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Civil Celebrants clock 67% of all marriages

Once upon a time, weddings were dreamt of by little girls as being in a big chapel – the biggest – with flowing white gowns and organ music.  The groom would stand at the alter way up there, at the end of the bright red carpet and the Bridal March would play through haunting organs.


When the congregation stood to welcome the bride, all faces would turn to her and she would find herself smiling radiantly, before proclaiming her vows to God.


Whether she believed in God or not was irrelevant, what was important is that on this day, above any other, He would bless the union between man and woman.


These days, our dreams are significantly different.


The Australian Bureau of Statistics data indicates that in 2009, 67 per cent of all marriages were solemnised by a civil celebrant rather than a religious minister.


This number is much greater than those of our western partners such as the UK and US who certainly still hold the majority of the services in the church.


So, if 67% of couples are turning to a Civil Celebrant, what is the new dream out there?  What do little girls dream of these days?


“My image of the day was a really relaxed one. I wanted the focus to be on my guests and for everyone to come together and have a good time rather than all having to be in a stuffy church or sing hymns.  We decided on a garden wedding, and the civil ceremony meant that we could choose any type of readings and vows that we liked,” said Meredith Cleal, Perth.


“Our Civil Celebrant was really open minded, much more so than the minister we had spoken to. I wanted a reading by Nick Cave which really summed up our relationship and this would definitely not be possible in the church,’ said Mary Moore of Indooroopilly.


Other benefits include being able to incorporate multi-cultural aspects, modern music and the reorganisation of the series of events that lead to a successful ceremony.


The only structured wording is a few sentences by the celebrant and one each by the bride and groom – all else is up to you and open for any interpretation that you have.


A good relationship with your celebrant is key – so just go ahead and ask them, the answer from 67% Australian couples is “just do it your way”.


By Michell é brant

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Surprise Weddings…

A Canadian man has proposed to his girlfriend and married her only hours later after secretly planning their wedding and arranging everything, from the dress to the cake and wedding song.


Shawn Lippert surprised his girlfriend Colleen by proposing at a beachside restaurant in Tecumseh on August 13 and asking her to marry him that night in front of 207 of their friends and family, local newspaper the Windsor Star reports.

Lippert spent a year planning the surprise nuptials — which were videotaped and posted on YouTube — gathering information about his girlfriend’s dream wedding by asking her discreet questions.


“I just knew in my gut this is exactly what she wanted,” Mr Lippert said.


He kept his plans secret from their family and put his girlfriend off the scent by telling her he wanted to elope in Law Vegas in September.


After Mrs Lippert agreed to marry Mr Lippert at the Beach Bar and Grill, he led her to a room in the club where she found her jewelry box and vanity dresser, and the wedding dress he’d chosen for her.


When she walked up the aisle with her father, Mrs Lippert was stunned to see her husband had organised everything she wanted for her wedding, from the paper lanterns decorating the trees, to the white cherry chip cake and the song ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ from the Across the Universe movie.


But don’t get too excited gentlemen!  Before you head off with tape measure and sketch book in hand, beware that in Australia our laws are set so that surprise weddings cannot happen so suddenly.  In fact, your Notice of Intended Marriage must be submitted one month before the proposed date.


My recommendation, if you are keep to surprise your guests, is to host a beautiful engagement party – and invite the celebrant!  That way you can pretend everyone is there for a simple gathering but really, it is the big day in disguise.


By Michellebrant

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Weird and Wonderful Wedding Locations

When planning a wedding, every couple wants theirs to be memorable.  What better way to wow your guests than to invite them to a weird and wonderful location that will have them guessing from the start.



A Nepalese couple wed at the highest point on Earth in 2005 – climbing Mount Everest together before briefly removing their oxygen masks to exchange vows on the 29,029ft summit.

In Australia, we are hard pressed to find a mountain quite as big, but have you considered the Glass House Mountains, Mount Warning or Mount Kosciuszko (by helicopter of course)?  The views are simply spectacular.


Most visible

If you want to see and be seen on your wedding day, the Wheel of Brisbane or the Melbourne‘s Southern Star Observation Wheel are strong contenders. A ceremony can be held in the wheel’s rotating glass capsules, visible from across the city on a clear day. Now that is one way to cut down on your guest list!


Most haunted

Did you know that Brisbane is listed as the 2nd most haunted city in the world as voted by National Geographic Magazine?

One way to really get your guests attention is a night time wedding at one of the many haunted venues around the city.  Perhaps you can incorporate a ‘Medieval Handfasting’ ceremony at midnight, and the happy couple might “squeeze a spook-hunt in between”.


Most daring

Wing-walking, skydiving and abseiling weddings are totally out there and will have everyone talking about your big day for years to come.

UK Wing-Walking couple, Darren McWalters and Katie Hodgson did the unthinkable when they took off, each strapped to a wing of a small aircraft. Katie was wearing a traditional wedding gown and all.  Conducting proceedings over an airborne communications system atop a third aircraft was Rev George Bringham, something of a wing-walking wedding veteran, having conducted a similar ceremony eight years previously.


Least clothed

There’s only way to completely eliminate the wedding dress dilemma: go without one altogether.   You can try Taylorwood Resort at Conway Beach in the Whitsundays, Queensland.

If you are an interested couple approaching potential venues, please do so with caution and with clothes on!  No matter where you decide to host your big event, you need a flexible, fun and fit Celebrant to make it all happen  😉




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Funny Wedding Vows

To add a spark to your ceremony and to keep the day light hearted, your guests will love your light hearted interaction at the alter…  Here are some ideas to make your vows witty and fun.

Poor?  No one said anything about poor!

Instead of “for better or worse, for richer, for poorer…” the bride makes a show of only repeating “for richer.”

Groom says “for better or worse, for richer, for poorer….when you buy your $500 shoes.”

For the movie fans

If you are a movie buff or have a special connection to a film you would like to reference, you most certainly can!  Everyone will laugh and cry as they join with you in these words.

“I guarantee there’ll be tough times. I guarantee that at some time, one or both of us is gonna want to get out of this thing. But I also guarantee that if I don’t ask you to be mine, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life, because I know, in my heart, you’re the only one for me.”Runaway Bride

“I, Craig, take you, Christina, to be my wife, my best friend, and my first mate. Through sickness and health, clear skies and squalls.”

“I, Christina, take you, Craig, to be my best friend and my captain, to be your anchor and your sail, your starboard and your port.” — Christina to Craig in the movie Wedding Crashers

“I love that you get cold when it’s seventy-one degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle in your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night.” When Harry Met Sally

Who wears the pants in this relationship?

Celebrant to Bride: Do you take this man to be your husband?

Bride: I do.

Celebrant to Groom: Do you take this woman to be your wife?

Bride: He does.

References to your favourite places, hobbies and teams

“I, Mary, take you John, to be my spouse, at the mall or on the golf course, at the computer or with the bridge club, as long as we both shall live.”

“I promise to love you as much as I love my credit card and not hold your poor fashion sense against you.”

“I promise to love and cherish you as much as I do our dog, Fido.”

“I will love you in sickness and in health, from this day forward, until death parts us, or until you become a Broncos fan.”

“I, Joe, promise to love you, Amanda, even through your need to listen to hair bands from the 1980s. I will learn to love Guns n’ Roses, Skid Row, Motley Crue, and Poison as much as I love you. I promise for now and forever not to criticize your music choice.”

Spice up the traditional words

For example, instead of saying “till death do us part” try using “to infinity and beyond”.

Everyone loves a rhyming poem

I John, take you Mary, to be my lawfully wedded wife.

To be together in happiness and strife,

To have and to hold,

Even if your cooking grows mold.

I love you in richness and in debt,

And cherish all moments since we have met.

A personal promise

Perhaps the simplest way to add some humor to your wedding vows is to use mostly traditional vows, but add a line or two for personalization. For example, when Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were married, Jennifer told Brad “I promise to always make your favorite banana milkshake.” They also promised to “split the difference on the thermostat.” Maybe the bride will vow to let the groom watch his favorite team on Sundays uninterrupted, while the groom vows to take the bride shopping.

You might want to make sure your fiancé knows about your plans before you blurt out these words, just to cover all bases!

By Michellebrant

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Buddhist Beliefs About Marriage

In Buddhism, marriage is regarded as entirely a personal, individual concern and not as a religious duty.

The Buddhist view of marriage considers marriage a secular affair. Buddhists are expected to follow the civil laws regarding marriage laid out by their respective governments. In Buddhism, the concept of marriage is really left up to the individual – to decide what works for them in their own social environment.

Buddhist monks do not solemnize a marriage ceremony (you need a celebrant like me to do that!), they do perform religious services in order to bless the couple.

The Dalai Lama has spoken of the merits of marriage:

Too many people in the West have given up on marriage. They don’t understand that it is about developing a mutual admiration of someone, a deep respect and trust and awareness of another human’s needs…The new easy-come, easy-go relationships give us more freedom — but less contentment.

While Buddhist practice varies considerably among its various schools, marriage is one of the few concepts specifically mentioned in the context of Śīla (Buddhist behaviour discipline).

Gautama Buddha never spoke against marriage but instead pointed out some of the difficulties of marriage. He is quoted in the Parabhava Sutta as saying:

Not to be contented with one’s own wife, and to be seen with harlots and the wives of others — this is a cause of one’s downfall. Being past one’s youth, to take a young wife and to be unable to sleep for jealousy of her — this is a cause of one’s downfall.

The fundamental code of Buddhist ethics, the Pancasila (or five precepts), contains an admonishment of sexual misconduct, though what constitutes such misconduct from a Buddhist perspective varies widely depending on the local culture.

The Digha Nikaya 31 (Sigalovada Sutta) describes the respect that one is expected to give to one’s spouse.

Vows in a Buddhist marriage ceremony can vary greatly, as there is no real “structure”.  One favourite of mine is below:

“In the future, happy occasions will come as surely as the morning. 

Difficult times will come as surely as the night. 

When things go joyously, meditate according to the Buddhist tradition. 

When things go badly, meditate. 

Meditation in the manner of the Compassionate Buddha will guide your life. 

To say the words ‘love and compassion’ is easy.

But to accept that love and compassion are built upon patience

and perseverance is not easy.”

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Alternative and Hippy Wedding Vows

Over the years we have learned to associate hippies with long hair and bellbottoms, VW vans and LSD. But, behind the stereotype lies a magnificent belief system. That of love, peace and freedom.


Now days, the term “hippy” can mean a whole range of things.  Essentially it is about being at one with nature, oneself and promoting love above all other things; for each other and the world around us.


A wedding is simply the greatest celebration of love and so over the years, civil ceremonies have incorporated many different types of vows and alternative “hippy” words have become a favourite of many. When choosing your wedding vows the sky is the limit.


There is only one rule:  Speak from the heart and let the world know that the person standing next to you is the One, your life partner and soul mate who you intend to love for the rest of your days.


I recommend a lovely Buddhist Prayer by Lama Thubten Yeshe:

Today we promise to dedicate ourselves completely to each other, with body, speech, and mind.

In this life, in every situation, in wealth or poverty, in health or sickness, in happiness or difficulty, we will work to help each other perfectly.

The purpose of our relationship will be to attain enlightenment by perfecting our kindness and compassion toward all sentient beings.


You can pick traditional Hindu wedding vows, or the Apache prayer, you can talk about souls merging on the higher plains and former lives. These are all legitimate wedding vows. And, even though you might not be big on tradition, ceremonies or rules that usually apply, your wedding vows are still the life and the soul of the wedding ceremony.

Remember, you are pledging your undying love for your soulmate and professing it before family, friends, Mother Earth, the moon and the stars. Make it heartfelt and personal and speak with love.




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