10 questions to help choose your celebrant before you book

Looking for a marriage celebrant and not sure what questions to ask?  Check out my hints to ensure you’re asking the right questions so that you choose your celebrant to make your wedding day perfect:

  1. How long have you been registered as a marriage celebrant?

Does it matter how long someone’s been registered as a marriage celebrant?  Well that depends.  If they’re newbies (and there’s nothing wrong with that – we all started somewhere), they won’t have the wealth of experience that a more experienced celebrant will have.  After a while you learn to think on your feet and know the best way to handle issues that might arise.  If you’re keen on a newer celebrant, you may be able to negotiate their cost down which is a bonus.

Love rules
Emily and Naomi – legally married in 2018 after their original commitment ceremony in 2014
  1. How many weddings have you performed?

This question is important because let’s say the celebrant has been registered for five years and they’re done 50 weddings, that means they’re averaging 10 weddings a year, which in turn assumes that they are a hobby celebrant rather than a professional celebrant.  Does that matter?  Well, that’s up to you.  Hobby celebrants are usually cheaper.  As a benchmark, the average celebrant does about 5 – 10 weddings per year while professional celebrants can do anywhere up to 150 per annum and this equates to a big difference in experience levels.

At the always fabulous Yandina Station, Rani and Luke wanted a natural stylish and elegant wedding
  1. How much do you charge as a marriage celebrant and what does it include?

Please never choose a celebrant on price alone!  Trust me, that’s fraught with danger.  There are basically three price ranges for marriage celebrants (though this is generalised to the Sunshine Coast and obviously changes according to different regions):

Up to $450 :  The lower end of the market – be careful how you choose your celebrant, don’t do it just based on price

$500 – $750:  What most marriage celebrants charge

$800 +  :  The high end of the market and usually an indicator that you’re dealing with a professional marriage celebrant (as in this is their main source of income)

But there’s other things to consider beside price.  For instance, you might find an absolute gem that ticks all your boxes for $450, or you might hire a dud when you’ve paid over $1000 (I’ve heard horror stories!)  Paying a lot does not guarantee a fabulous celebrant.  Do your homework on the celebrant’s you’re interested in and listen to your gut instinct – that’s what it’s there for.  I use gut instinct too, and because of it, have knocked back couples that I got queasy tummy flips.  Ain’t no-body got time fo dat!

There were almost tears of laughter with these two!
  1. What’s your natural style as a celebrant?

Trying to be someone you’re not will make for a very inauthentic ceremony, and no-one wants that.  Be clear on what style of wedding ceremony you want: romantic, emotional, quirky, hilarious, traditional – they all require different personalities.  Try to find out the true personality of your celebrant and make sure you ‘click’.  You can do your homework in other ways, for example check the photographs they use to advertise.  Most of my photos are of the couple, their wedding party and guests laughing because that reflects my natural style of ceremony.  The other thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of people think that couples want all the gooey feely stuff which is just not true, so there’s a little bit of acting in this business!

Gorgeousness at Sunshine Castle set the vibe for an amazing princess style wedding
  1. What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you at a wedding?

This is where question 1. becomes important.   “What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you at a wedding?” is a pretty common question and I’ve got a few hilarious responses which I respond with (seriously, I should right a book).  Not everything always goes smoothly and it’s the way your wedding suppliers deal with what goes wrong that separates the wheat from the chaff.   To be more precise, you could ask about your personal ‘worst fear’ at your wedding and ask that, eg. “What if it buckets down half-way through my ceremony?”, or “What if someone has a medical issue during my ceremony?”  You’ll quickly get an idea of how your celebrant will react and whether you’d be happy with the reaction.   Whatever their response is, it will help you choose your celebrant.

This Tree – that is all … absolutely fabulous wedding with so much wonderful
  1. As a celebrant do you book more than one ceremony per day?

Some celebrants guarantee they only do one wedding a day and it really amuses me.  You don’t need to be an administrative genius to work out the paperwork of more than one ceremony, but what your celebrant should do if she does more than one ceremony a day, is work out the time allowed for each wedding and the time between ceremonies that will ensure there’s plenty of time to cater to those things that can go wrong: traffic jams, accidents, etc.   Let your celebrant know that if they do book another wedding on your day that you’d like to be notified so you can figure out if you’re comfortable with the timing and perhaps pre-negotiate a refund or partial refund when you originally chat to them.  They might say no, but there’s no harm in trying.

The rings are in the piniata – an action-packed wedding at Beerwah Hideaway
  1. Eeeek … I need help with vows!

Most couples are clueless when it comes to writing their own vows and it’s important that you feel supported by your celebrant and will be able to ask for help or be given some resources to help.   I have a stop by stop process that’s almost foolproof – check that your celebrant does too.

HINT!! Design your ceremony so you have as much fun or as much seriousness as what you want. Your vows should also reflect this.
  1. What’s happens if I’m late?

I have a late fee so my couples are rarely late.  Some celebrants don’t.  It’s good to know what you’re signing up for and if you plan your day carefully, you should be okay.  If you’re going to be late, please let the celebrant know as soon as you can, and they’ll advise the guests and other wedding suppliers.  (Try not to be more than 10 minutes late though, it’s pretty rude).

Booking the right celebrant will ensure your day is perfect!
  1. I’d like to have a beer/champagne before the wedding, as a celebrant, are you okay with that?

The law says that you can’t be intoxicated because you’re signing a legal document.  Some celebrants don’t mind you having one or two drinks before you get married, other celebrants will refuse to marry you, and will go away for a few hours until you’ve ‘sobered up’.  Check each celebrant’s rules on this.  Because everyone is different with their response to alcohol I tell my couples if they can legally drive a car, they can legally sign the paperwork.

A gorgeous elopement at Twin Waters Beach
  1. What happens if the celebrant can’t make it on the day?

A professional celebrant will have a strong network of ‘locum celebrants’ so if something goes wrong, they can easily call a backup.  Check that the celebrants you’re chatting to have this.   Also, check the reviews of the celebrants you’re keen to talk to, there are a few who take multiple bookings on the same day and time, and then eventually ‘pick’ the one they most want to do, leaving couples scrambling and panicked.  (This is across the board for wedding suppliers, eg. a venue may do this, preferring a wedding of 100 guests, rather than a booking for 40).

If you can’t have fun at your own wedding, than when can you have fun?

Lynette Maguire is a popular marriage celebrant on the Sunshine Coast, and has just about seen and heard it all when it comes to weddings in south-east Queensland.

6 vow writing tips to honour your relationship

I love great marriage vows! 

Amazing wedding vows capture each couple’s uniqueness; honouring each individual, and the relationship all while capturing the humour that every relationship has.

I call them kick-arse vows!

But I also love vows that mean something!  So, I did some research into what behaviours and emotions make for successful marriages and thought it might be fun to come up with some wedding vows based on these insights.  Obviously I have a lot of couples ask me how to write wedding vows, so here we go:

  1. Gratitude: Let your partner know that you’re grateful to have them in your life.

Saying something about how grateful you are makes your partner feel appreciated, which in turn makes them happy, and bonus, they’ll become more grateful that you’re in their life – so it’ll create a nice little loved up cycle.  When we’re expressing gratitude, we’re also expressing appreciation so we can’t ever take each other for granted.  An example wedding vow might go like this:

“I’m so grateful to have you in my life, and I promise I’ll show you every day just how lucky I feel that we’re doing life together.”

Gratitude
Mention that you’ll always be grateful for having your partner in your life
  1. Commitment: Add in a line that says you’re committed to that person and the marriage.

We all know there’ll be times that aren’t all glowy and gorgeous.  Sometimes life throws some curve balls at us, and when we have a committed outlook, it means we’ll be there for the good, the bad and the ugly times.  If you both have this outlook, you’ll work on seeing each other as part of a united team, committed to each other’s well-being.  This actually creates an ‘us against the issue’ mentality, rather than a ‘you against me’ mentality.  A sample of this commitment in your wedding vows could be:

“I promise to stand by your side, shoulder to shoulder through all that life may throw at us, the good, the bad and the ugly.  Together, we make an amazing team.”

Commitment
Promise that you stay committed to each other through the good times and the bad
  1. Future Planning: Write something about the growth of you both as individuals, and your relationship.

Marriage is mostly about the future planning and promising to keep the love and excitement alive by date nights, travelling and enjoying new experiences will mean that the relationship won’t fall into a rut.  When couples engage in interesting things together, research shows they’re happier!   Expressing this in your marriage vows is as simple as this:

“I promise to keep our love and passion alive and will continue to surprise and challenge you in all our adventures together.”

Future Planning
Promise to keep the relationship alive
  1. Support: Tell your partner that you’re their safe haven through the good and bad times.

This is all about being the other person’s ‘person’ and revolves around being a positive attachment figure for each other; someone we can always rely on for support when we’re upset and when we’re happy.  Whatever you do, you know your partner will have your back, even during those times you do make mistakes.   Writing wedding vows about your support might look like this:

“In marrying you today, I’m committing that whatever challenges you face, I’ll be your soft place to fall.  I’ve got your back!”

Support
I will always be your safe place to fall
  1. Autonomy: Individuality within any relationship is also super important

When we’re guilted or pressured into making decisions our autonomy is lost, and research shows that we don’t like that! When we don’t really have a choice, we’re less fulfilled and less happy.  So yes, you’re a fabulous couple, but respecting each other’s individuality will give us more joy in our marriage.

“I promise to honour your decisions and choices, loving and respecting you as an individual, as I know you will for me.”

Individuality
I love who you are
  1. Positivity: Let your partner know that you see them in a positive light, now and in the future.

No-one’s perfect, but if you focus of the other person’s flaws, chances are things might not go to well for the longevity of your relationship – tell your partner you’ll respect and appreciate them; having this positive attitude will lead to greater relationship satisfaction.  Letting your partner know that they have your support as they grow and try to improve themselves is beneficial to your marriage.

 “I promise to always respect and admire you, loving and adoring the man you are today, and the man you’ll become in the future.”

Positivity
Focus on your partner’s good points

 

Lynette Maguire is a popular marriage celebrant based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.  Lynette is also founder of national charity My Wedding Wish, gifting weddings to couples where one or both has a terminal or life limiting illness.

 

The four predictors of marriage success or failure

The four predictors of marriage success or failure

In my last blog The major negative behaviour that predicts the end of your marriage’  I spoke about the fascinating research by Dr John Gottman who claims he can predict the success or failure of a marriage with over 90% accuracy.  The negative behaviours which are deemed to be predictors to marriage success or failure are stonewalling, defensiveness, contempt and criticism.

My last blog touched on Contempt (the biggest badie), but what about the three others?  Let unpack them here:

Stonewalling

Gottman studied the behaviours which can predict marriage success or failure

Stonewalling is when one party dismisses the other party.  I know this firsthand because my first husband was a Grade A stonewaller and it drove me nuts.  When I’d approach him about something I wanted to talk about, I’d invariably be met with “Don’t start on me now,”  if he sensed the subject might be controversial, have something to do with feelings or discussing problems, or hold him in a not so great light.  Eventually, he needn’t have worried because I just stopped talking at all.

Men stonewall more than women, withdrawing from the interaction, closing into themselves and shutting down.  They build an emotional wall between themselves and their partner and that’s not healthy.

However, when women stonewall, it’s a big predictor of divorce.

Defensiveness

Defensiveness
Being defensive might be damaging your relationship

Gottman defines defensiveness as, “self-protection in the form of righteous indignation or innocent victimhood in an attempt to ward off a perceived attack.”

Thanks to Only You Forever (https://www.onlyyouforever.com/defensiveness-in-marriage/ Here are some sure-fire ways to put your spouse into a defensive mindset:

    1. Use words or tone of voice that evaluates or judges the listener (“I see you are on your phone…again”)
    2. Attempt to control or coerce the listener (“If you don’t put that down I am going to freak on you.”)
    3. Strategic or manipulative communication (targeting, needling or guilting over it)
    4. Neutral speech that conveys a lack of concern (#hairflip you’re on your phone again)
    5. Implications of superiority
    6. Dogmatism or certainty in your own opinion
    7. Any behavior that your spouse deems threatening or punishing
    8. Loud or rapid speech
    9. Frequent interruptions or corrections

Criticism

Nobody likes criticism

Criticism which is meant to make your partner feels rejected, hurt or small is toxic to a loved-up relationship.  Criticism is not to be confused with constructive criticism which doesn’t attack someone’s character but rather focuses on specific behaviours.

Constant criticism is a major predictor of divorce because it’s difficult to be around someone who is always pointing out your flaws and shortcomings.  Over time, unconstructive criticism such as critiquing, disapproval, nitpicking and blaming erodes away any healthy areas of any relationship.

Dr Jessica Higgins offers ‘10 signs that you might be too critical in a relationship’:

  1. You are very critical of yourself when you make a mistake (i.e. what do you automatically tell yourself when you make a mistake?). If you are highly critical with yourself, then you are probably highly critical of others.
  2. Your parents were highly critical and/or had high expectations.
  3. You tend to be a perfectionist.
  4. You tend to offer editorial commentary on others appearance, home, and choices.
  5. Your loved ones tell you that you are critical.
  6. You are easily offended and insulted.
  7. It is easier to find fault than praise. You will find the flaw rather than the positive.
  8. Even if your partner does 90% of a task, you focus on the 10% that is incomplete. You get preoccupied with how your partner didn’t complete the task to your liking, and you forget to focus on the value of your partner’s effort and help.
  9. You micromanage. You have a hard time letting go. If your partner didn’t complete a task in your preferred way, you will go afterward and fix it to your liking.
  10. You tend to view others’ mannerisms and behavior as negative. As Steven Stosny jokes in his article about criticism, people will say  “I give feedback; you’re critical. I’m firm; you’re stubborn. I’m flexible; you’re wishy-washy. I’m in touch with my feelings; you’re hysterical!”

If you recognise you or your partner in any of these four negative behaviours, you might want to think about working on it either by yourselves, (hey, recognising behaviour is the first step, right!) or head to a marriage counsellor.  I know heaps, so shoot me an email and I’ll recommend someone fabulous.  Sometimes it helps to have a third person who’s objective to point out behaviours which we’re not aware of and if we open ourselves to help, we might just save our marriage = worth it!

Together and in love! Just the way we like it

Dr Lynette Maguire is a popular Marriage Celebrant on the Sunshine Coast, who is fascinated with people and behaviours which prompted her attaining her first degree majoring in Psychology.

Wedding Celebrant Sunshine Coast
Sunshine Coast Marriage Celebrant, Lynette Maguire

The one negative behaviour that predicts the end of your happy marriage

Marriage takes work

There’s an art to creating and maintaining a happy marriage. Did you know that there’s been research conducted about the four behaviours which will determine the success or failure of a marriage (or, I’d hazard to guess, any relationship).

Just four behaviours! Any idea what they might be? What behaviour does your partner exhibit that triggers you? Or, perhaps look back at a past relationship; what behaviours brought down that relationship – not necessarily from your partner (they aren’t always the bad guys); what about your own behaviours?

 

Be aware of words and behaviours
Do you or your partner display any of these negative behaviours?

Dr John Gottman who researches marital stability and divorce prediction, claims he can pick those relationships which will end up in divorce with a 90% accuracy!

Wow! Why don’t we know about this?

As a marriage celebrant of 15 years, I’ve met literally thousands of couples, most of whom I’ve had good feelings about, but some of whom have triggered a gut-wrenching uneasiness. Funnily though, whether I knock the booking back or accept it, I can look back and find I was intuitively picking up the signs of marriage failure or success even before I learned about these four behaviours.

Okay, okay, I’ll stop with the suspense!

Has contempt crept into your relationship?
There are four negative behaviours which can impact the success or failure of our relationships

Four negative behaviours we need to watch out for

After watching hundreds of couples argue, Gottman found that the four predictors of failure in a marriage are contempt, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling.

The nastiest of these negative communication patterns in a marriage? Contempt.

So, what does contempt look like? It’s mocking and treating your partner with disrespect. Eyerolling, hostile humour, name-calling, sneering … I’m sure you get the picture. These not so nice behaviours leave us feeling unloved and pained.

Don’t despair!

If you recognise your relationship here, don’t despair! There’s still hope. Dr Gottman’s ability to predict divorce is contingent upon these negative behaviours not ever changing, so there’s time to change this around by working together on your “we-ness” – your connectedness.

Remember back to when you first met! You adored each other, right?  Work on getting that back.

Look at each other with rose-coloured glasses – be each other’s biggest fan and in doing so you’ll be creating a culture of appreciation and respect. If contempt has crept into your relationship, it’s a tell-tale sign that the culture of your relationship is no longer positive and nurturing.  In fact, your relationship might be on pretty unstable grounds.

If there's contempt in your relationship, you need to work fast!
Work on creating a more positive marriage culture

So, rather than looking for things to pick on, look for the positives: Catch your partner doing something good. Tell them you appreciate them. Thank them. Hug more. Touch more. Laugh more. Approach your relationship as bipartisan rather than oppositional.

In making a concerted effort to create a more positive marriage culture, you’ll both be happier and your relationship will blossom again.

Find out more

I’ll post about the other three behaviours soon.  Follow me to find out more!

Wedding Celebrant Sunshine Coast
Sunshine Coast Marriage Celebrant,  Dr Lynette Maguire

About Dr Lynette Maguire:
Dr Lynette Maguire is a popular Marriage Celebrant on the Sunshine Coast, who is fascinated with people and behaviours prompting her to attain her first University degree majoring in Psychology (2010). Lynette has been a marriage celebrant for 15 years and is known for her genuine, high energy and fun, modern ceremonies.

How not to have a crumby day when the cake gets dropped

You can spend months and even years planning the most important day of your lives.  The fine details, the broad details, and all the details in between.  The thing is though – sometimes shit just happens!  But it’s how you deal with it that will make the difference between a brilliant day and one you’re remembering for all the wrong reasons.

I’ll give you an example.  Beautiful couple Jess and Chris have been together for 8 years: they’re happy, vivacious and a pleasure to be around.  I really loved being their celebrant – they were like my perfect couple.  I remember telling them that because they have such a great attitude about their wedding (something like: whatever goes wrong on the day won’t diminish the eye on the prize mentality, that is, they’ll be married!).

As the lead up to the wedding went smoothly, their big day arrived.  The styling was set up and looked pretty when I arrived.  The musician arrived.  Guests started arriving.

Unbeknownst to any of us the cake lady was on the phone to Jess saying she’d just dropped the cake and it was ruined.

There would be no cake, and therefore no dessert.  Eeek!

Don't let a little thing like a dropped cake ruin your day
Don’t let a little thing like a dropped cake ruin your day

 

Jess’ mum jumped into action and arranged for a large white mud cake and a small white mud cake to be collected from The Cheesecake Shop, and these were delivered just prior to Jess’ walk down the aisle.  At least there would dessert, but as yummy as they are, they looked nothing like a wedding cake.

The ceremony was amazing – full of laughs and tears and joy!  My favourites!

I snuck in to the reception when I heard about the cake disaster and saw The Cheesecake Shop mudcake creation turned into a mini-masterpiece by the staff who used leftover florals to make a beautiful wedding cake.

Well played Surfair, Marcoola – well played.

The Cheesecake Shop masterpiece created by quick thinking calm minds and the staff of Surfair, Marcoola
The Cheesecake Shop masterpiece created by quick thinking calm minds and the staff of Surfair, Marcoola

 

The smashed cake was delivered the next day (with no delivery charge) and everyone enjoyed some morning tea – laughing all the way.

And that’s how you deal with stuff that goes wrong – as it often does.

All smiles despite the cake disaster = eye on the prize! (each other) <3
All smiles despite the cake disaster = eye on the prize! (each other) <3