Love is …

All you need is love and… well that’s all really.

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This past weekend I was sick, and not the pretty girl kind of sick, but the horrendous ‘wish I was dead’ kind of sick, you know the one, like the hangover but without the fun times before hand. So my darling husband had to take care of me, and by take care of me I mean clean out ‘the bucket’ and it got me to thinking ‘if this ain’t love then I don’t know what is”.

Now I’m a Disney/rom-com kinda girl, and love a good happily ever after story with the best of them, but I think love is so much more than the extravagant flowers and choccies and love hearts that are portrayed in those movies, so I came up with a list of things that I think love is.

Love is:

A cup of tea in bed

Saying ‘thank you, I appreciate the job you do”

Knowing your coffee order

Eating the tomatoes off your plate at the cafe, because they know you don’t like them, before you have to ask

Holding hands

Facing the world together

Knowing they have your back

Agreeing to disagree

Pushing you forward, when they can see your potential, even when you can’t

Standing back sometimes to let you shine

Kissing you first thing in the morning, even when you have morning breath

Cold feet on warm legs in bed

Putting the heat pump on before you get up in the morning

Preparing a meal for you

Knowing when you need to be big spoon, and when you need to be little spoon

Making sure you have clean clothes for work the next day

Getting up each morning in the freezing cold to go to a job to support their family

Rolling eyes with you over the heads of your mini army you have both created, when you really want to laugh but can’t

Having secret code words

Listening

Saying ‘Yip, I agree there is a problem, let’s sort it out’

Forehead kisses

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Taking the screaming baby from your outstretched arms the minute they walk in the door from work, and you not needing to say a word

Showing up, always

Honesty

Choosing love, over and over again

Giving up the right to be right, sometimes

Apologising

Bear hugs

Knowing that a family is not always blood, but loving everyone as though they are anyway

Wanting you to be happy

Questioning you and holding you to account when the need arises

Those 4am conversations

“What can I do to help?”

Letting you be yourself

Hard work, but so worth it

Laughing together

Holding your hair, rubbing your back and telling you ‘it will all be ok’

Loving you when you aren’t being very lovable

Being open-minded and able to change your mind/opinion

Being your ‘soft place’ in the hard world

Seeing you at your worst and still choosing you

Being your constant cheerleader

Knowing when you need space and quiet

Knowing the difference between laughing with you and laughing at you

Eating salad and pretending to enjoy it, when you really want a steak

Picking you up when you don’t think you can

Admitting when you don’t know

Wanting to share a future with you

Knowing that everyone has a past, accepting it and moving on

Sitting together in silence and being quite content

Loving all of you, the quiet, the loud, the crazy

Standing together, looking at the beautiful sleeping little person you’ve made, and smiling

Of course there is a miles and mile of others to add to the list, and we should not forget there are also all the big things, like love hearts, and fireworks and that feeling you get in your tummy when they’re around, but I believe that love is found in all the little things too.

Love hard.

 

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How to choose your wedding date and time.

All you need is love and … a date and time.

How do you choose your wedding date and time? The majority of weddings I attend  take place in Summer, on a Saturday at 3pm. And there’s a good reason for that, it’s warmer in Summer (well sometimes, although not always in Dunedin) a Saturday means no-one has to go to work early the next day, so they can party late into the night, and 3pm works well, for the ceremony, photos, dinner time line.

But…

Is it really the best time?

Ask any photographer, and 3pm in Summer is not always the best time for those magical wedding photos. There are times of the day (morning and late afternoon/dusk) that they call the ‘golden hour’ because it provides stunning light, and thus equally stunning photos. It can be harder for a photographer to work with the light in the middle of the day in summer to make sure the bride and groom aren’t squinting during the ceremony, or that half the bridal party is in direct sunlight and the other half are in shadow, a bit of a nightmare to make everyone look great.

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Photo via: the Sunglass warehouse

Summer, while it should be warmer, and less chance of rain, is peak wedding season, so all the good venues, celebrants, photographers will be booked up really fast. You snooze unfortunately you lose in some cases. And I know not everyone’s that organised to plan 18 months ahead. Where as Autumn, you get great colours, leaves falling, it’s still not that chilly yet, and the light is better for photos. Google search ‘weddings in Queenstown’ and you will see the most stunning winter wonderland images. There are also some absolutely stunning venues around that lend themselves to the perfect winter wedding, and if you plan a winter wedding inside, you don’t have to stress about whether it’s going to rain or not. I know many a bride to be who has been constantly checking the weather app on their phone the week leading up to their wedding.  One less stress in my opinion.

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Photo via: Heliweddings.co.nz

 

3pm, or as I call it “wedding o’clock” is the most popular time for a wedding. Why?  Well most people figure it gives the girls long enough to get hair, make-up, maybe a glass of champers under their belt, and then it leads nicely into canapes after the wedding, while the couple go off to have their photos taken, leaving the guests to their own devices, and the open bar, then back after photos straight into speeches or dinner and dancing the night away. But what about exchanging your vows at sunrise, then having a wedding breakfast with your guests?  Or having an 11am wedding, then heading into a beautiful lunch somewhere fancy, or having your ceremony at 5pm (having your first look and photos before hand) and then not having to leave your guests, who you invited because they are your favourite people, and starting the party straight away?

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Why Saturday? Fridays are awesome for a wedding, you get to spend a long weekend with your loved ones, especially those who have travelled a long way to hang out with you. And if you give everyone enough notice, then most people will be able to get the time off work, and still not have to go to work the next day. And you’ll have a better pick of venues, celebrants, photographers etc. Having a wedding out of season could also let you take advantage of specials that many photographers, venues etc may have to build business in the less busy season.

If you’re looking for a way to stretch the budget, then consider thinking outside of the 3pm on a Saturday in Summer square. There’s plenty of other options around if you just be open minded.

Just remember it’s your day, and of course you should do it your way, whether it’s 3pm on a Saturday in Summer or not.

How to get the most out of your celebrant.

All you need is love and … a great celebrant.

Ok, so you’ve locked in your dream celebrant. They’re organised, down to earth, a wealth of ideas, and get your vibe. Yay for you, now how are you going to get the best out of your celebrant.  Getting the best out of your celebrant, doesn’t mean they’ll be doing your dishes for the next 6 months. But it does mean that doing and remembering a few key ideas will ensure you get the best possible ceremony, and the best execution on the day.

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Pic by Kerry Hodge Photography

Be open-minded – I’m not talking keys in the bowl type of open minded (but if that’s your thing, more power to you) I’m talking, ask your celebrant for ideas, what are the different ways we could do this? Does it have to be done this way? Could we do it like this? Your celebrant has done more weddings than you have, probably (hopefully) so they will know what will work, and what may be awkward. Listen.

Be engaged – Not just with the ring type of engaged, but the listening, and asking questions, and putting your phone down for 10 minutes type of engagement. I know weddings can be a subject that completely makes the groom zone out, but if you want it to be your day too then listen. A good celebrant will make sure they talk to both of you, not just the bride, and you should both have a good feeling about the celebrant.  I know meeting new people, especially a celebrant, can be daunting to some people, but most of us are warm, personable and down to earth.

Short and sweet isn’t always best – I know some people just want to get the ceremony bit over so they can move onto the more fun bit of drinking, dancing, and cake eating. But, and again I may be biased because I’m a celebrant, the focus should be on the ceremony. You are going to be standing in front of your nearest and dearest, and maybe Dave from work, telling your soul mate how important they are to you, and sharing your love story, surely that deserves longer than a 5 min ‘wham bam thank you ma’am?’

Don’t leave booking a celebrant till the last minute – In my opinion it’s never too early to book your celebrant.  The good ones, like venues and photographers will get booked out pretty early on.  You may get lucky with a last minute phone call, but that is the exception rather than the rule.

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Pic by Nicole Pilgrim Photography

Feel free to interview, or chat with more than one celebrant – It’s not like dating, we won’t mind. What we do mind, is if you don’t tell us that you have booked someone else, and we keep the date open for you.  A simple “we have decided to go with another celebrant” is great. No hurt feelings, honest! We want you to have the best wedding possible, whether it’s with us or not so if someone else floats your boat and gets your vibe, go for it!

Don’t change anything about the ceremony, and not tell the celebrant – Especially if you want the celebrant to be there on time! I usually double check at the rehearsal what time the groom will be at the venue, to make sure we’re all on the same page regarding start times. But I have heard of angry calls to the celebrant when everyone’s at the ceremony inquiring about their whereabouts, when the couple have changed the time and not told the celebrant.

Give us the dirt, all the dirt – Most celebrants will send you a questionnaire to fill out (I call them my homework questions) to get to know you better, they will either come and visit with you again to discuss the answers to your questions or just write your ceremony from those answers. Give us as much info as you can on your questionnaire, the more info you give the better ceremony you are going to get. It’s really hard to personalise a ceremony (which is what most good celebrants will want to do) when you give nothing personal to work with. I for one, want to know what you love, what you don’t love, what you enjoy doing together, all great fodder for a ceremony.

Try to be organised – I know there are a million and one things that need to be organised for a wedding, but if you can get back to us sooner rather than later when we request information that would be grand. It’s no fun for a celebrant to be waiting the day before the wedding for the groom to get his vows to them. It creates stress not just for the couple but for the celebrant. If you can’t make a designated time for a catch up, let them know as soon as you can.

Send us an invite – We love weddings, all the weddings. So if you want us to get an idea of your style, colours and personality then give us an invite. Also helps so we know where we’re going and at what time (see point Don’t change anything about the ceremony and not tell the celebrant)

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Pic by Kerry Hodge Photography

Good manners – Like your mumma always said, good manners go a long way! If you like the vibe and style of a celebrant, then they will probably either have a Facebook page, Instagram account, or website, do a bit of stalking, and you can probably find out their price. We don’t love texts/emails/Facebook messages that just say “how much?” We do love texts/emails/Facebook messages that say “Hi Angela, We are getting married 9/12/2017 and are after a celebrant, are you available and what is your price?”

Thank you’s – If you are the type of bride/couple who are going to do a thank you post/wedding post on Facebook, please please please thank or acknowledge your celebrant, if they did an awesome job, if they didn’t then maybe contact them and tell them why, don’t splash it on Facebook.  For us reviews are like gold, so go ahead and give your celebrant a review, tell them what a great job they did. They will love you for it, and it only takes 5 minutes, and you are helping other couples out by leaving honest feedback.

Try not to turn bridezilla on us – I know planning a wedding is stressful, and expensive, and not everyone wants to do what you want them to do as fast as you want them to, but your celebrant is a professional. We will act like the professional we are, and should be treated as such.

Remember, we may only be a part of your wedding day for a short time, but we are emotionally invested in your day. We have taken the time to get to know you, spent time with you and your family, helped bring your plans/dreams to life, written and performed an amazing ceremony for you about you, met your friends and family, calmed you down, made sure everything is perfect for you and your guests. A little acknowledgement goes a long long way, kilometres in fact, like from here to the moon!

Show your celebrant some love!

Eenie Meenie Miney Mo, How to choose your celebrant.

All you need is love and … a great celebrant

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Photo by the talented Kerry Hodge Photography

Congratulations, you’re engaged.  Yay!!

“Let the adventure of planning your wedding begin!”

If you’re planning on getting married anywhere that isn’t a operational church (a church that only allows priests etc from that church to marry people) then you are going to need a registered wedding celebrant.

Like everything else wedding related there are a million different choices, which is a good thing, generally speaking. But where do you start? 

  • Other vendors – If you’ve already booked a venue, or photographer, or florist, or make up artist then ask them. They would have seen/done enough weddings to have a general idea on who they like. They have often seen way more than one celebrant, and a venue and/or photographer would have been present while a celebrant has lead a wedding previously.
  • Facebook – The internet is a great place and can bring the whole world to your computer. There are numerous private wedding groups on Facebook, and they are a great place to ask for recommendations, and you will get honest feedback. Facebook is also a great place to stalk some of the celebrants you have heard about, most celebrants these days will have a professional Facebook page, and looking at this will give you an idea of the style of a celebrant, and if they have photos of previous weddings, you’ll get to see them in action. A good Facebook page will probably also have reviews, so take a look at these too, find out about what couples have said about them.
  • Friends/Relatives etc – Ask around your friends, rellies, work mates and get recommendations from who they may have used, or celebrants they may have seen at weddings they have attended.
  • Wedding shows – Check out your local wedding show, they always have a few of each vendor, and that way you get to have a chat, ask any questions, and maybe organise a time to meet up and talk in more depth.
  • Uncle Google – Just type in “Celebrants in Dunedin” and you’ll get pages of info, from there you can check out their website (if they have one) and any social media they may have.
  • Celebrants Association– The Celebrants Assocation is a voluntary association for Celebrants in New Zealand. Belonging to the Celebrants Association means that a celebrant is governed by a code of conduct, and has access to on-going education. The website is pretty easy to use, just type in your area, and it will come back with all the celebrants in your area that are members of the Celebrants Association.
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Photo by Kerry Hodge Photography

So, once you’ve have a look and seen one or more that you like the look of, then contact them to see if they are available for your wedding date. Good celebrants can be booked a year or more in advance, so it’s best to get in early. If they are available on your date, then it’s a great idea to organise a meeting (either at a cafe/pub/your home or theirs, or if you are out of the area or country then Skype) I always offer a non-obligational first meeting, it gives you a chance to have a look at some of my work, chat about my style and what you have planned and your ideas for your day.

It’s a good idea to meet with more than one celebrant, you’ll learn a bit more about what you’re looking for, don’t worry we won’t be offended if you do, we want you to get the right fit for your ceremony too. Feel free to ask a lot of questions, it will make you feel more comfortable with your choice. Make sure that once you have made a decision on which celebrant you would like to book, that you contact the other one to let them know you are going with someone else.

I know weddings can be mega expensive, and I know it can be all about making that dollar stretch as far as it can go. But there are certain elements to a wedding day that you really don’t want to skimp on and I believe a celebrant is one of those things. I know there are also a lot of different price points for celebrants, but don’t just go with the cheapest. Make sure you do your research and find out what you are getting for your money. There is a common mis-conception that a celebrant just turns up on the day, says a few words and then leaves, and then pocket a bucket full of cash to do so. A good celebrant will want to build a relationship with you, to ensure that you have a ceremony that is heartfelt, but is also a reflection of your personality and your love story. A good celebrant will meet with you at least on two different occasions, write you a ceremony from scratch, that is personalised to you and your love (there is no cut and paste), they will be there to answer all your questions/texts/emails/phone calls, provide you with inspiration to write your own vows (if that is what you choose) they will offer suggestions for different elements you may like to include in your ceremony (readings, ring warming etc) they will facilitate a wedding rehearsal, to ensure everyone knows what is going on, when and how, they will be there early to liaise with your other vendors (photographer/video/venue) to ensure everyone is on the same page, and that the ceremony runs smoothly. They may run your music for the ceremony (creating a personalised playlist for you) and have their own PA system, and microphone.

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Your celebrant should make you feel excited about the wedding, they should inspire you with suggestions, they should empower you to make the ceremony and day about what you want, they should be organised, and calm and relaxed on the day. They should be the person who sets the scene for the entire day.

 I believe a celebrant should have a passion for the job they do, it should show in their eyes, that they love being a celebrant, otherwise it will reflect in a lacklustre wedding ceremony, lacking in personalisation, warmth and professionalism.