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.
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!
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!
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!
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.