Marriage celebrant Cheryl Kidd talks about lasting love in the national magazine That’s Life.
Marriage celebrant Cheryl Kidd talks about lasting love in the national magazine That’s Life. Karleila Thomsen

Cheryl doesn't Kidd about love

FOR many couples it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Others may experience the special moment two, three or on occasions, four times.

Cheryl Kidd sees it almost every week of the year, however, from her privileged position as marriage celebrant.

“I’m the only one who gets to see the look in the bride and groom’s eyes when I say ‘It’s my pleasure to pronounce you husband and wife’,” Cheryl, 57, says. “It makes me go goose-bumpy every time.”

Sharing those special moments is happening more often for Cheryl as her reputation as a unique marriage celebrant spreads.

It has spread so far that the publishers of national magazine That’s Life chose to feature her in their Valentine’s Day edition this week. On page 23, Cheryl talks about the secrets of lasting love.

“I know the key to love is communication,” she tells That’s Life. “When I’m discussing wedding plans with a couple I ask lots of questions.”

How the magazine chose her from all celebrants throughout Australia is a mystery to Cheryl.

“I’ve no idea how they got my name. I thought they would have chosen someone from Brisbane or Sydney.”

Two possibilities spring to mind – Hervey Bay’s reputation as the “Wedding Capital of Australia” has caught on down south or it could be that Cheryl’s name as a finalist in last year’s Australian Bridal Industry Awards stood out.

“The Bay really is the Wedding Capital of Australia,” Cheryl says. “A lot of people from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and even overseas come to Hervey Bay to be married here. It’s a beautiful spot.”

In her seven years as a celebrant, the former hospitality and resort manager has wed more than 700 couples – and is about to close her books for 2010.

Cheryl says she is more a wedding planner than just celebrant.

“I know I’m different,” she says. “I don’t just marry them, I get really involved with the whole thing.

“We get a bond going; (at the interview) the bride may get the giggles or cry – I have plenty of tissues on hand. We start making jokes and they start to relax and you get the winks going.

“Every wedding is unique. I see some couples 10 times (before the wedding day) while others just three or four. Emails often go crazy. I suggest this or that – they may get the same thing for a lot less money elsewhere.

Cheryl says she has a back-up for every plan but her priority is to take as much stress as possible away from the bride.

A stress-free lifestyle was what Cheryl and husband Baden were chasing when they headed north from Port Macquarie to the sleepy beachside town of Toogoom about five-and-a-half years ago.

“We came up here for a change of life and just love Toogoom – it’s a very close community.”

Cheryl works from home, spending most of her weeks interviewing couples, generally over coffee, completing paperwork and attending rehearsals.

“It can be a great-paying job but that depends how much time you put into it. If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t do it.”

Cheryl says becoming a marriage celebrant took longer than she had expected.

“I wanted to be a celebrant for some time before it happened. I was on a waiting list about eight years – they weren’t taking any more at the time.”

Rules have changed, however, and the number of celebrants located in a particular area is no longer limited.

“There are about 30 celebrants in Hervey Bay.”

About 12 months ago, Cheryl listed her name with the Australian Bridal Industry and achieved success in the first year, being named a finalist in the industry’s annual awards.

“I was fortunate to have been chosen,” she said. “It goes on what services you provide and the feedback they get from brides.

Cheryl has been nominated again this year and will find out in May if she’s a winner.

The awards include all businesses involved in the bridal industry, from celebrants and photographers to restaurants and caterers.

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