Born and bred in Howick, Auckland, Erin left New Zealand in 1996 to go on her big O.E.

While offshore, Erin had the pleasure of living in places as: Port Douglas, Perth, Melbourne, Queenstown, London and of working aboard superyachts in the Mediterranean and Caribbean.

Some ten years later, she returned home to settle in Takapuna, on Auckland’s North Shore.

Erin’s passion has always been in in the Events arena and, since returning home, she has successfully established herself as an Event Manager. This has involved organising expos, shows, functions, weddings and much more.

After taking time out to enjoy being a mum to Kobi and Arlo, her two sons, she started back part-time as an Events and Promotions Manager for the Outboard Boating Club in Orakei – a role that just happens to tie in nicely with weddings … I couldn’t have asked for two better jobs!

Erin has proven to be a popular marriage celebrant with her unique style of personalised ceremonies. Those in the industry often hear her couples and their guests raving about how ‘amazing’ and ‘memorable’ they are.

To get an idea of Erin’s style, pop along to her website, Facebook or Instagram pages.

Turn to the next page to read her take on that all important first kiss as husband and wife.


The Wine Box Before your big day, gather a wooden box, a bottle of wine and two glasses. Write love notes to each other. Seal your letter without letting your betrothed read what you’ve written. During the ceremony, place the love notes inside the wooden box with the wine and glasses. Take turns hammering the box shut. Agree to keep the box sealed until a special anniversary, or at least until you hit a rough patch … then, break open the box, pour the wine, read the letters, and remember what it’s all about!

Tying the Knot Keen boaties, or those who love spending time on the water, can use this nautical symbolism to represent what you know and love. The knot is called the “true lovers’ knot” – the strongest there is; it will not break, and will only become stronger when under pressure. The rope itself will likely break before the knot comes undone. Your celebrant should present the rope during the ceremony, before the vows are said, and the couple would tie their nautical knot together. The finished knot symbolises your future, and how your love and marriage will continue to be strong, despite any trials life may throw your way. This knot could be framed and placed on the wall at home as a reminder of the strength of your love and commitment in marriage.

Toast If you often set aside time at the end of your day to enjoy a cold beer, then it might be appropriate then to clink bottles at the end of the ceremony and share your first beersies together. Similarly, you might be wine connoisseurs, in which case you might like to open a bottle of your favourite wine to toast each other with. If you’re a couple known for your celebrations, perhaps you’ll want shake up a magnum of champagne at the end of the ceremony and pop it in celebration. Another idea is to include the whole audience in offering a toast. You would toast each other as husband and wife, the audience would turn to the person next to them clink glasses and say cheers and then all raise their glasses in a toast to the happy couple.

Candle Lighting There are many ways you can shine the light of love on your ceremony. It might be appropriate to recognise loved ones who couldn’t be there by lighting a candle of remembrance, acknowledging that while not there, they are not forgotten. I utilise an enclosed lantern for this purpose, so that the candle can be lit outside or inside. Candles can also be used to represent the unity that marriage brings, and are a great way of incorporating family into the ceremony and honouring them. Mums could come forward and light taper candles, one representing each family. Then the couple would take each lit candle and together light the Unity candle, symbolising their love and commitment to walk together on the same path in marriage; two families and two separate earlier paths becoming one.

Ring Warming This is simply an opportunity for your guests to offer their love and well wishes to your marriage. Very early in the proceedings, the rings will be passed around and each guest will hold the rings and offer their silent wishes. In essence, the rings are warmed by the loving energy and support of your family and friends that you then wear for a lifetime.

There are some wonderful ways you can create and craft your ceremony with meaning. Look for ways that reflect your relationship and who you are as a couple in your ceremony.


One of the key components of the day, and what truly makes your day special, are the vows that you share. It’s the one time during the ceremony where people really will be listening intently as you say those heartfelt words to your partner.

There are typically four standard questions I get asked around vows and I’m going to answer these for you:

What structure works best?

The form or structure that I believe works well and represents a good example is the following:

I, Name, take you, Name, to be my wife, my partner in life and my soul mate. I will treasure our friendship and love you today, tomorrow, and forever. I will trust you and respect you. I will laugh with you and cry with you. I will love you faithfully and unconditionally through the best and the worst, the difficult and the easy. Whatever may come, I promise I will always be there for you.

The above is an example that follows the structure of :

• Legal – Legally you are required to say I take you to be my husband / wife

• Promises – what you will do in the marriage.

In addition to the above, you could add:

• Something personal about your bride / groom along the lines of – “Life wouldn’t be so fun and interesting if it wasn’t for you” .

• Humour into the promises – “I promise to always put the toilet seat down”.

The key is to make sure your vows are concise, hold meaning and are personal.

Do I have to memorise my vows?

No, it’s not a great idea. In my years of experience as a celebrant, there has only been one bride who successfully memorised her vows. If you are confident speaking, then I recommed you say your vows to each other holding one another’s hand; the other hand holds a cue card with the vows on, to refer to if you need to. The alternative would be to repeat your vows after the celebrant. However, I only recommend this to those who are not confident as it can sound repetitive, especially if the same vow is written by the bride as the groom.

Should I write my own vows?

The majority of couples I meet with want to write their own with guidance. There are a plethora of research avenues on bridal websites and blogs. Additionally, your celebrant will provide a few ideas or samples to get you started with writing your own. I always collaborate with my couples as to how they want to approach their vows.

Bryllup Kolding
Bryllup Korsør
Bryllup Nordsjælland
Bryllup Nyborg
Fotograf og bryllup
Bryllup Fyn
Bryllup på herregaard
Bryllup på Jomfrubakken
Bryllup Restaurant Glashuset
Bryllup Roskilde
Bryllup Rødding og Vejen
Bryllup Silkeborg
Bryllup Sinatur Storebælt
Bryllup Sjælland
Bryllup Skagen
Bryllup Sønderjylland
Bryllup Varna Palæet
Bryllup Værløse
Bryllup Clausholm Slot

Do we say the same vows or write them in secret?

This is your one opportunity to share your vows and promises with your partner in your own words. That said, it is important to chat to your partner about the key promises that you want to make to each other in marriage. You need to both be on the same page! You may decide to write the bulk of the vows together, with a few personal lines separately; or to completely write them on your own and send them to your celebrant separately to be shared with each other on the day for the first time.

Your vows are an important aspect of your day, as well as of your life together as husband and wife. Take the time to make them words to live by!


As a marriage celebrant, I am increasingly asked to prepare a ceremony that reflects cultural traditions. Weddings are often a fusion of cultures, with ceremonies that are individual celebrations that reflect the ethnicities and cultural and religious beliefs of both bride and groom, merging historic family traditions of cultural significance with a modern twist.

The ancient tea ceremony is a great example of a fusion element in ceremonies. Cross-cultural couples and second or third generation Chinese are merging this tradition within their western ceremonies. The Chinese tea ceremony shows a great level of love and respect to family. It serves to introduce the new couple formally to all family members and to express thanks and respect. The sweet tea symbolises sweetness, harmony, togetherness and the wish of bringing children into the family. The tea ceremony could take place at the conclusion of the western ceremony for all of the guests to witness, with a brief explanation of what it represents.

Couples often like to add a small cultural element or identity within their ceremonies. This can be included as a welcome in their language at the beginning of their ceremony such as “Huang Ying” or “Haere Mai Eng a Iwi Haere Mai Mauria Mai Te Aroha”.

Similarly, their families may have a Christian or religious identity and want to begin or end the ceremony with an opening or closing prayer or blessing in their native language.

At one wedding, I was asked to include some Hindi traditions within a western ceremony as the bride’s cultural background was Hindu while the groom was from Melbourne. Rather than a traditional Hindi wedding, they decided to break tradition and create a hybrid ceremony that was based on their values.

A few of the Hindu wedding traditions they included are:

1. Garland Exchange – Exchanging garlands presented from family, symbolising the spirit of partnership

2. Mangalphera – Circling a fire four times. The fire represents enlightenment happiness and knowledge. As they encircled the fire I read out four values : To be respectful and keep true to your beliefs; To strive for success whilst being mindful of the needs of others; For love and eternal dedication to one another; To liberate each other from pain and suffering with a marriage filled with love and happiness.

3. Seven Steps – They take seven steps representing their seven vows in marriage : May this couple be blessed with an abundance of resources and comforts; May this couple grow together in strength and complement one another; May this couple be blessed with prosperity and wealth; May this couple acquire knowledge and happiness; May this couple be blessed with a happy family life; May this couple live in perfect harmony; May this couple remain the best of friends.

4. Mangalsutra – A sacred necklace that is tied around the bride’s neck symbolising the inseparable bond between husband and wife.

The golden rule for ceremonies is that there are no rules. The key to a fusion weddings going off without a hitch is to make sure the ceremony reflects what makes the two of you unique and to make it fun.


Your wedding vows are the focus of your entire wedding ceremony – they’re an affirmation of your relationship and a declaration of the promises you make to your partner. Writing your vows can also be one of the most difficult parts of wedding planning.

If you’re not naturally gifted with words, it can be impossible to articulate your feelings without coming across like a bad romance novel. Don’t worry – writing your own vows doesn’t have to be as difficult as you thought.

Brainstorm with Your Partner Like every other major aspect of wedding planning, writing your vows should begin with a discussion with your partner. Grab a pen and paper and jot down some ideas. Talk about the principles and ideals that have guided your relationship, and the promises you want to make to each other. Write down all your ideas – even if they seem silly, cliché or soppy.

Writing the vows Go over everything you’ve written down and pull passages and fragments to incorporate into your vows. You could do this together, or separately, keeping your vows secret until the wedding day. Your vows don’t have to be a work of art. All that matters is that you’re sincere – and that you don’t waffle on for pages! You can express a lot with a few well-chosen phrases.

Ask your celebrant to look over your vows and help you express your ideas. They can fix clumsy wording and suggest alternative phrases to make your vows truly beautiful.

Exchanging Vows Most couples read them aloud during their wedding ceremony. When you declare your vows to each other in the presence of your friends and family, you’re making your commitment public and official. Ensure you give your celebrant a copy before the ceremony. It’s not recommended that you memorise your vows – with all the emotion of the day you’re liable to forget them! You’re better of reading them.

Writing your own wedding vows can be a tough creative challenge, especially if you’re not good at expressing yourself in words. But when you’re standing before your family and friends and looking into the eyes of your partner, you’ll be glad you took the time to create vows that reflect your own ideals and relationship.

And remember, your celebrant has good experience with this aspect and will be more than willing to help you!


Your celebrant can make or break your wedding ceremony, so it’s important to choose wisely!

You need to feel comfortable in their presence as you’ll be discussing some of your most intimate details with them. There needs to be a definite level of trust.

If you haven’t seen a celebrant in action that you adore or had one recommended to you by someone whose judgement you trust, then head to the Celebrants Association of New Zealand website. Choosing a celebrant from amongst their members will ensure you of their professionalism and legal registration … after all, you do want it to be legal, don’t you!

How many times you meet with your celebant prior to the actual wedding day can vary. Obviously there’s the initial consultation, either in person or via Skype. They’ll need a good hour of your time so that they can learn your story and find out what makes your union special and unique. This will help them to define the type of service they’ll offer.

If you need assistance writing your vows, ensure you seek advice from your celebrant. Remember that they’ve done this for many other couples and know the pitfalls to avoid.

A busy celebrant will likely know your venue, but it’s still a great idea to have them present at the rehearsal. They’ll run through your time frames, organise the best places for your bridal party to stand, and generally be able to assist you with any tricks that spring to light at the last minute.

These days, there are celebrants who stay on after the ceremony and take the role of MC for the night. Given that they’ve likely got to know you as a couple and understand your dreams for the rest of the vent, they’re a good choice if you don’t already have an MC chosen.

As for cost, it varies greatly from person to person. In fact, we’ve heard figures bandied around from $200 to $700. Ask their fee upfront if it’s not listed on their website! Sometimes it’s worth paying more for a celebrant you adore – skimp somewhere else if you have to!


Pre-dinner You may want to carry on the cocktail hour playlist or go for something more upbeat. Bear in mind that this is still a time for background music in terms of volume, but your guests will be feeling in a more jovial mood so reflect that in your song choices.

Dinner If you haven’t yet made an upbeat background playlist yet then this is the time. Food is being served, speeches are being made and guests are chattering away, the music should reflect the mood, but be kept on the down low.

First dance As with the processional/recessional music choices, a romantic or comical first dance song is usually chosen – sometimes both! You can also add in more specific songs here for a father-daughter and mother-son dance.

Dancing Now it’s time to crank it up and get the party started, upbeat fast songs are best to keep guests on the dance floor, but throw a slow one in every so often too for the lovebirds, and for the oldies to catch their breath. If your guests span a few generations, as most weddings do, give consideration to that by mixing up the genre – a dash of Elvis, a splash of hip hop, a little rock … and a bit of roll.

Other opportunities for a signature or meaningful tune include the cake cutting, the bouquet or garter toss and, of course, the last song.


Music seems to either be a couple’s top priority or their last decision. Since it’s role is so important in terms of atmosphere, it’s really important to get it right.

Pre-Ceremony If you’re not having a live musician for your ceremony, you’ll need at least an hour’s worth of soft and casual music on your playlist. Good background music will make your guests feel comfortable and what you play reflects their mood, so consider that when selecting your songs.

Processional You will generally only need one song as you walk down the aisle. Most couples pick a romantic number, but this is a good opportunity to pick a song that reflects you as a couple.

Recessional When the ceremony ends and the newly wed couple make their way out, everyone is in celebratory mode, which is why couples tend to choose an upbeat song, usually something comical or fun.

Cocktail hour Your can use your pre-ceremony playlist again here. Casual background music will keep the mood alive but allow your guests to converse easily and not get distracted by the music.

Bridal party entrance It isn’t essential to have a specific song for your entrance, but some couples use this moment as an opportunity to inject some fun into the evening by choosing a funny song.


There are many ways you can create memories at your wedding. I’ll start by saying this is not my original idea. I came across it many years ago in some training material and it also features in Peter Merry’s book “The Best Wedding Reception Ever”. On a side note, if you see something you like for your wedding, look for ways you can make it even better and more reflective of your personalities.

Here is my take on this activity. There is often time to fill between orders being taken and the entrées being served, or between the entrée and main, and at many other points for that matter. This activity can be a great way to fill that time and also provide you with a great personal guestbook.

At a recent wedding, I went around each table and asked “who will be responsible for this table’s pens? ” I then handed over a couple of pens saying “I’ll let you know what they are for shortly.” Timing for explaining the activity will vary, based on the timeline and flow you require.

When the time is right, explain that you would like guests to place their “pearls of wisdom” on how to live a long and happy marriage on the back of their name cards (if there aren’t cards, ensure you have bits of paper handy). Let them know what happens next.

Option 1: Have the MC collect the completed cards and sort through them, picking ones that go well together and link to speeches or other activities they will be announcing. Have them read selected quotes at various times throughout the evening. This works particularly well if you have a talented MC who can create these links and relay the messages with emotion or the appropriate comedic delivery.

Option 2: Have one person from each table share their “pearl”. Those at that table get to decide which one will be read out. In this scenario, you need to be confident that the chosen wisdom will be fit for the entire audience!

Don’t forget to collect all cards, whether the’re read out or not, and place them in an album or scrapbook as a memento.

Other variations on this activity:

• Have guests come up with names for your first born child

• Ask guests “What does love mean to you? ”

• Use a blackboard or stiff cardboard with sharpies for them to write on rather than name cards. Have this framed after the wedding.


Something to consider, especially for fine weather day time outdoor weddings, is amusements for your guests. Evening weddings will tend to fill the reception hours with music and dancing. While this isn’t out of the question outdoors, you’ll need to perhaps consider hiring a dance floor.

The alternative is to dot the venue’s ground with games, and you can’t go wrong with giant chess or jenga, lawn bowls, crochet or toss-the-hoop style games.

You could also think outside the square and order up a few carnival themed amusements, such as a kissing booth, coconut shy or even a fortune telling booth!

Companies such as Vintage Amusement Co offer hand-painted signage and a full design and consultation service. In fact, they can create an entire carnival for your guests’ enjoyment!