Simple easy service by one of Canberra's most experienced celebrants.

29 June 2018

A Canberra Registry Office wedding? What about witnesses? Will you elope? ... And a happy story, ten years on

Hello, and welcome

They married by the lake in a simple secret ceremony with just two special friends as witnesses, on a stormy afternoon in late autumn. Just as I said 'It's time for your first kiss as ... husband and wife!' there was a bright burst of sunlight across the lake. How magical is that?!

All rugged up for the wedding
at Molonglo Reach
Lake Burley Griffin ACT
So much fun!
Registry Office weddings in the ACT 

Registry Office weddings in the ACT?

There are none.

In most other cities in Australia, couples who want a short simple wedding go to the local registry office but ACT registry-office weddings finished about twenty years ago. You’ll need to find a private civil celebrant in the ACT for your registry-office wedding alternative. I would love to be at your service.

Short simple weddings are my specialty. I call them Simply beautiful and beautifully simple.

I offer you a beautiful venue – my large private peaceful romantic Heart Garden, or if you wish to marry during the cooler months, my green room with its windows on three sides overlooking the garden. It's warm, cosy and intimate. From about 2 in the afternoon, sunlight streams in and I also light candles. And of course, there'll be flowers from my garden. (Or in winter I'll buy some.)
Here's my green room, set up for a private wedding in mid-May 2018
on a chilly autumn day. There are candles, flowers, crystal glasses
and a pair of special Chinese wedding decorations
which a couple gave to me many years ago.
The bride and groom (whose families are from China) 

will stand in the bay window.
We had the ceremony and signing inside,
then got some beautiful photos in the garden.

For all Heart Garden weddings, I invite you to bring a special drink to celebrate after your ceremony. I'll provide the crystal glasses. You can also bring your favourite music to play through my amplifier.

The maximum number of adult guests for a Heart Garden wedding is around ten. All children are welcome. Weddings can be held on any day, between 10 and about 4.30. (Depends on the time of year.) 

I wish I could show you photos from the three same-sex marriages I've hosted in my garden this year as they were wonderfully happy occasions. By request of the newlyweds, there are no photos from these weddings publically online.

Choosing your witnesses

You’ll need two witnesses to your marriage. Even though by law, you have to call on all persons here present (or everyone here) to witness your vows of marriage to one another, it's also law that only two people actually need to be watching and listening.

Usually the witnesses are one person who’s special to the bride plus one person special to the groom – or own person special to each marrying partner. Your witnesses can be family. They can be friends or someone in your community whom you especially respect and wish to honour.

Choosing your witness is often a sensitive choice. Many witnesses, if not most, consider it a privilege to be chosen as a witness to a marriage. For this reason, the choice you make can have consequences that it’s good to be aware of.

Choose with care. Just as the person you ask to witness for you can feel really good about being chosen, a person whom you don’t choose can feel really bad.

Witnesses to your marriage need to be 18 or over. They must be present in person to watch you make your vows. Because marriage in Australian law is essentially a verbal contract, your witnesses must be close enough to hear your vows as well. They must have a good command of English to be able to understand all that’s being said.

After your ceremony, your witnesses (along with both of you and your celebrant) will sign three certificates of marriage. This way they testify that they were witnessing as your marriage was solemnised. (Or you may choose to have legalised in your wedding wording instead of the traditional solemnised.)

Are you thinking of eloping?

Are you thinking of eloping? If so, I can help. As for any legal marriage ceremony, you’ll need two adult witnesses.

Witnesses to a marriage don’t need to know the couple personally.

Many years ago, I was at Green Patch in Booderee National Park, Jervis Bay NSW for an elopement. I had the unusual experience of asking a father coming off the beach with his two young daughters, if he would kindly be one of the witnesses. He was very happy to do this and his two little girls were delighted to be part of ‘a real wedding’ with a handsome groom and a beautiful bride, dressed in lace. My husband David was with me so that we could spend the weekend together in Jervis Bay. He was the other witness.
Nice story, don’t you think?

Well, there’s more to it, and it’s just as happy.

Annie, who was the bride, contacted me a while ago, to tell me that she and Kyle had just celebrated their ten-year anniversary. They dropped in from Tumburramba to say hello with their daughter. It was a wonderful surprise!

Annie wrote me a great review on facebook, for which I am most grateful. (But it's disappeared.)

Over the years there have been many happy elopements in my Heart Garden. Witnesses have been my daughters, my daughter-in-law, my friends, my neighbours and my husband.

It’s been really special for us to share the joy with these couples, who for their own reasons, chose to marry quietly and keep it to themselves. I wish I could show you some of the gorgeous photos I’ve taken for them and also kept in my own collection. But of course, I can’t show you because I totally respect their privacy and confidentiality.


I’d be delighted to be celebrant at your wedding, large or small, with lots of guests or only two. In any location of your choice, including my beautiful garden or in my warm and cosy green room, overlooking the garden. There is no extra fee for this. My fee, which covers everything is $600. (More info here.)


Cherie and Barjinder
shared their special day with their families
in the Rose Gardens
of Parliament House ACT
on 2 May 2018
I’d love to be there for you both at any time you like, on any day.

There’s a contact form here. Or you may like to phone or text me on 0406 376 375, any day between 9am and 9pm, or send a PM on facebook. We’ll only need one one-hour meeting together to do all we need to do before your big day – it’s that simple.

Are you wanting to marry ASAP?

The Marriage Act requires that you wait one month after lodging your Notice of Intended Marriage with your celebrant. (Although you might qualify for a shortening of this time, which can only be granted by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages if your celebrant applies on your behalf.)

If you wish to marry as soon as possible, I can help you marry exactly one month from the day you contact me. As long as you can contact me by phone or text before about 11pm, you can lodge your Notice of Intended Marriage with me that same day. We'll need to have a meeting together as well, but there's no rush for that. I’d love to share in your excitement!

Sincerely
Michele


The Heart Garden - hosted fourteen Spring weddings in 2017.
Spring seems so far away as we're heading for mid-winter. If you'd like to marry in the Heart Garden next Spring, let's meet soon.




19 March 2018

For your beautifully simple and simply beautiful wedding


Hello, and welcome

Christina has walked along the garden path with her father,
to begin her married life with Steve. I think the feeling captured in 

this image is just beautiful.
The Heart Garden    27 December 2017
     Because there are no registry office weddings in the ACT, as a Canberra civil marriage celebrant, I specialise in simple ceremonies. I call them beautifully simple and simply beautiful. They're short and fully legal, but they're also moving and sincere, and very memorable.
     I provide a registry-office wedding alternative in the private, peaceful surroundings of my beautiful Heart Garden, or at any other venue of your choice. 
     I've been a celebrant for over a thousand weddings, mostly in Canberra and nearby New South Wales, so I can recommend places that could be just perfect for your big day. (I know, for instance, what is flowering where, and when.)
     If you choose to marry in my Heart Garden, there is no extra fee for this. I'm also the Heart Gardener, so I'll put many hours into making the garden look its best for you and your guests. The Heart Garden Weston ACT will be written on your three Certificates of Marriage.
     You may marry in my garden on any day. The maximum number of (adult) guests is ten. All children are welcome. If the weather's not human-friendly, your ceremony and signing can take place in my green room, with windows in three walls overlooking the garden.
Michele, handing over a 
Certificate of Marriage
at a private Heart

Garden wedding
December 2017     
     BYO bubbly or other celebration drink and I'll supply the crystal flutes. Maybe bring a favourite music track for your entrance along the garden path.
     I will travel to any venue for your wedding, on any day (or night) with any number of guests. If you have about 30 guests or more, I'll bring my high-quality portable PA system.
     As a celebrant, I'm experienced, friendly, flexible and efficient. Six civil marriage celebrants have chosen me as celebrant for their own weddings. This is my favourite endorsement of the service I provide.

Preparing for your wedding

     I have streamlined the pre-marriage process into one one-hour meeting. This is held at least one month before your wedding day, as required by law. You'll lodge your Notice of Intended Marriage with me at our meeting (not the Registrar of Births, Deaths & Marriages).
Such a special day for Thao and Kirill
Married in the Heart Garden
3 February 2018
 
     From our meeting, you'll both be confident about exactly how your wedding will go. You'll also choose your wording at our meeting. It will fit on just one A4 page. That certainly is simple, but you'll also have the opportunity to add personal vows. (About 50% of couples choose to do this I've found.)
     I usually hold wedding meetings (in Weston) on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Please note here that I only have meetings with couples who book me as their celebrant.
     If you wish to marry ASAP, you'll still need to wait the legal month (unless the Registrar grants you a shortening of time in extraordinary circumstances). When you contact me about your wedding, I'll tell you how to lodge your Notice with me straightaway so you can marry in exactly one month's time.
     Absolutely everything for your legal marriage is included in my fee of $600. (If your wedding's out of town I'll add a bit extra for travel beyond Canberra's limits.)
     As soon as you contact me, I'll email you a Notice of Intended Marriage and three files of information about the pre-marriage process, including the documents you'll need to produce (such as passports or birth certificates). I'll send full details of the service I provide.
     When you lodge your Notice of Intended Marriage, I'll sight your required documents. As required by law, I'll explain legal obligations and give you information about getting married in Australia. I'll help you choose your ceremony wording. After your wedding, I'll send your papers to the Registrar.

Your wedding

     Your ceremony could be as short as five minutes but with the signing, the photos and mingling with your guests, your wedding will probably last about an hour. It's not unusual for a wedding in my garden to last an hour and a half, maybe two. 
Yessa and Rex, joyful newlyweds
Nara Peace Park Canberra
27 January 2o18
     In Australia you can't 'just do the paperwork'. You must have a ceremony and that ceremony will have certain compulsory parts, eg your legal names must be announced at some time during the ceremony. You must be informed by your celebrant of the legal nature of marriage in Australia.
     You'll actually legally marry during your marriage ceremony when you make vows of marriage to one another. This must be done in the presence of your celebrant and at least two witnesses. Legal name change also takes place with the making of your verbal marriage vows, if that's your choice.
     Even though you must call on 'all those here present' to witness your marriage, legally you'll only need two adults to do so. Your witnesses must be 18 or over. They can be family if you wish. If you want to elope or keep your wedding very private, I can help find witnesses for you.
     There'll be three certificates of marriage to prove that your marriage has taken place. I'll send one of these certificates to the Registrar for the registration of your marriage and keep one for my records. 
     You'll take home with you, a personal marriage certificate (in the font of your choice) along with your ceremony, printed on parchment, also in the font of your choice. 
     Your ceremony will be short and simple, but it will still be memorable and special. All legal requirements will be included but you'll have the opportunity to add your own personal touches to make it unique. 
I love brides! And I love the heartfelt
feelings that we share 
on their day of days.
Here Lin gives me a
hug of happiness,
after she married Lee
in the Formal Gardens of
Parliament House 
     I invite you to bring your own personal vows with you to your wedding. Or you may like to just hold hands and ad lib special messages to each other. Perhaps you'll simply want to make vows of marriage.
     With your wording I'll give you all the options that are legally allowed by the Attorney-General. For instance, you've probably heard at weddings of friends and family: 'all persons here present' many times over, but you won't be limited to this. You may prefer 'all people here present'. Or you may like to keep it really simple and friendly with 'everybody here' or 'everyone here'.
     
Let's make contact

     I love being a celebrant and I feel privileged to be an integral part of such a significant event, as two people in love begin their married life together.
     Please feel free to contact me about your wedding any day, at any time from 9am to 9pm, by phone, text, email or PM on my facebook page - Michele the Celebrant Canberra.      
     There's an email contact form on this page, or here. We can arrange to Skype if you'd like, especially if you're living overseas when you lodge your Notice.
     I'd be delighted to be celebrant for you both on your most special day. 
     My delivery of your ceremony will be heartfelt and sincere. My voice is clear and well-modulated. If I'm your celebrant, I won't stand between you. I think when you see your wedding photos, you'll be really glad of this. I'll stand to the side, dressed in a way that won't attract attention. 
     You two will be standing together, at the centre of everything, sharing the time of your life!
     And my congratulations to you both.

Sincerely
Michele.

Newlyweds Scott and Samantha share loving looks
The Heart Garden 10 February 2018

Samantha, Scott and Michele
Your day is my focus.
That's my promise.
It's my pleasure.

30 December 2017

Success on the Australian Marriage scene.

Hello and welcome
     On the historic day of Saturday December 9 2017, I was celebrant at two weddings in which, by law, I spoke the new wording, that marriage in Australia is 'between two people'. Up until then, the law required me to say 'between a man and a woman'. (Or I was permitted to say: 'between a woman and a man'.)      
     At the wedding in the morning, a few guests noticed when I said the new words for the first time. At the second wedding, later in the afternoon, there were loud cheers all-round and lots of appreciative clapping.
     In my last blogpost I mentioned my wish that marriage equality would soon become law in Australia. And it happened. And it happened very rapidly. And there's more to it than I realised. I'll tell you more in my next post ...

     Here's a photo from a private wedding in my beautiful romantic Heart Garden. I always ask couples if they'd like their photos to go online or not. Here I have permission to publish this lovely photo, but not identify the couple. They were actually eloping! I helped them in this exciting endeavour by finding two witnesses for them. Here are the hands of the newlyweds and a white magnolia from my garden.

    I wish you a truly wonderful new year, especially if it's the year of your marriage.
    Please visit my facebook page for my latest photos and news. Or look for Michele the Celebrant Canberra on Instagram. If you'd like to contact me about your wedding, please visit my Contact Page. Or phone or text me on 0406 376 375 any day between 9am and 9pm. Or email me directly here.
     
     Till next time
     
     Sincerely
     Michele
Amanda and Scott shared a wonderfully happy occasion
with their family and friends in late spring in the Heart Garden


Suwanna and Paul, leaving the Heart Garden as blissfully happy newlyweds.

FAREWELL TO 2017


28 September 2017

Change is coming soon (I hope)

Hello, and welcome.

Luisa and Alex married in the green room, overlooking
The Heart Garden on a sunny winter day.
11 August 2017
     I remember years ago, being celebrant for a couple – it was last millennium in fact. But they weren’t actually marrying each other.
Ashleigh and Manoj
married in early Spring
in The Heart Garden
16 September 2017
     They were divorced. Their separation was amicable. They still owned a business together, where they both worked. The wife had fallen in love with a woman who came to work for them. The husband had also found new love.
     Each ex-married partner asked me to be their celebrant when they each made a voluntary, exclusive, lifelong commitment to their new female partners.
     For him and his betrothed, it was traditional legal marriage, according to the Australian Marriage Act of 1961. For her and her partner, it was to be a Ceremony of Commitment.
Ness and Aaron
married at home in Yass,
overlooking the river.
16 August 2017
     At my meetings with the two women, we put together a ceremony that was sincere and deeply moving. Of course, it ended with a kiss. I enjoyed putting my artistic endeavour into creating a Certificate of Commitment to commemorate their most special event.
     Their wedding was a big happy success.
Jessica and Ian
married at The Rock Lawn
National Botanic Gardens
11 September 2017
          Likewise the traditional ceremony between the ex-husband and his new bride. It was held on a lovely day at Lennox Gardens, just near the lake. I remember that only one actual ring was given – from husband to wife. The groom, who worked in an industry where rings could be hazardous, chose to have a ring tatoo instead.
     Both of these weddings took place before civil unions became legal in the ACT. Since then I haven’t been celebrant for any same-sex couples. This is simply because I have plenty of work as a celebrant at traditional marriages. Because the authorisation process for Civil Union Celebrants is a complex one and rego must be paid each year (as it must for Civil Marriage Celebrants) I decided not to apply.
     I look forward to the time when once again, I can join same-sex couples as their celebrant, as they celebrate their love and commitment to each other in the presence of their families and friends. I look forward to being their marriage celebrant according to the revised Australian Marriage Act.
Kubra and Youssef married at the National Library of Australia
13 August 2017
Meelo, JM and Snippet
     Here’s a fun collage I put together to show my family. It features my husband’s little Cairn Terrier, Snippet. Snippet is usually in the house when there’s a wedding in the garden, but this time she was specifically invited to attend by Meelo and JM. They married in The Heart Garden on Sunday 10 September.
     It was Snippet herself who decided to take on the role of the bridesmaid. JM’s father had come from the Philippines for his son’s wedding. JM and his father walked through the garden together to JM’s bride Meelo. Totally spontaneously, Snippet walked in front, just like a regular bridesmaid.
     Then, when we were signing the certificates, Snippet chose to sit on the grass near the signing table. Thanks JM and Meelo for treating Snippet as your guest. She obviously felt quite at home and had a wonderful time.


If you would like me to be your celebrant ...
     If you would like me to be your celebrant, I'd be delighted. These days I specialise in simple wedding ceremonies. They're an alternative to Registry Office weddings, as we have no registry office weddings in the ACT. But then, a lot of couples are looking for a celebrant who will keep their wedding simple, but still make it feel very special. I'd love to help this happen for you both.
     I've created a ceremony that covers all legal requirements, and I've been through the Marriage Act to find all the options the Attorney-General allows. As well, I always invite you to add your own personal vows. Even though your ceremony will be one simple A4 page, it's still going to sound very personal and wonderful on the day.
It was a sparkling day on Monday 25 September in Commonwealth Park East
when Ben and Mel married, but soooooo windy!
     Your simple wedding can be any size, at any time, on any day (or evening) in any location of your choice. If you'd like to have a small wedding in my Heart Garden, the maximum number of guests is around ten. Heart Garden weddings are held on any day - weekday or weekend. The earliest is 10.30 in the morning. 4.30 in the afternoon is the latest. Allow at least 'a good hour' for your Heart Garden wedding, but of course, stay longer if you wish. You may like to linger for photos. If you bring a special drink to celebrate with, I'll supply the crystal champagne flutes. And feel free to bring music - I have the amplifier and cable to attach to your phone.
     Please contact me using this contact form. Or email me. Or phone or text me, any day between 9am and 9pm on 0406 376 375. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about getting married in Australia, whether you choose me as your celebrant or not. We can arrange a Skype chat if you wish.
     If you plan to marry as soon as possible, I can help you marry exactly one month from the day of our first contact. There's more information here.
You'd be so welcome to marry in my beautiful romantic Summer garden.
     Please note that I only have wedding meetings with couples who have booked me as their celebrant. Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope we'll stay in touch.

Sincerely
Michele

28 June 2017

I'll never come between you

Hello, and welcome
Celia and Peter exchange wedding rings
Celia and Peter exchange wedding rings,
attended by their friends Lucy and Morris
Canberra Southern Cross Club Yacht Club  Yarralumla
29 March 2017

Choosing your position

Standing between the bride and groom is the traditional place for a celebrant to stand. But somehow it’s never felt right for me.

Bride, celebrant and groom,
all close, all three
A couple of times over the years, I have stood in the centre at the request of the marrying couple. In my role as their celebrant, I didn't feel as relaxed and comfortable as I usually do.

The energy in the space felt so intimate to me, I seemed to be intruding. The emotions are so powerful when two people in love are making a lifelong commitment to each other.

Besides, when I stood in the middle, I couldn’t make eye contact with the guests and that’s something I really like to do. These days, if a couple asked me to stand in that traditional position for their ceremony, I think I’d actually ask that they find another celebrant.

Bride and groom, almost at arm's length
Celebrant in the centre

Lots of couples - if not most - will be fine with the traditional setup. In the images I've found online as examples, even though I've changed these images a fair bit to to avoid showing identities, the happy feelings still come through.

I'm offering you an alternative. You may find you prefer it.

Groom and bride, wide apart
Celebrant is central
When I stand to the side and the guests are either standing or seated in an arc shape, rather than seated in straight lines, a warm inviting atmosphere is instantly created. Everyone gets a nice sense of inclusion.

When the ceremony begins, the bride and the groom are together, centre stage, in their own special space, facing towards their guests. They turn to face each other to make their vows. Close together, face-to-face, with no-one in-between them, they make their deep personal commitment to live their lives together in marriage.

All the guests have a good view as the marrying couple share their vows, exchange rings and seal their marriage with a kiss. Photos taken during the ceremony will feature the couple.
Mino and Belle share intimate space
This is how intimate it can be for a marrying couple
when no celebrant is standing between them.
 Belle stands close to Mino, making her personal vow to him,
as they stand together in their own intimate space - no celebrant is sight.
The Heart Garden 19 November 2017
Where would you prefer your celebrant to stand? This is just one of the small choices you can make as a couple that could have a bigger effect on the the atmosphere of your wedding than you may realise.
 
Sometimes I show up in other photos.
Here I am with happy newlyweds Vincci and Russell,
at the signing table in my Heart Garden
17 April 2017
The law requires a celebrant to hand the personal Certificate of Marriage to the newlywed couple. This is a favourite time of mine. I like to get a photo of the three of us together then, for my own collection. Otherwise, I stay out of the picture. (And photos I put online, always with permission, don't show personal details on the certificate.)
Mino and Belle receive their certificate of marriage
Mino and Belle receive their certificate from Michele

If you choose me as your celebrant, all photos of the two of you making your vows of marriage to one another and exchanging wedding rings will not have me in the middle. I think you’ll probably be glad of that when you look back on your most special day.

My fee for a 'beautifully simple, simply beautiful' wedding is $600, all included. (Except travel beyond the Canberra/Queanbeyan area). I specialise in simple weddings as there are no Registry Office weddings in the ACT.

A gang-gang visits the Heart Garden
A gang-gang visits the Heart Garden
for a winter feed.
June 2017
There's a lot more information here. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Obligation-free, of course. You'll also find recent photos on my facebook and Instagram pages. On Pinterest, you can see photos of my Heart Garden, each month of the year.

You'd be so welcome to hold your small intimate wedding in my large romantic garden, any day from 10.30am, with up to eight or so guests. There's no extra fee for this. For a larger wedding, from my vast experience as a celebrant, I can recommend lots of other lovely places.
Here's a photo from a private wedding in the Heart Garden
on 6 June 17. I love the way this shot has actually preserved the identity of the bride
and groom as they walk through the garden together for their ceremony.



Ben and Teresa share a private moment
Teresa and Ben, just married, sharing a special moment, just for them.
Margaret Whitlam Pavilion    National Arboretum ACT
19 March 2017
If you'd like me to be your celebrant

If you'd like me to be your celebrant, I'd be delighted. Your day will be my focus - that's my promise - it's my pleasure. 😊And my congratulations to you both.

Please contact me through this email contact form, or email me directly. Or phone me on 0406 376 375, any day between 9am and 9pm. Or text anytime. Or send me a message on facebook.

Please note that I only have meetings with couples who have chosen me as their celebrant for their wedding but, if you're still at the selection stage, I'd be very happy to share a chat with you by Skype.

Sincerely
Michele

16 May 2017

New post coming soon

Hello, and welcome
Here's a happy little video collage to enjoy before my next post is published. It takes about a minute.