Toni Paget, Gold Coast Wedding Celebrant
What is it that you do?
I am a celebrant. I call myself a young fun celebrant who creates custom ceremonies, designed to make the couple feel completely comfortable and like getting married is a piece of cake!
How long have you been doing weddings?
I completed my training in 2016 so not that long in the scheme of things but the wedding industry was busier than I had ever imagined, I’ve been lucky enough to perform over 70 ceremonies every year since I was registered.
How long do brides normally book in advance?
Usually we seem to come about third on the list of bookings, first being venue, second being photographer and then about 12-18 months out couples will book their celebrant.
How can couples make their ceremony personal?
Personalised ceremonies are what I live for, I am so nosey you wouldn’t believe it! My favourite way to make a ceremony personal is with the “Personal Story”. The story is by far my favourite part of any ceremony, I find it an honour when couples are happy to share their most intimate feelings about each other and it makes me all warm and fuzzy when I read the details about how they met. it gives your guests an insight into some of the aspects of your relationship they may not know. I have a little giggle how often I hear a groom saying "nice to meet you" when certain guests are arriving at their ceremony, I am sure if they haven't met you, they certainly don't know the little things you love about your partner or why you're standing up there marrying them. So I like to tell them! The story is usually to the start of the ceremony to get it rolling with a bit of personality and flair so no one in the audience is thinking "Oh is it over yet?".
If you are wondering how I create a personal story, I have a list of questions that I ask the couple to answer, I then create their story with their responses and most times they hear it for the first time on the day! If a couple answers the questions separately and send their responses through, it is often interesting for me to see two different perspectives on how they met and fell in love, but the best part is seeing each others responses on what they love most about their partner. At times this is the way some deliver what they would like to say in personal vows but don't feel as though they could manage. Its a way of still of communicating them to your partner in a public way, just spoken by me instead.
How would you describe your style?
I would describe my style as laid back and fun but also thorough and professional. I wasn’t a celebrant when I was married to my husband 5 years ago but I loved the whole process that I just knew I wanted to work in weddings in some way shape or form. One obstacle we came across when planning our wedding was finding a celebrant that fit what we were looking for, everyone felt very serious and set in their own ways. We wanted a ceremony to reflect us as a couple(which is not stiff and boring) but what we wanted most of all was someone who would make us feel comfortable, someone that felt like a friend, and that’s the kind of celebrant I strive to be.
If you could share one piece of advice what would it be?
One piece of advice I share often is pay that little bit extra to have a professional handle your ceremony music. I offer to couples in my package that they can use my PA system for their music and I bring the songs but they need to assign a guest to operate it. I like to focus on co-ordinating the arrival of the bridal party and ensuring the logistics of the ceremony happen seamlessly so for this to happen I need to be present not at the speaker. In saying this, having a guest operate works just fine but the difference a professional makes is indescribable, not only with equipment quality but even just in atmosphere alone.
Do you have any vendors you love working with, we would love to know?
Us celebrants actually don’t see too many of the other vendors required for a wedding as we are only present for the ceremony but I certainly have some that I get excited to see I am working with. As above I love working with musicians at ceremonies but to name a few I specifically love, Nik from NikNat Entertainment is eternally professional and I love that he checks in a few days before to see if anything additional is needed by him to ensure the ceremony to run smoothly. Benny Hanna has a phenomenal voice and an amazing demeanour, he is laid back and comfortable but exceptionally professional. With venues, I love working where I know a co-ordinator is going to be present, there are some venues I attend and I don’t see a single person that works there and if I was the bride I would not like that. Some venues with exceptional co-ordinators in my opinion are Cowbell Creek, Coolibah downs and the Sheraton Grand Mirage. The other vendor celebrants need to work closely with is obviously photographers. When you have a few weddings under your belt as a team you build a rapport and an understanding for each other, I am lucky enough to have that with a few photographers with Ryan of course being one of them.
What was one of the craziest weddings you have had?
Honestly a recent wedding Ryan and I worked on together at the Abbey Cobaki where one of the groomsman fainted during the ceremony. Apparently this particular groomsman was a bit of a jokester and the guests took a minute to cotton on to the fact that he wasn’t joking! Luckily he was quick to recover, a guest went and got some cold water and he sat down for the rest of the ceremony. At the very same wedding a few minutes later when I had moved out of “The Kiss” photo, I went and stood near an open window where a bird swooped in right next to my ear. Only a few crazy events but a good laugh and a great story to tell.
Who do you think your style is suited for?
I think my style is suited to couples who are looking to have a fuss free, good time during their ceremony. Couples who want to feel they aren’t just the names slotted into the “Bride” or “Groom” spot for that day. I am always up for a bit of light humour, a few tears but most of all I am always looking to create a relaxed fun atmosphere.
Tell us more about you?
Well sometimes a big thing celebrants like to advertise with is being a “Full-time” celebrant, I am not one of those, I do have another passion as well. I have studied to be a celebrancy trainer too! I spent a lot of time in hospitality before discovering my passion, not in roles I hated just not in roles I absolutely loved like this one but I did spend a lot of time in senior positions which required me to train junior staff members. I have always been able to communicate well in a training environment so I thought why not combine the two!
I am also a mum of two beautiful children. I have a 7 year old daughter Kiana who is already in love with weddings. She loves seeing her Mummy get dressed up to go spend the best day of peoples lives with them and she always wants to come. She is an amazing little girl with more bravery than I could have imagined at her age, she dances on stages most weekends and even performed on the Lord Mayors Christmas Carols stage in front of tens of thousands of people and hundreds of cameras when she was only 6 years old! I also have a cheeky little terror in my baby boy Tayo. He has beautiful blue eyes and the most mischievous smile. He is full of life and full of spirit, he is certainly a handful compared to his angel sister but I wouldn’t have him another way. The way they are so proud of me and everything I have achieved as a celebrant inspires me to always push to be better.
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