One Hundred Weddings

This weekend has me celebrating my 100th Marriage Ceremony and reflecting on the journey so far.

Many years ago the thought of becoming a celebrant was like dipping my toe in a fast moving current. I could see down stream, and I knew it would take me places I’d only wished for.
For me, it was more than an idea.. it was an overwhelming longing based from my heart and soul all parts of my body I felt guided to the decision.
Aiming for only excellence, I knew I would do the job well. Concurrently I was also aware of the hard work that lay ahead.
This role is far more than nice dresses and reading ceremonies.
Moving into that current four years ago and being pulled swiftly into my new journey was one of the biggest leaps of faith in my life.
Trusting my intuition, following the signs and knowing that it would all work out the way I wanted.
And I’m so glad I did.

Every wedding and every marriage leaves an imprint forever. I am changed because of each story. With every couple I learn new things about love, life, marriage and human connection – also about myself.
This is why I have never wanted to call this a business. I know in many ways it is, but to me it is far more than that. Because how can you put such a rigid word on a souls calling?

I’ve conducted weddings at the start, a bundle of nerves.. later with morning sickness, heavily pregnant climbing hills in heels because I would never drop the standard.
I’ve conducted quirky weddings, second marriages, marriages with over 200 guests.. Weddings that have cost over 100 grand and others that have cost less than a few hundred dollars.
Of 100 weddings I’ve only had one flat tire – and that day I had to drive my husbands work van (dirty and full of tools) to one of New Plymouths best garden venues.. parking inconspicuously behind a hedge. Eeek!
I’ve even conducted weddings on some of my own darkest days when my poor heart was struggling to pull together a smile.
But hey, sometimes life is like that.
100 outfits, countless venues, a heck of a lot of travel, 100 ceremonies, 100 love stories.
Most importantly 100 pairs of couples who in this crazy modern world managed to find their match.
If I collected them all together I would say thank you!
Thank you for choosing me to share your love story.
Thank you for trusting me, for opening up to me details of your love and life to allow me to lift you both up to the world. To enable you to venture into the future validated and supported.
I am humbled and privileged
to serve you all.
I truly believe if we conduct a ceremony with excellence, it has a massive impact on the foundation and memories of that sacred moment.
My goal? For couples to look back on their moment with sweet satisfaction.
So congratulations to the one hundred couples – wherever they may be on their life journey. And here’s to the 100’s more to come!
Image Credit to the AMAZING Ryan Polei Photography Ryan Polei Photography

Obligations to the BIG wedding, and how to avoid them.

Obligations to the BIG wedding & how to avoid them.

Being engaged, one of the BEST stages in life!

To have found your soul mate is a miraculous and wonderful realisation. The natural progression is to start planning your wedding. An exciting time for a couple. Slowly over time every engaged couple are eventually faced with many decisions. Details like the ceremony and reception venue, food, dress and styling to name a few. Quickly you can be faced with the realisation of the large amount of decisions that you have to make.

This of which can be a tad overwhelming.. particularly on a budget.

I have been observing the wedding and marriage trend (particularly in Taranaki) for many years. This includes its impact on social media. I’ve also been through the process myself as a bride, bridesmaid and guest. Now as I near the end of a VERY busy wedding season as a marriage celebrant I feel I need to share a few thoughts.

One thing I feel compelled to mention is the seemingly heavy obligations that couples are faced with. Particularly when it comes to the BIG wedding. Now, I for one love a big wedding, and who doesn’t. I love attending them and I love officiating them. What I don’t love is those who feel pressured into parts of their wedding day by the weight of their obligations.

Let’s talk about obligations aye?

The way I see it, these are either internal or external obligations.

Internal come from you, the way you have always dreamed or expected it to be. External obligations come from others, by expectations, commitments or traditions.

Let’s narrow in on those external obligations.

External obligations or expectations can come in the form of family pressure or tradition. It can also come from the tradition and expectations that has been set within our community. This being the BIG wedding, 80-150 guests, ceremony, reception, sit down meal, followed by a big party and lots of drinks.

That seems to be what our community has come to expect when it comes to weddings. It’s the way our friends do it, it’s the way the magazines do it, and it’s definitely the way it’s done on Pinterest and Instagram.

Advocation is one of my strongest values. This has never been more useful than in my role as a Celebrant. Among many, my role is to advocate for you as a couple. I believe that you should be empowered to have the wedding that is best suited to you as a couple, within your values, and within your budget. Not because you have to (or because family or social media tell you to) but because you want to.

You both deserve a wedding that sits well with you as a couple, not only on your wedding day but for years to come. Without the regret of putting others before yourselves, or reluctantly being put into future debt.

Let’s face it, we all need money nowadays.. and 15, 20, and 30 thousand could go a long way in a young couples’ lives. We also hope to only get married once so let’s focus on being empowered to make choices that are best for you both, without any associated regret.

So, in the name of advocation I would like to offer a few suggestions before you journey (or fall too deep) down the rabbit hole of wedding planning.

Firstly, Pop Up Weddings.

These are so fantastic if you are not overly keen on details, or you would prefer not to spend a large bucket of money. Pop up weddings make the most of some high-class vendors at a great price. They set up for the day and allow 2 or 3 weddings one after the other, spread over the whole day.

Just wear what you choose, bring your rings and you have yourselves a beautiful wedding.

Pop up weddings are great if you need an excuse to cut down your guest list, as pop up weddings generally cater for a limited number. From your pop-up wedding, you can then take your guests back to your home or out for tea, guest can pay their own meal, and you don’t have to have the obligation of a big reception. Such an incredible option!

Recently, The Ever After Wedding Collective has been launched. Ever After offers couples across the whole of Taranaki the affordable opportunity to marry in this exciting way. If it interests you, have a look here for more information.

Ever After Wedding Collective


Surprise weddings are becoming popular and for great reason. They can be disguised as another event such as a birthday party, a random event like a mid-winter Christmas party, or most recently an engagement party! This is my absolute favourite option and if I could go back and do it again, this would be it!

The benefits of a surprise wedding are huge. Firstly, you can cut many of costs out because you are already doing it an entirely new way. Just your day, your way.

You can avoid having a large bridal party (and the associated costs), you can even avoid a sit-down meal. Recently, a couple I married as a surprise wedding had large platters from Platter Affair. This is awesome because people can mingle and are not stuck in their assigned seat. It also creates a great party atmosphere having everyone mingling.

Also, you can’t beat the dramatic surprise when everyone finds out that the party is, in fact, A WEDDING! It is also great because you can still have the elements that are important to you, just leave out what you don’t want!

The moment your guests realise they are at your wedding!
Ryan Polei Photography

In the lead up to your surprise wedding, you also avoid family and friend drama and pressure.

A surprise wedding may not be for everyone. You risk people not attending, or potentially hurting a few feelings. But really.. your loved ones should love you, and they should want to put you and your love first. If there is ever a time to put your love first, it is at your own wedding.

Along with that is my next idea which is a

Cocktail Style Wedding

This is an evening ceremony that leads into nibbles and drinks. Avoiding a sit-down meal can really save you on money and allow you to increase your guest list if you would prefer.

A friend of mine recently chose to marry this way and decided on a mystery bus trip to deliver their guests to a beautifully styled hall in the country. A band, some platters and dancing all night.

It was perfect and memorable, because it was SO them and it suited their personality.

You can play with this idea and do a morning ceremony, high tea, then leave the evening for just close friends and family. Anything is possible.


I’m going to throw the idea of a Backyard Wedding out there.

My close friends got married for LESS THAN $5000. They used their elevated back deck that looked over their backyard and farmland to hold their evening ceremony. After, they had amazing tapa style food, served from their large and beautifully decorated shed and marquee. Perfect! All the guests had such an incredible time.

This couple were in the process of dramatic renovations of their home so having a wedding this way made absolute sense.

I applaud them for thinking outside the square and going with a wedding day that satisfied their values, wants and needs.

Making a dramatic move when it comes to weddings, particularly outside the norms and traditions of society can be met with a bit of shock and awe. (to say the least)

I tell you though, times are changing. Long gone are the days of doing things because we must. This is slowly being brought through to the long-held traditions of NZ weddings. We all deserve to have a wedding that we want, in line with our values and what we can afford.

So, if you are needing the go ahead, here it is: It is ok to say NO to put you as a couple and your love first. In fact, it is crucial that you do.

After all that’s what getting married is all about, you and your partner..

And your one in a million love. (YAY)

No matter what kind of wedding you have, remember that. Everything else is simply a bonus.


Keeping Calm Leading Up To Your Wedding

Here we go! The wedding season is here!

Oh, yes and so is the crazy exciting season of Christmas/New Years and the perfection that is a Taranaki summer!!

Although those things do seem to take a back seat when your wedding is on its way.

It brings me back to when my husband Chad and I got married almost 5 years ago in mid-January. The date was close to New Years, but it worked perfectly while I was on summer holidays from my nursing studies. I didn’t quite expect that a January wedding would be so full on. We navigated these challenges the best we could given our combined experience of ZERO with planning a wedding.

Looking back now, as a Registered Celebrant, Registered Nurse, and once bride, I have considered how best to manage the stress and the emotional toll that planning a wedding can take on you and your partner. As my grounding is in healthcare it only natural to offer some helpful tips and guidance on keeping calm and as stress free as possible in the lead up to your big day! Tips that can also be used in the lead up to any event or at any stage in our ever-busy daily lives.

The lead up to your wedding can be filled with excitement, anxiety, stress, love, drama and expectations of the unknown days ahead.  It can also be some of the most emotionally charged and intense times too.

These stresses can be internal, derived from our own personal standards and coping strategies. But equally they can be external too. (Examples like: paying last minute bills, managing Christmas and New Year while wedding planning, answering all those questions from everyone, and the dreaded family dramas that love to pop up (CRINGE)).

It is not often in life we are the hopeful, yet inexperienced project managers of a large event that is our wedding. A day of all your hopes and dreams that also pivots on one of the most defining moments of our lives.

Talk about pressure!   

So as a RN, and a Celebrant it is only natural to offer some tips and guidance, so you can follow on these next few weeks and months with as much enjoyment and calm as possible.  


As well as the dress, flowers and table settings, you want to have your mind and your emotions on point too. Mindfulness means to be aware of how we are feeling and thinking, and being aware of what those feelings are doing to our body. That way, if we are experiencing feelings that are causing negative or stressful emotions, we can take control and intervene. I like to think of it as self-regulation. This kind of thinking brings about a state of calm that you can keep coming back to. Helpful in those moments when we feel things are becoming overwhelming. If you are wanting some support with this, there is books at the library, podcasts, meditations on you tube and locally we have a few experienced professionals you can see. I can recommend Meegan Care at the Wellness Project or Try one of these podcasts Honestly everyone could benefit from mindfulness.

Latte, flat white, Vinos, and ciders:

(Tis the season) Yes coffee and alcohol. These substances can peak you out and run you down. Be aware of your intake in these more stressful times and take control. Leading up to the wedding you can have high levels of the stress hormone Cortisol running through your body. Therefore, raising your stress levels. Caffeine and alcohol can then increase Cortisol levels even further. This makes us feel acute stress. If you are feeling the effects of coffee and alcohol, perhaps try to limit or avoid where possible. See how it goes.

Of course, it is also important to note our food choices in times of stress. (I myself love a good piece of cake). What feels good and comforting in the short term such as high fat, sugar and carb foods can also leave us feeling lethargic, bloated and generally off almost immediately after. Try to decrease these foods, and simply be aware of why you are reaching for it.


Exercise, now this isn’t CrossFit or marathon training. (Although it can be). I am honestly saying you can just walk. Or gentle exercise. Simply the act of moving your body can help to lower stress, anxiety and bring a sense of calm. Particularly outside in nature. Set aside a few time slots a week to do some kind of movement. A great time is after dinner (when it’s not too hot) turn off the TV and go. Even better, do it with your partner, use it as a date activity, go somewhere new and a catch up. Other great exercise activities for stress reduction include swimming lengths, running, bike rides or yoga. I recently tried yoga for the first time and loved it. It is far more than exercise and I found to be a very spiritual and relaxing experience. If you haven’t tried it or not for a long time, give it a go.

Your Circle

Be aware of who you are surrounding yourself with. We all have certain people in our lives that increase stress or tension, they may be loved ones (or not). Set healthy boundaries with these people. Take time to be alone or with just your partner to recharge. It is ok to put you and your partner first at this time.

Actually, it is essential!

In addition to this, it is ok to say no. This goes for anything. Events, catch ups, last minute requests to a change in the seating plan by family member’s, (Cringe again), or anything! If you are feeling overwhelmed and you have been asked to attend events or gatherings, it is ok to say no. Just be polite about it and if they care about you they should understand. Spare time can be hard to come by and if you need to take a moment to recharge.. then that is absolutely necessary.


Along with saying no, it is also important to keep organised. Keep a list and a calendar. When we got married I made a massive calendar on a piece of ply wood. It started two months out. Included was all those last-minute appointments, payment due dates, when family and friends were arriving, etc. This is also great because helpful loved ones can see what you are doing and where you need help.

(Shout out to my beautiful mother-in-law GG who was that person for us, love you xx)

Big calendars and lists are particularly good when we are not the best at asking for help. 


How are you sleeping? If this is an issue it can be another sign of stress. Particularly not being able to get to sleep, and/or waking in the middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep. This can be another symptom of the raised cortisol levels. Some suggestions for this is to set yourself a regular bed time. And stick to it. Mine is 10pm. That means getting ready for bed half an hour earlier. Let your body and your subconscious know that: yes, we are busy, and we have lots on our mind, BUT we rest regularly in a routine too. Try and do your wedding planning earlier in the day so your mind isn’t in a state of problem solving before bed. Avoid surfing Pinterest or Facebook for wedding ideas at night too. You may think it is relaxing but subconsciously your brain is taking it all in.. trying to problem solve and help. That can lead to a busy mind at night. Turn off devices. Just do one thing at a time, an hour before your head hits that pillow. Lastly check your calendar. Notice that you are in fact organised. There is plenty of time to deal with things or think about issues in the days ahead. Right now, it is bed time.

All the other points mentioned here will also help with sleep too.

Social media

Social media is fantastic, it connects us, educates us, and entertains us. It can also be a huge contributor of stress. There are so many wedding ideas out there. It is actually impossible to do everything. (Even with the best bridesmaid team). Here is also where I mention comparison. This being to other weddings whether it be celebrities/ friends/ acquaintances. Comparison WILL. KILL. YOU. Metaphorically.

I am giving you permission to “unfollow” or “unlike” that page that keeps stressing you out.     Feel the freedom!  

Listen to your body.

Have you been feeling tense for the last few days? Heart rate increasing at times, forgetfulness, or forgetting to eat? These are all your body signs of stress increasing in your body. Be mindful of your body and what it is trying to tell you. Then take action with a coping strategy. Go for a walk or stop what you are doing and redirect for a moment. Remember why you are doing this.  Which leads me to…

Your other half, your soul mate..

Lastly, and above all else, take time each day to check-in with your partner. Talk about non-wedding related things and remember to cuddle. Your partner is your number one. They need to be protected and nurtured, just as you do. They will have their own nerves about the day, so work to reassure each other and stay focused. Use these tools to help you help each other. This was always going to be my most important point. You are a united team and together every stress is halved and shared.

What a beautiful thing and how lucky are the both of you.

For all these moments leading up will someday be just that.. moments. Enjoy being surrounded by friends and family.  Enjoy the excitement and the focus on your love. Remember, getting married is about the two of you, your love, your vows and your commitment forever.

Promises and love that will last far longer than the theatrics of the day.  

With much love




Image cred to Tammie Pittwood Photography.