Each and every wedding conducted is a unique and special ceremony, often I will write a unique ceremony for each couple. Below is the standard “formula” that marriage ceremonies run to, there are a few important parts as noted in the Marriage Act of 1961 but aside from that your ceremony can be as short, so as long, as detailed or as simple, as intense or as light as you desire. Including religious, earthly, or symbolic ceremonies and moments is easily done. This format can also be used for civil unions, commitment ceremonies and re-dedication ceremonies, obviously with some parts omitted.

An Example Marriage Ceremony

Introduction

A welcome, followed by the principles of belief surrounding marriage.

A Reading (Optional)

Your choice of verse or prose.

Personalised Section (Optional)

Information about the relationship that is relevant. It can be light and breezy, romantic or serious – your choice. This story could be provided by the couple or the celebrant can draft it with the couple.

Giving Away (Optional)

Traditionally the father ‘gives the bride away’. This can be structured to be more about family support for both the Bride and Groom.

The Monitum

A statement required to be made according to the Marriage Act as below or similar with same meaning.

“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.”

The Asking (Optional)

A formal question in relation to your intentions. Usually a question to the other partner, answering with an “I do”.

Vows (Essential)

Your promises. They need to acknowledge your life-long commitment but can also say anything that you wish to promise to each other. Here are some example vows.

The Minium Vows

The Marriage Act of 1961 does require the following, or words to it’s effect, to be included in your vows. Words can be changed as noted but the couple must say these words so as yto understand that they are marrying each other.

‘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)’

Can You Personalise The Vows?

Couples may wish to personalise the minimum vows. However, it is important to be aware that legally there is limited capacity to change the vows. The safest course of action is to use the wording in the Marriage Act.

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 following changes to the minimum words are not acceptable: • ‘family and friends’ cannot replace ‘persons here present’ or ‘everyone here’, and • ‘partner’ cannot replace ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.

As an example, the vows could read: ‘I ask everyone here to witness that I, A.B., take you, C.D., to be my wedded wife.’ Couples wishing to personalise their vows further are able to lengthen their vows by adding their chosen wording after saying the minimum words (so long as any material added does not contradict the minimum vows). In this sense, the minimum words are the starting point from which personalised vows can be constructed.

Exchange of Rings (Optional)

Usually followed by a Versicle (prose to ‘seal’ the exchange of rings).

A Reading (Optional)

Your choice of verse or prose.

Declaration (and embrace)

Signing of Register & Certificate (requires two adult witnesses)

Introduction of the Married Couple

Congratulations from guests