What do you do when the borders are shut, and your Celebrant can’t make it to your wedding?

Roses and two wooden hearts overlaid with text from wedding vows, I will show you how much I love you, even when words are hard to find.

Last Thursday, I met the most beautiful young couple, and on Saturday, I married them!

Things don’t normally move that fast, but with the recent closure of the Queensland/New South Wales border, I was privileged to jump in for a Celebrant who was unable to travel to Brisbane for the ceremony. It was time to put the wedding contingency plan in action! He briefed me and forwarded the all-important paperwork, then I took the ball and ran with it.

Even though I met R & M in person only days before their wedding, you could say we ‘crunched the timeline’ in getting to know each other! And we quickly came to an easy, comforting place of trust. R & M knew I had their backs; that was my promise to them.

Our rehearsal gave us the perfect opportunity to check that everything was coming together just as they envisioned, and by Saturday, it felt as though it was always supposed to be this way.

Many details made R & M‘s wedding ‘oh so special’, but three of my favourites were…

💍 Firstly the original poem written and read by the bride’s stepdad. (Goosebumps!)

💍 Secondly, the time we dedicated to one-on-one conversations between myself and the bride and groom at the rehearsal. Those meaningful, honest chats gave me the insight I needed to ‘ghostwrite’ deeply personal vows, just for them. And they delivered them from the heart. (Goosebumps on goosebumps!)

💍 And thirdly, the perfect rainbow that arched across the sky as I was driving away from their wedding. I’m sure that’s a wonderful sign. (Dare I say it, even more goosebumps!)

I’m so grateful for the trust R & M (and their original Celebrant) placed in me. It all led to an uplifting ceremony that flowed with natural warmth, and celebrated their love story in an authentic way.  

Big virtual hugs to Shirley and her lovely team at Boulevard Gardens – always wonderful to work with you!

Things happen the way they’re meant to happen. 

Weddings on the wave of COVID-19

Couple kissing while wearing face masks
Photo credit: Daniel Tafjord on Unsplash.

By Lorraine Wright, The Wright Celebrant

Your plans may have changed, but your dreams have not.

If you are planning your wedding, this should be a time of great excitement and joy for you and your loved ones. But the COVID-19 pandemic, which is encroaching on just about every aspect of our day-to-day lives, is now causing genuine concern for engaged couples, their families, and those working in the wedding industry.

If you’re not sure whether everyone will be able to make it to your wedding this year, I truly feel for you. Your wedding is a milestone event in your life, and it’s natural to want to share it. So let’s talk about using technology to livestream your ceremony, so your more vulnerable loved ones can stay safely out of harm’s way, but still witness your “I Do’s” via a screen.

If you’re trying to decide, ‘should we postpone our wedding?’ or forge on, perhaps in a modified format, I understand your dilemma. It’s heartbreaking even thinking about changing your carefully crafted plans. But if your group is larger than the allowed gathering (100 guests at the time of writing), or you’d just rather wait until everyone can be with you on your big day, let’s talk about finding you a new date. I do have availability from October 2020 and throughout 2021, and I’ll bend over backwards to help you.

Or, you might consider having a small elopement-style ceremony on your planned date with just the two of you and your two witnesses, but waiting till later in the year (or even next year) to have your big party. I’m definitely open to helping you reimagine the style and logistics for your ceremony.

Until such time as the Australian government further restricts the gathering of people, and as long as I remain fit and healthy and you remain fit and healthy, I would be honoured to officiate for you. We will adapt to the circumstances, by incorporating social distancing and stepping up hygiene measures, for instance:

  • no handshaking, hugging or kissing anyone you don’t live with;
  • spacing out chairs to give everyone more personal space;
  • wiping down microphones and pens with disinfectant wipes;
  • liberal use of hand sanitiser;
  • ensuring no bubbles are blown over anyone;
  • and importantly, asking for strict compliance from anyone who has been in contact with a known case of COVID-19, or has any symptoms consistent with the infection (fever, sore throat, dry cough, shortness of breath) to NOT ATTEND the wedding.
  • You could even ask everyone to check their temperature before coming, as an extra safeguard.

Of course, please refer to the advice of our Chief Medical Officers and the World Health Organisation for specific information on COVID-19, as this is not my area of expertise. 

If I am unlucky enough to become unwell and unable to officiate for you, I will reach out to my amazing colleagues and find you a substitute celebrant, transferring the legal paperwork as per our discussion at the time of signing our agreement. Fingers crossed it doesn’t come to that, but contingency planning makes sense right now.

As this is a very fluid situation that is changing by the day, I will be continuing to heed the advice of our Chief Medical Officers and government leaders, in terms of any restrictions imposed on gatherings, in the days and weeks ahead.

But please, if you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone, or send me a message. I’m here for you.

Let me finish by saying, your wedding is going to be amazing. Your plans may have changed, but your dreams have not. 

Hot tips for keeping cool on a hot wedding day

by Lorraine Wright – The Wright Celebrant

I’ve put together my top tips, plus some from a few other fab wedding professionals, to help you ‘keep calm and get married’ on a stinking hot day.

These ideas come from my experience as a celebrant, but also from personal experience, as my hubby and I chose late January for our wedding, and survived – hair, makeup and (arguably) sanity intact. So here goes, in no particular order…

Stay hydrated

  • It probably goes without saying, but drinking plenty of water is a big deal on a hot day. It will keep you from feeling faint or headachy, help you concentrate and be present in the moment as you say ‘I Do’, and it’s a must before cracking open the bubbly later on.
  • Pop some half-filled bottles of water into the freezer the night before, then on the day, fill them up with water and take with you. You’ve got yourself a chilly drink and a cool-pack for the back of your neck, all in one. 
  • Prepare them for each member of the bridal party. Or better still – put one of them in charge, so that’s one less thing on your list.
  • And “Don’t forget to have plenty of water on hand for your post-ceremony photo shoot, to keep you fresh, fabulous and photo-ready”, advises wedding photographer extraordinaire, Lee Burgess of Life and Love Photography. Add to that some umbrellas for the bridal party, and you’re good to go.

Eat something

  • The same goes for having a bite to eat. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the beautifying, zhooshing and photographing that you totally forget to eat before the wedding.
  • Big mistake! No-one wants to be ‘hangry’ on their wedding day, so do yourself a favour… feed your body so you can still be merry later on. 

Set up for success

  • If you’re getting married in the hotter months, plan your ceremony for late afternoon. The heat can be pretty brutal at 3pm! 
  • Lee Burgess of Life and Love Photography suggests around 2.5 hours before sunset as the perfect time to tie the knot.
  • Choose a shady spot for the ceremony, and arrange the aisle and seating so that no-one is facing directly towards the sun. That goes for the wedding party and the guests.
  • Don’t be ‘fashionably late’ on a hot day, as your guests will be languishing in the heat waiting for you. Not cool.
  • White umbrellas for the wedding party and VIP guests are equally fab in the hot sun, and in a summer shower of rain. You can hire or buy them quite cost-effectively.
  • Here’s a seriously useful tip. Ask for the guests’ chairs to be set up a few extra inches apart, rather than right up against each other. Give your people some personal space. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than being jammed shoulder-to-shoulder and thigh-to-thigh on a hot day. Not only will this make a big difference to your guests’ enjoyment of your ceremony, it gives them more latitude (literally) to pop up an umbrella if they need to.
  • Have cold water and little fans available for your guests. The fans make a lovely, practical wedding favour.
  • Mozzie repellent is also a great thing (in some locations, an essential thing) to have on hand.
  • Did I mention, don’t be fashionably late?
Set up for success
Image by Life and Love Photography

BYO hand towel

  • Especially awesome if you are decked out in a suit, or a heavy dress with lots of fabric or gorgeous beading.
  • Just before the ceremony, grab your towel and dab your forehead, upper lip (taking great care not to spoil all that zhooshing), your neck, arms and hands – and don’t forget that ring finger!
  • Even better than a regular hand towel would be one of those new chiller towels – pop it in water, wring it out so it won’t drip, then give it a few quick flicks and hey presto – a reaction causes the towel to chill down. Magic on a hot day. (My kids swear by these on hot sports days.)

Advice your grandpa would give you

  • Guys – wear a singlet! An extra layer on a hot day might sound counter-intuitive, but it works. Rather than your shirt clinging uncomfortably and showing nasty sweat marks, a singlet will soak it up and help cool you off. So grab yourself a Chesty Bonds, fellas!
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen. Even if your ceremony is going to be in the shade, you’ll probably be in and out of the sun for photos and mingling with guests throughout the day. You don’t want to rock up to your reception (or heaven forbid, your honeymoon) with a dose of sunburn.
  • While you wait for the ceremony to begin, stay cool by hanging your jackets over the back of a chair until the last minute.
  • Chill out in a shady spot (or air-conditioning) if you can. I’ve even had to step inside a catering cooler van to bring my core temp down between ceremonies while filming Nine’s ‘The Last Resort’ at Mission Beach. That was some intense heat!

    Nine Network

Wiggle it, just a little bit

  • If you do start to feel a bit faint or whoozy during your ceremony, wriggle your toes and squeeze your calf muscles a few times. No-one will know you’re doing it, and it can be enough to get the blood moving and stave off a fainting episode.
  • If that doesn’t do the trick, don’t be afraid to ask for a drink of water or a moment to sit with your head down – infinitely preferable to collapsing in an unceremonious heap! (If you need convincing or just want a chuckle, check out ‘fainting at weddings’ on YouTube.)

Cool tech

  • If you’re using a phone or tablet to play music for your ceremony, make sure it’s not sitting in full sun as most devices are programmed to shut down when they overheat. And regardless of the weather, have a back up plan, with your playlist ready to go on another device.

Style it up

Image by The Tsudons
  • If you have long locks, hair and beauty expert Sarah Thong recommends an up-do that will go the distance, as heat and humidity can make long tresses frizzy or flat, messy and clingy.
  • Using a hair ‘donut’ may help to offload the weight of hairpins, and add support and anchorage for your up-style.
  • Sarah also recommends using a light-hold hairspray during styling to add a beautiful, weightless volume and hold, and finishing off with strong-hold hairspray then a spritz of light shine spray.

Makeup for photo-ready brides…

  • Sarah Thong also shared these tips for longevity of makeup on a hot day:
  • Use face and eye primers as a base. Sarah’s favourites are Hourglass Mineral Veil Face Primer, and NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base.
  • For oily skin – lightly dust some translucent powder on top of the primer, and then apply foundation.
  • Use a hydrating eye cream before applying concealer to prevent creasing.
  • Set the oily areas such as the T-zone with loose powder.
  • Finish with a makeup-setting spray. Sarah’s top pick is Urban Decay All Nighter.
  • Keep your powder and lippie with you for touch ups at photo time.

All-ages gig

Image by Cloud Catcher Studio
  • If you’re having flower girls and page boys in your wedding party, your best chance of achieving that ‘cuteness overload’ factor you’re no doubt going for, is to really consider what’s going to work for them.
  • Be realistic in your expectations of what they need to do (psst. I can help with that); in your choice of outfits for them; and be ready to go with the flow if they back out in the heat of the moment… (no pun intended).
  • Bubbles are an awesome, cheap distraction for little ones during your ceremony, and they will add a magical quality to your photos. (I mean the kind you blow into the air, of course; not the kind you ‘clink’… at this stage, at least!)

Fur babies

  • If your four-legged family members are also joining the festivities, give some lucky person the job of keeping them cool, hydrated and loved. For expert care, talk to Gillian at First Class Pet Wedding Assistants

I hope you’ve found some gems among these ideas to help you be fabulous on your wedding day. Stay cool!

Image by Life and Love Photography