We are so inspired by our many talented wedding vendors and Kate from Celebrant Kate is no exception in the talent and enthusiasm stakes. Her sparkle for her job, for the bridal couples she guides through the ceremony and her ability to adapt the ceremony to fit your style is what makes her an engaging celebrant. An individual ceremony should be crafted just for you – because that’s what getting married is all about – just you and your future together. Here Kate tells us her story.
Why become a celebrant – what drew you to this profession?
I became a celebrant after becoming aware that there were only four things you legally have to have in your ceremony. I reflected on the ceremonies I had been to and wondered why couples were having ‘generic’ ceremonies that didn’t feel like ‘them’. I had done a few speeches at friends weddings that got a great response and it all got me thinking… I really wanted to help couples create something that was a celebration of them, that’s meaningful to them, engaging for their guests and an all-round amazing experience!
Where are you based?
I’m Melbourne based and travel everywhere and anywhere (including interstate).
What needs to be included in every ceremony?
- I have to say the couple’s full legal names and recite the monitum*.
- The couple have to say the legal vow line, which is “I ask the people here present to witness that I Alex take you Shannon to be my lawful wedded wife”.
- We sign three certificates and it’s all done! You’re legally married!
*monitum – this is the section where all celebrants by law have to say that “marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman”. I discuss with all couples the different ways we can acknowledge marriage equality after I say that line. I love it when couples choose to have marriage equality acknowledged at this point because I feel so uncomfortable that I have to say something that is so against my own beliefs and that openly discriminates.
Image by Mark Davis Photography
How much time does a celebrant usually need to prepare the legalities for the ceremony?
The legalities don’t take long at all!! About 30min. What takes the most amount of time for me is getting to know couples and creating and writing the ceremony.
What unique qualities do you bring to your profession?
I’m creative and collaborative, adaptable and flexible, calm and relaxed, professional and organized.
The ability to tune into people and situations and adapt to what’s needed in that moment. Everybody’s different, every wedding, every couple, every group of guests and every situation.
How many ceremonies do you conduct in a day?
Right from the start I committed to only ever doing one ceremony per day, I call it an exclusive ceremony date, that day is yours! There are so many reasons why I think this is super important and can make a big difference on your wedding day and in the lead up…
- I’m never rushing into your ceremony flustered and stressed. I’m there an hour before starting time, I set up, liaise with other suppliers, greet your guests, have a chat with the couple. Basically I make sure everything is all set to run smoothly and that everyone’s feeling as calm and confident as they can before saying ‘I do’.
- I’m never rushing off after your ceremony – if you have to start late for any reason, there’s no pressure from me. I’ll just be there hanging out with your guests until you’re ready to get started.
- When you confirm your booking with me, if you haven’t decided on your ceremony start time, that’s OK! You can decide whenever, change it if you need to… that day is yours!
Image by Tom Rawlins Photography
Why don’t you like generic ceremonies? Why is creating a unique ceremony for each couple so important to you?
Good question… you’ve made me think, I like it!
The decision to get married is a big deal… you’re choosing to spend the rest of your life with someone! The moment where you commit to that, whether it’s in front of 2 people or 200, is so profound. You don’t arrive at that moment without a story, a journey to that point, and this is your one opportunity to mark a moment in time. To acknowledge and celebrate whatever makes the two of you an ‘us’! To make a commitment to each other about the future you want to create together. And what that looks like is different for everyone.
‘Generic’ ceremonies often go hand-in-hand with a bunch of ‘shoulds’ (e.g. you should have a bridal party, you should wear ivory), but what if that doesn’t feel right to you? ‘Generic’ also feels a bit disconnected for your guests, as if they’re watching something happen rather than being part of something really special.
Saying a few words someone else wrote about somebody else feels like a transactional, surface-level process and a missed opportunity to create a truly connected celebration. A celebration of your connection with each other and a celebration that you and your guests feel connected to.
I believe every single one of us has a story, I believe there is amazing beauty in all the things that make each and every one of us different. Creating your ceremony so that it’s authentic to you gives it true meaning. It will feel amazing on the day, your guests will feel like they’ve experienced something really special and it will be a moment in time you’ll never forget!
Image by Mark Davis Photography
How much time do you put into creating each ceremony?
It depends on the couple but I always put my heart and soul into it.
How much time I spend with each couple depends on how much they love a chat, how involved they want to be in brainstorming, creating and writing, how much detail they need, how they prefer to communicate – do they prefer email, phone, a drink at a bar or a coffee catch up. That sort of thing. I tune into what my couples preferences are and work with them in whatever way suits them.
What do you find fascinating about the couples you meet?
Their connection, their story, I have this awe and wonder about the small things in life. I often see things in their connection that they may not have even thought was a ‘thing’ and I see it, say it and we celebrate it… I think it’s why when I send a first draft of the ceremony to couples they are blown away. I get just as much of a kick out of emailing off a ceremony draft as I do on the day, because I know I’ve done something that’s going to make someone else’s day.
You like ‘to help people find their story’. How do you do that?
I ask a lot of questions! I don’t have a standard list of questions, we just start chatting and I sense where I need to take the conversation to learn as much as I can without making anyone feel uncomfortable. It feels more like you’re hanging out with a friend having a chat.
Some people have an epic story that’s right there for the telling right from the minute we meet. For others, ‘their story’ isn’t so obvious. There’s nothing huge and monumental, but once we start talking about the day-to-day things they do together we start to uncover the awesomeness of them!
I write a whole lot of notes while we’re chatting, even the things that may not seem ‘noteworthy’. When I sit down to write your ceremony I can pretty much remember everything we spoke about which doesn’t mean it all goes into your ceremony, what it means is that I am completely on your vibe when I’m writing your ceremony – its hard to explain but once you read your ceremony draft I think it all makes sense.
Image by Lauren Campbell
What are the steps when planning the ceremony with the couple?
The planning process isn’t set in stone, it depends on each couple’s situation as to how we do it. But in general it goes a little something like this…
- We email or chat on the phone – check availability and I send you some initial details about what’s involved, fees, legal information and how everything works
- We meet for a coffee or drink (depends on the time of day 😉 ) and you get to know me, I get to know you and we see if we click.
- When you confirm your booking I send you a ‘getting started’ email with a whole lot of ceremony examples, inspiration and questions – you don’t have to answer them, they’re just there if you want to.
- We then meet for our first planning and creating meeting. This feels more like sitting round having a chat with a friend BUT by the end of the conversation I walk away with enough to write you a ceremony draft.
- I send you your draft, this is a moment I love! It’s almost as exciting as the day itself. I get emails back saying things like ‘Wow, you totally get us!’, ‘I’m crying at my desk reading this!’, ‘This is everything we wanted and we didn’t even know what we wanted!’
- After this, we might go back and forth on email tweaking bits and pieces, we might meet up again, we might Skype – we do whatever works and whatever is needed to create an amazing ceremony and for that process to be enjoyable and zero hassles or pressure.
- In the fortnight before your ceremony, I recommend doing some sort of ‘rehearsal’. It’s really just a final walk/talk-through of how everything will flow on the day. We don’t go through it word-for-word, we save that special feeling of hearing your ceremony, in the space with your partner, family and friends for the actual day. The rehearsal is about being familiar with what’s going to happen, not because you have to remember it all – I’ll do that, but so that you don’t have that feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen next and worrying about what you need to do. It enables you to feel more confident and comfortable and that way you can just take in every moment as it happens and enjoy every moment.
- And then it’s the day of your ceremony! I’ll guide you through everything, make sure everything runs smoothly and most importantly make sure you and your guests enjoy every moment!
How do you guide a couple who feel that they don’t know where to start or how to say the things they want to say?
How I do this with each couple is different. I tune into what works for them and we go with that.
I do send all couples a ‘getting started’ email. It’s full of examples from other couples’ ceremonies, links to my Pinterest boards where they can find ‘Vow Inspiration’, ‘Love Quotes’ and much more, there’s also a whole lot of questions in there that they can answer too.
This works for some people, they love reading the examples as it gives them context for what could go into a ceremony. For others they love the questions, they sit down with their partner and a glass of wine and have a great time writing their answers.
And it doesn’t work for some people! The examples might not feel relatable because the reality is they’re written about somebody else! That’s absolutely understandable so we just start with a conversation. All the couple needs to be able to do is sit there and have a chat. I’ll ask them a whole lot of questions, I’ll gauge what they feel comfortable with and where to take the conversation from there. It’s a very intuitive approach; no conversation and approach to writing a ceremony is ever the same because every couple is different.
After we’ve had a chat I write a full ceremony draft and for some people that might be the moment where they start to be able to visualize and understand how it’s all going to flow and come together for their ceremony.
Image by Tom Rawlins Photography
Are you able to suggest some readings or other special touches that couples might consider?
Don’t have readings unless they truly mean something to you! There are many, many ways you can involve other people in your ceremony, the options are only limited by your (any my) imagination and what your friends are up for.
The readings that have worked best in ceremonies have been ones where we’ve told their story and then the reading is something that shines a light on something about the couple that we’ve already mentioned.
For example, there was a couple who had a very adventurous spirit and their 10 year old niece and nephew were going to be reading, so the groom wrote a poem about the adventures they wanted to go on in the future. He wrote it using language that suited the kids perfectly and it was a real highlight of their ceremony.
Another couple had a dog that was the third little ‘person’ in their family, he was mentioned quite a bit in their story. Their friend read ‘Love is like owning a dog’ by Taylor Mali. It was the perfect representation of their love of dogs and their love for each other, with a bit of tongue in cheek humor that completely reflected the couple’s sense of humor too.
Don’t bore your guests with a reading that you’ve chosen for the sake of having a reading.
What are some important considerations when staging the ceremony?
There’s lots to think about and of course it’s different for every location. I always look at your ceremony space and talk through considerations and options. A few general considerations are…
- The comfort of your guests – e.g. if it’s going to be cold provide blankets, if it’s hot provide shade and water.
- The position of the sun – are you or your guests going to be looking straight into the sun?
- The direction of your entrance and your backdrop
Do you have some tips for the bridesmaids and groomsmen?
Be the wonderful friend you’ve always been, that’s why you’re in the bridal party! Relax and have fun!
How do you assist the groom, and the bride when they first arrive at their wedding ceremony?
When each of the couples arrive I have a general chat and check in with them about what they would feel most comfortable doing as they wait – do they want to chat to guests, wait up the front or wait in a quiet space. I also remind them what’s going to happen and reassure them that I’m going to guide them through – they don’t have to remember anything. I also remind them that there’s no rush, it’s their day, take your time and enjoy every moment.
Image by Sarah Godenzi
How do you come down from a high after the ceremony?
I often get home after a ceremony (exhausted!), pour a glass of bubbles and cheers to the couple I’ve just married! I love knowing that I kicked off the celebrations with an amazing ceremony and they’re now partying the night away with their friends and family. My heart feels full knowing that I helped to create a celebration and a moment in time they’ll never forget.
Do you have hobbies that you love?
Flying Trapeze – the best hobby I ever took up! I’ve had to take a break recently but I am working my way back to flying through the air again soon!
What do you love about living and working in Melbourne?
I love Melbourne! I’ve done a lot of travel but my heart is always in Melbourne and I feel so lucky that I get to experience the best of it as part of my work. The beaches, the wineries, the gardens, the rooftops, the laneways, the buildings – they’re all great ceremony locations. Because I meet couples either at home or in their favorite café or bar I also get to experience A LOT of Melbourne’s cafes and bars. The diversity, the culture, the people – I just love it!
Thank you Kate for sharing your story. A good celebrant who tells your story is worth their weight in gold. To find out more about Celebrant Kate visit the website.
Headshot by Mark Davis Photography