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Making Your Wedding Accessible

Wedding celebrant in a wheelchair with all of the wedding guests

Have you made accessibility a priority at your wedding? When planning your wedding, most couples I work with will spend hours making sure all the details are just right. Whether it’s the dress, the cake, the flowers or those all-important RSVPs. Yet, one of the biggest oversights that I see in weddings is accessibility. Regardless of where you are planning to get married, it’s important to consider the needs of your guests and whether they can easily partake in the celebrations without missing anything.

Don’t let accessibility be an afterthought in your wedding planning journey. Older guests, people with disabilities and parents with prams will all need to easily move between the ceremony and reception locations. Here are some tips on how to make your big day more inclusive so that everyone can enjoy watching you marry the love of your life.

Things to consider before the wedding:

Don’t make assumptions.

Even if no one on your guest list has accessibility needs today, circumstances could change in the lead up to the wedding. For example, someone might have a baby a few weeks before your wedding. In order to avoid anyone feeling awkward or unwelcome, it is best practice to have an accessibility plan ready to go.

Be upfront and ask your guests what they need.

Don’t be embarrassed to ask your guests directly what they need. You can include a question on your RSVP form for your friends and family to identify if they need priority parking or wheelchair access. Someone living with chronic fatigue might prefer to have a seat reserved for them near the back. Someone who is vision- or hearing-impaired might prefer to be seated near a speaker.

You could include a note on your invitation that says something along the lines of:

“We are so excited to host you at our wedding. As a beloved guest, it is our priority to make you feel as comfortable as possible. If you have any special requirements or requests, please contact us immediately so that we can accommodate you.”

Wedding Accessibility Checklist:

Wheelchairs:

This is important if you are planning on getting married somewhere “off the beaten track”. Whether it’s on a beach, or in the middle of the woods, the rough ground will make it hard for some people to walk to the designated ceremony location. Consider hiring a couple of wheelchairs and asking some close friends to chauffer anyone who may need it.

For a beach wedding, many local councils in Australia have the option of hiring beach-specific wheelchairs. They enable people to push themselves smoothly through sand and are relatively water-resistant. Ask your surf life-saving club or council service desk for more information about how to hire beach wheelchairs for your wedding day.

Ramps:

Ramp access isn’t only helpful for wheelchair and pram users. They are also helpful for people who need assistance walking up and down steps.

Most wedding venues will already have ramp access (as a legal requirement in Australia), however, if you choose to get married on private property or somewhere a little older, you may need to get creative. Search online for ramp-hire, or create your own with some sturdy planks from Bunnings.

PA and Speakers:

No matter where you are getting married, having a PA system should not be considered a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have. Using a PA system will ensure all of your guests are able to hear what is happening during the ceremony, especially if there’s a lot of noise outside like wind or waves. A great PA system can go a long way to help people enjoy your special day.

Sun and heat mitigation:

Aussie sun hits different. If you’re wedding falls on a particularly sunny day, provide your guests with ample sun protection in the form of umbrellas, sunscreen and shaded seating areas. Keep cold water close by, and ask your celebrant to invite people to help themselves at any point. By doing these things, you’re not only saving your guests from having to squint their eyes in the sun (which doesn’t look great in photos), but you’re saving them from more potentially serious issues such as sunburn or heatstroke.

Provide Transcriptions:

In addition to making sure everything is clear and audible, consider providing your guests with an order of service that includes transcriptions of your readings and vows. This helps people follow along with all of the important parts and is a thoughtful way for you to make sure everyone can participate in the ceremony.

Font accessibility:

Handwriting is a very popular style choice for weddings. However, it can be difficult to read for some. To make it easier for your guests to read things like invitations and nameplates, ask your designer or signwriter if they can provide copies with easy-to-read fonts.

Weddings are beautiful and memorable events, but they can also be challenging and anxiety-inducing for guests with disabilities or mobility impairments. Fortunately, there are many ways to make your venue accessible without too much disruption. From hiring wheelchairs at the beach to providing transcripts of readings aloud, you should have an inclusive experience that’s enjoyable for everyone on your guest list.

Did I miss anything? Let us know in the comments if there are more ways to make a wedding accessible for all guests.

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4 Key Questions to ask before choosing your Sydney Wedding Venue

sydney wedding venue faqs

Choosing a wedding venue in Sydney can be an overwhelming process. There are so many different places to choose from, and all of them have their own unique features. You’ll need to make sure that this decision is the right one for you by answering these 4 key questions before you finalize anything!

1. What is your budget for your Sydney wedding?

Getting married in Sydney often comes with a significant price tag. Ask any of 24,000 Sydney couples that get married each year and they will all tell you that weddings are a major financial commitment. According to MoneySmart.gov.au the average Australian wedding costs $36,000, with many Sydney-based weddings exceeding $50K.

Of course, the average Sydney wedding budget for a day is probably going to depend on what you think a Sydney wedding needs to include. If you’re aiming for a really extravagant, expensive wedding, you’re going to spend much more money. Remember that your Sydney wedding venue will likely be the single most costly element of the day, so knowing your budget is paramount to finding the right spot.

If your financial priorities lie elsewhere (Is anybody else saving for house at the moment?), there are plenty of other options like having a micro-wedding or elopement with a few close friends and family. These options usually mean there’s less pressure on you financially and it’s easier deciding how much money will need to be spent on your Sydney wedding overall.

Be aware that a lot of Sydney venues have hidden costs or extra fees, such as mandatory food and beverage minimums per person which can really add up if you’re not careful!

freedom hub wedding venue sydney

2. How many people are attending your wedding?

Once you’ve clarified your budget, the next thing to do is come up with a rough number for your guest list. Crafting a guest list can be hard, which is why I’ve written an entire step-by-step guide here.

Having a loose bracket, perhaps 100-120 guests, you can now start hunting around Sydney for wedding venues that can accommodate your desired number. Trust me, it’s much easier to set your guest list BEFORE finding your venue because you don’t want to find yourself falling in love with a venue that seats 50 people less than what you were planning to invite.

You may end up with a different set of numbers for who is invited to your ceremony and your reception. This can be a nice way of including more people in your day without blowing the budget out of proportion.

leichhardt town hall wedding venue sydney

3. What features am I looking for in a wedding venue?

If your priority is to find a have a Sydney beach wedding, it’s probably not worth booking a venue out in Richmond. Similarly, if you or your guests have any physical disability, you might need to prioritise finding a venue that is easily accessible.

Wedding venues across Sydney offer a range of different unique selling propositions, and it is incumbent on you and your fiancé to know what you’re looking for. Here’s a brief list of features you may want to class as either a MUST-HAVE or a NICE-TO-HAVE:

  • accessible entrance
  • 5-star food and catering
  • wet-weather alternatives
  • size and layout
  • close to public transport
  • accommodation on-site
  • BYO food and beverages option
  • picturesque views
  • price
  • wedding/event planner included
  • environmental standards

4. How do I find Sydney wedding venues near me?

Sydney is big city, and there are wedding venues of all shapes and sizes in the region. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been 30 years ago to sort through the endless list of options to find the right venue, but these days we have an incredible tool at our disposal called the Internet.

Despite its imperfections, the Internet has definitely made our lives easier. If you’ve ever tried navigating your way through Sydney’s CBD in the middle of peak hour you’ll understand how something like Google Maps is a lifesaver.

Wedding venue hunting has also become easier thanks to some incredible resources. If you don’t know where to begin, I suggest spending some time on a directory like WedShed, browsing hashtags such as #sydneyweddingvenue, and reading all the 1-star Google reviews you can find.

If you’re looking for some more eco-ethical wedding venues in Sydney, be sure to also check out Less Stuff More Meaning, of which I am an ambassador. The venues listed on their website have expressly prioritised making their wedding venues better for the environment.

In summary…

The most important questions you and your partner need to ask before finding a Sydney wedding venue are:

  1. What is your budget?
  2. How many wedding guests do you want?
  3. What features are you looking for?
  4. Where are you going to find your venue?

Using the answers to these questions, you may now go and begin your hunt for a Sydney wedding venue. Don’t forget, there is no rush and it’s more important to make the right choice than a fast one.

I hope this article has helped provide some clarity for making that all-important decision about which Sydney wedding venue you are going to lock in, as well as give you plenty of food for thought on what features will be important to you when considering your venue.

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How to Craft a Wedding Guest List that aligns with your Values and your Budget

Let’s talk about your wedding guest list…

Getting married is a momentous occasion that should be shared. But choosing the wedding guest list is commonly quoted as being one of the most stressful parts of planning a wedding. When figuring out who to invite, you have to balance your budget with what’s right for you. But there are ways that you and your fiancé (and possibly parents) can make this process go smoothly.

In this guide, we’ll walk step-by-step through the process you can use to craft your wedding guest list that aligns to your personal values and budget.

Step One: Determine your top 3 wedding values

First and foremost, your wedding should align with your personal values as a couple. What are your personal values? Do you value being inclusive of everyone? Do you value quality time with your nearest and dearest?

The first step in knowing who is going to make it on your guest list is knowing what values you want to uphold in your planning stage. Values, by nature, are subjective and need to be agreed upon by the two people planning the wedding.

Some examples of wedding values could include:

  • Generosity
  • Sustainability
  • Frugality
  • Inclusion
  • Extravagence
  • Fun
  • Intimacy
  • Family

Step Two: Where will your wedding be held?

Don’t freak out – you don’t need to have a venue locked in at this stage. But knowing the general area where the wedding will be held is a crucial decision in figuring out the budget and the guest list. It is important to know what city or region you’re hoping to book in, as the average cost-per-guest (CPG) will fluctuate depending on the location.

Child guest at a wedding

Step Three: Go BIG

To get things started, I’d suggest making a Google Sheet and write the longest list you possibly can of all of your friends and family. This should be shareable with your fiancé (and perhaps your parents if you want).

My advice is to go as big and broad as possible in this step – don’t hold back and don’t worry about the venue, the size or the budget.

Step Four: Lock in the budget and the venue

Although these next two steps might seem like a chicken and egg situation, I’d prioritise knowing your budget and your venue before knowing your final guest count.

Crunching the numbers requires you to be realistic and well-informed. Do your research, and make sure you have a good understanding of how everything is going to be paid for.

It’s worthwhile considering that each guest is more than just the number of butts in seats and how many mouths you have to feed – it might also include transport (if you’re providing), wedding favours (if that’s your jam), how much alcohol you’ll need and any other hire items required for the big day.

Common sense: When you have fewer guests, the less expensive your wedding will be.

Keep in mind any vendors you may want to include in this list, like your photographer, band or MC – they’ll need somewhere to sit and eat too.

you can have a large or small wedding guest list

Step Five: The cull!

Celebrate that you’ve made it this far! This means you’ve booked your venue, and you know exactly what the venue capacity is. Now it’s time for the final (and hardest) step in completing your guest list.

The first thing to note is that is either of your parents have offered so kindly to chip in financially, this might come with some expectations that their closest mates might be added to the list. As with everything wedding planning related, we recommend an open conversation with your folks.

Ask these five questions to cull down your wedding guest list:

  • Have we spoken to this person in the last 1-2 years? How much does it mean to you in the future if they weren’t at the wedding?
  • Have we actually met this person? If neither of you has met or heard of a potential guest (assuming your parents have invited them), then consider this all the permission you need to remove them from the list.
  • Are we having kids at our wedding? All of it, or just the ceremony?
  • Do we have to invite them? Feeling pressured to invite someone out of social niceties is not a good enough reason to spend $150+ on their food and beverage tab.
  • Is it possible that we’re only inviting this person to avoid feeling guilty? If the answer is yes, then I suggest that you don’t invite them. Simple! It’s seriously a day that’s about you and your significant other, and only the top people should be there to witness it all go down.

The wedding guest list is an important decision because it can affect the budget and venue selection. By considering your wedding values in making decisions about who to invite or not to invite, you will be able to create a wedding that aligns with what matters most for you both as individuals and partners.

 

Hank Paul is a Sydney Wedding Photographer specialising in sustainable and inclusive weddings.

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The Freedom Hub Wedding – Cliff & Tim, Sydney NSW

sydney wedding photographer

Cliff and Tim were married at The Freedom Hub in Waterloo, Sydney. A cafe by day, The Freedom Hub makes an exquisite wedding venue for the modern Sydney couple. With 100% of their profits going towards ending slavery, this wedding venue gets a big ethical tick from me!

The wedding itself was an intimate and gentle celebration of the most two kind-hearted men who have built an incredible life and community for themselves. It was no surprise that Cliff, an acclaimed cake artist and baker, designed his own wedding cake. And the incredibly vibrant florals were designed by their dear friend, Frannie from Francis Floristry.

The guests of honour were Cliff & Tim’s two French Bulldogs, affectionately known as the Ward Brothers – Howard and Edward. Together with the two grooms, the Ward Brothers complete this beautiful family of four, thus it made total sense for them to be the ring bearers for the day.

The Freedom Hub, Sydney Wedding Venue

The Freedom Hub in Waterloo is Sydney’s first ethical wedding and events venue, with its business model committed to donating 100% of its profits to support people who have experienced modern-day slavery. The Freedom Hub team is passionate about building awareness around the ongoing humanitarian crisis of human trafficking and slavery. The idea behind The Freedom Hub is to provide a space where people can come together, celebrate authentic creative expression through local artists and traders, all while doing good for humanity.

wedding styling at the freedom hub in Sydney large floral arrangement by francis floristry wedding cake by clifford luu

Wedding cake designed by the groom, Clifford Luu.

walking down the aisle at the freedom hub wedding venue sydney wedding venue the freedom hub

Before the wedding, Cliff and Tim answered a few questions about their relationship and what being married meant to them.

What does marrying Cliff mean to you?

Tim: It makes me feel loved even if I don’t know why. It means I can give him something that he wants. It means that I get to grow old with someone that will help father more animals, keep me grounded and encourage me to do what I need to do to make myself happy. It means that I have someone to care for, that examples/models the same, in a way that is rare.

What does marrying Tim mean to you?

Cliff: It means that Tim will be “my person” – the first person I call for good and bad news. Learning to compromise and to put him first. To continue to learn and understand why he does things the way he does.

wedding ceremony with two grooms at the freedom hub sydney the freedom hub wedding venue the freedom hub wedding photos

After the ceremony at The Freedom Hub, I walked around the streets of Waterloo with the wedding party (the grooms and their dogs) to take a few wedding portraits. Even in the middle of the day we managed to find some beautiful locations with gorgeous lighting to make for some soft wedding photos.

And of course, to keep things interesting, I always like to experiment with some high-key lighting for a few more eclectic wedding portraits.

the freedom hub wedding portrait photos cliff and tim married at the freedom hub wedding venue

If you’re looking for an ethical and sustainable wedding photographer in Sydney, visit my contact page to enquire about your wedding.

7 Ways to Manage Pre-Wedding Jitters: Strategies for the Big Day

When I became a Sydney wedding photographer, I was most excited by the prospect of getting to take photos for a living. But it didn’t take long to realise how much of the job revolved around building relationships with the couples I serve. In some cases, the most critical part of my day happens when I arrive to take the “getting ready photos” an hour or two before the ceremony is due to begin.

I arrive at the hotel/house/wherever the action is happening, and I walk in to find that my clients are overwhelmed with pre-wedding jitters. My definition of pre-wedding jitters is the sensation of nervousness or anxiety that people feel in the hours leading up to their wedding ceremony.

For better or for worse (see what I did there!) the pre-wedding jitters are sometimes an unavoidable aspect of the day. You may not be able to avoid pre-wedding jitters completely, but here are 11 strategies that I have found to be effective for pre-wedding jitters on your big day.

1) Delegate

In the final days of the planning process, try to delegate some of the important decisions to a close friend or family member so you don’t feel overwhelmed with too many choices and options. It’s a great way of taking the load off yourself.

2) Get ready with your fiancé

I know it might be a radical suggestion for some couples, but the reality is that oftentimes the person who is most calming in your life is the person you are about to marry! So why torture yourself by actively staying separated in some of the most stressful hours of your life? Plus, it’ll make for some hugely intimate and romantic getting ready photos.

3) Name your jitters

Call them out and name your jitters for what they are: a physiological fight-or-flight response that boosts adrenaline production in your body. When you begin to notice things like your heart beating faster, or quickening breath, then you can logically rationalise those experiences and allow your body to just do its thing.

4) Have a pre-wedding brunch

If you’re planning to get ready with your fiance, instead of spending the morning prepping separately, consider having a pre-wedding brunch and getting ready together. Whether it’s pancakes or avocado bagels (my personal favourite), feed yourselves a nourishing meal before the madness ensues!

5) Stay busy

I’m not talking about avoiding pre-wedding jitters by getting drunk the night before your wedding (I actually highly discourage this approach), but rather, try to keep preoccupied with other activities. Whether it’s a morning yoga session or catching up on Stranger Things Season Two (yes please!), anything you can do to preoccupy your mind will help you to overcome pre-wedding jitters.

6) Keep a pre-wedding to-do list

The best way I’ve found for staying preoccupied is by creating a pre-wedding to-do list that you can refer back to throughout the day. This will not only help keep your mind occupied on productive tasks, but it’ll also give you something solid and tangible in front of you when pre-wedding jitters start to creep in.

7) Take a pre-wedding nap

When you can, it’s always good to get some sleep before your wedding day. And if pre-wedding jitters are fuelling insomnia, then try taking a pre-wedding power nap. It’ll do wonders for your pre-wedding jitters!

Pre-wedding jitters are a feeling of nerves or anxiety that engaged people feel in the hours leading up to their big day. This article discussed strategies and tips on how to manage pre-wedding jitters, such as delegating decisions, getting ready with your fiancee instead of separately, naming pre-wedding jitters for what they really are (a physiological fight or flight response), keeping busy throughout the day by taking care of other tasks like making a pre-wedding checklist, having a pre-wedding brunch with family members and friends before the big event starts.

All the best with managing your pre-wedding jitters, and here’s to a joyful and memorable wedding day ahead!

 

Henry Paul Photography acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. I pay my respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and to Elders both past and present. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.

 

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