Technology and the Modern Wedding

It would be fair to say, that the biggest impact on the modern wedding comes from recent advances in technology.

From the moment a couple begin planning their wedding, to their departure at their reception into married life, modern technology will have played a key role. Put simply, the modern wedding is spiraling vertically through a range of exciting technological nuances.

The Internet, Social Media, & Web Security

The first and most obvious advance, is the way couples use the Internet to plan, shop, and research every aspect of their wedding day. From the comfort of their home, wedding couples literally trawl social media sites and wedding portals, gathering, comparing, and shortlisting everything from ceremony venues, dresses and flowers, to event hire companies, cars and celebrants.

The Internet has arguably empowered modern wedding couples, especially with the development of social media sites that help couples to accurately authenticate and verify particular suppliers and services.

Credit card services and online transactions have also become more secure in recent years, and are virtually second nature to the modern bride and groom. This means that securing wedding services and suppliers is dramatically accelerated, not to mention more convenient.

Wireless and ‘i’ Devices

Another major advance in technology is the explosion of wireless and next generation devices. The big plus is that couples can connect and communicate from just about anywhere; 24 hours a day, once again, speeding up the marriage planning process exponentially.

As a celebrant, I notice more and more couples supplying their ceremony music (and reception music) on ‘i’ devices or USB memory sticks. I’ve even witnessed couples read their personal vows from their ‘i’ device, which can be downloaded in realtime from a Cloud Service.

My own personal presentation method is sourced from an Apple iPad, giving me enormous flexibility as a presenter (during a ceremony) to capture images, record video, play music, expand text size, increase backlighting, or connect to the Internet (if required).

As an MC, I have witnessed couples receive ‘Telegrams’ (at their reception) via text, as well as play (previously uploaded) youTube videos through a projector, creating an entirely new reception segment.

The ‘i’ Camera

Another major advance in the modern wedding, is the ‘i’ camera. It seems everyone is a photographer, and it’s now commonplace for guests to ‘snap’ eagerly during a wedding ceremony, often keen to be the first to post an image (of the happy couple) to a social media site.

The ‘i’ camera has also seen several wedding services become (virtually) obsolete, such as: the reception portrait photographer who (in days gone by), would capture couples sitting happily together at their table, and charge handsomely for the priviledge; or the humble ‘disposable camera’, that would be ubiquitously used as a bombonierre.

The video function on most ‘i’ devices, has also led to a decline in couples hiring a professional videographer, where as the advances in SLR video cameras has seen the fusion of the professional photographer and professional videographer, because the high definition quality of video can virtually be used to extract precise photographic stills.

Skype

Another fascinating feature of the modern wedding, is (arguably) the ability to Skpye. This enables guests (who are unable to attend a wedding), to watch the ceremony from afar. I have performed many weddings, where Skype has been used to transmit ‘live’ images to overseas guests, the elderly and even the unwell.

Who would have thought that you could watch your closest friends or relatives get married, from the comfort of an off-site location, for free!

3D Printers

For me, the most exciting (and daunting) of all modern technologies, is the recent development of the 3D printer (aimed at the consumer market). The mind simply boggles at the possibilities, especially for wedding couples.

Couples will be able to (and already can) print everything from their bombonierre, table centre pieces, bridal jewellery, shoes, and just about anything else that can be imagined. The effect this will have on wedding suppliers and services is yet to be assessed, but (without doubt) 3D printing technology will reshape the consumer landscape.

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In a Manner of Speaking

In a recent survery, people were asked: “On a scale from 1 through 10 (with 10 being the worst), what is it that you are most afraid of in life?” At number 9, most people chose ‘death’ as the thing they most feared. At number 10 was public speaking!

In Australia there are thousands of registered civil celebrants, each with a personal or particular reason for becoming an officiant of marriage. For some celebrants, it’s the joy of meeting couples (who are excited about their upcoming wedding day), for others it’s the creation of the ceremonial event, and being involved in a finite outcome.

But (arguably) the overarching skill that is required, is the ability for a celebrant to conduct an actual ceremony with both poise, finesse, professionalism, and eloquence.

It may seem obvious, but public presentation skills and the ability to manage an event from start to finish are absolutely paramount. Above all, a celebrant is remembered for their performance during a wedding ceremony, how they speak, how they interact with the audience, and how seamlessly they deliver the programme.

The art of public speaking is more than a phenomena, it goes to the very heart of human fear, the fear of being exposed as non-credible or a fraud. Public speaking is more than just a skill, and can take many years to master. It requires the application of a simple (yet often intangible) formula:

Anxiety (on stage) = Personal Fear versus Expectation

Expectation = Audience Perception versus Personal Self Esteem

Personal Fear = A lack of Confidence versus Under-preparing for the task or Presentation

After a lifetime on the stage, I am continually learning about the varying elements of the above formula

Space & Time

For many public speakers, anxiety triggers a need to talk quickly and (sometimes) incoherrently. I have learnt that formulated (calculated) space whilst speaking, is one of the keys to effective and concise performance delivery. Hearing the subtle ‘decay’ at the end of a sentence, pausing slightly, then resuming with a measured ‘attack’ on a fresh sentence.

Listening to an Audience

A critical element of public speaking is the ability to ‘listen to an audience’. By this I am referring to the way a public speaker should watch closely an audiences natural movements. A public speaker should also be intimately tuned to an audiences general rise and fall, their chatter, laughter type, demographic appeal, and any unexpected curve-balls or nuances.

Self Esteem

Possibly the most difficult battle to win (onstage), is the battle being waged in all of us. Standing alone (and presenting) in front of a crowd exposes every chink in our social armour, so it is critical that (as public speakers) we must love who we are, love what we are saying, and embrace how we are saying it.

There must be no-doubt that the overall ‘pitch and roll’ of the content, it’s delivery, and the person delivering it are all asynchronous.

To Infinity & Beyond

Preparation is paramount.

There is an old saying: “You need to be twice as good in rehearsal, to be half as good (as you think you will be) on the day”. There is nothing that builds confidence like knowing the material.

Warming up prior to an event (or performance) is also very important. Doing yogic breathing, stretching, or doing vocal exercises are all key to essential preparation. Many public speakers miss this vital step.

Success on the stage as a public speaker is a learnt skillset, that is continually added to after each event. Watching, listening, and being open to new skills and ideas, will help mould a public speaker.

How Marriage Does Not Change Your Name

It has long been an anomaly amongst females in Australia, but what actually really happens to a bride’s surname after marriage?

If you were to ask the majority of married ladies from Gen ‘X’ and earlier, you would find that the resounding answer reaffirms how the bride denounces her maiden name, in favour of her married partner’s surname.

I often hear (from brides [and older ladies] getting married for the second time), how they plan to change their previously married name ‘back’ (?) to their maiden name.

What is fascinating about the above argument, is that it is completely erroneous with (absolutely) no legal basis.

A Look at Why?

The first element effecting name usage is referenced in the Australian Marriage Act which was legislated in 1961. Despite the fact that we still follow the Westminster system (in part), there was arguably a change in the legal direction of marriages at about that time, most notably the paradigm shift toward civil ceremonies (as distinct from non secular ideals).

The second element is the Attorney General’s (AG) office, which is responsible for instating the rules of marriage in Australia, whilst ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ (a division of the AG office) is responsible for recording implicit details about the population’s social movement in order to track lineage, estates, rites of passage and so on. For this very reason, the most accurate records kept by (BDM) are those that record both past and present data.

When a female gets married in Australia for the first time, she enters her ceremony with her maiden name (the name on her birth certificate). Her (maiden) name cannot be changed by marriage, since there is absolutely no mechanism in the Marriage Act for that to occurr. However (once married), she may use her partner’s surname legally (if she so chooses).

I would like to briefly point out an interesting nuance. A female getting married for the second time, will enter her ceremony with both her maiden name and her previously married name. A female getting married for the third time, will enter her ceremony with her maiden name, plus her two previously married names and so on.

The office of Births, Deaths & Marriages produces an Official Marriage Certificate for the newly wedded couple, which (subtly) displays how the name usage will be applied. For example, the Official Marriage Certificate shows both the groom’s full name and the bride’s (maiden) name, indirectly inferring that the parties to marriage have a legal right to use each other’s surnames (if they so choose).

The important point is, that at no stage (during the marriage process) does anything physical happen, that changes either the bride or groom’s birth certificate. In effect, this means that a marital name change is an administrative change only.

It may be worth noting that the ‘rite of passage’ (when it comes to legal name usage) is bidirectional, meaning that the exact same rules apply to the male (although it is rare for a male to use the female’s surname).

So for all those Gen ‘X’ ladies that are of the belief that their name changed once they were married, the news is that it didn’t. They simply earned the right to use another person’s name, if they so chose.

The only sure-fire way for a bride to change her surname (permanently), is to effect a physical name change on their birth certificate, a step which is completely unnecessary (as far as marriage is comcerned). Having said that, couples who choose to hyphenate or combine their surnames, would definitely need to perform a physical name change on their birth certificate, since they are creating a new instance of a name (a point that is not covered in the Marriage Act).

What name to sign?

On her wedding day (once she is married), a bride may choose to sign one of several names on her marriage certificates. Whilst many brides will sign using their maiden name (or the name they are most used to signing), there is a contingent of bride who creates a new signature on her wedding day, for the sole purpose of celebrating the acceptance of a new name.

An important (misunderstood) point that I hear echoed frequently, is that the latter signature does not have to be an exact carbon copy of it’s successors, since signatures are simply our own recognition of ourselves, and have no other real-life or legal basis.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, the act of marriage has no physical impact on a bride or groom’s surname, other than the impact of the choice they make if deciding to adopt their partner’s surname.

Gen ‘Y’ – Changing 2,000 Years of Marriage Tradition

For nearly 2,000 years, the Catholic church has been at the centre of marriage tradition in the western world. With specific doctrine regarding such points as; who could wed, where a marriage could be solemnised, what would be said, how it would be said, what music would be acceptable, and who would officiate.

The Catholic church has also changed it’s stance on marriage several times throughout the millennia, most notably from it’s original introduction of marriage as a form of ‘branding’ (in early AD), to the union of a man and a women (in current day).

However, it is arguably the church’s inability to move (quickly) and change with the times, that has prompted a recent mass migration away from the Catholic church’s style of marriage ceremony. In particular, the church’s view towards women in marriage, and their pledge to ‘serve and obey’.

Gen ‘Y’ has been one of the major drivers of this revolution, applying the same liberation to modern marriage ceremonies that they apply to just about everything else. Marriage ceremonies (for the first time in 2,000 years) are no longer the domain of the powerful Catholic church, but suddenly being driven by a generation that has little to no interest in outdated doctrine.

Furthermore, Gen ‘Y’ is (unknowingly) developing a style of marriage ceremony that is both sustainable and appealing to the greater population. Gen ‘Y’ style ceremonies incorporate a much more relaxed approach to ceremony music, where a ceremony can be held, what can be said, who can wed, and who can officiate.

One of the most notable advances in marriage ceremonies driven by Gen ‘Y’, is their focus on the (importance of) guests, as well as the elevation of the ‘female’ as the focal point. The latter argument is supported by the positive language that has been incorporated into modern wedding ceremonies, that portrays the female as an equal of the male.

Interestingly, not all of the traditions sanctioned by the Catholic church have been ousted by Gen ‘Y’. In fact, several folklore traditions are practiced regularly by liberated secular couples, most notably; the wearing of a veil (by the bride), the giving-away of the bride (by the father), the carrying of bouquets by the bridesmaids, and the seating of the guests on specific sides of the ceremonial space.

The most obvious reason why some of the folklore traditions are still practiced by secular Gen ‘Y’ couples, is because they form the basic foundation of a marriage ceremony, without conflicting or encroaching the liberated ideals of the current generation. However, the types of veils, the side the father walks on, the types of bouquets, and the side that the guests are seated, are often modified to suit the liking of the modern couple, without the anguish of contravening doctrine.

As more and more couples choose to be wedded outside the jurisdiction of the church, it will be very interesting to see if non-secular institutions adopt a more relaxed (updated) approach to wedding ceremonies in the next milennia.

A Look at Common Marriage Rituals

When couples begin planning their wedding ceremony, they invariably discover a myriad of marriage rituals.

What are marriage rituals?

Put simply, marriage rituals are a physical representation of a couple’s unification and their journey going forward. Rituals are often simple in structure, and may incorporate close family and friends, together with a range of props.

The trick with rituals (during a wedding ceremony), is to keep them both brief and interesting, whilst delivering a meaningful symbolism. It is very important that the guests can see (exactly) what is transpiring, and that they understand the point of the ritual.

What are the more common rituals?

For centuries, couples of Catholic denomination have commonly performed a candle lighting ritual (also known as a unification ritual). Today, this practice extends beyond the church, and is performed regularly in civil ceremonies (often where [at least] one partner is Catholic). It is also worth noting that the candle lighting ceremony is often avoided by non-denominational couples, for fear of sending the wrong spiritual message.

In western civil ceremonies (where religious denomination is negligible), the most commonly performed ritual is (arguably), the ‘pouring of the coloured sands’. This ritual is very appealing, because it (often) involves parents and close family, whilst the wedded couple have a colourful keepsake (memento) of the day.

Other commonly performed rituals are the ‘warming of the rings’ or the ‘blessing of the rings’. Once again, couples can invite family and close friends to partake (forming a circle around the bride and groom), whilst the bride and groom stand in the centre. The wedding rings are passed into the circle, and physically blessed by the participants.

The release of creatures is also quite popular amongst brides and grooms, generally as a symbol of hope; the most common creatures are homing doves and monarch butterflies.

Other rituals include; the cutting of the ribbon, the hand blessing, the honey & lemon ceremony, and (my personal favourite) the Pagan Hand-fasting (which I will discuss in greater detail in an upcoming post).

My personal view is that the best wedding ceremonies are the ones that have multiple elements, incorporating strong symbolic meaning. It is also vital that couples select a ritual that they can both identify with, and that accurately portrays their union.

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Melbourne Beach Weddings – You’ll Be Blown Way

So you are getting married, and you are contemplating a beach wedding in Melbourne? What are the attractions and common pitfalls?

As a celebrant based in a region that lies 1,600km to the south of the Tropic of Capricorn, I am always perplexed by the thought of a ‘dream’ beach wedding. There are a number of rather obvious considerations that seem to elude even the brightest of wedding couples.

Melbourne (Australia) is a great city (especially for weddings), a city of fresh (quasi) arctic air, parks, cafes and fine fresh food. But what Melbourne isn’t, is a city known for it’s warm climate, at least not consistently. To the south is the small island state of Tasmania, and beyond that (4,000km to the south) is Antarctica.

The city of Melbourne is fortunately chaperoned by Port Phillip Bay, with an opening to Bass Strait (at Point Nepean) lying about 120km to the SE. It’s the anatomy of Port Phillip Bay that causes the most headaches for brides wanting a ‘dream’ beach wedding.

The heads at Point Nepean act as a draught-corridor for the winds coming from the south. The winds often blow through the heads, and hit the shore line along the beaches around Melbourne, often gusting along the popular foreshore from Port Melbourne to Frankston. For this reason alone, beach weddings (in this part of Melbourne) are often wind swept, causing issues with audio, ceremony decorations, and of course ‘the bridal party’s hair.

Whilst the bay’s tides are generally small, the weather (on the other hand) can turn reasonably quickly. For this reason, wedding couples should think carefully about their plan of attack, and (at very least) have a contingency plan.

I have rarely done a wedding on the beach (anywhere in the Melbourne area), that hasn’t been affected by one of the elements, but in nearly every instance, wind gusts have been an issue.

I recall doing a wedding at Green Point (Brighton), where the contingency plan was to erect a marquee if the weather turned. The only issue was that the wind gusts were so strong, the marquee company was unable to anchor a single peg. We proceeded with the ceremony, which was hammered by wind gusts that exceeded 70kmh.

In another instance (at Mordialloc Beach), I recall that the wind gusts were so strong, that I ushered a guest to hold down my sound-system during the ceremony. Aside from the rain, the seagulls, and the obvious issue for females walking through sand in 3″ high heels, beach weddings in Melbourne never seem to (quite) live-up to their reputation.

Online Marriages – The New Revolution

One of the first questions I ask couples when I meet with them, is ‘how did you meet’?

The interesting answer I used to get (several years ago) was, ‘we would rather not say’, suggesting their meeting was either embarrassing (in some way) or contraversial. I would often push the couple to share their story, and quite often they conceded.

What I began to find out was that (more and more) couples were meeting online, either via social media or (more commonly) via one of the myriad of online dating sites.

It is interesting that in 2014, the stigma of meeting a future partner online appears to have all-but dissipated, paving the way for a new socially acceptable way for couples to meet. In fact, my experience is that over 80% of second-time married couples meet online, since the inconvenience of going to a bar or nightclub (especially for parents with small children), seems unfeasible.

The question is, whether meeting a partner online is better than meeting at a bar or nightclub? There is a plethora of information debating this exact topic, however (as a civil celebrant) I am a strong advocate of online meetings (that eventuate in marriage).

The most poignant variant to online meetings (as opposed to real-world meetings) is that couples (especially females) have the power of coherent and calculated choice, with an ability to make a clearer assessment about a future partner, based on their intellectual compatibility (as opposed to physical attributes).

I believe that (since marriage is for life) it is far more important that couples are paired according to how they interact intellectually, rather than how they interact physically. What I am experiencing with couples (that meet online), is that they (often) seem ‘better connected’ than couples who meet in the real-world.

However, it would be naive of me if I didn’t factor in the importance of physical attraction, so (yes) of course that is a contributing factor, it’s just that it is ‘not the main factor’.

So is the online method of meeting here to stay, or is it just a passing phase? My guess is (based on the way humans now interact) it is definitely here to stay, and (in the not too distant future), will become the definitive way by which couples choose to meet.