David and Evie: When forces greater than us take charge of your wedding!
I love the way the universe works! About 6 weeks ago I was at beautiful Secrets on the Lake in Montville for a wedding ceremony. I decided to have lunch with my bestie there beforehand and at the end of lunch, I took myself to the loo to get myself ‘wedding ready’ and joined the lineup (typical ladies’ toilet – am I right!?). Nec minute, this ball of sunshine walked in wearing a tiara and a sash declaring her the ‘bride to be’. Of course I struck up a conversation with her, and in no time we’re chatting like old friends about her wedding! I walked away after wishing her the most beautiful and amazing day ever – and I was thinking: “Geez, I should really be marrying this chick” because I recognised my tribe.
Fast forward to the next night, I’m Netflixing and my phone pings – I’ve been tagged in a post on the Sunshine Coast Community Facebook group. A poor bride was frantic because her wedding was in a fortnight and her celebrant had taken ill and had cancelled. I checked my diary and read the comments to thank those who’d tagged me, and I commented that yes, I could help … check out my website yada yada. I didn’t expect too much – usually these sorts of posts get heaps of recommendations for the seemingly 3 million celebrants currently servicing the Sunshine Coast.
And then, my phone pinged again. It was the stranded bride replying to me : “Oh my God, Lynette, I only just met you yesterday!”
Yes, you guessed it! She was the bride from Secrets!
Of course, Evie took it as a sign that I was definitely supposed to be her celebrant and I’m so glad she did! The next day we finalised the booking and the other celebrant who was ill, transferred the paperwork over in a smooth transition.
But there’s a backstory I wasn’t aware of then: It turns out that back in 2013, Evie and two friends gate crashed one of my Brisbane weddings, sat through the ceremony, drank the champagne, ate the canapes and enjoyed the company of the guests. They took a few selfies and were off again laughing all the way. Evie had remembered that ceremony and she’d loved it, but of course she had no idea how to contact me, or even what my name was, when she and David were looking for a celebrant. Fast forward several years later, a mutual acquaintance introduced us in Mooloolaba, and then fast forward again to Secrets where she was on a hen’s day wine tour – our paths crossed for the third time (unbeknownst to me).
Evie and David’s ceremony at home was just amazing in every way. I knew instinctively what they wanted and delivered a relaxed, personalised wedding, bantering with the guests, laughing with the couple and enjoying the whole thing. The wedding was supposed to be a surprise wedding under the guise of a combined birthday party, but it was soon apparent it was the worst kept secret on the Sunshine Coast. Having a home ceremony (surprise or not) really is setting the scene for a relaxed and fun affair because it evades the protocols that people expect from a wedding – the crowd were excited and enjoying every part of the ceremony.
Dave, Evie and I caught up again for a post wedding wine and we just couldn’t believe how the universe paved the way to put us together. I firmly believe that I’m at the weddings I’m supposed to be at, and when I met her at Secrets, I knew I should have been the celebrant. God, the angels, the unicorns or the fairies – whatever you believe – they had their hands firmly in control of Evie and David’s awesome wedding!
Matt and Elly: Three lots of vows and a game – a ceremony like no other
Matt and Elly are such a delightful couple who met in high school and who really dived deep into creating a truly personalised and authentic ceremony. They wrote three separate lots of vows for each other: I’ve included them below!
First, they wrote normal vows which were beautifully personalised , secondly, they wrote sneaky Ninja vows (where they write the last line/s of each other’s vows as a surprise – my couples love this and it’s usually cause for a good belly laugh because it can get quite competitive.)
Finally, their third lot of vows were combined vows or as I like to call them “tennis match” vows because the crowds heads move from right to left as they watch each person speak – as Elly and Matt took turns saying a line each. You could tell the couple really got into the whole wedding thing and they loved the Homework I send out to my couples – these combined vows evolved from the process of doing their homework. Again, a lot of fun and really quite unique!
And finally, check out the game we wrote for the guests. I asked everyone to stand and those who were already standing to put a hand up. As I asked questions, people were eliminated as they sat, until only two people were left standing (or with their hand up): our two witnesses. It was super cool!
Read them all below:
Elly, I dead set feel like the luckiest man in the world right now. The thought of sharing my life with you makes me so happy and excited.
You make every moment worth living. Your eyes light up my life and your smile melts my heart. So, standing here right now I promise to always make you smile, to make you laugh. To always be silly with you, and as we might grow older together to never grow up.
You continue to teach me so much about myself. To be truly mindful and thankful of this wonderful life we share with beautiful friends and family surrounding us. You show me how to find that little piece of good in every moment, to never dwell in any situation and to always be kind to myself and others. And for that I feel more alive than ever. So, I thank you so much for making me the best person I can be. For showing me a way of life that fills my heart with so much happiness and joy every single day. You are truly an inspiration to not only me but to everyone around you. Be proud of the person you are, because I know I am So I promise to trust you in all things, to support you as you follow your hopes and dreams, to remind you every day just how brave and beautiful you are!
I will hold you tight and never let go
We will face whatever life can throw at us, whether it’s good or bad, as a team and with a smile on our face or tears in our eyes.
I will follow you anywhere you want to go baby! It always leads to the best adventures.
I will cherish every single moment I have with you, as my Best friend, my lover and now my beautiful wife!
And I will love you more than I could ever put into words for the rest of my life.
Matt’s Ninja vows (written by Elly) Neither of them knew what they had to say til I handed them the paper on their wedding day.
I vow to work on my time management skills and to acknowledge that 20 minutes late is not on time.
I vow to relocate all of the spiders instead of squealing and making Elly do it.
I vow to have belly laughs and cheesy smiles together forever.
It seems like only yesterday that we were 15 years old writing love letters to one another from across the classroom. Just over thirteen years ago we held hands at the movies and that night you asked me to be your girlfriend. I said yes like you were asking me to marry you. Cringe-worthy high school sweethearts, we were.
I was on crutches at the time and you came over to my house every day. You teased me about not being able to ride my push bike or jump on the trampoline, but you made up for it by telling me that my scars made me look cool.
For the next two years of school you walked me home each day and we had so many adventures every afternoon. When it was time for you to ride your push bike home, we would say our ‘goodbyes’ and ‘I love yous’ as if it was the last time we would ever see each other. One night you were looking back with such an enormous cheesy smile, that when you turned around, you crashed straight into my parent’s mailbox.
We still laugh about that moment to this day.
Bodzy, I know that you’re my soul mate because here we are thirteen years later, still treating every moment together as though it’s our last.
You have always been clumsy, but I will never get sick of laughing at your stupid ideas and crazy mishaps.
I could write a novel on the belly laughs that we have shared together. Every so-called flaw that makes up you; the clumsiness, the forgetfulness and the lack of time management – none of them are actually flaws. When you’re clumsy, we have hilarious stories to tell, when you’re forgetful or late it’s because you’re spreading your positive vibes with the rest of the world. Every so-called imperfection makes up the perfect soul that you are, and you should be so proud of who you are, Matt.
The places that you have taken us with your “she’ll be rights”, cheesy grins and optimistic outlook are endless. Our life together is a constant adventure and you are forever teaching me to focus on the positive. Whether I’m covered in swamp water, the van is bogged up a four-wheel drive track in the middle of the dessert or we’re scrambling down a mountain in a hailstorm storm, you always find a way to make me smile, laugh and see the brighter side.
I still have the friendship ring that you gave me on our one-year anniversary. I look down at it often and it reminds me of your huge smile and how far we have grown together. It’s in the shape of a daisy chain, so I felt like it was perfect to have daisy chains on the straps on my wedding dress, it’s the simple things, right.
Thank you for showing me how to be the very best version of myself. You are the most kind, genuine, funny and easy going soul.
You are my best friend, my lover and my soul mate.
I love you xoxo…
Elly’s Ninja vows (written by Matt)
I promise to understand that your version of clean and my version of clean are completely different.
I promise to always do my downward dogs in a way that you can check out my ass.
I promise to never change the person I am, because I know in your eyes I am perfect.
COMBINED VOWS (which evolved from them responding to the homework I send out) – I call these tennis match vows
Matt I promise to always take you on adventures especially off the beaten track.
Elly I promise to always adventure with you, even if it leads us to being stranded off the beaten track.
Matt I promise to always be by your side and support anything you want to do, even if that’s taking jumping photos on the edge of the Grand Canyon.
Elly I promise to always be by your side and support anything you want to do, even if that’s fishing in croc infested rivers, scuba diving at night or surfing monster waves.
Matt I promise to always party with you and follow you into any mischief that finds us.
Elly I promise to always party with you and get you home safely even if that means hiding in a cemetery for a while.
Matt I promise to always look after you any time you fall into a swamp.
Elly I promise to always look after you any time you fall off of a balcony.
Matt I promise to always laugh at your clumsiness because we BOTH know that you’re the clumsier one.
Elly I promise to always laugh at your clumsiness because we ALL know that you’re the clumsiest one.
Matt I promise to always be patient with your constructive criticism when I’m driving.
Elly I promise to always be patient with your slow driving, even when you become an actual grandpa Bodz.
Matt I promise to always have fun with you and to never grow up, even as we grow old together.
Elly I promise to always have fun with you and to never grow up, even as we grow old together.
Matt I promise to always be your soul mate, lover and best friend no matter what comes our way.
Elly I promise to always be your soul mate, lover and best friend no matter what comes our way.
GAME: Questions to announce our 2 witnesses
Ask everyone to stand,and those already standing eg. bridal party to put their hands in the air.
As I asked each question, if yes, people in seats stay standing and people standing keep their hand in air.
If you’re under 60 years of age
If you have tattoos
If you have blue or green eyes
If you’re related to anybody here today
If you were born in WA or QLD
If your dad’s name starts with D
If you have a brother in the wedding party
This game worked a trick and was a really creative, fun and interactive way to get the guests involved in the ceremony.
No-one will ever forget this wedding – it was just amazing!
Jeremy and Rachael met 21 years ago when Rachael moved to Landsborough for her first year of high school. They first saw each other at ‘The Hero Stand’. (This is where they would catch the bus to and from Caloundra High School and also the local meeting place/hang out).
Jeremy thought Rachael was too pretty for someone like him (who was up to no good most of the time).
Rachael loved sitting at the hero stand watching Jeremy walk across the grass with his long dark hair sticking out from under his hat, she always thought he had gorgeous mysterious eyes and a cheeky Cheshire Cat grin.
The young people kept bumping into each other and eventually they started visiting each other and would spend hours sitting in their bedrooms (usually his), talking about deeper things than you would expect from most teenagers. Jeremy read to Rachael and they would share books like ‘The Celestine Prophecy ’. Rachael felt she saw a side of Jeremy that was hidden to the outside world and was intrigued and impressed by both his intelligence and spirituality.
Rachael moved back to the coast and the young couple started to date, though it was a lot harder to see each other. Jeremy would go into Caloundra to see Rachael and when he didn’t, Rachael raced home every day after school to call his house phone in the hope of catching him. He was a bit of an errant kid and usually hadn’t been seen in days, so Rach would just chat with his Mum. On weekends Rachael would catch the school bus back to Landsborough hoping to find him somewhere around town, or they would meet up at a party.
Eventually Jeremy broke up with Rachael: He thought she was too good for him and knew she deserved to be treated better. He didn’t really want to break up with her, and it was hard on everyone. Rachael’s heart broke and she felt like she wasn’t good enough. Jeremy knew she felt like this and it niggled his conscience from that moment.
As a young adult, Rachael moved away to Brisbane but would often drive back to the coast and would always detour through Landsborough, the Hero Stand, and past Jeremy’s family home to reminisce, and in the hope that she might catch sight of him somewhere. She never did. All she had were the memories of those eyes and that Cheshire smile.
Years later, Jeremy decided to find Rachael to apologise to her, and get closure.
By this time Rachael was married with 2 children and when Jeremy called, Rachael was closed off and distant (her husband sat right beside her) and the conversation was unnatural. Of course, Jeremy remembered a different girl and questioned if he’d even spoken to the same girl – and he still didn’t have closure.
From time to time Jeremy searched for Rachael on social media to no avail.
Years passed, and two more babies later, Rachael popped up on Facebook with her old last name (she had divorced). Jeremy found her and messaged her with “Hey, do you remember me?”… of course she did. She’d never forgotten him.
The pair finally became the couple they were destined to be, and four years later, I married them in a stunning ceremony at one of my favourite Sunshine Coast wedding venues, The Chapel, Montville. Check out the photos they had taken at the old hangout, the Hero Stand!
Jeremy still thinks Rachael’s too good for him, but he says, “I lost her once, I won’t lose her again.”
In 2020, I’ve been a Sunshine Coast marriage celebrant for 16 years and there’s not a lot that I haven’t seen or heard. I’ve signed the paperwork on boats, planes, cruise ships, rocks, motorbikes and horses’ butts. I’ve played dress up and loved cosplay weddings, learned scenes from movies (Think: The “Mawwiage” scene from Princess Bride), obliged when a couple asked if we could stand waist deep in the ocean for their ceremony … overall, I’ve enjoyed a pretty amazing career of awesome weddings.
Because I’m naturally creative, I’m always after new ways or ideas that will provide a point of difference for my couples. Many prefer the traditional stuff, but for those wanting something different, this blog shares some of these in the hope it will inspire you to think outside the box and really make your wedding your own.
1. Give your bouquet to the couple who have been married the longest
Have all the guests stand, ask those who have been married less than a day to sit (obviously the bridal couple), then ask those who’ve been married for less than a year to sit, then five years, then ten years and keep going until only one couple remain standing. (You might need to get down to months and days if there’s a few couples remaining standing). Then ask them what them what they think is the secret to the longevity in their marriage. After, give them your bridal bouquet as a congratulations.
2. Are you creatives? Have the guests paint your portrait
Get your favourite picture of the two of you and print it out to a size where it’s easy to see. Divide it into equal sized squares down and across. Supply paints, brushes, water and aprons and allocate a square to each guest (or couple). Your new portrait can pride of place in your home and will be a wonderful memory of your special day.
3. Get the groom to make an entrance!
Everyone expects a grand entrance from the bride, but what about the groom? Have him share in the fun but arriving in a helicopter (complete with James Bond music), a water ski, boat, horse and anything unique. I had a groom arrive on a tractor for a country wedding.
4. Games at the reception
Create your own quiz about your relationship, have the Best man read the quiz questions and pit the tables against each other to see who wins.
5. Design your own cocktail
Create your own cocktail, name it and serve it at the reception.
6. Hire a local artist to paint your ceremony while it’s happening – what a fabulous way to remember your day.
7. Donate to a charity
Rather than giving favours to guests as a thank you, leave them a note saying you’ve made a donation to a charity on their behalf (A charity idea: www.myweddingwish.org an Australian charity that gifts weddings to couples with terminal illnesses).
8. Are you having a photobooth?
Send guests their photos with your thank you card. It’ll put a smile on their dial!
9. Want an alternative to the 3-course meal and alternate drop?
Have the food prepped and delivered to the tables so the guests can serve themselves creating a more intimate dining experience.
10. Want all the guests dancing?
When you send their wedding invitation, ask guests what songs would get them up on the dance floor. Then give the list to your DJ to play to ensure everyone dances.
Got any awesome creative ideas for your wedding or reception? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.
Well, that went fast. I’m sitting here at my computer reflecting on the year that was 2019 in all it’s beauty and all it’s rawness. Reading through my wedding schedule and remembering each ceremony and each couple and I can honestly say they were all absolutely fabulous. That’s why I love being a marriage celebrant: I spend my time with beautiful couples at the most joyous time of their lives. That’s called winning at life!
In 2019, through my business Elope to Australia I added a new product to my range catering for couples who want to marry without all the fuss and cost. My legals-only coffee table ceremony days, where couples marry in a no stress, simple ceremony for only $450 have been super-popular! I knew they would be. Perfect for those couples who couldn’t be bothered with wedding planning, the stupid costs, and the stress. They’re also popular if you’re planning on getting married in another country (think Bali for instance), but want the legal stuff kept in Australia. So many couples said they didn’t know this was an option. Well now there is.
Couples book a 30 minute time slot, come to the agreed venue on the agreed date and WHAM: married! How simple!
I have several of these days booked in for 2020, but if the dates I’ve picked don’t suit, you can pick your own date for just a small extra cost. The beauty is that you can still pimp it up and wear a wedding gown, say vows, exchange rings and have up to 8 guests. So the legals-only weddings are a perfect way to marry on the Sunshine Coast.
HINT: (If I get enough inquiries I’m happy to arrange these days in other parts of Queensland and Australia – just ask!)
I’ve conducted more funerals than in previous years – a heart wrenching time for the families left behind, but it’s always a real honour. Two funeral ceremonies that come to mind were for young women who both died from cancer – both had over 300 guests attending to pay tribute. Being told by family that the ceremony was ‘just perfect’ always gives me a thrill and I just love seeing big funerals – it shows that there is love in life, and love still, in death.
Ken and I were blessed to have two overseas holidays this year: a month in the US and Canada, then two weeks in New Zealand and we just loved every second. Bring on more travel in 2020! And more weddings with more fabulous couples.
I wish you an amazing 2020 and hope it brings you the joy you deserve.