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Planning A Wedding, Celebrant Style – Part I

by | Inspired Plans, Weddings


Koren Harvey - Marriage Celebrant Melbourne
Find me on Ms Polka Dot's Directory |

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Image by Red Butterfly Photography via Weddings Are Not A Competitive Sport

I go to a wedding every weekend. No exaggeration. I talk about weddings every day of the week, read about them every day of the week and write about them… yes, every day of the week. Given my passion for all things wedding-related, it would be fair to assume that I had been planning my wedding since I was five, but you’d be wrong.

Did I dream about my wedding day from time to time? Sure. But until Dave proposed, that’s all it was – a daydream. Once we actually were engaged, I wanted it to be our wedding, not just mine. If our wedding was going to be a celebration of the life and love we share, it needed to celebrate our relationship, not just things I happened to like.

Much to my relief, Dave was also very keen to jump into the planning. He has been to a lot of weddings with me and, perhaps unusually for a man his age, has a lot of thoughts about what our wedding should feel like. After we returned from overseas and announced our engagement, we set about planning the day. Together.

Given what I do for a living, it’s probably not surprising to learn that getting the ceremony right was our first priority. The ceremony sets the tone for the whole day and, let’s face it – it’s the reason for the day. Without the marriage, it’s just one very expensive party, so choosing the right celebrant was imperative. We wanted someone warm and sincere, who would be engaging and relaxed without being flippant. We wanted someone who would do our story justice, who would make our guests feel part of the day and who would put us at ease if any nerves flared up.

It was an easy decision. We had long known that my friend and mentor, Amanda Matler of Splendid Ceremonies, ticked all of our boxes so as soon as we had settled on a month, I called and asked what days she was available in July. We were always going to marry in winter – not only did it make it easier for overseas guests to attend during their summer break, it is also slow season for weddings. I knew we stood a greater chance of getting the venue and suppliers we wanted if we went with a colder month. Luckily for us, Amanda told us we could have any date we wanted. We were in business!

If there is one piece of advice I can impart to brides it is this – do not leave finding your celebrant until the last minute. Trust me, you do not want to be worrying two months out from your wedding if it will, in fact, be a wedding at all if there’s no one there to conduct it. Start looking for your celebrant as soon as you set a date. You need to bond with your celebrant, trust them, relate to them. If you do, your guests will too, but finding the right person isn’t as simple as finding someone who is available. Bear in mind that many celebrants conduct only one ceremony each day and once the date is gone, it’s gone!

With our celebrant locked in, our next step was to look at venues. While neither of us had a theme in mind, we both knew how we wanted our reception to feel and that led to us choosing a restaurant. Given that our happiest nights are usually spent entertaining friends at home, chatting and laughing over dinner and a few bottles of red, it didn’t take us long to work out that we wanted our reception to feel similar to a relaxed dinner party. We had three non-negotiables for our venue – it had to offer great food, excellent wines and an authentic atmosphere.

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Photo by Sarah Collins of Love Katie + Sarah

Early in my celebrant career I married a couple in the gallery at Church St Enoteca. It stayed with both Dave and I for its warmth, elegance and art deco styling and Dave has long considered it his favourite wedding venue. We’d eaten there on numerous occasions and knew the Italian-inspired menu (the tiramisu. Oh, the tiramisu!), fantastic wines and attentive service were second to none. Once we decided on a restaurant reception, it was the only place we looked at. They also had availability in July. Second item checked off!

Finding a ceremony venue was a little harder. It had to be indoors as Melbourne in winter (who am I kidding? Melbourne at any time of year) can be an inhospitable place. It also couldn’t be somewhere that I had married a lot of couples as I didn’t want to associate the day with other weddings. After searching out a few new venues, we decided on the Victoria Police Academy Chapel.

A former Catholic seminary, the chapel was built as a Basilica and although it is now non-denominational, it retains the character of a grand church. With a renaissance ceiling, romanesque arches and lots of natural light, it provided the sense of occasion we were after and the flexibility to have the ceremony we wanted. And what do you know? It was also available in July. Hey presto, we had our ceremony venue.

With the big three locked in, we only had two more items on our must-book list. As for what they were…. that’s the next post!

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Ms Gingham says: Koren is definitely someone who is speaking from experience. Listen up girls!

Koren Harvey says: “I love standing with a groom waiting for his bride to arrive and watching the emotions well up in his eyes. I love seeing the joy on a bride’s face when she catches sight of her husband-to-be. I love what I do. Being a celebrant is the best job in the world.”

Desiree & Andrew’s Bali Destination Wedding

by | Inspired Weddings, Inspired Weddings, Weddings,



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Andrew and Desiree

During the wedding preparation months, me and bridesmaids were joking around about the worst things that can happen on the wedding day (i.e missing rings, wedding cake toppled, catering drama, etc), and guess what, we could not find the rings until 1 hour prior to the ceremony and the priest had a flat tire and was 1 hour late! But after all of those “excitements” the day went smoothly and everyone had a memorable time. icon smile Desiree & Andrews Bali Destination Wedding

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We chose Bali because we wanted a wedding that was part family and a friends holiday too, and considering that Bali is close and I speak the native tongue, it was an easy decision for us. We chose Ayana Resort in Jimbaran Bay because the place is absolutely breathtaking and they can accommodate a large wedding group (being Indonesian, a big wedding is a must :)). None of our guests were local Balinese so we had people flying in from Melbourne, Sydney, Jakarta, Singapore, Switzerland and London and it was definitely an interesting time when I had to plan the wedding and play travel agent at the same time in helping our guests to plan their Bali holidays. Most of our guests stayed in Ayana and Seminyak, and we had parties and dinners prior to the big day which was a lot of fun.

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My dress was designed by Pamela Usanto who is a good Indonesian friend of mine and she translated what I briefed her to be exactly what I wanted. Pam is so helpful and easy-going, and most of all, her attention to detail is second to none so I was over the moon with the result. For the after party, I changed into a dress from Collette Dinnigan Bridal. I am a proud Indonesian and I always try to wear Indonesian made products; so my shoes are from Niluh Djelantik and they are beautiful and very comfortable, I can run in those 15 cm stilettos! We got the bridesmaids dresses from Zimmerman and for the boys, we had the suits and shirts custom made by my partner’s Hong Kong tailor who comes down to Melbourne once a year. My make-up artist is an old friend of mine called Sugi Martono and the bridesmaids make up were done by New Melati Salon. We wanted to have a mix of Indonesian and Australian culture on the day so we had both mother of bride and groom wearing traditional Indonesian kebaya. The flower girls wore the same and they all look gorgeous!

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I managed to stumble upon a local Balinese photographer called Gusde and I can’t recommend him highly enough! Gusde and the team were lovely to work with, professional but relaxed at the same time (they joked around with me on the day so I was not too stressed out during the missing ring episode) and they gave me the copy of all of the photos 3 days after on a USB, all organized in subfolders to take back to Melbourne, amazing!

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Overall, we are both glad to have had our wedding held in Bali, it was such a memorable trip for us and our guests, and it gives us an excuse to go back there every year to celebrate our wedding anniversary. icon smile Desiree & Andrews Bali Destination Wedding

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Images by Gusde

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Ms Gingham says: I just love following our couple’s wedding stories! We’ve seen Desiree and Andrew’s engagement party and e-session and it’s so lovely to see it all come together in such a beautiful wedding. Congratulations to you both!

Desiree says: “My name is Desiree Sutrisno, I moved down to Melbourne from Jakarta, Indonesia 14 years ago to study and ended up living in Melbourne until now. What can I say, every time I try to leave this country, it always pull me back in, I do love Melbourne.”

Bride’s Dress: Pamela Usanto / Bride’s Dress: Collette Dinnigan Bridal / Bride’s Shoes: Niluh Djelantik / Bridesmaid Dresses: Zimmerman / Photographer: Gusde

Inspired Words – Jaci

by | Inspired Words, Weddings


Ms Herringbone

garden wedding3 Inspired Words Jaci

We just love when a couple casts tradition aside and makes the day one that is unique to them. Jaci has these words of wisdom to share from her Backyard Garden Wedding to Ben:

“Don’t feel bound by convention – make your wedding day the day that YOU want.”

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 Inspired Words Jaci

 Inspired Words Jaci

Photography by  Bek Grace Photography

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