photo by Kerin Burford photography
Creating Your Marriage Ceremony
a basic framework
(together we add the special touches)
There are some elements common to all marriage ceremonies, but there is also the freedom to express your love for each other and share your joy and hopes and dreams with your guests in a way which is truly YOU!
You may choose to involve friends and family members in any number of ways – it’s your decision. I will work with you to ensure that any traditions, symbols or ceremonies you request are included as special touches in your unique ceremony.
Processional - music helps to create an atmosphere of joy and anticipation. Whether it's traditional wedding music or your latest favourite, is your choice. You might play pre-recorded music or engage live musicians – guitarist, harpist, trumpeter, drummer, strings, brass band - whatever you like really!
The celebrant welcomes guests on your behalf or you may like to formally welcome your family and friends yourselves. You could include here any remembrances of friend or family members not present and make any special remarks about those who have been especially supportive or who have travelled a significant distance to attend. It is important in the welcome, for your guests to understand that this is a marriage ceremony in which you freely pledge yourselves to one another as husband and wife.
You may have already thought about asking friends or family members to read a verse to highlight your love for one another. You may even consider reading your personal favourite to each other. I have many suggestions and examples of poetry and prose which you are welcome to explore, or better still, write your own!
The Address and Personal Story
A marriage ceremony is a significant and magical life transition. It's the time to fully embrace and reminisce about your journey together so far sharing with your guests, and each other, what this day is all about. It's about recalling important moments as your relationship evolved. It's about celebrating the 'here and now' as you unite in marriage in the presence of your most loved friends and family. It's about anticipating your shared future with all its possibillities and adventures. Tell the world what your marriage to one another means to you - your values, ideals, hopes and dreams. Share your unique love story with a
Section 46 of the Marriage Act 1961
This is a mandatory legal statement stating the Law of Marriage in Australia.
The Marriage Question
In addition to formally asking you both, I can also ask your parents to bless your union, and your guests to affirm their support for your marriage, on your behalf.
The Marriage Vows
Your vows are a very significant part of the marriage ceremony. The only legal requirement is that you include these words – ‘I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, … … …, take you, … … …., to be my lawful wedded wife / husband.’
When creating your vows remember that what you are saying on your wedding day is that you love your partner. What you are promising is that you will love them tomorrow - and forever - through the varying experiences of your shared lives as a married couple. To make your vows truly personal you may like to discuss a foundation for your promises and then each write your own, keeping the words as a surprise for each other and sharing them only with me until the ceremony! Or you may prefer to work on them together. Either way it’s a very powerful and wonderfully moving moment for you both.
The Exchange of Rings
The Closing Blessing
The Signing of the Marriage Documents
There are many other ceremonies which you can explore for inclusion in your unique ceremony for example:
The Handcleansing Ceremony : Warming the Rings : Candle Lighting Ceremony : The Lovers’ Knot : Various Wine Ceremonies : Various Rose Ceremonies : Flower Ritual : Soil / Sand Ceremony : Salt Covenant : Family Blending :The Toast
I’d be pleased to discuss with you any special requests and to include any culturally significant traditions you wish. For your interest, I’ve conducted marriage ceremonies which have included Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Farsi, Pagan, Celtic, Christian, Russian, Egyptian, German, Malaysian and Chinese traditions ……. and more ....
Behind the Marriage Ceremony
Your marriage ceremony is the living heart of your wedding day!
Without it you can have a great party ... but it's not a wedding!
If the marriage ceremony is important to you ... read on...
Being married means different things to different people:
‘To me, marriage is an expression of commitment to a relationship. I want to marry her so that she has a permanent reminder of how much I love her.’
‘Marriage represents total trust and mutual support; I want the world to know that I have chosen (this person) and that I intend to be only with him, to love and support one another throughout our life together.’
‘I don’t see that marriage is the be all and end all for us. We have been together for ten years already so this is more like the culmination of our time together. Our marriage sets off the next era of our life, where our hopes and dreams are intertwined.’
’Marriage to me means that I am devoting my life to someone special, showing a level of commitment, and using that as a foundation of our future life together.’
'I'm marrying my best friend. We are soul mates.'
'We see our marriage to each other as a simple, inevitable state, one that we believe is the best way we can exist and the best way we can navigate our way through life … full of adventure, travel, fun and laughter, great times, not so great times, and surrounded by our wonderful family and friends. With all the seriousness of marriage and what it stands for we hope that at the end of it all, we will say we are still best mates and have had a magnificent ride through life.’
'We share the same dreams, we understand each other.'
'We're getting married so that we can be together forever and grow old together.'
‘We've already made our commitment to each other but we want to make a public declaration about this and be husband and wife.'
‘Our marriage is a tangible sign both to each other and to the world, of our commitment and love for each other for ever; and also a great opportunity to celebrate with our dearest family and friends. For us both, this has been a significant decision. Neither really thought that we would want to be married to anyone! We were free spirits, content to follow our hearts and roam the world, embracing whatever opportunities and adventures came our way. We want to be that old couple in their late 80’s who still hold hands, kiss and hug and are still very much in love with each other.’
'We think marriage is the icing on the cake .... it helps you to know that you are really loved no matter what'
'We are each other's best friend. We have some interests that are the same, and some that are different... so we have common ground but also we each bring exciting and interesting experiences to our relationship. Marriage will help us to grow even closer together.'
‘Our marriage means being friends and lovers forever through good and bad, it’s a commitment to love each other for the rest of their lives sharing all that life may bring.’
‘Marriage is about us both making the commitment to share our lives and experiences in an environment that is supportive and loving. For us, marriage is an important milestone in our relationship and it means ‘I love you no matter what challenges we face, no matter what’.
‘Marriage means strengthening a relationship and setting into place the foundation for the future. It means claiming your best friend as yours, forever.’
Whatever your reasons for being married, celebrate in your own unique way!
How does all this magic happen?
Working with you to create your very personal marriage ceremony takes time, creativity and commitment.
Here's how it works
When you phone to check my availability to conduct your marriage ceremony, it is helpful to know the day, date and time you are planning to start your ceremony and the location please.
The first appointment is really a brainstorming session where we talk about your ideas for your ceremony, and I share mine. Together we explore the content of your ceremony based on a framework which ensures that all the basic elements of the marriage ceremony and the legal requirements are incorporated with your personal preferences. Among these might be marriage traditions from other cultures. You will be inspired by reading examples of prose and poetry as you think about words that are right for you. And I can promise you there will be homework! If all this sounds daunting - don't worry - it's fun!
To secure my services as your celebrant a deposit is paid, and the first of the legalities -The Notice of Intended Marriage - is completed and lodged with me. Within 2 weeks you will receive the first exciting draft of your marriage ceremony which I create from that brainstorming session! Of course, you can make any changes to ensure that your ceremony is perfect for you. We meet as many times as it takes to 'get it right' but usually couples are busy and prefer to do this by email.
The marriage vows are the part of the ceremony that actually marry you. So it's important that you have the opportunity to write your own. If that sounds a bit challenging, I'm here to help you!
During the week before your wedding day, we meet at the ceremony location for the 'rehearsal'. This is really exciting and lots of fun! We don't say the words, otherwise you'd be married at the rehearsal! We just go through the logistics. Ideally, all your key players should be there if possible so that they are comfortable with their roles. Friends and family members who have been asked to read a special verse can practise too so they aren't so nervous on the day and can enjoy contributing to your ceremony.
At the rehearsal there are two more requirements. One is to sign the next part of the legalities which is called The Declaration (in which you are stating that there is no legal reason why you should not be married), and the second is payment of the balance of my fee.
I prepare your final marriage documents and .... all is ready for your marriage ceremony!
On Your Wedding Day
As a professional celebrant, I co-ordinate all the elements of the marriage ceremony to ensure everything runs smoothly.
I speak with the musicians and cue them for the moment to begin playing your specially chosen music as the bride makes her entrance.
I make sure that the photographer knows in advance about unexpected special touches in your ceremony so that the magic moment can be captured forever. When the bridal party has reached the ceremony space, the ceremony begins in a relaxed yet dignified manner. I support all your key players as they make their contribution to your ceremony.
And it goes without saying, that as you experience all the emotions - the nervousness, the fears, the tears, the excitement and the sheer joy of your ceremony, I am there to support both of you - the bride and groom.
As you can see I make a huge commitment to making sure that your ceremony is perfect for you and memorable for all the right reasons!
- initial meeting outlining the legal process, the framework for the marriage ceremony and brainstorming ideas
- creating each draft of your ceremony until you are happy with the final version
- follow-up emails, phone calls and unlimited face to face meetings
- conducting the rehearsal at the ceremony venue
- preparation and completion of legal requirements
- travel time to and from your ceremony location
- conduct of the marriage ceremony on your wedding day
- use of my PA system
- completion of the legal requirements
As you make your enquiries remember that Marriage Celebrants are as individual as you are. Choosing the celebrant who is right for you can be difficult. Fees and services vary widely.
You would expect to pay a higher fee for a ceremony that is truly authentic and reflects your personal, spiritual and cultural beliefs, a ceremony that has been created especially for you, a ceremony that is dignified, elegant yet relaxed.
From the moment you make initial contact to the completion of your marriage ceremony and the statutory requirements, I estimate that I spend approximately twenty hours creating and conducting your unique marriage ceremony.
Marriage is one of the most significant decisions
you will ever make in your whole life.
Which brings us back to where we started...
Make sure your marriage ceremony truly is
the living heart of your wedding day!
I’m available all hours, by appointment.
If you contact me directly I’d be pleased to talk with you about The Legal Requirements of Marriage in Australia or you may wish to access the Marriage Celebrant Program website.