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

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
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.


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.


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.


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.

27 March 2017

Three little-known facts about name change with marriage in Australia

Hello, and welcome

Here's the perfect venue for a vintage-style wedding

Brooke and Aidan married
at Albert Hall Yarralumla ACT
11 March 2017

My friends Brooke and Aidan were married this month at the Albert Hall. Brooke looked so beautiful in a vintage-style wedding frock and Aidan looked very fine. The Albert Hall is an excellent venue for setting up your own reception and providing your own catering.
(I also recommend Griffith Neighbourhood Centre.)

I can tell you from personal experience that our grand old Albert Hall has an excellent floor for dancing!

Here are three little known facts about name change with marriage in Australia

Fact One 
Name change for bride or groom, or neither - the choice is yours

Did you know that the Australian marriage Act, even though it goes back to the very conservative time of 1961, has never been gender-specific about name change? It's been traditional in Australian society for a bride to change her family name with marriage, to that of her new husband. The leaflet your celebrant gives you called 'Happily ever before and after' has recently been modified to make it clear to couples that the groom can change his family name with marriage, if he wishes. It's actually been that way since 1961.

Lyn and Mat married in
The Heart Garden
6 March 2017
No one is obliged by law in Australia to change their name with marriage. The bride may choose to take a married name. She may then choose to use either her birth name or her married name, according to the situation. For example, she may use her birth name at work and her married name at her child's school. Likewise for the groom. He may take the bride's surname if he wishes and use it in
circumstances of his choice. In my experience as a celebrant, three husbands have chosen to take their wife's family name as their own.

Bride and groom may decide to join their surnames together to make a composite married name, for example Belle Smith may marry Henry Chan. They may become Mr and Mrs Chan Smith, or maybe Belle and Henry Smith-Chan.

Fact Two
Name change takes place when you make your vows of marriage

Name change takes place when you make your vows of marriage, which is, of course, during your wedding ceremony.

When you make legal marriage vows, this is also the time when your marriage legally comes into effect. In ceremonies I conduct, I always draw this fact to the attention of the bride and groom before their ceremony. I then suggest they focus only on each other when they make their pledges of exclusive and lifelong commitment to each other in marriage.

You'll sign three certificates during or after your ceremony. Your certificates will state that a marriage has already taken place.

When you sign your three certificates, because you will already be legally married, you may already have taken your new married name. All marriage documents however must be signed with your usual signature – not your new one.

Cathy married Matt at Pialligo Estate ACT
The rain stopped, the sun shone and the wind blew.
18 February 2017
The marriage documents include your Notice of Intended Marriage and the Declarations you must sign before your ceremony to declare that there's no legal impediment to your marriage with each other (such as being married to someone else, or being too young to legally marry).

Plus, there are three Certificates of Marriage which you'll sign, either during or after your wedding ceremony. Your celebrant keeps one of these, you take one, and one is sent to the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages by your celebrant for the registration of your legal marriage. You can then purchase a copy of this certificate from the Registrar.

Fact Three
There are no government forms to fill in for changing your name by way of marriage

If in ordinary circumstances, a person chose to formally change their name, they'd need to apply for a Change of Name Certificate and pay a fee to the Registrar in the state or territory they were born in. (If born overseas, they may also have this option in Australia.) If a person changed their name by way of marriage though, they wouldn't need to do this.

You can begin using your new name straight after your wedding ceremony. Sometimes I call my Heart Garden 'a magic garden'. A bride (or groom, or both) can arrive with one name and leave with another!
Jack and Jordan  receive their Certificate of Marriage
The Heart Garden  Weston ACT 18 March 2017

If you wish to use your married name for an official purpose, you'll need proof of legal name change. You may want to change your name on your licence for instance, or get a new passport. For any purpose like this, you'll need official evidence that you've changed your name with marriage. Here's a link about getting a new passport, which may be cost-free.

From your wedding, you'll take with you, an attractive Certificate of Marriage.

If I'm your celebrant, your certificate will be filled in with the font of your choice. I'll also give you the wording of your ceremony, printed in the same font, on parchment to match your Certificate. They'll both be in a plastic wallet for safe-keeping.

This certificate will be your personal certificate. Even though it's a legal document, you can't use it for official purposes.
Michele presents Martin and Pia with their personal Marriage Certificate
Dickson ACT     25 March 2017
For an Official Certificate of Marriage, you must apply to the Registrar in the state or territory in which you were married. Your official certificate will have a registration number on it. You'll pay a fee to the Registrar. (Currently it's $58 in the ACT.)

You'll probably apply online, or you can apply at a local ACT Access shopfront. They're in Belconnen, Tuggeranong, Gungahlin and Woden. Note here that the Births, Deaths and Marriages shopfront in Fyshwick has recently closed.

You can arrange to collect your certificate from Access, or pay an extra eight dollars to have it sent to you by registered post. You'll need to sign for it when it arrives, or sign for it at your local post office.

You can apply for an Official Certificate of Marriage straight after your wedding, or any time after that. The timing is your choice.

Thanks for reading this blogpost. Now you're well-informed about three little-known facts about changing your name with marriage in Australia.

If you'd like me to be celebrant at your own wedding

If you'd like me to be celebrant at your own wedding, I thank you for this privilege. Simple weddings are now my specialty. 'Beautifully simple and simply beautiful'. We have no registry office weddings in the ACT, so marrying couples must choose a private civil celebrant, or a church. (The last Registry Office weddings in Canberra were held about twenty years ago.)

Autumn colours will soon be happening
in The Heart Garden
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 weekdays only, beginning at 10.30 in the morning. 4.30 in the afternoon is the latest, probably 3.30 when Daylight Saving ends on Sunday 2 April.

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' like 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.

Please note that I only have wedding meetings with couples who have booked me as their celebrant.
If you're planning to marry, I'd be delighted to be there for you both as your celebrant at your simple, but still very special and most memorable, wedding.