10 Lessons learned from 700+ Weddings

by Jennifer Cram (21/07/2016)  | Categories: |  Wedding Planning |
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                    chapter title Adventures and Lessons LearnedHere are the 10 most important things I've learned from 10 years of being a celebrant and hundreds and hundreds of weddings and commitment ceremonies.

1. If you plan your wedding on Pinterest you could be heading for trouble
So many things influence whether what you see is doable on your budget or as a DIY project. Not the least of these is sheer lack of availability in Australia or at the time of year your wedding is planned. Nothing will create decision paralysis quicker than too much choice, too  many ideas, and too much variety without any discernible organising theme or principle. And nothing will blow your budget quicker than emotional commitment to what you see on Pinterest. Use Pinterest as an aid, and for inspiration, but step away from when you make decisions.

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2. It’s never to early to book your celebrant
There are only 52 weekends in the year…. And therefore it is never too early to book your celebrant if you're planning a Friday, Saturday or Sunday wedding! It is tough having to tell lovely couples who really, really want to book me that I’m fully booked that day, and have been for some time.

3. The most common question asked about the ceremony is – “how long will it take”
The answer, of course, depends on what sort of ceremony you have chosen to have, but all of the following answers reply, regardless
  • Definitely more than 5 miinutes (that’s a registry office ceremony)
  • Definitely more than 20 minutes (that’s the time allotted at some venues, and by some celebrants)
  • “How long” includes not just the words of the ceremony, but pauses while everyone laughs and then settles down again, time taken to sign the certificates and register (and have photos taken doing so), time taken for readers to come forward, rings to be presented, walking in, and walking out (processional and recessional – for bigger, more formal weddings).

4. The most common fear expressed by brides and grooms is that they will get emotional
Don’t worry about it. Your guests will love the moment, and love you for it

  • Don’t be surprised if it is the groom who gets emotional. Can be a stress-release after waiting for the bride to arrive!
  • Have hankies at the ready

5. Next most common fear is that of being the centre of attention and/or speaking in public
A well-crafted ceremony is so inclusive that it is not like being on stage. So there is no public speaking involved (unless you want to) – it is repeat after the celebrant. There is nothing to learn, and at that point you are facing one another and speaking to one another.

6. Your ceremony sets the tone for your entire wedding day
Which is why I ask you to do some homework. A teeny bit of effort on your part, and a lot on mine, will elevate your wedding from something lovely to something extraordinary and absolutely unique. If you

  • spend some time thinking about the ceremony, and think outside the square
  • make an effort with the questionnaires
  • think through who to involve in your ceremony and how to involve them
You will be amazed at the magic that happens….

7. Late brides create disgruntled guests
(Refer to the above, your ceremony sets the tone for your entire wedding day.)
In Queensland it is hot for most of the year, and here are the facts about that
  • Groom, groomsmen, and guests, to say nothing of celebrant and musicians, all usually arrive well before the bride, so get to hang around in the heat (and often full sun) for quite some time before she makes her entrance
  • The only person who is not inconvenienced (or made downright hot and uncomfortable, sometimes to the point of feeling sick) is the bride. Everything starts when she arrives.
8. The classic theatrical advice about never working with animals or children is a load of crock
Yes, they may well upstage the celebrant. They could even temporarily upstage the couple. But the payout is a level of honesty and cuteness that nothing else can bring to your wedding. And they are great ice-breakers, stress reducers, and sources of sheer delight and fun. I'm still laughing at the four-year old who yelled out when I was gathering the guests together ready to start the ceremony Hey, Listen to the Old Lady!
(PS, it worked!)

9. Bridezillas are rare, groomzillas even rarer
Crazy and controlling bridesmaids, on the other hand, and mums and aunties who “know” how a “proper” wedding should be done (think traditional, patriarchal, etc) not so rare!

10. Choosing anything for your wedding based on price alone is never successful.
A cheap price may not be a bargain! If that is your first question it is pretty useless information unless you also ask what the price includes . Basically, the wedding industry is pretty unregulated and choc-a-bloc with enthusiastic amateurs. A good camera does not a professional photographer make, nor does authorisation as a celebrant guarantee legal knowledge or ceremonial skill. Ask lots of questions and compare like with like.