Interview with Celebrant
Kim Oakhill is one of our favourite wedding celebrants. She’s an entrepreneurial hippie with a heart of gold. We talked to her about what drives her, what inspires her and how she does it all!
SB: Kim, you’re a crazy, wonderful mix of awesome stuff – to quote you, that includes being “a Mumma, a wifey, an entrepreneur, and a young, cruisy, hip, boho, life loving celebrant” – who also happens to have a law degree… now there’s some stories in there I am betting. Can you tell us how you ended up a celebrant – anything to do with wanting to trade a power suit for happy pants and a head-scarf?
KIM: Naww, you guys are awesome! Thank you so much for the warm fuzzies and kind words! For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to make a difference in our world… some childhood memories include doing the 40 hour famine, fundraising, accepting lots of leadership roles, public speaking and spending a year in Finland as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student.
When I finished school, I did what my parents said I’d be so good at… law! But a few years in, I knew it wasn’t for me, I’m a lover, not a fighter, so I really struggled with my sense of purpose. From there, I spent my days as a super hero in children’s hospitals – wearing a purple cape and silver boots as Captain Starlight for the Starlight Children’s Foundation. This role changed my whole perspective on life, as I shared precious moments with terminally ill children and their families, and knew that I truly wanted to make a difference, to make our world a better place.
After a few years, I really wanted to buy a house, and found myself back in a corporate job using my law degree. I was very successful, and received 3 promotions in 5 years in leadership roles, but once I became a Mum, that world changing passion was reignited once more. Big time!
I wanted to be at home with my little peeps, but I also wanted a successful, soul filling career for my independence.
Some friends of mine were getting married and asked me if I’d be their celebrant. They knew that I really struggled to find an awesome, funky, modern celebrant for my own wedding and I was a massive hippie, totally in love with love and comfortable and confident with public speaking.
I became a celebrant in 2012 and thank the universe every single day that I get to live this dream!
I love that I can do a job where I wear my everyday clothes, and can be 100% authentically me – and spread love being part of the happiest day of people’s lives!
SB: You’re a co-founder of the Sassy Celebrants, an awesome crew of local celebrants – big on love and fun, and full of great characters – how did that come about, and has it been all you’d hoped?
KIM: When I was starting out, Kez (Kerryn Tippett – Wed by Kez) was a massive support, mentor and friend. She was the only young, modern celebrant around and I asked if she’d consider referring weddings to me when she was booked or unavailable.
As it turned out, she was pregnant and happily offered me one of her weddings that she was unable to do. I am eternally grateful to her for this, as word quickly spread that there were now two young, modern, fun celebrants in town!
We were both so crazy busy, that we were booked out about 18 months in advance, and had no real referral network to celebrants who weren’t “traditional”. We figured if they enquired with us, they were after a more modern approach to their ceremonies, and saw a massive opportunity to bring the modern, fun celebrants together in the one spot to make it easier for couples – and easier for us to refer.
At first, we considered taking Sassy across the nation and across the globe, however, we found that a close-knit, supportive community here in the Hunter works perfectly as we can catch up regularly, network and be each other’s emergency back ups if there is ever a need.
We love our Sassy fam!
SB: And then there’s Helpful Love, a social enterprise that helps people Australia wide to gift thoughtful services to people in times of need. Can you tell us a bit more about it – what inspired you to start it, how does it work, and what lies ahead?
KIM: Helpful Love came about as a result of a direct need… my beautiful friend, mentor and business partner, Kez tragically lost her joyful, 3 year old girl suddenly and unexpectedly. Everyone sent flowers (like, thousands of dollars worth), but I could see that they really didn’t actually help or provide any support whatsoever (if anything, they burden families when they are received in abundance – the lack of vases, watering the flowers, cleaning up the petals as they make a mess all over the floor as they die, throwing them in the bin… etc)
I wanted to do something helpful, as I felt completely and utterly helpless.
I thought perhaps I could send a cleaner (but is this rude?), or I could send a lawn mowing man (but are the neighbours already doing this?), or a hamper (who needs shortbread?)… I wanted a one stop shop of practical domestic service providers to help this beautiful family when they need it. I searched everywhere for this, but couldn’t find it, and so, Helpful Love was born.
Helpful Love is a website directory of a community of service providers who accept the Helpful Love Gift Voucher that can be purchased on our website – www.helpfullove.com.au
We are currently servicing Newcastle, Hunter Valley, Port Stephens, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane, Port Macquarie, Central Coast and growing!
It is a website, a community and a movement. I want people to think more practically during times of tragic loss, and truly believe that Helpful Love can change the world.
SB: You are super creative and have worked out ways to provide support and care for couples and families based on your spiritualism – like your self published e-book on Naming Ceremonies, and the Calm Bride Workshop. Can you tell us a bit about your approach, and in particular, about the goals of the Calm Bride Workshop?
KIM: My Naming Ceremonies e-book came about as I wanted to make Naming Days more accessible. More and more people are moving away from religion, but still want a special way to celebrate their little ones coming into the world. Not everyone can afford a celebrant, and there’s nothing legal about it, so anyone could perform one – with the right tools and guidance.
Like most of my projects, Calm Bride came about as a result of a need… I generally attract really cruisy, down to earth, relaxed brides however it’s often outside influences that stress them out leading up to their wedding day (opinions of others, judgements, negotiating and navagating traditions and expectations of family…)
I’ve practiced yoga and meditation for my own personal wellness (and sanity!!) and in 2016, studied to become a Meditation Facilitator. In 2017, after finding myself counselling and supporting brides (and grooms) during our meetings, I created and released some Meditation and Affirmation Cards to assist brides leading up to their wedding day. They have a beautiful affirmation on one side and a meditation on the other, and are a super powerful tool to bring clarity and calmness to the moment (the ultimate superpower to counteract the fight or flight mode brought about by stress).
My Calm Bride Workshops are an evolution of the cards. One of my gorgeous brides invited me to facilitate a meditation circle for a few minutes before stepping into her wedding dress last year, which sparked some magic within me to share this with others.
The goals of the workshop are to have a moment of reflection and stillness during the busy wedding planning stage, to practice some tools to bring into our daily lives, to share personal experiences and seek advice and guidance from others and to practice mindfulness for perspective, inner peace and relaxation.
It probably won’t surprise you to know that I have big plans for Calm Bride… this is only the beginning…!
SB: Imagine you are about to get married for the first time – what advice do you wish you could give yourself about planning the wedding (esp. about choosing a celebrant)?
KIM: Follow your heart and don’t be pushed into doing things that aren’t right for you and your partner. I think it is really important for you both to agree on how you want things to be and how you want it to feel (the vibe!) and to support each other to make it happen. This may mean that you need to have some chats with family and friends if they have an opinion that you haven’t necessarily asked for, and back one another up.
I think it’s a really good idea to have a wedding free date night every now and again so you don’t become consumed with wedding planning (my hubby and I needed to do this quite regularly!) and keep in mind that this is one day in your life… it’s the marriage that’s the important bit.
When choosing a celebrant, I recommend checking out websites and social media to get a good feel for their vibe and style, and if you haven’t seen them in action, you may like to meet with them to check that you like their vibe. I truly believe that the celebrant sets the tone for the rest of the wedding, as they are the ones leading the first interaction with your guests. If you want traditional and solemn, go for a traditional and solemn celebrant. If you want a nerdy, Star Wars themed wedding, go with someone who knows what to do when a storm trooper stands next to them throughout the ceremony. If you want a boho, hippie theme, go with someone who can bring that vibe into the day.
SB: And what advice do you wish you would give yourself about choosing a photographer?
KIM: I always say to my couples that they should choose a photographer who they want to be mates with, as they will be hanging around with them for most of their day and night. If you don’t like your caterer’s personality, but they are an amazing cook, it’s not such a worry as they will be hanging out in the kitchen… but with your photographer, you want someone who you ‘click’ with and who you’ll feel comfortable and relaxed with due to the amount of time you’ll be spending with them.
I also think it’s awesome that couples can browse photographer’s portfolio’s to get a feel for their style. With celebrants, it can sometimes be a little trickier, unless you’ve seen them in action or watched a video.
SB: Last but not least, turning back to you, how do you manage all your different roles, and maintain balance in your life?
KIM: It’s a bit of a juggling act, but it all comes down to priorities! I am a super organised person, which helps, and have a yearly planner in my kitchen to organise our busy lives. My hubby is a gigging musician, so our weekends are a little crazy, and we also run a family yoga studio (Joel teaching yoga, and me with meditation).
I’m very goal focussed, so we make a list of priorities/goals at the beginning of the week and tick them off as we go!
I’m very blessed to be able to work from home and pursue all of my different projects from the comfort of my lounge, or home office, or egg chair on the back deck, and my secret is my attitude of gratitude – I try to stay grounded and level headed, and focus on the moment at hand to stay out of “fight and flight mode” and in control.
When we own our breath, nobody can steal our peace… ☺