Silly traditional things celebrants say

Holly just messaged me on Facebook, asking me a version of the same question I have had so many brides, grooms, friends and journalists ask me:

Do you have to say ____ in a wedding?

The advice that comes henceforth is in accordance with Australian law, and may not apply in your local country. It is also purely my opinion. I just think marriage ceremonies should be awesome, not traditional.

Legally required things

The only thing required by an authorised marriage celebrant to say in a wedding is:

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.

And even then, in the actual legislation it ends that section with a “or words to that effect” which means you have to communicate the above using those words or words that mean the same thing. Anything else that is said by the celebrant in the ceremony is because the celebrant decided to say it on their own free will, or the couple decided to have it said.

Not legally required things

In light of that, here’s some things celebrants say that they don’t have to.

Dearly beloved

I’ll probably just call you friends and family. Then again, if you don’t know that you’re there and that the guy up the front is talking to you, then “Dearly beloved” probably won’t break the ice either.

We are gathered here today for

Did you not read the invitation?

Who gives this woman?

The cavemen called and they want their tradition back.

For better, for worse

If the conditions of your marriage are found liberally in the bounds of better or for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, then maybe you could put your thinking cap on and come up with more personal and meaningful vows.

Love is patient, love is kind

As lovely as it is, and quite true for most people, you do not have to remind people what love is in a marriage ceremony and even more so, you aren’t required to recite 1st Corinthians chapter 13. However may I say, it is quite true that love never fails. Never. It’s this unfailing awesome thing. That’s enough preaching from me for today.

Any objections?

If anyone here has any objections to this couple getting married, let them speak now or forever hold your peace. The law does not require me to seek objections from your guests and I won’t. The only time I would actually ask this is if I thought it would be hilarious to ask and then tell everyone it’s too late anyway.

Do you?

The Australian legal form of civil ceremony doesn’t require a question to be asked of the couple

"I do"

The Australian legal form of ceremony does not require the couple to respond to a question posed by the civil celebrant with an “I do” or “I will” or “Sure” or “whatever” or anything.

I now pronounce you ...

Here’s a tip that no-one is talking about. When a bride and groom exchange a legal vow that sounds like “In front of these people we’re shouting dinner, I ___ take you ___ as my lawfully wedded husband or wife”, that is the point of marriage. If a tree fell on you then, you would die a married person. A celebrant pronouncing you something is just a really nice warm and fuzzy way of ending the ceremony.

Joined today in holy matrimony

If a civil marriage celebrant is in front of you, they aren’t joining anything in holy matrimony. Religious celebrants can do that. Even then the Australian law doesn’t give God a one-third right to all of your stuff if you get divorced.

May I have the rings?

The rings are two really nice pieces of metal that aren’t required by law, aren’t required by Josh, but they are really cool to wear. So someone having the rings is cool, but there’s no correct way to “do the ring thing”. It’s just important to always think of Beyonce as you exchange them.

To have and to hold

I think your wedding photos being printed are cool things to have and to hold. As for your wife, give the girl some space.

By the power invested in me

I am Captain Marriage! Seriously though, maybe we could find a better way to end a ceremony. After all, if we’ve gotten this far through the ceremony and anyone is counting your authority as a celebrant surely this line won’t bring them over the edge?

You may now kiss

Have you been seeking permission to get it on like Marvin Gaye before today? Surely not. You could probably just kiss without looking to me for guidance.

In conclusion

Now before you storm away from the blog post worried that the true sanctity of marriage has been lost on me, hear me out.

The beauty of the Australian marriage law is that it gives you complete and utter freedom to create your own marriage celebration. And as a celebrant it gives me complete freedom to celebrate your marriage ceremony in a 100% you way. I am not bound to tradition, doctrine, or craziness. We can just celebrate your marriage your way, not according to the way you see in the movies or at church.

You are now liberated to celebrate your marriage, in your own persona marriage ceremony, and not someone else’s.

The feature image from this blog post is from our Perth Pop Up Wedding at the Kidogo Arthouse in Fremantle by Jimmy Teo from Izo Photography