Most couples aren’t very familiar with the format of a marriage ceremony; what must be included for it to be legally recognised, and optional elements that can be included to make it more personal. The following is a suggested outline.
Traditionally the Groom and any attendants wait at the focal point of the ceremony and the Bride enters with her Father/Mother/other significant person or people. However, the Bride may walk in on her own or Bride and Groom can walk in together. Another option is for everyone to simply gather together, including the couple, and the Celebrant will announce that the ceremony is about to start.
This puts your guests and ease and is an opportunity for the Celebrant to welcome them and make any special acknowledgements.
Introduction and Background
The Celebrant can talk about the couple relating how, when and where you met (not everyone will know everything about both of you), what you love about each other and what marriage means to you. This is a part of your ceremony where your unique relationship can be acknowledged, if you wish to include it.
The Giving Away or Family Blessing
The Bride and Groom can decide if they want to include the traditional giving away. Some brides ask both parents to give them away; some couples ask both sets of parents to welcome their new son/daughter into their families. You can even include your guests and have them asked to publicly bless of the marriage.
The Monitum is comprised of wording that explains what marriage is according to the law and must be spoken by the Celebrant; these words cannot be changed.
The Asking, Legal (ESSENTIAL) & Personal Vows, Readings, Ring Exchange, extra rituals
These can be in any order, although the Celebrant will guide you on the best ‘flow’ for your ceremony. The legal vows are prescribed and you cannot change the wording but you may say whatever you wish to each other in your personal vows. Readings can be poetry or words of a song that have special meaning to you both, or someone might compose something original.
There are a number of rituals that can make the ceremony special. You might like to include children of the bride and groom, family members or friends. Some rituals that can be included are Blending of Sands, Rose Ceremony, Lighting of Candles, Hand Fasting, or Tree or Flower planting ceremonies
Declaration of Marriage
The Celebrant declares you to be husband and wife!
Signing of the Marriage Register (essential) and Announcements
The bride, groom, their two witnesses and the Celebrant sign the legal documents.
When announcing that the documents are to be signed, the Celebrant can advise the guests regarding a bridal toast, the function venue, photographs or any other information that is relevant.
Presentation of Bride and Groom
The Celebrant will close the ceremony, present the marriage certificate and finally introduce the bride and groom as Mr and Mrs Married Couple.
Always remember that it is YOUR ceremony but be mindful that your Celebrant has a lot of experience – so do be open to listening to suggestions he or she might offer.
(c) Jane Gillespie, Civil Marriage Celebrant