Your Marriage Ceremony
Your wedding ceremony marks a huge turning point in your life. It makes a statement about your love and commitment and the reasons you and your partner have chosen each other as life partners.
It’s the most public and symbolic personal moment you may ever have, and thus it’s very important to get it right.
Have you ever been to a wedding where the ceremony didn’t reflect the personality of the couple?
There’s absolutely no reason to conform to ideas about the way a wedding ceremony should be if that’s just not you.
If you adore tradition go for a traditional ceremony, but if your love is embodied by the tumult of the ocean or the peace of the mountains, go for something that will reflect that..
The time of day for your ceremony will depend on what you do for your reception, i.e. breakfast (sunrise),
brunch, lunch or dinner.
If you don’t feel like having the seating or structure of a traditional wedding, look for a way around it.
The guests don’t need to sit in straight rows; they can stand and gather around you or sit in a circle or semi-circle around the ceremony.
Take your cue from theatre productions you’ve enjoyed.
Whatever love and romance means to you, claim it and express it.
Be as creative and flexible as you wish, and your wedding ceremony will be wonderfully original and beautifully moving.
Best of all it will be memorable, because it was as unique as you are.
Civil Wedding Ceremonies
Most (more than 70%) Australian weddings are now civil ceremonies performed by authorised civil celebrants.
The main reasons for this are the increasingly secular nature of Australian society and the considerable flexibility
which a civil ceremony allows.
Assuming that you opt for a civil ceremony, the first step is deciding where to hold it.
And here in Sydney, this can be a difficult choice because we have many of the most incredible wedding venues in the world.
THE NEXT STEP: YOUR CIVIL MARRIAGE CELEBRANT
The second step is choosing the celebrant. Decide on this and the rest will follow.
A Civil Marriage Celebrant is someone who has been appointed by the Australian Federal Department of the Attorney-General to solemnise marriages in Australia pursuant to sub section 39 (2) of the Marriage Act 1961.
Choosing the right celebrant might take some time.
Select two or three celebrants that appeal to you and start by emailing them.
Give them the date, time and venue for your ceremony to check their availability. Meet with the one or two who you liked from their initial response, but make sure that they offer an obligation free chat.
They should appear confident and well spoken.
Do you feel calm in their presence and trust that they could handle any awkward situations that might arise?
The main reason for selecting a celebrant is that you feel they will be able to perform a good ceremony, that they are flexible and will incorporate your own cultural traditions if required.
Ask yourself – does the celebrant listen to your needs , answer your questions and offer suggestions?
While you’re free to go this far with your ceremony, you might want to put an original spin on things in a simpler way.
You can choose from all kinds of themes like fairytale, Celtic, your favourite film genre or even colours or seasons.
A theme will spark different ideas for the tone of the ceremony, the vows, setting and music.
Take your time over this, because the quality of your wedding rests on the quality of your vows.
Let it flow
You don’t have to stumble over the poetry of Shakespeare or Robert Browning… good quality vows are simple, sincere and real — from the heart. If you would prefer to write your own vows you might choose to replay the moment when you first realised you were in love.
You could write exactly what you love about your fiancé (no matter how silly you think it sounds), how they have changed your life and what it means.
If you can’t put what you feel into words there are many wonderful readings which you can use for vows.
There are thousands of poems about love, dating back as far as ancient Chinese and Greek cultures, and from every land on earth.
Go to your library, search the web or ask your Celebrant for examples.
Keep it a secret
Test your vows on your celebrant and a trusted friend or family member, but keep them hush-hush.
It’s not compulsory to share your vows with your partner, and if they are truly personal to each of you, they will be different.
However, if you do share your vows with each other, the language will be similar and compatible, and the vows will reflect each other in a uniting manner.
The colour and life of the ceremony will be better if these pieces can be read by guests whose presence “up front” is meaningful to you.
- The readings may make broader statements about what you feel about the wider aspects of your
marriage and your relationship within the context of family, friends, work and the community.
- When we involve others in the ceremony, even if only briefly to read a poem or a text, they act as
representatives of everyone else and this creates a greater sense of involvement by everyone.
- If there are children in attendance who are close family, it can be beneficial to have one or a pair of
youngsters read a poem (Dr Seuss is good) if their voices and self-confidence can meet the challenge.
Every member of the wedding party (bride and groom, celebrant, bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls, ring bearers, readers, musicians and parents of the bride and groom) should meet at the site and run through the ceremony, if this is feasible.
Send out invitations for the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, and give directions for those who may not know the location.
If this level of rehearsal is not possible, an informal
Go in with a plan
Before the rehearsal decide, in consultation with the celebrant, exactly how you would like the ceremony to be performed; for example which traditions you would like to follow, the way you want your attendants to line up, how you would like them to enter and exit, where you would like them to stand, walk or sit.
Your celebrant will run the rehearsal and direct the flow, the order of events, the entries and the standing positions.
Don’t try to add anything new to the ceremony at the last minute; it will only cause confusion.
Make everyone comfortable
The celebrant will encourage everyone to rehearse their part. He will show the readers how to adjust the microphone.
He will make it clear where the reading script will be , and make sure there will be enough light for it to be read.
If you know that someone cannot attend the rehearsal, try to appoint a stand-in who will participate in the rehearsal and explain the duties to the participant before the ceremony.
As with anything, you get what you pay for in a celebrant.
Some celebrants have a set fee, others may have a base fee and add extra charges for each individual service they provide.
However, most celebrants will have fees that vary according to the time of the ceremony (weekends are usually more) and the degree of personalisation you require.
So meet with your prospective celebrant to discuss your plans, and have the celebrant quote you a fee.
Once the celebrant has quoted you a fee, ask them to give you a written fee schedule showing exactly what their fee covers.
This may be already built into the agreement referred to above.
Want to find out more about pricing?