'What I've learned about love after marrying 1,000 couples.'

As a marriage celebrant, I've had the privilege of being an intimate observer of love in all its wild and varied forms. 

From grand ceremonies with hundreds of guests, intimate elopements in the backyard, to meeting couples at a café to say the words and sign the papers over a cup of coffee (soy latte extra hot for me, please).

On the 12th of April 2024, I happily married my 1000th couple so with considerable experience under my belt, here are seven things I know to be true about love and marriage.

1. A wedding and a marriage are two different things.

Marriage is the why and a wedding is the how, what, where and when celebration of that why. 

Like in life, size doesn't matter. The size of the celebration does not guarantee a successful happy ever after.  

Watch: Kerryn telling giving advice to a newly divorced woman she married. Post continues below.

Video via @wedbykez.

A big lavish wedding, with over 100 guests and all the bells and whistles does not protect you from life's curveballs. In some cases, it adds an incredible amount of unnecessary stress — emotional and financial — to a relationship that was hopefully functioning well.

Big extravagant weddings end in big bust ups the same number of times that little, small ceremonies end in big bust ups.


2. If it's not working, marriage won't fix it.

Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice heroine, once wrote of the effect poetry has on love, "If it is only a vague inclination, I'm convinced one poor sonnet will kill it stone dead". 

I feel the same about couples experiencing relationship issues who decide to walk down the aisle. It might mask the worrying doubts and anxieties you have about your situationship for the moment, but those ugly little thoughts that "this may not be the one" will resurface to be dealt with in the future. 

A lot of couples could have saved the heartache, and the court proceedings, by being truthful with each other before any "I do's" were exchanged.

Image: Euphoria Films.


Prime example: A few years ago, a week out from their wedding, I received a phonecall from the bride telling me the wedding was off after the groom declared he "didn't want to get married".

Fast forward a few days later, another phonecall announces: "It's back on!"

Now, not to get too in depth on the legalities, but there are all sorts of regulations in the Marriage Act about consent. So, I do my homework and make sure both parties were fully prepared to go ahead with the marriage, understood what that meant, and there were no outside factors that were influencing their decision to go ahead. 

These outside factors can be anything from a pushy family member who's already booked their travel and accommodation to realising that when you cancel a wedding, you don't get your money back from a lot of vendors.

Assured by the couple, they WANT to get married, and it was all just a few nerves, we go ahead. The day is lovely, everyone celebrates and a great time is had.

Three weeks later, another call from the bride to tell me the groom has left her because he was involved with another woman the whole time.

This poor woman, who was not only devastated from a busted relationship and financially worse off from paying for a wedding, now had to go through the process of divorce which in Australia requires 12 months' separation, prior to lodgement.


Nightmare! All of which could have been saved, by a moment's honesty between the couple.

Image: Little Black Bow Photography.

3. Family makes it easier... or harder.

From families moving heaven and earth to deal with weather disasters, wedding dress mishaps, covid cancellations and just about every possible nightmare wedding scenario (including family fisticuffs during the reception), I have seen it all. 

The truth is; supportive family and friends make, not just weddings, but marriages easier.


Difficult family members insist upon their children coming to your no-kids wedding, or that you get married in a church despite your lack of faith. The challenges that you've faced from friends and family are heightened by the emotion and excitement of a wedding day.

Couples that have successfully managed their challenging family, by bending where they could, and standing their ground where it mattered, ultimately end up with happier, drama-free wedding celebration.

I remember with great delight, one bride whose mum lived life on the kooky side and was very into her rituals and belly dancing. Mum had all sorts of ideas as to what to include in the ceremony and reception and some of them were wild. 

The bride, through much discussion and negotiation talked her mum down to two things. 1) Mum would be allowed to brush the bride's hair prior to the stylist doing her work and 2) Mum would be able to perform a bellydance at the reception.

Now, some of you are picturing this and couldn't imagine anything worse, however for this couple, it was the lesser of two evils. Allowing mum to have her moment, reduced the likelihood of mum making a scene and doing it anyway later on.

Image: Little Black Bow Photography.


4. Bigger isn't always better.

Some of the greatest celebrations I have attended were because the couple had a clear vision of what "getting married" meant to them. 

From dress-up surprise elopements, driving through McDonalds to order nuggets, to exchanging vows bedside at a hospital to make sure a loved-one didn't miss out. When the focus is on creating a moment that allows your personalities, interests and passions to shine, nothing is a wrong move. 

When couples get caught up in the whirlwind of weddings, and the "should do's" they often end up with a celebration that isn't a true reflection of them.

5. No two relationships are the same…

...but we all marry our best friend. It's said at every wedding, and I'll allow it because (hopefully) it's true but every other element of your ceremony should reflect the personality of the couple. 

I've seen introverts struggle through personal vows, non-religious couples have religious readings, and practical, pragmatic couples feel like they need to be all about feelings, just because it's a wedding.


Couples that have opted out of something that made them uncomfortable — like garter tosses — have never regretted it. What works for one couple does not work for another.

Image: Little Black Bow Photography.

6. Celebrants are not experts in love.

I get asked all the time, if I can pick when a couple have it and when they don't and the answer is, no more than anyone else. 

Couples that I thought were rock solid have barely made it past their two-year anniversary, and couples that I knew to face massive obstacles are still together, standing strong 15 years later.


I'm not a counsellor, I'm not a therapist, I'm a celebrant and my job is to marry two people who legally tick the boxes to allow them to marry in Australia. I choose to do that in a fun way, respecting their unique choices.

7. Not all love songs are love songs.

You should not only Google the lyrics to any music you are going to use in the ceremony or for a first dance, you should look up the meaning behind the songs too. A lot of songs sound romantic on the surface but a deeper dive reveals their true meaning.

Take two of the biggest known love songs: My Heart Will Go On, Celine's epic ballad from Titanic and With or Without You by U2. Celine is singing about mourning a partner who has died, and Bono is telling the story of tortured romance he can't escape. Not exactly the happiest of love songs for your happy day.

In the "too long, didn't read" version of this article — keeping the focus on yourselves as a couple and meeting your own needs emotionally and financially for your wedding celebration will have far more positive impacts on your marriage. 

Keep it real and relevant and you'll have the greatest wedding day and a perfect start to married life.

Kez is a Newcastle Marriage Celebrant who has performed over 1000 ceremonies for couples, in Newcastle, New South Wales and across Australia. You can follow her on Instagram here, and her website is here.

Images: Little Black Bow Photography.

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