Image by AM For Love Studio via Sarah & Mathew’s Offbeat & Bright Bayside Wedding

You’ve done a lot of planning to make your wedding day special – to make it a true reflection of you as a couple. You want your personalities, your passions, and your love to shine through. And, after the ceremony, you and your guests are going to celebrate and party! Right??

But what about the ceremony? You’ve invited family and friends –  everyone that is special in your lives. They’re all going to be there to show their love and support… by sitting quietly and… listening?!

Why not involve them in the ceremony, and give them something to actually do? Good idea? And it’s not at all difficult. Just watch and feel the warmth spread through your guests as you acknowledge them as a special part of your day, by asking them to be involved. Sounds tricky? It’s not. Here are some simple suggestions which can be tailored to reflect each couple individually.

1. Ring Warming

There are lots of ways that this can be done, but here I’ll let you in on two:

  • Start with the wedding rings in a little bag (silk, organza, anything that looks and feels nice). Get the celebrant to speak a little about how important the love and support of all the guests is, then ask them to pass the bag around during the ceremony, bestowing love and best wishes for the future happiness of the couple. The rings eventually make their way back to the front (have someone in charge of this) warmed by the love, blessings and good wishes of all the invited guests.
  • Have the rings in a bag/box/container, with a note for all to see as they arrive. Ask guests to place their hand on the rings, warming them with their love and good wishes.

Put someone in charge of bringing the rings down for the exchange of rings, and the celebrant can say something personal about what this means to the couple.

Image by Red Berry Photography via Chrisa & Pary’s Elegant Coastal Beach Wedding

2. Pledge to Enjoy

After the serious stuff, you’re all going to party! Why not make that part of the ceremony by including a “Pledge to Enjoy”? Usually early on in the ceremony, everyone is asked to stand, hold up their right hand and make the first vow. This would be written to reflect the couple, but would generally go along the lines of promising to love and support the couple, have a great night, talk to everyone, have a drink (or two), dance the night away, and go home with beautiful memories.

Image by Christopher Robert via Alysha & Matt’s Elegant Waterfront Estate Wedding

3. Keepsake Tokens

Along the lines of the ring warming, guests collect a token on their way in. They are asked to hold, it and warm it with love and best wishes for the couple.

As they leave, they place the tokens in a designated spot – a jar, pretty box, etc,  as a keepsake for the couple.

Spotlight stores have some really cute decorative wooden hearts, which are ideal for the purpose, or you could source pretty stone, shells, or anything which takes your fancy.

The meaning of this gesture can be personalised and spoken about during the ceremony.

Image by Tay Bassi Creative via Nat & Callum’s Boho Inspired South Australian Farm Wedding

Rose Petals

4. Throw Rose Petals

We all want to be environmentally friendly these days. Especially when we throw stuff! Right? So instead of confetti, why not give each guests little organza bags filled with rose petals? These can be used at the end of the ceremony, to shower the happy couple with, as they walk back down the

aisle/path. It also makes for a great photo shoot!

Image by Lauren Anne Photography via Brie & Gem’s Modern Country Wedding At Stanley Park

5. Blessing From Guests

Blessings don’t just come from  the parents, all your guests can be asked to bestow a blessing for the future happiness of the newly married couple.

Guests are asked to support, share their love, stories and advice – this should be written to reflect the style and personality of the couple.

Matt & Katie Photographers via Catherine & James’ Laidback Country Wedding

Well, I hope these ideas get you thinking of ways in which you can involve your guests in your wedding ceremony, and make your day a true reflection of you and your Love. Don’t let your guests just sit there, let them know how important they are to you, and get them involved! Happy Wedding Day.

Ms Floral Says: Such fun and simple ways to get your guests in on the celebrations! What an easy way to create a joyous and inclusive vibe. Thanks for sharing this with us, Dorothy!

About Dorothy O’Brien: As a former teacher and education leader, I’ve led hundreds of ceremonies and celebrations through the years. I’ve raised toasts to rooms full of tears and fits of laughter, and been a safe pair of hands to coordinate ceremonies large and small.

My passion for helping people celebrate their milestones remains stronger than ever in my career as an authorised celebrant.

I’m here to listen and I love love stories of every kind. I’ll get to know you and weave your story, your style and your values into every part of your celebration. Whether your taste is traditional, quirky, or something in between, we can work together to design your ultimate celebration.

Polka Dot Bride Shop

Em Jensen of Em Jensen Weddings is not your average wedding photographer. She loves to shoot offbeat, quirky and eccentric weddings and elopements. She shoots on film as well as digital, and prefers candid and authentic to posed and corny. Em loves all kinds of alternative celebrations and is all about capturing the vibe of the day. Today, we chat to Em about her photography style, what elements of the wedding day she enjoys the most, and how her former life as a fashion photographer gives her an advantage when it comes to shooting weddings.

How long have you been a wedding photographer?
I’ve been a photographer for about five years, but only really shot my first wedding gig in April of 2019 – it was a 70s themed wedding at a bowls club. The couple rocked up in a kombi, the bride in flares and the groom in a safari suit. It was a pretty killer way to break into the world of weddings.

How would you describe your photography style?
It’s warm and candid, with a hint of retro. I’m a big Wes Anderson fan and I like to think that shines through.

What sets you apart from other wedding photographers?
I never really knew all that much about the wedding industry before joining it, so I think I’ve been lucky to not feel constrained by traditions or rules. I’m just here to capture a good time, to document feelings you can look back on. I also use a lot of less traditional, somewhat old school mediums – things like film, super 8 and polaroids; they help ensure I’m super present because of their simplicity, and they have a beautiful way of translating light that I don’t think digital mediums can replicate. I’m not big into fancy gear and excessive editing, I’m much more focused on capturing the moments happening in front of me.

You’ve also worked in fashion photography – has that helped in any way when shooting weddings?
Oh so much! I worked as the in-house photographer for Dangerfield and Gorman before shooting weddings, and working as a fashion photographer has been so very helpful at teaching me to pick peoples best angles, and give them direction that will not only make them look killer, but also that they feel comfortable and themselves doing. I don’t ever want to over direct because I’m super aware that there’s no one size fits all pose, and even if there was, I want to capture your real feelings, not something fake I told you to do.

Tell us about your studio…
I work from my teeny tiny apartment in lovely Northcote. My desk is in the living room, so I’m constantly surrounded by inspiration as my apartment is filled with collected treasures. When I’m working from home I open up all the windows, burn some candles and listen to records – more often than not, it’s Fleetwood Mac. When it’s warmer I sometimes take my laptop to the pub or the park to soak up some sunshine while I work.

How early should a couple book you in?
It really depends – weekday hitchins normally don’t need loads of notice, but weekends I book pretty far in advance for. At the moment I’m almost booked out for wedding season 2022, but still have availability in 2021. Anywhere from six months to a year before is always a safe bet, but you might get lucky and find a free date if you’re a bit last minute. It’s always worth reaching out.

How do you make a connection with your couples? Why is it so important?
I make sure to grab a drink with my couples and have a chat before they book in. This is a really good way to suss out, from their end and also my end, if we’re comfy around each other. Most of my couples really just feel like my mates – and I know I’m gonna do my best work with them if that’s the case. If we don’t feel comfortable around one another you’re not gonna feel comfortable in front of the camera on the day, and this can translate to you looking stiff and un-comfy in the snaps, so I think it’s super important we meet first. For couples who live interstate, we can still chat over the phone or zoom.

Do you do engagement sessions?
I sure do! I offer engagement sessions on film, polaroid and super 8! Going back to what I just spoke about, they’re also a really good way for us to get to know each other.

What are your favourite weddings to shoot?
I’m all about a country motel wedding, a backyard wedding, a surprise wedding, elopements, dive bar hitchins and lil weddings in sweet little scout halls or bowls clubs. My absolute favourite kind is when the wedding is so filled with the personality of the couple, and not guided by tradition or ‘on trend’ weddings of the time. Make it about you!

Are there parts of the wedding day that stand out – that you particularly enjoy photographing?
I love when I get to be one on one with the couple just after they’ve been legally married to take some couple snaps. Often it’s the first time they get to be alone together as a married couple, and I love seeing them celebrate and be excited together.

You’re Melbourne based. What do you love most about Melbourne weddings?
I am Melbourne based but a lot of the weddings I’ve photographed have been more in country Victoria. I love a good roadtrip and so I’m very keen for a country wedding. There’s so many beautiful places to get hitched here – I shot an elopement in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens which was incredible, and I’ve shot weddings in quite a few of the local bowls clubs, which are a vintage dream. Melbourne is also such a hotspot for creativity and I see this reflected so much in the way couples personalise their weddings – from rocking up on motorcycles, to styling a vintage bridal gown with bright purple glitter boots, to exchanging tattoo ‘vow-chers’ instead of rings. There’s so much creativity in Melbourne weddings.

Are you available for interstate or destination weddings?
I’m a big fan of travel, so HELL YES.

Favourite wedding venues to photograph?
Honestly most of the weddings I shoot aren’t at wedding venues. They’re in a backyard that’s lit up with fairylights, or set up with rugs and champagne in the bush. They’re my favourite kind too – weddings that aren’t at a wedding venue at all.

Most memorable wedding you’ve shot?
I don’t have one most memorable, but last week I photographed a super sweet elopement on film and polaroid. The couple eloped in Lerderderg – he rode in on a motorbike, they put on their cowboy hats, turned up the music, poured champagne for their mates and got hitched next to the river. Then they set up some picnic rugs, ate melted ice-cream cake and spent the afternoon hanging out in the beautiful bushland. It was all pretty dreamy really.

Best testimonial you’ve ever received?
I photographed the most beautiful elopement for Alex and Jesse last year, and they wrote me the sweetest review about how I made them feel super comfortable and relaxed, and how it felt just like hanging out with a friend, which is so so important to me. Someone else once described my work as “David Lynch meets 70s Alice in Wonderland”, which I am pretty stoked about.

When you’re not working, where would we find you?
I spend as much time travelling and on country adventures as possible. So you’d probably most likely find me driving my little convertible, roof down, somewhere deep in the outback where it’s warm and red, and quite likely blasting some bowie or the rolling stones while I’m at it.

Thanks Em for telling us all about your photography and business! We are big fans of your work here at Polka Dot Wedding and love how authentic your shots are. To find out more about the talented Em Jensen, head to her website or check out Em Jensen Weddings on the Polka Dot Directory.

Headshot by Hashem McAdam

Image: Caroline Sada Photography

Getting married is not something you do everyday.

Whether you have a cast of thousands there, or are planning an intentional elopement, it’s one of the most personal and intimate milestones of your life. Because of this, it is so very important that you feel comfortable with the person doing the marrying.

Every marriage celebrant can make you married. But a great celebrant, is one that you click with.

There’s a celebrant out there for everyone.

Image: It’s Beautiful Here

There are entertainers with a huge personalities, word weavers who will tell you story with authenticity, joy and kindness, celebrants who cater to the cosplay crowd and others that ground their ceremony in ritual and love a good hand-fasting under the full moon.

Your relationship with your celebrant starts long before you say ‘I do’. A good celebrant listens to you, and what your hopes are for your wedding. They don’t try to force you into a ‘cookie cutter’ ceremony, or tell you how your ceremony HAS to be. Instead, they are a resource to help you create a moment in time that will be unforgettable and uniquely you.

Image: Kim Cartmell

You form a one of a kind relationship with your celebrant. Your celebrant holds the space for you on your wedding day and the ritual you are undertaking. They facilitate an experience for everyone present. They generate the energy and vibe for your whole wedding celebration. A wedding that is done right, will make the ‘getting married bit’, the highlight of your wedding day.

Image: Sarah Godenzi

So with all this in mind make your choice of your celebrant the first choice you make in your wedding planning. Take the time to look around. Consider more than just the price they charge and whether you’ll get a set of steak knives if you book before the EOFY.

Instead, consider how they make you feel.

Consider whether they are someone you would like to get to know.

Consider whether on your wedding day, when you are standing across from your best friend in the whole world, about to make your vows to each other, whether this celebrant is the person you want to be making this memory with.

Image: Dijana Risteska

Ms Floral Says: This is so true, Megan! Thank you for reminding us all of the importance of connecting with your celebrant.

About Megan Jordan: Megan Jordan is a Melbourne based wedding celebrant who loves bold bright prints and statement earrings. She takes the time to get to know you and what you love about each other. The end result is a wedding ceremony that is light-hearted, warm and full of all the delicious detail that makes it authentically you. She creates ceremonies that are all heart and laughs, making sure that your wedding ceremony is the highlight of your wedding day. When she’s not marrying the best people in town, you can find her digging around in her garden and drinking wine – sometimes at the same time.

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