I think civil celebrants are incredibly interesting people- they literally get to unite people, tie that bond, the most important one of the entire wedding after all! I’m joined today by the lovely Maree Livy, a civil marriage celebrant based in Melbourne. Maree has been a marriage celebrant since 2004 and lives in Melbourne with her husband and two children.

What’s the most important part of your job as a celebrant?

My highest priority for every one of my couples is to ensure their wedding ceremony that we compose together is truly reflective of their personalities, beliefs and values. And, of course, that all the essential ceremonial legal wording is incorporated and paperwork is completed and lodged.

What can a couple provide you to ensure you make their ceremony unique?

Revealing a part of themselves – Not literally!! Each and every couple is different and so it’s my job to find out just what it is that makes them the fabulous couple that they are! There’s always something and it’s those personal touches that make a ceremony truly memorable for the couple and their guests!

Mmmm, that is a tough question! I am passionate about music (but can’t sing or play an instrument to save myself!) and so live music, singers, bands, instruments like the harp or even bagpipes always send happy shivers down my spine! But if I had to choose – the hot air balloon weddings that I have celebrated are a little different as my lovely couples wake up very early to marry at sun rise!

Can you walk us through the process you take with your clients, from their decision to marry, to the actual wedding?

At our first meeting we have a chat about what is important to them for their wedding ceremony. We discuss their likes, dislikes and beliefs.

Each couple is at a different stage of their ceremony preparation and so I have a resource folder that I give to my clients detailing lots of information regarding the structure, inspiration and content for their ceremony, including examples of vows, readings and all the other parts of a ceremony.

We map out some time frames as to when we need to get all this info together. Couples will then discuss what they would like and we have a second planning meeting to record this info. We talk about the people involved and all the logistics that go on behind a wedding ceremony. The “Notice of Intent to Marry” paperwork is also done at this meeting. Sometimes couples have subsequent meetings but more often than not, we have chat on the phone and email is great!

Rehearsals are really good to do so we book a date in way before their wedding to ensure it’s on the calendar a week or two before their big day. At the rehearsal we go through the logistics and various parts of their ceremony to ensure that everybody is comfortable and happy with how it all goes!

What kind of support do you provide in helping couples write or choose their vows?

My resource folder containing generic, traditional, fun, humourous, and personal vows. Essentially vows are personal words to each other so I offer support and advice if couples need it – but it’s really rare that they do. Sometimes couples surprise each other with their vows, I provide guidance to make sure they are of similar length and tone.

How can a couple really personalise their ceremony?

I give all my couples what I like to call “Thought provoking questions”, where I ask 15 or so questions about their interests, what they have in common,  what they don’t have in common, (which always makes an interesting story!). It’s always good when couples offer a little bit of themselves, simple is often the most meaningful and has the most impact, it’s the little details that work!

I usually then compose a story about the couple with a little bit of seriousness and a little bit of humour. Couples can also personalise their vows and the “I do” questions. They can acknowledge important people in their lives, read original poems, celebrate family and other rituals.

Do you ever get stage fright?

Gosh no! Just a good mix of adrenalin and emotion! It’s more about the weather elements that I worry about! The circling rain clouds, extreme heat, or windy whirly days! Sometimes this can impact a ceremony which always keeps me on my toes!

Are there any trends in wedding ceremonies? What is ‘hot’ right now?

All of my couples would like a ceremony that is personal and meaningful. Some of the more common requests at the moment include, both parents walking their daughter down the aisle, acknowledging parents, rather than the traditional “giving away”. Surprise vows, or surprise statements within a couple’s wedding ceremony – which are beautiful moments.

All images from Xiss Photography

Thank you for joining us today Maree! Check out more of Maree’s work on her website.