How marriage counselling will make your relationships better

There’s some stigma in this country about ‘getting help,’ seeing a counsellor, and mental health in general.  As a Sunshine Coast marriage celebrant with a background in psychology, I can’t rave enough about the benefits of having a sounding board and guiding light in all areas of your life – especially in your marriage and family life.  Here’s six great reasons that might motivate you to pick to make an appointment:

Show your partner your relationship is a priority

You’ll be able to work through past traumas and issues so they don’t follow you into the future

Sometimes we drag our past into the present and that’s not healthy. The past needs to stay in the past.  We don’t need past-us to sabotage present or future-us or our relationships.  So working through relationship trauma and issues is a positive step towards acknowledging and working through your past without lugging that baggage around with you.  Think about whenever you move house: it’s new beginnings, right?  Well imagine moving say, a ragged, heavy old sofa into every new home you move into.  Not cool.  Get rid of it.

Groom bend down to kiss sitting bride
Fairy-tales can come true when there’s trust and honesty

You’ll be acknowledging your relationship health takes priority

No relationship is perfect, and you’d be doing yourself and your partner a dis-service if you acted like it was.  We humans are a complicated bunch, that’s for sure.  One of the best ways to show you honour your relationship with all it’s little quirks, is to prioritise it, working together on making it the best that it can be.  If you’re not willing to do that, should you even be there? Counselling can help create peaceful families, which is something we all crave.

Smiling bride and groom walking along a wooden path with water on the left and bushland on the right
I love this photo – it’s like Elly is saying, “C’mon Matty, let’s get going!”

You know that sometimes it’s healthy to get objective opinions

It’s kind of hard to not take things personally, because we usually see through our own lens, so subjectivity is almost inevitable.  The beauty of a marriage counsellor is they don’t have a vested interest in the outcome (unless there’s DV going on), so they tend to be a great objective sounding board, thus opening your perspective to other alternatives. They also teach us better ways to disagree and to have more constructive debates.

You may kiss your bride: Groom holding bride's head and kissing her
Lock them in when you’ve found your forever

Your partner isn’t perfect – neither are you

Let’s face it, we’re all here to work through stuff and to do so, we have some powerful tools in our toolkit.  A marriage counsellor will show you how to use those tools: tolerance, gratitude, acknowledgement, respect, trust, forgiveness, understanding, fun, laughter, play … You’ve already got the tools, but sometimes we need guidance in their safe and appropriate use.

Two brides at the altar reading their vows, their children between the, guests watching
Work together for #relationshipgoals – just like Naomi and Emily

You’ll both be in a safe space to talk about any non-discussables

Does your relationship have a non-discussable?  Something that makes you squirm in your seat when you think about talking with your partner about it.  That’s what I call a non-discussable.  What better way to have that conversation than in a safe, inclusive environment with an objective and caring listener.  Your marriage counsellor will guide the conversation to help navigate the path for you. There’s an art to having difficult conversations, while I’m not a Counsellor, I do know and teach others the rules through my consultancy firm. Hit me up if you’d like me to send you some information free of charge, of course.

Bride and groom laughing aloud on white beach with still water Kawana Island with Lynette Maguire marriage celebrant
No secrets

Counselling is great for your sex life 😉

Think about how liberating it’ll be when you have total trust in your partner. You’re not carrying past baggage, you know that your relationship is a priority, you’re with someone who totally understands you and gets you, and you have no secrets!  You can truly lay yourself bare to each other.  If that isn’t a recipe for a great roll in the sheets, I don’t know what is. Let me know if you’d like some recommendations to some awesome counsellors.

Bride and groom laughing together when saying vows with Lynette Maguire marriage celebrant
Marriage counselling works

Have you seen a marriage counsellor?  What else can you add to the list?

How the universe wanted me at David & Evie’s wedding

Groom kissing bride with floral crown
You may kiss your bride

I love the way the universe works.

I love the way the universe works!  I was at beautiful Secrets on the Lake in Montville  for a wedding ceremony.  I decided to have lunch there with my bestie 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.

Closeup of bride with floral crown laughing out loud, head back eyes closed
Every bride deserves smiles like Evie’s on her wedding day

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!  It was the bride from Secrets. Wow!

Of course, Evie took it as a sign that I was definitely supposed to be her celebrant.   The next day we finalised the booking and the other celebrant transferred the paperwork over in a smooth transition.

But there’s a years long 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. 

Fast forward several years later, a  mutual acquaintance introduced us in Mooloolaba. 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).

Bride, groom and bridal party laughing with celebrant Lynette Maguire
The ring bearer, Evie’s son Zander with Evie and I laughing because I’m a cheeky celebrant

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. It allows you to avoid the protocols that people expect from a wedding – the crowd were excited and enjoying every part of the ceremony.

Meant to be friends

Dave, Evie and I have caught up several times and we marvel at 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 Evie at Secrets, I wondered why I wasn’t her celebrant.   God, the angels, the unicorns or the fairies – whatever you believe – had their wands firmly in control of Evie and David’s awesome wedding.

And I’m so glad they did. When brides become friends.

[Pics by Kathy Hill from Whisper Images]

Bride and groom signing legal paperwork  with celebrant Lynette Maguire
Even signing the paperwork is fun

How to create wedding ceremony gold with vows and a game

Matt and Elly: A ceremony like no other

Smiling bride and groom walking back down the aisle as husband and wife
Elly and Matt loved writing vows so much they wrote 3 lots each

Matt and Elly are such a delightful couple who met in high school. They really dived deep into creating a truly personalised and authentic ceremony at their venue, Samford Lakes.  They wrote three separate lots of vows for each other: I’ve included them below.

Firstly, 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 gets 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 the bride and groom speak in turn.   You could tell that Elly and Matt really got into the whole wedding thing and they loved the Homework I send out to my couples – these ‘tennis match’ 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 (or put their hand down), until only two people were left standing (or with their hand up): they were our two witnesses.  It was super cool. A LOT of thought went into this game.

Read them all below:

Five bridesmaids in champagne coloured dresses holding Australian native bouquets, interspersed with five groomsmen in white shirts and brown pants, holding the bride who is lying in their arms laughing
Finding unique ways to celebrate your love is an art – and Elly and Matt nailed it

Matt’s vows

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.

Smiling bride and her five bridesmaids holding Australian native bouquets
Surrounding yourself with your best gal pals is important for a fun and stress-free wedding

Elly’s vows

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. 

I love this photo – it’s like Elly is saying, “C’mon Matty, let’s get going!”

COMBINED VOWS (which evolved from the homework I send to my couples) – 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.

Grunt car
Cool car for a cool couple

Wedding game

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 with seats stay standing and people standing keep their hand in air. The rest sit or put their hand down. After each questions, those standing dwindled down until we had our two witnesses

  1. If you’re under 60 years of age
  2. If you have tattoos
  3. If you have blue or green eyes
  4. If you’re related to anybody here today
  5. If you were born in WA or QLD
  6. If your dad’s name starts with D
  7. If you have a brother in the wedding party

This game worked a treat 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.

A lovely love story: Jeremy and Rachael

A real life fairy-tale ending

Bride and groom kissing at The Chapel Montville
Sealed with a kiss

Their love story – as kids

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.

Pre ceremony fun - the groom and his groomsmen Charlie's Angels style
Jeremy and his guy gang get their Charlie’s Angels on

Rachael moved from Landsborough back to Caloundra and the young couple started to date, though it was a lot harder to see each other. Jeremy visited 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.

The breakup

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.

Bride and groom kissing in front of The Chapel, Montville with guests
The Chapel, Montville is the perfect backdrop for an elegant hinterland ceremony

As a young adult, Rachael moved away to Brisbane but often drove back to the coast and always detoured through Landsborough, the Hero Stand, and past Jeremy’s family home to reminisce, and in the hope that she might catch sight of him.  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.

Groom leaning down to kiss his bride who is sitting
Fairy-tales can come true

That awkward phone call

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.

Hey, do you remember me?

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.   

Jeremy still thinks Rachael’s too good for him, but he says, “I lost her once, I won’t lose her again.”

Bride and groom sitting at their old hang out place complete with old fire hose and rusty pipes
A lovely love story – this is where they used to hang out as kids, the hero stand
Groom kissing bride against a brick wall in the afternoon sunlight
It’s pretty obvious they like each other

And they lived happily ever after!

Think outside the box with 10 creative wedding ideas

Don’t want a cookie-cutter wedding?

Groom and males guests with superhero tshirts under their shirts being revealed by their female partners
And then this happened 🙂

In 2023, I’ve been a Sunshine Coast marriage celebrant for 18 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 … so, 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 ideas in the hope it will inspire you to think outside the box and really make your wedding your own.

Batman and Supergirl being married by Lynette Maguire marriage celebrant as The Hulk
Themed weddings are the bomb – that’s me as the Incredible Hulk in Mooloolaba                                                      Photo: Images by Lou O’brien

1. Give your bouquet to the couple who’ve 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).  But these are your people so without letting on, ask them for the date of their marriage, so you’ll no the winner early. Then ask the winners what they what they think is the secret to the longevity of their marriage.  Next, give them your bridal bouquet as a congratulations.

Give away your bouquet
Give your flowers to the couple who’ve been married the longest

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 take pride of place in your home and will be a wonderful memory of your special day.

Creative wedding painting done by guests
Have your guests paint your portrait – lots of fun and lots of laughs

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 by arriving in a helicopter (complete with James Bond music, suits and cool sunnies on the boys), a water ski, boat, horse and anything unique.  I had a groom arrive on a tractor for a country wedding. What a hoot – no-one was expecting that.

Make an entrance in a helicopter
Have the groom arrive by helicopter

4. Games at the reception

Create your own quiz about your relationship, have the MC read the questions and pit the tables against each other to see who wins.

Have a couple’s quiz at your wedding

 5. Design your own cocktail

Create your own cocktail, name it and serve it at the reception. I’d call this one the ‘Maguire Margarita Magic’

Create and name your own wedding cocktail

6. Hire a local artist to paint your ceremony while it’s happening – what a fabulous way to remember your day.

This is getting to be a thing. You hire an artist and they set up their easel and paints at the wedding and paint you getting married. Depending on who you hire, they probably take it back to their studio to put the finishing touches on it – but your guests get to watch as they paint in real time. Very cool.

Creative wedding ideas
Have a local artist paint or draw your ceremony or reception real time

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: My Wedding Wish is an Australian charity that gifts weddings to couples with terminal illnesses). This idea is popular for those couples keen to work on their social responsibility. Another idea is to donate your monetary gifts to the charity. Disclaimer: I started this charity in 2013 and still run it today.

Wedding ideas - donate to a charity like My Wedding Wish
Have guests donate to a charity in lieu of gifts

8. Are you having a photobooth?

Send guests their photos with your thank you card.  It’ll put a smile on their dial! I love this idea because it’ll remind them of the fun of your wedding day. I love photobooths and turn into a 3 year old.

Groom with bridesmaid, and celebrant Lynette Maguire in a photobooth
Send your photobooth pictures to your guests with thank you notes

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. Banquet style meals are becoming very popular.

Creative reception ideas
Create an intimate family atmosphere

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.

Creative wedding reception ideas
Make sure your guests enjoy themselves at your reception

Got any awesome creative ideas for your wedding or reception?  Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.