View from the front.

All you need is love and … what the celebrant sees.

As a marriage celebrant I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of many weddings, and it is always an absolute honour and privilege to be present and to guide a couple into married life.  All the weddings have of course been different, some have been big affairs with hundreds of guests in castles, and some have been very intimate, with only a few guests, on the beach.  One of the things they all have in common is the feeling of love and happiness that hangs in the air and surrounds the couple, it’s quite magical to witness.

Lately I have  been open and aware to experiencing and noticing the different ‘looks’ that you always see at a wedding, whether it’s big, small, on the beach or in a church.

Leah and Keirin pic by SVZ photography

Look 1 – This is the look that is exchanged between the groom and a flower girl and or ringbearer, especially if said flower girl/ring bearer is their own child.  This is a look of pride ‘that’s my kid’ normally the child is nervous and a little shy, but once they see their dad at the end of the aisle all that disappears and they break out in a smile.

Look 2 – This is the look exchanged between the bridesmaid and the groom.  Normally its a full on smile because she knows how fantastic the bride looks and knows how nervous the groom is and wants to reassure him ‘it’s going to be ok, and just wait till you see her.

Look 3 – The father/mother of the bride as they escort the bride down the aisle.  This look is pure joy, they are so proud to be able to escort her to her awaiting groom, sometimes a little sadness (their little girl is growing up) but normally big smiles.

Look 4 – That magical moment when the groom sees his bride walking towards him, sometimes there are tears, but in all the weddings I’ve been part of there has been a huge smile, a ‘she looks stunning, I can’t believe she’s marrying me’ type of look.  Its magic and one of the best parts of the ceremony.

Look 5 – When the couple are finally standing in front of each other at the altar, shes given her flowers to her bridesmaid, the music has faded down, they are holding hands and we’re ready to start.  When they get to look each other in the eye and know that their lives are about to change forever.  Usually it’s a giant smile, a little trepidation, and sometimes the giggles come out.

Amber and Jeff pic by lisa reid photography

Look 6 – One of my favourite parts of my job is to witness the little things that make a couple, a couple. I usually suggest a couple hold hands during their ceremony. Some don’t but most do. And I think those that do love that feeling of contentment they get when they hold the others hand, almost a “OK I can do this now!” it seems to help with the nerves. I love it when I look down at them holding hands and one of them in gently stroking the others hands with their thumbs, it’s such an intimate and loving action to perform to re-assure the other “don’t be nervous, it’s just me you’re talking to”

Look 7 – During the ceremony I suggest to the parents that they sit on the opposite side to their child, that way they get to look at their own child’s face during the ceremony.  When I am performing a ceremony I look into the faces of the guests and I always see a look of pride and absolute love on the parents faces as they witness their child getting married.

Emma and Malcolm Pic by Wedding by Melt photography

Look 8 – This is not always a look but more of a conversation, after I pronounce a couple married and they share their first kiss, we then step to the side and sign the marriage licence, this is normally the first time a couple have had a chance to speak privately to each other on the day, and usually it’s a ‘you look stunning/beautiful/pretty’ type of conversation.  It’s always lovely to see a couple standing together, arms wrapped around each other, normally a bit relieved because the ceremony is out of the way and they can now get to the party section of the day, just enjoying the fact that they are surrrounded by their favourite people on such a magical day.

These looks are the kind of things that absolutely make me love my job.  The fact that I get to witness these types of looks, emotions, love, tears, declarations and laughter and see couples who are pledging to love and care for each other all their days, it absolutely makes my heart sing.

Real Life Wedding – Helena and Michael

ringsAll you need is love and … a real life wedding.


Helena and Michael

16 – 3 – 2013

Port Chalmers Town Hall, Dunedin, New Zealand

Wedding Dress: Bought Online – I did have some issues with the dress not being entirely the same as the picture on the internet site, and the flowers, one of the features I especially loved about the dress, needed to be re-made by a seamstress before being refastened to the dress.


Bridesmaid Dresses: EziBuy

Photographer: Robert Jones

Hair: Petrina McFarlane  MakeUp: Lisa Leslie


Grooms Attire: Volcom Stone Suit (Pinstripe)

Shoes: No 1 Shoes

Celebrant: Grace Ockwell


Flowers: Artificial (Black with a  diamante pin)

Cake: Stir Cupcakes, choc and red vanilla cupcakes


Catering: Just Essence

Best part of the day: Exchanging the wedding vows. As well as exchanging wedding vows between the two of us, Michael also presented Catie with a special signet ring and made some promises to her, she didn’t know what he had prepared so that made it extra special to both her and I. There wasn’t a dry eye among the guests at that stage of the ceremony. Definitely a special moment among the three of us.


Anything you would do differently: Video the day.

Ideas, Inspiration: Bridal Magazines, Internet, Pinterest.


Colours: Black and White (Michael’s sports team colours)

How did you pick your wedding party: Sisters and close friends.


Best piece of advice: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t try and keep everyone happy, you won’t.  It’s your day so don’t worry who’s toes you might step on

Tips for brides: Do everything, as much as you can online! Bargain hunt (shop around) Enjoy the day, because it’s over in a flash.  Don’t focus all your energy on the wedding day, it’s only one day, the marriage is for the rest of your life.  Get plenty of sleep the night before.


Anything that didn’t go according to plan: the boys got lost on the way to the photo location, and the fridge broke down at the reception.  Was definitely the best day ever.

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 … a wedding day emergency kit.

All you need is love and … a wedding day emergency kit.

If only these were real, everything you need in one handy place.                      Essential wedding day swiss army knife

Sometimes things don’t always go according to plan.  That’s why you pack an emergency wedding day kit.  Sometimes the sh*t hits the fan and you need something to wipe it off you to get on with the day.  I’ve compiled a list of what I think are the wedding day essentials.

Panadol (or other pain relief)

Band Aids ( clear, not novelty, no one wants to get married with a batman bandaid)

Breath mints (for that all important first kiss)

Cash (just a small amount, you never know)

Chalk (it covers up last minute wedding dress smudges)


Safety pins

Dental Floss

Hairclips/ Hair spray

Wet Ones (or even better a travel pack of baby wipes, they get everything clean)

Make up (for touch ups, you make up artist should give you what you need for the day)

Needle/thread (or a small sewing kits)

Lint roller (no one wants to walk down the aisle with cat fur on their dress)

Nail file/Hand cream

Tape (I find duct tape fixes everything)

Rescue Remedy (to calm those nerves)

Tissues and cotton buds


Some sort of snack (muesli bars – not the choc kind, raisins, dried fruit etc) to keep the energy up, you often forget to eat when getting ready

Sunblock (especially for an outside event)

Water bottle with straw (very important to stay hydrated)

Obviously there are a lot more things that could go on the list, but I think this list covers all the basics.

There are a lot of places where you can buy these already made up and packaged in beautiful bags ready to go, or you can definitely DIY it yourself.

Bridal Emergency Kit Wedding Day Survival, Bride Wife Fiance Gift, Note Card for Groom, Bridesmaids, Couples Bridal Shower, Congratulations

CloverKit wedding day emergency kit

This great kit is available from CloverKit on Etsy

Make it the responsibility of the maid of honour to have  the bag in the car on the way to the venue and then again after the ceremony available on the way to photos and to stash it somewhere discreet at the venue so all the bridal party know where it is if it’s needed. It’s one of those things that you hope you’re not going to need, kinda like car insurance, but you’re glad you have it, if something happens.

All you need is love and …

All you need is love and a great hen’s night.

Hen’s nights are a rite of passage for a bride.  They can also be very loud, expensive and boozy, which is great if that’s what the bride wants, but can be absolutely hell if it’s not.

If you’re the maid of honour or a bridesmaid and have been given the task of organising the hens night, there’s a few things to keep in mind when you start planning.

Pick a budget that suits most people, no point choosing a weekend away at a 5 star hotel if no one can actually afford to share in the celebration. Remember you do not have to foot the bill for the whole affair, work out how much each person has to pay and stick to that, most guests will be happy to chip in for the event to honour the bride.

Make sure you ask the bride what she wants to do. It’s quite risky to guess and just surprise her.  Your idea and her idea may be way off, and you really want the bride to enjoy herself.

Check with her about what she’s happy to have happen at the event. You don’t want to be buying penis shaped necklaces if the idea absolutely makes her cringe. Check if she is happy with a prop for the evening, to distinguish her as the hen, she may not want to wear a veil and sash, but may be happy with something more tasteful like a tiara. Remember it’s her hen’s night, you need to make sure she has a great night.

There’s a ton of ideas for things to do

  • Weekend away, could be a 5 star hotel or a camping trip
  • Spa day, choose her favourite spa, and book everyone in for some pampering.  There are even mobile spa’s who come to your home.
  • Wine Tasting/Wine trail, if you live in an area where you can visit more than one vineyard, you could make a day of it, and have a lunch at a vineyard restaurant.
  • Cocktail party, hire a bartender for the night to make different cocktails. A great chance for everyone to dress up and pretend to be in “Sex in the City”.
  • Dance lesson, maybe a salsa class, or belly dancing or burlesque or pole dancing.
  • Sex toy party, get your giggle on, and maybe stock the bride up for the honeymoon.
  • Hire a private chef and host a black tie dinner party.
  • Vintage High Tea, you can book into some restaurants for this or organise it at home, think vintage china, cucumber sandwiches, mini cakes.
  • Paintball, skydiving, bungy jumping for the more adventurous bride.
  • Pottery/ceramic painting.  There are venues where you can go,have  a lesson and make your own pottery and/or paint some ceramic and they fire it for you to pick up at a later date.
  • Hire a room/suite at a 5 star hotel for the night, and go out for a night on the town, then all stay the night together, kind of like a flash pajama party.

A hen’s night is about the bride coming together with her female friends to celebrate the transition from single to married, it is a chance to reflect on your relationships and for a bride’s friends to support her at this special time.