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Celebrating Life in Death – My 6 months of Perspective

Grieving and celebrating go together. When someone dies, their legacy is the memory of their presence and when the time comes to say goodbye to someone, it is the funeral celebrant’s job to lead the farewells.

Modern funeral services have evolved to make the person’s life the focus of the ceremony and though increasingly fewer people identify with a religious faith, ritual and ceremony are still important for many people.

After many requests in the last few years, at the beginning of 2019 I made myself available for funerals, in addition to my wedding and MC work. And I can honestly say that in my career as a celebrant I’ve never enjoyed any work as much – it is extremely rewarding.

And in my opinion, being a funeral celebrant requires a certain combination of qualities, because we have such an important role. It goes without saying that you must be a people person with good communication skills – good at listening, as well as speaking. You need to have the ability to put families immediately at ease and must genuinely want to help families get through what is often a very distressing time. Funeral celebrants must also possess the ability to be extremely tactful when emotions are running high, which is the case more often than not. A death invariably will bring families together, but can also create difficult situations and disagreements, which we then must be able to handle.

For me, it’s that interaction with grieving families – including the difficult stuff – that is really special. Conversations about the life of someone who has just died are never easy and throughout the process of the writing of a service I become privy to many personal memories, thoughts and experiences. For families to share those details with me is certainly a privileged position in which to be. And what that has reinforced for me is that every life is unique; every family is different, with a different story, family relationships and culture to consider. It has also shown me that those who we may have considered to have lived quite an ordinary life – often have an extraordinary story to tell.

And how many moments – good, bad, happy and sad – are there in a life? This past few months I have sat with families to discuss the deceased’s life story, and on more than one occasion, I have been brought to tears. That’s another quality I feel funeral celebrants should have – it’s very normal to feel emotional and to show the appropriate degree of emotion – because being human does not negate our professionalism. For me it is not possible to stand amongst people whose hearts have broken without feeling the sadness they are experiencing – celebrants must understand how grief affects the people we are tasked with supporting.

After my first funeral service was over, I was touched by the impact of the service on the family, which also had a huge impact on me. And since then, I have found consistently that people will take the time to seek me out after the service, to tell me how wonderful the recalling of the deceased’s life was. That feedback is always lovely to hear, but what matters most is what each person there got out of it individually. That and that together we have marked the end of someone’s journey in a loving and dignified way.

Coming together as a community to remember someone at their funeral is very special. It is a precious and important time, a great reminder of the value of life, and that we should each be living ours to our potential every day. That, and that funerals also bring to the surface a sense of our own mortality – which is a reminder that we should talk to our loved ones about how we each want it to be, when our life is over.

Thanks for reading.

Avoiding the snake in the grass

Let me be frank. Looking back on when I first became a celebrant and decided to make this my full-time career, it amazes me now that I actually stuck with it. Because when I started out in this industry, I was almost immediately greeted by quite a bit of resistance and what could just be called plain old negativity. And what was worse, at the time it seemed to be from every corner of the industry, but particularly, and disappointingly, from my own.

In the past nearly five years, so much has changed and I am now surrounded by people who genuinely encourage each other to succeed. And then recently I was named as Taranaki’s Favourite Wedding Celebrant for the second year in a row. It’s such an honour to receive an award that is voted by the public, and each category winner this year was very deserving.

That said, sadly some things do remain the same. In the weeks that have passed since then, I’ve been on the receiving end of an attempt to undermine me professionally, which was exposed, quite embarrassingly for them, by posting in error – publicly – on social media. Again, that negativity came in from my own corner, from persons I had previously regarded as industry leaders. But that’s the thing about competition. It is often the case when we see successes and achievements by others, some then may feel like it is somehow a reflection on them and on their own performance, or perhaps, the lack there of.

I view competition in a completely different way – for me, I believe that competition is the driver of progress and that competition is absolutely healthy – but only when it’s not at expense of others. That, and that the best in any industry are those who aren’t worried with who’s doing what and how and when – but rather focus on how they can be ‘their own best’.

If I admire someone and what they are achieving professionally – then I will tell them. If I am in a position to help a colleague (or ‘competitor’) in any way, whether I am asked or if I have offered, I will assist purely for the sake of being friendly, being genuine and helping out someone who may need it. I mentor new celebrants that ask for my input, and I am very happy to do so, with no subversive agenda, even though I’m helping strengthen my ‘competition’. I actually saw a great adage recently that sums it up nicely – a candle does not lose its brightness when it is used to light other candles.

Word!

For those new to the local industry, this is my advice for you. Your worth does not depend on the opinions of others – it comes down to you, and on how you run your business, and ultimately how you serve your clients. Whether you operate in the wide open spaces, or within a crowded corner of your industry – be sure to seek out only the most positive of social connections. Find those like-minded people that fit with your professional ethos. Be encouraging, be friendly, be helpful and be as inspirational to others as you can possibly be.

And – when you find your feet, pay it forward by helping lift up those around you. That energy will make them feel appreciated and empowered, and professionally that’s the greatest gift we can give.

Thanks for reading.

Ryan Polei Photography

Taranaki Wedding Celebrant of the Year 2018

I was delighted to be announced as Wedding Celebrant of the Year for 2018 at the recent Taranaki Wedding Industry Awards. I was also a bit surprised – as for want of a better term the competition was stiff this year, and I was nominated in this category alongside the best celebrants that our region offers.

I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t awesome to be recognised in this way and what’s even better is the only people who could nominate a vendor for an award this year were couples with whom we have worked in the previous 12 months. It was an enormous year for me professionally – the best season yet – so my heartfelt thanks goes to the couples that asked me to be their voice and advocate, for them and for their weddings – trusting me to help them celebrate and seal their relationship in the way they chose, helping them incorporate all of their heritage and life experiences. I absolutely loved being involved in every one of them. Every. Single. One.

Along with so many of my fellow Taranaki wedding vendors, we were all looking forward to the awards night, as it gave us the chance to celebrate our professional successes and to let our hair down, before the next wedding season is upon us in just a few weeks’ time. Before that evening, I knew some only from social media and I’d never met them in person – so it was lovely to both meet and to see that there was so much genuine support among us all. It was such a fabulous night with a group of professionals and friends, who are incredibly talented and lovely people.

I’ve spent the last 2 weeks reflecting on what this accolade means for me, and to me. For me, its validation that I am indeed doing an excellent job for my clients. I know I am trusted to create the amazing ceremonies that couples deserve for their big day. I know that my clients appreciate that I put my heart and soul into this role – and I don’t think there would be one celebrant who wouldn’t agree that it’s really the best job in the world.  I know that for six months (give or take) of every year I get to wow hundreds, if not thousands of wedding guests and show them all, when done right, how amazing and personal a ceremony can really be.

I’m also honoured to ‘fly the flag’ (as such) for celebrants in Taranaki, helping to continually raise the bar of professional standards in the industry. It’s also brilliant to see that ceremonies led by independent celebrants are now the way forward for the majority of those getting married.

So my advice – as always is – make sure that you choose the right celebrant for your day. Do your research, read reviews, ask for personal recommendations – because in comparison to the importance placed on things such as flowers, make-up or photography – the value of the wedding celebrant is still so often overlooked. Because if experience has taught me anything, it is that when all is said and done, what couples remember about their wedding ceremony is how it made them, and their guests, feel in that moment.

Weddings truly are one of the few remaining opportunities we get to truly take pause and connect with those around us, during what is one of life’s most significant and life-changing events. And that all absolutely starts with your choice of celebrant – we really do set the tone for your entire day – so please, make sure you choose wisely!

Thanks for reading.

Handover negotiations!

‘Giving away’ the Bride was traditionally the exchange of a daughter from her own family to her groom’s and is why for fathers have long held the role of walking their daughters down the aisle and ‘giving away the bride’. In days gone by, women were their father’s property, until such time as they were married. Then, they were literally given away – often in exchange for an agreed price or dowry and thereafter they became their husband’s property.

Thankfully, in general, women aren’t viewed this way anymore and this is a tradition that has fallen out of fashion in recent years due these antiquated perceptions. But, it is my observation that it now seems to be making a bit of a comeback and I think ‘giving away the bride’ can still be an important and lovely (but optional) inclusion in a contemporary marriage ceremony. So, rather than just omit this part of the ceremony, I like to show couples how it can be transformed into something really meaningful.

It can be as simple as when they reach the end of the aisle, the father (or parents) of the bride give just her a hug, then shake hands with or hug her fiancé. No words even need to be said! Or, the father (or parents) can voice their blessing for the marriage and there are many alternative wordings that can be included at this moment. Or you can take the ceremony away from the traditional father role altogether, and open it up to the wedding guests or other special family members, in a show of ‘group’ support. Which ever way it happens, it is always very, very special.

So for couples that are considering including this as part of their ceremony, I always pitch it as a opportunity to honour the relationship a bride has with her father, (or parents, or family), no matter how they decide to do so. And anyway, I’ve not once met a father who really wanted to give away his daughter!

Thanks for reading.

Introducing the Ever After Wedding Collective

Weddings are wonderful occasions. They’re full of love and happiness, celebrating two people beginning the rest of their lives together. But let’s face it: they’re also expensive.

Even when you try do things on a budget, once you’ve factored in a photographer, the venue, and food, flowers and maybe alcohol, you’re still talking many, many thousands of dollars, all for one day.

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together”.

And so was the reason for the formation of Taranaki’s newest wedding initiative – the Ever After Wedding Collective.

The Ever After team are a group of dedicated Taranaki wedding professionals, who as a collective, will make sure couples get to have all those special wedding day details, without the big price tag.

The concept of ‘pop-up weddings’ is not new but our ‘Tie the Knot’ wedding events are now making things seriously affordable for Taranaki couples, because several brides and grooms are sharing the cost of the big day.

In our mini-wedding packages, 90 minutes are allocated to each couple, who pre-book the service and just turn up on the day with their rings, a marriage license, and 30 (or more) guests. Our packages are outstanding value and are providing options for clients who may have previously only considered a registry-office wedding because of cost!

As a vendor group, the members of the Collective are people that we have all worked with many times.  This means we know we have the right people for our weddings and we have confidence in our ability to make a couples special day as wonderful as it should be. With this awesome team on board, our clients can be assured of the sort of day they want – without having to worry about dodgy vendors, subpar service or a jaw-dropping bill.

We have worked hard to secure amazing venues, locking in dates and then announcing them for bookings. With a maximum of 3 couples able to book each date, we are able to personalise clients time with us to accommodate touches they will love.

Our packages started from just $2550 and we currently have dates announced for October 2018, January 2019 and February 2019. Our current venues include Stanleigh Garden in Inglewood, Regan House in Stratford, and Okurukuru Bistro in Oakura – with more to come!

Visit our Facebook page for more information!

Ever After Wedding Collective

Finding Your Frequency

In every industry, it’s true that there is always someone, or something, new emerging and it is absolutely the case in the wedding industry, whether it be a brand new venue option, a newly opened florist shop, a makeup artist, a photographer OR a freshly appointed celebrant.

But it is also true that this wedding industry can be a fickle beast and it can be a long road to find your feet amongst a myriad of people and places. There are dozens of other vendors locally who are all doing similar things. No matter what your specific area of expertise, you’re going to encounter ‘competition’ – and the truth is you will always come across individuals who are more capable, more successful and more well-known than you.

While there are some with competitive behaviours out there, in my personal experience as a wedding celebrant is there are plenty weddings to go around and for the most part, other vendors are really lovely and supportive. Like any industry it can come with a bit of pretence and elitism, but the Taranaki wedding scene is a pretty friendly environment, where most of us are looking out for each other.

For me, the key has always been having a mutual respect for my colleagues, and recognising that ultimately, we all just want to succeed. A bit of healthy competition should push us – not to be unpleasant, underhanded or protectionist – but to develop new ideas for our respective businesses and to take chances while making the most of the opportunities that come our way.

This is why networking is SO important. The business contacts I have made over the past few years have been amazing. Any questions or problems I have had, I have always known someone who would be happy to help out and that is incredibly valuable from a professional, and personal, point of view. In most jobs, we have co-workers but in terms of the role of a celebrant, it can be a fairly solitary role, so networking is extra important. Through meeting with like-minded industry colleagues, you come across so many interesting people, some of which have become clients, and friends. For me, it is all about building relationships, so people can confidently recommend me AND feel comfortable approaching me for input, ideas and advice. It is most definitely a two-way street. Then every so often, you meet someone who really impresses you, and this happened in recent months when I met my colleague, and now good friend, Tracey Zehnder – Celebrant.

In days gone by, celebrants were generally people of a certain age and type of career background, for who becoming a celebrant was seen as a natural progression, of sorts. But not anymore. The face of the celebrant industry has changed completely in recent years and Tracey, like myself and many others, are representative of that. Tracey has burst onto the wedding scene this season and boy, is she making an impact. THIS. GIRL. IS. THE GOODS. And she is an absolutely AMAZING celebrant. I’m so glad that I met Tracey, and that only happened because of networking. In my time in this role, I’ve never met someone with such a complementary set of skills to my own. We share a great many things in terms of our business visions and principals and like me, she is in this job because she loves it. We both see it as such a privilege to be involved in weddings and place a huge amount of importance on telling a couples love story in a truly authentic way, free of stuffy ‘traditional’ expectations and cliché. But what has truly drawn us together is that she, like me, she is a true advocate for people, and for love. That is something that either comes naturally, or not – it cannot be faked because people soon see right through those that aren’t genuine advocates and who don’t see the role of Celebrant as their true vocation, but simply as a money spinner. And thank goodness for that!

So welcome Tracey, my colleague and friend. I’m so glad you are here – let’s do this!

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.

Not.

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

It won’t be a surprising for anyone 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 the Ever After Wedding Collective. 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.

Amber