How to write wedding vows

Jul 9, 2020

Charis white is a Melbourne wedding celebrant with an enormous amount of experience in weddings large and small all over greater Melbourne and Victoria, for every type of couple you can imagine. With all her experience in running brilliant ceremonies, Charis shares her thoughts on how to write a wedding ceremony, how to write your vows, and how to ensure that it’s a smooth experience – especially for the shy and introverted.

When you consider how to write a wedding ceremony, what are the perfect elements a great one, and how do you personally service them?  

How to write wedding vows


Getting to know the couple well means they will have a great ceremony. At a wedding I did recently, a guest asked if I was a friend of the couples. This is the best compliment ever as it shows I really know them and reflected their story in an awesome way. 

How to write wedding vows

Do you recommend a process for couples to think about their vows content? 


I ask them if they have an idea about what they want to talk about. If not, then I give them some vow inspiration to look over and guide them along. I also read over the vows and offer advice and guidance. 

What are your best tips for couples that are shy at the idea of being vulnerable in front of their community? 

how to write wedding vows


I tell them to face each other, that way they are only seeing the face of their bestie.  If you are nervous, a reassured look can calm you down. I am also up there with them to reassure them and guide them through the process. 

How do you take the inner vibes of your couples and translate that into an overall wedding ceremony that’s meaningful to them and congruent to their vows? 

Laura in the incredible Suzanne Harward songbird gown also featured here.


When I meet my couples, we have a chat about their day, their expectations and the overall vibe they want their ceremony to take. Once we have chatted through their story, I send them a questionnaire with more comprehensive questions. I also give my clients the draft to look over, it reassures them.

In terms of their vows (see Jake writing his wedding vows), I cast my eyes over them to make sure they are both semi aligned. EG, if one vow is very funny, then I will go to the other person and tell them to weave in a little humour.

That way they are both balanced. 

How do you ensure that aside from the couple, their family and community is entertained or spoken to by the ceremony?

Suzanne Harward Songbird Gala Gown


I talk about family and friends in the ceremony. I also love engaging with people prior to the ceremony, especially the oldies and kids.

If there is a way to weave a few friends into the ceremony story, I love to do this and love the relatability of it. 

I see a lot of vows written the morning of the wedding. Brave! What is your advice on writing the vows ahead of time or in the moment on the day? 

How to write wedding vows

Laura and Walker looking super cinematic. See why I shoot film.


My advice is totally against this. Actually, I bully them into giving them to me prior. JK. If the couple wants me to have their vows, so they do not need to carry anything on the day of their wedding. I ask for the vows prior to the ceremony. I then populate them into the final draft.

My timeline on this is at least two weeks prior to the ceremony. Sometimes I get them the morning of.

However, most couples are pretty good with getting them to me on time. I also look over their vows prior to the ceremony.  

Long story short – don’t leave your vows until the last minute!

Your top three parting tips for couples looking to hire a celebrant? 


Follow your gut, trust the process and believe in your team. 

Find Charis White online (and hire her for your Melbourne elopement):

Charis White Celebrant Website
Charis White Celebrant Instagram

See here for how to plan wedding music.

I DO Drive Thru wedding melbourne

Jul 8, 2020

I Do Drive Thru is a worldwide wedding startup, helping couples get hitched in the middle of Covid19 while adhering to the restrictions and saving the partying for later. Since launching in Melbourne, it’s spread nationally, and has since popped up all over the USA. Melbourne wedding celebrant Mel (who also moonlights as The Ceremony Store) runs us through why it started and how it’s helped couples all over the world.

Who are you and what do you do?

I’ve been a Marriage and Funeral Celebrant for 15 years and own the companies, The Ceremony Store, The I Do Drive Thru and The Last Time.  I am also a Celebrant Trainer with Australian Celebrations Training, Furniture Maker, Writer, Mother and Wife but I have always wanted to be an Electrician.

I am obsessed with learning as much as I can in this lifetime, I am perpetually curious. I try one new task every year until I get good at it, then I move on: I have learnt lock-picking, languages, carpentry, metal-detecting, and written a book.

I Do Drive Thru

When COVID 19 became a part of our world I was given medical advice to isolate which meant I could no longer do weddings. The next day I gave away/rescheduled 17 weddings and it was, to say the least; devastating, not just for me, but for my couples. Not only that, I felt horribly guilty giving my weddings to other Celebrants who could possibly get COVID.

That night I lay awake thinking about how I could keep those Celebrants safe and keep working from home during COVID.

To digress, I have always been a bit obsessed with Vegas style weddings and in my early Celebrancy career, I used to ride my red postie motorbike to weddings dressed as Elvis. It just seemed pretty natural that Vegas-vibed drive thru weddings and getting couples to stay in their cars while getting married and keeping the Celebrant distanced was the answer to all of my problems.

The next morning I texted 3 of the most awesome Celes I know, said let’s start this business, and all of them said yes without hesitation and 8 days later, we had a business name, logo, website and a press release. On our launch day we had over 32 calls from the press, 10 enquiries and booked our very first wedding.

Just by chance, my co-founders Kate, Zena and Klara were the perfect combo to get everything going, and the main driver between all of us was the passion to continue working while this crisis was going on around us. 

We all love what we do and while we all kind of felt like sitting around grieving for what we had lost, we forced ourselves to build something new to fit with the changed times. Our catch cry became ‘we will work that out later’ as the business moved so incredibly quickly.

I honestly believe that anyone can do anything they set their mind to, impossible isn’t in my vocabulary. Any skill can be learned, any work can be completed no matter what limits there are, so we worked 19-20 hours days for that first week and we pulled it off.

The most rewarding thing about starting the business was the instant gratification we got with the media interest, we knew that our idea was good and the public interest confirmed that.

I Do Drive Thru seemed to grow incredibly quickly. How has it felt seeing it take off, and at such scale?

I Do Drive Thru
Klara McMurray celebrant in action for I Do Drive Thru.

My gorgeous co-founders put so much trust in me right from the get go. We organised everything via phone, zoom and email, we have only sat in the same space once since we started the business, which is pretty incredible. 

On launch day, seeing Klara on the 6pm news launching our business was such an achievement and then to replicate that model in each state over and over and then in the US has been amazing!

We now have 21 Celebrants working Aus wide with us and 2 in the US.  

How has I Do Drive Thru seamlessly melted into the industry as it exists currently?

Celebrants weren’t the only people affected by COVID, it’s also the photographers, venue owners, car hire companies, florists, everyone has been affected in our industry. We worked hard to create a model that could encompass as many of these suppliers in local communities as possible, so they could be involved too. 

A huge benefit to our business has been that we managed to snag some of the best photographers in Australia to work with us and these artists have provided some of the most epic photos of ceremonies. 

Having these professional images to share with potential couples so they can see that tiny weddings can be so intimate and beautiful and moving has been incredible, a professional picture really is worth a thousand words.

Bringing work to all types of wedding industry professionals, while they were feeling pretty down about losing their own work, has given us all the warm fuzzies.

Have there been any themes to the type stories and couples coming through I Do Drive Thru?

Our couples really range in age, we have had couple in their 20’s to couple’s in their 80’s. The similarity between them is that they really want to get married, but feel like they don’t fit into the white wedding dress/getting given away by Dad/first dance scenario. We have had couples that have stayed in their car for the ceremony, gotten out and married under trees, created convoys so family and friends can come and watch and couples have arrived via cars, helicopters, motorbikes and bicycles.

My fave couple so far is a couple where the Bride recently became paraplegic and she is still getting used to navigating new places and feels a little self-conscious. 

Her Fiancé just wanted to marry her, because in his words, ‘she is the most amazing woman in the world’.  When they heard about the Drive Thru and she saw that she didn’t have to get out of the car and worry about wheelchair logistics, she cried, because this was the only way she felt comfortable getting married. 

How do you see both the future of weddings and your place within it?

I Do Drive Thru

COVID is going to be here for a while. It’s not going to magically disappear, and I honestly think this will impact the wedding industry for years. 

In the short term we have the uncertainty of not knowing when we can go back to booking big celebrations and it makes planning pretty impossible.

Then when restrictions are lifted then yes, technically, we can go back to bigger celebrations, but is it a celebration if you can’t hug your Nan when you walk back down the aisle? Is it a celebration if you can’t share a shot glass or eat bread out of the same breadbasket? 

The effects of social distancing will continue to live on, especially when it comes to celebrating that way that we are used to.

Celebrant Zena Lythgow in action for I Do Drive Thru with the Covid wedding Melbourne of Adriana and Caleb.

A surprising side-effect to this whole COVID scenario, is that suddenly eloping isn’t taboo, eloping makes you responsible, kinda like a hero, you are protecting your community by having a small wedding and that shift in thinking has been kinda rad.

People have been eloping because there isn’t the stigma attached to it anymore, heck the government practically endorsed eloping when you were only allowed to have the marrying couple and two witnesses present.

Any key advice for couples considering getting married during or after Covid19?

I Do Drive Thru

My advice to couples during COVID has been to follow your heart and remember that there is a huge difference between a marriage and a wedding. (Check out Will and Jac for Melbourne wedding planning). 

If you wanna get married, get married, do it, commit to your lover, that’s so important, don’t let COVID stop you. There is literally no better time to love and be loved than right now, having companionship during a crisis is what will get you through it.

When people ask what you did during COVID how totally romantic is it to say that you married your honey and then shacked up in iso together? (Side note – like this Blue Mountains Elopement).

I Do Drive Thru

If your heart is set on a wedding that encompasses family and friends, then wait, but wait until COVID is dead and gone and we can hug again.  Have a huge wedding down the track, when you can handshake and dance, but you will have to be patient.  

And for those that want both, do it! Have the most romantic, sweet tiny ceremony now and make it all about each other, then have a huge wedding party later on-best of both worlds.

There’s so many polarising stances on dealing with this from a business perspective, especially when small-business in the events space is exposed to the extreme end of the risk dial. What’s your advice to businesses navigating this sustainably, while continuing to place their couples first?

Running a business during a pandemic is tough. Terms and conditions/your contract/Statement of Fees documents are everything. Mine was pretty broad but certainly never covered a killer virus!

I always say to other Celebrants be tough on paper, but soft in reality. You have to have your rules in place, but be flexible, don’t forget everyone is going through something and creating relationships, and word of mouth recommendations in this business is what it is all about. 

I always rule with my heart and not my head, so I certainly don’t set the best example for other business owners, but I find if you treat people with kindness then that’s what you will get back.

What’s been a personal joy you’ve gotten through this whirlwind?

I have always gotten more out of what I do for others, than what I do for myself, so to create a business that has helped so people feel good and have a bit of purpose during COVID has probably been one of the most rewarding things I have done for a long time.

Find I Do Drive Thru online

I Do Drive Thru

I Do Drive Thru website
I Do Drive Thru instagram

All photos on this page are from I Do Drive Thru weddings by Briars Atlas

For more info on how to get married during Covid 19, check out these small wedding venues in Melbourne, and this information piece on having a Melbourne City elopement during Covid 19.

To have your small Melbourne City elopement filmed by the best wedding videographers in town, check out Bottlebrush Films as they’re doing filming for overseas guests and relatives who can’t make it.

Melbournes best wedding celebrants

Jul 5, 2020

Melbourne wedding celebrant: finding a great one is challenging, and it’s hard to get an idea of whether their vibe is gonna fit your tribe ahead of time. The Celebrant A List is an initiative put together to help solve that, and their Celebrant A-List Ball which I joined majestic celebrant-ey forces with last year, brought together a whole swag of the industries best under one roof in Melbourne.

Since we had so many luminaries of the industry packed into one of Melbournes best bars, it would’ve been rude not to set up a Vanity Fair style photo-corner.

I’ve been super lucky to work with many of these maestros, so read on and enjoy these community marvels and a little insight into the Celebrant A List, and then hire one for your Melbourne elopement.

Jac the Hitcher

Lord of the dark-funk, Jac the Hitcher lives here.

Matt Finch

Grandmaster suave, Matt Finch lives here.

This is a little chat with the Celebrant A-List founder, Anthony Cribbes, about why it exists and how it benefits the Melbourne wedding community.

If you want to skip the gab (not recommended, but hey, it’s your life), here’s a run-sheet of some of the best Melbourne wedding celebrants that are featured here (in no order):

  1. Anthony Cribbes
  2. Nat Sproal
  3. Charis White
  4. Celebrant Ladylove
  5. The Wedding Anarchist
  6. Matt Finch
  7. Sean Whelan
  8. Zena Lythgow
  9. Jac the Hitcher
  10. Jessie Belle
  11. Megan Thompson
  12. Damon Hughes
  13. Shannon Jeans
  14. Megan Watson
  15. Pete the Celebrant
  16. Rachael Calvert
  17. Sweet Wonderful You

Celebrant Ladylove

Lord of all things neon and dark in the wedding celebrant world, find Annie here.

Marry Me Sean

As well as being found under an excellent hat, you can find Sean here.


What is the Celebrant A list?

On paper it’s a directory with some hand picked celebrants. Maybe it’s also an antidote to the ‘come one come all’ sites that I find just end up causing us much confusion and anxiety for couples who are by and large going through this process for the first time.

BUT what it actually is a chance to be a little different in the market. All of the directory members are people from my own and some other close confidant’s personal networks.

These were people we already were swapping leads with. So whilst it’s not the definitive and finite list of who’s a quality melbourne wedding celebrant, I can definitely say that all members are quality people and celebrants.

Megan Thompson

As well as being found wrapped in curtains, Megan can be found here.

Megan Watson

Megan is pointing over there, and to find her we’re pointing here.

How can couples getting engaged best benefit from the A list in finding a Melbourne wedding celebrant?

So the Celebrant A List is also a little community group. We all know which other members are better suited for which kind of couple just based on the initial enquiry.

So my advice would be to get on the directory, to find the kind of wedding celebrant you think fits the bill and send them an enquiry.

If they’re not available, we work as a group to find you someone that is not only free but will also fit what you are looking for.

Rachael Calvert

This legendary Tasmanian wedding celebrant can be found here.

Pete the Celebrant

This totally debonair devil can be found here.

It seems to be something of an army. Any favourite cult leaders that were referenced?

Is Brian Jones or David Koresh a funny or poor tasting joke?! Nah but in all honesty, the crew on the Wedding Celebrant A List is from the network of wedding celebrants who were already naturally jelling together.

Everyone on the list is vouched for – we avoid cult like activities, thinking and environments, we feel the market for that is already catered for!

The Wedding Anarchist

Formerly known as Marry Me Dee. Find her here and here.

Damon Hughes

Not just a good looking rack for short-shorts, find him here.

The marketplace is getting more and more flooded across all vendors. This makes it not only more challenging for a couple in sifting through available options, but also challenging as a vendor trying to create a sustainable business. How do you see the creation of this network as fundamentally addressing both of those challenges?

Haha, what a question! If I was to say what was the mission of the Wedding Celebrant A List, it would be to address exactly this challenge.

We have moved from a world where once upon a time we had to wait until every Thursday night at 7:30PM before our favourite show would be on…now I can binge watch whatever I want, whenever I want.

This is how society works now, so the Wedding Celebrant A List is the kind of place where people can come and not only can we help them feel less overwhelmed we also support each other’s businesses.

Sweet Wonderful You

With her name an homage to Fleetwood Mac, find Erin here.

Anthony Cribbes

You’ve seen young Tony a lot around these parts. Find him here and here.


It’s for this reason alone why we don’t have hundreds and hundreds of members as we genuinely feel like in the end that helps no one – the couples or the celebrants.

As I already mentioned, just by enquiring with one us, we’re kind of all there to help you find not only the right celebrant but also many other vendors.

We all buy based on people giving us recommendations, it’s kind of the same approach over at the Wedding Celebrant A List.

Shannon Jeans

This rainbow pocket rocket can be found here. Also see her in action at this Two Ton Max wedding we both worked on.

Nat Sproal

Lord mistress of all things hilarious, Nat lives here and here. I also worked with this brilliant mofo at this Fortyfive Downstairs wedding.

You held the A List ball over Christmas, which was an epic event with the best Melbourne wedding celebrants in town: whats next on the cards?

Well before good ol’ Rona hit the plan was to try and host an event in each major city where we have representation. But now we’re focussed on our big event next year, Hitchmas.

We plan on making this the best business workshop/networking/party kind of event ever hosted in the wedding world.

Charis White

I’ve worked with this gem many a time, you can find Charis here, and we’re featured together on Suzanne Harward.

Jessie Belle

This cartwheeling legend can be found here

Find the Celebrant A List online

Finding a Melbourne wedding celebrant can be a bit of a massive task – fortunately, the Wedding Celebrant A List has been assembled to take some of the legwork out of it. Verified legends, take a look and find your Melbourne wedding celebrant below, and then get them down for your Melbourne city elopement.

The Celebrant A List website
The Celebrant A List Instagram

Link one of these legends up with a brilliant Melbourne wedding planner.

The Deck at Circa wedding

Jul 17, 2019

Emily and Tony had a beautiful, stylish wedding at St Kilda’s iconic wedding venue, the Prince Hotel – the Deck at Circa. With a room full of their loved ones, floral styling by the mastermind Katie Marx florals and a ceremony run by the inimitable Gina Liano celebrant, this was an evening of colour and brilliant love.

The Deck at Circa
The Deck at Circa sunset
The Deck at Circa
The Deck at Circa
The Deck at Circa
Katie Marx Flowers
Katie Marx Flowers
The Deck at Circa
The Deck at Circa
The Deck at Circa wedding
Gina Liano Celebrant
The Deck at Circa wedding
The Deck at Circa wedding
The Deck at Circa wedding
The Deck at Circa wedding
The Deck at Circa wedding
The Deck at Circa wedding
The Deck at Circa wedding
The Deck at Circa wedding
The Deck at Circa wedding
The Deck at Circa wedding
The Deck at Circa wedding
The Deck at Circa
The Deck at Circa
The Deck at Circa
The Deck at Circa
Katie Marx Flowers
Katie Marx Flowers
Katie Marx in her brilliant element, maniacal joy installing epic florals all across the entire interior of the Deck.
The Deck at Circa - Katie Marx flowers

The Deck at Circa is a brilliant blank canvas, and a light filled space with an enormous deck area (as the name lets on) to host Melbourne wedding ceremonies indoors or out.

The area of St Kilda offers a tonne of beautiful wedding photo locations, from the foreshore nearby, all the way over to the beautiful heritage art-deco architecture of the area. Usually i’ll take couples out for a 15-20 minute loop, and in that time you can cover all the art-deco hotspots, spend some time on the foreshore, and also enjoy some of the gardens around where those two worlds meet.

The Prince Hotel is one of our more known rooftop wedding venues, and has seen every type of celebration under the sun. The expansive deck overlooks Fitzroy Street, and enjoys brilliant sunsets bursting through the steel cladding around the windows.

A 300 space carpark takes care of all the guests, the venue has plenty of accommodation, and the rest of the St Kilda surrounds take care of everyone for the next day.

Get yourself a Melbourne wedding celebrant, Katie Marx (see her handiwork at the venue just up above), C2 films (Melbourne wedding videographers super experienced with The Deck at Circa), a Melbourne wedding band AND a Melbourne wedding planner and off we go.

For another beautiful Melbourne rooftop wedding venue, check out South Melbournes Luminare.

Looking abroad? Check out this Queenstown Helicopter Elopement, and otherwise check out this post for more unique Melbourne wedding venues.

Yering Station Wedding

Mar 28, 2019

Daniel and Darkus’s majestic Yering Station wedding in the Yarra Valley. Sharon the Celebrant came along to share their story with their community, and these two gents started off with a little portrait shoot nearby, before putting in a massive day of love and good times with their community.

Yarra Valley
Yering Station Wedding
Yering Station Wedding
Yering Station Wedding
Yering Station Wedding
Yering Station Wedding
Yering Station Wedding
Yering Station Wedding
Yering Station Wedding
Yering Station Wedding
Yering Station Wedding
Yering Station Wedding Petal Toss
Yering Station Wedding
Yering Station Wedding
Yarra Valley Wedding Photographer
Yarra Valley Wedding Photographer
Yering Station
Yarra Valley Wedding Photographer
Yering Station Wedding Reception
Yarra Valley Wedding Photographer
Yering Station Wedding Reception
Yering Station Wedding Reception
Yering Station Wedding Reception
Yering Station Wedding Reception
Yering Station Wedding Reception
Yering Station Wedding Reception
Yering Station Wedding Reception
Yering Station Wedding Reception
Yering Station Wedding Reception
Yering Station Wedding Reception
Yarra Valley Wedding Cheese Platter
Yering Station Wedding Reception
Yering Station Wedding Reception
Yering Station Wedding Reception
Yering Station Wedding Reception
Yering Station Sparkler Exit
Yering Station Sparkler Exit

A little more info about Yering Station.

For more Yarra Valley wedding venues, be sure to check out this Immerse Yarra Valley wedding and Stones of the Yarra Valley.

If lush greenery and wild landscapes and art deco perfection in the Yarra Valley (cue Burnham Beeches and the incredible Zonzo Estate) aren’t your thing, check out these unique wedding venues in Melbourne for some alternatives. For a country victoria wedding venue further north, check out this Sault Daylesford wedding.

This might be,
the start of,
something