Ceremonies 101 – part 1

SHANNON-Morgan-Leigh-3I did a wedding recently, and as we clung to what shelter we could to sign the paperwork as the rain fell around us, the Bridesmaid said ‘there’s a few things to sign, they don’t show that part in the movies’.

No, they don’t. But it got me thinking, and I hear it a lot, most people have very little, if any, idea of what to plan and consider for the Ceremony. They think about the reception and how to get to the Ceremony but not what to include AT the Ceremony.

While I do give examples and help you along the way, I thought I’d jot down a few points to consider to ensure the Ceremony suits you as a couple…it’s your day, have it your way. So this is part one (of 3), now let’s begin…

Location, location, location

Where to say ‘I do’, while most people have a pretty good idea where they want to have the Ceremony by the time we meet, many often change.

It’s important to remember it’s your special day, so surround yourself with special memories. Perhaps the spot you had your first date, or a favourite park, of family farm? Somewhere that resonates with you is always a great option.

But also consider that while we do our best, we have no sway with the weather gods. So consider the weather at that time of year. If you’re having a winter wedding, ensure there can be a backup plan in place if the heavens do open. If it’s a summer soiree, no-one loves standing out in the sun on a 44 degree day, especially the Groom and Groomsmen in suit, and sweat patches aren’t sexy on anyone! So opt for a late afternoon Ceremony rather than 1:00 when the sun is beating down and plan where you want the photos taken.

Other things to ponder is the layout for the guest, are they on chairs, benches, sitting, standing? What sort of feel do you want for the Ceremony as a whole? Consider your guests and their comfort, while it is your day, they’ve come from far and wide and frocked up to be there and want to enjoy it just as much as you.


The who

Before you jump on Google and type in ‘Celebrants’ think about what sort of person you’d like. Male or Female? Younger or a little older? Religious or Civil? Do you have a budget?

Talk to friends about what they looked for and if the person they had was what they wanted. Knowledge sharing is a wonderful thing, but be sure not to make your decisions solely on others opinions and experience – this goes for all suppliers.

Sometimes things go wrong as with anything in life, and one scathing review somewhere doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t any good, so if you think you’d like to use them, tee up a time for a chat and form your own opinion. Just because someone’s florist couldn’t give them roses (no doubt due to the weather or some other random circumstances), doesn’t mean the flowers weren’t amazing.

The Celebrant is what makes you legally married and they should take care of everything, from the Notice of Intended Marriage, Declaration, and Marriage certificates – and more importantly making sure everything is lodged. You shouldn’t have to worry about a thing in this regards, after all this is what you’re paying them for.

When you have your meeting go with a few questions, I often ask clients what they’ve seen that they didn’t like at a Ceremony. That way we know what’s definitely excluded and start working from there. It’s a chance for us all to meet and get a feel for each other, to make sure you’re comfortable with me and my approach and for me to answer any question, regardless of how crazy you think they are! Check how many weddings they do a day, and how much time they allow for each. Are they all written individually by the Celebrant themselves or ‘mass produced’ so to speak? No two ceremonies should be the same!

And also make sure you’re really clear on what they include, in my first email after an enquiry I outline everything I include and the cost so as to avoid an awkward moment over coffee!

‘We don’t want a long boring Ceremony’

Good, because I don’t do boring! But as for length, how long’s a piece of string?

The length depends entirely on you. A bare bones Ceremony with only the legalities can be over and done with in 5 minutes! Or you could add readings, rituals, poems or even an interpretive dance. What’s important is you don’t feel you ‘have’ to have a ceremony a certain way. Don’t have a champagne ceremony (or wedding!) if your beer people, and by this I mean, don’t pretend to be something you’re not.

This’ about the two of you, and your adventures & the story that has lead you to this point, the end of the aisle.

You could have a theme, keep it light and funny, or quote the Muppets. Nothing should be off limits!

While a Civil ceremony is usually non-religious, you can still incorporate traditions and customs from your family’s culture, or memories past, honour those who aren’t with us or include family and friends to share a reading or sing to you!

It’s also a great way to include special people in your life who aren’t in the bridal party (more on this in part 2).