and Michelle were as individuals and as a couple.  It was also a lot of fun so thank you to Michelle, Sarath and your families for letting me share in such a wonderful ceremony.

Thank you to Peter from Shoalhaven Studios for sharing these images. Not only did he capture some amazing photos but he was an absolute delight to work with and I would highly recommend him to couples getting married in the area.

Temika and Jordan marry, Caiden is named

Temika and Jordan 300x214Two ceremonies in one today – Temika and Jordan’s wedding and the naming of their gorgeous son, Caiden.

I know they say you should never work with children or animals but I love doing ceremonies with kids involved.  Granted you need to be able to roll with the changes that they invariably throw up at you but that just adds to the fun.  Caiden and his three flowergirls companions were very well rehearsed and even walked in the right direction, throwing flower petals as they went.

2012 was less than a week old when I headed to the Wollongong Golf Club for the ceremony. Sarah from the club was kind enough to lend me a golf cart to get all my gear over to the ceremony location – now that’s a fun way to get around. After setting up I met the groom at the clubhouse. He was looking a little nervous so I took him in for a glass of water – you don’t want the groom passing out during the ceremony!  To be honest I think the boys at the clubhouse may have given him something a little stronger after I left as when I saw him next he was looking much more relaxed.And although they weren’t the coloured shoes I usually love (ie the bride’s), Jordan’s white shoes were very dashing.

The ceremony was a lot of fun.  Caiden entertained himself picking up all the golf balls that were marking the aisle.  Once we started with his naming he really stepped up, keeping us all entertained.  It’s great when everyone there gets involved and this was certainly the case with Temika, Jordan and Caiden’s celebration.  We even had everyone join with us as we officially named Caiden. They had a family friend – Sue from Susan Gruber Photography doing the photos.  Knowing your photographer means that you relax a bit more and usually leads to great photos so I can’t wait to see them.

Combining a naming and a wedding can seem a little daunting but it makes for a lovely family celebration and you only have to try to coordinate everyone’s diaries once!

 

Anthea and Ben are married

Anthea and Ben 300x200What a wonderful wedding to end 2011.

Up until a week before the wedding I had never met Ben, in person at least.  He has been living in Singapore so Anthea and I caught up with him via Skype. Our first meeting was at the rehearsal. He’d been on the red eye and come straight from the airport with only a few coffees to make up for the lack of sleep.  As you can imagine he was a little vague!

So the man I met just before the ceremony came as a bit of a surprise.  He was full of (nervous?) energy and he scrubbed up well. The nerves were tested a little when the bridal party got stuck in traffic. (It turns out lots of people go to the zoo during the holidays – who knew!) Luckily their driver knew a few back streets and it wasn’t long before we were ready to go.

As you can see from the photo above the weather was looking a bit ominous and we had the occasional drop.  However we didn’t need to worry because the gorgeous Tea Rooms at Gunners’ Barracks have a wet weather option that is almost as stunning as their main venue. As it turned out the weather stayed clear if a little overcast (that’s better for photos anyway right).

Ben’s brother did a great and very expressive reading which had everyone laughing and then Ben’s sister performed a Blessing of the Hands which had more than a few reaching for the tissues. Quite a few of my couples choose to include the Blessing of the Hands reading in their ceremony and I never tire of hearing it.

Anthea had the most stunning dress. I can’t wait to see all the photos from Shane at Oneill Photographics.

 

Kärlek! (that’s love in Swedish)

Swedish heart‘Love makes the world go round’ and as the world gets smaller love brings people together from around the globe.

 

When I was in highschool I spent a year in Sweden as an exchange student. I lived with a family, went to the local school and learnt how to speak Swedish.  If you’ve never met anyone who’s Swedish then you’re missing out.  They are beautiful people (both inside and out) and they share our same self-deprecating sense of humour.  Their language is also wonderful to listen to and varies from an almost gutteral drawl down south to that lovely sing-songy accent made famous by the Muppets’ Swedish chef up north. I lived near Stockholm so my accent is apparently pretty boring and understandable by everyone (including Danes and Norwegians!)

Swedes have a very strong sense of self when it comes to their culture. They have many wonderful traditions and are proud of their country – think all those crazy Swedes at the tennis. I think it helps that their flag is so much easier to facepaint than ours!

Sadly I don’t get to practice my Swedish very often and my vocabulary is sort of stuck in highschool – I’m great on words around school and boys, not so good with jobs and babies.  As a celebrant it comes up even less although I was asked to use a little Swedish in a ceremony for Brendan and Line to welcome Line’s Danish family. So I was delighted when I received a request to perform a ceremony recently for a Swedish-Australian couple.  And then I was a little daunted at the prospect of writing half of the ceremony being in Swedish!

Thanks to my little dictionary and some wonderful Swedish friends we ended up with a ceremony that shared the kärlek (that’s love in Swedish) with everyone there.  I also had a great time chatting with some of the guests and was pleasantly surprised by how much I remembered. Det var jätte roligt!

Winnie and Robert get married

Winnie and Robert 300x214Winnie  and Robert were referred to me by a friend and from our first meeting I was fascinated!

 

You see Winnie was born in Hong Kong and Robert in China.  They were raised knowing the Chinese way of doing things, including how to marry.  The date of the wedding, a Monday, was chosen as an auspicious date and their day was filled with many traditional Chinese customs such as tea ceremonies, games with the bridesmaids and groomsmen and even a whole suckling pig!  Winnie and Robert have agreed to let me blog about this so you’ll hear more later.

It is wonderful to see couples embracing their cultures and bringing those elements into their weddings and married life.  However both Robert and Winnie grew up in Australia so they also wanted to celebrate the Australian way.  There are some things that you don’t realise are unique to our culture like the groom not seeing the bride before the wedding. Of course Winnie and Robert saw each other during the morning celebrations but we made sure he left before she changed into her second (of three!) outfit, her stunning white bridal gown.

In China the actual marriage is quite a boring affair where the couple sign papers before heading off to their reception so usually none of the guests attend. However we had spent a lot of time working together on Winnie and Robert’s ceremony so it was great for them to be able to share their love story with their closest family and friends at Auburn Botanic Gardens.  We were also joined by a surprise (somewhat vocal) guest (see my facebook page for details).

There were a few tears from family as the couple shared their vows and a lot of celebration as they shared their first kiss, and their second kiss, and their third!

As I was leaving I saw their getaway car.  I just love how Robert and Winnie have so cleverly blended traditional Chinese and Australian cultures in their wedding celebrations. Multiculturalism at its best.

Matthew and Luay celebrate their love

Matthew and Luay 300x225When you find that one person in the world who is meant for you, you don’t let others tell you how to celebrate it!

As I got to know Matthew and Luay in our meetings it became very clear to me that these two just loved each other to bits – you know in that way when they can’t help but keep glancing at each other with a smile and holding hands.  Luay summed up their feelings simply and beautifully when answering my question ‘What do you love about each other’ with ‘Everything’.

Matthew and Luay wanted an intimate commitment ceremony and they shared their vows in a little, tucked away park in Bronte.  We topped off the afternoon with beer for the boys and bubbles for me at Clovelly pub (wow hasn’t that place had a makeover).

I love a man in a suit and both Luay and Matthew looked stunning in their suits with matching deep red ties and kerchiefs (or whatever they call those little hankies they fold into mens pockets!).  Those ties were right up there with red wedding shoes for me!

 

Mandy and Luke marry

On a beautiful day in the Hunter Valley Mandy walked down a petal covered aisle to the man of her dreams.

IMG799 150x150Friday weddings seem to be gaining in popularity – I have had four in the last month.  Although the weather had been threatening rain for most of the day, when it was time for Luke and Mandy’s ceremony the sun came out to play. It was an emotional ceremony with a fair bit of fun thrown in as the bride and groom promised each other to ‘look forward to every tomorrow, knowing that we will do it together, side by side, hand in hand’.

IMG805 150x150Sometimes it’s the little things that can make all the difference on your big day.  Mandy and Luke had taken a lot of time getting the details just right.  They had handpainted signs for the lolly table (love a lolly table), their themed wishing well (it was a wine barrell) and the signing table.  The staff at Mercure Resort Hunter Valley also did a wonderful job setting everything out.

YIMG806 150x150ou might remember my love of coloured shoes from previous posts.  Well here are Mandy’s gorgeous bright red ones peeping out from under her dress!

 

Pitarena and Scott get married

They say that rain on your wedding day is good luck but Pitarena and Scott don’t need luck for their marriage to be a success. They celebrated their wedding on Friday surrounded by love.

 

With more than 170 guests this was one of the biggest weddings I have officiated at. It poured with rain all of Friday. Luckily we were at Gardens on Forest so used their rainy day location for the ceremony.  This is a couple who are clearly perfect for each other.  They had kept their personally written vows a secret from each other until the day and there were more than a few tears shed.

To celebrate Pitarena’s Maori heritage the couple had these gorgeous bouquets and buttonholes woven out of flax.  They were made by Te Kakano Flowers. Stunning aren’t they – think I have a new fave wedding accessory!

 

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Clare and Ryan are married

A wonderful Southern Highlands wedding

Yesterday I had the pleasure of officiating at Ryan and Clare’s wedding in the Southern Highlands.  The ceremony was held at the family property set up high on the rolling hills. The ceremony area was so well set up it could easily have held its own against a top wedding venue! Although it was a scorching hot day in Sydney, things were a little cooler in the hills with a nice breeze to cool all the guys in their suits.IMG759 1024x768

The bride and her party arrived on the back of a ute in true country style.  The couple’s two children looked gorgeous all dressed up. It was a lovely ceremony with laughter as well as a few tears of joy.  What a great start to their future in this wonderful part of the country.

I have quite a few ceremonies in the Southern Highlands over the next few months. There’s something really special about this area.  Stunning venues, really friendly people, easy drive from Sydney – you can see why so many Sydney-siders are choosing to marry here.

 

Jade and Gavin get married

Red, red, red

IMG733 e1321067177934 800x1024I love a well themed wedding!  Jade and Gavin married in a beautiful park near their house.  As you can see from the picture, their theme was black and my favourite shade of deep red.  Their three children were dressed to match in Asian inspired dresses and waistcoats and there were parasols to complete the theme.

Gavin is a very talented poet and we were treated to two readings of works inspired by Jade.  Add to this some very heartfelt vows and there wasn’t a dry eye in the park.

Although the numbers of the date did appeal to Jade and Gavin, their reason for choosing yesterday for their ceremony was the amazing full moon on display last night.  Their evening ceremony meant that the moon made an appearance shortly after they had sealed their union with a kiss.