Images by Katie Tuleja of Wilderness Weddings Tasmania
“Nature touches the very essence of your soul.”
Katie Reeve Celebrant, based between Melbourne and Tasmania, shares with us the magic that is evoked when we immerse ourselves to all the sensory stimulation that nature offers.
“There are places on this earth that call your heart and instill a sense of love, connection and peace within you. These places are often untouched wild destinations not accessible by car. The significance of the wedding vows deserve reverence and grace always, couple that with a beautiful, inspiring setting, on top of a mountain, low in the depth of a valley, mid way across a creek, the water trickling between your toes…Nature will hold the space, while you hold the vows.
I’ve got the map, you’ll have each other. Together we will walk, arrive, settle and marry, be the sun high or low in the sky.
Sounds poetic, yes? Shall we wander?”
Image by Jax Moussa
You are known as the “Bushwalking Celebrant” around here…what do you love about connecting with nature as part of a wedding?
To be in nature is to love yourself and the world around you. In my experience, most couples are looking for the ‘perfect location’ to get hitched. Much time is spent visiting venues, looking at price packages, figuring out decorations etc etc. In a lot of ways this is extremely important, the ritual of celebrating by sharing a meal and dancing – all wonderful and necessary parts of the whole experience and you DO need a place to do this!
However, when it comes to the ceremony, the perfect location that engages in all 5 of your senses is often a place that requires no additional decorations to frame your intimate ceremony (and by intimate, I mean the two of you expressing your love to each other, whilst everyone else watches cheering from the side lines! The size of your wedding is irrelevant, confessing your love publicly is by nature an intimate experience). Nature offers the back drop, the atmosphere, the sound track, the smell, the soft touches that are difficult to replicate by human hand. It also has a hidden feature which most overlook.
It offers the ‘space between’. This space, be it walking to the location (3 minutes or 3 hours) is a moment of solidarity for everyone. Each person is labelled with an identity (celebrant, mother of the bride etc) under the greater umbrella identity of ‘Guest’, each is walking in the same direction (a unified purpose), each is allowed the space to feel (away from everyday normal life). I know from firsthand experience that these situations allow people to open up where they otherwise wouldn’t. The focus on walking offers space to talk.To share.To ponder.
There are no introduced structures to segregate us while we wait for the ceremony to begin – just you and them on a journey to a beautiful location that IS the real nature sounds function on your meditation app … AND THEN the return allows you the same space to digest and reflect on the beautiful experience you have just had. You relive and share what you just witnessed with each other. Genius.”
“Our disconnect with nature as a society on mass means that ‘bushwalking’ aligns itself with ‘the elite few’ and often means ‘Kilometres of stretches of land to be walked with a heavy pack and multiple peaks to ascend in between’. I prefer to define nature (with a little help from Literary giant Oscar Wilde) as ‘Nature: a place where birds fly around uncooked’. You don’t need to scale snow peaked mountain tops to be at one with the great outdoors. Bushwalking can be walking around your backyard, exploring local nature reserves or travelling to the closest National Park. All are accessible and all completely viable places to relax and connect. No bushwalking boots required. Bushwalking isn’t just accessible to the elite few. So, no matter your situation or physical capability, don’t pass it off as being ‘not something you could do’.”
You have a background in the arts…how does this come in handy writing wedding ceremonies?
Yup, it is SO handy! I worked 10 intense years (predominately in London and Europe) debating and creating story with professionals who were equally as dedicated and determined as I on their ideas for structure, narrative, storytelling techniques, what to include, what to leave out etc… This included colleagues from many different cultures and languages AND over different mediums. My focus was/is on oral storytelling in live performance. When I write, I write how I speak. Because when I deliver, I deliver spoken word.
How do you guide couples to write their own personal vows?
I have a method of working that I believe is accessible to everyone. It asks you to start with what you already know. Answer questions and then build upon that. I think it is a gentle way of gaining confidence and gives permission to be who you are. You don’t need to be a literary genius to celebrate your love – we need to shout from the mountains more of our own every day, individual stories which form the very fabric of the tapestry of life we are currently living. And to be honest, we want to hear you, your words, your ideas, your street poetry.
What do you love about the LSMM message?
‘Eco- ethical weddings’ was a term I learnt years after my marriage ceremony. When we celebrated our wedding, the term I knew was community. Community creating sustainable and meaningful celebrations from what they had – for us and with us. It was an eco-ethical wedding, it just lacked us calling it that.
Eco-ethical is not just a jazzy catchphrase popular amongst a select few. It’s a way of life. The way of life that we should all be reconnecting with. And I say reconnecting because it is something that we, as a species used to do. Like most things, we and life have evolved. We’ve swung from one extreme to the other and it’s time for that wrecking ball to swing to a standstill in the middle.
My husband always jokes that I have shares in Op-shops. This love came from my Mother who grew up to immigrant parents, survivors of a war and depression, trail blazers setting foot on new continents with nothing and eventually 8 children on one wage. I’m grateful that these granny skills were handed down. At the beginning of my romance with the Op-Shop the courtship was about necessity. I didn’t have the money to buy new, so I didn’t. But I also didn’t go without, big difference. I found it and made it mine. After necessity came knowledge, which labelled the way I had been living my life intuitively as nature and nurture.
And then, on top of that, through Less Stuff More Meaning I’ve met like-minded people with beautiful stories, creatives and creators I work proudly alongside, such as Wilderness Weddings Tasmania (pictured). A collection of vendors who I know I can trust, all with the same values I work so hard to uphold.
Less Stuff More Meaning is all of this and more.
What does living purposefully mean to you?
In a snap shot – I buy from local bulk wholesalers, use my own produce bags, make everything I can ‘from scratch’, have a veg garden, get the rest from Ceres urban organic farm which delivers and is seasonal, I am trying to make composting sexy (having limited success here, but damn great for the veg!), walk if I can, engage in the community, swap shop within the community…. reduce, reuse, recycle. I try to practice meditation and yoga, stop frequently to look at the small pleasures in life and pass on this to my children.
Please share with us one of your fave wedding memories
One of my favourite couples to date had a small elopement in Melbourne CBD. They were just gorgeous. The love they felt for each other really did radiate and their openness to connect with me in such a short period of time was inspiring. Not only did I learn a great deal about his Culture (Zimbabwe) but her appreciation and love for it was fantastic. I mean, His Dad was insistent on giving Her Mum a goat as a dowry, even though the tradition has long since calcified in the society circles they move in. She wore a long flowing red moomoo dress and he was dapper to the tenth degree. Their niece who was 4 looked on hesitantly so I introduced myself quietly at her level. I asked if she would mind watching the ducks and let me know if one came too close – as someone had a bird phobia! Half way through the ceremony I noticed her moving from the corner of my eye and realised she had taken her role as duck watcher to the extreme – it was one of those delightful moments that just made life make sense.
What can couples expect when working with you?
Hopefully someone they can trust and talk to! Someone that listens and responds, writes a killer love story and delivers it in the way that they want.
Ritual alongside careful direction and consideration means a beautiful, personal ceremony that creates all the feels which are embedded in the memory of every single person present. I just can’t help but create an overall experiential experience.
A little tip, story always works better hand in hand with live music. I’m an advocate and firm believer.
What makes you happiest?
Long summer evenings spent pottering in the garden with the family laughing and joking. Long winter nights around the fire pit drinking wine with friends tinkering with the Ukulele and toasting marshmallows sharing stories. Long chats with friends about life. Walks with my children, finding trees to climb and bugs to watch. Snuggles with my cat. Walks after the rain has stopped. Tinkering at home not really doing much but doing heaps. Fresh sea breeze while paddling in the water. Morning coffee time! Singing! Dinner with extended family around a long table. Good food that I didn’t cook (or have to do the dishes)!! Deep conversations with interesting people waxing lyrical about past experiences or lives. Listening to people’s stories, both formally and informally.
Image by Beatrici Photography