When we started planning our own wedding ceremony, we called one of our favourite celebrants Hannah Noller for her professional advice. We had a very ambitious plan to pay for one of our close friends to become a celebrant just for our ceremony. Like most couples, we wanted our ceremony to be personal and meaningful, and for our celebrant to have a close connection to us. We quickly learnt that becoming a celebrant isn’t a quick course you can take over the weekend, it’s very time consuming and expensive! Hannah suggested that one alternative could be to have a friend write and deliver our ceremony, and have a celebrant there to officiate, say the legal parts and help us with the paperwork.

One year after those initial conversations and 3 weeks before our own wedding, we had an experience that completely changed our hearts and minds on what we had originally thought a meaningful and personal ceremony ‘should’ look like. Coincidentally, Hannah was the celebrant at the wedding ceremony that opened our eyes to so many possibilities. Roxy and Stu gave complete creative control of their ceremony over to Hannah, and they had no idea what it would entail until it unfolded on the day. Hannah had coordinated a secret surprise group reading with Roxy and Stu’s family and friends. During the ceremony, small groups of people began standing to join others who had started before them, and began reading out loud. This continued until most of the guests were on their feet and speaking together as one group to share the message with Roxy and Stu. It was a moving experience in the same way a group of people singing together can be. Roxy and Stu wrote their own vows, and Hannah also had them write vows for each other to read. Here’s a little excerpt from the vows they wrote for the other person to read:

Stu’s Vows (written by Roxy)
“…I promise I’ll continue to be awesome and never get old. I promise that I’ll back myself, take chances and have fun…”

Roxy’s Vows (written by Stu)
“…I promise you that you never have to change coz gosh darn it if you’re not the most perfect man then the perfect man doesn’t exist…”

Roxy, Stu, and their family and friends gave Hannah a round of applause at the end of their ceremony. That’s how awesome it was, and our words can’t really do it justice. Long story short, Lyndon and I realised that your ceremony can be meaningful and personal, even if you’re not married by someone who has known you for decades. It all comes down to collaborating with the right celebrant who knows how to involve your family and friends, and it helps if you give them some creative freedom to craft your ceremony. Roxy and Stu held their wedding ceremony in the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion at the National Arboretum in Canberra, and their reception followed in The Village Centre. There are so many beautiful photography locations at the Arboretum – there are Cork Oaks, the Himalayan Cedar forest, and the amazing view just to name a few spots! Ginger Catering did a fantastic job of the food and service throughout the wedding day.