Friday, February 23, 2024

You may kiss the bride!

Newly weds Ashleigh & Mischa MacLeod with celebrant Adele White.
Marriage celebrant Adele White on life’s intimate celebrations – a role she loves the most.

What initiated you to become a marriage celebrant?

In earlier years I often came across couples who were unable to have their choices realised by church ministers; some because they were entering into second marriages; others wanting to marry in venues other than a church, and a number who did not have religious beliefs.

I was motivated by a close friend and her fiancée who, whilst planning their wedding, informed me that they would like me to marry them! In the year prior to their 1999 marriage, I went through the necessary application and approval process and was accepted in plenty of time to honour their request.

The wedding was gorgeous and a little unique! The gathered guests were unsure as to who was officiating until the bridal party arrived – and I stepped forward from my bridesmaid role into that of celebrant!

Nicholas & Brooke Johnson

What do you enjoy about the role?

I love meeting new couples and learning about their relationships, their aspirations, and how they plan to celebrate their marriage. We then create a framework for their ceremony, often utilising their ideas and incorporating the words or suggestions. I then get to write it into a beautiful ceremony!

I enjoy multicultural weddings where there is an opportunity to celebrate the coming together of families of two ethnicities using significant words or rituals.

It is special when a couple comes to my house to plan their ceremony and tells me that they actually know me from when I worked in their schools as a Police Officer some years ago! It has been a privilege for me too, to officiate at the weddings of several of my former Police colleagues, over a number of years.

Of course, leading the ceremony on the big day is a significant part of the role. I like to arrive early to check that guests will be able to see and hear the ceremony. I spend some time with the marriage partner waiting beside me to ensure they are calm – and then I get to experience the couple’s joy, often with laughter and tears, as they are joined in marriage!

My role as a marriage celebrant has led me to officiate at name giving, renewal of vows, memorial and funeral services. It really is an honour being part of such important, personal, and intimate life celebrations.

Have you dealt with any dilemmas on the day?

Late brides come to mind! I do feel sorry for guests left sitting for a long time in the heat of a summer’s day. I have seen significant lateness throw out the planning for the rest of the event, and it becomes particularly daunting when the guests for the next wedding booked in a park or other public space begin to arrive when your ceremony is far from finished!

I recall one wedding in particular which required a good hour’s journey into the country. The planned 2pm start began to loom as I encountered winding roads and a ridiculous amount of roadworks. With five minutes to spare, and brimming with anxiety, I rushed to the front door of the address to be greeted by the groom – in his shorts and singlet and in the process of preparing food. Guests ambled in over the next couple of hours, and the bride arrived at 4.45pm!

I carry tissues, safety pins, rescue remedy, and vows (when couples have been adamant that they will write something themselves and have then not gotten around to it!)

The weather has a mind of its own! I do suggest to couples that if it looks remotely like rain, it is better to revert to the indoor option. On three or four occasions, couples have been emphatic that they will marry outdoors despite nasty black clouds overhead. Ten minutes into the ceremony the heavens have opened and everyone, sporting glamorous hair and dressed in their finery, has had to make a dash inside through heavy rain.

What advice do you offer your clients?

Some couples will have engaged a wedding planner to organise their big day. I am more than happy to share ideas with couples who are managing the day themselves, especially when they are watching their budget; and can direct them to suppliers of wedding goods and services. It has been nice to offer my home to some couples and their witnesses when they have been without a venue for their ceremony.

I do offer advice when couples choose to involve children or animals in their ceremony. Both are fine but can require a little management to prevent chaos!

Eliminating nervousness is important. I encourage couples not to fear that they will turn the wrong way or stand in the wrong place during their ceremony. I am there to guide them, and their guests will have no idea whether their actions were part of the plan or not!

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