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.

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.

IMG_3793 (1)

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.


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.

IMG_4096 (1)

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’

IMG_4162 (1)

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.

IMG_4160 (1)

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.

IMG_4065 (1)

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.


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.


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.


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 


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.


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.

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.

Photo via:


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?

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.

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.

Danni and Andrew
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)

soraya and paul1
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

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.
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.


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.


Including your fur-baby in your wedding

All you need is love and … how to include your fur baby in your wedding.


Many couples have pets together before they get married, and a lot of couples consider their pets as their fur babies and so want to include them in their wedding, naturally. So here’s a round up of ways to include you pets in your special day.

Use your pet to propose – How super cute is it to include your pet in your proposal? You could tie the ring on their collar, and then tell your partner that you have a new collar for the pet. Instant brownie points. You could also have a sign made to go around the pets neck with “will you marry my dad” on it.

Save the dates – Use your pet to announce to your guests your wedding date.

Engagement photos – Include your pet in your engagement photo shoot.

Wedding photos – If you’re not sure about your pet coming to the ceremony or reception then ask someone to bring them along for the wedding photos. Brides all dressed up with their pets make magic photos.

Flower Girl Escort – Let your flower girl escort your pet down the aisle.

Pet instead of bouquet – Carry your pet down the aisle instead of a bouquet. Obviously dependant on the type and size of pet. But a rabbit or kitten would look super cute in a flower adorned basket.

Have them by your side during your ceremony – If your pet is the sit still and not move type of animal, and would no be phased by all the attention and people around, it would make for an adorable photo.

Include them in your vows – I have included many a mention of a pet in a wedding ceremony. You could include them in your vows “I promise to love you as much as Oscar (the dog)”

Dress them up – there are a few ways you can dress up your pet for the big day, without hindering it’s movement, or dignity. Try a cute bandana around it’s neck for something understated.

Cake topper – Order a customised cake topper which includes a nod to your fur baby as well.

Table numbers – Incorporate photos of your pet as your table numbers, that way everyone gets to see your pet.

Cardboard cut out – Have a life size cardboard cut out of your pet made, that could be displayed at your reception, or used as a prop in a photo booth.  It would be just like they were there.

There are a few things you may need to consider when deciding if your pet is going to be a part of your big day. How are their socialisation skills? If you have time to get them training, then that would be wise, if they are the type of pet who will wander in and then fall asleep at someones feet, then they are the perfect candidate.  If they have not yet been trained and bark at everything that moves then it’s probably not a good idea.

Take your pet to the venue well before the big day, so they get comfortable and familiar with the place. And make sure that your pet is allowed at the venue.

Make sure there is adequate food and water available for the pet during the day.

Let your guests know before the day that your pet will be attending, that way if they are allergic to animals they can take precautions before hand.

Ensure you have a pet wrangler available on the day, who isn’t yourself or your partner. I recommend someone who the pet knows and is quite happy to look after your pet during the day.

Pets are very special members of the family, so of course they should be included in your wedding day.

Port Molyneux School

All you need is love and … a beautiful new wedding venue.

Feast your eyes on the beautiful Port Molyneux School

The stunning new venue: Port Molyneux School.  All Photos by Williams Photography

A few weeks ago I attended the official opening of a brand new venue. I knew it was going to be awesome, partly because of the location (hello, stunning Kaka Point, Catlins!) and partly because I had met Jade (the director and visionary behind the venue) and her enthusiasm and positivity for the whole project was infectious (definitely my kind of people)

That view from the school room, breathtaking!

Jade and her family rescued the “Port Molyneux School” from ruin, after coming across it by accident, and realising that it was for sale. She could see the potential of the location (right across the road from the beach) and for a venue in the area, because her husband and her  had struggled to find a suitable venue in the area, when they got married.

Gorgeous buttonholes by Twigs n Twine Blooms/Design and Events

So after a lot of blood, sweat, tears and restoration work, the venue was open to the public for the first time, and it is beautiful!!! The character of the place is still in tact but it has been bought into this century with a lot of love and care, and has everything you could need to hold the wedding of your dreams.

Night time lighting

The school rooms have been lovingly restored and are a blank canvas, as either a ceremony space area, for after wedding cocktails or sit down reception space. They feature wooden floors, and beautiful windows letting in an abundance of natural light and views across the road to the ocean. There is of course ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ toilets (apparently part of the bathroom decor is original) and a fully equipped kitchen for event catering.

Perfect spot for an indoor ceremony.

Part of the hire of the venue includes the use of the headmasters house, a stones throw along a stone path from the main building. This 3 bedroom house has been fully restored and decorated and has everything you would need to spend your wedding night in absolute bliss.  The section the venue is on is large enough and flat enough to be used by your guests if they wanted to camp for the night also. On the open day Tussock Country had set up one of their luxury camping tents, and it was amazing, so much more civilised than a pup tent and a sleeping bag.

Now this is camping, or should I say Glamping by Tussock Country

Outside the school at the front, there is a beautiful spot which has been specially created  to accommodate outside weddings, there is a mantle and seating. This all coming together to create a perfect spot with the ocean roaring in the background to exchange your wedding vows.

The outdoor ceremony space.
Who wouldn’t want their wedding photos taken in this spot?

The Port Molyneux School is not just available for weddings, but any occasion that requires a unique and beautiful setting. Now I just need someone to get married there so I can visit this beautiful spot again, but as a celebrant.

Find out more about this very special wedding venue.

Jade McNab +64 (0) 21 1202 722  or



How to include your children in your wedding ceremony.

All you need is love and … a way to include your children in your wedding ceremony.

As a celebrant, I find a large percentage of the couples I marry already have children, either together or they are blending two families when they marry.  Most couples want a way to include or at the very least acknowledge their children in their wedding ceremony.  Here’s a list of some of the different ways you can do this.

Bridesmaids or groomsman – you can include your children, depending on their age as a bridesmaid or groomsman/best man.  This type of role is best suited to a child who understands what’s going on, and can stand still long enough.

Unity ceremony – the whole idea behind a unity ceremony is the joining together of (usually two) people, but it’s an awesome way to incorporate your children into the ceremony. You could preform a sand ceremony (where you pour different coloured sands into a vessel) or a candle ceremony ( where you each light a central candle with a smaller candle)

Write children into vows – Use the platform of your vows to include a mention to your children. I like to use the I Do’s part and write a portion about supporting the other person to be the best mum/dad to your child. It’s a very effective way to make a small acknowledgement of the children if that’s what you’re going for.

Walk down the aisle – You can have your children walk down the aisle with you. If your children are older they could actually do the ‘giving away’ part, or if they are smaller they could just walk hand in hand with you.

Reading or poem – Depending on the child’s age and confidence level, you could ask them to perform a reading or poem, or ask them to write a poem themselves to read out at the wedding.

Flower girl/Ring bearer – Little people are super cute as flower girls or ring bearers.

Vows – There are numerous examples of children saying vows as well as the couple. Again the decision should be based on age, and their understanding of the wedding process.  It could be as simple as a question and the child simply saying “I Do” or in the case of a blended family, the step parent saying vows or promises to the child.

Picking the ring, or helping plan the proposal – Depending on the age of the child, you could include them in the picking of the engagement ring, or involve them in the planning and execution of the proposal.  Just make sure they can keep a secret.

Invite them to join the first dance – Ask your children to join you a little bit after the first dance starts, super cute.

Sign the marriage certificate – Your children can sign the marriage certificate, as long as they understand entirely what they are signing.  If you don’t think they are quite age appropriate to do that, you can ask your celebrant to produce a family certificate (not legal) and all sign that on the day as well.

Hand fasting ritual – Include your children in a hand-fasting ritual, as part of the ceremony.

Exchange gifts with children – You can exchange rings with your children as well as your husband/wife or another piece of jewellery altogether, maybe a necklace or pendant or a signet ring.  I do know of a couple who had 4 rings made, and the children’s rings fit into adults rings, very cool.

Handing out ceremony booklets – Use children to hand out ceremony booklets or bubbles or confetti to guests before the ceremony starts, and usher people to their seats.

Play music – If your child is a talented musician, ask them to showcase their musical abilities before the ceremony begins.

Getaway car – Ask them to help decorate the getaway car, you know the deal, tin cans, streamers, ‘just married’ sign.

Photographer in training – Give them a cheap camera, with a strap for added security, and ask them to take photos after the ceremony and during the reception.  You’ll be amazed at the shots you’ll get, and you’ll see the celebration from their point of view.

Just remember to think about the age of the child, what are they going to be able to handle on the day? What type of personality do they have, are the super confident or very shy? Are they liable to say something inappropriate at the wrong time? Also think about to what extent you want to include your children.  Some couples just want a small mention of their children in the ceremony, and the rest focused on them as a couple committing, while others want to include the children saying vows to the family unit as well. Your celebrant should be able to point you in the right direction, and give you lots of options.

Remember as always that it is your day, and to do it your way.



The most over-looked part of wedding planning.

All you need is love and … a great wedding ceremony.

“It doesn’t really matter” “Don’t make it too long, I don’t want the guests to get bored” “It’s not the most important part of the day” “Just make it short, so we can start drinking”

All statements I’ve heard or seen when talking about planning the actual wedding ceremony. Which kind of breaks my heart a little bit every time.  Now I’ve said this before, and, I may be slightly biased based on the fact that I’m a celebrant and am lucky enough to help couples on their wedding planning journey. But time and time again I hear about people who have the entire wedding planned out, either in real life or on Pinterest, but have not had a single thought about the actual ceremony.  And to a degree I get that. Often when I meet couples we establish that they are in the camp of “we’ve never done this before and we don’t know what we’re doing” and that’s cool, because that is where a awesome celebrant will hold your hand (figuratively, not actually, well maybe if you’re really nervous) and explain the options and the process and the importance of your wedding ceremony.

Your wedding ceremony should set the tone for your entire wedding day. It is in fact the party starter.  Way back in the day, wedding ceremonies had to follow a certain script, and they were all pretty much the same.  You said exactly what the officiant wrote for you. I can imagine that not a lot of brides and grooms can even remember what they said to each other. But times have changed, big time. Couples have so much more say in what they want to include as part of their ceremony, and I for one am excited about this.  There are so many different ways you can structure your ceremony, and so many different elements you can include. It definitely gives a couple more control and choice to help their celebrant create their perfect ceremony. If you are serious and believe that a wedding should be a restrained and solemn occasion and want a ceremony that reflects that, then great, you can absolutely have that, and you need to choose a celebrant who can deliver that. If the two of you have any interesting, quirky or fun elements to your relationship then I believe it is your responsibility and right to roll in that direction.  A ceremony should reflect your different personalities and your relationship together. I believe if you do not have a ceremony that reflects you two together then you are doing a dis-service to your guests, and to yourselves.  You do not want your guests to walk away from your ceremony thinking “what on earth was that. I don’t even know who the celebrant was talking about!” So in saying that no two wedding ceremonies should be the same, (except for the legal parts that have to be done) and if your celebrant is just going to ‘cut and paste’ your ceremony then find another celebrant.  You, your guests and your love deserve a personalised and original wedding ceremony.

Yes I understand the wedding ceremony, can be uncomfortable, and for most people it is the most nerve-wracking part of the day. Of course it’s not everyday that you share a piece of your heart with your loved one and your friends and family. And I know that public speaking is not every-ones cup of tea.  But in saying that how many times in your life will you be able to make such a grand gesture and acknowledge all the reasons you love  your partner and share your promises for the future, to them, and your friends and family?  I believe it’s an extremely memorable and emotional act of love, and should be treated as such.

Yes wedding planning can be fun. It can be so exciting to choose the dress and the colours, and the table decorations and share the experience with your girlfriends or your mum.  I also know for some people (mainly brides) it can become all consuming.  It can literally take over your life.  It is also really easy for a couple to lose sight of what the day is really about.  It is about celebrating your love story.

When you are getting married you are committing to your loved one  for the rest of your lives.  You are making declarations to each other in front of your family and friends that you will love each other, despite the fact that she wears leopard print a little too much, and he always leaves his shoes in the middle of the doorway. You are becoming a team, where you know the other person will always have your back.  And if that is not worth focusing on and totally celebrating then I don’t know what is!


People We Love: Angela Port – Celebrant

All you need is love and … some wisdom from a wedding professional.

Now, I know a lot about weddings, but not everything, so “People We Love”is a series of interviews with wedding professionals, who will share their stories and wedding wisdom.

Meet: Angela Port – celebrant


Business Name: Angela Port Weddings

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business: I became a celebrant a little over 3 years ago. I was asked by my good friends to MC their wedding, and after one too many wines I agreed. I worked really hard when preparing for the role on writing a funny and  personal script to deliver at the wedding.  When I looked back on the experience (yes, it was quite a way out of my comfort zone) but I realised how much I actually enjoyed it, and wondered how I could do more of it. And so I applied to become a celebrant.

I am a wife, and mother, and have another part time job, so I juggle all that with providing my couples an awesome wedding ceremony.

Leah and Keirin

What do you love about your job? I love the fact that every couple has a unique love story to tell and it is my job to tell that story. I love that a wedding ceremony only has a small part that legally has to be done, and the rest is completely up to you, so you can absolutely stamp your own personality on it. I love that everyone is always happy on a wedding day (also slightly nervous, usually) and there are not many jobs that I know of where that is the case. I love the moment after the ceremony, where I congratulate the couple and you can see the look of relief on their faces, because the hardest part of the day is over, and they say to me “wow! that was easy” To me that means I’ve done a good job.

What do you do in your spare time, hobbies/interests? I am a wedding junkie, so usually spare time is spent researching wedding related topics on line.  My website keeps my pretty busy. I love walking, especially on the beach, and hanging with my family.

My own wedding day, 17 July 1999

What one thing do you wish every wedding couple knew? The day is about YOU, I know you do know it, but you can absolutely lose focus so easily once every one else puts their 5 cents in. Weddings and funerals, can sometimes bring out the worst in people. Just remember that the wedding is about you and your loved one committing to each other, not what Great Aunty Fanny wants (no offence intended to Great Aunty Fanny)

Any wedding trends you love or would love to see disappear?  I love it when a couple think outside of the box, and make the day reflect their own individual personalities.  Not a fan of the white pouffy dress? Wear colour or a beautiful tailored jumpsuit! Want your Mum to sing you down the aisle? Go for it! There are so many different ways to do things, and no particular way is correct.  So just go with what feels right to you and your partner.

Amber and Jeff

Any great/interesting stories about working with a couple? One of the first weddings I performed, when I asked them about exchanging rings (in our planning session) they told me that she had a ring, but he couldn’t wear one because of his job, so he got a new socket set instead of a ring! They had one of the socket thingys engraved with their wedding date.  The wedding was at Moeraki and there was only 5 of us there, and the bride and groom both wore jeans, and afterwards they headed to Fleurs for lunch. It was super relaxed. I love it when a couple get married their way.

What two pieces of advice would you give a couple planning their wedding? Be realistic about what you can afford, your wedding will not be less than because you can’t afford fancy wedding favours. Remember what the wedding is about, (hint: it’s about you committing to your loved one) people spend so much time and energy focusing on the finer details, and wanting to impress their guests, that they don’t actually think about what they are going to say to their partner during the ceremony (which I know I may be biased, considering my job)  but I think that is the most important.

One insider tip/trick to pass on? If you think you are going to cry and don’t want to, press your tongue to the roof of your mouth. I’m not sure why it works, but it does. And who cares if you cry, it’s a wedding!

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.