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How To Write Your Wedding Vows

by | Ceremony Wisdom, Wisdom


Joshua Withers, Joshua Withers, the world's most rad marriage celebrant

FrenchInspiredBridalShoot 166 550x366 How To Write Your Wedding Vows

Photo by Just For Love Photography

In my profession as a marriage celebrant, my daily struggle is wedding vows. Not my own, thankfully. But in helping people with their vows. Some people want to write their own vows but then they go home and just Google someone else’s and use them, and then some are so scared of the thought of saying vows let alone writing them. So I wanted to tell everyone else what I tell the scared non-wedding-vowers.

First of all, so we’re all on the same page, a vow is a statement you make, not a question you answer. So anything involving ‘I do’ or ‘I will’ is not a vow, it’s an asking or a question.

vow. noun. A solemn promise.

Secondly, your vow is for one person and one person only, the bride or groom standing across from you. It’s ok for everyone else to listen, to laugh, or to cry, but your vow has an audience of one. So writing jokes for everyone’s entertainment isn’t my version of a good vow.

Thirdly, your vow is the most honest, real, and meaningful thing you’re doing on your wedding day. Before then it’s been all preparation, makeup and tying ties. Then your celebrant will encourage you on how awesome marriage is and why you’re making a really good decision to get married. And now, it’s a moment of reality and honesty as we hear from the “accused” (that’s a husband joke). After that it’s all drinks, food and party.

One more point defining what a vow is: there are no standard vows, normal vows, traditional vows or “the vows” that we celebrants have as a backup. There are Catholic vows, or Anglican vows, or the vows from that movie, or that list of vows from that blog post. In Australia there’s also the bare minimum legal vows that are required by the Marriage Act of 1961, if you’re in a civil ceremony at least. But the legal vows are all about you identifying yourself and your bride or bridegroom in front of your witnesses and confessing that you would like her or him to be your wife or husband. There’s nothing in there about death doing you part.

The problem with Googling vows or even using traditional church vows is that they are someone else’s vows for someone else’s wedding that was celebrating someone else’s marriage. Not yours.

So now you’re left with a blank page after I’ve smashed all of your googling and tradition. Sorry.

This is how to write your wedding vows : make them a response to the awe inspiring moment you’ll be taking part in, your marriage ceremony, and in response to the even more inspiring person you are partaking in that ceremony with, your bride or groom.

Respond to that moment, and make a vow. I’m not going to tell you what to vow, but in Australia at the very least you’ll need to vow to take them as your wife or husband. From there on I’ll let you choose what you would like to vow to, after all, I don’t know your fiancé or your relationship.

The final thing I would encourage you to do is to make your partner feel like a million dollars. The rest of the wedding day is an ‘everyone affair’, but for 5 minutes forget about everyone else and make your bride or groom feel like the princess or prince they are. Make sure they know with no doubt how you feel, how they make you feel, and what vow you are making in response to the commitment you’re both entering into.

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Ms Gingham says: Probably the best post on writing your wedding vows that I have read. And I’ve read one or two.

Joshua Withers is a pretty cool marriage celebrant, according to his local barista and wife. If you click this link the wonders of the Internet will magically transfer you to his own website which even has a photo of him on it!

What Would They Know? Rhonda Yap of The Dainty Baker

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


Polka Dot Bride

 The Dainty Baker What Would They Know? Rhonda Yap of The Dainty Baker

Cupcakes, couture cakes and all sorts of sweet treats are created in the kitchen of The Dainty Baker. With a delicate touch Rhonda creates goodies we ordinary mortals can only dream about – not only for a sumptuous dessert table, but also the cake of your dreams for your wedding, or special celebration. As Rhonda says “I invite you to join me on my sweet little adventure” – and an adventure it is, in both new and interesting flavours, and a feast for the eyes and tastebuds!

What is your background, and how were you inspired to start your business, The Dainty Baker?

People don’t believe me when I say I used to work in the Engineering/Construction industry. But I have a Bachelor in Civil Engineering and Commerce and also committed 4 years to working with a large Building Contractor. I soon decided that I wasn’t following what I have always loved doing…Cakes. So I headed off to complete a course in European Pastry Arts in the United States. Upon my return to Sydney I started up my own company called the Dainty Baker and have not looked back since.

The Dainty Baker3 What Would They Know? Rhonda Yap of The Dainty Baker

Which is your favourite cake to make?

This isn’t strictly a cake but I do enjoy making Pate a choux (or what most know as being a croquembouche). I find when I deliver them they always draw an amazing reaction because of their height and artistic appearance. Witnessing the reaction from a crowd is what makes my work so enjoyable for me and that is something I always get with the croqeumbouche.

Do you have a signature or special decorative element that you are known for?

I think piping is one of the things that makes each cake personnel and distinguishes it from any other. It adds the artistic character to the cake and allows me to use my creative side the most. I like knowing that no pattern or swirl will ever be exactly the same and its what makes the cake yours and not just another cake.

Included in your Premium Flavours are Pandan Pandemomium and a cake made from the Durian fruit. Would you describe them?

As far as I remember I have been making Asian desserts. I used to enjoy making them almost as much as I did eating them! These were probably the first steps of the Dainty Baker without me even knowing it. Obviously once I started baking the amount of Asian desserts I made decreased until I thought “why not combine the two”. By doing so I was hoping to let people try something that they may not have had before and for those that have to let them experience them in a very different way.

Both Pandan and Durian are very widely used and recognizable flavors throughout Asia. Pandan is a flavor that is extracted from a leaf by the process of boiling/infusing the Pandan into whatever you are making with it. This process is comparable to that of tea. The scent itself has a recognizable sweetness which is widely used throughout Asia in many different recipes from cream to sticky rice to cakes. Durian is a notoriously smelly fruit. People either love it or hate it but past the very recognizable smell is a unique enjoyable taste. The fruit itself is covered in spikes but the inside is creamy and almost like a custard texture. I incorporate this into my cake by pairing it with my smooth swiss buttercream filling. This adds to the creamy richness and enhances the sweet delicate flavor of the fruit.

The Dainty Baker4 What Would They Know? Rhonda Yap of The Dainty Baker

What sort of cakes/sweet treats do you suggest for a dessert table?

Dessert tables are getting more and more popular. I love their appearance and how easy it is to create a personal theme whether it be a kids birthday or an engagement party. I try to encourage a range of cakes and sweets so that peoples eyes are made to dart between macarons, mini cakes, lollies, cookies, pate a choux etc. You should be standing there stuck with what you are going to pick up first.

Any suggestions for the set up of the dessert table?

I often suggest that the wedding cake should be the center piece of a dessert table. I therefore introduce as much height as possible so that it towers above the rest of the desserts on offer. However, depending on the style and feel of your wedding, the dessert table could be customized with endless possibilities to completely personalize it for your special day.

The Dainty Baker2 What Would They Know? Rhonda Yap of The Dainty Baker

Describe your ultimate wedding cake, and dessert table? 

Oh no… this is a dangerous one! Despite the fact that I make desserts and wedding cakes, I am a huge fan and connoisseur of interesting and new desserts, they excite my palate and intrigue me. I think I would love to have signature desserts from all the fabulous chefs (snow egg, strawberry watermelon cake, anything from Burch and Purchese to name but a few) coupled with a selection of all the different types of wedding cakes available e.g. Croquembouche, Kransekake, macaron tower, modern fondant cakes. All of it would be displayed on a beautiful table with gorgeous garlands of flowers so that the whole thing just looked like a sweet, delectable wonderland!

I see that you also make a croquembouche. Are brides looking for different wedding cakes now, and so more will choose cakes like the croquembouche? Is this a challenge to make?

Yes, with the likes of pinterest, facebook, google, instagram, so readily available, brides have the tough job of searching through a barrage of images & information to try and gauge inspiration for their dream wedding cake. There is now such a wide variety and so many trends to choose from, which is why I designed a wedding cake that combines the traditional croquembouche with fondant layers so that brides can have the best of both worlds.

The croquembouche was a challenge at first but like anything practice makes perfect. It is quite a feat to get the choux pastry as well as the structural integrity perfect whilst preventing the effects that humidity has on the toffee. There were also many burnt fingers along the way as well but it’s all worth it in the end.

The Dainty Baker61 What Would They Know? Rhonda Yap of The Dainty Baker

How are bridal couples expressing their individuality as far as cakes and all things sweet are concerned?

I often sit down with both the Bride and the Groom to get a grasp on the look they both want to achieve. Some couples want their initials and some want to add a specific element of something that is particularly meaningful to them, like a certain flower or figurines.

Do you see some new ideas/trends creeping into wedding cake design?

All the time! Trends in the cake world are as fickle and fast as the fashion industry, it’s hard to keep up sometimes!

How do keep your ideas fresh, and your skill level increasing? Do you attend regular workshops?

In my spare time I browse Pinterest, Instagram, cake blogs and read up on prominent cake makers such as Ron Ben Israel and Peggy Porschen. Wedding Magazines and fashion blogs are also a great way to find new ideas for new textures and patterns. But I believe you can draw inspiration from anywhere. Making cakes is an art form with endless possibilities. Everything around you can become a cake if you want it to be. Sometimes a Client may want something specific and other times they have a general idea only. This is where I can help guide, fine tune and realize the perfect design for them.

There are endless ideas out there and it’s a pleasure to be able to create what people dream up and present it to them. It’s hard to run out of ideas when the spectrum is so wide and there are so many amazing requests that come my way.

I have actually had a lot of requests to make online workshops available on my website. It is certainly something I am considering and as soon as I get a spare moment you will have Dainty Baker workshops coming your way.

The Dainty Baker7 What Would They Know? Rhonda Yap of The Dainty Baker

What do you like to do for relaxation?

Take a long hot bath or wine and dine with good company and awesome food.

Favourite place for a catch up with friends?

Yum Cha is always first on the priority list!

Thank you Rhonda for sharing your story. To find out more about The Dainty Baker visit the website.

All images courtesy of The Dainty Baker

10 Ways to Save Money On Your Engagement Ring

by | Jewellery Wisdom, Wisdom


Larsen Jewellery

romantic wisteria engagement007 10 Ways to Save Money On Your Engagement Ring

Image by Angela Rose Woods From Butterfly Bones Photography via Brooke and James’ Romantic Wisteria Engagement Photos

Just the words “engagement ring” can send some into a frenzy, instantly imagining some extraordinary figure that they are going to have part with to purchase that perfect ring. There are many misconceptions about how much engagement rings need to cost and how much you should spend. Once upon a time it was recommended that one should spend one month’s salary, then it crept up to two months and now some may consider a reasonable amount to spend is three months of your annual salary.

This does not need to be the case… at all!

An engagement ring is a token of your love, a beautiful representation of your commitment to each other. The most important thing is what your engagement ring symbolises and that it is something you can both cherish for the rest of your lives. How much you spend should not be influenced by what society or the media dictates; but should be a realistic budget for you. There is certainly no need to find yourself in a mountain of unnecessary debt.

So how can you save money on your engagement ring?

There are several ways you can make sure your engagement ring doesn’t cost a small fortune. We have put together a list of the top 10 ways to save money:

 1. First thing’s first: decide on a realistic budget and stick to it! This will make the experience a whole lot easier and will stop you from being tempted by unaffordable options.

 2. Have your engagement ring custom designed. There is a common misconception that custom designing your engagement ring is the most expensive option. This does not have to be the case at all. In actual fact, by custom designing you can work with your jeweller to come up with a design to suit any budget. Choosing everything from the centre stone, the metal used and every other small design detail.

3. Do you have your heart set on a large centre stone? If this sounds like you, then you may want to consider alternative shapes of diamonds. Round Brilliant Cut diamonds are still the most popular and therefore priced at a premium. Choosing a less popular shaped diamond such as a Princess, Cushion or Oval means that you will be able to afford a larger stone for the equivalent amount spent on a Round Brilliant diamond.

4. Do you have a favourite colour? A coloured gemstone will instantly bring down the price tag of your engagement ring and also means that you may be able to afford a ring with a larger stone. If you still want extra sparkle, add small diamonds into the shoulders or the halo of your engagement ring. Or do the opposite! Choose a diamond for your centre stone and add coloured gemstones into the band or the halo. Or if you can’t resist the look of a white diamond, then you may want to consider a White Sapphire. A White Sapphire is a wonderful alternative to achieve the same look.

5. Choose your metal wisely! Platinum is considered the superior choice for engagement rings, but this does come at a significantly higher price tag. 18-carat White Gold is also an ideal choice of metal for an engagement ring and comes at a lower cost. If choosing White Gold check your jeweller’s follow up service. White Gold needs to be Rhodium plated to give it the beautiful white colour that is loved by so many. Depending on how your ring wears this may need to be done every 12 – 24 months and can cost up to $100 each time. Larsen Jewellery offers this as a free annual service for the lifetime of your ring.

6. Cluster Engagement Rings. If you are after a ring with lots of sparkle then cluster engagement rings can be a great and affordable option. Setting small diamonds closely together in clusters can create the illusion of a large diamond without the price tag.

7. The 4c’s: cut, colour, clarity and carat (size). Your diamond does not have to be a 1-carat with the best colour, cut and clarity to be a beautiful diamond. The cut is arguably the most important of the 4c’s – how the diamond is cut determines how much brilliance your diamond will have. If a diamond is well cut, then a lower colour grade (F/G) and a lower clarity grade (SI1 / SI2) can be great options as well.

8. Choose your carat size wisely! A 1-carat diamond demands a premium price – choosing a stone slightly under 1-carat will instantly save you money.

9. It’s all in the details. If you want a ring with lovely design detailing but can’t afford lots of diamonds then beautiful engraving, filigree or milgrain detail can achieve a lovely ornate look with out breaking the budget.

10. Diamonds set into the band? If you have your heart set on diamonds set all the way around the band, you may want to consider diamonds set into just half of the band. This will create the illusion of a full set diamond band when looking at your hand.

Swirl divider4 10 Ways to Save Money On Your Engagement Ring

Ms Gingham says: Great advice from the experts here.

About Larsen Jewellery: Larsen Jewellery is a family owned business, established by Lars and Susie Larsen whose team of talented jewellers draw on more than 70 years of experience in the jewellery industry.

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