I am the type of celebrant that is open to couples ‘remixing’ the traditional wedding ceremony format – trying something different and making it their own.
Of course, veering form the tried and tested route comes with risk, but the risk can really pay off – as it did with Alice & Rob’s ceremony.
When I first met Alice and Rob, they were so enthusiastic and had lots of ideas for their ceremony. The brief was for a fun, relaxed ceremony with lots of personal touches. The challenge was to help them edit their ideas and make them all work into a cohesive, meaningful and enjoyable ceremony for them and their guests.
Bendooley Estate is a property in the Southern Highlands of NSW with an historic house set in immaculate gardens with a purpose built pavilion down by the lake. It is also home of the Berkelouw Book Barn, a bookstore and cafe by day which transforms into the most charming function space, where Alice and Rob’s reception was to be held.
A PROGRESSIVE CEREMONY – WHY NOT?
The first challenge was that Rob and Alice wanted to hold the ceremony over two locations – a progressive ceremony – something that I had never done before. When I saw the venue and how beautiful it was, I understood why they wanted to make the most of it.
The staff at Bendooley were kind enough to loan me a PA system to use at our first location so that I didn’t have to transport and set up mine in two locations, which would have interrupted the flow of the ceremony.
So, the guests gathered in the garden in front of the house while Alice and her Bridal party got ready in the Bridal Parlour inside. When the time came, I arranged the guests to form an aisle between them with Rob and his Groomsmen waiting patiently at the other end. Alice then made her grand entrance through the large ornate doors of the house, across to the lawn and down the aisle and to her Groom. Then Alice and Rob linked arms and led a procession across the lawn, followed by their guests, down to the pavilion where the ceremony was to take place. This was the part of the ceremony I was most nervous about. Would it work? Would the guests follow instructions? I shouldn’t have worried. It worked perfectly and provided a few minutes for Alice and Rob to really soak in the atmosphere and have a chat before their ceremony began. Something most couples never get to do.
INTRODUCING THE BRIDAL PARTY
Once the guests took their seats in the pavilion, the ceremony got under way. Alice & Rob had a Bridal party of eight friends and family and felt it was important to acknowledge them as part of the ceremony. They provided a short introduction for each describing their relationship and often including humourous anecdotes. This was such a great ice breaker, producing lots of laughs, and really set the tone for the rest of the ceremony. Not to mention that it made all members of the Bridal party feel special and an active part of the ceremony rather than just a symbolic gesture or decoration.
Their first reading was from the novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres which is set on the Greek Island of Kefalonia where Rob’s father is from. Their second reading was Postpack Relationship by Adam Ford, a poet Alice had enjoyed as a teenager but had lost here copy of his book. When Rob learned this at the beginning of their relationship, he not only tracked down a copy (even though it was out of print) but also had it signed by the author. This reading would not be for everyone, but is a perfect example of choosing something that has personal meaning – a story – rather than choosing something random for the sake of it.
LEAP OF FAITH
At our first meeting, Alice told me about a custom called ‘Jumping the Broom’ that she’d read about and wished to include in their ceremony. This is an old Celtic tradition where the broom represents the home and family and the jumping is symbolic of their leap of faith into marriage together. For the occasion, Alice had beautifully decorated a broom which was brought out at the conclusion of the ceremony after the signing of the register. I led the guests in a count and on ‘One, two, three!’ Alice and Rob made their leap.
A BIT OF FUN
Alice and Rob are truly down to earth and were not afraid to poke fun at themselves as part of their ceremony. Known amongst their friends and family for taking many, many ‘selfies’ together, Rob and Alice hatched a plan to pull out a camera at the end of their ceremony and take their first ‘selfie’ as husband and wife. As you can imagine, their little joke received lots of laughs and was such a fun way to end their ceremony.
All photos besides the ‘selfie’: James Day ‘Daylight’
James is a seriously dedicated, talented and AMAZING photographer. Check out his website at your own peril. You may get lost down the rabbit hole of beautiful, beautiful photos. And if you want to book him, get in early. This guys is booked out years in advance!