Anita Jenkins. (Ivan Kemp) 246532_04

Highton celebrant Anita Jenkins speaks to Luke Voogt about her most memorable weddings and her passion for celebrating the biggest day in most people’s lives.

Tell us about you…

I’m 48-years-old and I grew up in Hobart. I came to the mainland when I was 21 to work in tourism in Melbourne, before a seachange to Apollo Bay a few years later.

I met my husband and moved to Geelong in 2007. I can’t imagine living anywhere else now, as it has just about everything you need.

We have a cheeky 10-year-old and the region is a great place to bring up a family.

I love to cook and, before COVID, was part of a local community choir, as singing is good for the soul.

Why did you become a celebrant?

It’s something I wanted to do since my 20s, as I’d been to ceremonies that lacked any personal connection, and I wanted to make a difference.

I love public speaking – helped by a really loud voice that always used to get me into trouble at school – so I started studying six years ago.

I love connecting with people, finding out their stories and creating a ceremony that truly reflects them as a couple.

It’s the best vocation ever, as I can really put my heart and soul into it.

What are some of your most memorable weddings?

I had a visiting Scottish couple who married to the sound of bagpipes, with the menfolk in traditional tartan kilts.

We all shared fine Scottish malt whiskey on a sandy Australian beach, instead of a highland glen.

In another wedding, a well-respected Aboriginal elder and his bride performed a smoking ceremony, dressed in hand-made possum furs.

Another groom brought his own karaoke unit and serenaded his new bride with a few Elvis songs.

When marriage equality became law, I travelled to Tassie and heard two amazing guys say “I do” after a lifetime of waiting, as a huge rainbow appeared in the sky behind them.

I was privileged to officiate the wedding of my nephew, who I remembered holding as a tiny baby, and was now standing before me a fine young man, marrying his forever love.

What are your favourite things to do locally?

Geelong has really evolved into a food and wine centre, and our café and restaurant scene is superb, with so many to choose from.

I especially love the modern Asian-fusion restaurants. Our waterfront, river walks and beaches are really special places too.

How are you coping with COVID-19?

The uncertainty is exhausting and I feel for everyone in the industry, especially my couples, as they often know just a day or so beforehand whether their wedding will happen as planned.

Some couples have rescheduled five times, some have avoided restrictions and others have scaled back on guest numbers to get it through on the day.

It has kept me busy reassuring couples, working through alternative dates and doing everything I can to help them have the wedding of their dreams.

What’s something about you that people might not know?

Appearing on the big screen has always been on my bucket list.

So I was overjoyed to play a travel agent in an upcoming movie, Nitram, which should hopefully come out later this year.

They wanted someone who had previously been a travel agent.