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.

 

 

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.

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)

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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.

 

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.

Wedding stress busting

All you need is love and … to look after yourself.

Wedding planning is hard, and stressful, so very stressful. And we all know that stress has a huge impact on your body and your mental health. And we all want to go into our wedding day, and our married life, looking and feeling our absolute best. So I’ve put together some tips on how to look after yourself while wedding planning.

Leading up to the wedding day

Get yourself organised – Now is the time to organise yourself, especially if you are organisationally-challenged. Get yourself a wedding planner, any kind will do, whatever suits your personality and lifestyle, and use it.  She said yes have a beautiful one, you’ll feel better knowing that there’s not a chance of you forgetting anything.

Start a exercise plan – If you are wanting to lose a few kilos for the big day, or just want to be in the best possible shape for your wedding day, then formulate an exercise plan. Enlist the help of a nutritionist and/or personal trainer if you like, or just rope in the bridesmaids for added incentive.  Exercise as well as making you look great, will also make you feel great,and it’s also a great stress buster.

Skin care/Hair care- Now is the time to think about how you’re going to get your skin and hair into tip top condition. Talk to your make up artist and your hair dresser about the best way to do this. They may suggest regular treatments and/or products to use leading up to the wedding day, to ensure you have the perfect canvas for the day.

Multi-vitamins/supplements – Now is a good time to talk to a professional about what type of vitamins or supplements it may be a good idea to start using to make sure you both look and feel your best. You may need to think about a supplement to help with stress, or energy to help you get through the wedding planning intact. Make sure you are getting enough fruits and vegetables too.

Water – Up your water intake, nearly everyone doesn’t drink enough water, so increasing your water is a great way of helping with hydrating your body.  It will give you glowing skin, and help you flush out toxins. If you’re not a water fan, try using sliced fruit in your bottle to add a tasty flavour.

Delegate – Don’t try to wear too many hats. Make sure  you do your research with vendors, so you know they are professionals, and can do the job, and trust that they will on the day. Sometimes you need to choose what you can let go of and delegate. There are always lots of people who are just waiting for you to ask for help.

Wedding week –

Exercise – Keep up with the exercise. It will help relieve stress, and zone out in this busy week.

Wedding day contact – Choose someone to be the wedding day contact. Someone who you can trust to make decisions on the day so you can relax. This is where a wedding co-ordinator or day of wedding co-ordinator would step in.

Pamper yourself – It’s time to book in for a massage, or some other type of treat for yourself. It’s your wedding week, it’s time to indulge yourself.

Good People – Surround yourself with good people. The type of people who will bring you good vibes, not stress.  If you have to deal with a family member who you know will stress you out, then be very selective with how much time you spend with them.

Set aside more time – Give yourself way more time than you think you’re going to need to complete errands, everything will seem to take much longer than you think, which will leave you running late, and thus stressed, something we are trying to eliminate remember.

Wedding Eve – Don’t go too hard the night before the wedding. It’s ok to have a celebratory drink with the girls, but you want to be waking up fresh faced and bushy tailed, not like a zombie, with dark circles and a monster headache.

Sleep – Make sure you are not burning the candle at both ends leading up to the wedding. There’s a reason it’s called ‘beauty sleep’

Wedding Day

Eat – Make sure you have something in your belly during the day, to stop you feeling faint, and the wine going straight to your head.

Exercise/Fresh Air – Go for a quick walk with the girls in the morning before breakfast.  Getting some fresh air will make you feel amazing.

Water – Make sure you are hydrated, especially if you’ve planned a outside summer wedding.

Mediation – If you’re a mediation fan, then this is the perfect time to practice a little quiet time to re-focus your mind and energy as you head into a full-on day.

Focus on what’s important – Make sure you take a little time on the morning, especially if you’re feeling stressed out, to focus on what’s important about the day.  That you are getting married to your soul mate, nothing else matters!

 

When to say no, when to compromise and when to go with the flow.

All you need is love and …to learn when to say no, when to compromise and when to go with the flow.

When I sat down to research and write this piece, it became apparent to me that the principles for the successful navigation of the wedding planning process and  successfully navigating marriage are quite similar. Although I have yet to find a need for a seating chart in my marriage, and 17 years in I don’t think there will ever be a need for one, so in that respect they are different. So while you are reading this piece, be mindful that you can take some of the advice and apply it to marriage as well as wedding planning.

Wedding planning is hard, this we know. In fact if anyone says to you “Oh I loved every minute of planning my wedding, it was all so much fun” they are lying. They are a big fat liar McLiarsons.

With my experience in the wedding industry, and the many articles I’ve read, blog posts I’ve perused and Facebook rants I’ve been privy to, the number one issue couples (well let’s be honest, mostly brides) have is every man and his dog seems to have an opinion on how you should plan your wedding.

So with that in mind I’ve put together some tips for how to handle those sticky situations and those well-meaning friends and family (who we know only want to help) during the wedding planning process.

Come up with a budget, and stick to it – When you first start planning your wedding, you need to sit down together and have a conversation about money (I know boring as hell, but so important) You both need to decide on how much you can realistically spend on your wedding day, and what type of wedding you want. Is it going to be all out, over the top, dream wedding, or maybe something a little more scaled back? This will help you make all the big decisions (venue, photographer etc) when you know exactly how much you’ve got to spend on each element. Having a set budget means that you also have a good excuse to say ‘no’ to suggestions “Sorry I really can’t incorporate those swans  you really want into the wedding Great Aunty Fanny. I can’t afford it!” Soz not soz!

Make sure you’re both on the same page – Make sure you both converse about what’s important to you for the big day. Are there some non-negotiable items that you must have or that are priorities to you? For example, he may be a big fan of a particular type of car and really want those as the wedding cars, where you couldn’t care less what type of cars you arrive in. So you budget for those cars, and if someone offers their opinion on another type of car, you can say ‘no’. If you are both on the same page you will be in a better position  when people start questioning or offering their opinions. You will know exactly what the other person thinks and wants and can stick together.

Make sure your partner will back you up – Weddings and wedding planning can bring out the worst in people. A lot of people in your lives will have set opinions, whether solicited or not, on your wedding plans. If you’ve already had the discussion about the budget and your priorities, then you’re in good shape.  You also need to know that your partner will back you up if/when you have to say ‘no’ to a suggestion. Also be aware that some people will go for  the “divide and conquer” technique, where they will offer their suggestion on you first and if you say ‘no’ then they will try your partner. But once again if you both know the plan and know that you both  have each other’s back then you’ll come out on top.

Stick up for what’s important to you – It’s your wedding day, you get to do it your way. If there is something that you really want (priorities and non-negotiable items) and someone questions your decision then make sure you stick up for what’s important.  You don’t want to look back on your wedding day with regret on something that you gave up to keep someone else happy.

Don’t be emotionally black-mailed, especially by family – Split families can be  a hotbed for emotional blackmail (the whole if he’s coming then I’m not type of childish behaviour, can rear it’s ugly head) Make sure all your family members know that you will not be held to ransom on your wedding day. Remind them that it is your day, and that they need to ‘pull their heads in’ and if they can’t then maybe they should not come.  You’ll find nine times out of ten, they will start behaving. No-one wants to miss a wedding.

Every-ones on the same page – If your parents or other relatives are financially contributing to the wedding then you need to have discussions at the beginning with them all about your plans. There can be times when their money will come with strings attached ( an example: if they are paying for flowers, then they want to pick the flowers) and if you’re all good with that, then great, if not then you need to discuss and come to a compromise. I know, maybe easier said than done, just make sure they know how much you appreciate their contribution, but, that you have your hearts set on your plans. And if they still won’t play ball, then you need to decide if the money they are contributing is  worth all the hassle.

What can you let go of – There may be times where you just need to let go of some of the control or your expectations and go with some-one else’s idea to keep the peace. But only if it’s something that is not one of your priorities. For example one bride let her mother in law choose and order the wedding favours, because it kept her involved (and happy) and it wasn’t really a priority for the bride. Win, win I say!

Remember what’s important -You love each other. You  are choosing to share your love story and commitment with your friends and family on your special day.

 

Letter to a bride on her wedding day.

All you need is love… and a letter full of marriage advice.

 

I have a niece who’s getting married, and that made me think about what advice I would give her (or any bride) about to embark on the road to marriage. I’m a huge advocate of marriage, I’m a wedding celebrant for petes sake. I adore seeing a couple flush with love, ready to embark on the next chapter of their lives as husband and wife, so I support marriage whole-heartedly, but I also know that it’s not always plain sailing. With that in mind I thought I would share some of my own thoughts on marriage (of course it’s not a ‘how-to’ guide to being married, because I have made my fair share of mistakes, just ask my patient husband) I’ve been married myself for 17 years, so while I haven’t made it to the 46 years of my in-laws, I think I have a reasonable grasp on the whole being married thing, and thought I’d share my musings.

It’s bloody hard work

and anyone who tells you it’s easy and they never fight, is lying!  And anyone who has been married to the same person for any length of time will probably agree with me.

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My wedding day 17 July 1999
  • You will love them, but may not like them all of the time. Yes of course you love them, but there will be times when they will annoy the crap out of you.  Times when you need to leave the house because you fear you may ‘accidentally’ stab them in the face with a fork.  And that’s OK. The leaving the house, not the stabbing them.
  • You will not agree with them all the time, but it is how you deal with a disagreement that  matters.
  • You will need to compromise, a lot. And that’s OK, as long as you’re both  getting some of the good stuff.
  • You will argue, a lot. But once again it is how you deal with the argument, and talk it through, and resolve it that matters. And ‘better living’ tip: you need to resolve the argument, otherwise it will continue to rear it’s ugly head sporadically. Of course not all arguments can be resolved over a cup of coffee, but you need to realise when you need a second opinion, or professional help.
  • You will both change.  Of course you will, you are not the same person you were 5/10 years ago, and neither is your husband, and you won’t be the same person in 5/10 years from now.
  • Communication, communication, communication. It is key, you need to keep talking.
  • There will be times when one of you is strong, and will need to take the lead, and the other is weak, and needs to be cared for, and then it will change.  Being married, in my opinion, means that you know the other person always has your back.
  • Kids will change everything.  Of course they will, how can they not. They come into your nice, settled, comfortable, disposable income filled life and turn it upside down. Don’t get me wrong I love our kid, but it can be very stressful and taxing on a relationship to have this other little person, who takes up so much of your time, money and attention.
  • Pick your battles. You’ll get sick of the sound of your own voice if you nag about everything that the other person does that drives you crazy. Just focus on the things that you can’t overlook. See the section on compromise.
  • You need to maintain your own life outside of the marriage.  It’s important to maintain friendships, hobbies, interests etc that are separate to your partner.  It helps keep your own identity, and gives you something to talk about at the end of the day.
  • Everyone brings baggage to the marriage. Everyone has a life before they get married, and depending on your past relationships and family dynamics, everyone has ‘stuff’ and it can be challenging to sort out how your new family is going to work.  Marriage is essentially asking two different people from different backgrounds to come together and live their lives together.  Of course it’s not going to be seamless.
  • Your marriage needs to be a priority in your life.  It is so easy to get complacent, and busy and not put the effort in.  But if you don’t tend to your marriage it will not work.
  • Marriage is not the same for everyone.  It is not a one size fits all.  You do not have to have a marriage like the Jones’s. You need to negotiate what works for you both, your happiness and your family. Marriage is not a noun, it is a verb, it is constant work, and change and discussion and negotiation.
  • There will be times when you think ‘what the hell have I done?’ but you work through it and come out the other side.
  • Marriage is awesome If you pick the right person, you will have a friend that you can laugh with, love with, have adventures with. Someone who will challenge you, help you to grow, and help make you a better version of yourself. 

I’m keen to hear what your advice to a bride on her wedding day would be.  Is there anything I missed?

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

People We Love: Debra Fallowfield Jeweller

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.

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Meet Debra Fallowfield Jeweller

Business Name: Debra Fallowfield Jeweller, owner of PRECIOUS by Debra Fallowfield in Port Chalmers, Dunedin.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business: Self confessed magpie – lover of shiny bright things.  I am what you would call a custom or bespoke jeweller. A bit like an Atelier, I pretty much make all my jewellery by hand to order.  My speciality is “one of a kind” engagement and wedding rings. I have a very distinctive style – which is totally unique compared to most of the jewellery you would find in an everyday jewellery store.

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I pride myself on good old fashioned customer service, with no pretensions.  Feel free to ask a million questions!

Choosing an engagement, wedding or commitment ring is a huge step to undertake and best done with a knowledgeable jeweller.  Having been in the industry for over 15 years you can have full trust in me for this precious task.  Custom work is all about you, so communication is essential.  My role is to make it all as easy and stress-free as possible.

Quick sketches are usually run up, options discussed (don’t worry if you’re out of town or even in another country, I work with clients worldwide) For grooms, I carry a cool dynamic range of men’s rings with the option of custominsing.

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What do you love about your job? I love what I do, because it’s very creative.

What do you do in your spare time, hobbies/interests? Spare time… what’s that???? I am booked up pretty much 12 months of the year for custom work.  Ok… in the very little spare time I have, FOOD, I love cooking, gardening, all things organic, sustainable-fashion, music, dance and travel (one day!)

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What one thing do you wish every wedding couple knew? That custom made rings are often less expensive than mass produced ones – AND the quality is far superior.

Any wedding trends you love, or would love to see disappear? Mason jars, meringue dresses, badly fitting suits, bands that play crappy 80’s music.

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Any great/interesting stories about working with a couple? I work with couples all over the world – from All Blacks (the biggest fingers I have ever seen) to Set Designers at Weta Workshop, wanting symbols they designed inscribed into the back of rings- or couples recycling Grand Mothers diamonds.  Every couple that comes to me has their own story and they want me to create their own heirlooms because they want something unique and special. You don’t get unique and special buying from Michael Hill or Pascoes.

What two pieces of advice would you give a couple planning their wedding? Plan ahead, shop around and ENJOY the time, from the planning to the day … oh, and relax.

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One insider tip to pass on? Your wedding is about you what YOU and your beloved want. It’s not about anyone else.

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The lovely lady behind the lovely jewellery – Debra Fallowfield.

If you loved reading about Debra and love her vibe you can contact her here:

Website: www.debrafallowfield.com

Facebook: Facebook/DFJeweller

Instragram: @debrafallowfieldjeweller