In " Love is in the Air" Susan has married her passion for words to her devotion to her job as a marriage celebrant in Ausralia. In it she outlines everything you have to do to be married according to law in Australia - from the initial meeting with her to the registration of your marriage after the wedding. She explores the meaning of love, marriage and commitment in a personal sense, interweaving her own story about marriage and what it means to make promises to another for life. Susan also describes or quotes some of the poetry she has come across as a mentor in creating ceremony. As a teacher of language and literature, she is in a position to offer an insight into the most effective words of love in the English language as well as some foreign languages. Her book reflects the name of her business, " A Ceremony by Design ", and gives her readers a wide range of ideas in authoring their personal ceremony of love and commitment. This book is a practical, moving and creative handbook - a must-have for anyone comtemplating a wedding in Australia.
Your wedding story really has to start with my wedding story.
Back in the day I was influenced by Germaine Greer’s book The FemaleEunuch, which confirmed my own reality that motherhood wasn’t for me and almost talked me out of getting married. That is until I met the love of my life and thought:
And that is just it - we thought why notget married - we didn’t get married because we needed commitment, or approval, or security. We got married because we already had that, and there was no reason not to get married. I still think that if marriage will make a difference to your relationship or that you think it will be a seal to guard against insecurity or threat - then you should really be evaluating your relationship first.
A marriage ceremony provides the legal framework for the commitment of heart and mind that you have already made as a couple. Marriage is called the cornerstone of society for just reason, but we all know of many strong and enduring relationships which do not bear its label. People do say that the formal commitment consolidates their relationship, but so does the passage of time and shared experience. However, I am not trying to talk you out of getting married!
We were married by a civil celebrant soon after the option of a secular wedding was introduced by Lionel Murphy in the ’70s … so different from one another, we never had to “work at it”, or fought, or spent a night apart if we were in the same city.
Abnormal? But wedded, childless bliss till death did us part.
I meant every word of those marriage vows, as I will when I recite them for you as part of your personal wedding story.
I take you to be my lawful wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, in good times and adversity, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish till death do us part ...
In the nursing home where my mother lives there is a married couple, Ron and Marion. Marion is in slightly better shape than Ron, but both live to varying degrees in that private, disconnected, isolating world of dementia. Physically, though, they are together - they share a room and their beds have been pushed together. I'm sure that their minds and spirits are still connected too and am absolutely certain their hearts are. They spend the day moving from one lounge area to another, sitting side by side to take their meals.
Another bed-ridden lady resident is visited every day by her husband. Sometimes he sits beside her while she wails incessantly, sometimes she is calm and they hold hands, sometimes she nods off and he keeps vigil with his head resting on the bed-head.
When I was leaving the other day an anxious assistant in nursing was urgently calling for assistance from the registered nurse - another devoted husband was trying to wheel his wife's care chair out the front door. It was physical, the struggle: the chair spinning in circles as he pulled it this way, the nurse the other.
"Let me through, I'm taking her home!" he cried in that thin, fragile aged voice. "She's coming home with me!!!" And all the time his frail, bewildered beloved weeping and trembling and pleading with him, "Oh let me stay, darling, please let me stay. Be a good boy and let me stay."
As long as we both shall live.
I was a straight, white, protestant, theatrical girl from the north shore when I went to university in the early 1970s and made my first gay friends. It was not my priority to find a husband and have children so I found I had much in common with these fresh, funny gorgeous camp men. In those days, it wasn’t theirs either. These men appealed to me because of their difference, their rising above the norm, and because we related to one another so well. Because of them, a whole world of culture and sophistication opened up to me, and an upfront and uncomplicated attitude to sex. Their attitude to love, though, and relationships, was just as tortured, and driven, and relentless. They wanted what everyone wanted - the opportunity to find a partner and commit, one day or another. In 1975 “marriage” was not named as an agenda item for the gay community. In fact in those days, depending on where you went and what you did, it was downright dangerous to be “out”. However, my friends and I just had fun and I was naïve about the discrimination and prejudice that they must have been dodging on a regular basis. Homosexuality was no big deal to me … finally your friends are just your friends and their makeup and background are just part of the fabric of friendship.
“A Ceremony by Design” is called so for a reason - your wedding ceremony is your design, it’s unique. I also added to all my material “… true to your relationship …”, because I want you to have your own ceremony, one that will make you think: Yes! That’s us exactly!
You have to be faithful to what you think makes you tick as a couple. Your ceremony is your opportunity to encapsulate what you honour most in your relationship.
My job as a celebrant is to give you this freedom to be yourselves, while making sure you adhere to the rules which you must obey by law. However, these are separate and you can build your ceremony around them. So whether you want a quiet, touching ceremony that doesn’t draw too much attention to the private nature of your relationship, or whether you want to go over the top and scream your commitment from the rooftops - you can have just that. There are just a few simple legalities that absolutely must be included but the rest of the words can be custom-written, bespoke. Even the structure of the ceremony can be played with. So I invite you to alter the sequence a bit to make your ceremony truly unique - it will be my responsibility to make sure the legal part follows a logical sequence.