Tiny Weddings

Money down the drain.jpg

Tiny Weddings

Avoid money down the drain

Weddings can often seem overwhelming - loads of planning, sleepless nights, lots of decisions to make, a rapid exit of money from your bank account, and relationships with friends, family and whanau put under pressure.

If you’re keen to do something a little simpler, why not consider eloping or a tiny wedding? Traditionally, eloping was running off into the sunset with your beloved, leaving behind a wicked step-mother or jilted lover. Today though, it’s more a choice for brides or grooms who are wanting to leave a small eco-footprint, or for those who don’t want a lot of fuss.

You still need to meet the legal requirements - applying for a marriage licence and having a ceremony with an independent celebrant like me - but apart from a couple of witnesses, it’ll be just you (and maybe your children or grandchildren).

A tiny wedding is great for those of you who are marrying for a second (or third!) time, or those who want a private ceremony without all the razzmatazz. Choose a location that works for you both (you’ll still need permission if this is a public place), and make it your day, your way.

Tiny weddings. Perfect.

A Grave Matter

The moon is full, shedding its light across the waking city. April Fool's Day, the end of daylight savings and Easter Sunday in unison this year. Hot, sweet coffee, feed the cat, a load of washing and a walk.

I am lonely, desperate for a person to talk to, to hold, to argue with. Lonely, but not alone: the radio tells me it's common this contemporary dis-ease, an increasing toll on our society. The old, they are lonely, and I imagine council flats, meagre meals, and unkempt feet and hands. But no, it is the young who top the loneliness stats, the virtual world making our existence simultaneously more accessible and less real. Insta, the tool of the young, a platform for self-exposure, while sitting alone in a bedroom. A famous online life coach writes about "life envy" and the comments are pitiful:  Facebook posts keep up the illusion that we are successful, happy, and perpetually beautiful. We hide the flaws, edit backgrounds, add filters to our lives. 

I read to dispel the loneliness, characters jumping off the pages into my head, my heart. Violence and death in The Great Alone; resilience and determination in A Gentleman in Moscow. The risque Anais Nin challenges my world view, and Witi Ihimaera confirms it. 

Today, I seek out company, and head to Purewa, a park in the centre of Auckland, full of people. They are quiet these people, lying six feet under, broken concrete and lichen decorating the earth. A strange novel - Lincoln in the Bardo - has brought me to this place, the story of the president's son, William - young Willie - dying tragically at 11. He father is distraught, his mother no longer able to function. It is odd this book, but I persevere, and the quirky characters grow on me, like the weeds on the tombstones. 

I wander through the cemetery, the bright sunshine casting deep shadows beside the graves. I've come to see angels, to master my new zoom lens. Plots first inhabited in the 19th century sit alongside recent burials,  no order to their arrangement. A bottle of beer and a tiny Santa gifted to a 15 year old boy, lying beside his relatives, his parents and friends still visiting. The grief consumes us, when young lives are lost, the injustice, the despair.  

A tiny angel, a cherub, catches my eye. The marble is bright, the skin smooth. I walk around the tomb, aiming for the best angle, for bokeh in the afternoon light. Six (or is it eight?) people rest here, a fence containing them. 

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Back home, I process my photos, blue-skied monuments and simple crosses marking Easter in the metropolis. I plan a future - a future with hope, with promise, with optimism. A future with friends, with beautiful images, with fresh vegetables and flowers and tastes and scents. I am looking forward, so I write, clumsy today, a lack of practise. In that future, I will write every day.

Then I find it, a quote to end, Amor Towles at his finest:

"It is a lovely oddity of human nature that a person is more inclined to interrupt two people in conversation than one person alone with a book."

This post originally appeared on Sandy’s blog “Living in the Light” in April 2018.

Love & Marriage

Love and marriage, love and marriage

Go together like a horse and carriage

This I tell you brother

You can’t have one without the other!

I’m immediately transported back to Married with Children, the escapades of the main characters flitting through my brain. Of course the foul-mouthed husband is now better known for his role in Modern Family, the patriarch of a diverse and colourful reconstituted family. Dramas, big and small, play out around them, reminding us what life is like when we live with others.

Of course if you remember Al in MwC, you’ll remember Peggy, the gorgeous but lazy “mom” with her red hair piled high into a beehive atop her head. She later starred in another sitcom I occasionally tuned into - Eight Simple Rules. I came to love the family, especially the Dad, played by John Ritter, who was so protective of his daughters, and struggled to do the right thing. And then suddenly, Ritter died, the same age as I am now. I was shocked. This wasn’t comedy, this wasn’t a show - this was real life. The cast chose to carry on with the show, their tears real, their grief palpable, a tribute to the man they loved as a friend and co-star. I thought the final of M*A*S*H was tragic - this was even worse.

Fast-forward 15 years. It’s three months - to the day - since I stopped working full time. An email appears in my inbox. It's the Registrar-General who tells me I’m officially registered as a marriage and civil union celebrant, following my interview with two lovely people from DIA. I’m chuffed. Over these last three months, I’ve been cleaning: my body, my house, my mind. I’ve been taking photos, some terrible, others magical. I’ve been learning new tricks in Photoshop. I've been studying and networking. I’ve been updating my will, and getting professional insurance. My migraines are less frequent, my sparkle is returning. But this? I wasn’t expecting registration until November or December, and now I have to rattle my dags, get a portrait, write text for a Facebook page, buy a sound system, design a logo.

“Will you do funerals?” people ask, and I pause. Last year, there were two funerals. The first my dad’s, celebrating the life of a man who had lived 85 full years, doing the things he loved. We ran the ceremony, my sister and I, clear that Dad would have liked the send-off, classical music playing as his treasured collections sat on the table next to him on a sunny winter's day in Hawkes Bay.  And then - just 6 weeks later - another funeral, the daughter of a friend, not yet ready for her first birthday, instead lying in a tiny coffin. Rain, tragedy, heart-break, despair. Life is not fair.

So will I do funerals? The answer is yes. Love is love, and we need to celebrate life and living. I’ll need some practise, to stay calm, to be the rock for families who are distraught. . But as Prince William reminded Cantabrians in Hagley Park as they commemorated the anniversary of the devastating quakes, “grief is the price you pay for love.” 

This blog originally appeared on Sandy’s blog, Living in the Light in August 2018: http://livinginthelight24.blogspot.com/2018/08/love-marriage.html