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

 

 

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

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!

What happens at the Wedding Rehearsal?

No matter how big or small, formal or informal your wedding is going to be I will always recommend a wedding rehearsal, preferrably in the week leading up to your big day.  Some of you might be wondering what the rehearsal is all about, so here’s what usually happens at mine, and why I love them so much.

Nannup rehearsal Insta pic

To start with, I’m usually pretty excited when the wedding rehearsal day finally arrives. Often this wedding has been in the planning stages for many months, and in the last month there will have been emails to and fro with ceremony drafts, and all of the final details falling into place.  For the couple, the excitement (and sometimes stress) is building, and all of the planning and dreaming is starting to become a reality.  So the wedding rehearsal is a defined time set aside to think about the actual ceremony, which in my mind is one of the key events in the wedding day process!

Here are some things that usually happen, and why I like them:

  • Meet the couple again (and they meet me!) – sometimes we may have only met a few times, or even for the first time if the booking was made long distance! It’s so nice to connect with my gorgeous couples again after so much planning.  Sometimes I also get to meet the bridal party and key people involved – it’s lovely to put a face to the names of the people you are involving in your special day.  If you are having a big bridal party its a good idea to have them come along too, it will help if they know what’s going on, and helps calm their nerves too!
  • Walk through the actual ceremony – this is an informal run through preferably in the ceremony setting.  During this time you will be able to rehearse how you will enter the ceremony, and details such as the time it will take to walk ‘down the aisle’ in whatever way you had planned.   We can all work out where everyone will stand – I’m happy to make suggestions, and I tend to move around where humanly possible to ensure I’m out of the way for the big photo moments (like THE KISS, and the pronouncing), but I’m always happy to stand the way you would prefer.  Some settings lend themselves well to different standing arrangements – the rehearsal is a great time to make these final decisions.
  • Each ceremony is unique, so we also go through any particular situations, such as where the reader might stand, how the vows will be read, where we will sign the register, and the logistics of sand ceremonies and other rituals.  There may also be music timing to consider, whether live, or played through my PA system. The goal here is so that on the wedding day, when it’s all happening, you can feel more confident knowing you have walked in the space, and know what the sequence of events is leading to your momentous walk back up the aisle, married!
  • Work out our plan B (or C even depending on the location and weather). By this stage we usually have an idea of the weather and what might be in store for us on the big day.  It’s good to agree on alternate ceremony plans, and how they will be implemented to avoid stress on the day.
  • Sit down for a moment… and breathe! Often I will have your final ‘Declaration of No Legal Impediment’ ready to sign with me.  This is a great excuse to sit down together for a moment for a chat, make sure everything is clear, and everyone is happy.  The wedding day is usually a bit of a whirlwind, even for the most casual of weddings, so I always enjoy seeing my couple face to face, answer any questions, and reassure them that everything is going to be great (which it will be of course!)
  • Just general excitement – the wedding rehearsal means the big day is just around the corner – yippee!!

A wedding rehearsal is always included in my quoted pricing.  If time or distance is a problem, I usually try and work out an alternative.  There will sometimes be situations where a rehearsal isn’t humanly possible, and if that’s the case I will discuss the details with you by email or phone as the big day gets closer, and gently guide you on the day.

See you at the rehearsal!

Wendy x

*Feature Image – Kathy and Aidan’s wedding rehearsal starring the sweet Bo-Jangles practising his ring bearing skills – photo by ZuZu 🙂

Fairharvest wedding rehearsal Insta

Amongst Nature

I love weddings, I always have. And now I’m lucky enough to experience them from one of the best seats in the house.  From where I stand I can see it all unfold like a mini fairytale each time, complete with the nerves, the tears, the intensity, and those little moments between the couple when they realise they are standing in the place they have been planning and dreaming about for so long.

Wharncliffe Mill Entry - WGH Celebrant

The day of Jessica and Shannon’s wedding was one of the warmest and brightest Spring days we had experienced in the South West so far this season, perfect for their wedding amongst nature at Wharncliffe Mill.  Wharncliffe Mill is a bush retreat located in the Bramley National Park, Margaret River.  The entry to the property off the main road takes you down a long gravel lane past tall trees, adorned with cheerful bunting.  Nestled amongst the campsite is a natural amphitheatre, set in the bush surrounded by tall trees, perfect for a wedding ceremony.

When we were all set to go, the music began and the bridal party made their way carefully down the amphitheatre steps, accompanied by the groomsmen in turn.  Then we all waited for that moment when Jess was to appear with her Dad, and the Bride and Groom would see each for the first time that day.  I still catch my breath at this moment – it is always so beautiful and full of happy emotion. Jessica made her way to the front, accompanied proudly by her Father, ready to take the next steps into married life.

Wine Barrel Signing Table - Wharncliffe Mill - J&S WeddingThe ceremony was down to earth and sweet – a lighthearted telling of their love story, the exchange of vows and rings, a wonderful happy kiss, the signing of legal papers resting on a wine barrel, and some words of blessing to send them on their way.  As the closing words were spoken and they were presented as Mr & Mrs to their family and friends for the first time, a kookaburra decided to join in with the final moments creating a perfect end to a ceremony in the bush!

 

I’m so thankful to have been a part of their special day. Wishing Jessica and Shannon a lifetime of love and happiness together.

Wendy x

Yallingup Foreshore

PHILIP & NATASHA – 25 March 2017
We gathered on the grassed area of the Yallingup Foreshore for Phil & Natasha’s morning ceremony overlooking the ocean. The day started out cloudy and overcast, and as our ceremony began the skies cleared and the sun shone down.

It was a beautiful heartfelt ceremony to be a part of which included a Sand Unity Ceremony involving all of the children.  Often marriages not only unite the bride and groom, they unite families. The sand ceremony was a beautiful way to symbolise this new beginning for them all.

I was delighted to receive these gorgeous photos by In Sight Photography from the couple so I could share their beautiful day with you.

Much love and light to Philip, Natasha and thier family as they continue on into married life together! xx

Love Notes

It was a beautiful clear summers day as we gathered to celebrate Kathy and Aidan’sCeremony Arbor Fair Harves - Wendy Grace Hendry Celebrant wedding at Fair Harvest in Margaret River.  As a working permaculture farm, Fair Harvest conveys a
genuine south west rural feel with an extra wholesome twist. As guests arrived they took a stroll along the tree lined lane up to the clearing on the hill, overlooking the farm, and surrounded by tall trees of the forest.  The path to the ceremonial space was lined with paper flowers, and the ceremony arbor was adorned with colourful paper cranes, shells and flowers. After getting to know Kathy and Aidan as we planned their ceremony I could see why they chose such a place of natural beauty, bathed in peace and simplicity.

There were so many unique moments in this ceremony that reflected the values of the couple, and created a wonderful atmosphere of love and community.  By request, my welcome included an acknowledgement of the Aboriginal land on which we were standing – something I was both delighted and humbled to do.  The couple read beautiful vows to each other which they were hearing for the first time –  I’m fairly confident there was not a dry eye in the place afterwards.  And as a beautiful touch, their fur baby Bo-Jangles had the important role of ring bearer.  He was indeed a good boy, and super handsome in his fancy bow!

However it was the love notes that brought a next level uniqueness to this beautiful celebration.  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 Kathy and Aidan 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.

The warmth of these blessings, and the notes to accompany them, will be a wonderful keepsake as they move on to the next chapter of their lives together.

It was an honour to be a part of this wonderful celebration.  Love, joy and peace to Kathy and Aidan into their future together.

Wendy x

Thanks to Kathy and Aidan for allowing me to share some of their photos, captured by Zuzu.

 

A Family Centred Ceremony

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The Bush Chapel at Willy Bay Resort

The day of Amy and Ethan’s summer wedding was warm and bright, perfect for their outdoor ceremony in the bush chapel at Willy Bay Resort in Metricup.  With an intimate gathering of close family and friends, the presence of children in the bridal party and among the gathered guests helped set the scene for a relaxed family friendly celebration of love.

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Sand Unity Ceremony – photo by Kendra Benson Photography

To involve their young children in the day, and to acknowledge the important step they were taking as a family, Amy and Ethan chose for them to take part in a Sand Unity Ceremony.  Each jar contained something special to symbolise the individual – a special colour, sand sourced from a favourite beach, and even a jar of tiny shells for little Evie.  As they poured the sand into their central jar, with a few spills and laughter along the way, we all felt we had witnessed a special moment of memory making for the family.  Once combined, the grains can never be completely separated – the newly created jar of blended sand and shells will now be a keepsake in their home to remember it by.

Having shared the sand ceremony together, they stood as a family under the bush chapel arbor as the couple were pronounced as married, ready to take on the next chapter of their lives.

“Being a family means you are a part of something very wonderful. It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life.” Lisa Weedn

It was a pleasure getting to know this beautiful family as we planned their special day together.  Wishing Amy and Ethan much love, joy and laughter into the future.

With thanks to Kendra Benson Photography for use of her beautiful photos from the day!

Wendy x