We sat down with celebrant-extraordinaire Jo Bond from Bonded By Love to hear all about her tips on creating a beautiful and memorable wedding ceremony. Whangarei based Jo is a lover of happily ever afters and an expert story teller, and has officiated many a wedding here at Baylys' Farm. Have a read through our chat below!
Hi Jo! Tell us a little about yourself and what lead you to became a celebrant?
I'm Jo, I live in Whangarei with my husband Mark and our two delightfully sassy and fun daughters who are three and one years old. I've worked in media and communication roles my whole life and have an absolute passion for people and storytelling. In my spare time I like keeping active and being outside, exploring Northlands beautiful beaches and of course marrying many amazing couples' who choose to get married in the best part of the country!
I first started thinking about becoming a celebrant after my own wedding, it was honestly the world's shortest ceremony and both of us had no idea what a 'good' ceremony could capture and sound like. After attending many friends' weddings since, I started to realise the amazing role and value the right celebrant can add to a wedding ceremony. It is such a big part of your day and I believe every ceremony deserves its own script that reflects and celebrates each couple in its own way.
Marrying people is one of my favourite roles to date, it's such a privilege to work with so many cool couples - there is so much love involved with the process and on the day.
What is your favourite part of a wedding ceremony?
Ooo this is a tricky one as there are so many lovely elements within the ceremony. I do however really enjoy the beginning of the ceremony when I often like to take a trip down memory lane and talk about how a couple met and sometimes recap on their engagement story. There are plenty of hidden gems to be found in these stories. In fact I'm pretty sure I'm yet to hear a straightforward proposal story that actually goes to plan! This really sets the tone for the wedding and is a great icebreaker. It provides some laughs and it keeps the vibe light-hearted, most importantly you can feel the bride and groom relax into the ceremony.
Photo by Kathy Elliston Photography
What should a couple consider when searching for their celebrant?
Finding a celebrant that fits you both as a couple is so important. I always recommend a no obligation meet and greet over Zoom or in person as you will instantly know whether they are 'your person' and sense a connection. Don't be afraid to shop around and have a good stalk online for testimonials for peace of mind.
When should a couple look to book their celebrant?
It really depends on how organised you are but I would recommend booking one year to nine months out to secure your date. It sounds like a long time, but it is definitely necessary if you are looking at getting married during a busy time of the year such as January or February.
What do you think are the key ingredients to a meaningful ceremony?
• A personalised ceremony
• Having a family member or friend that is special to you perform a reading or poem. This is a sentimental moment to not be overlooked and often a tear jerker - even for the celebrant!
• Writing your own vows - wait, maybe this should be my favourite part of the ceremony. Vows are the true showstopper of any wedding ceremony and are so intimate and beautiful.
Photo by Greg Campbell Photography
Do you have any tips for ceremony timings?
• Make sure you've organised someone to let the celebrant know when the bridal party has arrived. They can then signal the musician or sound keeper to begin.
• Rehearse the timings of your chosen processional song with the bridesmaids and bride. For example, start walking once the first lyrics of the song have begun.
• Make sure the person doing a reading or poem knows where to stand when they come up and give them a heads up as to when in the ceremony they can expect to be called up. Same goes for your two witnesses so they are ready for the signing part.
Do you have any advice for couples struggling to write their vows?
I always suggest writing down three promises that you'd like to make to your husband/wife and end your vows with these. You can make it fun or serious (or a bit of both) and it's a really nice way of keeping the style of each other's vows similar. Oh and on that note, don't forget to have a chat with each other about how long your vows will be (e.g an A4 script vs one paragraph). Talk with your celebrant further if you need more guidance, they will only be happy to help.
Bonus question! What were your wedding ceremony songs?
Big fan of the bonus question!! Our wedding songs were:
• Processional: Tenerife Sea - Ed Sheeran
• Signing: - Only Love - Ben Howard
• Processional: Here Comes the Sun - The Beatles
Photo by Kathy Elliston Photography
Interested in booking Jo from Bonded By Love as your celebrant? Contact her via email or phone: