What Would They Know? Cara Hodge & Jamie Eastgate of Brisbane City Celebrants

by | Ceremony Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom

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Polka Dot Bride
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Cara and Jamie of Brisbane City Celebrants make a great team. Not only are they a duo in real life, they are also both marriage celebrants. Bringing to their profession a warmth and enthusiasm, which is reflected in the ceremonies they perform, Cara and Jamie are also passionate about working with others in the profession to assist and educate to deliver the best possible ceremonies for all couples. Ceremonies that touch the hearts of the couple and the guests and are engaging, are the most important part of the wedding day and can also set the tone for the celebrations to come. Come and take a peek into Jamie and Cara’s thoughts on all things wedding ceremonies.

How long have you been Celebrants?

Next year we will celebrate 10 years of being Celebrants! We were inspired to create modern, personalised and authentic wedding ceremonies, after our very own wedding (yes we’re a married couple!)

When we first started out we were amongst the youngest Celebrants in Brisbane. Instead of replicating what was already being done, we carefully assessed every part of the ceremony planning process, asking ourselves how can we improve the experience for brides and grooms, at each part of the process. This resulted in innovative, streamlined processes designed to create an easy, stress-free and thoroughly enjoyable experience for our couples.

Even now over 9 years later, we continue to identify and implement new ways to improve the experience we provide our couples.

We began ‘Celebranting’ during the weekends around full-time jobs and soon after our passion for creating modern, seamless and thoroughly enjoyable ceremonies, resulted in a level of demand that enabled us to become fully self-employed, available for weddings 365 days a year!

Our passion for weddings has also led us to explore other passions connected to the industry.

Hearing all about and sharing magical marriage proposal stories every week, inspired Cara to launch her creative outlet Amazing Proposals assisting ‘proposees’ with planning and creating their own unique and memorable marriage proposal. We also developed and have just launched the Brisbane Celebrants Directory supporting the local Celebrant community.

Image by Vellum Studios

What does being a husband and wife celebrant team add to your celebrancy?

Being in this together has been so beneficial to us both and also to our business and clients. We are always bouncing ideas around, like ‘how can this component of the ceremony be improved/ streamlined?’ We’re continually looking for new unique ways to improve the service we provide to our clients to ensure a smooth, stress-free enjoyable experience from the very first contact.

Do you perform ceremonies separately?

Yes. Jamie recently performed his first double wedding (e.g. 2 x couples marrying in turn) and while we could have each performed a ceremony, they decided to have him perform both ceremonies.

When we were newbie Celebrants we use to attend each other’s weddings to assist with music and equipment etc, which was a fantastic opportunity to provide each other with honest feedback and suggestions while we found our feet.

Image by Dreamlife Photography

Do you feel you both have different styles and ways of delivering a ceremony? Has your style changed over the years?

Our style has evolved and our public speaking confidence has improved significantly over the years as we’ve gained more experience presenting ceremonies, reflecting in genuine, authentic and heartfelt ceremonies.

We have a very similar style, modern, seamless, upbeat and professional. We’re also both really strong on alleviating any potential hiccups by being super thorough on the day from triple checking the pronunciation of names, to ensuring the signing chairs are clean and the groom is well equipped with tissues – just in case!

What makes a memorable wedding ceremony?

A wedding and vows that genuinely reflects the individual couple. Simply put, this just ‘feels’ right and guests really connect with that.

What about including pets in your ceremony? Have you seen some unique ways of doing this?

We love our pets, so when our couples talk about involving them in their ceremony we get so excited. We’ve had a best man pretend to lose the rings, then dash off around the corner and return with the couple’s dog, to the surprise of the bride. We’ve also seen lamas and horses with fresh floral lei’s!

Image by Tenille Fink Photographer

What are some questions bridal couples should ask when choosing their celebrant?

There are several important questions to ask to help you establish if this is the best Celebrant for you. One of the top questions would have to be:

Will I get to proof my ceremony wording before the wedding day, and if so when?

We believe it’s really important for couples to see and proof their ceremony before the special day for a number of reasons:

–       You know exactly what to expect on the day. You know how the ceremony flows, allowing you to relax and connect with each other. Knowing exactly what to expect will really help with reducing any pre-wedding nerves.

–       You have the opportunity to make any changes/edits you wish, so the ceremony really reflects you as a couple.

–       There will be no unwanted or awkward ‘surprises’ on the day.

–       You can confirm or edit any pre or post wedding announcements that you need the Celebrant to make (e.g. announcing that it’s an unplugged wedding or advising the guests where to gather before the reception commences).

–       Last but certainly not least you can be assured that the Celebrant hasn’t got you mixed up with another couple and gets both your love story and your names correct.

We suggest asking if your Celebrant will email a draft of your ceremony wording for your review and ask them when you can expect to receive this.

Try to avoid having your Celebrant send you through your ceremony to review too close to your wedding date.

On the weeks and days leading up to your wedding, couples are typically flat out, getting all the little details finalised. You will barely have time to really absorb what you have been provided, let alone have time to plan, write and include your own segments, such as sharing the story of how you met. So the earlier in to the planning phase you can work on and finalise your ceremony the better.

For more of Brisbane City Celebrants ‘Must Ask’ questions, view our previous Polka Dot Bride article here:

10 Questions To Ask When Choosing Your Wedding Celebrant

Image by Naomi V Photography

How can you tell from a celebrant’s website if they might be the right celebrant for you?

Do the photos of them in action on their websites reflect the kind of ceremony you have in mind? Do the couple look connected, are the guests engaged?

We highly recommend viewing video clips of Celebrants in action on their website, this is the best way to gauge if the tone in which they present the ceremony is suited to the atmosphere you have in mind for your special day.

Do you encourage couples to personalize their ceremony as much as possible? What sort of assistance are you able to give the couple in this regard?

We absolutely encourage personalized, genuine ceremonies. We meet with all our couples and discuss every aspect of the ceremony from which pre wedding announcements they would like to include, if they would like to acknowledge marriage equality in their ceremony, through to how they would like to be announced at the end of the ceremony.

Image by Pelizzari Photography + Film

How much contact do you have with the couple before the wedding?

We are always readily available to answer any questions our couples may have and we like to give our couples a call the day before their wedding to reconfirm all the finer details (ensuring times and locations haven’t changed) and answer any niggly little questions they may have.

Do you believe that rehearsals are a good idea, or do you find that spontaneity works the best on the wedding day?

We have increasingly found that many couples believe that a rehearsal takes away some of the magic of the day, so as an alternative we have created a rehearsal tutorial style video exclusively for our clients which talks them through every little detail of how they can expect the ceremony to flow on the day. This has been a huge hit with our clients!

How do calm the nervous bride and groom before the ceremony?

We believe there is a very fine line between nerves and excitement, so we focus on the positives and reassure them that they can relax and we will guide them through the ceremony.

What advice do you have for the bridal couple during their wedding day?

Trust in the professional suppliers you have carefully selected, enjoy being surrounded by everyone that is special to you, and get some time out together on your special day.

Image by Tenille Fink Photographer

We’d love some advice for the groomsmen and bridesmaids. What are the most important things for them to do for the bridal couple?

On the day be proactive when it comes to thinking of anything they may need before they actually realise they need it, to save them worrying/organizing things on the day. Offer to take any duties/ chores they have off them so they aren’t feeling busy or stressed with the small stuff.

How do you spread your knowledge of celebrancy to new celebrants? Do you believe that this is an important part of your job?

We believe everyone deserves an amazing wedding ceremony that is also legally valid whether they are our clients or not. So we created a public Facebook page called Celebrants Australia with a couple of fellow passionate and knowledgeable Celebrants assisting us as admins. This is a great place for communicating new information, any changes from BDM or the Attorney-General’s office and providing ‘refresher’ snacks of information to Celebrants to help increase knowledge and raise the bar of the profession.

What interests outside your careers do you like to involve yourselves in?

Outside of weddings we are passionate about our fur family, travel and renovations – and each other!

Living in Queensland, can you let us know some of the more unusual places to visit for a honeymoon in your State?

Palm Beach and Magnetic Island are amongst our top picks for less known about romantic honeymoon locations.

Thank you Cara and Jamie for sharing your story. You’ll know that you’re in the best hands with Brisbane City Celebrants – both Cara and Jamie are dedicated to providing the best possible wedding ceremony. To find out more about Brisbane City Celebrants visit the website.

Headshot image by Poppy Lane Photography.

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