Monthly Archives: February 2012

Life Lessons

Now that a little time has passed since the death of my step father, I have been tempted to watch the dvd of the funeral. I have mentioned the funeral in a previous post. The chapel where his funeral was conducted recorded it and provided it. When we first received the copy I really wanted to watch it.  In a way I felt like I didn’t have a funeral, I didn’t get to sit and watch the slide-show, listen to my sister sing and cry. But then I realised that I would have to sit there and listen to my own voice and watch myself stumble on parts of the service that no one else but I know, that I delivered wrong.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve really been focusing on the things that he did in his life that I want to do. The things that he stood for that I want to stand for. The question is really how to translate those things into my life in order to be a better person, because he was such a significant part of my life. Most importantly, how to make myself more of the person that I would want to meet.

I’ve spent time reminiscing about funny things that he would do and say. Lately, he has come up a lot in conversation, in places that I might not expect. But he taught me so much about life. At the time I didn’t realise it and couldn’t appreciate properly the life lessons that he was teaching me without even realising that he was imparting these important lessons. Some of these lessons I adopted by watching him, and the way that he approached the things that happened in his life.

One thing that stands out to me is that we have no control over the way people respond to us, and as much as we want to, we have no control if they love or forgive us. No matter how much this breaks our heart we cannot change that. I saw this with my step father and some of his sons. I admit I don’t know, or want to know the pain that he may have caused them in their lives before he came into my life, but I certainly saw the tears that he shed over not having a relationship with them, and after reaching out and trying to make amends. I saw the relationship that he shares with 2 of his sons, and wish that the others could have given him a chance to show them some of the wonderful man that he was.

Another thing that he taught me is the real meaning of family. Your family are those that you love and those that love you in return. It doesn’t matter how much blood you share, it is what is in your heart.  His side of the family is complex. My husband took about 10 years to get his head around who was a half sister to who. There were a lot of questions like, “so that is your step-half cousin?” but in our family, family is just what we are, no half step cousins or step siblings for me, they are my cousin and brothers, that is it. It took me quite a long time to accept that they saw me as their family too, but there have been a number of moments that I felt true joy, when I realised that they looked upon me with the same love that I have for them.

He was an amazing man, who lived by example, he gave his love freely, to his family, his friends and to people that no- one else would love, or even speak to. He didn’t have a lot, but if someone needed something he would give it to them, or go without so that they wouldn’t.  If you would have asked him he would have told you that he wasn’t a book educated man, he was a man that learnt from the experience of life, lessons which he learned from and used to improve his life and himself. If there was only one life lesson that I could take from him, I think I would choose to learn from the things life deals you and make yourself better from it.

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The Wedding Process

Obviously most people start their wedding with a proposal, or the couple decide that they are going to get married. I have commonly found that  the question a lot of people ask when they  first meet up with me or call me up, is “what do we have to do next?” I think when a couple get engaged, it is a daunting time and there are so many things that you need to decide upon. As well as all of the questions from interested parties.

As far as the role that I play in a couples wedding, usually the first contact that I have with a couple is over the phone or by email.  Most people are checking on availability, and if I am free that day to perform the wedding.  I usually need to know the date, approximate time and where the wedding is likely to be performed. I then like to work out a time to meet. It is really important that the couple are happy with me being their celebrant. My part of their day is a really important one and people need to be comfortable with me and what I do.  I believe that although it is a small part of the day time wise, without the ceremony it is really just a big party. So meeting the couple is very important and gives me a chance to find out what the couple want and what sort of a day that they are looking at having. I like to find out how many attendants people are having and if there are any elements that they really want to have included in their special day.

One of the first things that needs to be done is for the couple to fill out their Notice of Intended Marriage. This is a very important piece of paperwork. It must be filled out at least 31 days before you wedding. It all  needs to be signed by the bride and groom, and you need to have originals of your full birth certificate to confirm who you are.

From there I start writing the ceremony. With some people I get them to fill out a questionnaire however some people don’t want to. Often it is because they know what they want in their wedding and what they want to say.  But I find the questions helpful, for personalising the ceremony and helping people with writing their own vows. This part of the process can take some time, most people read and edit drafts via email, although I’m quite happy to meet up if people have time or would like to discuss these things in person.

Usually a week before the wedding, or sometime close to the day we all get together for a rehearsal. We don’t go through the actual ceremony on this day (although the final draft must be completed by now)  it is just to make sure people know where they are standing on the day, to work out how long music needs to be played for when people are arriving and work out where to position the signing table.  Lots of little bugs get ironed out at this stage and it is a great time for all of the people involved in the ceremony to work out where they need to be and where readers fit into the ceremony. The rehearsal is a great time to fill out the last of the paperwork that is needed before the day, this is a declaration to say that there is no legal reason why the two of you cannot be married.

After all of that, I prepare all of the paperwork that is required on the day, after all of the certificates are completed we all wait for the exciting event.

On your big day I arrive at the venue about 30-45 minutes before the ceremony is due to start. I like to check that everything is in place and that the sound system (if one is being used) is working and ready to go.

After your wedding day, I lodge all of the paperwork with Births, Deaths and Marriages, some people think that it is just a half an hour job to do a wedding or 15 minutes if they want a quick ceremony. In reality there is much more to it than just the day. I believe it should a proper process, it should be the most personal, beautiful wedding that you have ever been too, and if your guests think so too then that is fantastic.

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Writing your own vows

One of my friends suggested that I write a blog about writing your own vows as it is one of those once in a lifetime opportunities that she felt she had missed out on. She was married overseas in a registry office style wedding where there are no changes that can be made, and no place to have input into the ceremony.

One thing that I really love about weddings is the vows, especially when couples put a lot of themselves into it. It is also something that I would have liked to have known more about when I got married myself.  The great thing about writing your own vows is that you can speak from your heart and in your own ‘voice’ to your partner. It is up to you whether you want to have long or short vows.

In accordance to the Australian law there are vows that you have to say when getting married in Australia by a marriage celebrant. This includes the process where you have to  ‘call upon all people present’ to witness that you  take your partner as your husband or wife. As long as you abide by the legal part, you can pretty much promise each other whatever you want.  There are not many components that you legally have to have in a wedding ceremony in Australia, but vows are one of them.

Some people are happy just to have what is legally required, but most people want to put something of themselves into it. I find that most of the time people don’t need too much help to get them started with this part. Sometimes just a few examples get people inspired, and some people have come up with some of the most beautiful promises.  A few couples that I have worked with who are not all that comfortable with writing it themselves have expressed to me generally what  they want said and I do the rest for them. That is the beautiful thing about writing ceremonies for each couple. Everyone’s vows are different because of the different things that people feel are important to them and their partner.

There are a number of things that I get people to think about when they are writing vows.  To aid in their inspiration I give them a list of questions to answer, some people actually answer them and other people just like to read the questions as a starting point as to what they would like to promise to one another. I like to ask things like, What does marriage mean for you as a couple?  What are the foundations that your marriage will be based on?  What is a stand out quality that you feel that your partner has? All of  these things and the answers that people give  help me and them to decide what sort of things that they want in their vows.  Not only do personalised vows mean a great deal to you and your partner but they are really nice for your friends and family who are there to witness your special day to hear too.

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Wedding locations

The place that you choose to get married is an important one and because of this there are quite of a few things that need to be considered. You can get married pretty much any where you want, on a vineyard, beach, park or even a hot air balloon.  Although I haven’t married someone in a hot air balloon, ………yet.

There are a few things that you need to work out. If it is a venue or a chapel, there may be time limits on how long the wedding ceremony can last. If there is going to be more weddings that day in the same venue you might want to find out if there is a chance that you or your guests may be leaving when another bridal party is arriving. It may also be of use to find out about confetti use, some venues charge you if you a fee for cleaning it up.

If you are thinking of getting married  in a beach or a park you need to look into getting a permit from the council, and depending where it is there are different types of permits depending on the amount of people and the amount of time you are going to be there.

You also might want to look at times that the sun sets, and even something like the tides if you are getting married on the beach. It is a good idea to check the location at the time that you would be getting married.  That way you can see where the sun will be in relation to where you are standing. You really don’t want to decide on where you will stand and then find that the sun will be in the eyes of your guests or in your eyes when you are trying to exchange your vows.

Another thing to consider is noise, such as how much noise will there be around there. If your wedding is going to be at a park, is it close to a main road? Or is there something that is going to make a noise at a certain time of the day, if the park is near a church and you are getting married on a Sunday are there church bells that will  ring? If  your wedding is on the beach is it in an area that has protection from the wind?

It is a good idea to have a back up plan too, especially if your wedding is in an area that has no undercover sections. Some parks may have a rotunda that could be used for the ceremony, but some people prefer to check with the location of the reception just incase the weather is not appropriate, or the day decides that it will be torrential rain. Otherwise  if it is going to be held at the outdoor location no matter what, depending on the season, it might be a good idea to put on your invitation, that if it looks like rain to bring an umbrella.

In order to make your wedding ceremony as seamless as possible it is important to think about the underlying factors, things that will not necessarily be noticed by your guests on the day, but will make things run smoothly and help you create the best possible wedding ceremony.

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