If you want to inject a shot of zest for life, energy and passion into your Monday morning then I suggest you read this interview with Russ Macumber Celebrant. Exuding fun and warmth, Russ is nevertheless serious about delivering a high-quality ceremony to begin your married life together. It’s important to him that your ceremony is memorable, not only for you but for your guests as well. Russ’ unscripted style comes from many years of public speaking and DJ experience and an ability to read his audience – and in among the serious and touching moments, he could just deliver some surprises along the way! Russ is also dedicated to adding to his sneaker collection, the NBA, music and finding a good parma – so we’d expect he’d have some surprises up his sleeve to add to the fun. Enjoy this interview with this dynamic celebrant!

What attracted you to celebrancy as a profession?

Most wedding ceremonies are forgettable, “when does the bar open?” vibe, boring…at least most of the ceremonies I used to go to. I’ve always thought what a waste! No-one goes to a wedding in a bad mood, all the guests are pumped for the couple and for a chance to hang with their crew and party.

I saw an awesome celebrant officiate for my brother-in-law and sister-in-law a few years back in Albury. He had a real fun energy, was a bit younger (not that age has anything to do with fun energy), and just brought a real friendly vibe to proceedings. He bantered with the audience, made us laugh, and I remember afterwards, drinking champagne in the botanic gardens with all our crew, and saying to each other “who knew a wedding ceremony could be so much fun!”

I got into this to bring some fun, some spontaneity, some real feels type stuff along with big laughs!

Image by Daniel Milligan Photography

What is your background that led you to becoming a celebrant?

Well, probably a mix of ‘performing’. I’ve been a public speaker for 15+ years in my day jobs, and have MC’d events large and small over that time. I was also a DJ for over 10 years in Melbourne’s club scene (my wife and I met at Revolver after one of my sets many years ago). So, once our kids arrived and I hung up my DJ headphones, I was probably unconsciously looking for an opportunity to get in front of large groups again. So it seemed like a good fit and a fun way to bring something different to weddings.

How long have you been in the wedding industry?

I’ve been a celebrant for just over three years, and have stood up front with happy couples close to 200 times. It’s still a rush.

Image by I Got You Babe Wedding Photography

What is great about being a celebrant today?

Couples are feeling more and more free to do their own thing, bring their own character and energy to their wedding. I also love that my couples totally dig my unscripted style, they love being surprised in the moment along with the audience.

How would you describe your style?

Unscripted, relaxed, fun. I never downplay how big a deal a marriage is…but I also know that for every ‘ohh’ sighing moment of reflection, there is an opportunity to turn the ceremony on a dime and bring a huge laugh.

Image by JB Event Photographer

What do you bring to ceremonies that sets you apart?

Making stuff up on the fly, in the moment, based on my ability to really ‘get’ my couples and read and control a crowd.

What sorts of couples does your style appeal to?

Couples that are independent in their planning. Want something different, fun, relaxed, REAL. My wife and I included way too much of what we thought our parents wanted in our wedding…I encourage my couples to keep true to themselves. It’s your day, not your parents’.

To give you time to complete the legalities, how far out from the wedding should couples book your services?

My couples book me anywhere from 6-18 months before their wedding, but I book out pretty far in advance – I’m pretty much full for 2018, and 2019 is filling pretty fast too.

Image courtesy of Russ Macumber Celebrant

What is the process when booking your services?

After I get the enquiry and confirm I’m available, we’ll set up a time to Skype or meet in person. If we vibe, I then send through a booking form and we’re up and away. Simples!

Do you write the whole ceremony? What input do couples have?

I write it all, but with a heap of personalised prep to ensure a unique and relevant ceremony. That said, my ceremonies don’t look like a long word for word script. I have talking points (bullet points) which I refer to and riff off.

How long does it take you to craft a ceremony?

Jeez, it varies; how long is a piece of string?! Could be five-10 hours in total? Sometimes all the prep goes out the window in the moment, if Uncle Bruce keeps piping up and wants to be involved in the ceremony, well, Imma change things up and the structure goes out the window!

How many appointments do you need with the couple?

We meet two-three times before the wedding, pending their needs. Could be in person or via Skype. My couples are usually pretty time poor so I am very efficient at communicating via email between meetings.

Image courtesy of Russ Macumber Celebrant

Do you feel that wedding rehearsals are important? How much guidance do you give the wedding party just before the ceremony?

I always hold a final briefing meeting with my couples in the week or two before the big day, so they are fully aware of what is happening when, on the big day.

Are you able to give us some examples of readings that are popular right now?

Song lyrics are always my fave, I set them up to take the audience by surprise “A contemporary piece by one of BRIDE/GROOMs favourite writers”…Plus I’m a massive hip-hop head so I always love a good deadpan reciting of ole g-funk or Wu-Tang.

What are some ways the couple can get family involved in the ceremony?

I like bringing different stuff that your crew haven’t seen before – singalongs are always fun, as are flash mob readings.

What are some other things should we know about you (as far as being a celebrant)?

I’m super relaxed but very organised – I will be the least stressful part of your wedding day.

Image by I Got You Babe Wedding Photography

How do you plan a work/life balance from day to day?

Very organised blocks. I have set times blocked out every week in my calendar for business, set times for family, set times for Ange (wife). I don’t deviate. Family always comes first, but when I am with my couples I am 1000% present and ready to rock.

What are your interests outside of work?

Family – I have four kids all aged under six! I’m obsessed with the NBA (Miami Heat…but I’ll watch any good game). My sneaker collection. Hip-hop. Disco. House music. Just any music that makes you move.

Your favourite thing to do with your family?

Discovering music we all love and can go crazy to in the car. The halfway point for me with the kids is usually something like Drake, possibly Kendrick Lamar or even Bruno Mars, or something on the vocal house tip.

Image by JB Event Photographer

Thank you Russ for sharing your story. We think that ceremonies with Russ would have a great mix of serious and funny – and we know that your guests will walk away with great memories. To find out more about Russ Macumber Celebrant visit the website.

Headshot courtesy of Russ Macumber Celebrant. 

Image by Andrew O’Keefe via Contemporary Wedding Stationery From State of Reverie

The seating chart at a wedding serves a practical means for guests to find out where they will be seated and it also warmly welcomes your guests to the reception. However, just like your florals, your wedding attire and your choice of venue, a seating chart also plays a part in your overall wedding styling. In fact, it is often the first piece of styling your guests will interact with before entering your venue, so I say make it count, make it creative and make it memorable.

Will you create your seating chart yourself, have a stationery company design and print a board for you, or is your wedding so laid back that you actually don’t have allocated seats for everyone? Not having a specified seating plan encourages plenty of mingling between your guests. Whatever your choice, I have selected some of the creative seating charts that inspire me, and I hope they’ll excite you too!

Image by Sarah Kennedy Photography via Madi & Tyler’s Romantic Country Wedding In Terara

Madi and Tyler held an intimate wedding, as you can see by their charming DIY peg and tag seating chart. Each guest can take their name card home as a keepsake.

Image by Sarah Kennedy Photography via Madi & Tyler’s Romantic Country Wedding In Terara

Look! Everybody in their place. And how gorgeous are these antique, mismatched chairs!?

Image by Todd Hunter Mcgaw via Jenna & Lawrence’s Luxurious Industrial Jewish Wedding

Grab a drink, find your seat. Jenna and Lawrence’s seating chart is a popular option many couples opt for – a large printed board set upon an artist’s easel. Adding a little foliage to a seating chart brings it to life and draws attention to it.

Image by Luke Simon Photography via Erin & Rob’s South Australian Winery Wedding

The bride Erin says, “The inspiration behind our day was modern with lots of flowers. My dad painted all the wire objects used on the day to maintain the white, modern theme of the wedding.”

Image by Indie Lane Photography via Elizabeth & Michael’s Charming Hinterland Farm Wedding

Of the styling for their day, Elizabeth’s vision was to have lots and lots of flowers – roses and peonies, whites and pastels. She wanted hanging flower baskets in the marquee, flowers over the seating board, ceremony arch, flower boxes down the aisle, adorning the tables. Their stylists were Robyn and Lisa from Lettuce & Co and Elizabeth says were the stand-out vendor from their wedding. “Without them, we would not have had the wedding we had.”

Image via Pinterest.

This ‘no seating plan’ seating board can be used for the ceremony and/or the reception. It gives your guests a chance to meet people they otherwise would not meet and hopefully make connections that last long after the wedding is over.

Lisa Gowing on her wedding day in 2007.

Sydney based designer Lisa Gowing’s collection of exquisite, high fashion, designs, in layered silks and exclusive French and Italian laces, has changed the face of bridal design in Australia for the past 20 years! Trained in the intricacies of couture dressmaking from a retiring industry expert, Lisa uses only the original couture techniques mainly forgotten in today’s fashion. Today, we celebrate 20 years of Lisa Gowing gowns with 20 questions with the designer herself!

Congratulations on 20 years in business! What is the key to your longevity in bridal design? 
I think my longevity is due a few factors. Firstly, my designs are timeless. I offer elegant silhouettes in quality imported fabrics, and the styles and fabrications do not date. My gowns are fashion-forward, however, style is far more important than fashion when dressing for your wedding day.
Secondly, the quality and love that goes into each gown is apparent. Each gown is individually made locally here in Sydney with hand finished couture techniques. Brides continue to fall in love with my new collections as they did when I began in 1997. Finally, the client is able to view and select from a full range of coordinating accessories at my Design Studio enabling her to create a complete bridal ensemble for her day.

How are you celebrating 20 years in business? 
In January 2018 I am hosting a huge sale. The biggest offer I have ever made to my brides in 20 years. All our current stock will be reduced by 40%-60% and we have over 70 gowns currently in stock.

I will provide a sneak peek for those brides interested on December 9th, so email for an appointment.
I am also launching my Heirloom 20th anniversary collection in February which will be a collection of 12 new designs that draw from my collections of the past 20 years and point towards the future of the Lisa Gowing aesthetic.

What do you love about working in the wedding industry? 
I love that even though wedding styles change over the years I can continue to offer brides a beautiful, fashinable yet classic gown for their special day.

Do you travel the world to seek inspiration for your collections? 
Yes, I find I am very inspired when I travel. I see elements for my designs everywhere, on the street, in books, a film or even a wallpaper pattern. Travel definitely assists the creative process as I am able to switch off from my usual routine and am open to new ideas and opportunities.

Your website tells us “Lisa uses only the original couture techniques mainly forgotten in today’s fashion.” Please explain what couture techniques you practise? 
When designing a new gown I always hand deliver the design features for the gown myself. This could be a hand-appliquéd French lace that I individually cut, mould and pin on the bodice and skirt or a hand-draped liquid silk bodice, a ruched waistband or a jewelled neckpiece that I have designed and placed.

Hand-draping and hand-ruching are techniques mainly forgotten in today’s fast fashion and true moulding and hand-application of lace is rarely seen. Most bridal gowns are machine-stitched and often made in overseas or local factories.

You got married in 2007. Did you design your own dress? 
My husband David proposed on the first day of a month-long tour of Italy in 2006. We were in Bellagio on Lake Como and so I had the remainder of the trip to start planning our wedding. I did one sketch of my wedding gown and that is what I wore. I was the in-house fit model for my collections for many years so I have worn most styles and knew what I wanted and what would best suit my style and my day. My gown was a couture design made on the body using layered white silk faille and hand appliquéd cotton based French rose motif lace. The bodice had a wide scoop neckline with fine shoestring straps with a low scoop back and rose lace appliqué framing the neckline. The skirt was bias cut and this same rose lace dripped down towards the hem. The linings of the hem had the same lace scallop appliquéd all around the one-metre long train, so when I lifted the train the lace scallop was visible. I wore a mantilla veil edged in the same rose lace.

Could you please tell us about your wedding day? 
David and I were married at McKell Park on the waterfront at Darling Point in Sydney. We were living at Darling Point at the time and love this special little green space by the water. Our reception was on Fort Denison in the middle of Sydney Harbour with a view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge; a magical place. After a lovely ceremony at the park and Roederer champagne with our congregation, we had our guests transported by catamaran to the Fort and we stayed on for an hour for photographs by Dan Blumenthal of Blumenthal Photography and then arrived by speedboat to join our guests for roving canapés on the lawn.

We chose to have a roving entree and roving desert canapés so we were only seated at formal tables for the main course. This enabled us a better opportunity to mix with our guests. I chose an all-white vintage pretty theme with a white gown for myself and my only bridesmaid, my sister. I dressed my mother in a pale champagne silk. My husband wore a black Hugo Boss suit and his groomsmen, his brother and mine both wore similar black suits. We had all white flowers of magnolias, roses, and snowberries with lots of green foliage. My flowers were provided by Susan Avery and Susan created my bouquet of only magnolia buds, blooms and leaves. I have now planted magnolias in my garden and the scent of the flowers always reminds me of this day. We had large crystal bowls of white flowers and green leaves on every table accompanied by tea lights and huge white urns of these flowers both at the altar in the park and at the wharf on Fort Denison at the entrance to the reception venue. Simmone Logue provide a magnificent cake topped with fresh flowers. Music was played by a live band and it was a wonderful day, a true celebration.

You’ve been married 10 years now. What is your secret to keeping the marriage healthy and happy? 
My husband David and I are very well suited. We are best friends first which I think is very important. We communicate well and play to our strengths. We have two gorgeous sons who we centre our lives around, we both love being parents and participating in the parental roles in our marriage.

Lisa and David renewing their vows.

How did you celebrate your 10 year wedding anniversary? 
We had a low key lunch at China Doll at the Finger Wharf on the actual day. We renewed our vows 18 months earlier at our home. Simmone Logue was the caterer and we enjoyed delicious roving canapés accompanied by the same Roederer champagne as our wedding day and of course another fabulous chocolate cake by Simmone! Our guests were dressed in cocktail attire and our young sons were the ring bearers. I wore two custom-designed gowns and we enjoyed a celebration on the terrace and grass that went into the night. Blumenthal Photography again captured the images of this event for us.

You have two sons. Do you think they’ve picked up the creative gene from you? Do they have any interest in pursuing a career in design? 
Both my sons are very creative, they are also skilled in other areas so it is too early to tell if they will choose a career in design or take a different path.

Who have been some of the most memorable celebrities you’ve dressed for their weddings? 
I dressed Georgie Gardner for her wedding. Georgie is divine, a beautiful person. I designed two couture gowns for Libby Tricket (then Libby Lenton) when she married Luke Trickett in 2007. I have also dressed celebrities for events, such as Deborah-Lee Furness who wore my cape and gown to the Tony Awards the first time Hugh Jackman hosted. She then revisited the cape only a couple of years ago when attending the Met Gala. I have also dressed Delta Goodrem and many other celebrities for various for appearances and red carpet events.

What kind of bride is usually attracted to your style?
I think a Lisa Gowing bride is one who is fashion forward with unique style and a taste for quality. She is usually very feminine and looking for a unique quality coupled with high style.

Is there a particular fabric or style of dress you have continuously used throughout all of your collections? And why? 
Every collection I try to offer a selection of silhouettes and necklines and European laces and jewelled trims coupled with quality fabrication. Brides know when visiting Lisa Gowing they will always find a dramatic longline sheath with a pretty feminine neckline and long sweeping train covered in moulded lace. They also come for the floaty tulle and chiffon skirts on offer which can be worn as a separate overskirt over the slimline gowns or attached to a detailed bodice moulded in lace, jewels or draped in silk. I am known for the exclusive European laces and fabrications that I use and the gentle layering of soft colours.

What are you working on right now? 
My Heirloom 20th anniversary collection. I am in the final stages of completion and draping sleeves and designing matching accessories.

When can we expect to see your new collection? 

We will be photographing the collection in January and it will be available exclusively in the Lisa Gowing Design Studio and online in February.

What bridal accessory trends are you seeing a lot of right now? 
I always work with fine imported European laces which are my signature so of course, these will be on offer in the form of mantilla veils and lace edged or panel appliquéd veils. We have capped and long lace sleeves and lace trimmed combs for the hair.
I also offer jewelled combs, belts, sleeves and earrings to accompany the collection. Plus we always have a selection of cover-ups on offer in tulles, silks and faux furs.

Have you got a creative space you retreat to when you’re in the initial stages of drawing and dreaming up beautiful dresses? How does this space inspire you? 
When designing I usually work from my home office. As both my boys are now at school I am usually home alone so this is where I find the peace to create. I also design when travelling and basically will jot down notes or a sketch a design anywhere if inspired.

What does a typical Monday look like for you? 
Today is Monday and I am setting up my week. I firstly helped my two sons with their homework and then dropped them at school. I then visited my new home where renovations are taking place to check on the tradesmen working there today. We are moving very soon and our European Oak floorboards are being laid, painting and tiling is continuing and the electricians are there today.
Once I spoke with every tradie and checked they had everything they required I returned to my desk at my home office and checked emails and my calendar to ensure I was getting everything done that is due for this week. I have touched base with my makers and my cutter this morning and will be pinning bodices for new designs this afternoon. Later in the week I will be at the Design Studio meeting with makers and cutters and reviewing new designs as they come in.

Do you have a particular morning routine? 
My routine changes every day depending on school requirements (I assist with literacy groups and other events where possible) and what is happening in the Design Studio. And, of course, at my home as we are renovating and restoring a 100 year old house at the moment which is quite time-consuming but a fabulous design experience!

Who are your favourite non-bridal fashion designers right now? 
I am a long-standing fan or Valentino, Chanel, Elie Saab and Alberta Ferretti.

Lisa Gowing’s 2016 Enchantment collection offers brides a modern silhouette using techniques steeped in tradition. Check out this beautiful behind the scenes video of the Enchantment photo shoot…