Tips For Planning Your Unique Ceremony

1. Tell me about the service you offer couples – what makes it so special?

When I got married we were looking for someone from our generation, who understood our beliefs and us. I wanted a ceremony that reflected our lifestyles and had an element of fun to it – after all, it is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life. I had been a guest at previous weddings where the ceremonies were disastrous. One wedding I went to, the celebrant got the groom’s name wrong! I felt with my skill set and attention to detail I could really make a change – not to mention the fact that I just love weddings. So I decided to become a celebrant.

I believe ceremonies should be as individual and unique as couples. The ceremony should support the couple’s individuality and express their ideas. I support and offer modern, innovative ideas.

Ceremonies need to reinforce the sincere commitment made between two people who love each other, who wish to share each other’s joys and sorrows, who respect and love each other as individuals, who give each other support and encouragement, and who will grow and change together in the years to come.

I love providing a personal touch – everyone loves a good story and I believe it is my job to tell it. I ask all my clients to complete a questionnaire about how they met, their courtship and engagement etc. From there, I go about crafting the ceremony. We often forget that lots of people at your wedding don’t know the ins and outs of how you met etc. Some guests are colleagues from work; some are guests of close friends and have never met the couple. A well-written ceremony can give gems of personal information and offer a fertile talking point.

I provide my clients with a lot of resources, and as much guidance as they need or want. I give all my clients a 70-page booklet titled: ‘Your Wedding’. This folder is a gift from me, to help think through the details that will make their ceremony perfect. It contains poems, readings and useful information compiled by me to help personalize the couple’s wedding event.

I like to go on a personal journey with my couples. I end up becoming good friends with the bride and groom and have ended up performing some of their baby naming ceremonies.

Coming from a background in fine arts and design, and having an ongoing acting career makes me a highly visual creature; I think about expressing the couple’s ideas not just through words but also in visual ways. For example, one of my brides is getting married on her in–laws’ property that backs onto a lake. She will be arriving on a boat her husband restored, and her best male friend who played a big part in getting the couple together will row her in. I arrived at my own wedding on my husband Craig’s grandfather’s treasured Massey Ferguson tractor. Craig comes from a generation of farmers and we were married on his grandparent’s orchard where we often had picnics together.

2. What are the latest trends you’re seeing with wedding ceremonies at the moment?

  • People are getting married in places that are sacred to them as a couple. There’s just something so undeniably romantic about getting married outdoors, especially if it is a spot that means something to them. I have a couple getting married at Bronte reserve in the place where they had their first kiss.
  • Lots of contemporary couples are going back to their ‘heritage’ to find time-honored traditions to include in their ceremony. I had an Irish mother of the groom sing an Irish blessing that the groom remembered from his childhood instead of a reading – it evoked lots of emotion.
  • Couples are choosing celebrants from their generation who get what they are about. For instance, If you are a cosmopolitan couple with a modern lifestyle and up-to-the-minute tastes, you want someone who understands that.
  • More and more couples are electing to write their own marriage and ring exchange vows. I encourage all my couples to write their own vows and offer lots of guidance for them. It makes for a highly personalized ceremony.
  • Pledge of Support/Giving Blessings to the union – these days we rarely use the traditional question to the father of the bride: “who gives this woman…”. Instead, couples are choosing to address a question to either, or both sets of parents, or to all the guests, to allow them to show support for both the bride and groom.
  •  Most parents want their children to be an integral part of the wedding ceremony and celebrations. Many re-marrying couples, as well as couples with children ask if I can suggest how they can integrate the children into the wedding ceremony in such a way that it will become a family wedding.
  • Many couples are opting for themed weddings that reflect their personalities. They are loads of fun. I have recently seen a ‘space’ and a ‘sea shanty’ themed fancy dress wedding. The great thing is that everyone – young and old – made a huge effort and really got into the spirit of things.
  • Acknowledging the land. Lots of couples are paying their respects by acknowledging the land that the ceremony is taking place on before commencing their ceremonies.
  • Couples are keeping outdoor ceremonies informal and cost-effective by providing seating for only a number of guests, having the remainder standing. It makes for a more relaxed yet intimate atmosphere – the guests feel closer and more involved.

3.  What expert tips can you give couples planning their wedding ceremony?

  • Is your celebrant excellent? Do you really like them? Does your celebrant have the skills to bring the ceremony together in such a way that all your guests can see and hear? Ask them how they plan to achieve this. Remember the celebrant you choose and how they craft your ceremony is a reflection of you as a couple.
  • Don’t choose your celebrant on price. It’s an important day in your life. If you like the person and connect with them and feel you can trust them to be professional, then follow your instinct – not your wallet.
  • Don’t leave writing your vows until the last minute. Put your all into making the vows and the ceremony perfect from start to finish.
  • Brides – always remember to look up and smile and really make eye contact with some of your cherished guests as you walk down the aisle. You will look confident in photos and it will be more memorable.
  • Brides and grooms – there is no need to feel nervous about your ceremony. Remember, everyone there is either a friend or family member who loves you. If you have selected a good celebrant they will guide you all the way.
  • Practice saying vows out loud. Your voice won’t carry as far outdoors as it would if you were married inside. The whole day is about your vows so it’s important to say them in a clear voice loud enough for your guests to hear.
  • Music, couples should choose and use music in their ceremony that means something to them. A bride may choose to walk down the aisle to the traditional music, or she may prefer to start her walk with a song that she danced to with her soon-to-be husband. The bride and groom may choose to have music played throughout the ceremony that speaks to their hearts and souls, rather than to someone else’s idea of what should be heard.

4. Include any other information relevant to couples planning their wedding ceremony.

Before your initial meeting with your celebrant have a good idea of what you want from your ceremony and what you may want it to include. A good celebrant should be able to offer ideas that support and enhance your ideas, making for a memorable ceremony.

Article written by marriage celebrant Jessie Cacchillo who has a background in fine art and design, and an ongoing acting career. She has a flair for the visual, the dramatic (or the subtle) where it’s required. She can choreograph your event so it moves logically from one chapter to the next; and will make sure the duration of your service is just right. She takes a contemporary approach with fresh ideas about how to present you to your family, friends – to the world!