Remembering a Handwritten Ceremony

From when I was first registered in 1995, way before Facebook was imagined, I used to take a photograph of every couple and had multiple, beautiful albums filled with photos and thank you cards.

Today, as I decluttered filing cabinets and cupboards, I came across all the photo albums. Pages and pages of smiling couples, baby naming photos (of children who would now be in their 20’s) and newspaper clippings. I loved working with each and every couple. I know some of them are divorced now, yet all of the couples I worked with were enthusiastic, engaged with love and wanting to celebrate. From ongoing connections with many of the couples I also know that some of them are still going strong in their relationship despite the up’s and down’s that are a part of any intimate relationship.

I took lots of photos of the many photo album pages and then ceremoniously disposed of these beautiful memories.

Now onto the marriage registers, keeping the last seven years records for legal purposes. They are almost museum worthy as in a few years I imagine there will be very few celebrants who will be using a this style of register!

A story…

The register on top still has a handwritten ceremony in the back pages. It was in 1999 and the bride, who was a friend, had rang me on the morning of the wedding not long before I was to leave, to make a change to the ceremony. So diligently, I took my folder out of my bag and reprinted another copy of the ceremony with the changes.Half an hour later, I drove to Valla Beach from the Jetty and arrived with the usual 3/4 hour time to greet the set up team, test my PA and put out my folder when I noticed my ceremony book was missing. I can still feel the heart in my mouth moment. As soon as I realised, I triple checked yet I knew where the book and the ceremony were. At home near the printer.

None of my family was at home and in 1999, I was the only one with a mobile phone. I rang a neighbour and no answer. I rang friends who lived nearby. Finally, I found someone who went over and, to the credit of my house security, they could not break in.These were the days before everyone had a mobile or smart phone so things were tight. This sounds like the old days and it is, because a lot of IT things we take for granted nowadays, like everyone having access to internet and mobile phones, were not commonplace. Hotmail hadn’t even been around long! I remember not having a Windows program and also recall posting copies of client questionnaires, agreements and ceremonies to clients!

Back in Valla Beach, I told the groom what had happened, he was very relaxed about it all.

I remembered the poem they had chosen was On Marriage by Kahlil Gibran – I rang another friend and wrote that out. It was a start. However, while I knew their story of meeting and could recount it adlib, I really needed their personally written vows.

Finally, one of my friends was able to log into my email account and access a copy of the ceremony. There was no time for her to drive to Valla Beach from Coffs Harbour for the ceremony  to start at 11am so I hand wrote the ceremony into the back pages of my book as she read it out to me. My hand ached from writing so fast.

We started the ceremony pretty close to time, I had to get the bride to do one extra lap of the block and then, cool, calm and collected delivered the ceremony. I can laugh about it now but at the time it was nerve-racking.