This wedding was definitely one of the most memorable ceremonies I’ve ever been part of.
Alex and Peta had decided on a spot under the branches of a beautiful old tree at Alexandria Park, just a short walk from their home. On the morning of the ceremony the weather was looking rather ominous and I was sure we’d be going to Plan B – the wet weather venue. However, Alex and Peta were not concerned and wanted to proceed with their plans in the park. There was a huge downpour as we were starting to set up, but it eventually eased off long enough for us to dry things off and get underway.
THE GRAND ENTRANCE
The gents all looked very dapper in their suits as they we waited for the Bride to arrive. I did have to alert a couple of the groomsmen to the fact that the split in their brand new jackets was still stitched (all part of the service), but other than that, everything was going smoothly. Soon Peta and her Bridesmaids arrived and made their entrance across the park to Etta James’ At Last, perfectly setting the tone for a couple who are so obviously meant to be together.
There are so many ways you can make a wedding ceremony your own and Alex and Peta really did this right from the get-go by starting the ceremony with an Acknowledgement of Country, recognising the traditional owners of the beautiful piece of land on which the ceremony was about to take place and so many new memories were about to be made.
“Before we begin, Alex and Peta would like to acknowledge and pay respect to the traditional owners of the land on which we gather today – the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. It is upon their ancestral lands that we celebrate this special occasion.”
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
At the rehearsal the week prior to the ceremony, when we got to the part where Alex and Peta ask for all their parents to officially give them away, Peta’s mum burst into tears. Happy tears of course! She was so touched that she was to be involved in the ceremony and that her blessing was important to both Alex and Peta. Many couples stick to the tradition of having the Bride’s Father give the Bride away without really thinking about it. While Peta’s Father did walk her down the aisle, having all their parents officially give their blessing as part of the ceremony was a simple, but very meaningful way to show their love and respect for their parents, and have them all involved in the ceremony.
For Alex and Peta, getting married was simply the formalising of a commitment they had made to each other quite some time ago and the opportunity to celebrate the bond formed between their families and groups of friends over the years. In other words, this was not the beginning, but rather a public declaration of the commitment that had already been made with their hearts – a sentiment perfectly echoed in their first reading, Union by Robert Fulghum.
For their second reading, they chose something completely different. I Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg is a children’s book about friendship, the ups and downs we encounter in life and how they’re made so much better when shared with one we love. The poem format lends itself perfectly to being read and it’s silliness and sentimentality had everyone laughing and crying all at the same time.
From our first meeting, Alex and Peta knew I shared the same beliefs about marriage equality, so they had no hesitation in asking me if I could add some wording to their ceremony to formally express this. This immediately proceeded the legal wording which is mandatory in all ceremonies.
“Marriage, according to the law of Australia, is the union of a man to a woman, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. While this marriage happens to be, between a man and a woman, Alex and Peta believe that marriage is a deeply personal commitment between any two people in love, and they sincerely hope that all couples will one day have the right to choose to declare their love and commitment in law, just as Alex and Peta are about to do today.”
Alex and Peta decided to write their own vows and even memorised them so that they could concentrate on looking into each others eyes as they recited them (I had a copy ready to prompt them if need be). I have never seen such intensity between a couple. There were no nerves here. They were so in the moment I wondered if they’d forgotten that their guests and I were even there. Their preparation really paid off, allowing them to enjoy the moment rather than being scared they’d forget what they were supposed to say.
After ‘the kiss’ you could tell the guests thought things were wrapping up. What they didn’t know is that they were about to take part in a little audience participation on request of the Bride and Groom. Alex and Peta wanted to extend the love and energy that had just been exchanged between them to every single family member and friend present by asking them to exchange a hug with the person next to them. The request was met with surprise and joyous laughter as all the guests hugged each other regardless of if they knew each other or not.
This was such a nice way to make their guests to feel like they’re part of your ceremony, rather than just witnesses to it. It’s was also a great ice-breaker setting a celebratory tone for the end of the ceremony and leading onto the reception.
AND THE HEAVENS OPEN
All this time the rain held off, but as we were signing the marriage certificates the heavens opened. It all happened so fast and I am so grateful to all the quick thinkers who opened umbrellas and ran to keep me, the Bride & Groom and the paperwork, dry! As the rain got heavier, the guests all upped and ran forward from their seats to the protection of the gorgeous old tree.
The ceremony is essentially over at this point, but it is nice to end it formally by officially presenting the Bride and Groom as husband and wife. So that is exactly what we did, huddled under the tree, Bridal party in the middle, guests all around… in the rain. And rather than the dreary, disappointing ending you’d expect, it was actually strangely exciting, emotional and very special. I am so grateful to Alex and Peta for their good humour and for recognising that unexpected events often make the best memories. I hope this is a story they’ll tell their grandchildren one day.
Photos by: And A Day