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By Gilda McKechnie, Wedding Celebrant

Trends in wedding ceremonies have changed a lot in recent years.

Once-upon-a-time you only had a church wedding, or, if you got past your parents, you exchanged vows in the town’s public gardens. There may have been the odd elopement, too.

Lately, I’ve seen an increase in civil marriage ceremonies and couples seem to prefer more intimate weddings in the Grampians Pyrenees…on a mountain top, in a country chapel, private home, under the stars in a marquee or a good old shearing shed.

Maybe it comes down to dollars and the couples wanting to keep things simple and stress-free for themselves and their guests. Or, maybe weddings are humbly taking the route of being more ‘relaxed and meaningful’ without all the materialistic bells and whistles.

In other words, your ceremony (and reception) are only limited by your imagination these days, but, as a celebrant who has been involved with a wide variety of unique and wonderful weddings in this beautiful part of Australia, I’d still urge you to consider these key points:

1.     Find your happy place

Think about what’s vital to you as a couple, because doing ‘your own thing’ is more important than what third parties want. Choose a venue that’s close to your heart and style it in a way that reflects your personalities. Make a space that you’re genuinely happy to be in. The Grampians Pyrenees is perfect for lovers of nature, food and wine.

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Photo: Kerri Kingston Photography

2.     Work on the right words

When it comes to your official wedding ceremony and the exchange of vows, your celebrant will be only too happy to help you craft the words you want to say. A good celebrant will embrace your story and create a personal, warm and witty backstory.

3.     Don’t waste time

More couples are getting married in venues that cater for the ceremony, reception and has accommodation available. This makes more time with friends and family…even breakfast the next day if you want! There are also more weekday weddings. And why not? It’s a chance to use up some leave.

4.     Run away (…just for a bit)

Elopements are also trending for couples who want an intimate, highly personal ceremony in places like Halls Gap without the extravagant expense. Quite often, couples will host a party at a later date to celebrate informally with close family and friends.

Likewise, surprise weddings haven’t lost their punch, with sneaky couples inviting loved ones to celebrate a birthday, engagement or other significant milestone and then surprising their guests with a wedding ceremony, or announcing that they’d been married earlier in the day. The element of surprise certainly heightens the happy emotions of the day and, as a celebrant, I love being part of these exciting reveals!

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Steam Punk: Linda and Darren Raeck got married on their Grampians property in Steam Punk style, thrilling their wedding guests and inspiring unique photos of the day. They also involved their much loved dogs.

5.     Be brave, choose a theme

Themed weddings are on the rise and really set a different atmosphere to traditional wedding formats. From pop culture themes to nostalgia filled affairs, offbeat weddings are fabulous fun! From arriving to your rustic country wedding on the back of a tractor or ute, to a full-throttle steam punk theme, with some smart planning and heads up for your guests, you can create a real day to remember!

6.     Make a statement

I am inclined to integrate views on same-sex marriage into the ceremony if the couple want that. Legally, a celebrant needs to state that marriage is between a man and a woman, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t follow that statement up with a disclaimer that you believe it should be for everyone as it should be an equal right in Australia.

7.     Embrace the moment

Often, before we start proceedings, I’m asked to request that wedding guests put away their cameras during the ceremony so everyone can relax and enjoy the wedding. Then, after the big day, guests are generally privy to an online account containing the professional photos. Some couples also request that mobile phones are not present at the ceremony. So everyone has the heads up about your wishes, you can subtly mention something on the invitation, or set up a cute sign like this.

8.     It’s not weird to involve your dog

There have been a number of times when the couple has wanted a pet involved in their ceremony, particularly their dogs.  I’ve witnessed dogs as the ring bearers, part of the wedding party, leading in the bridesmaids and bride – or standing with the best man. I’m pleased to report that there have been no issues so far!

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9.     Commit to the planet, too.

There is a bigger focus on eco-friendly and sustainable weddings. Couples are choosing goods that are more environmentally friendly, like natural materials, second-hand or upcycled items, flowers from friends’ gardens or native flowers that are in with the Grampians area. With Instagram, Pinterest and other online styling resources available, you don’t have to be creative whizzes to pull off a green wedding. Just look for inspiration, ask around for ideas and make the local op shop your favourite hang-out!

Further Reading

10. Have fun!

There’s so much lead up and planning to a wedding that more couples are choosing to extend their time with family and friends pre and/or post wedding day so everyone can chill out and reconnect. Activities in our part of Victoria can include wine tours, barbecues, rock-climbing and bushwalking. It’s a great idea for travelling guests to really get the most out of their time away to celebrate your wedding.

It will be interesting to see the roll out of future trends as couples become more adventurous in the planning for their wedding. But, bear in mind that trends come and go, so plan a day that you can look upon fondly forever.

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Photo: Sunday Love Photography

By Luke Bourchier

There is so much amazing music around at the moment.  This makes it almost impossible to choose songs for your wedding day.  As long as it has a smattering of gooey love-y dove-y lyrics, you should be right.  Right?

Or, you know, you could choose songs you actually like; songs that mean something to you and your partner.  There are a lot of great love songs out there and some, it seems, have even been written with weddings in mind (Train – ‘Marry You’, The McClymonts – Forever Begins Tonight etc).  There’s also a lot of great songs with strong messages which aren’t quite as gooey, if that’s not your cup of tea.

Playing at a lot of wedding ceremonies and receptions, I’ve come across some incredible tunes.  Here’s the top 10 songs to consider for your 2016/17 wedding:

10) Have I Told You Lately, Van Morrison

This has been played at weddings for over 25 years and for good reason.  It’s still romantic and, despite having lost its shine a little, in the hands of the right artist, it can sound brand new again.

9) Five Years Time, Noah and the Whale

For something quirky, a little bit cheeky and a whole lotta fun, check out Noah and the Whale.  This optimistic song is all about the future.

8) In Your Arms, Nico & Vinz

Relatively recent, Nico & Vinz touch on some challenges that we all face, but then it’s all okay “when I lie down in your arms”.

7) Thinking Out Loud, Ed Sheeran

This has probably been the number one song in recent years and rightly so.  It’s jam-packed full of dreamy lyrics, the film clip looks like a bridal waltz and well, it’s Ed.  Need I say more?  Still worthy of being in the top 10, due to its ridiculous popularity, it has probably slid down the list a little.

6) Fly Me To The Moon, Frank Sinatra

This sweet little ditty was recorded by Frank Sinatra over 50 years ago.  “You are all I long for, all I worship and adore”.  Pure romance!

5) I Won’t Give Up, Jason Mraz

This is gooey love song at its best.  I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve performed this one at weddings.  As the only song on the list with 6/8 timing (technical music talk), I really wanted this to be higher on the list.  This song is gorgeous.

4) This Old Love, Lior

Here’s one from left-field, but it’s perfect for a wedding ceremony.  It certainly has a mysterious feel, but the melody is beautiful, as is the message.  Check it out.

3) Home, Philip Phillips

Perfect for a recessional (as you leave the ceremony), or a bridal waltz, ‘Home’ is not your standard cliché love song, but it’s very fun, with delicious harmonies all throughout.

2) Real Love, John Lennon / Regina Spektor

As one of the greatest songwriters of all time, John Lennon is right on the mark with this song.  The Regina Spektor version is particularly beautiful in all its subtlety.

1) The Luckiest, Ben Folds

Well, here it is.  This has quickly become my favourite song to perform at a wedding.  Well, to perform anywhere for that matter.  The lyrics aren’t like a pop song, with lines feeling unfinished, having unusual content, but it’s a song about growing old together in love.  This is the one you’ve been looking for.

Special Mention: The Way You Make Me Feel

MJ’s hit is a fun bridal waltz, if you’re not really into slow dancing.  Worth thinking about!

So there we have it. Ten great songs to consider having somewhere on your wedding day.  Some of these songs are more particularly suited to the wedding ceremony, but really could be played anywhere throughout your day. 

Have a listen, and you decide. If you’re still struggling to choose, get in touch.  In the end, like I said, there’s so much great music out there – it’s about choosing what is right for you.

To book Luke for your wedding, follow the link to Luke Bourchier.

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MADI Cross and Matt Freeland of Stawell were married at the groom’s family property in Halls Gap in January.

As part of the wedding ceremony, led by Stawell celebrant, Kevin Dallinger, the couple attached an engraved ‘love lock’ to a bridge made by the groom’s father.

The couple was attended by Jade Cross, Daniel Thomas, Nellie Driscoll, Andrew Dunn, Sahra Jasper and Rob Freeland. The reception was at Halls Gap Valley Lodges and Function Centre.

Madi is a nurse at Stawell Regional Health and Matt is a spare parts salesman at Toyota in Stawell. They have children – Milla, 3 and William, 2.

Photography: Kerri Kingston Photography

Flowers: Alisha Ellis

Cake: Jules Fenwick

Hair: Emily Jackson

Makeup: Skinco

Dresses: Melissa E

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judith-burke-wedding-celebrant-stawellWarrnambool school teachers Mia Venema and Brett Easton were married recently at the Grampians Pioneer Cottages, followed by a magnificent marquee wedding reception.

They were attended by bridesmaids Amanda Sutton, Julia Thompson, Emily Venema and Kerry King and groomsmen Paul Easton, Phil Dennis, Michael Thompson and Matthew Perry. The couple’s Labrador, Karri was also part of the ceremony.

There was a personal touch to the day, with bouquet flowers collected from the garden of wedding celebrant Judith Burke and arranged by Mia’s mum, Tania. Friends of the bride Jess and Julie Ronchi styled the girls’ hair and Karen Crispe did the makeup.

The couple honeymooned in Robe in South Australia.

Celebrant: Judith Burke

Music: Tank Dilemma

Photos: Rebecca Luppino

Film: First Ladies Productions

Dress: Blossom Boutique

Suits: Pitstop Menswear

Food: Kirsty’s Cakes and Catering, Horsham

Beer: Steinman Brothers Brewery

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Weddings AustraliaMELBOURNE couple Sarah Graham and Sam Duncan were recently married at Halls Gap Recreation Reserve, surrounded by majestic mountains and native wildlife.

Sarah, formerly of Hamilton and Sam, originally from Yarrawonga, gathered family and friends for a charming bush wedding ceremony and a stylish marquee reception.

The couple chose Halls Gap for a destination wedding, so family and friends could experience one of Sarah’s favorite childhood holiday spots.

The official wedding photos were taken on a clearing of land that capitalized on breathtaking 360 degree views of the Grampians ranges.

Celebrant: Tanya O’Brien

Bridal Gown: Designer Bridal Room

Bridesmaid Gowns: White Runway

Makeup:  Solace Beauty Lounge & Wellness Spa

Hair: Affair with Hair

Suits: Expedition Apparel

Flowers: Sugar Bee Flowers

Cake: Kristin’s Kakes

Photographer: Darkroom Studios & Alister Lor

Equipment Hire: Little Black Sheep Hire

Marquee: Blue Lake Hire

Event Stylist: Harper & Co

Accommodation: Blue Ridge Retreat

Catering: Dariwill Farm

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Hannah Ellen and Ben Argall were married at the heritage listed Mount Mitchell Homestead in Lexton, Victoria on September 26, 2015.

After exchanging their vows in the homestead’s spectacular gardens, the bride and groom celebrated with a reception at Taltarni Vineyards and Winery in Moonambel.

Hannah and Ben were attended by maid-of-honor Jessica Hodder, bridesmaids Courtney Ellen and Stephanie Cross, best man Robert Argall amd groomsmen Jason Hodder and Luke McLoughlin.

Hannah’s grandmother Lurl Raven put hours of love into making a traditional fruitcake as a wedding gift for the couple.

The bridal flowers and Hannah’s headpiece were created by Kate Mann from Minyip, who specialises in vintage style pieces.

Hannah and Ben, who live in Wallaloo East, enjoyed a honeymoon in Tasmania.

Photographer: Kerri Kingston, Stawell

Celebrant: Reverand Anne McKenna

Makeup: Julie and Bree Hair and Beauty, Maryborough

Hair: Chazen Hair & Beauty Salon, Avoca

Bride’s Dress: Melissa E Bridal, Ballarat

Suits: Ed Harry, Ballarat

Catering: Charlton Catering

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Nhill couple Julie Dickerson and Brendan Cook were married at Pine Plains Lodge in the Wyperfield National Park in April.

Having the ceremony, reception and accommodation at at one location meant that the wedding celebrations were relaxed and laid back. After a morning ceremony, the couple enjoyed a ‘long lunch’ with guests, followed by dinner and more celebrating until the wee hours of the morning.

The bride, a talented cake baker and decorator, made her own wedding cake, as well as delightful home-made jam and sauce as bonbonniere for guests.

The official wedding images, taken by Leanne Mulcahy, were taken on the ‘Snowdrift’ (an ancient Mallee sand dune), providing a natural and dramatic backdrop.

Photographer: Leanne Mulcahy Photography

Flowers: Alisha Ellis

Celebrant: Pam Nelson

Cake: Julie Dickerson

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At this year’s Seppelt Wedding Expo, the chicks behind the cakes and flowers were in fine form.

After many late nights of planning, baking, decorating and finessing (and some help from their wonderful hubbies), they final styled their stunning exhibits to showcase their wares to bridal couples-to-be.

Jodie Donovan from JD Cakes, based in Lake Bolac created a wonderland of deliciously decorated wedding cakes to suit all personalities. At GWD we dubbed the photo above the ‘rock chick cake’ as we thought it would suit a ‘super cool’ bride.

Jodie’s other samples demonstrated her artistry, imagination and ability to create extravagant wedding cakes – right down to the charming little cup cakes that are still so popular with brides today.

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Fellow cake baker and decorator Sharon Frost from Frost and Fondant Celebration Cakes unveiled her new line of cakes at the Expo; giving off a ‘vintage’ vibe, with lots of beautiful pastel colors and stunning cake stands that are also available for hire. Our fave was the decadent ‘chandelier’ cake, which is a fast growing trend. The very simple, ‘square’ cake with two large roses also packed a punch.

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Further filling the senses at the Expo was Horsham Florist, Pick-A-Posie. Florist Tricia and her consultant Donna proved that no flower is ‘out of fashion’ – it all depends on a good floral stylists’ imagination! They mixed traditional flowers with funky faves like kale and berries to tickle the bride’s imagination. They also donated flowers for the runway bridal show, which pulled together the latest fashion looks just nicely.

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Well done to everyone who took part in this year’s Seppelt Wedding Expo, especially members of the Grampians Wedding Directory. Love your work!

 

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The annual Seppelt Wedding Expo is on this Sunday and the top message from exhibitors is ‘plan in person’.

Making their debut at this year’s expo will be sisters Tricia Bryan and Donna Johns from Horsham’s modern floral studio, Pick A Posie.

Floral consultant Donna says the key to choosing the right flowers for your wedding day is to chat to the florist in person.

She says there are so many variables when choosing wedding flowers, that its best to engage in a creative process with your florist (which also helps tremendously with a quote).

“Choosing your wedding day flowers depends on your theme, the weather and what flowers are in season at that time of year. Lots of brides come to us with great ideas and we love to be able to add to those ideas for truly show-stopping floral pieces that last the day.”

Long time florist Tricia will create the models’ bouquets for the Expo runway shows to be held at 12.30pm and 2pm and the Pick A Posie exhibit will feature some beautiful samples of traditional and contemporary wedding bouquets, centre-pieces, button holes and corsages.

The expo will run from 11am to 3pm.

Other exhibitors:

– Frost and Fondant Celebration Cakes by Sharon Frost

JD Cakes

– Intrigue Hair and Makeup

– Weddings ‘n’ Things

– Lee’s Limos

– Westgate Vineyard

– Ferrari Formalwear and Bridal

– Sarah’s Kitchen

– Celebrants Jenny Pitcher, Dianne Harmer & Wayne Lentsment

– Little Black Sheep Hire

– Mobile Expresso Coffee

– Jetset Travel

– Fosters Mensland

– Swift Revenge (band)

– Xenolith Xtreme Productions

– Thea Jane Photography

– Mackays Leading Edge Jewellers

Weddings 'N' ThingsOlde-worlde horse and carriage, or sleek limo? Your uncle’s vintage Holden? Or perhaps your (very) good mate’s Harley Davidson?

How you get around on your wedding day is about more than looks. It’s what pulls at your heart strings and reflects you as a couple. It’s also important to have someone in charge of your transport that really cares about this special journey (literally) into the next phase of your life.

Horse lovers, or those who have always dreamed of rocking up to their wedding in a stunning horse and carriage, should chat with father and son team Stan and Matthew Roberts from Weddings ‘N’ Things at this year’s Seppelt Wedding Expo on Sunday, May 24.

Based near Hamilton, they have several immaculately maintained early 1800s carriages, and a team of photogenic horses who just love getting in on the act! Stan, Matt (and their horses) are loaded with personality, hilariously funny and go that extra mile to make sure you get the best possible experience!

Also at this year’s Expo will be Lee Turner from Lee’s Limo Service of Ararat. He may not know horses like the other blokes, but he sure knows cars!

Lee’s fleet of limousines and town cars are  immaculately cared for, spotlessly sleek and super sophisticated for your wedding day.

He has two luxurious, white Lincoln town cars (10-seater and 7-seater) on offer, which are also loads of fun for bucks and hens celebrations. The 10-seater features LCD TV screen, touch DVD player, full length bar, divider window and even disco lights!

Lee is prompt and professional and will be at your beck and call throughout the day – transporting you to the ceremony, wedding photo shoot and reception, all whilst making you feel relaxed and ensuring you’re having a fantastic time.

He also does airport transfers, so you can surprise guests flying in with a luxurious chauffeured ride to their accommodation.  Sweet!

Other 2015 exhibitors:

– Intrigue Hair and Makeup

– JD Cakes

– Frost and Fondant Celebration Cakes by Sharon Frost

– Pick a Posie

– Westgate Vineyard

– Ferrari Formalwear and Bridal

– Sarah’s Kitchen

– Celebrants Jenny Pitcher, Dianne Harmer & Wayne Lentsment

– Little Black Sheep Hire

– Mobile Expresso Coffee

– Jetset Travel

– Fosters Mensland

– Swift Revenge (band)

– Xenolith Xtreme Productions

– Thea Jane Photography

– Mackays Leading Edge Jewellers