As you stand before your family and friends, pledging your love and commitment to your partner, it’s only natural to
want your ceremony to be as authentic as it can possibly be. Officiating one of the most important days of your life,
and sharing the tales, connection and promises you have for your partner, the celebrant you choose needs to be one
you not only mesh with, but that you have faith will convey your love story accurately. With more than 800 married
couples under her watch, celebrant Julie Byrne shares her expert advice on crafting an unforgettable ceremony
with Melbourne Wedding & Bride editor, Bethany Hayes.
Photography by: artbyi
Maybe it was a spark that ignited from eye contact across the room, or a slow burn over many years that turned into an undeniable connection, regardless of the unique way you and your partner found each other – and continue to choose and love one another each day – the celebrant that stands proudly alongside you on your wedding day needs to be able to make you feel calm, guide you through your vows and help articulate your connection with absolute clarity. In celebrant Julie Byrne’s thirteen years of experience, giving couples the freedom to complete their wedding ceremony and celebrate their vibe exactly as they imagine, is key.
Making Your Choice
For many couples, choosing to wed with a celebrant they feel a connection with is a natural choice. After all, someone that takes the time to understand you and your partner, and shares the same zest for life and sense of humour, is someone you want standing by you, leading your wedding ceremony. To find your perfect celebrant match, Byrne recommends couples do their research, check reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations and meet up with the celebrant – either online or in person – to see if you click. “Check [the celebrant’s] reviews to see if they [possess] the qualities you’re looking for,” she affirms. “This may be warm and caring light-hearted and relaxed, or super funny and engaging.”
The celebrant also recommends that couples check to see if they feel comfortable and relaxed around their potential celebrant during that first initial meeting – a tell-tale sign that they will be a good fit for you and your partner. “Ensure you feel comfortable with your celebrant and know that they will have your back on the day,” Byrne explains. “Do you feel a vibe from them?” she encourages couples to ask themselves. “We [as celebrants] set the vibe for the remainder of the day, so you want to make the right choice.”
So, how do you know when you’ve struck gold with a celebrant? For Byrne, it’s a combination of “personality and common interests”.
“[Having] laughs, sharing aspects of weddings I enjoy, and stories [which] resonate with the couple. [Plus] discussions [that] flow around commonalities such as football teams, holiday destinations, fur babies, previous couples I’ve married, work and study and experiences with the venue,” she flags. Simply put, when you, your partner and celebrant are a good fit, “the conversation is easy!”
A Vow Of Love
Now that you’ve chosen your celebrant, the next step is working alongside them to craft a ceremony that is an authentic reflection of everything you and your partner love and look forward to. “The couple needs to own their ceremony, it needs to reflect who they are, and celebrate their vibe,” Byrne explains. “That’s why I give couples lots of ideas, sample ceremonies and resources to help guide them to choose, write and manipulate recommendations to their liking. Couples can start crafting their ceremony, with my assistance and input, and I put it all together in the end.”
Unsure where to start? Byrne recommends keeping the vows real, authentic, and true to yourself. The celebrant gives her couples the option of choosing a set of vows as they are, mixing and matching, adding their own personal touch, or starting from scratch with some templates. “Write a draft, pop it away and come back a few days or weeks later with a fresh eye. Do this several times if needed and check with your celebrant too until you’ve nailed it!” she explains. And while you do not need to memorise your vows, make sure you are familiar with them, so you’re confident in what you’re saying in the moment. “On the day, take your time. Stop and breathe when there is punctuation and look at your partner, not just the cue card.”
Interestingly, Byrne doesn’t actually refer to the process as writing your vows – but more so creating them. “Years ago, I stopped using the word ‘write’ when it comes to wedding vows. Instead, I use the term ‘create’. You don’t need to start from scratch or have a blank screen or piece of paper. Do some research by reading a variety of vows and choose the aspects you like, add some thoughts of your own, and suddenly, you have started to create your vows.”
The process of researching and reading will actually assist you to refine your own ideas, and gauge an understanding into what you do and do not want to include.
“Personally, I love the couple giving the ceremony planning a red-hot go before we converse about their choices, ideas and decisions,” Byrne says, encouraging couples to own their story and choices. “Am I there for questions, thoughts and suggestions along the way? Hell yeah!” the celebrant playfully affirms.
Your Bespoke Ceremony
Within the ceremony itself, there are a few requirements to make the union official. “Legally, [both members of the] couple’s full names need to be said, a celebrant needs to recite the Monitum from the Marriage Act and the couple needs to say a legal component in their vows.” From this minimum, Byrne flags that the rest is purely the couple’s choice, with most choosing to include aspects of their relationship, personal vows, potentially a ritual, and a ring exchange.
Looking to the future, Byrne hopes more couples will continue to do their ceremony “their way” as opposed to following the trends of things that have been done in the past, or what is expected from family and friends. “I love smaller and intimate weddings as couples are happy to marry in the morning or mid-week, allowing more business and bookings for us successful wedding vendors as we can be available,” the celebrant notes. “I still love a cracking 150+ ceremony and party though!”
For your unique wedding ceremony, “if you like it or want to do it, go for it!” “I’ve had couples have a tequila shot after the vows, swap chips and hummus rather than rings, carry carrots in the bouquet to represent veganism and marry before anyone arrives and announce upon arrival,” Byrne shares. Ultimately for your wedding ceremony, by doing exactly as you and your partner please, you really can’t go wrong. “Do you and be you!” Byrne attests. “Marry how you want, and have the wedding of your dreams.”