If you were down at Gnarabup Beach, Margaret River on the afternoon of the 3rd March you may have been lucky enough to hear the sound of bagpipes across the waters of the bay. This was the soundtrack to Charlotte and Luke’s wonderful wedding day!
Charlotte and Luke met in their birth country of Scotland, but now they call Western Australia home. Their beach wedding, with sparkling waters of Gnarabup as the backdrop, so different to their homeland, had so many beautiful touches of their Scottish heritage.
As Charlotte, escorted by her Father and bridesmaids, made her way down the steps from the car park to the White Elephant Cafe, she was led by Ryan playing the ‘Highland Cathedral’ on the bagpipes. It was a beautiful sight, that I’m pretty certain brought a tear to the eyes of everyone watching on. The bagpiper continued from the balcony of the cafe as…
R I T U A L S 💞
If you’re looking for unique ways to personalise your wedding ceremony, a ritual can be a wonderful way to do this, and easily incorporated into your ceremony. There are many ideas out there, and choosing which one will depend on what you would like the ritual to signify. Here are a few, with links to my website stories if you want to explore further:
SAND UNITY CEREMONY- this is a wonderful way to involve children of all ages as it is visual and easily created. Each person pours sand into a central vessel, creating a beautiful pattern, and signifying the union of family, or the couple. https://wendyhendrycelebrant.com/…/a-family-centred-ceremo…/
Ideas on how to create one – https://wendyhendrycelebrant.com/…/…/07/sand-unity-ceremony/
RIVER STONE CEREMONY – this ritual inspired by Celtic traditions, is said to be used by early settlers and convicts in Australia, where instead of exchanging rings, as they were far too expensive, the couple would cast a stone into the river as a symbol of the wedding promises made, ever strong and steady as the river of the water ebbs and flows around them. https://wendyhendrycelebrant.com/…/07/22/river-stone-cerem…/
WINE BOX & LOVE LETTER CEREMONY – a good bottle of wine is selected by the couple and placed in a box along with a sealed letter written by each of the couple. The letter describes why they love their partner, and reasons they have chosen to marry them. During the ceremony the box is sealed, either with wax, or with nails, with the box to be opened on their fifth wedding anniversary (or other chosen timeframe). If the couple comes across hard times in their marriage they can choose to open the box earlier, share the wine and read the letters, remembering why they chose each other as life partners and with the view of beginning a conversation of healing. There are variations on the words used, but the symbolism remains similar. It is like a plan for the future, recognizing that life and love isn’t always smooth sailing.
If you’re thinking of running away to beautiful Margaret River for an elopement I offer Short and Sweet Ceremonies which are perfect for such intimate occasions.
My role as a Marriage Celebrant is my main vocation which means I’m available for small mid-week ceremonies and elopements, as well as big or small weekend weddings and celebrations.
No matter what size or shape your ceremony will take, I give a personalised service, putting the same amount of time, professionalism and care into my ceremonies, and the wonderful couples I’m working for. Check out My Services page for information on my ceremony inclusions. Read more about Elopements here.
If you want to run away with the one you love for a summer elopement there are still dates available for January, and a few precious weekend wedding dates left in February. Just remember you need to give a minimum one month notice of intent to marry.
Kelly and Hayden were married on the last day of winter at their property near Yallingup named Wildcroft, surrounded by an intimate gathering of family and friends.
After first meeting back in high school, it took another decade and the help of Facebook from opposite sides of the country for these two lovers to reconnect. Since then life has taken on an awesome direction of togetherness, sharing adventures, making plans for the future, with their beautiful children being the centre of it all. They live on a gorgeous property which has two old cottages onsite which they have inspirational future plans with.
It was one of these cute cottages that were part of their wet weather plan B. They had originally planned the ceremony to be outside on the property, however with the weather looking a little unstable they decided to quickly make the necessary repairs to the cottage to enable to ceremony to take place inside.
Wildcroft Cottages – photo by Wendy
Inside the cottage – photo by Wendy
And what an amazing location it turned out to be, perfectly scrubbed up and styled. You can tell by the photos so beautifully captured by Freedom Garvey Photography that it was unique, cosy, and simply gorgeous! I don’t do many ceremonies indoors, so it was such a wonderful novelty being in this wooden cottage, warmed by the old fashioned wood stove in the tiny kitchen.
The ceremony was relaxed, intimate, and full of love. Kelly and Hayden arrived together in their Datsun 1600, and walked in arm in arm through the back door and up the aisle of delighted guests. During the ceremony their beautiful children Spencer and Emily felt completely at home interacting with the events taking place with Mum and Dad.
Thanks Kelly and Hayden for inviting me to share in this special day with you and your gorgeous family. It was an honour and a joy to be your Celebrant!
Autumn can be such a beautiful time of year in the South West, and the day of Erin and Greg’s May wedding was no exception. Donnelly River Village is an historic mill town nestled in the South West Karri forest between Bridgetown, Nannup and Manjimup. It doesn’t take long to spot the local wildlife, with kangaroos and emus casually strolling around the grounds on a regular basis. During our wedding rehearsal a few kangaroos came to check out what was going on!
The clearing up to the left of the village as you drive in is where the ceremonies usually take place, there is a nice winding path that takes you there, perfect for a beautiful wedding party entrance, and a gravel clearing for the ceremony with some gorgeous tall karri trees surrounding the area.
Erin and Greg’s wedding had some wonderfully unique styling and elements which made it perfect for them. Check out the amazing arbour created and styled by the couple, complete with ‘his and hers’ sheep skulls adorning the top!
To mark this step on their journey together they also asked me to incorporate a Handfasting ritual in their wedding ceremony. ‘Handfasting’ is the ancient word for a wedding and was traditionally recognized as a binding contract of marriage between a couple before weddings became a legal function of the government or the church. Today, it is more of a symbolic ceremony to honour a couple’s desire for commitment to each other, and to acknowledge that their lives and their destinies are now bound together.
Erin and Greg chose to have four ribbons as part of their Handfasting. Their children brought forward three of the ribbons, and then I placed the final ribbon over their joined hands, and tied them, along with some specially chosen words of course. The final tied knot created as they pulled their hands apart can be seen on the signing table photo, which is now a lovely keepsake for them to remember the day by.
I loved helping to create this special ceremony for them. Each couple, and ceremony is special and creates wonderful memories for me to reflect on. Have I mentioned how much I love my job?! If you would like to know more about ceremony rituals you can find some more here – CEREMONY RITUALS
Thanks to Erin and Greg for asking me to be a part of your awesome wedding day! Wishing you much love and happiness into your future.
A wedding ceremony is the formal time of transition for a couple into marriage, with all the legal and heart-led words and actions that go with it. It is also a time where people gather to celebrate the union of the couple who are preparing to spend a lifetime together. For as much as marriage is about a commitment between two people, it is strengthened when nurtured by the community of family and friends surrounding them.
For some couples, acknowledging the importance of those around them, and the support they bring to their lives, is an aspect they want to specifically recognise in their ceremony and there are many ways you can do this. Here are some examples my couples have chosen:
Kathy and Aiden wanted to include their friends and family in the ceremony, and to feel that community of love and support as they made the transition to married life. We discussed ways that this could be done effectively during the ceremony, incorporating the central idea of a time of wishing or blessing to the couple from everyone gathered. What happened was this – As guests arrived they were asked to take a paper heart, and write on it just one word as a blessing or wish for the couple. At a special time in the ceremony a basket was placed on the ground in front of the couple. Guests were invited to come forward with their love note and read their word aloud to the couple as they placed the paper heart in the basket. As this process unfolded it became a wonderful time of connection, blessing and community as a myriad of beautiful single words were expressed to the couple. You can read more about this beautiful wedding here – LOVE NOTES
In a similar way, the wishing stones concept was to bring a sense of community to the ceremony, and give everyone gathered an opportunity to be part of wishing them well in their future in a symbolic way. As guests arrived at the ceremony they were handed a wishing stone and asked to hold it until a certain time in the ceremony. And then after the couple exchanged vows and rings, a beautiful piece of music was played and the gathered community were invited to come forward with their stone and place it in a bowl, whilst making a wish or blessing to the couples future. This simple act became a meaningful time for all involved, with an opportunity to share eye contact and a smile with each person, and to feel the love and support of the people around them.
These two ideas above can be easily incorporated into a ceremony, and adapted to suit the couple. Depending on the size of the gathered guests it can add an extra 5-10 minutes to the ceremony, and takes gentle guidance from the Celebrant to ensure it runs smoothly, and is a meaningful time for all involved.
On a smaller scale, other ways to symbolise the importance of the community around you could be:
If you have a small number of guests, arrange the chairs in a semi circle instead of straight lines – it can feel more like a big hug 🙂
At the beginning of the ceremony I’m sometimes asked to have the parents stand to give their blessing to the marriage, usually in the form of a question with a ‘we do’ answer. This could be extended to inviting all the gathered guests to stand and express their support or blessing to the couple – imagine how loud the ‘we do’ could be!
In many ways, the showering of rose petals, or forming of an archway as the couple walk back up the aisle, can be a way of everyone showing them love and support as they take their first steps into marriage.
Alternatively, instead of walking back up the aisle, asking guests to come forward and congratulate them. They will soon find themselves surrounded by happy well-wishers – this can sometimes become quite the group hug!
These are just a few examples, and each couple is unique in what they want their ceremony to highlight. I’m always happy to step outside the square, and work with my couples to find new ways of recognising the importance of their own community of love, or anything else for that matter!
Chrissy and Shaz were married in the Boranup Forest in an elopement style ceremony which incorporated a special Handfasting ritual with beautiful rainbow ribbons.
When I sat down with Chrissy and Shaz over a cuppa to discuss their ceremony, there were some key things they wanted for their day. It was to be small, intimate ceremony, and they really wanted to incorporate a Handfasting because the symbolism, and pagan origins of this ritual were important to them.
A traditional Handfasting was originally a betrothal ceremony marked by the tying of cords or ribbons around the couples joined hands to represent their union. It is a ritual commonly used in Celtic and Pagan ceremonies, and now also incorporated in both civil and religious ceremonies in various forms. Having only watched a full Handfasting ceremony once before, I was excited for the challenge of incorporating this ritual in Chrissy and Shaz’s elopement in the Boranup Forest in a way that would be meaningful and unique to them.
There are many ways a handfasting can be performed. Some incorporate a single rope that is wrapped and tied around the couples joined hands, and others that incorporate ribbons, or a combination of both, ending with the pulling apart of the hands so the ribbon forms an infinity knot. My approach with weddings is to always seek to reflect the couples wishes in all aspects of the ceremony, especially with something as personal as an elopement. So after discussing a few options we settled on incorporating seven coloured ribbons, six of the rainbow colours, and a final gold ribbon to symbolise the sacred union and blessing. Each colour represented an aspect of life and relationship, and after placing it over their joined hands, a promise was made between them.
Handfasting – Photo by Dian Sarah Photography
After all seven ribbons were placed, they were then wrapped and tied around the joined hands, and I read the poem ‘Blessing of the Hands’. Chrissy and Shaz then went on to exchange their vows, and the final moment of pulling their hands away and tying the infinity knot was made.
To complete the ceremony they then exchanged rings – a visible symbol of the promises made. The infinity knot remains tied, and is now a beautiful keepsake for them to remember this day by.
It was such an honour to prepare and officiate this ceremony for Chrissy and Shaz, and to be with them in this special moment. The ceremony was captured beautifully by Dian Sarah Photography.
I have conducted several Sand Ceremonies since becoming a Celebrant and have found them a lovely symbolic act to include in a wedding ceremony, particularly where there are children involved. So when it came to planning my own wedding ceremony my partner and I were considering ways to involve our four children. As we had a large range in ages we decided that a sand ceremony would work well, and would leave us with something nice to keep afterward to remember the moment by. So I thought I’d share some of the preparation involved in preparing for the ritual.
The Sand – when it came to buying sand I had looked at the many online options. There are an array of ebay and etsy stores that sell packets of sand. However, as we had a rainbow theme, we had specific colours in mind, and liked the idea of involving the children in the creation of the sand. We purchased a bag of white play sand (available from hardware stores) and a packet of chunky chalk. To make the sand flow nicely we dried it out in the oven on baking trays and divided it into six containers. We then grated the chalk into the sand using a fine grater and then mixed it well – the more chalk you grate into the sand, the more intense the colour!
The Jars – There are some really nice sand ceremony kits you can buy online with pouring jars and a central jar. Some of them even come with engraving or individual lettering on the jars. A quick web search will bring up some great options. However you can also go hunting for jars in craft and homewares stores. I came across these lovely pouring jars in Spotlight which were perfect for our ceremony. I usually recommend the centre jar is one that comes with a lid or cork, however I chose one with a wide top (because I liked the jar and don’t follow my own advice) and it had the benefit of being easy to pour into. I will then seal it so we can keep it on display at home.
The Ceremony – the sand jars were arranged on a table to the side of the ceremony. At the right moment the children were called up to the front and we all gathered around the table. As there were six of us, we poured the sand two at a time into the central jar creating a beautiful jar or blended rainbow sand, just like our beautiful rainbow family. It was a simple, but effective way of representing the unity that our wedding was creating. The children loved being a part of it, and so many people commented on what a special moment it was to witness.
A Sand Unity Ceremony is a simple way of creating a symbolic act within your wedding ceremony. There are many other ways of involving children, or in creating something a little different for your ceremony to suit your personalities and situation. You can read a few of these ideas on my Wedding Ceremony Rituals page. Or talk to me about how we can add a little bit of creativity to your ceremony.
Special thanks to Rev Elenie Poulos for guiding us through the ceremony so graciously.
There is a ritual inspired by Celtic traditions, said to be used by early settlers and convicts in Australia, where instead of exchanging rings, as they were far too expensive, the couple would cast a stone into the river as a symbol of the wedding promises made, ever strong and steady as the river of the water ebbs and flows around them.
Tiffany and Corinne were married in February 2018, in the beautiful natural setting of Nanga Bush Camp in Dwellingup, WA. The chosen location for their ceremony was in a clearing alongside the Murray River.
There were many personalised elements to Tiff and Corinne’s ceremony, as they stood together, with their siblings by their side, ready to take the steps to marriage. And although they were exchanging rings, a river stone ritual seemed like a natural choice for such a location, and was a perfect way to complete their wedding ceremony.
After the main part of the ceremony had taken place, and the couple and witnesses had signed the marriage register, the bridal party made their way across the rocks alongside the water. Their attendants, Brie and Daniel handed Tiffany and Corinne a special stone each, chosen for the occasion.
Tiffany and Corrine were asked to hold the stones in their hands to warm them, and feel the smooth, solid weight of them, before exchanging stones with each other. They then turned, and cast them into the river water below, followed by these words of good wishes:
“From this day forward, may your relationship stay strong and solid, as life, like the river, ebbs and flows around you.”
They were then presented for the first time as ‘Mrs and Mrs’ to cheers and applause from friends and family – such a wonderful moment to celebrate!!
I love helping couples find new ways to express their relationship and personalities, and to include creative elements to their ceremony. The river stone ritual worked so well in this setting by the Murray River, and could be adapted by to other locations as inspired. There are ideas for other rituals here.
The photos are by the talented Amy of April Loves Arnold. Many thanks to Tiffany and Corinne for sharing these photos, and their fabulous wedding day with me!
Exchanging Stones – photo by April Loves Arnold
Photo by April Loves Arnold
Signing the Registry – Photo by April Loves Arnold
Final Presentation to Family and Friends – Photo by April Loves Arnold
Exchanging Rings – photo by April Loves Arnold
Final Words – photo by April Loves Arnold
Tiff and Corinne Wedding Ceremony – photo by April Loves Arnold
Brides by the River – photo by April Loves Arnold
River Stone and Rings – photo by April Loves Arnold
After an amazing 20 years together, Tracy and Kim were married in their favorite place – their beautiful home in Rosa Brook, in the Margaret River Region of Western Australia.
The weekend of their wedding day was one of wild storms – heavy rain and wind had been sweeping across the south west for a few days. Luckily they had a ‘plan B’ in mind so the garden ceremony they had been hoping for was put aside, and the ceremony was set up in their (amazingly) renovated shed. The room was adorned with fairy lights, candles and streamers, and the centerpiece was the gorgeous arbor made especially for the occasion and positioned to frame the doors which were opened to look out at the surrounding nature.
In the late afternoon, in somewhat perfect timing, the rain and wind stopped and the sun came out ready for Tracy and Kim to make their way together from the house to their wedding ceremony. It seemed so perfect for them to walk in together and take their place under the arbor. They had been near-inseparable since they met 20 years ago, so it was natural for them to arrive at such a special day by each others side.
As they stood before close friends and family, I think everyone, including me, shed a few happy tears during their ceremony. There was so much love in the room. And as the Monitum was read out, that ‘marriage according to law in Australia is the union of two people…’ it was a wonderful reminder that the law had finally caught up to love! What a beautiful thing to celebrate!
Thank you to Kim and Tracy for allowing me to share some of their story and gorgeous photos. Wishing them many more years of love and happiness in that beautiful place you call home!