Tag Archives: civil ceremony

Takin’ Love by the Horns: I ‘Wool’ Always Love You, Part I – Some Wine Please

9 Jul

It was time guys. Mr Big and I were standing literally inches from each other, unable to take each other’s eyes off the other. Meanwhile, Celebrant J, commenced the ceremony.

The ceremony was written in collaboration with Celebrant J. We took our favourite pieces, mixed, matched, added, and subtracted until we got to something uniquely us. I’ll talk more about it in my vendor reviews, but in short, everyone loved our ceremony.

For the sake of clarity and to keep the sincerity of the ceremony, I kept our first names as is:

It is my very great pleasure to welcome you to this most joyous occasion, Grant and Eileen’s wedding day. They are delighted that you all have been able to join them in this expression of their love for one another, especially those of you who have travelled great distances to be with them today.

Grant and Eileen are ecstatic that their experiences have brought them to the place where they are ready to fulfil what is theirs to accomplish in this life, to join the forces of their individual spirits, capabilities, and backgrounds.

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For Grant and Eileen, marriage means never being too old to hold hands, remembering to say ‘I love you’ at least once a day, and never going to sleep angry. It is at no time, taking the other for granted. It is standing together, facing the world. It is doing things for each other, speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways, and giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow. It is not only marrying the right partner, but being the right partner.

The commitment they make today is made understanding each other’s weaknesses and accepting them, and knowing each other’s strengths and encouraging them.

And this is as love should be. However, love is not meant to be the possession of two people alone. Rather it is the source of a collective energy, an energy that gives you the strength to live your lives with joy and courage.

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For Grant and Eileen, marriage represents a solemn lifelong commitment to each other. It is walking this life together and helping each other through the ups and downs. It’s being the shoulder to cry on, the crutch to lean on, the enthusiastic ‘high-fiver’, the comforting hugger, and the encouraging presence. It is all about being a best friend, confidant, lover and the best partner each could ever want. They feel their relationship is still securely established in that blissful ‘honeymoon phase’, even though they’ve been together for a little more than three years. Something they hope continues for a long time to come!

Taking the vows of marriage in front of the many people they care about makes today so much more important. Not only are Grant and Eileen uniting, so too are both their families with Eileen joining Grant’s family as a [Mr Big’s Last Name] and Grant becoming a [Miss Big’s Last Name].

The journey that sees Grant and Eileen standing before us today began in 2010 when they met over the internet. After exchanging messages, they chatted regularly for weeks on end. Through their little talks, they got to know each other, paving the way for Grant to request meeting in person.

Upon seeing Eileen for the first time, Grant’s first thought? ‘She’s so little!’ (This got a few laughs!)

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That first date they had lunch, got to know each other a little more, and then watched their first movie together, the “very romantic” Christopher Nolan movie – ‘Inception’. To this day, Eileen still has the ticket stub to that movie – framed and proudly on display!

That first date they had lunch, got to know each other a little more, and then watched their first movie together, the “very romantic” Christopher Nolan movie – ‘Inception’. To this day, Eileen still has the ticket stub to that movie – framed and proudly on display!

Before long, they were seeing each other weekly. Eileen found happiness in their talks but also in the moments of quiet. And she found comfort not only in Grant’s touch and kisses, but by simply being with him. In his presence, she knew she could spend the rest of her life loving this man.

Grant knew he wanted to take their relationship to the next level when Eileen asked him to join her and her family on a trip to Indonesia and China. The fact that he was unofficially a part of the family made him realise he wanted to make it official.

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For Grant, that ‘magical moment’ – the proposal – in the magnificent Milford Sound, New Zealand, had been in the pipeline for weeks! This was despite their in-joke that Grant would only propose while intoxicated and would do so with a bronze pipe washer purchased from Bunnings to save money. So when Grant ‘casually’ proposed underneath ‘Sterling Falls’, Eileen was caught off-guard!

Her response, ‘Are you serious?’ had him thinking that perhaps he hadn’t been as traditional as some would expect… so down on one knee he went and asked again! Ironically, he had bought a washer for the proposal and incidentally left it at the hotel 2 hours away. Smiles all around, the momentous event filmed, and post-proposal group-hugs all added to that special day which in fact was Eileen’s 24th birthday – a day that Grant had promised to treat her to ‘something special’.

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Over time spent together, Grant and Eileen have become the best of friends. With their complementing personalities and unique and quirky sense of humour, they’ve lived life and loved the only way they know how: fun-filled and with enthusiasm!

They’ve settled into that ‘special place’ that everyone dreams of: love, contentment, and growing in understanding of each other. As a team, they are looking forward to supporting each other achieve personal goals, while pursuing their own individual dreams.

Everything that Grant has wanted in a life partner; Eileen fills that role. In his own words, ‘she’s affectionate, smart, funny, accepting, and somehow is not only the greatest friend I could want, but the best, most caring supportive partner I could hope for. I think it’s great that neither of us runs the life of the other, and that – having so much in common – we both have a lot of the same hobbies and interests.’

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Grant and Eileen value their time together. They act, not just as lovers and partners, but as best friends, sharing in-jokes and being able to lovingly poke fun at each other. Grant especially loves that they are both capable gamers and even when pitted against each other, he can still be proud of Eileen when she kicks butt!

Grant’s love for Eileen is unfathomable. She loves his intelligence, his deep breadth of knowledge and most of all, his very willing and generous heart.

With Grant, Eileen knows that she can be herself. She’s not afraid to show her weaknesses – and Grant has the ability to play to her strengths. His presence makes even the direst of situations that much less so. In her own words, ‘he’s a constant in a life full of inconstant.’

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As big dreamers, Grant and Eileen’s hopes and dreams for the future are already formulating. They want to travel the world and experience all life could offer; to celebrate every moment and tackle every problem side-by-side. Most importantly, they want to keep getting closer, the way they have since day one.

Grant and Eileen haven’t been happier. Their laughter is never far from their eyes and their love and respect for each other can be seen and heard in their words to one another.

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At this time, Grant and Eileen would like to take a moment to acknowledge the family and friends who were not able to make it here to share in this wonderful occasion, but who hold a special place in the hearts of those here. Specifically, the happy couple would like to recognise their families in New Zealand and Indonesia, who send their love and blessings for this union.

In recognising family, Grant and Eileen would also like to take a moment to acknowledge the relationship they share with their parents, [Mr Big’s Papa] and [Mr Big’s Momma], and [Miss Big’s Papa] and [Miss Big’s Momma].

At this point, Mr Big’s and my parents were called forward by Celebrant J:

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One of the closest relationships in life is that between caring parents and their children. This connection continues to grow and change as these children grow into independent and mature adults. As parents, the love that each of you has shared within your own marriages has been a legacy conferred to Grant and Eileen.

For them, marriage seems natural and you have offered them quiet yet inspiring examples of how it can be. You have encouraged them to live their own dreams and offered them support that has been greatly appreciated.

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Today, Grant and Eileen would like to take the time to honour this relationship. Grant’s parents, [Mr Big’s Papa] and [Mr Big’s Momma], and Eileen’s parents, [Miss Big’s Papa] and [Miss Big’s Momma], represent their families and all of us when I ask them:

‘Do you give Grant and Eileen your blessings, and pledge them your love, support and acceptance of this marriage?’

The Bighorn Parents: ‘We do.’

At this point, Papa Bighorn was supposed to grab my hand and place it into Mr Big’s hand, but because this isn’t a customary thing to do in Chinese culture, we had a hugging session instead, which later turned to a BIG GROUP HUG with all the parents:

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As I repositioned myself to stand in front of Mr Big, Celebrant J then read out the ‘monitum’, a legally binding statement that is compulsory in all marriage ceremonies in Australia:

Family and friends, my name is Jennifer, and as a Civil Marriage Celebrant, I am duly authorized to solemnize this marriage according to Law in Australia. Grant and Eileen, before you are joined together in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn, the serious, and the binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter. Marriage, according to Law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

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Celebrant J then continued on with the ceremony, asking MoH M&Ms to hold my bouquet as I grabbed Mr Big’s hands in mine:

The hand which you each offer to the other today is an extension of yourselves, just like the warmth and love which you express to each other. Cherish this touch, be sensitive to its pulse, and try to understand and respect its flow and rhythm, just as you do your own.

Grant, I now ask you before all those present, do you take Eileen to be your lawful wife, to share your life with her, and pledge that you will love and honour her, with tenderness and affection, forevermore?

Grant: ‘I do’.

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Eileen, I now ask you before all those present, do you take Grant to be your lawful husband, to share your life with him, and pledge that you will love and honour him, with tenderness and affection, forevermore?

Eileen: ‘I do.’

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After we said our “I dos”, we moved on to the wine ceremony, a ceremony Mr Big and I wanted to incorporate for two reasons: (1) we’re in the Hunter Valley, the wine country of New South Wales, and (2) wine has a special place in our relationship. We split the wine ceremony into two portions: a wine ceremony ritual where we would drink and toast some wine; and a wine box ceremony, which unfortunately we didn’t get still photos of (but heaps on video and our stop-motion).

Today, Grant and Eileen have chosen to celebrate their union through the symbolism of wine. Wine has been called the symbol of life. It is like the blood flowing within our bodies.

The glass of wine symbolises the sum of your life experiences. It contains within it sweet flavours symbolic of happiness, joy, hope and love. This same wine also holds some bitter properties that symbolise sorrow, grief, and life’s trials and tribulations. Together, the sweet and the bitter essences represent life’s journey and all the experiences that are a natural part of it.

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As you drink from this cup, you accept the commitment to draw from your marriage all that you need to wash away the bitter flavours and savour the sweet.

Drink now, and may the cup of your lives be sweet and full.

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By sharing this glass, the two become one and the parts become whole; two paths intertwined, each separate, yet united in love. May all the sweetness that it holds for you be ever the sweeter because you taste it together, and may you find life’s joys heightened and its bitterness sweetened.

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At this time I’d like to draw your attention to the box beside Grant and Eileen.

They have written letters to each other expressing their feelings as they begin their marriage. In these letters, they have detailed why they fell in love and what they truly admire about the other person. The letters are sealed in individual envelopes and they have not seen what the other has written.

These letters have already been placed inside the box with a bottle of wine. Together they will seal the box, and on the happy occasion of their 5th year wedding anniversary, they will open the box, drink the wine together, and read each other’s letters.

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Unfortunately there aren’t any pictures of the actual wine box ceremony, but this photo shows you how the ceremony was laid out.

Grant and Eileen, by reading these love letters, you will be given an opportunity to reflect upon the reasons that you fell in love with each other.

I now ask you to place the letters in the box and seal it shut.

Next up, the vows and the big kiss! (OOOOooooooOOOOOO!!). Stay tuned guys!

[All photos by Studio Something.]

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Takin’ Love by the Horns: I Wool Always Love You, Part II – A Big Smooch

2 Jul

Once we had sealed our letters in the box, we went back to our positions at the front, once more holding hands. I could tell Mr Big was getting nervous – I know I was! It was time to exchange our vows.

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As an aside, when Mr Big and I got to thinking about our vows, we both agreed we wanted to write them ourselves. Not being a wordsmith, Mr Big was a little nervous about writing his vows. So when he was the first person to say them, he was feeling the pressure! I think he did pretty well though. Celebrant J also suggested we read our own vows to each other without repeating after her, which meant she was holding up our vows as we read.

Celebrant J:

We now arrive at a special moment, the moment where you try to bundle all of your experiences and emotions into words. The symbolic vows you’re about to make are a way of saying to one another that you both believe in all the things you promised, hoped and dreamed for one another. It is not just a proclamation of your love to one another, but a reflection of your relationship with each other.

Grant, will you now pledge your vows you’ve written for Eileen with the following:

“I call upon the persons here present
To witness that I Grant
Take you Eileen
To be my lawful wedded Wife.”

Mr Big:

I promise to put you first in everything I do,
To be the excited high-five when you’re happy, and the comforting arms when you feel sad.

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To truly listen when you need to talk, and to give good advice when you need to listen.
To be your superhero when you’re afraid, and to bare my soul when you see I hurt.

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To be yours and you mine from here til’ the end of the verse.
Eileen, I love you.

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After Mr Big said his vows, Celebrant J turned to me.

Guys – I thought I’d cry going down the aisle, and when I didn’t, I was pretty confident I’d be ok with my vows. The moment Mr Big said his though; I felt the tears start to build. So when it was my turn, I had to stop, breathe deeply, and then continue lest I start bawling.

Celebrant J:
Eileen, will you please respond with the vows you’ve written for Grant with the following:

“I call upon the persons here present
To witness that I Eileen
Take you Grant
To be my lawful wedded Husband.”

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Miss Big:

Grant, I don’t like clichés.
I like to think that I’m more imaginative than that, but when I think about you, all I can think about is the clichéd, typical semblance of romance – of a girl who loves a boy so much that everything is just so cliché.

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So when I say that you are my rock, you are the man of my dreams, the thing I look forward to in the morning and one of the last thoughts I have at night, I am telling the whole clichéd truth. Like one great spy said to another, you are a gift, a gift that I will treasure forever.

You are my sanctuary, my happily ever after, and my above and beyond. I know that with you I’ll always be truly happy. With you I can be exactly who I am with no judgement and no reservations. 

See that face? That’s the “don’t you dare cry while you’re saying your vows” face.

See that face? That’s the “don’t you dare cry while you’re saying your vows” face.

You make me a better person and I will strive with all of my heart, my mind, and every fibre of my being to be the best partner, lover, friend, and wife that I can be. There are no promises I can make that will ever encompass the love I have for you, so I’ll make it brief. I promise to laugh with you in the good times and stand with you in the bad.

I promise to stand by your side as we walk through life together, hand-in-hand.

But most of all, I promise to love you fiercely and proudly forevermore.

I'm pretty sure he almost cried too.

I’m pretty sure he almost cried too.

At this point, Mr Big went in for a kiss. It was unexpected, and caught most people off-guard (including our photographers, there’s no picture of it, haha!). At that point Mr Big stated: “Got an early one in”. This managed to make just about everyone – including the both of us – laugh.

With the mood lightened, Celebrant J continued on with the ceremony, asking BMan Hunter for the rings:

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Grant and Eileen, marriage is a state in which two people come together and create a union that is greater than the mere sum of two individuals. It is difficult to express in words the profound relationship that is love. These rings are a symbol of your love and regard to one another. From time immemorial, the circle has been an emblem of the sincerity and permanence of a couple’s love and regard for one another and their union. The ring is the symbol of the commitment which binds these two people together.

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The act of giving and receiving of rings reminds us that love itself is an act of giving and receiving. These golden circles are the natural symbols of enduring love. They represent an inward belief and trust in togetherness and an outward sign of love and commitment.

Grant, as you place this ring as a visible sign of your commitment in marriage on Eileen’s finger, please repeat:

‘Eileen, I promise to love, respect, and honour you.
I will always be there for you, with you, and beside you.
Let this ring be a symbol of our love, may it represent our today, our tomorrows, our future and our past.
As this ring has no end, neither shall my love for you.
As I have given you my hands to hold, so I give you my life to keep.’

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Eileen, as you place this ring as a visible sign of your commitment in marriage on Grant’s finger, please repeat:

‘Grant, I promise to love, respect, and honour you.
I will always be there for you, with you, and beside you.
Let this ring be a symbol of our love, may it represent our today, our tomorrows, our future and our past.
As this ring has no end, neither shall my love for you.
As I have given you my hands to hold, so I give you my life to keep.’

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As I slipped the ring on Mr Big’s finger, I could see the look of excitement on his face as Celebrant J began the next section of the ceremony: 

Grant and Eileen, marriage is the joining of two people, the union of two hearts. It lives on in the love you have for each other and never grows old, but thrives in the joy of each new day. 

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Today, before your family and friends, you have openly declared your love for each other. You have joined your hands, pledged your vows, and exchanged rings. You have not only made a commitment to each other, but to yourselves, to face life’s journey together. And so it is with great joy that I now declare you Husband and Wife.

Congratulations, and best wishes from all of your family and friends here today!

Grant, you may now kiss your bride!

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And he did!

We’re not done yet guys!

[All photos by the fantastic Studio Something.]

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Tick-tock: Timing is Everything

29 Jun

On a Saturday morning, June 29, I woke up and came downstairs, seeing Mr Big bent over a writing pad and planning out the day-of timeline. A little early for that, doncha think? So I asked what that was about, and found out something that made my heart sink.

Apparently, Chinese tradition states that Mr Big needed to lead me out of my parents’ house at 11AM. Now this meant, at 11AM, Mr Big needed to get to my parents’ house and lead me out. There were initial problems to this.

The first problem is fixable. Let’s say Mr Big is at the door to my parent’s villa. If he leads me out, he’ll see me in all my white-dressed-glory, which ruins the whole “first-seeing-each-other-when-I-walk-down-the-aisle” thing. GP says that he can blindfold himself before he knocks on the door and we can do both traditions (not seeing each other before the aisle-walk, AND the Chinese tradition of Mr Big letting me out of the house). So… this problem is fixed, but the BIGGEST issue was the second one.

The second, and MAIN, problem was timing

Our civil ceremony was initially supposed to start at 11AM and we’ve told our guests this. This meant guests would be arriving at the Waterfall Outlook before 11AM. Now, if Mr Big lead me out of my parents’ house at 11AM, we’d ultimately get to the Hunter Valley Gardens by about 11:15AM. Which meant our guests would be sitting down  waiting around for about 15-20 minutes.

I didn’t want that to happen.

Not to mention that pushed back the civil ceremony, the official family photos, and the amount of time we get for the Chinese tea ceremony. However, like all problems, we found a fix, which meant being approximately 15 minutes late to the ceremony. We made our celebrant aware, and hopefully, guests will be ok with it. According to a number of our married guests and friends, it’s okay for the bride and groom to be a little bit “fashionably late”.

‘But what, pray tell, is this post about?’, I hear you guys asking. Well, guys, we’re counting down the days to the wedding, and I’m glad to tell you that we’ve got the day-of timeline tightened and neat. With the help of Microsoft Project, information from our vendors, and working throughout all of November and December to get this baby all set, I think we’ve definitely got a workable day-of run sheet.

So for those who want a few tips on how to construct what seems like a massive venture in the beginning, let me give you a few tips:

  • Get in touch with your vendors as soon as possible: I know this is an obvious one, guys, but seriously, this vastly helped in constructing our day-of run sheet. Our reception coordinators actually gave us the run sheet that they normally work off of, and that gave me a good idea on how to get started. I basically extrapolated this and then overlaid it with our own plans.
  • Communicate with your FI/partner: Another obvious one, but the amount of times I’ve put a plan into action and had Mr Big either improve on it or add details I didn’t know about are amazing. Mr Big and I are pretty good at communicating, and when it came to the timeline, it’s amazing what sitting down and going through it can do.
  • Durations are your friend: I know it’s not really easy to get things down to the finest minute, but I found that giving events a duration of time (1 min, 30 mins, 1hr, 3hrs, etc.) allows for a much easier “block” to work around. For example, I know the ceremony will start at 11AM to 1115AM and go for approximately 30 minutes. I made note of that in the run sheet.
  • Try and go through your run sheet as early as possible with important members of the “wedding team”: I’m not just talking about bridesmaids and groomsmen – remember that your ushers, parents of flower girls or page boys, DJ, MC, florist, and all other special attendants need to know what’s happening too. I sent my preliminary run sheet to all of my vendors and asked them to have a look over it. They were able to tell me where to tweak it and also give me their timings! This then assisted me in improving where particular things flowed in the run sheet. I also went through the run sheet a week early with other attendants (ushers, bridesmaids, etc.) in order for them to understand what I needed of them.
  •  If at all possible, print out and give copies to bridal party members: This is particularly important if you have a big group (like we do!).

I hope these tips help you all in planning your own run sheet! If you need any tips (or would like to see a copy of my own run sheet), please do PM me! 🙂 I’d post a template up on here, but I need to get cracking to last-minute wedding stuff!

Who else had some issues formulating their day-of run sheet?

A Place to be Married

5 Nov

I’ve gone through the search for our reception, but I haven’t talked to you guys about our ceremony!

Mr Big isn’t religious at all and I’m of the Buddhist-persuasion. As such, our ceremony won’t be held at a church or a place of religion, but it’ll be a civil ceremony. Furthermore, due to cultural and traditional purposes, we’ll be having two ceremonies at our wedding: a traditional Chinese tea ceremony and a secular civil ceremony.

Our initial plan was to have the tea ceremony at the hotel, before we got ready for the big day, and the civil ceremony would then be held in a nice vineyard somewhere. It sounded simple enough, but alas, things did not go according to our initial plan.

And here’s why:

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The Oriental Garden at sunset. Image & Photography via DC Images

The Oriental Garden: an absolutely stunning location for a ceremony located at the Hunter Valley Gardens, or HVG.

In my previous post, I talked about the HVG and how it didn’t really make the cut for the reception space, despite the fact that it was a beautiful location. However, Mr Big and I just couldn’t let go of it as a place for our ceremony. The grounds of the HVG are stunning, and it’s really no wonder.

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Absolutely stunning. Image & Photography via Cavanagh Photography.

Bonus? When you have your ceremony at the HVG, you get to have a 2-hour photography session. Which is great! The HVG itself has about 10 different mini-gardens to explore. They’re great for photography purposes, such as the Storybook Garden:

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Image & Photography via Creek Street Photography.

As for the ceremonies themselves, of the 10 mini-gardens, four of them can hold ceremonies:

The Formal Gardens:

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An aerial view of the formal gardens. Image via the Hunter Valley Gardens official website.

The Sunken Garden:

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A shot of the gardens in front of the waterfall. Image via the Hunter Valley Gardens official website

The Oriental Garden:

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The Oriental Pagoda at the Oriental Garden, where ceremonies are usually held. Image via the Hunter Valley Garden official website.

And the Lakes Walk:

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The Lakes Rotunda at the Lakes Walk, where the ceremonies are usually held. Image via the Hunter Valley Garden official website.

Each of the four gardens has specific places which the HVG wedding coordinator recommends for the ceremony. The Sunken Garden itself has two places – the bottom of the waterfall and the top of the waterfall. When we first toured around the HVG, we were allowed to enter for free (yay for being the engaged couple!) and were toured around on a golf buggy. We were basically treated like stars for the day! It was awesome.

During our tour, our guide, the then-wedding coordinator Kelly, showed us around. Kelly was so fantastic and was able to answer all of our questions! She gave us the lowdown about what each bridegroom couple received when booking their ceremonies with the HVG. There was a fee attached (we knew that beforehand), but with the fee the couple also received:

  • A set number of seats and a PA system for the ceremony
  • A wedding coordinator on-hand to assist in all questions, queries, details and problems
  • Two hours photography with all-access around the HVG
  • A golf buggy to take the bridal party around the HVG on-the-day (girls in heels with no sore feet? Score!)
  • A wet-weather option inside their onsite Chapel (which, if this Spring has been anything, we won’t need)
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The HVG Chapel from the entrance. Image & Photography via the Vincent Lai Photography.

She then gave us the grand tour!

The first stop was the Formal Gardens. We took a look and, though beautiful, it was much too… well, formal. It would be a great place for formal wedding, but our wedding was a little less formal, and a little more semi-formal. So, off we went to the Sunken Garden.

We took a look at the base of the waterfall, and it was gorgeous… but loud. The sound of the water hitting the base of the falls is soothing when you want some time to marvel in its splendour, but saying our vows over the din? No thanks. Despite its beauty, we had to give this one a pass.

Kelly then drove us to the top of the falls, called the “Waterfall Outlook”.

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Image & Photography via Cavanagh Photography.

It. Was. Stunning, hive. That picture above does not even do it any justice.

The aisle, which you can see above, is lined with columns and arched with branches and wisteria. It ends at a balcony that overlooks the HVG. The waterfall isn’t loud at all from above so it makes the perfect ceremony location. Plus? It’s shaded, so we won’t have any of the Kiwis fainting in the summer heat.

It was the perfect place for us.

Get engaged at the base of a waterfall, and get married at the top of one!

Kelly then golf buggy’d us down to the Oriental Garden. We arrived, walked towards the Oriental Pagoda and Mr Big turned to me and said:

“We’re having the tea ceremony here.”

Now hive, I was of two minds. The first was stating that we had to be reasonable, that we had a plan in mind and we needed to stick to it.

The second was this:

Like – exactly my reaction. Taken from College Times.

I caved.

He was right, though! It was magnificent. But as I had said before, it completely changed our plans! So what do we do?

Well, it’s safe to say that we booked the ceremony venue a few days later (no suspense here!). We asked question after question about the ceremony and ensured we got everything in writing too (we’re paranoid) and the wedding coordinators (Kelly changed roles, and now our current wedding coordinator is Kylie!) have been nothing but extremely helpful!

They agreed to provide us with hot water, tables and chairs for the tea ceremony, and were more than happy to give us two ceremonies for the fee of one! Kylie has been great and has answered all of our questions. They’ve also opted to provide us with snacks and drinks (for a price unfortunately) for our bridal party!

All-in-all we think we’ve chosen a great place to be officially announced as husband and wife and to celebrate the elders of our family.

It’s making me excited just thinking about!

Has anyone else gone to a venue looking for a reception and leaving with an idea about their ceremony? What do you guys think about our choices?

The Chinese Tea Ceremony and the Civil Ceremony

22 Aug

Another post!? I hear you exclaim. Why yes, dear readers, here is another post. What is this one about? you ask. Well, I got to thinking. Being that the relationship between GP and I are interracial, we’re having both a Chinese Tea Ceremony and a Civil Ceremony. So to sum up, we’re having two ceremonies! 🙂 Unfortunately, that complicates matters when it comes to planning the wedding due to location of ceremony. What we’ve decided so far is to have the tea ceremony in the morning, followed by the civil ceremony and the reception. But before that, let’s pinpoint a few crucial points about both the Chinese Tea Ceremony and the Civil Ceremony.

The Chinese Tea Ceremony

This will be held in the morning, probably at the same place we’ll be having the civil ceremony. Below I’ll explain the basic ins and outs of this quintessential and time-honoured Chinese tradition, taking information from this website here: http://chinese.weddings.com/articles/chinese-wedding-tea-ceremony.aspx.

First off – Why are you having a Chinese Tea Ceremony?

In Chinese tradition, the tea ceremony was essentially the ‘civil ceremony’. Elders would be served tea by the soon-to-be husband and wife to honour and respect the family. Because Chinese society was very patriarchal, the ‘true’ tea ceremony only included the groom’s family being served tea, as the bride needed to please her future husband’s family in order to be accepted. She would serve tea to her family in the privacy of her own home, as a ‘thankyou’ for raising her. Luckily, society has changed a lot, ’cause I’m excited at the prospect of including both mine and GP’s families! To me, the Chinese Tea Ceremony is about respecting my elders and honouring the families on both sides. I get to show some of GP’s family my culture and they get to experience something new and exciting!

The Order of Service

Because we’re having an ‘all-inclusive’ Chinese tea ceremony, the groom’s family (GP’s) will be served first. After this, the bride’s family are served (mine!). The order of serving is as follows: parents, paternal grandparents, maternal grandparents, paternal aunts and uncles in order of seniority (eldest to youngest), maternal aunts and uncles in order of seniority, and then eldest siblings and cousins. The order is, of course, dependent on who you want to include in the tea ceremony and who is actually available (for example, grandparents may be deceased or unable to travel, some family members are unable to attend the wedding, etc). After each elder receives their tea, they hand the soon-to-be husband and wife a lucky red envelope, which either contains gifts of money or jewellery. These red envelopes are placed on a serving tray  which holds the tea cups. Often times, the gifts of jewellery received by the elders are adorned on the bride.

How to Serve Tea

Just like in a civil ceremony, the groom stands on the right and the bride on the left. When serving tea, the bride and groom kneel in front of their elders and offer the tea cups with two hands, a sign of respect. The elders sit in chairs facing the couple, and when receiving the tea, take the tea cup with both hands to reciprocate that respect. They then drink the tea, and hand over their red envelope.

What’s Needed and What Just Looks Cool

The Chinese tea ceremony  has a few bare essentials: the chinese tea set (if you didn’t see it already, I recommend seeing the awesome one we bought!) and an altar or table to display photos or candles in recognition of the two families. This recognition can come in the form of family photos (GP and I were thinking of displaying wedding portraits of our parents) or a ‘unity candle’. Other things that can be placed on the altar are: white flowers, fruit and wine offerings, and burning incense. The tea served can be either sweet (longan tea, for example) or standard (traditional green or jasmine). Other things that can be used to decorate the Chinese tea ceremony are the ‘double happiness’ symbol, the dragon and phoenix motif, decorative firecrackers, and lots of red and gold – the two colours symbolising luck and happiness (and two of our wedding colours!).

The “double happiness” symbol.

What to Wear

Traditionall the bride wears a qi-pao or a cheongsam, a traditional Chinese dress. Oftentimes these are decorated with embroidery of the dragon and phoenix or flowers. However, in this modern age, some brides have taken to wearing the white dress to the tea ceremony. I’ll probably be going for the red dress. Many grooms nowadays have taken to wearing the tuxedo or suit that they’ll be in all day.

A cheongsam with dragon and phoenix motif.

The Civil Ceremony

For our wedding, this will take place in the afternoon. The reason GP and I are having a civil ceremony is due to its non-religious nature. Having celebrated my culture at the Tea Ceremony, the Civil Ceremony is a chance to celebrate the love between GP and I. It also means we can have a garden ceremony due to there being no restrictions. A civil ceremony is lead by a celebrant or officiant who guides the bride and groom through the ceremony and can take as little as 10-15 minutes upwards to about half an hour. As with the Tea Ceremony there is an order, which I will list below. The information was taken from here: http://www.i-do.com.au/wedding-tips/the-wedding-ceremony/order-of-ceremony-civil-ceremony/947/

The Processional

This is better known as the “Bridal March”. This is the most well-known part of a ceremony. The bridesmaids make their entrance, walking down the aisle, followed by the bride. Usually done to Wagner’s “Bridal March”, more and more couples are taking a contemporary route with the music. I’ve read of someone walking down the aisle to Hans Zimmer’s “Time” from the Inception Soundtrack or Sigur Ros’ “Hopipolla”. GP and I have reached a tentative decision on the song we’re using, but I won’t post it up just yet!

The Welcome

This is self-explanatory. The celebrant or officiant introduces themselves to the families and welcomes them to the wedding.

Giving Away

This is, literally, the handing over of the bride to the groom by the father, as is most common. However, in today’s day and age with family differences and all, this can also include:

  • Giving away of the bride by her father, brother(s), mother, sister, family friend or even a friend
  • Giving away of the bride and groom by their respective parents
  • Giving away of the bride by both of her parents
  • Giving yourselves (bride and groom) to each other

Introduction

The introduction consists of the celebrant explaining to the gathering the ideals and beliefs the couple has of marraige. Other things can include what marraige means to them or what the aspirations of the future hold together. The celebrant usually helps the couple out during this part, giving examples of what types of things can be said from past examples.

Reading(s)

Some weddings (I’ve been to two) have a reading which is selected by the celebrant or couple. Usually a close family friend or a member of the family reads this out. I’m not too sure GP and I will have this since we’re trying to make this short and sweet, and if we do, we’re more than likely going to have something quirky or non-traditional, like lyrics from a rock song or something.

Monitum

This is from the Marriage Act and is said by the celebrant. This is an essential and compulsory part of the ceremony.

Declaration of Intention to Marry

A public declaration of the couple’s intent to marry each other. Also known as the ‘Declaration to Marry’.

Vows

The couple say their vows. This can either be from a template given by the Celebrant or the couple can make their own vows. I’m not exactly sure what we have planned for this, but I think we’re going to write our own vows.

Ring Ceremony

The giving of rings to each other, symbolic of the union. We’ve already got our rings! (That reminds me, I still have to continue that Ring Saga, hmmm).

Conclusion

The celebrant conclude the ceremony.

The Declaration of Marriage

The celebrant pronounces the couple Husband and Wire. (“You may now change your Facebook statuses!”)

The Signing of the Marriage Registrar

The couple and their two witnesses (with us, it’ll be our Maid of Honour and our Best Man) sign the Marriage Registrar, Certificate of Marriage, and Marriage Certificate. The photographer usually takes pictures of this ‘signing’.

Congratulations & Presentation to Family and Friends

The celebrant congratulates the bride and groom and presents them as a married couple to their family and friends.

The Recessional

The couple, now husband and wife, leave the ceremony grounds, usually followed by the bridal party and generally to music. We don’t have a music piece for this yet, but we have a few options in mind. It’s also the time to say good bye to the celebrant. It is usually at this time that confetti is thrown to celebrate the newlyweds’ union, usually of rose petals, paper confetti, sugared almonds or rice. I’ve also seen paper airplanes, yellow ballons being released and bubbles.

Other Little Things

The civil ceremony can also include other things – releasing of dove, releasing of butterflies, releasing of balloons, ‘love locks’, ring warming and well-wishing, a unity candle, unity sand ceremony, a remembrance ceremony, handfasting ceremony, sharing of wine, a rose ceremony – you name it. These things are often additional to the aforementioned order of service and depends upon whether the couple want to add a special something to the ceremony.

 

After discussing the above two ceremonies with GP, he’s told me that he’s more excited about the tea ceremony than the civil ceremony! We’ll have to make sure we have everything in order and know what is important to us to include in the civil ceremony. We already know that we’re going to make this wedding as ‘us’ as possible. 🙂