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

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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

 

 

Handfasting Elopement

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.

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.

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Sand Unity Ceremony

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.  IMG_0746There 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 withSand Pouring Jars 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.

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The beautiful moment where the sand is poured, captured by Kelly Harwood Photography

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.

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Our Sand Unity Ceremony set up and ready – photo by Kelly Harwood Photography

Special thanks to Rev Elenie Poulos for guiding us through the ceremony so graciously.

 

Wendy x

There’s No Place Like Home

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.

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Here come the brides! Photo by Kelly Harwood Photography

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!

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Tracy and Kim exchanging rings – photo by Kelly Harwood Photography

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!

Wendy x

Photos by the talented Kelly Harwood Photography –  https://kellyharwoodphotography.pixieset.com/

See also – Equal Love

Equal Love

Yesterday was the second time I’ve had the joy of saying the new ‘Monitum’ wording with two wonderful women in front of me as they prepare to marry.  It is such a simple changing to the wording – “Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people…” but those simple words ‘two people’ represent so much to so many who have been waiting for this change for such a long time.

My wedding yesterday in Margaret River was between two people who had been together for a fabulous 20 years, and were finally able to be legally married in front of their family and friends at their home. They were able to celebrate the amazing discovery of unconditional love, and the joy of life shared with their soulmate and best friend.  What a wonderful moment it was to speak those new words to this couple, confirming that their love is equal in the eyes of the law in Australia.  I must confess, even though I’ve been saying these words for a few months now, I got a little emotional reciting the Monitum this time – I’m only human!

Hopefully I will have some photos to share of this beautiful day soon, but for now take in the simplicity and power of this line of the Monitum:

marriage equality monitum - Wendy Hendry Celebrant

 

Bagpipes Over Gnarabup Beach

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 the bridal party made their way down onto the beach to the waiting Groom Luke and his groomsmen, dressed in traditional Scottish attire.

Charlotte and Luke Wedding Ceremony Wendy Hendry Celebrant - photo by Driftwood Photography

Luke and Charlotte’s ceremony was simple and intimate, shared by a close circle of family and friends.  Due to the wonders of technology, the ceremony was also live-streamed to their family in Scotland who were able to watch on as Luke and Charlotte exchanged vows and rings, some 14,000km’s away.  As they were pronounced married, the bagpipes once again sounded out over Gnarabup Beach, in celebration of Charlotte and Luke’s union.

Thanks to Luke and Charlotte for asking me to be a part of your wedding day, and sharing these photos with me to remember it by. A truly wonderful ceremony to be a part of!

Wendy x

Photos by Tom Pearsall, of Driftwood Photography.

Ceremony and Reception – Barefoot Beach Weddings

Family Unity Puzzle

When I plan a ceremony with my couples I offer a set of resources which includes some ideas for wedding ceremony rituals. This is not everyone’s cup of tea, so if that’s the case we skip over that part and move onto the next.  However for some couples, the idea of marking the moment in time with a special action or ritual brings an extra element to their wedding that they were hoping for. I like to encourage people to be creative with this, and find something that is going to suit. A great example of this is the Love Notes.

Lisa and Mark wanted to find a way to include their three children in the wedding ceremony so I was delighted when Lisa contacted me with the concept of the Family Jigsaw Puzzle, or Family Unity Puzzle.  At a special time in the ceremony, each person in the family would take a piece of the puzzle and place it together to make the whole picture.  I loved it! And so I set to work writing some words that would suit. There is such lovely symbolism in the idea of each person being a special part of the family, and having a unique connection with each other.

On the day at Arimia Winery in Margaret River, the puzzle was set out on a table, ready to be put together again.  Unity Puzzle - Wendy Grace Hendry CelebrantIt was particularly special that Lisa had made the puzzle herself, giving it an extra uniqueness, and a wonderful keepsake for the family for years to come.  When it came to connecting the pieces, the family gathered around the table and placed the pieces together on the frame, completing the picture, and marking that special moment in time.

I love working with my couples to find the best way to express their uniqueness in their wedding ceremony.  Sometimes it’s simply in the style of ceremony, or in the personalised vows, or choice of poem, and sometimes it’s in working together to find new ideas of symbolising and celebrating that moment in time .

Thank you to Lisa and Mark for giving me permission to share their idea with everyone.

Wendy x

Arimia Winery Margaret River - Wendy Grace Hendry Celebrant
Arimia Winery Wedding, Margaret River

 

Bridgetown Wedding

Tucked away just out of the picturesque town of Bridgetown is a property called Bridgetown Gardens. It was here, under a beautiful tunnel of Wisteria that Jessica & Travis became husband and wife.

Jess and Travis have known each other since high school, first meeting on the school bus, and their wedding was a celebration of these sweet beginnings, and the bright future that lies ahead of them.

A few lovely highlights – as we were setting up, the wind was a bit strong at times, blowing across the ceremony space, so the groomsmen kindly decided to stand on the opposite side to the rehearsal so the bride and bridesmaid’s hair wouldn’t blow the wrong way (so thoughtful!); as the littlest flower girl made her way down the steps she took their time admiring the scenery, and looking at the flowers, so a bridesmaid (who happened to also be her Mum) scooped her up and carried her the rest of the way; Jess and Travis exchanged surprise personal vows, having everyone in both tears and laughter; and finally, their Mum’s had the honour of being their witnesses for the paperwork, which I’m sure was a lovely moment for them both.

Thank you to Jess and Travis for inviting me across to Bridgetown to share in your beautiful day, and for sending me these lovely photos by Victoria Baker Photography who captured the whole wedding so well (set up photos by me).

Wendy x

As a side note, if you ever see me wearing my extra large wind sock on my microphone, it’s to stop the rushing wind noise being amplified by the speaker – it works a treat on windy days, but doesn’t look quite as pretty! 

Country Garden Wedding

Tucked away in Quedjinup, between Yallingup and Dunsborough in the South West of WA, is a beautiful property called Yallingup Brook.  It was here, in the cool lush gardens on a warm November day that Jasmyn and Bradley became husband and wife.

“You know you’ve found the one, when your favourite thing to do together is Sunday walks along the beachfront and simply spending time together.”

Jasmyn and Bradley’s love shone through in the ceremony, and it was beautiful to witness them exchanging their personal vows to each other that they were hearing for the first time.

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Those ‘just married’ happy moments!

They wanted a simple relaxed ceremony, surrounded by family and friends, with their little boy Koby by their side.  Koby and his cousin looked like bundles of cuteness in their special tulle-filled cart to sit in for the ceremony.  Of course, like most little ones, he was happiest in his parents arms by the end of the ceremony, joining them in their walk back up the aisle as Mr & Mrs!

I’m so thankful this beautiful family asked me to be part of their special moments.  Wishing Jasmyn, Bradley and Koby a lifetime of happiness and memory making.

Wendy x

 

ps. thanks for sharing your photos with me!