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Author Archives: Ellen

Welcome To My Website!

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Ellen was a delight to work with from the very first meeting til the big day itself. She was a consummate professional and put us at ease throughout the process of writing vows and choosing readings. Ellen is young, modern and versatile. She understood that we wanted the wedding to be “us” – laid back, fun, yet special. She delivered that and more. We would not hesitate in recommending Ellen Spalding as the perfect celebrant for your wedding.

Hanna and Paul

To be a celebrant has to be one of the best  jobs in the world!

I get to meet a whole range of people from every walk of life, who are  putting together what will invariably be one of the most important days of their lives. Maybe there is a Wedding or Commitment to plan, or a Funeral for a dearly loved family member. Sometimes these big moments are joyous, sometimes they are difficult, often they are both, but the human connections that occur at this time can be truly powerful and precious.

Whatever celebration is being prepared, the honour and pleasure of working with individuals, couples and families to create celebrations that say everything they want to say, is truly immense.

While I am based in Yarraville, I have had clients from all over Melbourne, so please head up to the above menu for some testimonials, some pics and to find out more about how I work.

Enjoy!

A warm recommendation from wedding photographers (and clients), Hilary & Charlie.

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I was fortunate to preside over the weddings of a wonderful pair of photographers, Hilary and Charlie, both of whom have tied the knot in the last couple of years, (not to each other, just to be clear!) They have just recommended me on their beautiful website, hilaryandcharlie.com.au, under their Friends of Hilary and Charlie page. And if you are looking for a wedding photographer, check out their very distinctive, elegant and unique style, they rock!

ELLEN SPALDING is a celebrant based in Melbourne who married both of us, and we also saw her in action before that at Ross and Miriam’s wedding which we photographed in 2013. Ellen is a wonderful lady who has a calm and collected manner. Ellen’s attention to detail is second to none, as is her ability to maintain complete control of the ceremony without feeling at all invasive or bossy. Even after only meeting her a few times Ellen had the presence at both our weddings of a close family friend. We can’t recommend her enough.

Why Ceremony?

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“Rituals anchor us to a centre while freeing us to move on and confront the everlasting unpredictability of life.
Robert Fulgham

Anthropologists claim that our instinct for ceremony is part of what defines us as human.

Ceremonies create a space outside the buzz and hustle of everyday life. For a moment we take ourselves into a powerful, sacred space in which we are able to say something about ourselves and our relationships to others, in a way that is simply not possible in the day-to-day world.

It is easy for modern people to forget that there are actually opportunities to express emotions and connect with each other in really significant ways, which lie outside of the everyday. In a ceremony, we transform time, we transform space, and we transform ourselves, to nourish a part which is so often neglected. Most importantly, ceremonies can offer a unique and profound opportunity to express love for the people in our lives, leaving us with a sense of joy and gratitude.

This is innate within us, and it is a vital ingredient in the mix of what makes up a healthy, well-nourished life. To feel like you want to take the step to publicly commit to your partner, acknowledge your baby’s place in your family or create a beautiful funeral for a loved one, you are expressing an authentic, worthwhile and meaningful human desire.

Once you have made the decision to create that sacred space, the important thing is to make it as close to perfect as it can be. That is where I come in. My job is to work with you, to really listen and get to know you. By doing that I can create the ceremony that truly means the world – to you.

So, let’s do it! Call me on 0407 058 006.

Love in the West

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danerin4Happily, I get plenty of inquiries from fellow Westies who are wanting to formalise their partnerships with a great ceremony.

I love working with local couples who want to make the most of all that the west-side has to offer. As a passionate Yarraville resident, it’s great to get a chance to meet members of my own community and to work together to make a ceremony that really reflects who they are. So if you’re from Yarraville, Seddon, Newport, Williamstown, Footscray and environs, I’d love to chat with you further about your plans for your big day.

However, please don’t think for a minute that this means that I’m not available for couples from other parts of Melbourne! My moto is, ‘have small white car, will travel’, and I would love to hear from you, wherever you live.

danerin3So please feel free to drop me an email with an enquiry to celebrant@ellenspalding.com.au
or call on 0407 058 006.

The Outdoor Wedding

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Pic: Hilary Walker – hilaryandcharlie.com.au

The Outdoor Wedding
For those who choose not to go down the church or registry office route, the outdoor wedding is the first stop for most people. It’s only natural for Australians to want to take advantage of our fab outdoors and our warm (or stinking hot!) climate over the spring and summer months. However it’s important that you are realistic about how the unpredictability of being outdoors might impact your ceremony.

Plan B
I know this is your special day and you’ve been planning it for months, but do not assume that the gods will be kind to you just because you’ve gone to so much effort. Sometimes those gods can just be really mean!

I absolutely insist that my clients who are having an outdoor ceremony have a solid and realistic Plan B that can be put into place should the Weather Lords not be smiling on their wedding day. You also need a good system ready to execute to let all your guests know what the change of plans are at short notice. Suggestion – put your Plan B details on your invite, so people have the address of the alternate location. Put a friend or family member in charge of ensuring that all your guests know, and/or include their phone number on the invite as the go-to person should things be looking a bit hairy.

Sun, Rain, Wind.
Even if it’s only 25 degrees, having your Nan and your elderly Uncle Ernie sit in full sun for up to an hour is not a good idea. Actually, it’s a really bad idea! And it is not just the oldies who can be affected. Most celebrant’s would have stories of strapping, healthy young men and women in the bridal party hitting the deck in the middle of the ceremony when their blood pressure drops from being on their feet for too long. From personal experience, I can assure you that it does not have to be very hot for this to happen.

If you are choosing an outdoor location for the ceremony, ideally you would find a space that provides some decent shade, ie. the canopy of a large tree. Or keep the option of hiring a marquee open. Of course, this cover could also come in handy if on the day sun was not the problem, but rain. Either way, it could end up saving the ceremony.

Visit the location of your ceremony the time of day you have it planned for. See where the sun hits and if it will be blinding you (and me!) on the day, or frying your guests. (Of course you need to take into account that the sun will be placed differently at different times of the year.) If on the day, the weather looks warm, provide your guests with plenty of cold, bottled water (really important), and you could perhaps hire a few large fans. Perhaps you might need to be chasing up a pile of umbrellas to protect your guest from light rain? Or, if it turns out you do have a cool day, could you organise some outdoor heaters?

Actually, often it is wind that is the biggest foe in ceremonies. It plays havoc with brides, grooms, guests, celebrants, frocks, hair, veils – everything! Be realistic about this if you are planning a beach ceremony for instance. Again, a gusty wind on the day might mean that you need to put your comfortable and covered, (if slightly less specky) Plan B into action.

Don’t take risks with your big day. Be sensible and smart and give the ceremony you have worked so hard to create, the best possible chance to be the stunning, memorable and enjoyable moment it should be. Remember, you want your wedding to be unforgettable for all the right reasons!

Same-sex Couple’s Dilemma.

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Bec Matheson Photography | www.becmatheson.com

Pic: Bec Matheson Photography – www.becmatheson.com

I have to say, I’m surprised how few inquiries I receive about same-sex commitment ceremonies.

My theory is that the GLTBIQ community has been in limbo, waiting for a time when the politicians catch up with the Australian people and make the necessary changes to the Marriage Act to allow all loving couples in this country an equal right to marry.

It seems many gay and lesbian couples have been putting off their plans to formalise their relationships with a ceremony, in the hope that they may soon be legally married. However, there certainly has been some dampening of these hopes – it all just seems so  bogged down, with governments (and oppositions!) unwilling to budge on this issue, despite the tide of public opinion.

So ladies and gents, very much looking forward to working with you all, whatever the occasion is. The fact is, in terms of putting the ceremony together, there is absolutely no difference in the work of creating a beautiful wedding or same-sex commitment ceremony, apart from skipping a few of the legals. So looking forward to working with all of you to create the best day of your life!

The ‘Institution of Marriage’ Lecture

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Unless you I am specifically asked to, it is unlikely that you will find me banging on too much about the ‘institution of marriage’ in a wedding ceremony. It’s pretty clear to me that this preachy and cliched approach does not reflect the values or tastes of most of the couples I work with. What people want in 2016 is a beautifully crafted, bespoke ceremony that reflects who they are, what their relationship means in their lives and how this connects with their community of friends and family.

Perhaps the ‘institution of marriage’ lecture during a wedding ceremony is best left in the hands of the priests – they’re probably way better at it anyway!

 

The Group Song

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The Group Song!

Singing together at Hilary & Ben’s wedding at the Merri Creek, Northcote. Pic: Charlie Kinross – hilaryandcharlie.com.au

Can I just quickly tell you about the joys of the group song in a wedding ceremony?

While it won’t suit everyone, or every ceremony, in the right context singing together can be the most moving, joyous and unifying addition to a wedding (or any other) ceremony. As Dally Messenger III, one of the world pioneers of celebrancy explains, (apart from the theological stuff) singing in a group remains pretty much the only element of a religious ceremony which has not transferred so comfortably into a secular context. This is because Western culture tends to disconnect singing from everyday life.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. Dally has been encouraging celebrants to try and find ways to include group songs in a ceremony, (where appropriate of course), because it just feels so good when you do it! So when I saw an opportunity with a recent wedding at which a choir was going to present, I suggested the group song.  Hilary and Ben, the gorgeous bride and groom, loved the idea and when the time came them, myself and the 80 or so guests all sang Chapel of Love together in a beautiful bush setting on a gorgeous summer’s day –  it was a moment to remember! This serves as a reminder of how much choice is available to couples when putting their wedding ceremony together, and that we are really limited only by our imaginations!

Summer Lovin’ sliding into Autumn.

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Jen and Mat 1 copy

Jen and her dad at Williamstown Botanic Gardens.

 

As summer gently edges towards the autumn, we farewell wedding high season. It’s been a great summer for me with some beautiful outdoor ceremonies at the Williamstown Botanic Gardens, The Edinburgh Gardens, Werribee Park and Jinks Creek Winery to Melbourne’s east. There have been some other excellent venues as well including the classy Arc One Gallery in Flinders Lane and the unique Astor Theatre where, much to everyone’s delight, Marzipan the Astor cat decided to make an appearance right in the middle of the vows!

I’m also getting enquiries from couples seeking ceremonies at relatively short notice, which is absolutely fine, as long as you remember that you must allow a minimum of one month and one day’s notice to fill in the Notice of Intended Marriage form.

So whether you’re planing a year in advance or a couple of months, give me a call or drop me an email because I’d love to talk to you about what you’ve got in mind for your big day.

Look forward to hearing from you!

Celebrants’ Professional Development

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Civil marriage celebrants in Australia are registered through the Federal Attorney General’s Department. One of the conditions of this registration is the completion of five hours or OPD (ongoing professional development) training every year. I recently completed a great OPD session through the CCGA professional association, in a room full of celebrants who between the lot of us, would have officiated at thousands of weddings, (and other ceremonies).

To hear the very diverse, often funny and sometimes dramatic experiences of other working celebrants is always inspiring and it is a great way to continually improve our practice. There was the story of the bride who got attacked by a praying mantis in the middle of her ceremony, the ex-husband who turned up to his ex-wife’s wedding brandishing a sawn-off shotgun, and the brides and/or grooms who destroyed their own wedding by rolling-up to their ceremonies drunk as sailors, meaning their celebrant is unable to proceed with the marriage!

Indeed this final story is a good reminder to all prospective brides and grooms (and their witnesses!!!) – A wedding certificate is a legal document, so if you are mentally impaired for any reason you will be unable to sign that document. In other words, if you turn up smashed to your marriage ceremony, you are putting your wedding in jeopardy!

There is a good chance that your marriage ceremony might turn into a non-legal commitment ceremony and you will have to organise and pay for another legal ceremony at a later date – Ouch!

Radio Interviews About Our Work as Civil Celebrants

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Here is a link to an interview I did recently on Melbourne GLBTIQ radio station, Joy 94.9. I was asked to appear on the program The Spirit Lounge, which explores issues around faith, spirituality and sexuality. The story about rev. Matt Glover in the early part of the program is really interesting, but my interview kicks in at around 12 min if you’re in a rush…

Ellen Spalding Celebrant Radio Interview on The Spirit Lounge Joy 94.9.

And this is an interview with Celebrancy’s great defender, the wonderful Dally Messenger, with Natasha Mitchell on Life Matters on ABC’s RN.

Dally Messenger’s interview on Life Matters ABC RN.
Dally Messenger interviewed again on Life Matters ABC RN in a great program about creating your own life rituals.

This interview on October 3rd 2012 with Tony Delroy on ACB 774 gives some really interesting insights into the funeral industry, via funeral celebrant Keith Lammond and author of the book, Funeral Rights, Robert Larkins.
Just scroll down to the “Modern Funerals” heading and press play.

Modern Funerals on Nightlife, ABC 774.

Thanks…

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Thanks a million to Jeff Maas for making this website fly, (he put a bird on it!).  And to Amanda James and Tara Moore for fab pics. x