Writing your own wedding ceremony

Do I have to write my own Wedding Ceremony?

I often find there is a little uncertainty from engaged couples about how to approach their Wedding Ceremony.  As most of them have never had a wedding they are unsure on what the process is for how to put their wedding ceremony together.  They have usually been to other weddings and have a sense of how they would like their ceremony to come together, for example “We don’t want a long, boring ceremony” or “We don’t want a religious ceremony”, or “We don’t want a serious, traditional ceremony, it’s just not us”.

This is all absolutely fine and very common.  Your Wedding Ceremony can be exactly how you want it – with the exception of a small amount of legal wording that must be said during the ceremony to ensure it is a legal wedding.

What are the legal bits you need to include in your Wedding Ceremony?

All Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants solemnising civil or religious marriages are required to say these words.  This wording is known as the ‘monitum’ and the authorised celebrant must say to the bride and groom, in the presence of the witnesses, the following words:

“I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to 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 a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”; or words to that effect.
Variations that keep the legal meaning are:
• ‘I am legally registered to solemnise marriages according to the law.’
• ‘I am the registered marriage celebrant authorised to solemnise this marriage according to
the law (or according to law.’
• changing ‘solemn’ to ‘serious’ or ‘formal’
• changing ‘binding’ to ‘permanent’
• changing ‘nature’ to ‘promise’
• changing ‘now about to enter’ into ‘formalising’ or ‘sealing’ or ‘binding’, or
• changing ‘these witnesses’ to ‘everyone here’ or ‘everybody here’

Some couple may not agree with this wording, however I have some options to assist if you don’t.  Just let me know and I can take you through them.

In addition, subsection 45(2) of the Marriage Act sets out the minimum words (or vows) which must be used by the couple for a non-religious (civil) ceremony to be a marriage ceremony:

“I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take thee, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband)”; or words to that effect.
These are the minimum words which must be exchanged by the couple to ensure that they fully understand the nature of the ceremony and that they are marrying each other and the words must be included in the ceremony.
The following wording substitutions and changes are acceptable given the inclusion of ‘words to that
effect’ in subsection 45(2):
• ‘call upon’may be changed to ‘ask’
• ‘persons’ may be changed to ‘people’
• ‘thee’ may be changed to ‘you’
• ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ may be changed to ‘spouse’
• ‘persons here present’ may be changed to ‘everyone here’ or ‘everybody here’ or ‘everyone present here’ or ‘everybody present here’, or
• the couple may leave out either ‘lawful’ or ‘wedded’, but not both
The couple are able to add to these vows any wording they like to personalise their wedding vows.  I usually recommend to start with the legal wording and add additional words to complete their vows after this.  You can write your own vows and learn them or have them written down and read from them or the wedding celebrant can read them out quietly and you repeat them, or I have an extensive range of vows that you can mix and match to find the right wording that symbolises your relationship and how you feel about each other and marriage to ensure your wedding vows are just perfect for you.
With regards to readings and poems etc, you can choose to have or not include.  The legal wording above is the minimum wording you need to make your wedding legal so you can have it as short or long as you would like.  Most wedding ceremonies go for around 15 – 20 minutes and include one or two readings, poems or lyrics being read.  This is a great way to include others in your ceremony and they don’t have to be religious. If you have a favourite song that sums up how you feel about each other, why not consider asking someone to read these lyrics for you?  Just ensure you credit the author.

How can Trudy the Brisbane Celebrant help?

I have an extensive range of readings, poems, verses that work perfectly for wedding ceremonies that you can go through or you may have your own.
I also have an extensive range of wedding ceremony sample wording that you can also mix and match to compile a wedding ceremony that you both feel is right for you.  I usually suggest that you print everything out, circle the wording that you like and then give it back to me and I’ll create a draft for you to both review.
I hope that helps understand a little more about how your Wedding Ceremony is crafted.  If you have any more specific questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me
Trudy the Brisbane Marriage Celebrant x

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