Letter to my little boy

All you need is love…

I am the lucky mother to a loud, rambunctious, gorgeous, funny, smart 10 year old boy. And I know every mother thinks their child is the best thing since sliced bread, and I of course am no different. Everyday he delights me, makes me laugh, frustrates me and amazes me, and I thought I would take this chance (because I can and it’s my blog) to reflect on the last 10 years and to share some of my dreams for him going forward.

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Max and his Dad (Tristan) have been some of the greatest teachers in my life, they have both made me question my thoughts, my upbringing, my opinions, my beliefs and made me see what is truly important in life. I’m not saying that everything I thought was wrong, but when you choose to spend your life and start a family with someone then that’s when the fun really begins.  But shh don’t tell Tristan that he was occasionally right. I’ve found that having a life partner and child who challenges and questions you is not a bad thing, it is in fact how we grow.

What others think of you is none of your business Max has for the entire time he has been able to dress himself, not cared whether his pants have been on forward or backwards, and it absolutely drives Tristan crazy. I on the other hand have just learnt to live with it, ‘hey it’s not my pants’ and one time I said to him when I was taking a photo of him, ‘Hey Max, why don’t you put your pants on the right way, people will think you look weird?’ and he replied ‘Mum I don’t care what other people think!’ Boom, mind blown! Lesson learnt for me anyway.  Why do we care what others think of us? Don’t ever lose that, ever! One of the benefits of having a boy, is that he doesn’t give a monkeys butt what he wears, as long as it’s comfy and he can run, and climb and kick a soccer ball around he’s happy. Of course I am not so naive as to think this won’t change as he gets older, but I’m just going to enjoy it for as long as I can.

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Walk to the beat of your own drum There is no one else in the world exactly like you, and what a great responsibility that is. You were put here to share your gift with the world, and everyone has that one special gift that is uniquely you, and must be shared. Don’t let the world beat you down.  I believe that part of my job as a mother is to build you up and fill up your self-confidence bucket to overflowing. Because life is hard and people can be dicks, but if you are so full of confidence in who you are and that you are awesome, it won’t matter what people say or do to you.

Find your lobster There is no better feeling in the world, than finding that one person who lights you on fire. That person who makes you want to be a better person. That person who sees both your strengths and weaknesses and loves you anyway. All I want is for you to  find that person. Frankly I don’t care whether that person is a girl, a guy, black, white or red if you love them and I can see that in your eyes, I’ll be a happy camper.

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Treat everyone with respect Life is hard, and we have no idea what everyone else is going through so treat everyone you come in contact with, with the same level of respect and kindness. You are no better than anyone else on this planet, and no one else is better than you, but if you leave everyone you have contact with a little better than before then you are winning.

Travel as often and as far as you can. The world is a huge, fun, colourful, mind expanding place and you should enjoy as much of it as you can. Your little corner of the world is so different to almost every where else, and there is so much to see and do and eat. You will come home with a new appreciation for where you live.

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Find your passion I don’t really care what you do for a job, all I care about is that you find something that you are passionate about and work out how to make a living out of it. I don’t care if you make $500 or $5,000,000 as long as you can support yourself and be a productive member of society then I’m happy. We spend so much of our lives at work, so it makes sense to do something that we love, not just tolerate.

Make fun a priority Life is definitely way to short, so don’t get stuck in a rut of doing what you have to do and forgetting to do what makes you come alive. Mix things up occasionally, think outside the box, bring your family and friends together as much as you can.  Sometimes it’s ok to just be silly. I’m pretty sure that no-one looked back on their life from their death bed and wished they had way less fun in their lives.

Feel the fear and do it anyway Some times you need to push through the fear and like Nike say “Just do it!” Life is full of scary situations, and if it is big and scary and pushes you out of your comfort zone, then it can be a great thing to try. Of course that doesn’t include dumb things that could kill you! I am still your mother!

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Love Hard When you find your lobster love hard, make sure that your partner knows what they mean to you and how they make you feel, all the time, not just on special occasions. Treat them with respect, and always put them and your relationship above everyone and everything else. Know that there will be times when they will need your strength, but that it’s ok to need their support too. It’s OK to be soft and vulnerable and loving and still be a man, that is what in fact makes you a man. Know that all relationships require work, and marriage is no different. Communication is key. You will both need to learn how the other communicates and that will probably be one of the hardest lessons to learn but one of the most important.

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And know that you will always be my little boy, even when you are taller than me, smelly, hairy and eat like a horse. And that I am immensely proud of you and will love you forever. And that all you need is love.

 

 

 

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How much fun do you have?

How much fun is in your life?

Have you forgotten how to have fun?

Have you forgotten when the last time was you laughed, not a polite little chuckle to make the other person feel good, but a good old belly laugh, where you seriously thought you were going to wee yourself, just a little?

Do you even remember what fun feels like?

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It’s so easy in today’s age to put fun on the back burner.  There’s children to wrangle and jobs to go to and bills to pay, and being an adult and all that stuff.  And is there really time to have fun anymore?

Of course there is, and it’s vitality important too!

Having fun, makes us feel good (of course it does otherwise we definitely wouldn’t do it) it helps us connect to our families, and friends, and even to ourselves. It helps create memories, everyone remembers those times when you had fun with your family or your besties. It helps cements family dynamics, your children will always remember those times you spent together having fun, probably over anything else you tell them.

Having fun and laughing is a fantastic stress relief, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t need a little (or a lot) of that in their lives.

But how do I have fun? It doesn’t have to be lavish or expensive or a big deal. Do you want to just do something that you enjoy yourself? Maybe you love drawing or rollerskating and that indulging in those pastimes will allow you to have fun, or maybe you love sitting around the table with your family enjoying a great meal, laughing and enjoying their company.  Maybe your friends and you enjoy exploring new restaurants, or bars or going on bushwalks.

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So how do we incorporate more fun into our lives?

Step One: Identify what it is that brings you joy.  What do you love doing? What makes you have fun?

Step Two: Do it

Step Three: Schedule more of it. Everyone has some time that is available for fun. Identify when your time is and then schedule to do whatever it is then. You may have to get others to jump on board, babysitters, partners, friends.  But it will be so worth it.

Step Four: Write “have more fun” somewhere where you will see it every day, to remind you to embrace life, and think of ways to bring more fun to your life.  We have this saying on the whiteboard on the side of our fridge, and it’s a little reminder to be to mix things up sometimes at home, because it is so easy to get stuck in a rut.

Life is so short, and I’m pretty sure that no-one looks back on their life (on their deathbed) and wishes they didn’t have so much fun.

That’s me done!

All you need is love and … love and fun and celebration.

This wedding season 2016/2017 is officially over for me. It’s been my biggest yet, with over 25 weddings performed, and I have absolutely loved every moment of it. Well, what’s not to love, I get to be right in the thick of a whole lotta love, and people pay me for it, crazy, I know.

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Jeremy and Sharmain

My wedding season, here in Dunedin, pretty much runs from September to May, because not a lot of people down here choose winter weddings. This season has seen my marry 4 different Sarah’s, one Angela (in fact every year I’ve married an Angela, which is crazy, and I even have one lined up for next season) and one friend, and second brother from the same family.

I have married couples in their favourite restaurants (at least they knew the food was going to be outstanding) and in their living rooms. I have performed weddings in gardens, in beautiful chapels, in tiny little churches in tiny little places with magnificent views, and on beaches. I have wed couples on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and even Wednesdays.  There have been morning weddings and late afternoon weddings, and even a surprise wedding, where the guests didn’t know there was going to be a wedding. There were weddings with 200 guests and weddings with only 10. I have had brides arrive by tractor, and a groom land in a helicopter. I have had brides be late, early and right on time. I have had some of the cutest ring bearers and flower girls you could imagine.

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Danni and Andrew Nicole Pilgrim Photography

I have worked with some amazing suppliers who have toiled tirelessly to make sure that a couple’s dreams and ideas will come to life and exceed their expectations, and have been gracious enough to share their work with me.

I have offered advice on everything from dress choices to photographers, to time lines to invitations to florists, and of course wedding ceremonies.

Every single wedding is different, because every single couple and love story is different, I have married couples who met at Intermediate School, and other couples who met on Social Media. I have married couples who have been together for a short time, and others who have been together for 18 years. Every single wedding makes my heart sing, because every single bride and groom are being brave enough to put their hearts on the line, and share what it means to love and be loved, and you can’t really get better than that.

 

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Haily and Norman Kerry Hodge Photography

Yes there have been moments when things didn’t go according to plan, little people didn’t want to play ball, or some-one forgot to use the fancy thingy the bride bought especially, but you know what, no-one cared, because everyone was too swept up in the love filled moments which were happening all around them.

I can’t think of another job that exists where everyone’s happy. Maybe not a the rehearsal, generally brides are overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done, and can be a little stressed, but that smile on a bride’s face when she walks down the aisle is absolutely priceless.

I can’t wait until September when I get to do this amazing job all over again.

 

 

When do you celebrate?

All you need is love and … a reason to celebrate.

I’ve decided that I’m a professional celebrater! Is that actually a thing, I’m not entirely sure, but I know I’m a professional celebrant, and yes I officiate weddings, where two people share their love story and commit to loving each other forever, and then generally celebrate the bejezzus out of the occasion by bringing together their favourite people and kicking up their heels. So I essentially help people celebrate one of the biggest days of their lives.

But..

Yes there are a lot of different big occasions that people celebrate, weddings, birthdays, Christmas, Easter to name a few on the calendar. But why do we wait to celebrate just these occasions? What about the fact that it’s Friday, and so take the kids down to the local cafe, and “hot chocolates, all round!” why not celebrate ‘hump day’ by having Fish and Chips for dinner, or celebrate the fact that it’s May 3 by getting out the fine china and having an afternoon tea party?

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Life can whizz past us so quickly, and I swear the older we get the faster it seems to go, and throw in kids, jobs, after school activities, play dates etc and the weeks can fly by before you know it.  It can seem so easy to just put your head down and just ‘get’ through the day/week/year, and then relax on the weekend, and do it all again the next week, and before you know it the kids are leaving home and you’re wondering where those 18 years went.   Why not bring some surprise and magic and naughtiness and spontaneity to your day/week/year by remembering to have more fun. Life is so serious, but does it have to be all the time? Hells No!

Why are we only saving the celebrations in our life for big events? Weddings, big birthdays, graduations? Why aren’t we celebrating the people in our lives more often, instead of when they die? Why not get your girlfriends together one Saturday morning a month and have a brunch date? Why not grab the mates once a month and have a few beersies down at the pub? We should be celebrating and acknowledging the people in our lives on a regular basis, because it will make you feel great, and make the other person feel amazing too. Where’s the harm in that?

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Why do we only celebrate the dates we’re told to celebrate, birthdays, weddings etc? Why don’t we celebrate the day we moved into our first home together, or when we bought that new car? Yes, you may be looking at me a bit sideways now, thinking this lady is a nutbar, but is there anything wrong with creating our own traditions and rituals and customs, as well as celebrating the more well known ones that society tells us to celebrate, why not create some of your own?

If you really want to fully embrace the idea of celebrating, then there are a multitude of things that you can celebrate, take a look at days of the year who have a huge list of reasons to celebrate each day of the year.  It’s also a good idea to come up with some of your own, things that are important to you and your family. Ask the kids what things they want to celebrate, and how. You may be surprised by what they think are reasons to celebrate.  They don’t have to be elaborate or cost millions of dollars, one family I know choose every Wednesday night dinner to have a different accent to accompany dinner, so if it’s Italian night, everyone has to speak in an Italian accent, huge fun, and doesn’t cost a thing. Or choose a different day each week to add a wee note into one family member’s lunch box, once again free!

Let’s face it life can sometimes be monotonous and boring, but wouldn’t you rather look back on your life and think about all the fun you had?

From engaged to finally married ….. Mr and Mrs Bray!

All you need is love. That’s it, that’s all you need.

So we’ve followed the journey of Sharmain and Jeremy as they went through the process of planning their wedding day.  We saw what went well, and what was more challenging, and finally we get to share the last installment, The Wedding Day! Here Sharmain and Jeremy share how that final week was, and of course the day itself.

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All photos supplied by the very talented Chris Garden.

What was the week before the wedding like? The week before the wedding was a very busy one.  Luckily, we had both taken that week off work, so that helped a lot!  It was very stressful for me as our reception venue was still far from finished and by Wednesday I was nearly in panic mode no matter how much Jeremy tried to assure me it would all work out.  Thankfully, the place was finished enough for use by Thursday night and on Friday we were able to set up for the reception.  There were a lot of last minute jobs that needed done in that last week, and I’d definitely recommend to anybody to take that week off, if possible.

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What surprised you the most about the wedding planning process? Overall i did find the wedding planning enjoyable.  There were a lot of hiccups along the way and many stresses that came with it, but I think knowing that in the end, after it all, I’d be marrying the man of my dreams, made all those little glitches worth it.  I honestly can’t describe the excited feeling I’d get every time I thought of a new idea or something for our wedding.

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How did you feel the day before the wedding? The day before the wedding I’ll admit, I think I was a mess.  My Mum took me out to get my nails done for the wedding and all I could think about was how the venue was going to look and why wouldn’t it stop raining.  When we returned to the venue and I say how everything looked I broke down in tears.  Jeremy’s family and my litte brother had spend the last few hours placing everything exactly where I’d wanted them to and how I’d wanted it and I was so overwhelmed with how everything looked that I couldn’t hold back my emotions.  Everything was perfect.  Later at the rehearsal I saw how badly the rain had affected our ceremony venue and almost broke down again, for a different reason.  There were puddles everywhere and I went in to a panic about how it would be the next day.  Thankfully it, somehow all dried out overnight and was perfect.

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Did things go well on the wedding morning? On the wedding morning I swear there as just a blanket of calm over the both of us.  I was up early making breakfast for the bridesmaids and Jeremy fed the dog and checked into our hotel for that night.  There were no hitches and I just couldn’t wait to see my soon to be husband.  Our photographer commented that he’d never had a couple, or wedding party in general, be so calm on the morning of their wedding.  We were too excited and too happy to be nervous.

Do you remember what you were thinking as you walked down the aisle? As I walked down the aisle everything was a blur, all my focus was on Jeremy waiting for me at the end.  There were people at the ceremony that I didn’t even realise were there until looking at photos weeks later.  The world felt like it stood still and he was the only thing that mattered in that moment.  All Jeremy could think was simply ‘wow’

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What were some of the highlights of the wedding day? Jeremy’s biggest highlight of the day was seeing me walk down the aisle.  I think my biggest highlight was seeing his face once I reached the end.  I swear I’ve never seen that man so happy.  Overall though, I think the entire day was amazing, the best day of our lives so far.

Any thing you would have done differently? I think if I could’ve done anything differently it would be to practice our first dance before performing it, preferably in similar clothing to what would be worn on the day.  As we found out, on the night it wasn’t as easy as we thought it was going to be, as I couldn’t step backwards in my dress because of the train, which was not something I’d thought about until I stood on it.

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Advice to other brides/couples? Our advice to other couples would be to try not to stress.  As difficult as that sounds at the end of the day all that matters is that you’re marrying the love of your life.  Throughout our entire planning process and wedding day and everything Jeremy was very laid back and easy going, it was me who stressed over every little thing and at the end of it I look back and just wonder why I ever let some things get to me. Also remember, it’s your day, so have it the way you want it, not everyone else.

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Would you recommend your vendors on the day? We were very happy with all of our vendors for the day.

  • Michelle and her team from Just Essence Catering did an amazing job, and were more than happy to work with every requirement we threw at them. Including setting up a children’s buffet table to keep their meals separate for the adults food.
  • Kate and the team at The Dessert Room were amazing too and worked with us very well. Plus they were far more reasonably priced than we expected.
  • Hirepool was one we didn’t expect to use but ended up needing to hire the tables and chairs for the reception from, they were very easy to work with, and allow 3 day hire which was definitely easier than trying to set up and clean up all in the same day.
  • Our photographer Chris Garden, was great! We had a lot of communication with him leading up to the day and he was happy to do whatever we asked of him, and his photos are amazing.
  • And of course our amazing celebrant Angela Port.  She worked with us so well, and helped out with everywhere we needed it.  She was happy to give us any advice we needed and help with vow writing, and we both love her ceremony and working with her.

What was your biggest surprise on the wedding day? Our biggest surprise on our wedding day has to have been the weather.  For the days leading up, it was absolutely pouring with rain, right up until 2am that morning (yes I was still awake) and then on the Sunday it again was pouring down.  But you couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day on the Saturday, it was absolutely stunning.

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What is your favourite memory of your wedding day? I don’t think we’ll ever forget our wedding day, but I think my most favourite memory would be learning Jeremy’s reaction as I walked down the aisle, more happy tears were shed then. Jeremy’s favourite memory is seeing me, at the end of the night walking around cradling my baby cousin in my arms.  I absolutely adore babies and Jeremy says I looked so peaceful and happy in that moment.

Anyone you would like to especially mention for their help? So many people helped us out in so many ways.  Friends giving advice and support, family giving advice and helping us out financially.  I don’t think we could really thank one person in particular without listing many, many names.

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How did you feel the next day, once it was all over? The day after the wedding, we had to go clean up the reception venue and start returning hired things back to the companies.  It was a very busy day and felt like we’d just had a great big party, but we didn’t feel any different.  However it was a very stress free day, like a great weight had been lifted from our shoulders.  And I know I saw Jeremy playing with his ring, just as much as I played with mine.

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At the end of the day I believe just do what makes you happy.  We were both so happy with how everything turned out for us, we couldn’t have asked for it to be better.  The day definitely does fly by though and I think the best piece of advice I could give to any couple is to try take a moment for themselves out of their wedding day, away from the guests, and just enjoy each other.  It’s something we didn’t do and in the end we didn’t really see a lot of each other once we got to the reception.

I wish you a life time of happiness together, and thank you for allowing me to share a part of your special day with me – Angela Port 

Help spread the LOVE

All you need is love and … a ‘all you need is love’ t-shirt.

Help me spread the message that I live by.  I have teamed up with the very clever Peg and Pencil Design Studio to come up with a very exciting project.

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These gorgeous T-shirts are now for sale for a limited period. Black, because everything is better in black, with white lettering “all you need is love” on the front, and “🖤 to the max” on the right sleeve.

$35 NZD each which includes $1 donation to the NZ Heart Foundation (because hearts are fairly important) and postage anywhere in NZ.

Check out below for sizing.

Regular fit
Crew neck
Mid weight, 180 GSM, 28-singles
100% combed cotton (marles 15% polyester)
Neck ribbing, side seamed, shoulder to shoulder tape, double needle hems, preshrunk to minimise shrinkage

 

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Pre-sales are for 2 weeks and then delivery up to 2 weeks after that.

Hit me up via email to place your order: angelaport@xtra.co.nz before Sunday 16th April 2017.

Help spread some love, and where you heart on your sleeve.

 

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.

 

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.