The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) May 1, 2020
Match made in heaven: Journo delivers the news and spreads the love
Name: Nitza Lowenstein
Main job: SBS executive producer (Hebrew radio), journalist and broadcaster since 1988.
Side hustle: Marriage celebrant officiating weddings around Australia.
My very first wedding was in 1995. I can still remember the buzz, excitement and anticipation to this day. Since then, I have officiated more than 1400 weddings, and every single one of them is still important to me.
It all started when I attended a civil wedding in the early 1990s. The ceremony was short and uninspiring. I knew straight away that I could turn a civil wedding into something very special, and that would be personal and reflect my couples’ special heritage. I am now an expert at including Greek, Macedonian, Italian, Filipino, Chinese, Hindu, Jewish and Catholic rituals into my ceremonies, making them meaningful and familiar for the couples and their families.
The weddings are also a great balance to my life. Sometimes, after spending all day reporting on issues, I am fortunate to participate in a wedding: a real celebration of life full of love, hope and happiness. Although radio is my biggest passion, my listeners would be amazed to know that I also have a passion for romance. It’s so rewarding.
With more than 9000 celebrants in Australia, it’s very hard to make a living as a celebrant.
As a journalist, I interact with individuals constantly. I have conducted hundreds of radio interviews so it is natural and interesting for me to interact with my couples. I have friends from a wide range of nationalities, religions and cultures, and I appreciate my couples’ background and heritage. I feel that I contribute to a more harmonious society by including the different wedding rituals and traditions tailored to my couples.
My skills in storytelling are incredibly important and enable me to write unique ceremonies that are personal and reflect the story of each and every couple. My expertise in broadcasting has been particularly useful in the delivery of my ceremonies, from speaking very clearly and making sure everyone attending can understand, to helping to keep everyone engaged throughout!
If I was starting from scratch I would:
I have no regrets.
Impact of the coronavirus pandemic:
COVID-19 has shattered the dreams of countless couples and devastated the wedding industry. Nevertheless, many couples have accepted the new reality and are taking advantage of the situation, with many weddings now being affordable, while still very meaningful.
Couples that dreamt about a no-fuss wedding are jumping on the bandwagon, and I am now busy conducting ceremonies in my beautiful tropical garden for couples that come with two witnesses. I’m also using my hobby as a photographer to ensure they have beautiful memories of the day.
Both jobs are very demanding, and I hardly have time for anything else. I love my family: my husband Arthur, our three children and four grandchildren. Often, I feel guilty that I don’t spend enough time with them.
Best side hustle moment:
I am privileged as I feel that through both jobs I make a difference by enriching the lives of others, either by informing and entertaining them on the radio or by uniting them in the most meaningful way.
As a celebrant, one of the best moments was jumping into a swimming pool to officiate the wedding of an unconventional couple that decided to exchange their marriage vows in their newly built pool.
I still get excited at every wedding. I feel the anticipation from the beginning. I see the groom looking lovingly at his bride and her adoring gaze when they exchange vows. The love, the smile, tenderness, happiness, excitement, the expectations in their eyes; all of it still melts my heart.
About Nitza Lowenstein, Sydney Wedding Celebrant in the media,
Sydney Morning Herald (SMH)ABC TV, ABC Radio, Sun Herald, Indian wedding and more
Read: The Sun Herald: "24 Hrs in Nitza's Life"...
Please Watch a Video Clip,
Nitza Lowenstein Sydney Celebrant
The Sydney Morning Herald
about being a Marriage Celebrant!
"Nitza knows love will find a way"...
Newpaper Article: about:
Nitza's wedding in India
"Indian wedding Jewish style"
The Greenbaum's Certificate of Appreciation to Nitza
Nitza's Interview with:
"Bride To Be", Magazine
The cost of weddings!
"Here comes the bride, up goes the price"...
Choice Magazine 28 Aug 2014 Author:Kate Browne
Please note that the figures are from 2014 and costs escalated since....
but in real terms, "Here comes the bride, up goes the price" will never change...
With the average price of an Australian wedding estimated at $36,200-54,000, it seems the institution is immune to financial crises and just about everything else.
But are Australians couples planning to tie the knot paying a price premium? Does saying the W word mean paying through the nose when it comes to venues, photographers, cakes, hire cars and so on?
In 2009 CHOICE put this theory to the test, and sure enough, we found many wedding suppliers and venues charge more for people having a wedding than someone having a party - despite exactly the same product or service being requested.
Five years later, we decided to put the wedding industry under the spotlight again to see if anything has changed.
CHOICE commissioned two shadow shoppers to organise quotes for a wedding and a birthday. Both events had the same number of guests and identical requirements. Our wedding shadow shopper called the businesses first. A week later the second shopper called the same business with an identical request but claimed it was for her partner’s 40th birthday.
Our shadow shop focused on:
- venue hire (including catering)
- wedding photography
- hire cars for weddings
- Wedding cake
- flowers for weddings
- photo booth hire for weddings
Businesses were selected in both Melbourne and Sydney to provide a good cross-section of suburbs and demographics. Our two shadow shoppers contacted 36 businesses in total across both cities and each was contacted twice, once by our bride and once by our party girl.
- Florists were asked to provide quotes on flowers to decorate the venue only - no bridal bouquets were requested.
- The photographer was told they were only needed for the reception and not the ceremony, as this was being done by a friend.
- For the cake, flower and car enquiries, the birthday shopper used the same details as for the wedding scenario
- For the venue, our shoppers asked for a quote on a sit down three-course meal with drinks for 80 people.
What we found
No matter whether you’re having a party or a wedding, the venue (which often includes the catering too) will be one of the most expensive elements of your event. Our shadow shop found three of the 6 venues contacted for quotes charged more for the wedding than the party, despite having identical requirements.
Hot tip: Venues often want you to come in for a meeting to discuss your needs one-on-one. While this is great for getting a feel for what the venue is like, beware any upselling of added extras.
Professional photographers have a tough gig, especially when it comes to weddings Clients want their photos to be perfect.
When it comes to weddings, many photographers work on the premise of a five-hour job, which usually includes shots of the bride and groom getting ready, the service and the festivities afterwards, as well as some formal posed shots with the wedding party and the family.
Our wedding shadow shopper was very specific about the fact she was having a very informal wedding, a close family friend would be capturing the ceremony, which was happening away from the venue, and that a photographer was only required at the reception to capture the festivities and some semi-formal photos of friends and family with the bride and groom. This was so our shadow shoppers could compare apples with apples and both requested a photographer for two hours to take a variety of informal shots at the reception/party as well as some informal shots of friends and family with the birthday boy.
The response from the photographic businesses our shadow shoppers contacted was very mixed. Two photographers told them both that they would not accept a booking for just two hours, while another was perfectly happy to quote $400 to the bride without a confirmed venue, yet told the party girl he wouldn’t provide a quote until she confirmed the venue.
One upmarket photographer in Sydney quoted our party girl $1495, yet quoted our bride-to-be $4750 for a full package for five hours, despite her repeatedly requesting that she only needed someone for two hours.
Hot tip: As with venues, wedding photography packages can be fairly inflexible and often priced at a minimum of four or five hours with a one-size-fits-all approach. If that’s not you want, be prepared to shop around and be very clear what your expectations are.
Hire cars for weddings
When it comes to a hire car, you could fairly assume that the job would be the same, no matter who’s travelling in it. However, we found this isn't always the case.
Our shadow shoppers requested the same style of car and only a pick-up from and drop-off at the venue over the same distance. Interestingly, three of the six businesses contacted were only too happy to provide this service to our party planner and quote her an hourly rate, yet our bride-to-be was told by the same businesses that there was a minimum call-out of three hours. As a result she was quoted $1000 by a provider who quoted our party person just $450 for a one-hour call-out - even though both shoppers asked for a booking for the same location, on the same date.
Hot tip: When it comes to hire cars, take the time to shop around. Don't be pushed into minimum calls-outs that aren’t required.
Photo booths for weddings
Photo booths can be a lot of fun for party or wedding guests and have become increasingly popular over the past few years.
Our shadow shoppers had identical requirements when they called for a quote and received identical prices in return, with the exception of one business who charged our wedding shopper an extra $50 on top of the $700 our party shopper was quoted.
The prices for cakes quoted to our shadow shoppers ranged from $200 to $700, depending on the store and the size of serving. Both requested a modern style, white chocolate mud cake, decorated with fresh flowers and big enough to feed 80 people.
While our bride-to-be was quoted more at two of the stores we called, our birthday planner also got the upsell from one Sydney cake-maker, who suggested a different cake costing $1500 and suggested if that was too expensive, she could ask family and friends to “chip in”!
Tip: Most cake-makers offer the option of a “finger slice” of cake to have with coffee or as a “dessert serve”. Serving your wedding cake as dessert could save you a bundle. If you’re sure you don’t want a traditional wedding cake, you don’t need to let on that it’s for a wedding as you may get a better deal.
Flowers for weddings
Not surprisingly, a wedding is usually going to have different floral requirements to a birthday party. Our wedding shadow shopper requested flowers only to decorate the venue, saying that a family friend was going to make her bouquet. When she called a week later, our birthday planner asked specifically for the same flowers that had been suggested by the florist to the bride.
Of the six florists contacted, none quoted more for our bride or party planner. However, one florist, possibly looking for an opportunity to upsell our bride-to-be, refused to do a quote over the phone and insisted she come in for a one-on-one consultation, yet was able to provide a quote for our party person.
For more articles and advice on saving when you shop, head to our Shopping and legal section.