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It’s just not cricket!

New Zealand was the fifteenth country in the world to institute same-sex marriage legislation when on 17 April 2013 our Parliament passed the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. This enabled same-sex and transgender couples the right to legally marry, twelve years after the first marriage equality laws were passed in The Netherlands, in 2001.

I was first appointed as an Independent Marriage Celebrant at the end of 2013, so for all my time working as a celebrant, marriage inequality has never, and thankfully will never, be an issue. In New Zealand, all consenting adults have the right to form a union  in the deepest personal and legal sense, irrespective of their gender. Although only a few short years have passed since the law was changed, it is beginning to feel like as a country we’ve never known anything different!

Unfortunately, in Australia same-sex couples still can’t get married. We all know it and most of us don’t agree with it. Still the debate rages on and Australians now get the opportunity to have their voices heard. Though their postal vote is a non-binding referendum, the result will be the clearest signal so far as to whether Australians want their politicians to vote on creating legislation that would finally afford the same human rights to ALL of their citizens.

In November this year will be the wedding of the fourth same-sex couple I have married, who have come out from Australia specifically so they may have a legal marriage ceremony.  While I warmly welcome my Australian same-sex couples as clients, ultimately I wish I didn’t have to and it seems absurd to me that our neighbours across the ditch, our closest friends and contemporaries in almost every other way, have not yet progressed beyond the debating stage on the road to marriage equality.

I think we all know that for them change is coming. Australia will catch up with the rest of the civilised world, and things WILL be different. But the issue of marriage equality isn’t just about legislation and law – it is more so an issue of social change.  Change that ensures we allow the same respect, dignity, legal recognition and next-of-kin status to same-sex couples that we have provided to heterosexual couples forever. Nothing more, nothing less.

Searching for a ceremony superstar….

Take it from me, if done right, the ceremony really is the BEST part of your wedding day. Wedding planning is an incredibly busy time. There is so much to consider – venue, invites, dresses, catering, rings, music, flowers, make-up and so on.

Often, one of the last things to be considered is the one thing you can’t have a wedding without – the celebrant! Some couples immediately look for the cheapest celebrants available and often they spend considerably more on the flowers or the cake, but base their celebrant decision on price alone, which is risky.

Thankfully, it’s become more and more important to couples that they have the right celebrant to officiate the biggest moment of their lives. But if you don’t personally know a celebrant, it can be hard to know what to look for. From a legal aspect, a celebrant undertakes the role of performing a marriage ceremony to the requirements of New Zealand law but in order to find the right one for you, you’ll have to do some proper research.

Of course you want them to deliver an amazing ceremony that sets the tone for an unforgettable day. This is why you need to make finding the best celebrant for you one of the priorities in your planning.  You may need to contact several different celebrants before you find the one for you. Just like photographers and wedding venues, many celebrants now get booked up 1-2 years in advance so make sure that you allow yourself enough time to book.

The Department of Internal affairs website shows current New Zealand registered celebrants by region and provides some contact information. Other websites such as The Celebrants Association of New Zealand lists those celebrants who are members of their professional body. Wedding directories such a My Wedding Guide, local directories such as Taranaki Weddings and of course the Yellow Pages will also have celebrants listed in your area.

Ask friends and family for recommendations and of course search via the internet for relevant websites and social media. When you search for celebrants on Google, Facebook or Instagram, their social media presence will give you a good idea as to their personality and style. Also take notice of their images. Do they smile? Do you like what they wear? Does their energy convey a love of what they do? Do they show personality and confidence? Websites should be professional and allow you to find all the information you want quickly. Make sure you take the time to read client reviews. What perceptions do their reviews convey about them? Do the reviews highlight particular skills and qualities that you are seeking in your own celebrant?

Once you’ve done this, you can choose to contact the ones that you’d like to meet with and check their availability. Most celebrants will offer you an initial obligation-free consultation.  When you first meet them, your initial impressions are a very good gauge. Were they punctual in arriving to your meeting? Do you instantly warm up to them? How do they communicate with you and your partner? Do they speak clearly? Do you feel comfortable to discuss things openly and honestly with them? Do they provide detail so you know what to expect? What are the costs involved and what do they offer you for your investment? Whatever your questions are — ask them! And if you feel awkward or as if you can’t ask questions — keep looking until you find another that you do feel comfortable with. When you do, you’ll know!

Every couple is different with their own individual characteristics and background. The best weddings are those where the celebrant is a natural storyteller and able to paint a beautiful picture of a couple’s relationship. Experienced celebrants should have endless information and resources to share and will discuss with you ways to include family, friends, traditions, culture and faith. Your ceremony should reflect this and your celebrant should be able to provide you lots of ideas, while encouraging you to participate in the process to ensure that you achieve what you want in terms of content including your backstory, vows, readings and other personal touches.

When the big day finally arrives, your celebrant is the host of your wedding ceremony who creates the vibe and makes everyone feel welcomed. They should be able to engage easily with your guests and should be calm and professional. They will have everything and everyone in place, practiced, aware of their cues and knowing when everything is good-to-go. They should also easily manage any problems that arise on your wedding day – before, during or after the ceremony and the very best celebrants are competent in dealing with family dynamics. You should be confident that you can rely on them to act on your behalf, knowing that providing an amazing experience for you and your fiancé is their number one priority.

So, like with almost everything, choosing your wedding celebrant is an incredibly personal choice. With all I have mentioned above, your expectations should be high and my advice is not to underestimate the significant role that they will play in making your wedding day amazing. There are many, many options out there, all with varying skills, abilities and personalities so whoever you choose and for whatever reasons, I suggest you first consider what matters the most to you on your wedding day, and then go from there!

Elegance Elopements

 

Whether you are local or have travelled to our beautiful Taranaki from elsewhere – New Zealand or overseas – you can enjoy a uniquely beautiful elopement wedding designed with just those things, few or many, that you require.
I offer this service throughout the year round and with my industry contacts I am able to make arrangements at very short notice. I am lucky to have an amazing array of local wedding vendors ready to assist when required.
Packages can include many details being organised directly for you. Services are customised to your requirements and the following can be included in your package:

 

  • Recommendations on venues and beautiful outdoor locations
  • Celebrant – (that’s ME!). Also included is the use of my portable PA sound system
  • Bridal bouquet
  • Bridal makeup
  • Bridal hair
  • Buttonhole for the groom
  • CAKE!
  • Photographer
  • Breakfast/lunch/dinner recommendations and reservations
  • Picnic hampers and champers!
  • Accommodation recommendations and reservations

 

Prices are on inquiry and dependent on your specific package requirements.

 

 

elegance elopements

 

“Surprise – we’re married”

 

Do you know what I love the most about elopements? It’s because they say so much, often with so little. But while many would admit to having had at least considered ‘running away to get married’ – why would a couple actually go ahead and choose to elope?

In my experience, couples elope for LOTS of reasons, and each situation really is unique. Some couples just want a simpler, stress-free day with as little planning as possible and that is budget-friendly. Or perhaps it’s for the romance of it all, or it may be that same-sex weddings are not legal in their country. Perhaps they wish to seal their relationship, but without the planning, expense and fuss?  Others may indeed want a bit of fuss with a few beautiful details planned and included for them, but still only involving a limited number of people.

For all of these reasons, and many many more, for some eloping is a GREAT option. Elopements have become a simpler yet much more beautifully presented wedding ceremony than in days gone by. An elopement creates an incredibly private, intimate moment between two people in love, made no less special because there aren’t a hundred eyes watching on.  In that moment it is more about starting a life together and less about worrying if the people in the back can hear you.

In my recent experience, and also talking with colleagues in the wedding industry, it has become apparent that elopement weddings are becoming much more common.  New Zealand has become a very popular tourist destination in recent years and with huge exposure given to the Taranaki region from publications such as Lonely Planet , many overseas couples dream of having their weddings and honeymoons here and are making that a reality! Also, our marriage license laws make it easy for couples from overseas to come to New Zealand to marry and with the ongoing issue of Marriage Equality still unresolved in Australia, I’m sure we will continue to see increasing numbers of couples choosing to come here to make it official.

Whatever the reason, when all is said and done, if you have gone ahead and eloped then its also best to prepare for some hurt feelings. Circumstances will vary but to diffuse the situation, I do think it’s best to tell everyone as soon as possible after the fact. Some people won’t get why you have made that decision, while others will be disappointed to learn they will not get the chance to be involved in your wedding day. My advice is to explain to family and friends exactly why you have/had decided to elope and if they love you and want you to be happy, then they will totally understand those reasons. 

That, and no one should ever have to base their wedding on what suits others. 

Do it your way.
 

Click here to view my Wedding Packages.

 

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