I’ve said this before, but the best part of being a wedding celebrant is being able to be such a vital part of a couple being able to come together and make their commitment to each other. And that awesomeness is magnified a hundredfold when you are able to marry close friends and family. Andrea and Aaron are two of my closest friends – I met Andrea about 9 years ago, and Aaron and I used to talk on Livejournal. One day I invited him to my birthday party – and he came! And there he met Andy, and the rest is history.
Andy and Aaron each have huge families, and between them they have an INSANE amount of friends (if you’ve ever met either of them, you’d understand why. They are both kind and generous with their time and energy, and they are SO much fun to be with), so their wedding was the largest I’ve ever attended, with 150 guests. So as a celebrant, it’s a bit daunting looking out over all those faces! They already knew they wanted a medieval theme, to celebrate their joint love of history, and they wanted an outdoor, summery event, so they chose Fort Takapuna overlooking the ocean. But the large number of guests meant a full reception would be quite expensive. Their solution was to have a picnic, but more about that later.
Upon arriving at the venue, we were greeted with a group of Norse fighters, who demonstrated some battle skills for the guests (the two warring sides were the Auckland Norse, led by our friend Sam, and the Mercenaries, consisting of our friends Amy, Sam and Kelli). Aaron was walking around looking very spiffy in his medieval gothic shirt, and his sword. The sword was loaned to him by my husband – he was honored that the sword he’d bought for our wedding was able to be part of another wedding for such close friends.
Suddenly, the cars pulled up. The bride’s brother, who was acting as herald, rang his bell, and we watched as the wedding party walked up the path. My husband walked behind them, playing Jethro Tull on his flute. (See, I told you these guys were awesome!) Andy looked stunning in her medieval dress, and Aaron’s daughter looked gorgeous in her dress (designed and made by Amy and Kelli, friends and seamstresses behind Heritage Costume and Design). They joined hands and the guests filed into the hall.
I took my place at the end of the hall, in front of huge windows overlooking the ocean. Aaron stood beside me and we waited (Aaron looking both terrified and amazed) for the bridal party to enter. Andrea, who is a bit (a lot) of a tomboy, didn’t carry a traditional bouquet – she carried a steel rose she made during her days as a welder. She was beaming from ear to ear.
I opened my mouth to begin the ceremony, and to my left, something exploded.
BANG! BANG BANG BANG!
For some reason, all the corks from the champagne bottles were popping!
All you could do was laugh. It was almost like a pre-celebration. I took a deep breath, and we began the ceremony. Aaron and Andy had worked hard to create a ceremony that emphasized what they felt marriage was all about. Their vows were heartfelt and tender, and I talked a lot about some of the traditions of marriage and how they have meaning today. The whole room joined in a song – “Be Mine Tonight” by Blackmore’s Night, which was very moving.
Andrea and Aaron had a sand ceremony, asking their mothers to come forward and mix sand from the beaches where they’d both grown up (white and black sand) in layers to create a beautiful artwork that they keep in their home.
As a celebrant, you always worry that you’re going to get something wrong. And sometimes you do. At the rehearsal, I pronounced Andrea’s last name incorrectly. Which is a silly thing to do, considering I’ve known her for so long. But I realised as I saw it on the page that I’d never actually said it aloud before, so I pronounced it wrong, and got a rightful bollocking. So I knew I had to get it right. During the ceremony I was whispering it under my breath, so I could be sure it would be correct. And then I was so worried about saying it wrong, that I said it wrong! Luckily, Andy knows me well too, and she knew I’d say it wrong, so she just smiled. See, this is why good friends should marry good friends.
So we were done, and they were married! The couple went off for some photographs, and we found our friends and staked out a good spot for a picnic. Aaron’s mum had spent weeks scouring the local markets for second-hand picnic baskets, which they had filled with breads and dips, fancy cheeses and homemade pesto, bottles of water and juice, and all manner of nibbles and treats. We grabbed a couple of baskets and some blankets – also made by a friend – and found a great spot under a tree.
We were all nearly full on the nibbles before dinner was announced, and we entered the hall to find tables heaving under the weight of delicious picnic food – kebabs, samosas, wraps and chicken, delicious salads and savories. Dessert was laid out too – a delicious array of cakes and slices – and the cupcake tower featuring literally the most delicious cupcakes you could ever imagine eating.
So we all gorged ourselves silly. And we were lying in the sun digesting when a Mr. Whippy van pulled up. Aaron and Andy had booked him to come by and give out ice creams for the guests. Could we fit in an ice cream? Of course!
Later, as the weather cooled down, we gathered in the hall for the first dance. Aaron and Andy had hired Tamlin, a local medieval group, for the band, and they had been working on a first dance for the past few weeks. Then the band led us in two hours of spinning and twisting and dancing. I had so much fun!
Throwing a successful wedding is so much more than pretty tables and expensive dresses. What I loved the most about this wedding was how a whole community of people came together to help Andy and Aaron – everything had the touch of love, from sourcing food and baskets, to manning the bar, to helping set up, making costumes, playing music, and me performing the ceremony – everything was given freely and happily by people who these two have touched.
Congrats Andrea and Aaron!
Photography by AMK Photography and Jess Manning Photography.
If you are planning a medieval, pagan, gothic, casual, or other alternative wedding anywhere in New Zealand and need a wedding celebrant, contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I can help you create a ceremony that reflects your own beliefs and personalities. Check out my NZ celebrant page for more info and testimonials.