Four Weddings…and a funeral.

Yesterday was both epic, and a bit unusual. In the wonderful world of celebranting (not a word but you know what I mean) it’s pretty common to have a wedding booked most weekends of the main season. But then sometimes, the cards will fall in such a way that it makes a double, a triple, or a double-double weekend possible.

And so it was this weekend. Friday saw me heading back to Okurukuru Winery, which is always one of my favourite venues. The thing about Okurukuru is no matter what the size or style of the wedding, it’s always amazing. While we have several beautiful venues along that same stretch of coast, I don’t think any can top the view (and photo backdrop) that you get with a wedding at Okurukuru. The wedding of Mr & Mrs Hawkes on Friday was truly sensational, with including many little personal touches that made it so moving and involved their parents and friends in the ceremony. And it seemed to me that the entire FDMC class of 2007 was present to support this amazing young couple (who are bonafide high school sweethearts!) as they said their I Do’s’ – so for them it was just awesome. Congratulations you two!

Then came Saturday – and an extremely busy day with a slightly dodgy weather forecast. If you haven’t been up to Pukeiti since the recent upgrade was completed, then make sure you do. In the early afternoon I officiated Mr & Mrs Reijmer’s beautiful ceremony within the intimate surrounds of the Keiller Garden, which really is a perfect focal point for a ceremony. There were some lovely touches in this wedding – including the bride wearing her mother’s wedding dress, a non-traditional bridal entry and some nods to the groom’s very proud Dutch heritage. And these two also had the wedding cake I would have if I did my own wedding all over again – a cake made of cheese! Yum. Every detail was perfect with their guests rippling with laughter the entire time as we talked about their journey to their big day!

Number three for the weekend was the super lovely Mr & Mrs Jury at a private coastal residence near Brixton and boy, do these two have a connection. So. In. Love. The cute thing about these two is that they met each other when they were both halfway across the world working, yet met and fell in love with someone from Taranaki! And while the weather didn’t play ball come ceremony time, at the end of the day it came down to the love, not the weather. What I loved most about this ceremony was as we moved through and shared their love story with their guests, they verbally affirmed many of the things I was saying about them as I said it. This in turn prompted some gentle banter coming back from their guests and it truly felt as though EVERYONE was engaged in their big moment. Pretty blimmin’ special it was, despite the rain! And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a groom more eager to plant a kiss on his bride once they were pronounced!

Lastly, it was a quick dash down to Stratford for the early evening wedding of Mr & Mrs Pretty. For any couples who are considering a late afternoon/early evening ceremony for their wedding, my advice is to seriously give it consideration! It is a beautiful time of day for a summer wedding, when the sun isn’t so high in the sky and temperature has dropped a bit. And only around that time of day do you get that golden light and it made the setting at Regan House even more magical. What a beautiful wedding! The story of Mr & Mrs Pretty also goes back to their teenage years and I can clearly see these two are meant to be together! What made this wedding next-level-special is that Regan House was previously owned by the grooms grandparents, so it was where both his father grew up and where he also has lots of great memories of visiting as a child. It was very, very special and there is no place more appropriate for them to have been married yesterday. The poignance of that fact was not lost on anyone who was lucky enough to be there to witness their beautiful ceremony.

So – that’s a wrap of what was a pretty big weekend that was many months in the planning. One that was very much out of the ordinary in terms of the number, but amazing in so many different ways. Any good Celebrant will tell you first the best thing about this privileged position we have is the people that we get to meet, and yesterday, I married, and met, some incredible people.

The only downside being that was due to my commitments for the day I couldn’t stop and talk a bit longer to some of the lovely people I spoke to, but such was the nature of the day.

That leads me to the part about the funeral……as mentioned in the blog title. For the wedding of Mr & Mr Reijmer, an older, long time family friend had been asked to stand and offer some of her thoughts and best wishes to the happy couple, in place of a more traditional contribution of a reading. She took the floor like a professional and spoke both candidly and completely off the cuff, and her humour was a wonderful addition to their ceremony. After it was over, she and I had the chance to chat and she told me it was far and away the best wedding ceremony she had ever heard. As I thanked her for kind feedback she then in the blink of an eye asked me if I would also agree to conduct her funeral! (thankfully, not imminent)! That is not the first time I have been asked that question as a celebrant but it is definitely the first time I’ve been asked at a wedding! Such a little gem she was, I didn’t see that coming and it made me laugh out loud! 😂

And Jan – lovely lady – when the time comes, definitely give me a call. It would be my pleasure. 😘

Thanks for reading.

You can’t make old friends

It’s true. Either you have them, or you don’t. Not everyone is lucky enough to have genuine old friends, the kind where you may not talk each other for a while because distance, and life in general,  just gets in the way.  The kind of friend that when you do get the chance the reconnect again, it’s honestly like you’ve never missed a beat. That friend with who you can reminisce like it was yesterday and laugh so hard your stomach hurts.

I’ve got two old friends like that and yesterday they married each other. I was the lucky one who got to help them make it official.

When Ondrea and Dan first asked me if I’d officiate their wedding, I was really sad to decline as the dates they had chosen didn’t work for me because of my bookings for the current wedding season. It’s not my style to cancel a client at short notice just because ‘something else came up’ so I was incredibly disappointed but prepared for the fact that I would miss out on their big day.

Bless their hearts – so what did they do next? They only then went and changed the wedding date completely, so it would coincide with my planned Christmas trip to the Deep South. What was more important to them than the date, they said, was that the person that first introduced them to each other 20 years ago would also be the person to help them get married, half a lifetime later.

A bit of backstory. The newly minted Mrs K is the girl with who I shared so much in my teenage years. There were a few years there where we did absolutely everything together and if I’m honest, we definitely had PLENTY of misspent youth. We had so many mad adventures – honestly there are too many to count! And boy, there were plenty of near misses too and the evening of my 16th birthday is one in particular that stands out – frankly we’re lucky to be alive to tell the story. Which I won’t, on the grounds it may incriminate us but needless to say, when I think back to those crazy and fun days, she’s in pretty much every one of those memories.

I was even privileged enough to be present at the birth of her first child, a moment I haven’t and will never forget. Yesterday it blew my mind to see that tiny little baby boy as a now nearly 20 year old man, proudly standing with his brother and sister alongside their Mum and Dad as they said I Do.

Mr K and I first became acquainted with each other when he was a regular patron at a bar I worked at a few years later and we became good mates. He is, and always has been, one of those legit good-guys who was straight shooting, with no pretences, no bullshit. The kind of friend everyone needs in their circle and as a direct result of that, he then met the love of his life.

My two friends, previously unknown to each other before one fateful night where she came to meet me after work – and it so happened that he was also there and I introduced them, as you do. After that moment, I recall a big night out on the town together with the typical shenanigans but the upshot is that they have never been apart since and the rest, as they say, is history.

I’ve never before felt so much pressure writing a wedding ceremony. When you already know all of their story, it should make it easier but the opposite applied in this case. Because I love them both it was incredibly important for me to get it right and to take their guests on a journey that truly represented their 20 wonderful years together.

By all accounts I achieved that, but the personal nature of their ceremony got to me right at the end…either that or someone nearby was cutting onions.

The end result was – two more legitimate soulmates got signed-up for life yesterday and I was so honoured to be standing there with them on such a special day. They are not the first friends I have married, and in the next 12 months I have other good friends I’m also going to be officiating for. But never again will I marry any friends who are older friends to me than they are. They’ve got that title, and they’ll have it for life. Which is as long as they’ll have my friendship, and as long as I’ll have theirs.

Over the past 20 years, I have certainly changed. They too have changed. Most of all, the world around us has changed. But what has not changed is the deep love and respect that they have for each other, and yesterday it was plain to see.

Congratulations again you two – you did it. ❤️

Love to you always, from your old friend Amber xx

Photo credit: Monica Toretto

So, you met the love of your life on Tinder?

I’m the first to admit it. I love my devices.

We ALL love our technology. And what’s not to love? That fact that we can all own an all encompassing pocket sized super computer that can in seconds do what the beige monstrosity Apple Mackintosh that my family owned in 1984 would have taken a week and a half to compute.

Our technology makes our lives easier in countless ways and we are now connected more than ever before. It stands to reason that eventually there would be a blending between technology and romance and in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s ‘online dating’ was a new thing, that consisted of rudimentary MSN chatrooms on a squelchy dial-up connection. Back then hardly anyone had at home internet, so if you did embrace this crazy new way to meet people, you (a) had to do it when at work because that’s where there was internet and (b) learned early on that it basically operated as a secret society and pretty much everyone was far too embarrassed to admit to using it. To most people, putting yourself out there on the seedy World Wide Web just seemed to be a guaranteed way to increase your chances of going to meet Ted Bundy for a latté.

Now in 2017, its a good 20 years since the net changed the way we could connect with prospective romantic partners. In that time there has been a generational shift and the stigma previously associated with having met a partner online has almost completely disappeared.

Almost, but not quite. I still see it at the coal face, pretty much all the time, from the couples that I meet. When we start talking about their relationship journey and how to convey that part of their story in their wedding ceremony, it’s generally a given that some sort of reference will be made to how they met.

So naturally, I ask that question. How did you meet? Queue the furtive, immediate and mildly mortified glances between the couple before one of them in a quiet voice and with a wry smile replies ‘well actually we met online’. Shock horror.


I’m not sure what sort of reaction some of my lovely clients expect, but I often sense almost relief (and disbelief) when I first don’t bat an eyelid and then mention that such a huge number of my couples also met that same way.

To be honest – I’d estimate that probably 1 in every 2 to 3 couples I marry also say that they met online, be it Tinder, Facebook or any one of the various dating websites around. Because I marry reasonable numbers of people, that’s a good sample from which to take some statistics and I can only take from how many people first met that way that online dating remains as popular as ever.

Some couples deliberately stay vague regarding the specifics about how they met, especially when speaking to older family members! They gloss over the details and just say that they met ‘through friends’ or worse, concoct a grandiose story which then has to be remembered so you don’t get found out! That and it just seems easier than explaining that you met because you both swiped your finger in a rightward direction.

I encourage my clients not to shy away from the fact they met online. Ultimately, it’s part of their story and although what we say about anything at all in their ceremony is entirely up to each couple, if they really don’t want to be blatant about it then I have some cute ways to reference things with some quirky plays on words.

The truth is, no one cares anymore. No longer is it weird or unusual or desperate to embrace technology as another means of connecting with people. Times have changed and because of the hundreds of thousands, likely millions of relationships and subsequent marriages created since it came along, I would suggest these prove that it’s a VERY successful method of meeting people.

Thanks for reading.

Everyone always asks me why I wanted to become a Marriage Celebrant


If you consider what I do for a job, it won’t be a surprising for you to learn that I’m a lover of people, of great yarns and conversations – of stories. And I often think that I’m also one of those lucky few who can say they get to work in something they genuinely love to do.  I know many people in the wedding industry likely say the same thing, but I actually love love, and I love weddings.  Love and marriage are a fabulous combination and it’s never, ever lost on me what a privilege it is to be involved – every single time.

Everyone always asks me why I wanted to become a marriage celebrant. Well, you could say that performing marriages is somewhat of a family gig. My mother Jenni has been performing marriages in the lower South Island for 25 years, so I have been involved in the industry for what seems like most of my life. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s weddings were only just starting to be regularly performed in gardens and other private venues, with couples increasingly disregarding the somewhat outdated expectation of a church wedding. My Mum was 35 years old when she was first appointed, which was almost a bit radical and she was certainly considered novel and ‘quite young’, in comparison to other celebrants in her area at the time. So I definitely feel like she was a bit of a trailblazer in that respect, certainly in the lower South and the celebrant profession has evolved enormously in the years since!

Being awesome as she is, Mum very quickly became super popular for weddings and as such, when I was young I spent many MANY Saturday afternoons sitting in the car at venues, listening to my Walkman (woop!), while Mum was inside doing a ceremony! In later years she would have me and my elder sister help proof-read her ceremonies – my sister Megan who is ALSO a celebrant. It’s just something ‘we do’ as a family collective, despite us living in different parts of the country. What it allows is an amazing amount of shared experience, knowledge and resource, which began all those years ago watching our mother, who is still one of the very best in the business! I always knew that eventually, I would become a celebrant myself.

I was first appointed as a celebrant in 2013 and I’ve been flat-out with weddings (and other life celebrations) ever since! It really is the absolute best job in the world and I give it everything! Since then, I have expanded my repertoire to include a professional Master of Ceremonies service and also now offer a custom mini-wedding package service via ‘Lets Elope’. So, being a celebrant is now not only my full-time career – it’s evolved to kind of become my life!

A bit about me personally! I’m a wife, a business owner and a mum to three little rug-rats who keep me on my toes and then some! I have called Taranaki home for the past 12 years, having met and married a Naki lad. I truly love this place and feel very, very lucky to live in Taradise – it’s all right here! 

I have a professional background in human resource management, banking, finance and event planning. Throughout my career I have also undertaken professional media training. As such, I am a confident public speaker and working as a celebrant brings together my skills in writing, communication and showcases my abilities to interpret and engage an audience.

What I bring to the Taranaki wedding industry is a fresh perspective on a wedding ceremony and an enthusiastic and ultra-approachable, friendly personality. Any wedding day is a big deal to me and I’m passionate about getting to know people and their story. My own experiences have allowed me an open minded and empathetic approach to life and love.

As a modern, independent celebrant I’m free of rules and tradition, and am therefore able to create ceremonies that are 100% what the couple wants, irrespective of their  beliefs, race, religion or lifestyle. Whilst I’m not religious, I easily relate to those that have a spiritual connection. I love the richness of symbolism and I am not one to shy away from a performance! Without sounding glib, it is my role to inspire and support all who engage my services, and through their wedding ceremony a couple is telling the world how they feel about the other person, while making promises and setting intentions for a life together.  That should be portrayed to friends and family and the most relevant and authentic way – and THAT is where I come in…..

Thanks for reading.






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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