‘Ceremony Feels’ – the Wedding Event That’s All About the ‘I Do’s’

Words by Kristy Kyi / Images by Adam Levi Browne
May 22, 2019

Here at Nouba it goes without saying that we’re into all the pretty details of a wedding day. But we’re also big on a day with loads of feels – and a big part of creating those feels is the wedding ceremony itself. A good ceremony can set the tone for the whole event and kick off the party in the best way possible, yet it’s an element that often gets forgotten in the excitement of planning some of the other parts of the day.

Perth celebrants Dilhari Mahiepala (Kiss Me You Fool) and Kirk Goodsell decided to do something to bring the focus back to the wedding ceremony, coming up with the idea of hosting Ceremony Feels, a wedding event with a difference. And it’s on this Sunday, May 26.

Kirk explains, “Dilhari and I felt like the industry lacked an event that focused purely on the wedding ceremony. The ceremony is such a special and memorable part of the day (although usually the quickest!) so we wanted to challenge our couples to really think about their ceremony and make sure they were educated in the choices that they have.”

The event will be happening at Perth City Farm and will give couples the chance to learn about the ins and outs of wedding ceremonies, chat to celebrants as well as other vendors such as photographers, videographers, stylists and musicians, and participate in mini workshops. It will give couples an insight into the full extent of the role of the celebrant, and we thought we’d kick things off by chatting to a few of our faves from around Australian and New Zealand.

fun Perth celebrant Dilhari Mahiepala

Kiss Me You Fool celebrant, Dilhari Mahiepala bringing the feels to Felicity and Jake’s ceremony. Image by Adam Levi Browne (catch the full wedding here).

Perth's best wedding celebrants

Smiles all round! Kirk Goodsell hanging with the happy couple. Image by Keeper Creative.

So what does a celebrant actually do?

More than you think! Dilhari says, “I like to think of my role as a combination of guardian of the paperwork and party starter.  Leading up to the wedding day, there are so many little things that celebrants do besides the obvious of meeting with the couple to sign all the pre-ceremony legal paperwork.  We provide inspiration for wedding ceremonies, we give recommendations on amazing vendors, we put out little “fires” when stress is mounting for couples and remind them to breathe and remember what this whole experience is about.  We give advice, we inspire, we share those wedding journey moments (getting first dress, engagement shoots, hair and makeup trials) and we are sounding board for our couples.”

Melbourne celebrant Damon Hughes agrees, saying that a common misconception is that a celebrant’s main time commitment is the wedding day itself to do a couple of hours of work. He explains, “Every celebrant has a different process, but in order to achieve the sort of personalised ceremonies that I like to perform I need to invest most of my time, effort and energy in the lead up to the day.”

modern Melbourne wedding celebrant Damon Hughes

Celebrant Damon Hughes getting Ally and Patrick good and wed. The couple told us “The ceremony that Damon delivered was equal parts heartfelt and hilarious and perfectly set the tone for the rest of the night.” Image by Long Way Home Photography (catch the full wedding here).

But don’t all celebrants tell bad jokes??

Celebrants often get a bad rap and maybe this is part of the reason for couples lacking enthusiasm about the ceremony part of the day. Let’s face it, we’ve all been to a wedding where the celebrant has either stolen the show with a bunch of terrible jokes or put everyone to sleep with their lack of persona. But it doesn’t need to be like this! These days couples really are spoilt for choice when it comes to fun, vibrant celebrants who are passionate about what they do.

Tasmania’s Kathleen Ryan was prompted to become a celebrant after experiencing some less than impressive wedding ceremonies. “It was an idea sparked after attending a whole rash of friends’ weddings, and while each wedding reception was unique and fun, the ceremony itself seemed to always be missing something, some pizazz or personality. I knew there was a need for celebrants that could inject life and personality into the wedding, they could direct it away from being a staid and clunky affair, and instead create a unique celebration of the couple, their stories and quirks, and something that would set the tone for the rest of the night.”

hobart wedding celebrant Kathleen Ryan

Celebrant Kathleen Ryan officiating an intimate elopement on Tasmania’s North West Bay. Image by Jon Gazzignato.

fun Melbourne wedding celebrant Nat Sproal

Melbourne wedding celebrant Nat Sproal delivering on her promise of ‘non-crap weddings for legends’. Image by Anna Taylor.

So how do you choose the celebrant who’s right for you?

How do you choose a celebrant who’s going to make your ceremony pop? Auckland’s Laura Giddey advises, “Choose a celebrant who you like and feel comfortable with.  This person is telling your love story so make sure it’s someone who is a good listener, as well as a person who fits the flavour of the day you’re planning.  Read reviews, watch videos of celebrants in action, even meet with a few if you want to.  And then once you’ve picked someone, trust this person and give them as many quirky insights and cute stories as you can to make their job even easier!”

Melbourne’s Nat Sproal suggests, “Choose someone you could drop into your reception with your guests and they’d fit right in. It’s a fairly intimate relationship- you’re sharing a lot of stuff about your relationship so you want to feel comfortable about it. Also, you want to head to your meetings looking forward to it. You should be able to have a chat and a laugh with them (and a wine too in my case). You should feel you that they ‘get’ you, you can rely on them and their presence is calming.”

Joanna Lincolne of Sunshine Coast-based Big Love Weddings says that choosing a celebrant who goes the extra mile can make all the difference. “Your celebrant can help you navigate the minefield leading up to matrimony (let’s face it-it can get pretty crazy at times) They can help you block out all the noise and unwanted input/pressure so you can stay focused on what’s important to you. And, of course they create and present a ceremony that reflects your beliefs and your love for each other, and makes the people you’ve chosen to celebrate with feel important and included,” she says.

Sunshine Coast wedding celebrant

Sunshine Coast celebrant Joanna Lincolne of Big Love Weddings with Ash & Carissa. Image by Stories by Ash (catch the full wedding here).

Broome wedding celebrant - Elle Saunders

Broome wedding celebrant Elle Saunders sharing the good vibes with Viv and Matt. Image by Julia Rau.

Any tips for creating an engaging ceremony?

As with every part of your wedding day, your ceremony doesn’t need to be perfect to be a stand-out. Sydney’s Nicky Surnicky of Marry Me Nicky advises, “Keep in mind your ceremony is not a production or a Hollywood movie, everything doesn’t have to be perfect, but instead it should be real. The more present and comfortable you both are in that moment, the more you will take away from it.”

Nor does it need to be long or too formal. Kirk advises, “The old K.I.S.S applies perfectly for a ceremony. Keep it simple. It’s about quality not quantity. Most celebrants these days offer a very personal story where they talk about the couple’s journey and keep it pretty fun and light-hearted which is great. I find sometimes the shorter, more concise ceremonies have a greater impact.”

Damon adds, “When making any decision about your ceremony (or wedding day in general), always remember the “why”… I don’t mind what traditions my couples do or don’t want to include – I just insist that they’ve made an active choice to include them, rather than doing so because they thought they had to.”

Finally it’s worth remembering that without the ceremony there would be no wedding! Broome-based celebrant Elle Saunders shares, “It would always frustrate me how everyone would always wish away the ceremony so that we could get to the party. Yet the party would not exist without first making a marriage.”

Sydney wedding celebrant

Marry Me Nicky (Nicky Surnicky) at Chris and Aurelie’sboho bush wedding. Image by David Latour.

So, Perth couples, if you’re all ready to learn how to plan an epic wedding ceremony that will have your family and friends feeling all the feels, make sure you head along to ‘Ceremony Feels’ at Perth City Farm from 11am to 3pm on Sunday 26th May. You can register to attend for free here.

And as for everyone else, if you’re on the hunt for an amazing celebrant check out the following celebrants in your state.

Australian and New Zealand wedding celebrants

New South Wales

Nicky Surnicky, Marry Me Nicky


Damon Hughes
Nat Sproal


Joanna Lincolne, Big Love Weddings


Kathleen Ryan

Western Australia

Dilhari Mahiepala, Kiss Me You Fool
Kirk Goodsell
Elle Saunders

New Zealand

Laura Giddey

auckland wedding celebrant

Auckland marriage celebrant Laura Giddey. Image by Stories by Bianca.


Images Adam Levi Browne |

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