What’s in my celebrant “bag of tricks”?

All you need is love and … a bag full of essentials.

So those of you who have met with me, in my capacity as a wedding celebrant, and have had me officiant your wedding day know that I lug around a huge black shoulder bag. It’s my bag of tricks. It has everything that I or possibly the bride or groom could need for the before and/or during the ceremony.  This is a carefully curated list/bag of items that has been collected and added to over previous weddings.

Here’s a list of what’s hiding in the big black bag.


1 Rescue Remedy – If you haven’t heard/used this before, it’s awesome. It’s a homeopathic spray that you spray on your tongue to help calm you down. Works perfectly for anxious grooms.

2 Wipes – Perfect for hands and for men’s suit/shirt shoulders, which always get make-up on them from all the hugs and kisses they get before the ceremony starts. Helps smarten them up for photos.

3 Lipstick – For me not, the groom.

4 Water bottle – I get a dry mouth when I know I have to do a lot of speaking, so water is essential. Have also had nervous grooms take a swig as well. Side note: it is definitely water and not vodka in there. Yes, it is a sponge-bob square pants bottle!

shannon and sean
Shannon and Sean

5 Heart shaped rocks – For holding down the paperwork before and during the signing if there’s a breeze.

6 Vehicle Log Book – for recording the km’s for yucky tax.

7 Business cards – you never know when an opportunity exists.

8 Hand cream – dry hands make rings harder to slip on.

9 Tissues – I always have at least 2 tissues in my pockets, for either the bride or groom during the ceremony.

10 Compact mirror – to make sure I look presentable before everything kicks off.

11 Matches – just in case someone forgets the matches for lighting a candle of remembrance.

12 Spare battery – for the microphone.

13 Comb – kinda goes with the compact mirror and lipstick.

14 Microphone – so everyone can hear all the lovely words, the couple say to each other. I always have a spare in the car, just in case.

15 Pen – for signing the paperwork, in case the couple don’t have a special one they want to use.

16 Cellphone – the cellphone is loaded with the couple’s playlist for their ceremony, and is definitely switched onto meeting mode during the afternoon.

17 Red folder – the meeting folder, this contains the couples file, with all their contact details.

18 White folder – the folder I use during the ceremony. It holds the ceremony and the couples vows and any readings they are having.

19 Lollipop – used to give to flower girls and/or ring bearers when they have made their walk down the aisle and are about to take their seats.

There is a lot in there (believe me, I have to lug it around) but it is everything I could possibly need for a wedding ceremony, to make sure the groom looks and feels his absolute best (I spend more time hanging with the groom and his boys on the actual wedding day than the bride)  and to make sure I perform the best ceremony I can.

From Engaged to Married – May Update

So the wedding planning train is still chugging along and slowly gaining momentum. There have been many stops this month, but now it’s full steam ahead, to destination: married. Here’s May’s update from Sharmain and Jeremy and their journey from Engaged to Married.

This month they have finally received a written agreement for use with their reception venue (woot woot) and have negotiated the terms on what they can and can’t do for their wedding. They have booked a caterer, which obviously couldn’t be done until after the confirmation with the venue, and now just have to work out menu options and prices with them.
They have a booked a meeting with a baker to look at cake options and pricing
They have also started designing the wedding  invitations and are currently working through the stressful task on finalizing the guest list.
The biggest struggle at this point in time is being able to arrange meetings with suppliers/vendors or to go look at things together as they both have only one full day off work a week, and it’s not the same day of the week.
Another thing they are going to have to work on is their  time management, as they get so far and then just stop and forget for a while. (I’m sure you are not the only ones that have that issue, I think when something feels like it is so far away, it is easy to think, “Oh, we have all the time in the world” editors comments ) The countdown is on, they only have 233 days to get this sorted!
They are at the point in their planning process where all the major things have been pretty much sorted and now they’re getting into sorting out the nitty gritty stuff and making sure they  get it all done with plenty of time to spare. The plan in the long run is to not have to do any major last minute jobs in the last three weeks leading up to the big day, so they have time to relax beforehand and not feel too stressed on the day. Hopefully!
Plus that way we have everything sorted before places start shutting down for the Christmas holidays.
Still currently looking for ceremony and vow ideas, there are soooo many!!
The next few things are, starting to look at suit and dress styles for the wedding party as well.

Real Life Wedding – Amber and Jeff

All you need is love and … a sneak peek at Amber and Jeff’s real life wedding.

On April 18 2015 I had the pleasure of joining Amber and Jeff and their friends and family at the beautiful Larnach Castle as Amber and Jeff committed to each other and became husband and wife.


Amber and Jeff


Venue: Larnach Castle, Dunedin

Wedding Dress: Brides by Mancini – Belle

Bridesmaid Dresses: JJs House – Online

Photographer: Lisa Reid


Hair: Aurum Hairstylists

Make up: Kristine at Body Shop

Grooms Attire : Online


Shoes: Overland

Celebrant: Angela Port (woot, woot!)

Flowers: Hand-made by the bride


Catering: Larnach Castle

Cake: Family friend made the cake – a restounding success

Anything else you want to include: we had our photo’s taken before the ceremony, which meant we could spend more time with the guests. (Larnach Castle only allows weddings to take place after the castle is closed to the public after 5pm, so having the photos taken before the 5pm ceremony actually works out well)


When was the best part of the day: after the ceremony and the photos, when I could kick back and relax.

Is there anything you would have done differently? Worried less beforehand – it all works out in the end.

How did you pick your wedding party? Easy – family.


Best piece of advice you were given: Enjoy it, it really goes so quickly, so it’s important you enjoy your time.

Any tips you want to pass on to future brides? Relax as much as possible – it should be fun.

Anything that didn’t go according to plan? Nothing major, some theatrics from our daughter during the ceremony, but that was to be expected (and was cute, so ok). I do remember wee Violet wandering off during the ceremony behind me – Angela

Thank you Amber and Jeff for sharing your beautiful wedding day. I hope you and your family and friends enjoy rel-living your special day.

Real Life Wedding – Leah and Keirin

All you need is love … and a sneak peek at Leah and Keirin’s real life wedding.

Leah and Keirin Tutty


Meet Mr and Mrs Tutty


I was lucky enough to be the wedding celebrant as Leah and Keirin finally (after 19 years together) tied the knot. They were lucky enough to have their 3 children and closest friends by their sides as they exchanged their vows. You have to agree this venue is stunning, and needs absolutely no decoration. Here’s the run down on their dream day.

Bride: Leah Tutty

Groom: Keirin Tutty

Bridesmaids: Aimee and Samantha (Leah and Keirin’s daughter)


Best Man: Ian

Groomsman: Dylan and Daniel (Leah and Keirin’s son’s)

Wedding Dress: From Watters


Groom: Esquire Suit Hire

Bridemaid Dress: Pagani

Photographer: SVZ Photography

Hair and Make up: Arrum

Venue: Tropical Rainforest, Otago Museum


Wedding Celebrant: Angela Port

Reception Venue: Alhambra Rugby Club


Cake: Ka Pow Cakes

Music: Jumping Jacks, Jukebox Hire

Wedding Cars: 2 Black AP5s


Wedding Colours: Green, Black and White

Ceremony music: “Nothing else matters” Metallica, “Signed, sealed, delivered”  “Ho Hey” Lumineers

Best part of the day: Just hearing the music start, and the moments after the ceremony when we felt relaxed and happy.


Things I would have done differently: We had a small wedding, only 50 people, it was so hard choosing the guest list, if I could I would have added to the guest list.

Where did you get ideas/inspiration: OffBeat Bride site, Pinterest and just surfing the net.

How did you pick your bridal party: We picked out children and closest friends to be by our sides on the day.


Best piece of advice you were given: From Grandma “Just do what makes you happy, bugger everyone else”

Advice to other brides: Make sure you have lots of reliable helpers to do the running around and any last minute things, so you don’t stress out on the day. Also make sure you eat, it’s a really long day!

Anything didn’t go to plan: We were late all day, hair and make-up, photos everything.

Thanks for sharing your special day Leah and Keirin, it was an absolute honour to play a small part in your big day.




A day in the life of a celebrant

All you need is love and … here’s what a saturday looks like for a celebrant.

So generally Saturday’s are game days for me.  That is wedding day for most couples and while a bride is getting herself made up and sipping champagne, and a groom and his boys may be sneaking in a round of golf, this is a run down on how I prepare.



Every Saturday morning starts with a 6.30 session at the gym.




The best celebrants are fuelled by coffee.



Checking that everything is sorted, filling in the date and address of the venue, making sure that I have everything, and then I pack it all into an envelope ready for the ceremony.  Checking that I have my pen, incase the couple don’t have a special one they want to use for the signing of the licence.



I always practice every ceremony 4-5 times, running through the entire ceremony, paying special attention to timing, and jokes and pronounication of names.  Doing this means that I feel completely comfortable with the ceremony.  I also practice with the microphone to make sure I can juggle it and the folder, and rings etc.

Testing the tools


Testing the public address system, making sure it’s charged up, making sure the volume is set correctly (it needs to be changed between inside and outside) checking the batteries in the cordless microphone, running all the songs for the wedding through to make sure the volume is correct and songs are all in the right order on the playlist.

Packing the car


The car gets packed up, with everything I’m going to take. PA System, bag of essentials (paperwork, microphone, water bottle, lollipops etc) The car always gets a bit of a wash the day of the wedding, it is my mobile business card after all.

Getting dressed


I pretty much always wear black to weddings.  When I meet with a couple in the planning stages I always ask what colour theme they are going with, this determines what I will wear. I wear black so that I don’t stand out, the attention needs to be on the bride and the bridesmaids.  If the bridesmaids are wearing black then I will wear another dark colour so I don’t look like I’m part of the bridal party.

Hair and Make-Up

hair and makeup

Not the same at the bridal party, but it’s important that I look my best, it is after all a wedding and I will be in a few of the couples wedding photos. I also make sure my toe nails are painted, because I nearly always wear open toed shoes.  It’s really important to me that I look my best.

On my way


So after a double check that everything I need is loaded into the car.  I’m on my way.  I always arrive at least 45 mins before the service. I recommend to the groom and his boys that he arrive at the same sort of time, because guests will always arrive early to a wedding, and it’s nice for him to be there early to greet his guests and make sure everything is spot on.  I set up my PA, make sure everything is working properly, brief the MC on using the music system during the ceremony. I set up the licence, on the table where it will be signed, checking to see if the couple needs my pen or they have their own. Then it’s time to check with the groom to see if he needs help with anything, quite often I’m pinning on buttonholes, making sure all the boys look great. I usually get a quick word with the photographer when they arrive to check if they need anything, and to brief them if anything special is happening during the ceremony, sand ceremony, candle of rememberance etc.

Ceremony time

Sorry no photos of the ceremony, it was an unplugged ceremony, so I asked the guests to refrain from taking photos during the ceremony.

After the ceremony


After the ceremony the photographer normally tries to get a group shot of all the guests, this is when I make sure all the paperwork is signed correctly, I place the couple’s copy of marriage licence into an envelope containing a copy of their ceremony and the cards that they use when they recite their wedding vows (as a keepsake of the day).  I then find the MC and give them this package to keep safe for the day, to give to the couple the next day. I pack everything up, and then have a little mingle with the guests, and go and find the couple to congratulate them and give them a quick hug.  I then make my exit, usually I get asked if I want to stay for a drink, but I think that a couple should celebrate with their family and friends, so I quietly leave.  Happy that I was able to share a couples special day with them.  It truly is a privilege, and I thank my lucky stars every time that I get to do this amazing job.

Mailing the paperwork


The next day the paperwork is placed in the mail box, on it’s way to Wellington, to make the marriage official.  I always message the couple the next day to congatulate them to let them know their paperwork has been mailed and to make sure they are happy with everything.

So there’s quite a lot of preparation for me on a wedding day, alot of behind the scenes work that needs to be done to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch.


What does a best man do?

All you need is love … and a great best man.

It’s an honour to be asked to be a best man.  It can be heaps of fun but also comes with a lot of responsibility.  Here’s a run down on what a best man does.

Before the wedding

  • Plan the stag party – probably the most fun aspect of the role.  It’s your job to plan what/when/how much for the stag party.
  • Tux/suit hire – it’s your job to help the groom sort out his suit for the wedding, whether he’s going to be buying or hiring.  It’s also your job to organise the other groomsman to make sure they’re all there when the suits are selected and for fittings.  That way you’re all matching.
  • Rehearsal – Attend the wedding rehearsal, usually the day before. Pay special attention to where you’ve got to be, when you have to be there. You will also need to ensure all the groomsman know where they have to be.
  • Help the groom on the wedding day – It’s your job to make sure you take the stress off the groom on the big day.  You need to help him dress, make sure he has everything he needs, and then give him and all the groomsmen a quick once over before you arrrive at the ceremony.

During the wedding ceremony

  • Distribute the boutonnieres (buttonholes) and make sure everyone is wearing them.
  • Hold the rings.  You either need to have the rings right from the beginning or you take the rings off the ring bearer.
  • Sign the marriage licence. You may be asked to sign the marriage licence to make the marriage official.  Make sure you bring it up at the rehearsal if the officiant doesn’t mention it.
  • Escort the maid of honour or bridesmaid out of the ceremony.

At the Reception

  • Best man toast – Perform the best man toast/speech at the reception.  Probably the most nerve-wracking part of the role.  There’s heaps of info on the internet about how to nail your best man speech.
  • Read the telegrams – or in today’s day and age, read any emails, tweets, facebook updates for the couple.
  • Dance with the maid of honour-It’s your job to get the party started once the first dance of the bride and groom is underway.
  • Decorate the getaway car.
  • Help to decorate the honeymoon suite with the maid of honour.
  • Suits back – take the grooms tux/suit back to the hire shop, if the couple are leaving for their honeymoon straight after wedding.

The gist of the role is that you are the right hand man for the groom, you are standing beside your best mate/brother to support him on one of the biggest/best day of his life. It is a honour to be asked, so make sure you are happy to fulfill the role to the best of your abilities before you say yes.


Alternatives to a flower wedding bouquet

All you need is love … and an alternative to a wedding bouquet.

So maybe you’re not a big flower person, maybe you or your groom are allergic to flowers, maybe you want to save some bucks or maybe you want something that is going to last longer than 2 days.  There are tons of alternatives to a traditional wedding bouquet, many that can be adapted to suit your colour scheme and many that may be a better match to your theme/location than a traditional bunch of flowers.

Back in the day brides carried a bouquet of flowers to disguise the poor hygiene habits of old, when normal showering each day was not the done thing.  These days this isn’t really too much of an issue, but it is still a tradition many partake in, the carrying of a bouquet not the not showering!

Here’s a list of alternatives to the wedding bouquet, you can use them as your bridal bouquet or incorporate them into your entire wedding party.

  • Pinwheels – always look cute and fun, and are generally colourful, you can make smaller versions for the groom and his boys.
  • Lollipops – love the look of a bunch of giant lollipops tied with a colourful ribbon, can be tailored to your colour palette.

  • Succulents – group together a variety of succulents.
  • Sprigs of dried herbs and/or dried flowers – imagine the smell of a bunch of lavender or rosemary.
  • Feather flowers – look beautiful with wee diamante included.
  • Stack of favourite books – wrap a stack or even a single favourite book with some beautiful fabric ribbon.

  • Brooches – Brooch bouquets look stunning, you can even ask all your favourite female family members/friends to gift you a brooch that you can use in the bouquet, making it extra special.
  • One giant paper flower –  looks very striking
  • Origami flowers – or any origami shape pulled together into a bouquet would be lovely, especially paper cranes.
  • Giant pom poms – definitely fun, can be matched to your colour scheme, you could either use one giant pom pom or a bunch of them together.
  • Balloons – either fastened into balloon flowers or a bunch of helium balloons held together with a ribbon.
  • Button bouquet – these are becoming very popular and look stunning.

  • Lantern – either by itself or filled with foliage and/or a candle, would look stunning for a night wedding.
  • Fan – can be adorned with a little foliage, or a favourite poem, would be handy on an especially hot day.
  • Seashells – would be a perfect fit for a beach wedding.
  • Parasols – look awesome for all the bridal party.

  • Flower crown – if you’re going for a more boho look this would be ideal, with long wavy natural looking hair.
  • Corsage/flower necklaces – a corsage either worn on the wrist/upper arm or ankle keeps the hands free for all the hand-holding you’ll be doing on your wedding day.

  • Metal wire bouquets – use think stainless steel with beads or diamante for a definite showstopper.
  • Paper butterflies – would not look out of place at a garden wedding.
  • Pinecones/Fruit/Vegies – For something completely different.
  • Paper flower – you could have them made out of pages from your favourite book, or love poems, or maps, if you love to travel.
  • Felt or fabric flowers – can be made to suit your colour scheme and will definitely last.

and the last and definitely my favourite a large dollop of candy floss, imagine the smell as you walk down the aisle.

All you need is … some advice on how to walk in heels.

All you need is love…  and some advice on how to walk in heels.

So you have the beautiful perfect wedding dress that you can’t wait to slip into for the big day, and what goes with a perfect dress? Perfect shoes. Now if you’re anything like me you loooove shoes, and your wedding day is the perfect excuse to get a new sparkly strappy high lovely new pair.

For some brides, this might seem like torture, and if you normally get around in a pair on converse sneakers, then new sparkly strappy high heels are going to be a problem.

I’ve devised some steps to master the art of walking confidently in a pair of heels.

  • Lead with your heel – put your heel down first, followed by your toe, it will make for a more natural looking walk. Most new wearers of high heels are inclined to stomp (or put your whole foot down in one go) which you will agree doesn’t look very natural, unless you’re a dinosaur, and you’re not, you’re a beautiful bride.
  • Take smaller slower steps – high heels require you to take smaller steps because of the height, just go with it, and make sure whoever is walking with you (your dad down the aisle, your groom) knows that you need to slow down and walks at the same speed.  It also gives everyone a good chance to get a good look at how stunning you are.
  • Lean slightly back – leaning back a little will counteract your inclination to lean forward, which happens when you slip on a pair of high heels.
  • Visualise the end point – visualise where you are walking to, whether it is down the hallway at home, or down the aisle towards your husband to be. Don’t look down at your shoes or the ground, but up, let everyone see your beautiful smiling face.
  • The perfect fit – make sure your shoes fit properly. The best time to go shoe shopping is in the afternoon, when your feet will be at their most swollen, that way they will fit perfectly. It’s also important to make sure they are comfortable, you’re going to be wearing them for a large part of the day.
  • Stand tall – ensure you stand tall, throw your shoulders back, lengthen your spine, and stand straight (it will also make you look thinner), be proud of yourself.
  • Practice, practice, practice – and practice on the type of surface you will be walking on on the day, practice on grass, on concrete, and on wooden floors.
  • Rough it up a bit – use a piece of sandpaper to rough up the bottom of your shoes, it will give them a little grip for wooden floors, and prevent you from sliding over.
  • Little secrets – there are a number of little secrets that will make sure day easier, and make it kinder on your feet. Dr Scholl makes a product called “Party Feet” which are gel inserts which stick to the sole of your shoe against your foot to provide a level of cushioning, an absolute must with high heels. You can also buy heel stoppers, a life saver for walking on grass, they slip onto the heels of your shoes and stop them from sinking into grass.

Just remember it’s a special day, your special day.  If you want to go all out and get a great pair of high heels to go with your wedding dress, then it’s the perfect excuse, if that’s not you, then go with what feels comfortable, converse, cowboy boots, jandals, barefoot.  You’re day you’re way!