Originally posted on Polka Dot Bride on August 11, 2009
I’m always really interested to know about the logistics and legalities behind the most important part of the wedding day – the ceremony. So today’s featured expert, Robyn Pattison is going to share a few things about her experience as a marriage celebrant!
Tell me about yourself? Where are you based?
I’m 35 years old, and I have two little boys. I studied journalism at university (so handy for writing my ceremonies). I live in Ryde, Sydney and I travel all over Sydney to help my couples marry.
What influenced your decision to become a marriage celebrant?
I was always the girl who helped at weddings – I styled the lot – handmade invitations, table decorations, colour schemes, everything. Weddings were always going to be my thing. I absolutely love a party, so becoming a marriage celebrant was a great way to surround myself with happy, gorgeous people celebrating the most romantic moment of their lives. There aren’t many young celebrants, either – it just made sense, and I’ve never been happier. Best job in the world. (I feel like a fairy godmother with a magic wand!)
What inspires you? How do you keep your ideas fresh for each wedding?
I always fall a little bit in love with my couples! They are all so different and I love it! I spend as much time as I can with each one to really find out what makes them tick. Trying to make sure that every single couple gets their perfect ceremony keeps the experience new for me every time. It’s so much fun, I never get bored. I’m 10% nervous and 90% excited before every ceremony begins.
Do Australian brides and grooms have a distinctive style?
What I love about my job is that I meet all kinds of Australians. Aussie born couples, Chinese, Malaysian, Vietnamese immigrants who have made Australia their home, English holiday makers, South American travelers – all sorts. What delights me is that all of these groups honour me with the responsibility of marrying them in the style that respects their heritage and embraces their future. Distinctive? Distinctively different.
Do couples request a standard ceremony or are they more inclined to want an individually tailored celebration from you?
I write a personally tailored ceremony for every single couple I meet. There is nothing worse for your guests than coming away from your wedding feeling like it was the same as the last one they went to. It has to be all about you. After all – the ceremony itself is the reason for the whole celebration.
What other celebrations do you perform?
I love commitment ceremonies and vow renewals. These are every bit as romantic and special as a legal wedding – mainly because there are no legal aspects – it all comes from the heart. I can write and perform a ceremony to honour anyone, at any stage of their life.
What is your number one tip for brides and grooms?
Relax! It’s your big day, don’t rush through it, don’t stress about it. The most beautiful brides are the happy ones who just enjoy every minute and run with it. A beautiful dress makes you look great, but a smile is the ultimate accessory.
If money were no object, how would you style your dream wedding? How would you, as the marriage celebrant, celebrate this sort of wedding?
Where do you start? Pick a spot by the beach, tropical climate, sunrise, candles twinkling as the sun overtakes them, a beautiful dress but barefoot, a breakfast banquet, served under a frangipani and orchid strewn marquee, celebrations that go all day. Send a wreath of tropical flowers out to sea, or give fresh floral leis to your guests. Most of all – make it fun!
A beach wedding has to embrace the environment, the sound of waves crashing is the perfect backdrop to gentle reflection. Keep the words simple, write and speak your own vows. Early morning is the most peaceful time of any day – it is fresh and new, and full of beginnings. Readings and poetry should reflect these feelings.
What are your favourite wedding celebration ideas?
I love celebrations that combine cultural traditions with modern Australian traditions. One of my couples made their vows in each other’s native languages. Each had to learn to speak the other’s language, so that when they heard the other’s vow, it was even more special to them – it had been a real effort.
What do you love about Australian Brides?
No bridezillas! All of my brides have been divine. Friendly, lighthearted, beautiful girls with style AND a sense of humour.
What should brides start with when they come to you to start the planning process?
Tell me the date and the time you wish to marry. Let’s have a chat about what you want. Ask me anything at all. I’ll help. Visit my website to get a feel for who I am – I love my work, and I want my brides to enjoy the whole process – we are going to be spending a bit of time together, so it’s important that we “click”. And book early.
What was your most memorable wedding moment?
A tiny private ceremony that I performed with a couple and two witnesses in February. Waves crashing at sunset on South Head. Almost no formal ceremony, more like a series of events. The bare-chested groom recited a native American chant, the bride sang a Hawaiian song. We had a period of silence in which bride and groom stood heads and hands together, looking into each other’s eyes, while the rest of us cried! They did their vows in whispers, hands on each other’s hearts. Gobsmackingly romantic. Never to be forgotten.
Five things a bride must get right
1 Her sense of humour. So what if a flock of cockatoos fly overhead in the middle of the ceremony? It doesn’t change a thing. Wait, laugh, then keep going.
2 Her friendship. Be kind to your bridesmaids. They are your best friends, they want to make you happy, and you want to keep them for life.
3. Her sense of self. Plan a ceremony and a wedding that reflect the sort of people you are. If you are friendly, relaxed and informal, then that is the way your ceremony should feel, and that is the style of celebration you should aim for.
4. Her mood. So long as she is happy – everything will be perfect! Don’t stress about the little things.
Oh, and 5. Her timing.
It’s really awkward when a bride is so late that the guests start asking the groom and the celebrant if she has cold feet, and whether or not she is coming. Grooms are nervous enough while they wait – don’t make it harder on him!
Thank you for joining Polka Dot Bride today Robyn! You can find out more about what Robyn does via her website!