Getting to know VICKY FLANEGAN
Your local marriage celebrant
We were lucky enough to catch up with Vicky Flanegan this week at The Meeting Place in McLaren Vale. Vicky has been a local celebrant for over 6 years and has officiated over 200 weddings! It’s no wonder why though, she is bubbly, funny and so easy to chat too. We had a ball with Vicky and thought it was only fair all our brides and grooms had the chance to get to know her too.
So…we asked Vicky just a few questions!
Growing up in McLaren Vale what do you love most about being involved in local weddings?
Every time I drive down that hill into McLaren Vale I feel like I am coming home and that warmth and love of the local area stays with me when I step into any venue to perform a wedding on the Fleurieu.
My family owns multiple businesses in the local area and has done so for over 25 years now, so I am very much a local and very in tune with the community. It is rare not to bump into someone I know, went to school with, worked with or have married when I ‘come home’. I am sure everyone finds that in their home town?
Because of this connection I am so proud to call the Fleurieu home and that sense of community support is always evident in the local wedding industry. The suppliers I work with all the time are so passionate, so we all work so well together, endorsing, sharing and supporting each other’s work. The area is filled with wonderful, small businesses.
When you engage their services for your wedding an actual person is over joyed…. I don’t know about you, but I want that as part of my wedding journey.
I might add that there are also rock stars in the industry that are killing it on a national/international level and they are right on our back doorstep.
As locals we all love seeing people filled with wonderfully fond memories of the best wedding experience they could possibly have in and around our home towns.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how long you have been in the wedding industry?
I have been performing wedding ceremonies for over 6 years now and let’s just say I fricken love what I do!
I am a Modern Marriage Celebrant and I feel that I should elaborate on what a Modern Marriage Celebrant does vs a Marriage Celebrant.
A Modern Celebrant is a professional Celebrant, meaning this is my only gig and I do not work at anything else except making married people.
I believe strongly in the ethos, “If something is work doing it is worth doing like a rock star…”
Although I have a lot of inspo for any one ceremony, I don’t tell my couples what to do and how they have to do it (except the legal bits that have to be in there- which really is a super small percentage of what is said and done on the day). I listen, guiding them, so they tell their story, their way in whatever setting they choose on their big day.
I am up for anything. I embrace new and creative ideas that suit each couple and work hard to bring out the best in them during the process and on the day.
I do this by making my couples feel as comfortable as possible in the lead up to and during the ceremony (let’s face it everyone is at least a little bit nervous during the ceremony especially).
I get so much wonderful feedback from my couples about how I helped them feel so relaxed and happy in that moment, because they have confidence in me, we are telling their story exactly the way they want it to be told and we definitely have a lot of fun along the way.
There is nothing more boring than listening to your celebrant waffle for ages about irrelevant content and not tapping into the true personalities of the people getting married.
“People rarely remember what I say during the ceremony, but they always remember how I make them feel…”
I suppose that is my point of difference. Although I have some beautiful words written in my folder, people remember that I worked with them not for them, I made them feel relaxed and that I laughed out loud with them on their special day.
They remember how the party…whoop I mean the reception felt after I helped them set the tone for the rest of the celebrations.
Fun, lighthearted, relaxed and engaging ceremonies is my speciality.
Sara and Aaron at the Peacock Farm in Willunga by Emme Jade Photography
What are the main concerns when people come to you?
Great question, because majority of people do not know what celebrants do.
When you choose a photographer, a florist, a cake decorator or a venue, they are all very visual and tangible parts of the planning process, but where can you see what a celebrant does. Even on my Insta feed it just shows me smiling all the time, taking selfies and holding a microphone up for two people under an arbour.
A lot of people feel that we just rock up on the day for an hour, say a few words and then take off, job done right?
That would be cool, but it is definitely not the case… Any one wedding takes a minimum 20 hours to put together between meetings, paperwork, writing a personalized ceremony, a rehearsal (onsite usually) and delivering an awesome ceremony on the big day. So my first meeting with couples can be a real eye opener as I go through the time, energy and thought that goes into a good ceremony on my behalf behind the scenes.
I put the goodness in so it is a low stress part of the wedding day planning.
What are some major decision to consider when approaching a business like yours?
Big things to consider are how long the celebrant has been performing ceremonies for, how they write the ceremony etc. but I think the main thing to consider is how comfortable you feel with your celebrant?
This person is standing next to you and the love of your life, on one of the biggest days of your life and is a part of some of the most intimate moments on the day, in front of all the people you hold dear, so if you do not feel comfortable with the person pulling it all together, then it comes out in everything to do with the ceremony, the photos taken and how you remember every moment…
I encourage every couple to pick all their suppliers for their wedding, based on the fact that they feel 100% comfortable with the professionals (preferably) they have put in place, enabling them to relax, put their party pants and dresses on, knowing these talented individuals have it all sorted.
This brings a peace of mind that you just cannot put a dollar value on…
What makes a good celebrant and what are the top things to look out for in a celebrant?
Personally I feel a good celebrant is defined by their level of service to your day. It is not about us and a good celebrant knows that without a doubt.
A good celebrant is there to work with you, beside you, for you, narrate your love story and involve your people, not steal you lime light or make it any way about them.
If you need a glass of bubbles while you are caught up in photos, if you need a tissue or a little quiet moment before hand so you can enjoy what is about to unfold, a good celebrant is intuitive to those needs.
Meeting these intuitive needs comes with experience. I was definitely not as aware of all the elements that need attention early on in my Celebracy career, but with time I know exactly what to focus on, always with my couple’s best interests in mind.
Karlee and Lachlan at Serafino by Glenn Alderson Photography
Professional or part time celebrant?
I have told a lot of love story’s and spent a quality amount of time on the mic. I feel that is the key difference between professional and part time celebrants.
I feel 100% comfortable up the front on the mic, so I can assist my couples and enjoying the moments with them.
Because this is my only gig I spend a lot of time researching and perfecting my craft, so I can deliver fun and on point ceremonies.
As a professional celebrant each wedding is not part of me gaining experience in the industry, it is all about my couple’s experience, so I can focus on my couples needs specifically.
Do you have a PA system?
It is actually a legal requirement that everyone can hear the ceremony clearly (in particular the legal wording).
So as a professional celebrant I have all the gear (quality Mipro PA System and supplied IPod touch if you want recorded music vs. live music) so that everyone can hear the whole ceremony and your important tunes.
I am prepared, because I have seen where things can go pear shaped in life and during the ceremony (especially with technical elements). So I make sure music, PA placement and mics are all organised and operated the right way so that everything runs smoothly.
What is the typical booking process?
Let’s break the process down a bit…
I have an initial meeting with my couples and we have a lil chat…
This meeting is super important, because celebrants are not a one size fits all kinda thing, as a modern celebrant I am all about making sure my couples feel nice and combatable with me and what I do.
I am not the right fit for every couple…As a celebrant I am a part of some of the most gorgeous and intimate moments on the big day so it is a massive focus for me that couples feel comfortable with me being up there with them…
Once it has been established that I am just the right fit for my couples needs day and what they want from their ceremony, then I lock in the date with a deposit and we organize another meeting down the track. Sending them on their way with lots of really cool info.
At the second meeting we get down to the fun stuff…chatting specifically about what they want, who they want included, we sign the NOIM (Notice of Intended Marriage-that needs to be lodged no later than one calendar month before the ceremony date) and we also go through the legal ceremony wording.
Then I put it all together for them and write their ceremony for them, with them, which is not a quick task, as I spend an average of 20 hours on any one ceremony from start to finish. A lot of energy, knowledge and time goes into a good ceremony so it feels just right.
I also feel that a rehearsal is key to achieving a chilled vibe on the day.
We are not setting up a staged performance, because from my experience, usually the most memorable moments are the little stuff ups made by nervous brides or grooms during the ceremony, but there is definitely a decent amount of comfort gained from the knowledge of what comes next. We have the rehearsal on site where possible so that I can see their vision and get to know them both a little more and usually I get to meet their nearest and dearest before the day, so they feel comfortable with me too.
All of this applied time for us goes into the background before we even think about standing under the arbor with a microphone laughing and crying for their 20ish minute ceremony….
Just quickly…with the length of the ceremony…most couples are looking for a short, sweet and unique one. It doesn’t have to be super-duper long and involved ceremony to be an awesome- in fact from my experience the best ones are on the shorter side…We are not about inauthentic ‘wedding fluff’, including a documentary style, war and peace version of your story, because let’s face it…everyone attending the wedding know the couple’s love story.
The little personal inclusions are where it is at.
An anecdote here and a funny innuendo there goes a long way towards involving everyone in the big day.
Kelly and Kim at Paxton’s
What is a typical cost?
As I mentioned before celebrants are not a one size fits all and like all wedding professionals we have different packages to accommodate every couple’s unique needs.
Love is love! LGBTQI+ friendly since forever.
Let’s face it, any authorised celebrant can complete paperwork and set up a PA, but as my couple’s like to say…it is the ‘Vic Factor’ that sets me a part from the rest.
The ‘Vic Factor’ includes:
- My bubbly, positive presence on the big day- I am a very social person and my aim is to always make sure everyone feels happy and well looked after.
- My relaxed, intuitive and professional manner means that I make your people feel engaged and are in the moment. As I start to speak I see everyone sit back and get comfortable, knowing it is going to be an enjoyable and authentic ceremony.
- A level of understanding that can only come from over 6 years of making married people #nodoovers
- This experience means that I take everything in my stride, working with other wedding professionals to make sure everything runs smoothly and seamlessly, so no one has to worry or wonder. I know the co-ordinators, understand the timelines and focus on what is important for you on your day.
- My style- I am happy to say that if for some strange reason I do not have something that suits the chosen style and colour scheme I am happy to go dress shopping- That is just the kind of girl I am and the level of service I like to offer (Ok I may like shopping a little bit).
- I will be well groomed, in fashion and dressed to suit your colours and ceremony style- I have chats with my couples about what they would like me to wear at our pre-ceremony meeting.
- At the end of the day I fully understand that it is not about me, what I wear and what I say. It is your day and how you feel is the most important thing.
I also include the following:
- the first casual chat and all other face-to-face meetings
- unlimited email/phone consultation and support
- preparation and lodgement of all legal documentation including the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM), marriage certificates, register, declaration and associated costs
- creation of your personalised ceremony drawing from a wide selection of references. Your ceremony can be tailored to include the participation of friends or family members, your own written vows, unity rituals etc.
- use of a professional Mipro 303 portable PA (60 Watts RMS), with headset microphone, hand-held wireless microphone, MP3 (iPod/iPad etc.) input for playing recorded music during your ceremony
- site visit or rehearsal at your ceremony location
- travel costs within 50kms of my office at Woodcroft, SA (I am happy to travel further – please contact me about the extra travel fee)
- on the day of the wedding ceremony, I will be available onsite at least 45 minutes prior to the scheduled start time.
- a table and chairs for signing of the marriage certificates and register (if required)
- the use of my decorative signing pen
My fee is value for money and package prices vary depending on ceremony requirements, but I am more than happy to answer and questions and send a quote through. Please contact me at http://www.vickyflanegan.com.au/contact-me/ .
What is the main focus for you on the day and in the whole process?
“Faking it has a cost…” – Danielle Le Porte
“Perfect is boring, human is beautiful” – Tyra Banks
“I always find beauty in things that are odd and imperfect-they are much more interesting”- Marc Jacobs
Let’s think about why we should put energy and time into the ceremony…
Isn’t it just the boring bit you have to get through so you can join the party?
Let me tell you…it definitely doesn’t have to be…
Let’s brain storm…
Now I want you to think back to the last stomper party you threw?
What made it so good?
Was it the people you invited or maybe didn’t invite?
The conversations and the laughs that were had?
The booze and the food that was served?
Was it fun, exciting, hectic, or maybe a tad blurry?
I want you to think about the best part of it?
So after some research…which may have involved a dash of champagne and a spit in my backyard- I had to be sure.
I threw a stomper party just recently and I had a really big think about what made it such a great party.
And I concluded that…It was me…it was how I felt…it was how I interacted and how comfortable and happy I felt on the day…
It was because I only invited just my closest people and created an environment that I loved the hell out of…the vibe, the food, the booze, the music, were all my choice and what made me… oh and my hubby… feel happy.
I didn’t go out of my way to make it Insta worthy or picture perfect for Pinterest. In fact, I haven’t even posted any pics from that night…
My absolute main focus was to make sure my hubby and I had a good time and I noticed that my people couldn’t help but have an insanely good time too.
All the pics I have from that night capture how content my people and I felt, because they were there for us, they were there to enjoy our celebration. It was for us created by us. It was authentic and genuine and therefore it could not help but be fun and enjoyable organically.
And as photographers like Evan Bailey will tell you, it all comes through the camera, that feeling is infectious and therefore it cannot help being memorable for all the right reasons….
Now the wedding day is simply the biggest party a couple will ever throw…unless they decide to elope to Hawaii and that’s cool too, just take Trav and I too…
We just need to create the core ingredients from the best party ever on the wedding day and it all starts with the ceremony…
Because without the ceremony and a qualified celebrant it is just a big, expensive party…
The right celebrant and the right vibe created by your ceremony has a huge part to play in your day…
But I will let you in on a little secret…it is not about what we say in the ceremony it is how we help everyone (especially the happy couple) feel….
A good ceremony is a balancing act…
A good ceremony engages people as your people, embraces different family dynamics and I personally feel that a good ceremony is a well balanced between light hearted and intimate,
Fun and heartfelt,
Laughter and crying
Cheekiness and sincerity.
I’m yet to meet a couple that wants a solemn and boring ceremony, but you don’t want it to be jam packed with jokes either, making it feel like we are taking the piss…
It’s a celebration of your love for each other…but we can have a little fun with it…
Where can a couple wrong when selecting a celebrant?
Selecting a celebrant based on price and not meeting them to check if it is worth working it into you budget…
It is very important to think about what you want for your day and your ceremony. As a celebrant I help to set the tone for the rest of the celebrations to follow, so have a really good think about:
- How do you want to feel standing up the front?
- Who do you want included in your ceremony?
- How you want to feel walking into your reception?
- How do you want everyone else to feel?
- What do you want to include in your love story?
- How long do you want the ceremony to be?
- How long has the celebrant been authorised and performing ceremonies?
Like anything always “you get what you pay for” – if you are selecting your celebrant based on price alone then you are doing it wrong basically. So I encourage you to do your research. Figure out what the top 3 most important elements you want included (or not included) in your ceremony are and make sure you ask the questions about these things with the celebrant you are about to select and you feel happy with the answers they give you.
We are a part of some of the most intimate moments on your day, telling your loves story with all of you loved ones and you don’t want to wish you did it differently.
What is your worst ‘Bridezilla’ experience?
So many people ask me this question and fortunately I have a really boring answer…
I don’t really have a ‘bridezilla story’, maybe because my personality and the way I put myself out there attracts relaxed, realistic couples or because I am there to celebrate ‘the goodness’. My role in the day is about celebrating their love and what is wonderful in their relationship vs. making sure the flowers are perfect and the dress sits just right. My bestie is a bridal stylist and has styled socialites and celebrities over the years, so she has some awesome ‘bridezilla’ stories!, but I am the heart and the rest is the look.
I have had problems that needed solving, nervous and very anxious brides (and grooms) to calm down, along with some extremely intense family members to appease in my journey as a Celebrant, but that is all part of the experience and I work through it all without judgement, because it is such a pressurised day for everyone and we are only human after all. I find as long as I do what I say I will do and my couples have an enjoyable, fun experience while I make them into married people then I continue to avoid any bridezilla issues.
Do you have anything further a couple may like to know?
Every couple is unique, so what I offer is a very personal service…
Couples get worried about wedding traditions and the length of the ceremony specifically.
The bonus about getting married now and having a modern ceremony is that the rules have dropped away and couples can choose to include traditional elements or go full rogue and do it 100% uniquely their way.
I am up for all of it!
I tell my couples that if a tradition doesn’t mean anything to them then don’t have it as a part of the ceremony or adapt it to suit their values.
It may not suit every couple to have all ladies on one side and or all gents on the side, an even wedding party, dad escorting one member of the couple down the aisle, saying I do to the traditional question of ‘for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health for as long as we both shall live’ etc. so if it doesn’t mean anything to you, don’t do it.
Think about how you want to do it? How do you want your day to feel?
I encourage my couples to not give in to external pressures from family to conform or to make it all insta perfect because it is not about anyone other than the two of you.
#doityourway #authenticityiskey #nodoovers