Last year I wrote my recollections of the first 100 wedding ceremonies I’d delivered. (Thanks for the lovely feedback, by the way!)
Now, another 70 weddings later, it is a joy to be able to share my real-life wedding stories from my 2013-2014 wedding season. Again, in compliance with the Privacy Act, the couples shall remain nameless (but hopefully you will know who you are)…
Also, thank you to another 70 couples who have touched my life in such a beautiful way. It’s an honour and a privilege to have been your Marriage Celebrant.
1. M&N: As parents to toddler twins I’ve no idea how this couple pulled together such a beautiful day, but kudos to them, they did! They also had obliging parents who doted on the little ones so the service could be conducted without having to pause to cater for a toddler on the loose. They made it seem effortless.
2. L&L: He was learning Italian for her, and she was learning English for him. Their love transcended language! Just beautiful!
3. B&S: The bride emailed me to say the groom had been fiddling with the love lock I’d given them, and locked it shut by accident. Oops! I had to get them another one urgently so they’d have something to place on our love lock fence!
4. B&E: An intimate wedding by the beach… The couple chose to enclose love letters in a box with wine, and to seal it shut. On their 7th wedding anniversary they would open the wine, read the letters, celebrate the good times, and make a toast that they were strong enough to stay tight during the tough times. It’s a little ritual I perform at quite a few weddings, but none of the guests had ever seen this before. They loved it!
5. M&J: She wore a stunning, bright red dress, and they married on a Sunday. They exchanged their vows by a sea with no end – it simply melted into the sky as one big, stunning backdrop. I chose to see this as being symbolic of the future they have ahead of them – one without end.
6. L&M: They travelled from Kalgoorlie to be married at one of Margaret River’s beautiful wineries. After I pronounced them husband and wife, he gave her a big “swoop” kiss that left everyone clapping and cheering. Very deftly done.
7. R&S: This bride was a bridesmaid for a wedding I’d conducted the year before. (She booked me after the ceremony — story #63.) At the rehearsal she came down the aisle, and, to my great surprise, launched into the air and landed in the groom’s arms. I thought for a terrible second that he would topple down the ledge behind him and I’d be conducting a ceremony for a man in crutches… but apparently it’s “what they do” and he always has been, and always will be, there to catch her. Sweeeeet.
8. P&H: Married on a landing at the hotel, this couple giggled and held on to each other tightly throughout the ceremony. It had taken the groom a long time to convince his bride to marry him, but looking at them now, there was nothing more perfect for the both of them.
9. D&M: This couple had already got “married” with a hand-fasting ceremony, but needed to make it legal with the government for paperwork purposes. We stood on the beach with their daughter between them and two witnesses taking photos. Although married in their heads and hearts already, there were still tears throughout the vows as they pledged their lifelong commitment. So lovely. (I also got to taste Belle Epoche for the first time while toasting their happiness. Yummmm.)
10. J&H: I first met this bride on twitter, and from the start she’d always said that if she were to marry again, I would be her Celebrant! Well, she was a lovely in real life as in the virtual world, and in her wedding gown, she glowed. Despite the wedding involved just the couple and their three children, no corners were cut – she could have appeared on the cover of Vogue!
11. I&M: I travelled to the outback for this wedding and it changed my life. To be shown such respect by the traditional land-owners as the “Ceremony Giver” was humbling. And to have the privilege of conducting the first ever wedding on the family land was incredible. An amazing experience. (PS the bride looked like Grace Kelly – so, so beautiful and elegant – even the red dust on the hem of her dress looked “designer” LOL.)
12. S&F: My first wedding after taking some time off for travel. It felt nice to be able to dress up again, and witness first hand the happiness and connection between a couple saying their “I Do”s.
13. C&A: As usual, I brought good weather with me, which prompted me to write on my Facebook wall:
14. D&E: Heavy rains in the week leading up to the ceremony had softened the ground and two massive trees fell directly onto the ceremony site. The bride wasn’t sure whether to change locations, but I took one look at the trees and thought they would make an unforgettable backdrop. Even lying on their sides, they were taller than me – I may be short, but they were still massive! And stunning! Ever calm, the bride took it all in her stride, and made the area look awesome – hay bales, whimsical flower decorations, a hand-crafted arbor, and a tractor parked next to the trees. Totally gorgeous.
15. G&S: When the bride smiled, her eyes made little crescent-moon shapes which had the effect of making everyone around her want to smile too. Beautiful! As part of my closing I told the groom he was under instructions to keep this girl smiling or he would have me to answer to. That made them both smile, ha ha.
16. N&R: While on a whistle-stop tour of Brussels, Belgium, I received an email from a Belgian couple wishing to get married in Australia. We met the next morning, completed their paperwork, and voila, months later here they were in Australia. The process could not have been simpler for them! I also love that I was able to facilitate an Apostille Stamp for them, and have since added this service to my portfolio for other international couples since. I had to laugh when the bride emailed to say, “We’ve just received the confirmation that our Aussie wedding is now official in Belgium as well… happy as a pig in shit 😉 ”
17. M&C: Without warning, the groom let out a big wolf whistle as his bride walked down the aisle. It half-deafened me, but I was able to make a joke out of it, which set the scene for the ceremony beautifully.
18. J&M: Just one of the reasons this couple chose me was because I’m an advocate for removing discriminatory phrasing from the Marriage Act. (In other words, I support “gay marriage“.) As were they. I was absolutely thrilled to let them know on their wedding day that I had been authorised as a Marriage Equality Celebrant. (History will show that gay marriage was only legal in the A.C.T. for four days, but for that four days, I felt like I was living in a country that had come of age.)
19. P&K: Their little daughter clung to her mummy’s dress throughout the ceremony until finally she had to be picked up. The view I had, of the daughter resting on her mummy’s shoulder, completely happy and at home, was just beautiful.
20. J&R: The bride came across my services because I’d posted a photo of a gourd vine I’d been cultivating, and she was looking for some seeds. When we met for our initial meeting, I gifted her with a gourd from my first batch. She put it to good use – as a little basket for the flower girl. Very cute.
21. N&D: Oh no! Someone forgot to bring the signing table. Oh well… we had plenty of rocks around us onto which we could lean. As we were walking over to the rocks to sign the Register, I heard the bride sob. I turned around and she was clinging to the groom. What?! Oh right… she was crying for pure happiness!
23. R&H: The couple (from England) eloped on the beach, with my au pair and photographer Russell Ord as witnesses. It was a stinking hot day, and I said to Russell, “wouldn’t it be cool to put the chairs in the water for their official wedding photos?” As I was leaving the beach to go home, I turned around and… YES!
24. N&A: They exchanged rings with owls on them. Big, chunky, ornate and obvious owls. “Because we’re wise old owls,” giggled the bride. I still drive past their place about once a week (on my way elsewhere – I’m not stalking!), pick up their bins if they’ve blown over, and wonder if they’re still wearing the rings.
25. P&L: After storms battered the White Elephant at Gnarabup rendering the area unsafe, the couple had to change their ceremony with little time to spare. They chose the river mouth at Prevelly, which (in my humble opinion) was every bit as beautiful. It was more crowded, but that was simply more people around to cheer when I pronounced them husband and wife!
26. E&J: The bride arrived by helicopter, then delivered by tractor. She was wearing cowboy boots, so I knew there was going to be nothing conventional about this ceremony. They chose a piece of prose by Khalil Gibran “as it captures their joy in spending their days together”:
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving; To rest at the noon hour and meditate loveʼs ecstasy; To return home at eventide with gratitude; And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart.
I choked up when I read it and had to wipe tears away. I think it was a case of, “I want what they’re having!”
27. A&S: Another international couple eloping to Australia, this time from Russia. She wore a beautiful lace gown, they had all the trimmings including a sweeping garden and vintage car, and they could not have looked happier. Once again, I was happy to facilitate their Apostille Stamp. This time it was quite complex as Russian authorities would have rejected a marriage certificate with so much as a typo on it.
28. L&S: Did someone say BLING? There was lots of it at this wedding, and it looked great!
29. C&L: I still laugh at how this couple met – she was a flight attendant and he, a passenger. “I thought he was cute so I asked if he’d like to catch up for a coffee after we landed,” she said. “I don’t drink coffee,” was his reply. She came back later and suggested a drink instead. “I don’t drink alcohol,” he replied. Finally he twigged that she was asking him on a date, and they’ve been together (and laughing about how they met) ever since.
30. I&D: A mature couple marrying for the second time. The groom had the same best man from his wedding from 20 years earlier. The bride wore white, and a veil. The romance was still alive with these two!
31. C&C: The bride organised the whole wedding all the way from England. As their families were scattered around the globe, it made sense for everyone to travel somewhere beautiful and make a week of it – reunions, celebrations, and exploring the beautiful Margaret River region.
32. G&A: This couple were Australian, but living in Texas. It was a pleasure to help them organise their ceremony from across the seas. Their families were extremely happy they chose Margaret River to get married in – they’d much prefer to travel south than to America!
33. J&J: Nawwwwww, when we talk about “good times and bad”, this couple has been through it all. They had come through the toughest of tough times, almost losing their newborn daughter, but on the day everyone was glowing with pure joy. I’m in the habit of asking the groom or best man, “Who has the rings?” before the ceremony starts. Lucky I stuck to pattern this time, because they had been left in the car!
34. D&O: On a perfect day in January, this couple eloped by the seashore with their two small boys. Normally when children are involved in a ceremony, the parents get distracted at least once – the children want attention, or they wander off, or they throw a tanty, or whatever. In this case though, the boys were perfectly happy building sand castles while Mum and Dad got married. I enjoye d seeing them “being” together, totally in the moment while committing themselves to the other for the rest of their days. As if that wasn’t joyful enough, they then plied the witnesses and me with thank-you gifts! “Oh no,” I said, “The pleasure is all mine!” (but was grateful nonetheless for the gesture.)
35. M&A: When the bride arrived the guests cheered and clapped as she got out of the car. She hadn’t even made it to the aisle and the celebration was starting! I was totally stoked for her – I could feel the love her family and friends had for her. We had to pause the ceremony while an emergency services helicopter flew overhead, but there was nothing that could dampen this couple’s day. They just smiled and hugged through the distraction, and we carried on seamlessly until their happy-ever-after.
36. M&V: One of the little daughters chose the moment when the bride appeared, to yell out, “Daddy, I need to go to the toilet!” There’s nothing else you can do when a 4-year-old makes such an announcement, but to take her by the hand and calmly let the guests know you’ll be back in a few moments. The bride saw the funny side, fortunately, and waited patiently (out of sight) at the top of the stairs until Miss 4 was back from her emergency.
37. K&M: I met the groom for the first time moments before the ceremony. Talk about fast-tracking some rapport so I could “get” what kind of ceremony he’d like. Luckily for me, it was yet again another cruisy couple and I could relax and enjoy presenting a light-hearted (yet meaningful) ceremony.
38. K&N: The groom told me he’d heard a voice in his head the first time he saw N. “I saw her fall out of a car onto the verge then laughing, and as soon as I heard her laugh I knew I was going to marry her.” Completely and utterly besotted by his bride, he had tears in his eyes for the whole ceremony. Very touching.
39. K&S: The bride put the groom’s ring on so quickly I missed it! I got her to pose putting it on again (in case the photographer missed it too!). Being a naturally theatrical super-star, she pulled a perfect pose that I’ve been trying to mimic since. It was just so spot on. Lots of fun.
It was about this time that I started my “Yes Dear” project. More on this, later.
40. M&L: SUCH a sweet couple – full of humour, adventure and hope. M’s very first words to L were, “If I had known you were going to sing that song I would have worn my shirt that says ‘I’m sorry, you must have mistaken me for someone who gives a shit’….” And yet, despite (or because of?!) his brazenness, here they were standing before their nearest and dearest, about to get married. Everything about their ceremony was unique, from their song selections to their readings. One of them was an excerpt from ‘Gift From The Sea’ by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, which you can read on my Facebook page, here.
41. P&C: Despite being a large wedding at a prestigious location, the couple didn’t have a rehearsal. I’m fine with that, and as it turns out, they were too – the ceremony was completely relaxed, and they were happy to just look radiant while I did the talking 😉
42. H&L: It was a bright day by the beach, so the groom kept his sunglasses on until the very last moment. For anyone who has been to one of my ceremonies, you’d know that I collect all the sunglasses of all the wedding party 15 minutes prior to the ceremony starting. This is to a) help the photographer (photos of people with sunglasses on look like crap), and b) to help the guys acclimatise to the light so they’re not squinting during the ceremony. Anyway, it was so glary I gave this groom a reprieve. Even I would have worn sunglasses had I been allowed! Instead I carried my parasol, which looks good in the photos at least!
43. A&J: They married under a shady tree by a dam, in front of a small group of family and friends, with kids on picnic blankets and their own daughter wandering around their legs. Super relaxed and lovely.
44. N&W: A Dutch couple, I had to train my tongue to say their names easily. Their families travel from The Netherlands to witness their nuptials, and to have a week long celebration. I was really pleased that they enjoyed the lakeside ceremony – quite different to the European style in an office and Church!
45. A&C: I was asked to tell the story of A’s proposal to C as part of the ceremony. Easy. By now I’ve got enough story-telling and stagecraft experience to relay the story in a light and easy way. It was good – it got laughs in the right places, and smiles on the guests’ faces. Much easier than reading from a book.
46. B&C: A 100% bonafide celebration on the beach between an English lad and Aussie lass. The families cheered and had smiles a mile wide as B&C exchanged their legal vows. Even their 6-week-old son seemed to enjoy himself!
47. J&A: My first wedding back at Gnarabup since the White Elephant was pummeled by storms. It’s a lovely beach, but can be unpredictable at times. Whereas the day before it was crystal clear, on the day the beach was awash in seaweed. No problem. The lads raked the seaweed to form a “sea wall” and protect the guests from the waves crashing high onto the shore.
48. K&R: Poor K had hurt his leg in a work accident, and was on crutches for much of the ceremony. Actually, not “poor” K. He was smiling from ear to ear! R’s dress straps kept falling off her shoulders, and both were giggling their heads off each time K put them back, only to watch them slip down again. I even paused the ceremony at once point so “K could dress his bride!” ha ha.
49. T&B: A surprise pregnancy meant this couple’s “grand plans” were replaced with an intimate ceremony under a shady tree surrounded by their families. Afterwards, the bride said it was better than her original plans, and was glad for the turn of events – her wedding day was awesome!
50. S&A: This couple are personal friends of Dru Soltys, one of Perth’s most well-respected and popular Celebrants. We’re both modern Celebrants, been voted #1 Celebrants by brides in our regions, and share similar values of fun, authenticity and professionalism. I hold him in high regard, so when Dru was unable to conduct their nuptials and instead referred them to me, I was honoured. Beyond honoured. The couple were amazing – fun and enthusiastic, and a joy to present for.
51. D&M: Without a doubt the “loosest” ceremony I’ve ever conducted. The couple had travelled with their families and friends from Melbourne, and were making a week-long celebration of it. Even as the bride was dancing down the aisle, the groom’s mates were still standing next to him so they could see what he was seeing. There was barely a “top of the aisle” as everyone was so eager to be involved, they crowded in and patted the bride on the back as she came forward. After signing the Register, the couple were swarmed by their guests, so rather than bring them back to the arbor to complete the ceremony, I just went to the couple. With their feet in the water and surrounded by people who love them, I closed the ceremony with a tailored blessing that had the guests cheering, laughing and woot-wooting. What a blast!
52. A&M: Wow, I was gob-smacked to see the bride arrive with a brand new haircut. From long, flowing locks, she now sported a stunning bob that suited her beautifully. Often, if the chance arises, I get my couples to stand aside after signing the Register, and have their first conversation as husband and wife. I loved watching these two have a big hug and a pat on the back, saying “We did it!” The groom quickly followed up with, “I can’t wait to get the Marriage Certificate so we can get upgraded on our honeymoon!” Ha ha ha. A few weeks later the bride wrote to me saying, “Haha yes we got a bottle of champers in our room in Hawaii and a room upgrade at MGM Grand in Vegas woo! :)”
53. S&C: Miss 2 was “having a moment” so the groom gave her a carrot and took her to feed the horses in the neighbouring paddock. To keep the guests’ attention and engagement, I joked, “Is there anyone here who’d like to stand in for S?” The best man did not hesitate to step forward and take the bride’s hand LOL.
54. C&M: I don’t normally have to invite the groom to “kiss the bride”, but this one needed prompting. “I was in the Army,” he explained later. “I’m in the habit of waiting to be told what to do.” Ha ha, “That’s good training for marriage! You two will be golden!” I joked.
55. D&L: Apparently the bride was quite nervous, but you’d never have guessed – their smiles were a mile wide through the whole ceremony (squeezed in between two downpours of rain).
56. K&N: The bride had been an exchange student to Perth, and loved her host family so much she decided to marry here, with them as guests of honour. Her parents and sister flew from Japan, and they rented a holiday house in Dunsborough to get to know each other better. It was good to be able to use my Japanese again after so long! And it was sweet when the bride’s mother bowed to me quite low – a sign of respect for the “ceremony giver”.
57. C&F: Another beautiful couple, another beach-side ceremony that went off without a hitch. Even the dolphins appeared on cue! By this stage I’ve been “in training” for three months (thanks to a New Years Resolution that I’ve actually stuck to!) I’m finding it much easier to walk on the sand lugging equipment, now that I’m a bit fitter.
58. E&B: Having returned from years of travels and adventures, these two were celebrating a love that has lasted almost half their lives. (And they’re still only in their young 30s!)
59. S&H: Oh. My. Gawd. These two were hilarious. They should be comedians. I just laughed through the whole ceremony (except when doing the serious legal bits). Like when the bride took the microphone to say her vows, and said, “Test, test, testicles.” My eyes popped open in surprise. It takes a lot to shock me, but this got close LOL.
60. D&L: Again, a mature couple who had been friends years earlier, and who had reconnected later in life only to fall in love. They married before their adult children, and their grand-kids sprawled on a picnic blanket, in their front yard.
61. R&S: Sweeeeet. A local business owner married her man in the local park. And being local, of course the locals wanted a piece of it. They were spying from behind trees, stopping while walking the dogs, standing amongst the invited guests. I was stoked to see her so happy, and the community gathered to wish her well (invited or not!)
62. E&P: The bride had just run a half marathon two days prior, and was using the excuse of the Iron Man in Busselton as a way to get south and elope with her man. Having taken three months to build up to running a mere 1km, I am in complete awe that she could run 22km – especially as the mother of a 17 month old! They married in the Boranup Forest – one of my most favourite places on earth – with their daughter playing with the bouquet at their feet, and a log as the signing table. Just beautiful.
63. P&M: I travelled to Victoria for this wedding and wow, was it worth it! I got to travel to the ceremony in a car commissioned for Prince Phillip in 1956 — wow, I felt like royalty! The ceremony was held on a deck in the middle of the Wirrawilla Rainforest in the Toolangi State Forest. Surrounded by 40 guests, the couple lit candles, poured sand, brought in the elements and directions, pledged their commitment to one another in perfect love and perfect trust, and were handfasted before being launched into married life with an Irish blessing. Epic!
64. J&J: Married by the lake at Knottinghill Winery, the couple made promises to each other that they would be able to keep. “I swore to myself that on our wedding day I would not make a list of promises to you that I may not keep nor fulfill in our life together.” And thereafter made very realistic promises, including one to take his man-flu symptoms seriously!
65. Tim and Jasmine: A picture says a thousand words!
66. J&S: Shortest wedding ceremony ever. And that’s what they wanted, bless their hearts. The witnesses were the gardeners from the resort… they witnessed it dirty-kneed-tracksuit and all. Even though it was short, didn’t stop me from tearing up. Loved it. She was not wearing a traditional dress, but the bride absolutely glowed throughout.
67. T&J: She walked down the aisle in a blood-red dress, accompanied by her bridesmaids in vintage cream dresses with eye-popping red shoes. The styling of the wedding party was ah-mazing. What a pity we didn’t get to see the styling of the Karri forest in which the wedding was supposed to take place — it was pouring with rain so the ceremony was moved inside. Despite the weather, the couple had huge smiles on their faces, and were declared married before their guests who cheered and clapped and wolf-whistled throughout the couple’s first kiss.
68. M&A: Scheduled to be married in January, the couple seem remarkably relaxed and not in a hurry to marry at all. To date I’ve still not married them, but am waiting for them to rock up to my house one day and give me the green light to marry them in my garden. How relaxed is that?!
And oops, here is where I realise the next two weddings that will make up “70” fall into the 2014-2015 season, so you’ll just have to wait until next year for those two 😉 Instead I’ll tell you about two other ceremonies I did – a commitment ceremony and a vow renewal.
69: P&L’s commitment ceremony: “Hi Anita, can you come to Aravina Estate in the next half-an-hour to conduct a wedding?” the caller asked… “Sure,” I said, and got into the car straight away. Turns out, after a long lunch with friends at Aravina Estate, the couple’s friends decided it was high time P&L took the plunge – while the hat was being passed around to pay for the Celebrant, the “best man” made phone calls and organised temporary rings for the couple to exchange. As the Marriage Act states that the Notice of Intended Marriage form must be lodged at least one calendar month before the wedding day, I was not in a position to legally marry them. So instead we held an impromptu off-the-cuff commitment ceremony that was full of tears and laughter. Months later the “groom” rang to request the words I’d said, as he wanted them at their real wedding in Perth. As I’d “channelled” the ceremony I had to remember it all over again. Of course I was flattered that he loved my words, so did what I could for him.
70: G&R’s vow renewal: The groom planned the ceremony as a surprise for his bride. He even blindfolded her on the way to beach! I was given the rundown for what he’d told her (they were going “somewhere special for lunch”), so when she got out of the car I greeted her and said, “Welcome! Your table is this way,” and led her to a secluded spot on the beach where her adult children were waiting for her. Surprise-after-surprise-after-surprise! It was no wonder she was smiling from ear to ear and not even trying to hold in the tears. All my worries that “What if she doesn’t want to renew her vows?”, and “What if she hates the vows I wrote for her?” were unfounded. She truly enjoyed and appreciated the effort her husband had gone to make their day super special. And she made special mention of the renewal vows I’d written for her:
Our miracle lies in the path we chose to travel together 32 years ago. Back then I promised to laugh with you in times of joy and comfort you in times of sorrow. I promised to share in your dreams, and support you as you strive to achieve your goals, as well as to accept your help and support in the pursuit of my dreams also. I promised to listen to you with compassion and understanding, and speak to you with encouragement. Since then, I have given you help when you needed it, and stepped aside when you didnʼt. I have remained faithful to you for better or worse, in times of sickness and health, and in times of joy and sorrow. That we have stayed side by side over the past 32 years is my promise-come-true. You are my best friend and I will love and respect you always. I therefore promise now, to continue committing to the miracle of making each day work – together.
Thanks for reading, and as always, shine on!
❤ Anita Revel