Recording by the fabulous Miss Bella Hazelton
00:38 What happens when you contact Catherine?
01:58 How to develop your vows
02:25 Favourite Wedding Elements
03:05 Where Catherine stands
03:47 Why Catherine is a Civil Celebrant
04:35 What makes Catherine Crothers Unique?
05:01 Most Important Tip for Brides
06:10 Wedding Rituals
07:32 A Client’s Love Story
09:19 Catherine’s Love Story
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Hopelessly Devoted podcast. I’m bridal gown designer Sally Mussared delivering you the inside tips from Melbourne’s top wedding professionals.
[Sally] Today we are at Jack Springs Farm and we’re here to meet Catherine Crothers, who is a civil celebrant, specially across the Macedon Ranges, but anywhere that you’re interested, so thank you very much for having us.
[Catherine] Pleasure. (laughs)
Fantastic. If can dive straight into it … Mm-hmm. When you get a phone call from a bride, how do they normally contact you?
Mostly it’s either by phone or email, or they check out my website.
OK. Fantastic. And, then what’s your process from then?
What Happens When You Contact Catherine?
Well, I like to get the couples to, to come here to me at the farm. It’s a quiet and relaxed…
…environment. Thank you. (laughing) And then we can sort of sit and have a coffee and a chat, and I can get to know them as a couple, and then they get to know me as a celebrant. I think it’s really important for that connection, to have with your celebrant, making sure that they are understanding exactly what the couple wants for their special day.
Fantastic. When do you see them again before the ceremony?
Look, you can have, there’s numerous meetings that you can actually have, once they’ve met me and they decide that they’d like to book me and I’m available, I normally give them, in the first meeting a nice little information pack, which tells them sort of step-by-step what they actually need to do, to sort of develop a ceremony that they would like to have.
In the initial meeting I walk them through what’s mandatory legally, and then what we can do, as far as elements to include in the ceremony, so that could be, they write their own vows, would they have some readings? or would they like somebody to be involved in the ceremony? and have a poem?, and are there going to be rings involved?, and that sort of thing. So it’s all there in that first meeting, and then once they book me I’ve send them via email lots and lots of information, so anything to do with readings or poems and draughts of the ceremony.
How To Develop Your Vows?
How do you help them develop their vows?
I’ve got a couple of examples, that are wonderful, well I think, really meaningful sort of words to say to each other, but I also encourage couples to sort of really think about what they would like to say to each other, cause it’s one of those very, sort of, beautiful moments, in the ceremony, so, um, I think it’s important that they really slow down and take the time to really think about what they’d like to say.
Favourite Wedding Elements
What elements do your favourite weddings have?
I think definitely the vows. It’s when you’ve got through the introduction, you’ve welcomed all the family and friends here to celebrate the most momentous day in their lives and then you sort of spoken about their story, and then you sort of getting down to the nitty gritty of legal element of them actually exchanging their vows to each other, and, yeah, it’s just a very special moment. They sort of turn to face each other, and, basically no one else exists. It’s just the two of them together and it’s actually just sending goosebumps (laughs) down my spine now (laughing)
That’s gorgeous …
But when they actually holds and they’re just looking into each others’ eyes, and they’re saying their vows to each other, I think that’s the most important part. I mean, I love it. Yeah.
Where Catherine Stands
Tell me, where are you standing while they’re doing that?
I actually stand to their side.
Yay! (laughing) I get beautiful photos back from brides sometimes, and you know, you got them kissing at this most intimate moment and right behind them in the wedding photo is the civil celebrant. You think, come-on, choof
I know. With my training it was one of those things that, yeah you stand by the groom, on the groom’s side, because often the groom actually is the one that needs the most support. He’s the…
Is he? …
the most nervous (laughs) Really? (laughs) Yeah just standing by his side next to his groomsman and best-man if they have them.
Why do the blokes need the most support?
I don’t know, they just get really, some of them get really quite emotional. Yeah, I know.
It’s a very special time. Yeah.
Why Catherine is a Civil Celebrant?
So, what led you into civil celebrant work?
I’m very interested in people. I love hearing their stories, but, look I was a bridesmaid a number of times for all my friends, so I was sort of up to eight bridesmaids dresses,…
Rivalling ’27 Dresses’ (laughing)
Yes, not quite twenty-seven, but, anyway, and then I was an MC at some weddings. I saw a lot of wonderful weddings, I’ve seen a lot of terrible weddings, and then when we moved to the country, it was sort of like just working out the opportunities for the area, Macedon Ranges is a growth area, It’s beautiful. I just love people. I love hearing their stories, and if I can make their day special and trouble-free and really heartfelt then I know I’m doing a good job, so I, I really get a lot out of working with couples.
What Makes Catherine Crothers Unique?
Is that what makes Catherine Crothers unique? You see that’s a hard question, because I think everybody’s unique (laughs)…
Yeah that’s a nice one.
I mean, everybody’s different. Every civil celebrant has a different way of dealing with people and the way they conduct their ceremonies. I look at myself and I just, I’m down to earth, that’s my attitude and the way I deal with my couples is what you see is what you get. It’s about them, as a couple. It’s about nobody else. It’s their special day.
Most Important Tip for Brides
What would you say is the most important tip for brides? I say particularly brides because that’s who we deal with. We don’t get to meet the groom at all really.
I give the advice to be themselves and to really think about what they want they want in their ceremony. Don’t think about what other people want in the ceremony but just really think about what’s important to them, and, then also, because the ceremony is actually, it’s just such a quick component, in a way. It sounds terrible as a component of getting married…
Well it’s only half an hour or so? Isn’t it? In the whole day…
Yeah, so to try and breathe and slow it down and really just let it all just sink in, so we’re not rushing in with the music, they can stand up the front in front of everybody in their beautiful dress, with all their bridal party, and just sort of have the music playing and flowing over them, and just drinking in the audience, basically, all their friends and family, who are there. So I suppose that’s probably one of my biggest things, it’s just to really try and slow it down, because it will go so quickly. I don’t want couples to have the regret of having a rushed ceremony, that wasn’t meaningful.
What’s one of the weirdest or funniest requests you’ve ever had?
Oh look (laughs) Look, most people are quite straightforward.
They want a nice, simple, stylish ceremony. I haven’t had…
Although I’ve had so many brides say to me, “I just want something really simple”, and they start talking through what they want in a dress. It’s not simple at all, you know. So, I think that’s gorgeous when people say, “I want a simple wedding”, and you just go “okay, what do you see as simple?”. Let’s get started, you know as often it’s not, but anyway.
Mm-hmm. (laughs) Look, I haven’t had any requests for Elvis impersonations yet (laughing) I don’t think I’m going to go down that track, but (laughs) I’ve got a 1950’s-style wedding next year which, which will be lovely. Like the couple are gorgeous so I’ll have to find an outfit for that. But other than that, there’s a few rituals, which get kind of, full on; hand fastening ritual, or some of the old Celtic kind of rituals, drinking from a whiskey cup during the ceremony, jumping over a broom…
Jumping over a broom? I haven’t (laughs) heard that one …
(laughs) Oh it sort of means a fresh start, sweeping the fresh start in your life. Look that, that’s probably the only few that I have really been asked to do. No releasing of butterflies or doves, (laughs) or anything. (laughs) Don’t want cruelty to animals (laughs).
A Client’s Love Story
That’s great. I’m a hopeless romantic and as you were saying before, you love their stories. We’ve been working with our brides to collect their stories and you were saying that you have a really gorgeous client…
Yes, yeah. And actually they are getting married very soon, so it’s very exciting. Their story is really lovely. The groom was previously married before and he has had, he had a terrible with his (laughs) first marriage, which is probably not very…
Yes, yeah. And, I think he’d lost a lot of confidence in finding somebody, and that probably never thought that he would find somebody again. His beautiful bride-to-be now, she’s gorgeous, and they are sort of like a country couple. She was actually very shy and never thought that she would meet somebody either. She went on RSVP and he actually was on RSVP they were terrified. They were on RSVP for a week each and they both met each other on RSVP…
Wow, in that week…
So it was sort of instant, they didn’t need to find anybody else.
(laughs) That’s gorgeous.
And they just sort of started exchanging messages, and then I think they finally had a chat over the phone and decided to meet. And then the gorgeous groom, he decided, right, I’m gonna meet her and, but he’s a graded driver.
And she’s like a professional psychologist. But he didn’t want to be seen as something that he wasn’t, so he turned up at her door in his work gear. (laughs) Because he said I didn’t want to…
I didn’t want to…
No, “I didn’t want to have that pretence. I wanted her to know that this is who I am,” and they basically, they just fell in love that week, and here we are today and they’re getting married next month.
Fantastic. (laughs). That is gorgeous.
Yeah, yeah, that’s very sweet so, they found each other.
Catherine’s Love Story
I love to hear how people met. How did you and Gary meet?
Well, ours is probably not that romantic (laughs), we just met through few, mutual friends, and it was just instant, though we had so much of a connection, a lot of mutual interests and a real passion for living in the country but doing a lot of travel and food and love our snow skiing. We were both living in the city at the time, and then eventually when we actually did decide that, you know this is what we wanted to do and be together, we decided we’d make a really fresh start and move to the country and have a tree change, and so we built our, our farm. Yeah, so.
It’s not exactly that romantic.
You got sheep and …
Yes, we grown a South African Dorper breed of sheep…
So they’re meat…
And you don’t have to shear?
No, no, and we’re lambing at the moment and they are all very cute (laughs)
And then we’ve got an olive grove, which is just slowly growing. Okay. So, yeah.
How old is that?
So it’s a while yet.
Yes, yeah. I then we have a couple of horses that we’ve given ‘forever homes’. They’re retired thoroughbreds, so.
And you’ve got a spot on your place that you got married at?
Yes, yes. We call it the big old ceremony gumtree. So it was very special. We had a very, fun, country wedding. A hundred and thirty-five, straw bales and underneath the gumtree, yeah, so it was lovely.
Lovely. Had you built by then?
Yes, yeah, yeah we’d just, we’d actually, pretty much well built the house and, and most of the infrastructure on the farm, so.
Well thank you very much for sharing with us today.
Pleasure. Thank you for Yeah, it’s lovely. And if you’d like any further details, how’s best to contact you?
Fantastic. And we’ll leave the details in the show notes.
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for listening. I’m Sally Mussared. Remember life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away….