Your wedding ceremony makes a statement about your love and commitment and the reasons you and your fiancé 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. "¨There's absolutely no reason to conform to ideas about the way a wedding ceremony should be if that's just not you. Be as creative and flexible as you wish, and your wedding ceremony will be original and moving. Best of all it will be memorable, because it was as unique as you are.
The first step to arranging your ceremony is deciding where to hold it. If you don't have a church in mind, you're in luck! Australia has some of the most incredible wedding venues in the world.
The next step
The second step to planning the wedding ceremony is choosing the Officiant who you would like to marry you. You can be married by a minister, a rabbi, a mayor, judge, ship's captain or a celebrant. Decide on this and the rest will follow.
The religious service
You can choose a Minister of Religion"¨even if you don't go to church on a regular basis - this doesn't mean you can't have a church wedding. There are many churches that are available even if you are not a member of that particular denomination. The Ministers of these Churches see this as a service to the community.
Some clergy are willing to accept changes to the wedding service. At your "¨initial meeting, ask for a copy of the service to take away and read through. If you wish to write your own vows, include other people or incorporate other cultural practices in the ceremony, discuss it with your minister and check out their reaction."¨Ministers often wear robes, which add colour and dignity to the ceremony. Have a chat with them about this as well.
Ministers of Religion
- Most will marry a couple in a location outside the church (beach, park, garden wedding etc)
- Many do not have a problem marrying divorced persons, however the couple needs to show the Minister their Decree Absolute before they can be married.
- Roman Catholic Priests will only remarry divorced persons whose marriage has been annulled by the Catholic Church.
Questions for the minister of your church:
- Do they recommend an organist?
- Can you provide your own musician or music?
- Are photographers allowed in the church?
- Can you decorate the site?
- Can the guests throw confetti or rose petals?
- Is there a room for the groom to prepare in?
- Are there time restrictions?
Civil wedding ceremonies
Over 60 per cent of Australian weddings are now civil ceremonies, and most are performed by celebrants. The reason for this is the huge amount of flexibility a civil ceremony allows.
Civil marriage celebrants
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 a celebrant
Choosing the right Celebrant can be time consuming. The best-case scenario is to have one recommended by a friend or relative, so ask around before you shop around. If you're starting from scratch, start by calling or emailing a couple of celebrants who appeal to you. Give them the date, time and venue for your ceremony to check their availability. Meet with the ones who you liked from first impressions. The Celebrant will make it clear if they do not offer an obligation-free chat.
Characteristics to look for in a celebrant
- Someone with whom you feel comfortable
- Confident and well spoken
- Calming presence
- Do you trust that they could handle any awkward situations that might arise?
- Flexible and will incorporate your own cultural traditions if required.
- Do they listen to your needs?
- Answer your questions and offer suggestions and ideas
A few rules
The Celebrant is to arrive 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 an Agreement Form with their conditions and requirements. Make sure you accept and are comfortable with the Celebrant's terms and conditions, and that it is the Celebrant you sign up with who will be conducting the ceremony and not someone else."¨It is also appropriate to ask the Celebrant about their dress code and to make suggestions. Also, if you require them to stick to the ceremony wording and avoid ad-libbing say so.
As with anything, you get what you pay for in a Celebrant. Once the Celebrant has quoted you a fee, ask them to email you a Fee Schedule and exactly what their fee covers so you have it in writing. Some Celebrants have a set fee, others may have a base fee and add extra charges for each individual service they provide.