I am a qualified and registered marriage celebrant, and so my job is to help you plan your marriage ceremony, deliver a ceremony that will be memorable, reflecting your desires, and of course at the end, after the formal vows, sign and submit all the relevant certificates and other paperwork to make you truly, legally married.
NOTE: You must complete the Notice of Intending Marriage at least one calendar month before your intended wedding date. We can do this at our first meeting.
Wedding ceremonies have a number of elements that we can build your ceremony around.
- The entry
- Giving away
- Commitments of support
- Your story
- The importance of love and marriage
- Rituals and traditions
- Personal statements
- Official vows
- Signing the Certificates
- The Exit
We will also discuss:
- Your desired style and mood for the ceremony
- Who will be involved in the ceremony and what will their roles be?
- What music will feature?
DON'T PANIC! I will guide you through the planning process and provide you with ideas to work with. I will then create a running sheet and script for you to approve. Then you can leave it to me to make it happen on the day, just the way you planned it.
A little bit more detail
The traditional wedding format in Australia has a number of stages, which provide a guide to how you might structure your wedding ceremony. However, these are not compulsory, and in fact you may have a completely different way of structuring your wedding.
There are however a couple of parts that are required by law so that the marriage is properly and legally solemnised (oulined in Vows below).
This is the dramatic moment of entry into the venue and the ceremony. Traditionally, the Bride is escorted into the ceremony by her father or mother or other significant person. However, it is also possible for either one of you to enter alone, with or without an entourage, and even enter alongside your spouse-to-be. It is for you to decide.
The procession is often accompanied by music. Have you a recording of a favourite piece of music (traditional or modern)? Or perhaps you wish to have a live musician, such as guitarist, harpist, bagpiper or pianist perform during the procession. You may also have traditional or cultural rituals that you would like to incorporate at this and other stages - such as exchange of garlands.
Introduction, the importance of Marriage, special people
Before the wedding ceremony moves into the marriage rituals it is common for the celebrant to spend a short time welcoming people, acknowledging the people attending, and saying something about the importance of marriage – in a way that is relevant to your particular circumstances and story.
The introduction also provides time for the guests to settle, and perhaps for the intending couple to quieten nerves, and reassure each other with their presence.
The asking and the giving away
Here there are a number of different ways to proceed. It is traditional that the Bride is “given away” – usually by one or both parents, or a close relative.
This is often changed a little to become an asking and verifying of the support and blessing of the parents/relatives.
However, both or either of you can be “given away” or blessed.
It is also possible to incorporate an asking and responding for the blessing of the guests for you and your marriage. This can be quite reassuring for you, as it is a strong demonstration of support from your family and friends.
Ceremonial and formal vows
This is where the you will commit to each other and to the marriage. The vows have two parts:
Firstly, the ceremonial. There are many traditional and modern versions of what the vows are, and how the vows are given. The vows can be a personal statement of love and commitment by each person to the other, it can involve rituals such as hand-binding, a candle ceremony, drinking from a loving cup (quaiche) or wine glass, or a cultural tradition such as 7 steps or 3,3,9.
Secondly, there are some words that are legally required for the marriage to be official, and they must be said by the registered celebrant prior to declaring the couple married.
‘I am the registered marriage celebrant authorised to solemnise this marriage according to the law ’
“Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter.
“Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”
Similarly to make the marriage legal you must each say:
“I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, <name> take you, <name> to be my lawful wedded (wife or husband or spouse or partner)”
It is usual to include the exchange of rings as part of the vows. This can occur before, during of after the official vows.
Once this is done the celebrant is able to declare you to be legally and fully married. The words can vary here: "I now declare you to be lawfully married", or "I now declare you to be husband/wife and wife/husband", or "I now declare you to be partners in marriage" are all options (and there are probably many more variations).
Signing the certificates
There is a bit of paper-work for you and your witnesses to sign to complete the ceremony. This includes signing the Marriage Certificates, and other formal documentation. You will receive your copy of the Marriage Certificate for safe-keeping. The official marriage certificate is submitted to and held by Births Deaths and Marriages. If you intend to change your surname, you may need a copy of the official marriage certificate to present to your bank and so on. You can apply to Births Deaths and Marriages for a copy, following your marriage.
After the signing, you will exit the wedding place. There is still time to personalise this – throwing rose petals, a guard of honor, and music can all be included as part of the departure. Check with your venue about what is allowable in terms of rose petals or rice throwing. Confetti and balloon releases are not generally used now-days because of the environmental impacts. Some items may infringe farm hygiene and bio-security requirements if you are being married in a vineyard, farm or botanic garden.
REGISTRY-STYLE ("ELOPEMENT") CEREMONY
I also offer a registry-style ceremony. This is a short, and informal, ceremony involving:
- The importance of love and marriage (a standard text)
- Personal statements to each other (optional)
- Official vows (mandatory)
- Exchange of rings (optional)
- Signing the Certificates and other paperwork (mandatory)
- Copy of your ceremonial Marriage Certificate (of course)
As with all marriages, you will need to complete the Notice of Intending Marriage one month before your wedding date and complete other official paperwork before and after the wedding. You will need two witnesses to sign the marriage certificates after the ceremony.
The script and format are standardised (with some optional inclusions as above). Generally the ceremony does not involve other guests (except perhaps immediate family). The ceremony can be conducted anywhere you wish. There is no provision of sound equipment as it is a very personal, close-up ceremony. I am happy to take some "happy-snap" photos for you after the ceremony - no extra charge. I have a veranda with a lovely view over Pittwater at Lewisham available if you like - no extra charge.