Simple easy service by one of Canberra's most experienced celebrants. Your best alternative to a Registry Office wedding - all for $600.

29 September 2009

My top favourite location for a country wedding is Crisp Galleries and Lavender Gardens on the Hume Highway near Bowning, about 40 minutes from Civic. I have a wedding there on October 24 and, if it's OK with the bride and groom, I’ll post some photos after that.The Crips family are dear friends of my family and I love every chance I get to visit their beautiful place. It’s open Saturday, Sundays and and the Devonshire coffee on the weekend is the best. Pauline makes and serves the best scones with real cream and generous jam. I’ll be at a wedding at Crisp Galleries on October so I’ll post some pictures after that.

Lovely country wedding locations around Murrumbateman NSW

Hello, and welcome.
I have just returned from a delightful interlude in the local countryside with my darling husband David. We stayed at the Royal Tara Motel in Binalong. Marilyn and Tom Duffy are the proprietors, and Tom is chef. In the Yass/Canberra region, Tom is the best caterer I know. If you want him to cater for your country wedding, you’ll have to book a long way in advance.
On the way home through Murrumbateman, we passed Springers Rest cafe/restaurant. It's in an interesting building from colonial days, right on the highway. (That's Springers Rest in the photo above.) Jenny is the owner/chef  of Springers Rest and I highly recommend the service that she and her staff provide.  I have found them to be thorough and thoughtful, and very cheerful.

Here are photos from the happy family wedding of Dyan and Andrew in late September last year. Jenny tells me the family of five has been back recently to celebrate the first anniversary of their most special day.

Coming home yesterday, David and I turned off the highway into Hillview Drive to check out Country Guesthouse Schonegg. I have always wanted to go there, and it’s as good as I imagined. Manager Kirsty showed me through the guesthouse. There’s a small courtyard with a backdrop of open fields. It would be perfect for a small quiet wedding. The dining room caters for about 35 guests and 6 couples can stay the night. Richard and Evelyn, the owners/chefs take great pride in producing memorable meals in a casual elegant atmosphere.
We returned to the highway, turned into Murrumbateman Road, then into Nanima Road. Travelling along Nanima Road, we passed  Redbrow Garden. I visited this large garden once during drought and even when it was stressed, it was beautiful. I am sure it's returned to its normal beauty after the recent rains. I have seen lovely settings there for small to medium sized weddings, and there’s accommodation as well. I haven’t had a wedding there yet.
A driveway of blossoms at Redbrow Garden
Next we drove past Poachers Pantry. I’ve been celebrant at several weddings at this unique location.  There’s an old homestead with a garden where weddings are held, and a new restaurant area. The large gardens mix traditional and bush. The staff takes great care to make guests feel welcome and well-cared for. 
I've been invited to stay a couple of times for the reception after a wedding at Poachers Pantry and had a jolly good time. You can make as much noise as you like as there are no neighbours to disturb! Guests usually arrive and leave by bus and that’s another plus for this venue. If the guests stay in Civic, no-one has to drive after the party.
(Wish I could show you more wedding photos from Poachers Pantry but I didn't ask for the necessary permissions from the people in them.)

Springers Rest, Country Guesthouse Schonegg and Poachers Pantry – these are just three of the excellent wedding venues in our local countryside that I can personally recommend. I'm confident you'll get a very friendly welcome, good service and great food if you choose any one of them for your wedding.

It’s good to see the countryside near Canberra looking green, lush and vibrant again. The local country wedding-scene, is, so I’ve been told, mostly uneffected by the Global Financial Crisis. If you want to hold your wedding at one of the places I've mentioned, you’ll probably need to book well ahead. 

If you'd like me to be your celebrant at a country wedding, I'd be delighted to accept. There'd be an extra fee for travel, but not from my home in Weston. I only charge for return travel beyond the edges of Canberra. For instance, the return journey Hall to Poachers Pantry is 25km. That's an extra $30.

Through my weekly blog I am glad to be able to promote local wedding service providers and the good work they do. Please note that I have no financial or business connections with any of them.

If you'd like to email me about your wedding, please click here.
If you'd like to ask me a question, or leave a comment, you'd be most welcome to do so. 
Just click COMMENTS below.

Till next time

22 September 2009

The comfort of your wedding guests, whatever the weather

Hello, and welcome.
This is all I can show you of the v private wedding held at the Heart Garden on 09-09-09 – just the celebration bubbly and the crystal glasses, ready to go.

Typical of a September ‘change of seasons’ day, we had sun, we had rain, and the weather was a little chilly. We actually had the ceremony and celebration in my meeting room, the green room, overlooking the garden, then we went outside for some fabulous photos. Several photos featured soft showers of pink blossoms, falling on the bride and groom (with a little help from me, the tree-shaker, well out of shot).

Keep in mind that if you plan to marry in Canberra in September, you can get sun and rain in one day, and sometimes the wind comes off the snow! If you’re planning an outdoor wedding, it’s good to have a backup plan that can move the ceremony indoors, even at the last minute.

Your comfort at your wedding is, of course, most important. Thing is though, you may not notice if it’s cold or too hot. You may well be off in a world of your own.

I’ve seen radiant brides in strapless dresses on cold days, just beaming with delight. Meanwhile, their bridesmaids in strappy dresses were shivering and turning blue. I'm not exaggerating when I say I could sometimes hear their teeth chattering!

Sometimes a bride has her heart set on standing in one particular spot, and on the wedding day, that spot happens to be right out in the hot sun. Here’s what often happens:
Guests go for comfort - understandably. On really hot days, while the guests are waiting for the bride, they will naturally move to the shade. At such times, I find it difficult as celebrant, to coax people out into the sun when the bride arrives. Unfortunately, many of the guests hope the ceremony will end as soon as possible so they can get back to the shade.

Your wedding is such a special event, not only for you but also for all the people who’ve joined you on your big day because they care about you so much. Everyone wants to have a good time. You will put a lot of thought into your ceremony and you’ll want your guests to look and listen in comfort, and take it all in. You will certainly not want them to wish it would finish ASAP.

Most months, the weather is fairly predictable in our fair city. If you plan an outside wedding, it’s very unlikely it will rain. In almost 900 weddings where I’ve officiated, I think it’s rained maybe a dozen times. I think your chances of being rained out in Canberra (except in September) are about one in a hundred. This means your chance of sunshine is about 99%. ( Sunshine or cloud, and cloud makes for great photos.) Pretty good odds, I think, of getting a great day.

To make sure everyone is comfortable at your wedding, just be willing to be a bit flexible.  Perhaps be willing to move to a shadier location if the day turns out hotter than you had in mind. Many couples set up a backup plan for bad weather by making arrangements with their reception place to move the ceremony there if the weather is too wet, cold or windy.

So, keep in mind that while the bride and groom may not notice what’s happening with the weather once their ceremony is underway, the guests will be wanting to watch and listen with pleasure. No-one wants to be wishing the wedding would end because they’re finding that the unpleasant weather is distracting them from the main event.

If you'd like to email me about your wedding, click here 
If you'd like to ask me a question or leave a comment, 
you'd be most welcome to do so. Just click COMMENTS below.

Till next Tuesday

15 September 2009

A Very Happy Start - Part Three

Hello, and welcome.
This is Part Three, the final part of the first blog I posted back in July. I mentioned then that I would add photos from the wedding of Bryony and Josh. Their wedding was delightful.

It was a beautiful day in February. Even though summer was hot, the Heart Garden was serene, cool and private. This is my favourite photo from their wedding.

Bryony wrote afterwards on facebook: 'Thank you again for our beautiful ceremony! It was everything we could have wished for and more. The intimacy and joy of our special day was so perfect.'

I like the photo above because Josh is beaming so much love to his bride, and also because it illustrates so well, something that I would like you to know if you choose me as your celebrant. 
I will not feature in your wedding photos!
Because many celebrants stand between the bride and groom, many celebrants are in the centre of many precious photos. Unless  you specially ask me to stand in the centre during your ceremony, I will stand to the side. It’s easy there for me to talk directly to the marrying couple, or directly to their guests. Mostly though, it means that when you share the most intimate and significant moments of your wedding, like the exchange of vows and rings, you will get memorable photos (like the one above) of just the two of you. 

You can see in the photos just how happy Josh and Bryony are. With their marriage, they have formalised their family within the community. 

Bryony and Josh already have little Seth and when I saw Josh recently, he was thrilled to tell me that a daughter is well on her way. She’ll be born in early November, I think. (Great wedding, great honeymoon!)

If you'd like to email me about your wedding, click here. If you'd like to leave a comment, you'd be most welcome to do so.

Till next Tuesday,

08 September 2009

No Registry Office weddings in Canberra ACT

30 August 2017

Hello, and welcome
Kubra and Youssef
married at the
National Library of Australia
in a beautifully simple ceremony
in August 2107

If my kind friends the googlebots have brought you straight to this page, which I loaded in September 2009, here's a link to the latest information about the Simple (yet still) Special Service I offer you. 

Your beautifully simple and simply beautiful wedding can be held in the intimate venue of my beautiful Heart Garden in Weston on any day, or in any other location on any day at any time, day or night.

The driveway (see below) still looks glorious in early September and it's now paved with concrete.

My all-inclusive fee is $600. There's no added cost for the use of my large, peaceful, romantic garden for your wedding. 

Luisa and Alex married in the cosy green room on a sunny
August afternoon 2017. We had the ceremony inside, then
rugged up for drinks and photos in the garden. 

Heart Garden weddings are held Mon-Fri beginning from 10.30am to 4.30pm. Maximum number of guests: around 8. (Maybe up to a dozen) If you'd like to bring a special drink for celebrating afterwards, I'll put out the crystal champagne flutes. And if you'd like the bride to walk in to special music, bring the track on your phone (except iPhone 8) and use my amplifier (and cable).

For the same fee of $600 all-inclusive, I also offer the Simple (yet still) Special Service at any other location, on any day, at any time, with any number of guests. If you wish to marry out of town, there'll be an extra fee for travel.
Vincci and Russell,
celebrating as newlyweds
in the Heart Garden
April 2017

I'll take my amplifier, cable for music and cordless microphone to your wedding venue. (Please supply a small table and chair.)

Here's a link to my Email Contact Form if you'd like to get in touch with me about being your celebrant. I'd be delighted to be there for you both on your most special day. 

Or phone or text me on 0406 376 375, any day between 9am and 9pm.

And here's a link to my homepage with the latest blogpost.
Thank you for your visit. I hope we'll stay in touch. :)

Hello, and welcome
8 September 2009

Many years ago, when the office of the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages was in Civic – it’s now in Fyshwick – there was a small, very pleasant wedding room where couples could get married. It’s a common assumption that the Registrar’s office still offers this service, however, people who plan to marry in the ACT must find a private civil marriage celebrant (or a religious celebrant) to officiate for them. Here's a link to the Attorney-General's list of registered celebrants.

When the Registrar’s room closed, I decided to make my beautiful quiet, private garden in Weston available to couples who would have chosen a registry office wedding.

Our garden has always been serene and inviting. I recall that my dear friend Joan told me she always visited my garden in her mind when she sat down to meditate. Over the years, many students have come here, especially to see its unusual plants. 

When my husband and I first moved to Weston in 1972, our block was bare scraped clay. Now it’s a romantic quarter-acre garden, ever changing and delighting. In 2005 our Heart Garden was part of the Australian Open Garden scheme and was enjoyed by several hundred visitors.

Couples who plan to marry during traditional business hours (Monday to Friday, 9 to 5) are so welcome to have their ceremony in the Heart Garden. There is no extra charge for this. There can be up to about a dozen guests. (The smaller the wedding, the more intimate.)

Here's my email contact form for all enquiries. Or phone  or text me on 0406 376 375, any day between 9am and 9pm.

When there’s a wedding coming up, I weed and feed, mow and blow. I spruce up the garden to the max for hosting these very special occasions. I supply crystal champagne glasses for everyone for the toasts and guests are most welcome to wander around and enjoy. 

There’s actually a wedding in the Heart Garden tomorrow so I must away and continue my preparations. The couple want 09-09-09 to always be a very special date for them.

We got wonderful rain in Canberra yesterday so I'm a bit behind schedule. This wedding will be very small and very private. Just bride, groom, two witnesses and celebrant, so I won’t be posting photos on my blog. I can show you though what the entrance to the Heart Garden will look like when the bridal party arrives. 

This is how our driveway always looks in early September. How beautiful is that?!

Looking up the driveway to Meldrum Street,
 the first week of Spring 2009

Till next post

03 September 2009

Surprise testimonials found on the internet

The bride phones home

Hello, and Happy Spring
It's now the start of the Canberra wedding season that typically goes till about May then almost closes for the winter. 
This morning I got a couple of nice surprises. 
I am setting up a new site so I googled myself to see how many places I’ll need to update my links.  (Until my site is up and running again, please email me here with all enquiries.) 
Here's what I found:

elegie posted this message on a year ago:

Our celebrant was Michele Bolitho, who was wonderful. She offered just the right amount of help when we were preparing the ceremony, and on the day she did everything right, and all the guests liked her. We ended up inviting her to stay for the reception, as we really enjoyed her company!

Thank you elegie – I couldn't find out who you are because I'm not a member. I appreciate your kind words, along with your generosity and hospitality. I'm sure I had a very happy time celebrating with you and your guests.

Then I found this blog from September 2007, and I do know who posted it. It’s a fascinating account by Liz, delightful bride from USA who fell in love with Aussie teacher Mike on the internet and came here to marry him. (How romantic is that?!)

I know I have the permission of Liz and Mike to put their wedding photos on the net so I’ve added some of my photos below. My favourite 'The bride phones home' appears at the top of this post. These photos from Mike and Liz’s wedding also show how lovely my Heart Garden is in early October. The garden is available weekdays for small weddings, for free.
First we met in Vegas. Then, we fell in love on the internet. After months of emotional struggle and denying to ourselves and others that we were anything but friends, we reunited in Australia and knew there was no more sense in denying it: we are in LOVE. After living together for a month, dreading my impending departure, Michael proposed marriage. Under a clear Canberra night sky, looking out from the balcony, I accepted. Michael presented me with a silver and blue opal pendant to mark the occasion. 

And thus the simple part ended.

We were both a bit iffy about the whole wedding thing. Mike, having already been through the whole rigamarole once before, wants things as simple as possible. And I, well, I've always kind of fought with myself about the whole thing. Sure, like any other girl I'v thumbed through my share of wedding magazines, watched a few chick flicks and daydreamed about cakes and favors, but the whole things just seems a lot like a big, expensive party that goes agains my feminist, rebellious nature. I like parties, I like cake, I even like pretty dresses, but the idea of spending that much money on something like that just smacks of gross materialism. Then there was the whole problem of us being all the way in Australia and my family being all the way back in California. Also, Mike's folks are in Brisbane, which is pretty far away too.
Michael and I decided that we would just sign some papers and then later, when both of us could have our family and friends present, we would have a big party honoring our wedding, and hopefully the granting of my nice new visa, too.

It was around this time that I, thinking mostly about ideas for the party in January, realised that this was the only time in my life that I could buy bridal magazines and books without feeling creepy. I proudly bought copies of Creative Weddings and Martha Stewart Weddings, The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Wedding (a tiny, 12cm x 10cm paperback book) and The Anti-Bride Wedding Planner.

First, I set about researching Australian marriage laws. Apparently, in other states, one can just get married by a registrar and be done with it. In Australian Capital Territory, where we are, this is not done by the registrar. I had to find a civil celebrant.

I searched around and it seemed to me that most celebrants were a bit of the beads, crystals and scarves type. Seeing as we are both, uh, free thinkers and definitely not new-agers, spiritual, religious or even superstitious, we wanted someone who would be down to earth and wouldn't insist on giving us any 'spiritual' guidance or input or anything. Fortunately, the first celebrant I called seemed to fit the bill nicely. Michele Bolitho, a very nice Canberra resident with a lovely garden was instantly likeable and available when we were. She and I hit it off right away and I was pleased to find out that she could offer her garden for our ceremony at no extra charge. We set the date for 12 October, 2007. Still, I was thinking, this is just a simple wedding, no frills, no lace, no dress, NO CAKE!

In our first meeting, Michele gave us a packet about the required elements of the wedding ceremony, and I was a bit surprised. There was a lot to consider. As a celebrant, she was also obligated to recommend several things, like counselling and other services. She gave us several sample ceremonies and suggestions for readings. It was beginning to seem like a much more wedding-y ceremony than what I originally thought. The part of me that reads bridal magazines began to rear its lacy head.

I decided to buy a dress. I chose the dress based on several factors: I wanted something I could wear again without looking like I was in a wedding dress. I wanted something I could afford. I wanted it to be relatively casual. I wanted to look good in it. The dress I chose is a short, above the knee a-line ivory satin and organza dress with a high neck and no sleeves. It is very appropriate for spring, and I don't feel self conscious in it. The girl in the store was very adamant that I had to get it because it looked so perfect on me. So I did. I then went to the craft store and bought material for a veil. Here comes the bride after all!

After that shopping trip I realised that I could not do all of this girly stuff alone any more. I asked my new, local friends, Emma and Shy to be my bridesmaids. They took to it way more eagerly than I expected for friends that I had only had for a few weeks. They are being super helpful.

Now it seems the challenge is to keep things simple and not to get carried away!
The basic plan is still: Small, simple wedding then we all go out to dinner.
Mike's mum is coming down for the ceremony and he's asking some of his students to take photographs. I know that at least one of his co-workers will be attending and probably a couple of students will be guests. I will have Emma and Shy there and I will let them chose who else they want to invite. That seems fair. We want to keep the party down to about a dozen or less.

Sometimes, Mike objects a little bit when it seems like I'm getting too elaborate, but I reminded him of another thing we have to keep in mind: I will be applying for a visa as Mike's spouse. I've read about the requirements and it seems like they need lots of proof that our relationship is genuine and lasting. The fact that it actually
 is means nothing if we don't have evidence. This is another reason that I am allowing The Veiled One (my inner bride, that voice that constantly sings dum, dum, de-dum) to take over a bit.

The Heart Garden is ready for the ceremony

The bride arrives

Mike signs the certificates

Bride Liz and celebrant Michele

The v happy newlyweds, Mike and Liz

You can see why I love my job so much, yes?

Thank you so much to the two contented brides who gave me these testimonials about the service I love to provide.

Till next post