Donnelly River Wedding

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.

Wendy x

Some photos used are from Henderson Photographics, and some are my own.

Community of Love

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:

Love Notes

Kathy and Aidan Wedding 1
Kathy and Aidan’s Fair Harvest wedding – Bo-Jangles was a super handsome ring bearer in his fancy bow. Photo by Zuzu.

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

Wishing StonesWendy Grace Hendry Celebrant wishing well ritual

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!

More ideas of symbolic actions and ceremony ritual here – Wedding Ceremony Rituals

 

 

Winter Wedding

The South West of WA is particularly beautiful in the winter time, though a little chilly and rainy at times. The weekend of Steven and Desiree’s wedding at Eight Willows Retreat in Metricup was perfect – a bit of sunshine, a light breeze and a break from the usual June rain.

We gathered under the willow tree, with the lake stretched out behind us. It was a beautiful setting for the large bridal party, gathered around the couple to support them through this wonderful moment.

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Under the willow tree – photo by Viva! Life Photography Weddings

The ceremony included a Sand Unity Ceremony with the children to signify the moment of new beginnings for this lovely family.  Each family member had their own glass jar personalised with their initial and filled with coloured sand.


A wonderful winter wedding! Wishing Steve & Desiree much love, light and happiness into the future.

With thanks to Viva Life Photography Weddings for the use of some of the photos in this story.

Wendy x