Written by Susan Gallina
Being a Civil Celebrant for the past eight years has afforded me the wonderful opportunity to play a role in many ceremonies including weddings, baby naming and funerals.
This experience has, over the years, taken me to some weird and wonderful places and allowed me to briefly get to know many unique and interesting couples. One of the best things about this job is working with a young couple to create their wedding ceremony and then, to my delight, when they call me back for a naming ceremony for their first born, then second and sometimes third and fourth. It is always heart-warming to remember the two people that stood before their family and friends to commit to each other and to then see them, sometimes a few years later, raising their own child or children, and how it has all changed.
I’ve had the very good fortune to visit many beautiful and hidden places in South Australia, from far North to far South and of course the Adelaide Hills, but when an old friend asked me to conduct her wedding ceremony at a resort in Thailand I thought all my Christmases had come at once!. It was a fabulous experience and a wonderful holiday for all of us that made the trip. The bride walked the grassy, flower lined aisle at sunset, to a backdrop of the bluest ocean, and we partied on the very edge of the beach at a formal sit down reception, watching the candle lit paper lanterns float away into the distance.
I honestly believed that this couldn’t, and never would be, topped until recently when I was asked to fly to Brisbane for a wedding that was to take place on board the P & O Cruise ship, Pacific Dawn. When asked if I was available and willing to do it, I think the actual words that came out of my mouth were “Is the Pope Catholic? Yes of course I’ll do it.”
Sadly, I wasn’t going to set sail with them, but would get to board, spend the day on the ship to look around and relax, before conducting the ceremony and disembarking.Plans were made and permissions sought and soon enough we set off for sunny Brisbane (My husband decided to tag along and make a weekend of the opportunity to have a short break).
On the day of the ceremony, the wharf was packed with hundreds of passengers eagerly waiting to go through customs and board the ship.
I wondered if I’d ever get on until one of the crew came charging through the crowd waving at me, yelling “come with me, I’ll take you straight through to the priority boarding entrance.” ( I would have felt quite privileged if not for the death stares I was getting from the people, impatiently waiting in the exceptionally long and pushy line, as I breezed on through).
I was taken to the Captains private meeting room, where the ceremony was to take place to lay out the documents etc and then led to the bar area for coffee and nibbles while a lovely 3 piece band played. (Loving it at this point!)
As the wedding guests all continued to board and the ceremony time drew near, the event planner led me back to the room to begin.
The view from the very front room of the ship was breathtaking as the groom took his position, and the bride entered, along with their two small boys.
When the ceremony was finished, I was escorted off the ship as it set sail for a seven day cruise. (I was wishing I had hidden in a cupboard).
We spent the next three days in Brisbane, enjoying the warm weather and all the interesting things the city had to offer as well as catching up with family.With any luck, I’ll be invited to do another one some day!