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

25 October 2009

Crisp Gardens and Galleries in Bowning NSW, and a wonderful country wedding

Hello, and welcome

     This is a photo of bride Krysia with her father Derek as he shakes hands with Jonathan, the groom. Krysia and Jonathan are so much in love, there were actually some moments that I felt I had to step back from the highly-charged emotional atmosphere they shared as they were wed!
     It’s an early blog this week as I'm heading north tomorrow (Monday) to advise on two new wedding venues in Queensland – who’s got the best job in the world?!
     Yesterday I officiated at the wedding of Krysia and Jonathan at Crisp Galleries and Lavender Gardens on the Hume Highway, Bowning NSW, a few kilometres past Yass when heading south. As often happens with country weddings, guests also had the pleasure of staying together for the weekend, mostly in nearby Yass. Several guests had actually come from London to share Jonathan and Krysia’s big day.
     I could write so much about the beauty and other endearing qualities of this unique and magnificent venue. As I said in last week’s blog, it’s owned and cherished by Helen, Peter and Sandy Crisp. I must also give Jeanine another mention because she is the devoted gardener who takes so much care to keep the huge gardens looking well-groomed, yet somehow still a little wild, and that’s much of their charm. The photo to the left is the magnificent avenue of New Zealand poplars which yesterday became a spectacular aisle for the bridal party.
     You can visit the galleries and gardens from Thursday to Monday between 10 and 5. In Peter’s gallery you’ll soon see why he is one of our world’s top glass artists. To my mind, artist, entrepreneur and philanthropist Peter Crisp is an Australian living treasure. He’s just not on the official list – yet.
     At the weekend, you can take Devonshire tea during your garden wander. I like to go there with my family and take a picnic lunch. (Personally, it delights me that there are plants from my very own Heart Garden in Weston enjoying their new home in Bowning. They’ve settled in and spread, showing me each time I visit how happy they are to be there.)
The wedding of Jonathan and Krysia, as you can easily see in the photos was a beautiful unique event.
     There are more photos in the slideshow to the right of this post. Perhaps you’d like to leave a comment? (These photos have been moved to the Archive album)
      The party was well underway when I left. The guests were soon to move into ‘the performance space’ for a sit-down dinner and dancing. Concerts are held there – see for details. Excellent catering is part of the service package the Crisp family provides for couples who choose to marry at their beautiful place.
     As a celebrant I highly recommend this venue for a country wedding. It's a magical place. There is truly nowhere else like it. The water features and sculptures are spectacular, especially the waterfall that looks like a huge sheet of living glass. So many guests told me yesterday not only how much they enjoyed the ceremony but also how surprised they were to be sharing the occasion in a place of such natural beauty and splendour. There’s a palpable ambience in these gardens of the love and appreciation of Nature. I can relate to that!
      I welcome your questions and comments. If you’d like to email me about being your wedding celebrant, please click here.

Till next time

21 October 2009

The Formal Gardens at Parliament House Canberra ACT - fabulous, floriferous and FREE

Hello, and welcome.


UPDATE 18 August 2012:
After a long period of drought and unavailability, the Formal Gardens have been completely refurbished this winter by the team of dedicated creative gardeners who are responsible for their care. I expect that this Spring the gardens will be more beautiful than ever.

UPDATE 1 June 2012:
You can see all 23 photos, taken in the first long weekend in October. (We now have two in the ACT.) There are 23 photos and you can see them all in this Picasa web album. If you read this post first, I think you'll easily work out the references to the photos.

I said last week that I would tell you of an exquisite – and free – public place in our national capital for you to hold your wedding. It’s the Formal Gardens at Parliament House. As you can see here, in early October these gardens are in their prime. They are free, floriferous - as in 'lots of flowers' - and fabulous. They are also quiet, private and most memorable. I think of them as a living national treasure.

On the day I went to Parliament House to take photos for this blog, there was actually a wedding couple on the main lawn with their photographer. I think the photos they got would be stunning. Just look at the light, and the angles – what a backdrop! You'll find more of the photos I took on my visit to the Formal Gardens in my latest slideshow to the right of this blogpost. The photos are much larger there and you can leave a comment if you'd like to.

So, the lawns are a great location for photos after your wedding but I'm writing mostly about places for your ceremony. As you come into the Formal Gardens off Parliament Drive, there are enclosed courtyards on the right and left. I’ve officiated at a few small weddings in the courtyard on the right. It’s an elegant, surprisingly private space for a small wedding (ideal for about 35 or so). 

Years ago, before water restrictions, I took part in several ceremonies in the main part of the Formal Gardens, also called the Chinese Gardens. The annual flower displays were always thoughtfully chosen and colourful, the big beds of yellow roses, just lovely. The long memorial pool right down the middle was not ideal – guests had to stand either side of it during the ceremony, but that was OK. (I wish all public places were designed with wedding ceremonies in mind!). There was traffic noise but not enough to spoil things. 

Here's a photo of the lookout in the centre of the upper level. It's a great location for post-wedding photos with a panorama of eastern Canberra in the background.  You can stand at the end of this walkway and look down on the main part of the Formal Gardens, which is still worth a visit even though the annual flower beds are no more. There are memorials and plaques throughout the Gardens that commemorate significant events in Australian history and our international relationships.

At the entrances to the especially beautiful north or south side gardens, that descend in terraces down the side of the hill, there are grand pergolas of wisteria. 

The bride may come in from the top of the gardens, off Parliament Drive,

or she may make her entrance through the native gardens beside the Formal Gardens. 

My horticulturist son is part of a large team that maintains the gardens at Parliament House and they do a mighty fine job. The lawns and gardens always look immaculate and cared about. Owen is passionate about his work, and it shows. 

You can see in the photo above that the terraced side gardens are sheltered by the bush gardens all around them, and this also means they’re quite private. They’re also quieter than the main garden. 

In early October, the cherry trees are in full flower and pink azaleas create generous banks of colour. The lawns are lush and green. You’d have plenty of room for the bridal party, celebrant and about forty guests on one of the terraces. 

This is the garden on the south side in the late afternoon sun.

This is the garden on the north side

Unlike most public places in Canberra, you cannot book the Formal Gardens with the National Capital Authority. These gardens are administered by the Department of Parliamentary Services in Parliament House. Bookings are simple. Send an email to Facilities Management giving as much information about your wedding plan as possible, like time, date, number of guests. 

We are all well blessed I believe to have such beauty available to us in our national capital. That we can share it for free with the special people in life we invite to witness and celebrate a wedding is just icing on the [wedding]cake! I’d love to be your celebrant at this unique and memorable venue, as I’d love to be your celebrant at any venue you may choose. 

This weekend I'm going to a wedding at a place in the country that’s a great favourite of mine, either for a wedding or simply for a visit to enjoy the galleries and garden, and take Devonshire tea near the tall shady promenade of New Zealand poplars. This magnificent wedding venue, with stunning water features and lovingly tended gardens (by dedicated gardener Jeanine) is Crisp Galleries and Lavender Gardens on the Hume Highway at the southern end of Bowning. It’s owned and cherished by Helen, Peter and Sandy Crisp. Will tell you more in next week’s blog. 

If you’d like to email me about your wedding, please click here. I welcome your questions and comments. 
Till next Tuesday 

14 October 2009

Lots of FREE and beautiful public wedding venues in Canberra ACT

Hello, and welcome
Last week I said I’d write more about weddings in ACT public places. We have so many marvellous options, like huge gardens, native (the National Gallery gardens ) or exotic (like the rhododendron gardens in Commonwealth Park). We have superb sites of historical and international significance, like the Carillon and Nara Park. (Did you know that Nara Park symbolises the friendship between Canberra and her sister city Nara, in Japan?)  
From so many free and beautiful options, it can be hard for a couple to choose. The favourite spot used to be Aspen Island, with the wedding near the Carillon. Now it’s probably Nara Park in Lennox Gardens. The new rose gardens at Old Parliament House are also very popular, and they’re often booked out well in advance.

Because public places are public places, no-one can actually use them exclusively. You can however. make a booking to use a public place which will (ideally and hopefully) give you precedence in using that place for your private function at a particular time on a particular day. You book with the National Capital Authority and they send you confirmation, or they let you know that the place you want will not be available.
Here’s a quote from their very helpful website:

Venue Bookings on National Land

Event organisers can now book venues on national land though the NCA website. The form, which can be completed at any time of the day, asks a series of questions about the proposed event.  Once submitted, it is sent to the NCA for processing and then if approved, the event organiser will receive a confirmation email.
The NCA manages all venues on national land within Canberra, which are available for public use at no charge. A small works approval application fee is applied if structures are erected, and a refundable bond may also be required.
 Over 900 events are held on national land each year from wedding bookings,   through to major public events.

You can print the booking confirmation you get from the NCA and show it to anyone who turns up because they want to have a picnic or barbecue. Most people will understand and give you the exclusive use of the place you’ve chosen. Even though you may have a booking, I would always recommend that you send a guest early to ‘stake out’ your spot.

Not only will the notification from the Authority give you strong bargaining power, there’s another advantage of making a booking. I have heard over the years that if you ask nicely, the Authority will see that the lawn is mown and the place tidied close to your wedding date. Now that private contractors look after public gardens, I’m not sure that this offer still holds. It’s certainly worth a try though.

From the many photos on my hard drive of weddings in ACT public places (that I have the permission of all appearing in the photo to publish) I’ve chosen some from a unique wedding held at the top of Black Mountain in February last year. 
Shuang and David were married on February 23. It was a typically hot late summer day and the wedding had a real 'Aussie' feel to it. David was from the US and Shuang originally from China.
The reason I chose this wedding to illustrate my blog about public places is its reference to Canberra as our national capital, especially for visitors from overseas. When you get married in Canberra and invite guests from interstate, their visit is enriched by the opportunity to see and visit our national icons and treasures, like the Captain Cook water jet.

I’ve got some other ideas to share with you about weddings in ACT public places. Next week  I’ll show you photos of an exquisite public place for a wedding with up to about forty guests. It would be a perfect venue for a wedding on the October long weekend, any year. I think you’ll get a surprise to see the elegance and loveliness of this public, yet sheltered and private, wedding place. And of course, like other public places in the ACT, it’s free to anyone from anywhere who makes a booking.

I also intend to write more about unique elements in David and Shuang’s ceremony. If you’re planning a wedding ceremony, their wording may inspire you to be braver about your own input into the wording for your own wedding. Remember always, it’s your day. Once you’ve met all legal requirements in your ceremony, the rest is up to you. When choosing your celebrant, it’s a good idea to make sure that they are comfortable with whatever wording you choose and can help you create exactly what you want. (As I totally love to do!)

I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions, and you'll get a prompt reply. If you'd like to email me about your wedding, please click here.
Till next Tuesday


07 October 2009

Did you know you can have your wedding at Floriade, Australia’s largest flower garden?

Hello, and welcome.
Garden weddings have always been popular in Canberra. 
Did you know that you can get married at Floriade? It’s simply a matter  of contacting the National Capital Authority and making a booking. Because Floriade is held in a public place, it’s available for free to all citizens for private functions – private functions in a public place, that is. For Canberrans, it's unusual to have a wedding where there are lots of other people but those who live in other capital cities and choose to marry in a public garden, would be quite used to the idea. 

I had a wedding at Floriade several years ago. The setting was splendid. You might think that members of the public could intrude on the space you’ve chosen for your ceremony (as they have the right to do) but this simply doesn’t happen. When a wedding is taking place, people are very respectful. They keep their distance, though some, who love weddings (like me) may stop a short while in the background to enjoy the scene. I’ll write more about weddings in public places in my next blog. 

This year’s Floriade is drawing to a close and I plan to go there one more time. My first visit was at the end of the first week. It was mid-September. I'm glad that this coincided with the annual display of bridal floristry by CIT students. The view from the ferris wheel was spectacular but showed that many tulips had not fully opened.

There will be weddings in my Heart Garden in Weston in November and December. It’s looking just superb at the moment, full of blossoms (including green Yukon cherry blossom), flowering shrubs like pearl bush and lilac, and vines in flower like clematis and akebia, the chocolate vine. There are bluebells, irises, tulips and rhododendrons in many colours. 
If you’d like to have your small weekday wedding in my Heart Garden (at no extra charge), you’d be so welcome to. 

I want to let you know that there’ll soon be a free open afternoon at my Heart Garden  and you are invited to come. The garden had over three hundred visitors on the weekend it was part of the Australian Open Garden scheme in 2005, but the open garden coming up is only for my husband’s work colleagues, a couple of neighbours I have invited and you, dear reader, through this blog. Please email me if you’d like to come, and I’ll send you the details. 

Please note that this invitation is not about weddings, it’s about enjoying gardens - their beauty, aromas and birdlife. The invitation is open to all who’d like to come to the lovely place my blog sets out from each week.

I've included photos above that I took in the Heart Garden in the last week or so. There's a slideshow on the right of this blog with these photos and a few others. I've added descriptive captions. Click the slideshow to enlarge.
If you'd like to email me about your wedding, please click here.
If you'd like to ask me a question about getting married in Australia, or leave a comment, please post a comment below.

Till next Tuesday