Why go to the courthouse, when you can go to the beach?Read More
Real weddings, ceremony tips and local insight about venues and outdoor spaces from Byron Bay marriage celebrant, Cara Gallagher, of Modern Love Ceremonies.
Two exceptionally cool humans from England eloping in Byron Bay.Read More
When Luke asked Nicole to marry him.Read More
My celebrant buddy, Hitched by Hannah has started a team for Frocktober this year - we are called Frock Your Wedding and we are a fabulous bunch of celebrants who get to officiate the big day for people who often wear particularly spectacular frocks (see my last photo😍) - while often wearing frocks ourselves!
I thought that posting a pic in front of this sign might be a bit inappropriate or insensitive when raising money for cancer research, but then I realised it's all about awareness.
The tagline on the Frocktober website reads, "Currently one woman dies every ten hours in Australia from ovarian cancer because there is no early detection test".
If you can make a donation, please go to our page at:
Kimberley and Scott are very proud fur baby parents and their pets are a huge part of their lives.
When the Ballina based couple started planning their wedding, they knew their two staffies, Zak and Navy, needed to be there.
They also knew they wanted to have their ceremony on the beach, so they started looking around the local area for beautiful dog beaches.
They decided on Belongil Beach in Byron Bay, a dog beach they were familiar with and knew would be safe for both them and their dogs.
Belongil Beach is an off-leash area. Couples need to research what restrictions the location has around whether their dog needs to be tethered or not.
Kimberley and Scott made the decision to have their pets on a leash, as with all the distractions of other animals on the beach, they wanted to make sure that their pets would stay close.
Some dogs will become frustrated seeing other animals running around free, and untethered, while they are on a leash, so it is wise for owners to think through how their pet will feel and anticipate whether the location is a good match for them and their pets.
Zak was an honorary groomsmen complete with bow tie, who sat by his master, Scott, while he was waiting for his bride, and Navy shared the duty of walking Kimberley down the aisle, wearing an adorable floral collar.
They were such well behaved pups, and it really made the day complete for Kimberley and Scott, being able to share the day with ALL of their family members.
This blog post was inspired because I was asked to feature in an article by Bupa Pet Insurance about bringing together pets and weddings successfully. Their article 'How to Involve Cats and Dogs in Weddings' is full of great tips for pet lovers planning a wedding. You’re sure to be inspired with all the fantastic ideas from some of Australia’s leading pet and wedding experts.
All photos care of the lovely Meg from Love from Luff.
Charis and Kane's intimate Byron Bay elopement.Read More
Marriage equality isn't just about legislation, though; it's about social change. Being a celebrant working in this time of inequality, my colleagues and I have an opportunity to work at a grassroots level to help make that change. I've included some Monitum Disclaimer samples.Read More
Jaala and Tyler first met at Splendour in the Grass, so it was their first choice to come back to Byron Bay region for their destination wedding at the beautiful Byron Plantation in Newrybar.Read More
Vow cards, or repeat after me... It's up to you, and rather than presenting this as a pros and cons list, I'm just going to tell you the good things about each choice, and you can weigh up what works best for you.Read More
Earlier this year I had the immense pleasure of marrying Hendrika and Anthony, better known to all their loved ones as Rikki and Noodle.
They got married in the dunes at Evans Head and it was incredible DIY feast for the eyes. Rikki and Noodle were very generous with sharing their history and love story with me, so I was able to write a meaningful, funny and love-filled ceremony which I am still so proud of. I feel so honoured to have been the only wedding vendor there on the day, and whilst I'm not encouraging everyone to avoid engaging wedding vendors (I'm really not, I just spent the weekend at the Byron Bay Wedding Fair with such an amazing group of individuals and businesses), I was so impressed with what Rikki and Noodle and their family and friends were able to create.
It was magic.
I asked Rikki to tell me a little bit about what they did and who helped them out.
"When Noodle and I were planning our wedding we had a modest budget and a large guest list, so DIY and help from our amazing friends and families was the only way it was ever going to happen.
Absolutely everything at our wedding was done by ourselves or provided by a loved-one and in the end the only wedding vendor we used was the very gorgeous Cara herself.
We did everything from designing the invites, making the boutonniere's and bouquets, cutting our hundreds of glitter-card love hearts, baking biscuits and making chai tea for the wedding favours, painting signs, hand tye-dying 140 napkins, it was a definite labour of love and although it was a lot of hard work and at times very stressful, it was all worth for just how magical it felt on the day.
The theme for the day was, in no particular order, hippy-dippy, surfer-dude, chilled-out, tiki-cool, under-the-sea Mermaid... plus loooootttss of glitter!
My dad is a carpenter and was a massive help in creating the glitter backdrop, which was made out of Christmas decorations I found in a discount bin at Spotlight.
My Mum bought potted flowers from Big W and Noodle made wooden flower boxes for the tables.
My absolutely legendary fashion designer friends Luke and Anna from Romance Was Born made my wedding dress for me, it was the wedding dress of my dreams, I felt like a mermaid goddess in that thing!
Noodles amazing chef sister did all of the catering and if I was going to change anything it probably would of been hiring a caterer, not because Pip didn't do an amazing job, the food was awesome, but because it was a lot of extra stress to add on top of everything else.
My darling friend Fran did my make-up and Noodle's mum made the wedding cake.
My brother and another friend took photos and a DJ mate Barney Kato did the music.
It was soooo personal and so special and everything we wanted without costing the earth."
Catering: Groom's sister, Pip
Wedding Cake & Dessert: Groom's Mum
Bride’s Dress: Romance Was Born
Bride's Shoes: Sophia Webster (gifted by amazing gal pals)
Bride’s Hair & Make-Up: Bride's friend, Franny
Bridesmaids Outfit: Romance Was Born
Styling & Decoration: Bride
Bridal Bouquet & Reception Flowers: Bride and her Mum
Flower Crown & Buttonholes: Bride
Celebrant: Cara Gallagher (ME!)
Arbour: Bride's Dad
Stationery: Hendrika Stekhoven-Smith (Bride)
Photographer: Bride's brother, Paul, and their friend, Leemac
Musician: DJ Kato
As Mother's Day approaches, I thought I'd reflect on being a mother myself and how grateful I am to live near my mum, and share the journey of mothering with my sister.
I often get asked what 'a day in the life' of a working mum celebrant looks like, so I thought I'd share my weekend with you.
May started with a bang! A few peals of thunder, a whole lot of rain, some flooding and then unexpectedly, a sunny Saturday in the Byron Shire.
The first weekend of May was a big one for me, with three weddings and my husband working away. Thankfully we have a wonderful support team in my mum and sister, so our little kids had loving carers for the weekend while we were both working.
The three weddings were so different and I was excited about all of them.
Jennifer and Daniel's private elopement at Wategos, with no guests, Hannah and Dan's inmate and elegant wedding on the private property venue, Gurragawee, with only 40 guests and then Kit and Odie's 1970's Black Tie themed party of the year nuptials extravaganza with 150 guests!
I left my house in Mullumbimby very early on Friday morning. I was a bit anxious that I might forget something, with all the paperwork, audio equipment, outfits, clothes for the kids, nappies etc that I had to pack, but in the end all I forgot was the dog's food - sorry Frankie.
However, he was more than happy to eat left over lamb stew.
First stop (after dropping off the kids in Ballina) was a ceremony rehearsal at Kit and Odie's house in Bangalow.
Kit's mum, Margaret, first contacted me as she was doing most of the admin behind the scenes for the wedding. Margaret and Kit work together in Marg's Interior and Events Styling business, Alida and Miller. They do amazing work, and the wedding was the perfect example of what this great mother-daughter duo can produce. (Mums rule!)
The tipis for the wedding were all set up thanks to Samikata Tipi Events, and due to the rain, Kit and Odie had arranged an extra tipi for the ceremony.
It was a hilarious ceremony walk through with the bridal party. We also rehearsed the music and had a bit of a dance to Nelly's "Hot in Herre", their exit song. So fun.
Next stop, was just around the corner at Gurragawee in Brooklet, just 15 minutes away. The rain was pouring down, so we rehearsed Hannah and Dan's ceremony in the foyer of the main house at Gurragawee.
As Hannah and Dan were having a small wedding, it wasn't a worry at all, it was the perfect wet weather option, and would be intimate and so cosy in that gorgeous room.
Hannah discussed about how she would prefer the ceremony outside if there was some kind of miracle and the forecasted 350ml of rain didn't come. It didn't look likely though.
Hannah and Dan were the first couple to book me for May 2nd, and when I got Kit and Odie's enquiry, I emailed Hannah and asked if she would feel comfortable with me booking a second wedding so close to hers. She said she hadn't sent out her invitations yet, and that she would be happy to move her wedding forward by 30 minutes to allow me to book both jobs. Hannah said she had done the sums on how many weddings I could do in a year, and that she wanted me to be able to work as much as I could. How amazing is she!? During their ceremony Dan commented on how much he valued Hannah for her boundless love, how she gives herself fully and always puts others above herself.
I am often pinching myself about the amazing couples I get to marry.
I left Brooklet to go back to Ballina to have lunch with my mum and kids, (thanks for lunch, Mum) and to get ready for Jennifer and Daniel's wedding, but we still hadn't settled on a venue, and the rain just kept on coming down.
The logistics of where to have Jennifer and Daniel's elopement had me a little worried as it was planned as a Wategos Beach ceremony and we didn't really have a wet weather back up.
Overnight they had made plans to have it on the grounds of a stunning property in the shire, but then due to potential flooding, it seemed as if that wasn't going to work, and then last minute they were able to get the amazing penthouse at Rae's on Watego's.
I arrived at Rae's at 2:30pm on the Friday afternoon.
Elisa from Pineapple Images was there snapping away in one of the bedrooms, as Jennifer had just put on her dress, and Daniel was in the living area looking after their son, Corby, with the help of the photographers mum, Elizabeth. (Again, mums rule!)
Elisa and Elizabeth were the legal witnesses for their marriage as well.
I assisted Elisa in setting up a 'first look' moment, which she photographed, and I filmed on my iPhone, just so they could have a little record of it.
The ceremony was conducted on the balcony, while the rain poured down, it was very simple and sweet, and a bit raw and exciting due to their feelings and the weather. I spoke a little about how much they loved each other, and then they said some words to each other about how much they meant to each other, which also tied in their vows.
They exchanged rings, shared a kiss, and viola, they were married!
(All official after we signed the paperwork in the gorgeous dining room, of course).
(Professional images courtesy of Pineapple Images.)
Saturday morning, the rain stopped, the clouds parted and the sky was blue. Hannah's fine weather miracle came through!
We had a slow morning as we were flooded in and that was a little worrying, but the tide went down and I was able to drive out.
I spent about 30 minutes trying to put my hair up in a chic beehive (didn't quite nail it), while my daughter did the world's biggest poo in her nappy (didn't see an instagram post about that, did you?), and then dropped the kiddies off at my sister’s house and travelled out to Gurragawee for Hannah and Dan's wedding.
Hannah looked stunning in her Grace Loves Lace gown, just so feminine and beautiful.
Hannah and Dan had chosen to walk down the aisle together, as they felt it marked a special beginning on their ongoing journey together.
This meant they also set up a 'first look' moment with their photographers, Josh and Joey from Ethereal Photography.
I was lucky enough to see that sweet moment as well.
Their ceremony was so heartfelt and intimate, their 40 guests were all seated in the garden, yes, they got their garden wedding, and the sun was shining.
Once the ceremony was finished, I packed up my gear, spent about 20 minutes saying goodbye to the other vendors, Hannah and Dan and their guests and then got in my van to head off to Kit and Odie's wedding.
Beautiful bouquet above by Estelle from The French Petal.
And then the big finish at Wizard Mountain for Kit and Odie's amazing 1970's Black Tie themed wedding.
This wedding is a whole blog post on it's own, or a link to which ever lucky bridal blog or magazine gets to use Amelia Fullarton's outstanding images.
Kit and Odie, with the help of Marg, pulled together a great team of vendors, and they did so much themselves.
The themed wedding really took the event into a whole different realm. It really felt as if we were in another space and time that existed purely to celebrate (bow down and worship) Kit and Odie's deep deep deep love for one another.
Kit is a stylist, and she has her own little vintage styling empire over at Alida Buffalo, and she supplied that amazing spotty dress I wore. Got to love playing dress ups for work.
I was lucky that my sister needed me to get back to her place ASAP, otherwise I would have found myself in the awkward territory of being the party crashing celebrant. I really didn't want to leave that amazing celebration, but I couldn't leave my sister and her husband to do dinner and bedtime for four kids without me, so off I journeyed into the sunset.
My beautiful sister cooked dinner for us, and we got all the kiddies to bed, and I was still on a high from the amazing festivities and proceeded to talk her ear off for the rest of the evening.
It really does take a village to raise a child, and I feel so blessed to have such a supportive family.
Happy Mothers Day the amazing women in my life.
Lynsey and Nath are high school sweethearts and I had the pleasure of marrying them during an intimate ceremony in front of two witnesses and their 2 year old daughter on Wategos Beach.
They decided to get eloped for many reasons, as Lynsey eloquently writes below:
"Nathan and I are both romantics, (me especially!!) And the idea of marrying in secret was just incredibly exciting, magical, intimate and completely us. There were no expectations. And to both of us, when you get down to the roots of what marriage truly is, it is two people. Two people crazy in love, who wish to commit their entire being to the other. Two people sharing all their hopes and dreams and making private promises to each other.
We also wanted to incorporate our wedding day with a holiday and Byron Bay is a place we had both wanted to travel to for many years, the energy there is very special and uplifting and we wanted to be a part of that. To be barefoot on the beach with the waves coming in, the sun going down and the love of my life standing before me, was pure joy. We didn't have to share it with anyone except our beautiful 2 year old daughter (and 2 legal witnesses) and that was the best bit! We took our time, we enjoyed getting ready, there was no stress and we just went with the flow. It was beyond special, it was the most beautiful day full of pure emotion and many tears and if we could do it all over again, we would, every single day for the rest of our lives."
Lynsey and Nath's ceremony was really special for me as well, their little girl was only a couple of weeks younger than my little girl.
I went to their accommodation and picked up Lynsey and Livvy, and took them to the beach so they could still have the 'first look' moment when Lynsey arrived at Wategos.
Livvy and I bonded when I picked them up, and she held my hand while her parents said their vows. My heart was melting.
Lynsey and Nath arranged some great local vendors to help them out on their big day. See the small list at the bottom of blog post and under the amazing photos taken by Kristy from Figtree Pictures.
Lynsey looked stunning in her Spell Designs Sundancer Gown (sold out), which Julia from Flowers by Julia Rose was inspired by to create a perfectly matched floral crown and bouquet.
My good friends Jaemi and Chad got married at the end of last year.
They live over in Dunsborough, WA, so we couldn't catch up in person to plan their wedding ceremony. No problems there though, because, the internet!
I wrote their ceremony after a chat on the phone and then polished it off with a few emails back and forth.
My family and I flew over to Western Australia to celebrate their wedding with them at Arimia Estate, and had a little holiday visiting family and friends whilst we were there.
There's nothing quite like having an insider's perspective on someone's wedding day, and I always feel so privileged to have that view.
Jaemi and Chad have already been blessed with a beautiful little boy, Albie, and he had the honour of escorting his mama down the aisle (read: be carried down the aisle by his mama.)
I remember as a child looking at photos of my mum and dad's wedding and being so confused and hurt that I wasn't invited. I didn't quite get that I didn't exist at that point. No fear of missing out for little Albie.
Jaemi is a full time mama to little Albie, and a part time wedding vendor, with her wedding planning and styling business Pixel and Heart Co. and Chad owns and operates a successful clothing label, Grand Flavour.
They are a fun, relaxed, creative, DIY kind of couple, and their wedding was a true reflection of that.
They pretty much DIY'd the whole wedding from Jaemi styling her own hair, making the cake, decorating the venue, including the floral installations and lighting in the dining area. They hand made the signage and Jaemi hand painted it all. The BAR succulent sign (which I adored, succulents telling me where I can get my beverage from. Genius!), the hand made C + J Marquee letter lights, photo booth props (including a Kimye jacket) and personalised disposable cameras directing guests to try and capture specific images.
It was so well organised, and often when people have a really DIY heavy wedding, they can get really stressed out and forget to enjoy the day, or they don't handover jobs very well, but this was not the case with Jaemi and Chad. They were both so relaxed and happy on the day, it really was such a joy to be with them. Jaemi said that the secret to her success was in the planning.
"Start all those little (& BIG!) projects early on, so in the lead up to your wedding you have time to relax and enjoy the lead up with your fiancé because once the day is here it goes by too fast! Find, make and do things with meaning and your wedding will be a fun-filled reflection and smile fest of you and your fiancé, and your loved ones will enjoy being a part of the first day of your new journey as husband and wife."
The one thing that was super important to Jaemi and Chad, and that they knew they couldn't do themselves, was for someone to beautifully capture all of their hard work and good times on the big day. They chose award winning Perth photographer, James Simmons, (known by his friends as Jimmons) for the job, and as you can see by the stunning images below, he completely nailed it.
If you are planning a wedding in the Margaret River region, be sure to contact Jaemi for all your wedding planning needs!
Ceremony and Reception Venue and Catering: Arimia Estate Winery
Wedding Cake: Made by bride and groom, decorated by bride and bridesmaids.
Bride’s Dress: Loui Col Designs
Bride’s Hair: Bride
Bride's Make-Up: Brittany Lovell
Bridesmaid dresses: Picked by individual bridesmaids.
Groom's Clothing: Zara
Styling & Decoration: Bride and Groom - Pixel and Heart Co.
Ceremony & Reception Flowers: Bride
Bouquets & Buttonholes: Local florist
Celebrant: Cara Gallagher (ME!)
Celebrant's Dress: Mister Zimi
Letterpress Invitations: The Little Press
Photographer: James Simmons Photography
Photo Booth: Merlina Lam
This will most likely be the first moment you haven't been slightly overwhelmed and emotional since you laid eyes on each other in the ceremony space.
Take a deep breath, squeeze each others hand and get ready to sign on that dotted line. Shit just got real.
2. Which Witness
Legally, you need to pick two witnesses who are 18 or older.
Traditionally, the role has been given to the chief bridesmaid and the best man, but you can pick whoever you want.
Mums often don't get an official role at weddings these days, so it can be nice to ask both of your mothers to witness. Dads would probably love to get a chance to sign as well.
It's also a great way to include a friend or relative who you are really close to, who didn't make the cut to be a part of the bridal party.
3. Don't Cross Your Guests
Whatever you do, don't set the signing table up on the other side of your guests.
The signing is meant to happen as a part of the ceremony, and if you have to walk past your guests to sign the register and certificates, they will all want to hug and kiss you, and it's hard to get the official signing done.
Set the table up close to the ceremony space, off to one side, behind the ceremony space, or bring a table in to sign under your arbour, if you have one.
Save the congratulations for the end when you can give it your full attention.
4. Sign Your Own Name
If you are planning on changing your name, this happens well after the ceremony, once you've received the official certificate in the mail, at least 2 weeks after the wedding.
You must sign the marriage register and certificates with your maiden name.
5. Signing Table Styling
This is totally up to you.
Flowers are awesome, but if you have a small table, think about making a low arrangement so you can still be seen. Also, if you are having a bouquet, you may want to rest that on the table.
If it's windy, don't put any water in the little vase, if it falls over, it's going to get the table wet.
I see pens getting a lot of talk time on celebrant forums, but I don't really have an opinion one way or another about pens - they just need to work!
I will provide you with a lovely silver Parker pen with a gel ink cartridge which is just a joy to sign with, but if you want something more festive, bring it along - just make sure it works.
Our celebrant had a big white feather pen, which my husband hated, but I didn't even notice it on the day.
You have to have music. Whether you have a live musician or are playing music from a playlist, consider what song you want playing during the signing. People will be milling around, taking pictures of you, and it will be super awkward if there is silence. The last wedding I was at they played Signed, Sealed, Delivered.
7. Take a Seat
It's totally ok to sign standing up, or leaning on a rock, but if you have a signing table and chairs, take a seat.
Especially if you are a woman wearing a low cut dress or top.
EVERYONE is taking photos at this time.
My sister and I learnt this lesson the hard (read : funny) way at my wedding, because Phil and I didn't think to get up for her to sign sitting down.
I did try to protect her modesty, but probably just ended up drawing attention to it.
Nina and Dan first met when she was a couch surfing traveller and now they surf the world together.
Nina found me on the internet, we clicked on the phone straight away and they booked me for their wedding day without talking to any other celebrants.
As her and Dan live in Sydney, we had to wait until they came up to Byron Bay for a holiday, and we had our planning meeting at The Eatery on Jonson. They were both salty from just coming in from a surf.
Nina is Austrian, and a lot of their guests only spoke German, so she really wanted to the ceremony to be simple and clear. She had a very clear vision for their whole day, and I was more than happy to honour that.
I even got to speak a little bit of German - lebensabschnittspartner - which means "companion for a while“.
In the ceremony we reflected that they had been many things to each other before their wedding day… including lebensabschnittspartner, but now they were making a commitment for life.
How they met: Six years ago Nina was on a trip exploring Australia. She and her friends were on a tight budget and decided to couchsurf their way across Down Under. Nina and Dan met on day one of her trip, he turned out to be their first host and violà – a week later and they were hooked.
The proposal: Nina was visiting her family in Austria and secretly planned on how she would propose to Dan ... while he was sitting in Australia making similar plans. He turned out to be faster! The day after Nina’s return he presented her a “late birthday present”– a jigsaw puzzle with photos of all their adventures and somewhere hidden was a message : Will you marry me?
Their big day: Nina and Dan decided to get married at the beach, since this is a place where they spend a lot of time together. It had to be a surf spot though and Broken Head turned out to be the perfect location. They were planning a small and intimate wedding with their closest family and friends and rented a villa nearby for the reception. Nina and Dan put a lot of effort into the decoration and styling of the venue and are proud and happy what they achieved and how the day turned out. They couldn’t have done it without the help of their friends and family though!
All photos captured by the supremely talented Julian Beattie.
SETTING UP, GETTING READY
Wedding Venue: Pavilion2
Catering: Eatdrink Catering
Wedding Cake & Dessert: Sweet Obsessions
Bride’s Dress: Anna Campbell
Bride’s Hair & Make-Up: Erin Gallienne
Styling & Decoration: Bride
Bridal Bouquet & Reception Flowers: Bride's Mum
Flower Crown & Buttonholes: Elyssium Blooms
Celebrant: Cara Gallagher (ME!)
Celebrant's Dress: Lazybones Australia
Stationery: Ink Paper Rock (Bride)
Photographer: Julian Beattie
Musician: Stephanie Grace