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

05 December 2012

Brides are so beautiful!

Hello, and welcome.
Rose married Terry  in the Heart Garden on Friday November 9
Rose beams with joy, surrounded by masses of roses.
     Well here it is, my first blog post since September. I have written several in my head since then but they didn’t actually make it to here. I’ve been so busy with weddings! 
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 
on September 29.
     Now it’s December and the wedding scene is going quiet until the new year. 
Eddie watches his gorgeous
Cassie arrive for their
wedding in
Queanbeyan Park
on November 10.
     I’ve decided to simply present lots of photos of lovely brides for my last post for the year. 
     Of course I see a lot of fine-looking grooms as well - see Eddie on the right - and I love being around their happiness when they get married. I've decided though to just fill my blog with some recent bride photos for you to enjoy, and get a warm glow from, especially as we're coming into the season of love and good cheer. 
     I'll come back in the new year with news and notes that I’ve been wanting to share with you since September.
     One thing I must mention now though – my Wedding Pages to the right of this post don’t show up on smartphones. (Not sure about tablets.)
    If you’re reading this on your phone, here are links to Pages about the services I offer, my fees, Notice of Intended Marriage download, a slideshow of recent photos, and so on.

Sarah, with her sweet little flowergirl, daughter Chloe,
before her marriage to Chris at
Black Mountain Tower, September 7.

Linda married her beloved Andrew in the
Formal Gardens
of Parliament House
on Friday October 19   (Free venue)

And Julie married her long-time love Paul
in the Formal Gardens the next day.
Saturday October 20

Holly and Aki married on a warm spring day
in the Heart Garden,
with their three children,
who all had fun, playing in the garden.
Friday October 26 2012  (Free venue)

And Beth married Heng under the rare Japanese double
wisteria, in full bloom, in the Heart Garden
on  Friday October 26
     I enjoy my celebrant work very much. If you’re planning to marry, I’d love to be there for you on your big day and help you both make your wedding a great success. If you’re planning a very small, simple, weekday wedding, you’d be so welcome to marry in my Heart Garden in Weston. There’s no extra charge for this.
 Nicole and Quang married in the
House of Reps Rose Gardens
at Old Parliament House on October 27
(Free venue)

And Natalie came from Japan with Sam to
marry at Poachers Pantry on Friday November 2
in the presence of family and many friends

10-11-12 was a popular wedding date.
Here Mandy arrives for her wedding with Darren
in the Heart Garden.

Cassie was so happy to marry Eddie that same day in Queanbeyan Park.
(Free venue, as far as I know)

Framed by our amelanchier tree full of fruit,
here is Amy, who married Haibo
last Thursday, November 29
in the Heart Garden.

And in the heat of early summer,
last Friday December 1
Nadja and Ben were married in the relatively
cool and shady Heart Garden. Nadja is
holding baby Nicholas (and his bottle of water)

Lin and Lee with me at
Parliament House Formal Gardens, after
their September 29 wedding .
     Here’s a link to my email contact form, or see it in Wedding Pages on the right. Or email me directly, or phone me on my mobile 0406 376 375, or on 02 6161 0718, anytime between 9am and 9pm any day of the week. I'm available every day (and evening) to respond quickly to wedding enquiries and arrange to meet soon.
     One of the great things about my work as a civil celebrant is that I also get to meet lots of family and close friends of the bride and groom at such a special time of sharing. Almost magically, when the wedding ceremony is over, many of the guests are suddenly related!
Who's got the best job in the world? Me!
Bronwyn and Alistari married in the Heart Garden
on Friday November 23 2012
Their wedding was a total delight!


     I wish you and all your special people a wonderful Christmas season and a very happy new year.

Till next time,


PS Alistair and Bronwyn have since sent me a thank-you card with a gorgeous photo on the cover, taken in the Heart Garden. 
They wrote:
Dear Michele
Thank you for helping to make our wedding so special and memorable. Your warmth, humour, excitement and generosity were an invaluable part of the spirit of love, friendship and celebration we felt on the day. Your beautiful Heart Garden was the perfect setting for our marriage....

18 August 2012

Popular new feature in my Simple (but still) Special Service

Hello, and welcome
There have been quite a few small weddings in my Heart Garden this year, and several more to come in Spring and Summer. 
     Even though Winter is certainly less colourful than the other three seasons, I always make sure that the garden is a beautiful place to visit when a wedding's been booked. 
     Here are a couple of recent happy couples, enjoying their small intimate winter weddings:
Kathleen and Tristan married on August 1
Mihi and Michael married on August 3

Add your own personal vows

I want to tell you about a new feature I've added to my Simple Service, but please note: The price remains the same at $350, everything included. 
     I now invite couples to - if they wish - bring vows they've written for each other. Some couples still want to 'keep it simple', without adding extra vows, while others welcome the chance to personalise their wording more in a simple basic ceremony.
     I've noticed that some couples who choose to write their own vows for reading to each other, also like to put time and creativity into making a beautiful memento of their vows. Look at these on the right, prepared by Franscesca for her wedding with Aldo in May. (Yes, they're in Italian.)

     And how is this photo below for pure, inspiring loveliness as Kathleen reads her personal vow to Tristan? There was not a dry eye in the house.

     Of course you must include vows of marriage as specifically set out in the Marriage Act of 1961 to make your marriage legal. As I wrote in an earlier blogpost this year, they must not, by law, be traditional 'I do' vows, unless you marry in church.They must be vows in which you say your own name and take your partner as your 'lawful wedded' wife or husband. (Or just your 'lawful' or just your 'wedded' or as your 'spouse') You can though, in a legal civil wedding ceremony add any other words you wish. 
     Rather than integrating your special words into the booklet of your ceremony - printed on parchment in the font of your choice and tied with ribbon of your choice - as I would with a full wedding service, you bring your words with you to read on the day.

It delights me that so many couples these days who at first look to marry in a Registry Office and then find out that this is not possible in the ACT, choose to marry at my home. 
     They comment so often that the wedding they have in the Heart Garden (or in my meeting room if the weather's unfriendly) turns out to be a much more special event than they could have imagined. This is all good for my heart and I'm grateful that I get to share in so much happiness. 
Michael and Mihi's daughters , 
Keira-Leigh and Isabella 
laugh and dance as pink petals
are shaken from the 
winter blossom tree.

If you would like me to officiate for you when you marry each other, either in my garden or in another special location you choose together, I would be very pleased to do so. 
     Are you interested in having a small simple wedding, or would you like to know more about the 'full service' I provide? (My fee for this is $550, payable as a $250 deposit and balance of $300.) If you'd like to see how the garden looks in the month you wish to marry, click here to visit my garden blog, then look for the month menu in the right column.
     There's an email contact form in the Wedding Pages to the right of this blog. Or phone me on 0406 376 375 or 02 6161 0718 at any time from 9am to 9pm on any day of the week. Or text me. Or email me to arrange a chat on Skype.

You put so much thought into making your wedding day a joy, I know. My congratulations to you both on your happy plan. I'd truly love to join you.

Till next time,


27 June 2012

Abundant birds and a beautiful bride brighten the wintry Heart Garden

Hello, and welcome.
Galahs, and a cocky having fun
Crimson rosella
It must be that birds are attracted to love. 
I love our garden - can my feathered friends sense this? Couples come here to declare their love for one another and make their vows of marriage - does this attract love birds? 
     Or is it that there’s always a plentiful supply of food and water here for many types of birds? Whatever the reason, birds flock to the Heart Garden at all times of the year but lately they've been more abundant.
King parrot at the feeding tray
     At recent weddings, we’ve had visits from rosellas, parrots, peewees, sparrows, crested pigeons and cockatoos. Personally, I discourage the cockies. They’re raucous and very destructive. Last week though, the mother of the groom, who’d flown from Florida for her son’s small private wedding in the Heart Garden on June 15, was thrilled to see and hear the cockies. Of course she took many photos. 
     (I realised afterwards that up at Fetherston Gardens at the top of my street, there are always families of kangaroos. So if you’re planning a Heart Garden wedding and you’ve got guests from overseas, I can show you where the kangaroos often gather.)

     Yesterday Wen and Dehai were visited by rosellas during their wedding ceremony. 
     We held the wedding inside where it cosy for Wen in her beautiful classic wedding frock. We also got lots of lovely photos outside as the weather was mild and the temperature didn’t drop until around 4.30 when the sun was sinking rather rapidly in the west.
     If you marry in the Heart Garden in springtime, you’re likely to be serenaded by our resident blackbird. He likes to sing morning and evening, I guess when he’s calling for a mate. I can’t guarantee his timing though. I hope you’ll be lucky as he sings the sweetest song.

ACT Registry Office Wedding Alternative

     It brings me great pleasure to offer a weekday alternative to registry office weddings. It was in the mid 90’s I think that the last wedding ceremonies were held at Canberra Registry Office, but this fact is not widely known. 
     I appreciate that Google sends enquiries my way when couples are looking for a small quiet weekday wedding. 
In my Heart Garden a bride and groom can have the added pleasure of a very beautiful setting, maybe with several feathered guests. They can bring bubbly (including non-alcoholic) for celebration afterwards and spend time taking photos as they linger in the garden. 
      It’s good to allow a couple of hours it seems, as recent visitors have enjoyed staying this long. Some weddings take half an hour from arrival to departure and if this fits with the timetable the bride and groom have set, I am happy to co-operate.

A local love dove service

     At a small family wedding this month, held at Nara Peace Park, the loving couple had hired the services of Doves Away so they’d have two doves fly symbolically above their wedding site then fly off together ‘into the future’. I can’t show you photos of the couple because their wedding was private, but here they are holding the doves:

     The doves were beautiful and co-operated very well. Their owner is Helen, and if you’d like her doves to feature at your own wedding, you can contact her here. As always, I have no financial arrangement with this local provider of a wedding service that I personally endorse and want to let you know about.

If you’d like me to be your celebrant

     If you’d like me to be your celebrant, at a small simple (but still special) Heart Garden wedding, or at a larger wedding at the weekend (or during the week) I’d be delighted to be there for you both. You’ll find lots of information about the full service I provide in the Wedding Pages on the right. 
     I include detailed information about getting married in general, along with the notes about the service I provide. For easier reference, if you'd like all this information printed as a 12 page booklet, along with a Notice of Intended Marriage (obligation-free, of course) just email me with your address and I'll post them to you.
     To make a booking enquiry, please phone me (any day between 9am and 9pm) or use this email contact form, and I'll get back to you very soon. (I spend a lot of my day at my computer, and I access it most evenings as well.) 
     I invite you to phone me with any questions you may have, or use the contact form, or text me, or we can talk on Skype if you wish. My mobile is 0406 376 375, my landline 02 6161 0718. Please note here that I am available for meetings only with couples who have booked me as their celebrant.

If you’d like to marry in the Heart Garden

Our winter-flowering apricot, prunus mume
'The Geisha' flowers from mid-June to
mid-August. It's a favourite perch 
for many visiting .birds. (See above)
     If you’d like to marry in the Heart Garden, you can see what’s in flower at any month of the year by visiting my blog Come To My HeartGarden where you’ll find a list of months with links to photo albums. The albums can all be run as slideshows. 
     If you choose to marry in my garden, I’ll be here to welcome you and help you make your wedding a joyful memorable event (even if lowkey). And who knows how many birds will fly in your the happy occasion?

     Till next time

31 May 2012

A most memorable way to remember your wedding

Hello, and welcome
     What’s the best way to remember your wonderful wedding day? I'm referring, not to your thoughts and feelings, but to actual physical items to trigger your memories and bring back the happiness of your special day.
Jill and Kie with gardenias in the Heart Garden 18 April 2012
     Of course there'll be lots of photos from your wedding, and you may have video as well. Visual images certainly stir our memories but there’s another way that we humans are wired, which makes memory access instantaneous. 
     It’s our sense of smell.
     Apparently in the configuration of our brains, olfactory input (aka the vibe of smell) takes us instantly to stored data about personal life experience. 
     You can probably think of certain smells in your own life that connect you straightaway with events from your past. Unfortunately, the bad are recalled just as easily and vividly as the good. Smells seem to reactivate not only clear mental scenes but associated emotions as well.
     With this fact of life in mind, I am now helping brides who marry in my Heart Garden, to actively register a perfume from their wedding with their joyful feelings on the day. Here’s how this came about:

On February 3, Samantha married Clayton.
It was such a happy day.
                  In her bouquet, Samantha had tuberoses. They smelled amazing.

I love tuberoses. I chose them as my own bridal flowers way back when, with little bunches of blue forget-me-not tucked in here and there. (My bridesmaids Mary and Liz wore differing shades of blue and carried bouquets of delphiniums.) When I smelled Samantha's bouquet, I was instantly transported to my own wonderful wedding day.
My little Grand-daughter
Molly makes freesia memories
at the wedding of her Mum
and Dad in the Heart Garden
on 23 October 2004
     There’s a huge old gardenia growing in a big pot on our verandah. Even on the day I write this blogpost – and winter starts tomorrow – this magnificent shrub has several blooms. I’ve been picking them lately and sharing them with brides, specifically for the purpose of anchoring a sensuous, memorable perfume to their wedding memories. I think they’ll find it easy to source gardenias in the future in many gardens, nurseries and florist shops, especially around the time of their anniversary. 
     And bouquets of roses. They're a popular classic with brides and they ‘fill the bill’ perfectly as memory joggers - if they are perfumed. In my own family, freesias are an 'olfactory' favourite.
     Last Friday morning, when Francesca married 
Aldo, I picked for Francesca, some wintersweet flowers (chimonanthus praecox), growing on a tall bush in the Heart Garden. The flowers are not distinctive but the perfume is strong, spicy and evocative. 

Francesca is holding her
bouquet of ever-lasting
roses, and a spray of
     Francesca loves flowers. She admired many late-autumn plants in the garden and I'm confident that she’ll track down a source of wintersweet in the future to take her back to the beauty, love and laughter of her wonderful intimate wedding with Aldo.
     And here's a really unusual 'aroma-memento'. Lucerne flowers!

Marcelle and Dean were married in the Gallery at Pialligo Plant Farm on March 10, with their large extended families as guests. They came from Cooma, where they are both farmers. Marcelle carried a bunch of lucerne flowers from their farm. Every March when the lucerne is in bloom, this couple will naturally think back to their very happy wedding day, 
    As usual with my blog, there are more photos that go with this post in the Slideshow to the right. There are also photos from some of the other weddings, large and small, where I've been celebrant recently and the bride and groom have given me permission to share their photos on the net. If, like me, you really enjoy looking at wedding photos, there are hundreds in the archives. Just click a link in 'Slideshow Archives' on the right and it will take you to my Picasa web albums. Your comments and sharing are welcome.
     Of course, there are many other ways to make your wedding a very memorable occasion without flowers, like combining all the people who are important to you in one special place at one special time, or playing your favourite music as your 'wedding mix'.
     If you'd like me to be your celebrant, sharing all the happiness - and perhaps the memorable perfumes - of your special day, I'd be delighted to be there for you. You can contact me in the email contact form, or email me directly. Or phone my mobile on 0406 376 375, or ring my landline 02 6161 0718, any day between 9am and 9pm. Or send a text to my mobile. 
     In my Wedding Pages (top right) there's lots of information about the simple service I provide on weekdays in my garden - or cosy green room, overlooking the garden. As well, you'll find detailed information about my full service for a larger wedding, with many more options. 
     I'm happy to answer lots of questions about the services I provide, and about getting married in general. Five civil celebrants have chosen me as celebrant for their own weddings and this is my favourite testimonial to the top service I can offer you.
     In my next blogpost, I'll be telling you about a new 'extra' available at Heart Garden weddings, already proving popular (at no extra cost).

     Till next time

31 March 2012

No more 'I do' marriage vows in Australian civil weddings

Hello, and welcome
Beautiful bride Clare
married Adam on March 17
in the Senate Courtyard
of Old Parliament House
At the end of February, all civil celebrants in Australia – about 10,000 of us I think - received from the Attorney-General’s Department, the latest interpretations of the Australian Marriage Act of 1961, in ‘Guidelines for Marriage Celebrants’. We have been advised that:

      Each of the parties to the marriage must say  the vows to each other. A question and answer form of the vows is not contemplated by the Marriage Act. ...It should not be used as a substitute for stating the vows set out in the Act. For example, the authorised celebrant should not say, A.B., will you take C.D. to be your lawful wedded wife/husband, with the response from the bride or groom of ‘I do’.   

   This means that you cannot marry each other in an Australian civil marriage ceremony with the beautiful time-honoured tradition of saying: ‘I do’.
     If your heart is set on saying ‘I do’ in your marriage vows, in response to ‘Do you take...etc?’, you still have the option of getting married in church. Religious celebrants are allowed to ask the traditional questions and in church, you are allowed to marry by vowing ‘I do’.
     In an Australian civil marriage ceremony, your vows of marriage must use these words: ’I A.B. take thee C.D. to be my lawful wedded husband/wife’. (You may say ‘you’ instead of ‘thee’.) 
     Did you know, by the way, that you can say ‘spouse’ instead of ‘lawful wedded husband/wife’ if you wish? It’s not a popular choice. I had been celebrant at well over 900 weddings before a couple chose ‘spouse’. The groom liked the way that 'spouse' sounded reminiscent of the formal Spanish ‘esposo’ and ‘esposa’ used in his birth city of Bogota in South America.
     Some time ago, celebrants were notified that bride and groom cannot take each other in marriage as simply ‘wife’ and ‘husband’. It has to be ‘lawful wedded wife/husband’ or ‘wedded wife/husband’ or ‘lawful wife/husband. Now you can’t simply say ‘I do’.
     Personally, I am saddened by this new ruling. I know from my many years of experience as a celebrant that people in love do love to pledge ‘I do’ when they make a lifelong commitment to each other to lives together in marriage.

We can find a way . . .

According to the new Guidelines, you will still be allowed to say ‘I do’ in your wedding in answer to a different question from your celebrant. It’s just not allowed to be your marriage vow.  
     I have already helped four couples who married in the last few weeks to change their ceremony wording. They’d all chosen ‘I do’ vows. Together we found ways to adapt their wording to comply with this latest edict from Attorney-General’s, yet still keep ‘I do’ in the ceremony. 
    I'm a writer and I enjoyed the challenge of having the ceremony sound traditional, yet still keep to the law. A guest actually mentioned to me after the wedding of Clare and Adam that she loved it when the bride and groom said ‘I do’ to each other. When I explained that their marriage vows had actually been made in the next part of the ceremony, she told me she hadn’t noticed this. I was really pleased that we’d managed to keep to the lovely tradition that Adam and Clare had chosen, yet still comply with the Marriage Act Guidelines for 2012.
     I need to rewrite quite a few of the sample ceremonies I give to couples to help them create their own ceremony, in order to remove the 'i do' marriage vows. Please note here too that the information booklet about the full service I provide, and the downloadable PDF that’s on this blog, need to be revised.
Update May 7: PDF revision done.

A glowing testimonial from a beaming couple

All registered marriage celebrants must request evaluation of the service they provide to marrying couples, but couples are not obliged by law to provide it. 
     I realised recently that I had not created a formal process for couples to evaluate my service to them as their celebrant. I quickly added a Wedding Review Form in the Wedding Pages on the right of this post. (It emails directly to me.)
     My first review came in quite soon, and it was wonderful! K and B were married in my Heart Garden and they rated me 10/10. They also gave me their permission to publish their evaluation on my blog:

Michele made our experience so, so wonderful. From the moment we made contact, her willingness to 'go that extra mile' went hand in hand with her genuine ability to make our day perfect - as she did. We could not recommend her highly enough and would like, once again, to sincerely thank her for being our celebrant and wish her all the best for the future. Thank you Michele.
And my thanks to you, K and B for your kind words.
     I’d love to be your celebrant, whether your ceremony is very simple with a minimum of options, or you want a longer ceremony with lots of your own personal words - plus of course the legal words required by the Marriage Act - all coming together in your own unique mix. 
     Please feel free to email me or phone me for a chat about how I can help you both to make your wedding memorable and marvellous. There’s an email contact form here. Or phone me any day between 9am and 9pm on my mobile 0406 376 375.

Till next time


26 January 2012

Ginninderry Homestead - classic country charm so close to town

Hello, and welcome
     Here begins another busy year of wonderful weddings,

     To begin 2012, I want to let you know of another special place to hold your wedding and reception - Ginninderry Homestead.
     Like Tuggeranong Homestead which I wrote about in my last blogpost, this is a county-style setting, right on the edge of suburban Canberra. It's in Macgregor, on the north-western edge of Belconnen. It's easy for you and your guests to get to, but you'll all feel like you're 'miles away' out in the countryside on a huge private estate. This beautiful place even has a river running alongside, and you'll get some spectacular photos.
      The owner/managers are mother-and-daughter team, Sue and Amelia. They are my friends - we're fellow gardeners, and for me, that's a favourite basis for a friendship. Like my romantic Heart Garden in Weston, the extensive gardens of Ginninderry Homestead, also with romantic styling, have been part of the Australian Open Garden Scheme. Another gardening friend of mine, Janet, married her longtime love, Rick, on the front lawn of the Homestead in early September 2010.
Rick and Janet, just married

     On the property there's a purpose built reception hall, with lots of space for lots of guests to dine and dance. The wedding ceremony can be held on the front lawn, or in a side garden, near the labyrinth, overlooking what I think is Ginninderra Creek (Yes, there's a labyrinth! This garden is a 'must see'!)

          Because this spectacular place is also a popular Canberra 4.5 star boutique hotel, the wedding party can stay the weekend in luxurious Georgian style. 
     For your wedding reception, you can provide your  own caterer or Amelia and Sue will recommend one for you. (In my memory, I think they recommend Flair Gourmet Service). If I were planning a country garden wedding, and I didn't plan to travel out past Yass to my most favourite place, Crisp Gardens and Galleries, then Ginninderry Homestead would be my first choice. Everything about it is 'just right'.

     As usual, to see more photos to go with this post, you can visit the slideshow to the right.
Amelia puts the finishing touches
to the elegant reception setting
at Ginninderry Homestead.

Bride Online Ask an Expert
     Bride Online's Ask an Expert service is a really helpful resource for everything to do with weddings. Last year I was selected as one of their experts and I've answered a few questions already.
     I recommend you pay Bride Online a visit, not because they pay me to say this - they don't - but because it's full of useful information and beautiful images. By the way, I have no commercial affiliations with any of the wedding suppliers I mention in my blog posts. I simply like to tell you of their good work from my own personal experience.

     Have just seen an article in the Canberra Times about Wendy Hudson from the National Botanic Gardens. I've known Wendy for a long time. She does a great job as wedding co-ordinator at the Gardens, as well as caterer. (Perhaps you could have your wedding at Ginninderry Homestead and book Hudsons to do the catering - that would be an excellent plan.)
     We have in our fair city, so many wonderful wedding sites and so many good restaurants, reception venues and caterers. It must be hard for couples to make their choices from all these options. I hope though that if you are looking for a celebrant who is totally committed to helping you make your big day a complete success, you'll find this choice very easy!

I think Ginninderry Homestead is a brilliant place to hold your Hens' Party. You can all enjoy the Day Spa, have a party in the magnificent homestead then stay the night. Pure class!
If you are planning to marry, congratulations! 
     If you would like me to be your celebrant, or you'd like to know more about the service I offer before you make your decision, please phone me any day between 9am and 9pm on 02 6161 0718 or on my mobile 0406 376 375. You can email me directly, or through this email contact form.

Till next time