© 2018 by Maria Nati and Contract Channel Pty Limited. All rights reserved.

Maria Nati, Sydney's Greek Marriage Celebrant

Greek wedding traditions, Greek speaking celebrant,

Inter-faith multi-cultural weddings, Same-sex weddings

My News

December is not usually a time for weddings as most people are preparing for the Christmas and New Year festivities and adding a wedding in the mix can be just too stressful to contemplate. Some very determined couples don’t let the silly season stop them but it can and does cause havoc. On a very sunny early afternoon on the Waterfall Terrace at the Notovel Brighton-le-Sands, guests started to arrive steadily about 30 mins prior the ceremony time, all vying for a spot in the shade. As minutes went by, I was slightly concerned to see that the groom and his entourage had not yet arrived. The ceremony time had come and gone and still no groom and definitely no bride. But wait, I can see some commotion up ahead. With some back-slapping following him along the way, the groom was finally making his entrance 15 minutes past the ceremony time. The groom got caught up in the silly season traffic with the bride’s cortege well behind. Oh dear! It was almost an hour after the appointed ceremony time when the bride arrived and the ceremony could start. The guests certainly deserved a drink or two in recognition of their patience and understanding. All in all, it was a great afternoon with lots of laughter and certainly, one to remember.

 

November is a busy month for weddings as Spring temperatures in Sydney are always pleasantly warm and this one was no different. I conducted my first wedding at the beautiful Japanese Gardens in Auburn. It was such a lovely location for the ceremony as well as the post-ceremony photo shoot. A good reason to stay in the suburbs rather than trek to the usual Sydney city location shoots.I also conducted my first wedding at Taronga Zoo in Mosman for a German couple who were visiting Sydney on holiday. I think I found the best vantage point at the Zoo overlooking our fabulous Sydney Harbour. It was like we were on stage with the harbour as our audience. With only the couple and their two witnesses, it was truly a magical experience. Especially when I read Ruth Van Gramberg’s poem An Aussie Blessing. As always, I could not hold back the tears when I read the last few lines. Thank goodness I packed a few tissues in my folder’s sleeve.Unfortunately, the Spring weather didn’t hold out for the wedding at Clontarf Reserve. It stopped raining by the time I arrived and quickly found out that the couple were going to continue with an outdoor wedding. A brave move! A marquis was set up, just in case, to shelter the guests but the bridal party, including me, would be under an open bamboo canopy. I looked up to the heavens and quickly sent out a request to please stop raining for at least three hours which would allow time for the ceremony and a photo shoot afterwards. My prayer was answered when I realised that it started to sprinkle just as my newly-weds were driving off after finishing their post-ceremony photo shoot. My smile was a mile wide as I went home very satisfied that I had a hand in making another couple very happy.

 

My husband and I spent two weeks in October at the beautiful Cook Islands for our third honeymoon (honeymoons should never stop!).  We spent the first week at The Sanctuary which is part of Rarotongan Beach & Spa resort where we re-discovered the art of doing nothing!  We spent the days riding our scooter around the island, having lunch at different resorts, swimming, snorkelling and making sure we got back in time for happy cocktail hour!  I did enjoy the Island Time cocktail, with four shots in one glass, I only needed the one!  The second week was spent at the Aitutaki Lagoon Beach & Spa resort which I think is one of the premier honeymoon resorts in the Pacific.  The resort is situated right on the lagoon on its very own small private island and is popular with couples, newly-wed, married or otherwise.  However, the couple that had me most enthralled was the ethereal white birds called Lover Tern or White Tern.  They have pure white plumage and fly gracefully overhead.  They mate for life and appear to whisper to each other.  Whenever I saw one flying above, its mate would be seen soon after.  How appropriate for these love birds to be flying above a honeymoon island.  If you are thinking about spending time with your Lover, then I highly suggest that you visit Aitutaki.

 

In September, I had the pleasure of conducting two weddings in very different surroundings.  The first one was at Vaucluse House and the second at Clarke’s Point, Hunters Hill.  I had never been to these locations before so it was very exciting for me.  The wedding at Vaucluse House was conducted on the front lawn next to the Love Garden (I want one of these in my backyard!!) which was very traditional with a string trio playing beautiful classic music.  Clarke’s Point is right on the harbour overlooking the Harbour Bridge and is a popular picnic spot and sailing area.  The couple held their reception in a nearby restaurant which is a plus for the couple as well as their guests.  Sydney has so many beautiful locations that we are truly spoilt for choice.  This is another reason why I love being a celebrant.  Discovering new locations in my home town and conducting a wedding there is a wonderful experience.  I have spent a lot of time investigating the best wedding locations around Sydney and have listed these under Sydney venues and added links to take you directly to the relevant website.  I have only included venues that are run by local councils, heritage trusts or other government departments.  I think it would be a fantastic achievement to conduct a wedding at each of these fabulous sites.

 

August was a brilliant month for weddings with splendid weather! Spring has certainly come early this year. All my weddings were graced with spectacularly warm weather for this time of the year. The wedding on 24 August at Balmoral Rotunda brought back very fond memories for me. Firstly, 24 August was my 28th Engagement Anniversary and secondly, the Balmoral Rotunda was the location for my official wedding photos. Indeed, we chose Balmoral for our wedding photos because it held a special place in our hearts during our courtship years. Every time I go back there, it takes me back to that part of my life when we were both so very young and drunk on romantic love. This had me thinking about how important it is to choose the right ceremony location. When I say ‘right’, I mean ‘right for you’. The very next day, I conducted a wedding at Berry Island Reserve but not on the manicured lawn. Instead, we all trekked through the bushland, to the end of the trail, where there was a small decked lookout. The small number of guests perched themselves where they could, with some of the men scaling the rocks to get a higher view. Although different, I couldn’t help thinking what a lovely, secluded spot for a ceremony. I could just imagine the couple coming back to this spot every year to celebrate their anniversary with a small picnic consisting of red wine, camembert, prosciutto, olives and a baguette – they are Italian and French after all!

 

In July, I conducted my first Thursday wedding which was in the afternoon on a glorious sunny winter’s day. Sure Saturday and Sundays are the most popular but more and more people are choosing mid-week weddings with Friday being the most popular. There are various reasons but the most common ones are:

  • to keep the costs down – significant savings overall compared to a Saturday wedding

  • to secure the venue of their dreams – easier to book popular venues

  • to be married on a specific date, either an anniversary date or a numerologically quirky date, like Wednesday, 11/12/13.

One of the things to consider, however, is whether your guests are willing to take a day off work to attend your wedding and another day afterwards for recovery, especially if the celebrations finish in the wee hours of the morning. The best thing to do is to ask your inner circle of family and close friends whether a mid-week wedding would be ok with them and if so, then you’re safe in the knowledge that at least, your closest and dearest will be there. However, many of your other guests may not be prepared to take a day or two off, so expect more apologies. On the other hand, if you are looking to naturally cut down numbers, choosing a mid-week wedding may be an option for you.

 

This June, Sydney had its rainiest June in many, many years. Out of the four weddings I conducted, only one was under the winter sunshine, the rest were blessed with rain. One constant thing I noticed was that all couples were so focussed on each other, instead of the weather, that it could have been snowing in Sydney and they wouldn't have cared!

No doubt many couples were fretting about the weather on their big day. My constant advice to all my couples is plan what you need to, then relax on the day and take it as it comes. At the end of the day, it's the little quirks that will stay with you and make your day memorable. How boring if everything went like clock-work! Life is not like that so don't expect your wedding to be like that. If you're not flexible, resilient and adaptable, how will you react with life's ups and downs?

 

In May, I had the absolute pleasure of conducting a Renewal of Marriage Vows ceremony on the couple’s 10th wedding anniversary at a lookout point at Shelley Beach, Manly. After heavy rains the day before, the sun came out in all its glory (actually, it was a bit too hot for me!). It was a low key event with only two other families in attendance. The bespoke ceremony included a short story about them and their future aspirations and also involved their young daughter. Afterwards, the couple and their friends continued the celebration over a casual lunch at one of the many restaurants in Manly. What a great way to celebrate a big anniversary!

Many people ask me why have a renewal of marriage vows ceremony where I usually respond with why not. Why not celebrate your love with a ceremony in the presence of your family and friends?

Why not reaffirm your commitment every five or ten years, especially if those years were a bit bumpy? Why not have a ceremony that you’ve always dreamed of but didn’t have at the time?

Renewing your vows is a truly special event and it does strengthen your marriage and bring you even closer as a couple and as a family. Recently, the grandparents of a friend of mine celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary with a renewal of vows ceremony. I saw the beautiful and touching photos of them holding hands while exchanging their vows surrounded by their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. This is such a lovely way to bring the whole family together to celebrate a momentous occasion in the family history.

 

In April, we were blessed by wonderful weather. There have been times when I thought that for sure, the ceremony would have to be redirected to the indoor contingency venue, but alas, the sun made a last minute appearance making lots of brides very happy indeed.

If you are planning on an outdoor wedding, no matter the season, it’s always a good idea to have a back-up plan, in case mother-nature is not co-operating. Most people immediately think of rain as the only reason for having a back-up plan, which is of course, the most obvious reason. However, don’t underestimate other weather situations that can challenge your outdoor ceremony.

For instance, very windy weather conditions can be almost disastrous to your wedding with clothing and hair malfunctions for you and your guests. Also, the windy weather plays havoc to any PA system making it very difficult for your guests to hear the ceremony. I conducted a wedding earlier this year, near the beach, on a sunny but very windy day. The candle stayed lit in the hurricane lamp but I was so nervous about the sand taking flight during the sand ceremony. The microphone was so close to my mouth, it looked like I was kissing it!

Very sunny, hot days can pose some problems too, especially for the younger and older guests. Being dressed up in semi-formal or formal wedding attire, can be very uncomfortable in extreme heat conditions, not to mention, the melting makeup and glistening, red faces. Hot days are not restricted to summer - April has had a lot of hot days this year. Eleven am on 13 April, at the Rotunda, Herb Garden, Royal Botanic Gardens is a case in point. While waiting for the ceremony to commence, guests took cover under the shade of nearby trees, as the seating area was in direct sunshine. Later, many guests came up to me to let me know how much they enjoyed the ceremony, although, they would have enjoyed it a bit more had it not been under the direct sun. Venue permitting, you might want to think about having big outdoor umbrellas or even a sunshade in place. The next day, at Elkington Park, Balmain, my very astute bride opted to have the ceremony under the grace and beauty of the fig tree rather than out on the point, under the sun, overlooking the water. Most guests told me that they were grateful to have the wedding under the shade.

Controlling the weather is one thing that you cannot do – sorry girls! You can check past weather patterns to assess the chances of good / bad weather on your day but that is no guarantee on the day. So no matter the season or the reason, always have a back-up plan ready. You and your guests will be very happy that you did.

 

March was a month devoted to enquiries and meeting lots of new couples. Most couples book around 6 - 9 months before the wedding. Others leave only 1 - 3 months and others are super keen and book up to 18 months before. It all depends on the size of the wedding and how long the engagement.

When I receive a new enquiry, I like to meet the couple either face to face, by phone or even on Skype so we can get to know each other and chat about the wedding and what the couple wants for their ceremony. This is also the time to see if we have similar styles - I'm pretty flexible so I tend to mix in with lots of styles and people. It's very important to feel a connection with the person who will marry you! 

At this time, I usually take the couple through my portfolio and explain how it all works, from the legals to the ceremony to beyond - my service does not end with the ceremony. We will also work out which package will suit the couple's wedding plans. Some couples book me straight away while others like to go away and think about it, which is perfectly fine with me. At the end of the day, I think that the couple needs to be happy with whom they've chosen. And, of course, I like to feel a mutual connection with my couple - so many have since become my friends.

Once booked, we can commence the fun part of designing the ceremony! This is when the couple have some 'homework' to do to work out what they would like to include in their ceremony - there's so many choices. This is the creative part of the process which is very exciting. For the first time, the wedding becomes 'real' as the couple can now visualise the ceremony. And of course, there is the rehearsal and last minute fine-tuning a week before the big day.

A couple books me to perform their ceremony because they can trust me to do a fabulous job to make their day truly memorable. I value this trust and always do my very best to make them happy.

 

February was a busy month for me! The weather was a bit unpredictable and I'm sure many brides out there were nervous about how their big day would pan out. Just goes to show that no matter how much effort you put in the planning, you're still susceptible to the weather - scorching hot days, blustering winds or torrential rain! If you keep your spirits high and your smile wide, your family and friends will do the same and what the weather is doing will be secondary.

My first wedding of the month was on the 8th of February which coincidentally was my own 27th  wedding anniversary. It was so exciting to conduct a ceremony on this auspicious day! The actual ceremony was on a catamaran at twilight at Farm Cove on Sydney Harbour in front of 45 people. The city lights, Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background were dazzling. My couple and their guests thoroughly enjoyed the ceremony and reception - it was such a fantastic evening! I had a lovely glass of champagne and felt on top of the world!!

On the 9th  of February, it was a lavish affair on a sunny afternoon at the beautiful Miramare Gardens at Terrey Hills. The groom arrived in a spectacular white Ferrari with red leather seats, preceded by two Harley Davidson. The groom surprised his lovely bride by arranging a gorgeous Cinderella carriage drawn by two white horses. Talk about being a princess for a day! The couple chose to have a Unity Candle Ceremony where their mothers lit their individual tapers handing them over for the couple to light their single candle. The wind was challenging us and we had a few misses but in the end, we nailed it! It's times like this that perseverance does pay off. So many guests came up to me later, congratulating me on a wonderful and meaningful ceremony. I had such a good time making my couples and their guests happy. I found out later that the reception was also a success so the bride and groom were ecstatic that all their hard work in planning their day had paid off.

 

January was such a beautiful month. The air was warm, people were on holidays and feeling very loving towards each other. There were lots of enquiries as so many people get engaged during the Christmas / New Year period. It is when most people want to book me for their special day. My first wedding was for Trish and William. I think it was a fantastic start to a new year and a new life together. The day was hot and windy and I knew that there would be many people picnicking at Clontarf Reserve. These very lucky people became bystander witnesses and I could see from their lovely smiles that they were honoured to be there on that day. We had a glorious day which you can see for yourself by clicking onto the Slideshow. I also conducted two special weddings on Australia Day and both of them were conducted in Greek and held at their homes making it very intimate and meaningful. I'm sure later that night Greek music was played loudly as plates were smashed with everyone shouting "OPA!".