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..

Ceremony times
The time of day for your ceremony will depend on what you do for your reception, i.e. breakfast (sunrise),
brunch, lunch or dinner.

Seating
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.

The Processional (bridal march)
The bridal party is optional, however you legally require two witnesses over the age of 18 years.
If you decide to have a bridal party you may include whomever you like. (Some people incorporate their beloved dogs into the
ceremony as page puppies or flower doggies!)

The way you approach the processional will depend on where you hold the ceremony — for example a cliff setting might suggest wandering up a path, a beach setting might allow you to approach by boat or walk along the sand toward one another; a bush or garden setting might offer a lovely clearing to walk into.

The moment the bride appears is highly romantic. It’s that moment when everyone sees just how much you love each other, so think of the best way to act out this moment and capture the atmosphere of your romance.

Here are some ideas:

  • The bride and groom approach one another from either side of the front area (where the guests are facing) and meet in the middle.
  • They both begin at the entrance (to symbolise their union), then part and walk around the guests (to symbolise their separate lives) then meet again.
  • If the guests are in a circle, the bride and groom walk into the middle of the circle from either side.
  • The bride and groom begin on opposite sides of the circle, walk halfway around to the other side (remaining on opposite sides as though circling one another) then walk through the guests to meet.
  • The bride and groom walk down the aisle together.

THE CEREMONY
Here is an example of a civil marriage ceremony.
Welcome: The celebrant welcomes family and friends, and introduces himself.
Introduction: The celebrant speaks about the couple’s philosophy of marriage and their ideals and aspirations.
Reading: It is usual to have a close friend or family member read. If there are children involved who are capable of reading in public, this is great time to get them to participate.
You could ask people to give a blessing, recite a poem or sing a song.
You can have as many readings as you wish, but one or two is standard.
Most professional celebrants have books of verses with suggestions.

Giving Away: ‘Giving away’ of the bride to the groom is optional. There are plenty of alternatives

  • Giving away of the bride by a family member/friend (if you are lucky enough to have a grandparent, they would love to do this).
  • Giving away of the bride and groom by their respective parents.
  • Giving away of the bride by her parents.
  • Giving yourselves to each other.

Monitum: A mandatory statement from the Marriage Act, said by the Celebrant.
The Asking: This is often called the ‘Declaration of Intention to Marriage’. It is optional.
Vows: A professional celebrant will be able to give you selections to choose from and/or assist you to write your own very special vows.
Most celebrants will have a library of books to lend you.

Ring Ceremony: Most couples give rings to each other, but sometimes only the bride chooses to have a ring.
Some couples may choose to give a gift.
2nd Reading: Read by the celebrant or an honoured guest.

Conclusion: the celebrant gives a short conclusion.
Declaration of Marriage: The celebrant pronounces the couple ‘husband and wife’.
Signing of the Marriage Register: The couple and their two witnesses and the celebrant sign the marriage register and marriage certificates.
Congratulations and Presentation: The celebrant congratulates the couple and introduces them to their family and friends.
You can either have the celebrant call you by your first names, or you may be introduced as Mr and Mrs.
Recessional: The music starts and the couple leave the ceremony area, followed by their bridal party.

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.

Discuss Your Wedding

Civil Wedding Ceremonies

Download Notice of Intended Marriage Form

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.

VENUES
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.

Download my favourite venues list

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.

Discuss Your Ceremony
Everyone wants something different in their celebrant. You should look for someone with whom you feel comfortable.
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?

You’ve heard of extreme wedding ceremonies — performed underwater, while skydiving, in a hot air balloon, and so on.
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.

The most emotional part of every marriage ceremony are the vows which are the promises that the bride and groom give to each other about their future, together. While every word in your ceremony counts and they should all be as beautiful and meaningful as possible, the vows are the very crux of the ceremony and therefore of your entire wedding day.

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.

Options
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.

You should decide together on the readings. They should be relevant to you both and to the character of your relationship.

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.
A rehearsal is best held during the week before the wedding day, and may be followed by a rehearsal dinner.
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.

Absences
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.

The celebrant should arrive at least 20 minutes prior to the starting time, and is obliged to wait only 20~minutes
after the agreed starting time. Many celebrants will ask you to sign a form of agreement showing their
conditions and requirements. This is a professional thing to do, but make sure you are comfortable with the
celebrant’s terms and conditions, and that it is the celebrant you sign up with, and not someone else, who will
be conducting the ceremony.
It is also appropriate to ask the celebrant about their dress code and to make suggestions. Most celebrants will
agree to dress in a manner that fits with the style that you have chosen for your ceremony.

Pricing

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?

Discuss Your Ceremony Today