A Life Celebrant - Lou Szymkow

(3 reviews)
Service Area
Penrith / Blue Mountains, Western Sydney, Mountains to the Sea, Cessnok to Goulburn & ACT
Business Hours
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Expert Advice

As a wedding professional, A Life Celebrant - Lou Szymkow offers expert advice to help couples plan their perfect day. Ask a question or read their expert advice.

What are wedding vows?

Vows are the binding promises you make during your marriage ceremony to announce your sincere commitment under law and in love. 

There are two types of vows:

1) Legal Vows - what you have to say under Australian marriage law.  It is a simple legal statement of just one sentence. i.e 'I take you to be my lawfull wedded parter'

2) Personal Vows - these are the words you may choose to express your love and commitment. You can add in anything you like to these e.g. You are my reason for living and I promise not to get upset if you kiss the dog first when you come in the door after work

You'll find over 200 questions answerd on my webpage: http://www.alifecelebrant.com.au/about/wedding-over-200-questions-answered/

Any way I can include my step-child in our vows?

There are many ways children can be included in your Ceremony.

You will find this same, or an updated general version, of this information in Wedding Ideas on my web page, or click the link to go directly to the section on Children, but the following is about the very young.

Go to Children, if you are looking for ideas for more so for teenage children.

Read on if you are looking for ideas for including babies.

For your own children who are articulate and over 6 in particular, your including them in the ceremony can remove anxiety about the Ceremony, as they are of course, a very important part of your marriage and of the ‘new’ family it creates, so it is always preferable to include them in some way in the wedding ceremony.

Sp this section is about the very young and of course about the recognition of the partner in marriage as that partner will now also  be a partner in parenting.

Where a child is old enough to recognise his/her own name, inclusion for them  can be as simple as mentioning their names during key parts of the ceremony such as the vows, or including them in a unifying ritual.

The Celebrant can also mention and introduce them early in the Ceremony.

A child of that age will of course require:

  • a carer/minder a
  • a change of clothes
  • nappies
  • rest
  • food/drink
  • reassurance
  • a retreat when needed
  • lots of practice to provide confidence

The minder is very important as you will be busy with the Ceremony and so it is best you are not distracted.

The minder can have the change of clothes and other needs on hand and can offer reassurance and guidance.

Depending on ages and ability of a the young child, you can assign set tasks and responsibilities such as:

  • Bridal escort (with minder)
  • Junior Bridesmaid/Groomsman (with minder)
  • Page boy (with minder)
  • Flower girl/boy (with minder)
  • Ring bearer/s (rings can be pinned to baby’s garment)
  • Announcer (if of speaking age)
  • and lots more….

It is really up to the imagination, but many choose ‘unity’ rituals which create inclusiveness.

With a baby though, it is also about parental inclusion, ie setting the base for family bonding and future parenting

Follow the links on my web page (http://www.alifecelebrant.com.au/about/wedding-ideas/) to find out more on these topics:

  • Unity: Breaking Bread Ceremony
  • Unity: Candle/s
  • Unity – Candle Lighting. 
  • Unity: Celtic Oathing Stone
  • Unity: Circling
  • Unity – Family Medallion ceremony. 
  • Unity: Garland Ceremony or Lei Ceremony
  • Unity – Hand Tree. 
  • Unity – Jigsaw.. 
  • Unity: Jumping The Broom
  • Unity: Lasso Ceremony
  • Unity: Rose Ceremony
  • Unity – Rose petals. 
  • Unity: Salt Ceremony
  • Unity: Sand Ceremony
  • Unity – Sand Ritual 
  • Unity – Spices. 
  • Unity – Stones, flowers & Objects. 
  • Unity: Treasure Box, Time Capsule  or Wine Box
  • Unity – Tree or garden planting. 
  • Unity: Truce Bell
  • Unity: Water Ceremony
  • Unity: Wine Ceremony

What makes original wedding vows really stand out, in your opinion?

Wedding Vows stand out when they are reflective of the individual saying the words, and of the relationship described.

They can be loving, tearful, funny, short or very long, poetic, sung, whispered, or just meaningful from the heart.

What makes them stand out is not just what is said but how they are said and who is saying it.

The Vows will stand out when a loud and flamboyant person, leans in, looks deeply into the eyes of the  partner and quietly & humbly says "I will always love you, you give my life meaning, I will always be yours" ; just as a quiet and reserved person might say the same words but looks up at the sky and yells them to the world.

How long should my vows be?

As long or as short as you want.


You have to say the 'legal vows', which is just a short sentence (pretty much just I, take you to be my lawful spouse/partner) but for the person vows, it is entirely your choice.


I had one groom who read out a poem he wrote for his bride that went for two pages and it was beautiful; not a dry eye in the house. No one noticed how long it was because it reflected his love, his personality, and their relationship.


I’ve had others who have said the legal vows only.


Commonly, something like this during the exchange of rings


this ring is a symbol of our unending love.

I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow, 

 I will honour you always, 

you are my friend and my love, 

beside me and apart from me,  in laughter and in tears, 

in conflict and tranquillity,

To love and to hold

For richer or poorer

In sickness and in health through everything that we might ever face,

I ask only that you be no other than yourself,  loving what I know of you,

trusting what I do not know yet,

 in all the ways that life may find us.

To love and to cherish  as long as we both shall live

This is my solemn vow


Any recommendations for online premarital counselling programs?

You'll find a list on my webpage:


Does the marrying couple sign three commemorative certificates?

Does the marrying couple sign three commemorative certificates as well as the official certificate of marriage, or two?

Three certificates are signed by the marrying couple, the two witnesses and the Celebrant, so there are 15 signatures overall

Of these Certificates, only one is a Commemorative or Cermonial Certificate that the couple get to keep.

The other two are for legal record, as one will will be kept by the Celebrant and the other lodged with the Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages.

Are there any celebrants familiar with classic filipino weddings?

I am looking to find a celebrant who is familiar with the classic filipino wedding ceremonies and also familiar with the scriptures and prayers as well. Someone based in Melbourne and happy to travel up to 2hrs from Melbourne.

I am in Western Sydney, so not near you, but can tell you that many Celebrants like myself will go to great effort to incorporate cultural, familial and personal aspects to a Ceremony. I performed a ceremony for a Filipino couple only weeks ago and have another next week.

If you search the Easy Weddings data base or the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants (www.afcc.com.au), you might just find the perfect Ceebrant for your occassion.... or I could fly down.

Salvation Army celebrant, non-denominational wedding?

Hi all, I'm getting married in October, and I have a lovely acquaintance who has just told me she's a celebrant. She is registered on the Attourney General Celebrants register as an "Authorised Celebrant - Ministers Of Religion For Recognised Denominations - The Salvation Army". Neither I nor my partner are Christian, let alone members of the church, but she is becoming a close friend and I'm wondering if it would be unheard of to have a Salvo minister marry us in a non-denominational wedding?

Registered as a Minister of Religion, means the Salvation Army Celebrant must follow the Christian script of the Salvation Army in performing a Religious service that includes a marriage. 

An authorsied Civil Celebrant however performs a Civil Marriage Ceremony that will include only what you desire, beyond the very few legals.

Most churches, but I dont know about Salvos, will also require you attend marital guidance classes before entering into marriage. These will be religious based.

It is therefor your choice.

If you are planning to become Christians and desire a religious Ceremony, the Salvos may fit your criteria.

If you are not planning to join the Salvos or even become Christians, there are 9000 Civil Celebrants available and your Salvo friend can be a guest at your wedding.

Where is the best place to get married in Sydney?

Looking for a venue and celebrant then I will work out the rest

Selection depends on a number of very subjective factors including your personality, the size & style of your wedding, your tastes, your preferred location, transport & access, and of course, your budget.

Picture you perfect wedding and then make a list of what you require & desire, and then balance that against your budget and time frame.

You will find a list of options for on Easy Weddings but some others on my webpage - Venues tab.

Do you ever meet couples that you don't think should get married?

If you do, what do you do? I feel like a celebrant we met pushed us towards counselling...

I am a firm believer in amor omnia vincit” which means “love conquers all”

My perceptions and experiences are uniquely my own and so can be very different to any couple I meet, so what I see as challenging, they may see as their greatest asset in their relationship. I dont judge and it would be illegal for me to discriminate.

Having said that, I interview my couples and ask some very direct questions such as 'why do you want to get married?'; do you see yourselves growing old together?"

The interview questions can be challenging but what they do, is clarify for the couple,  what and why they are about to do.

The Vows, legal and personal, then set the ground rules for the relationship. Marriage can be hard work but if you are prepared to make the effort, the rewards are astoundingly beautiful.

Why enquire through Easy Weddings?

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