The Ceremony

This is YOUR ceremony and apart from a few legal requirements, it’s up to you and your imagination.
If there is some element that you have always wanted included in your wedding day, don’t be afraid to ask.

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If possible, I like to meet with a couple so they can be assured that they have chosen the right Celebrant and so I can get a feel for what kind of ceremony they are seeking whether it be traditional, formal, relaxed and the mood they are wishing to convey. At that meeting I strive to get to know a little about the couple so when it comes to creating the ceremony, I can add some of the knowledge I have gained and personalise it.

As marriage is something we are not embarking on every day, it’s often difficult to know where to start when it comes to creating a ceremony. When I ask a couple what type of service they would like, they frequently reply – “I haven’t got a clue”.

So over the years I have compiled a selection of wedding ceremonies and readings that have been a welcome guide and starting point for couples planning to marry. This  " wedding folder" can be emailed to you with a selection of verses and readings to choose from.  It gives couples the scope to either choose a wedding service from the selection provided or assist those who wish to write their own.

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The wedding ceremony usually has the following content and as a rule is approx.25 minutes in duration:

Giving Away
Depending on the circumstances, the bride may be escorted down the aisle and given away by her father, both parents, or a family friend. One of the following questions may be asked “As father of the bride, do you give ....to be married to......?” or ”You stand beside your daughter on her wedding day. As father of the bride do you give your blessing to the marriage of ....&....?”

The Welcome
This is carried out by the Celebrant and welcomes family & friends and sometimes makes special mention to those who have travelled some considerable distances or may mention those absent. Mention of the beautiful beach location. It often speaks of the meaning of marriage.

Celebrants introduction and Comments
This is unscripted and my own words. I introduce myself as I feel this personalises the ceremony and I mention how honoured I am to be the Celebrant at their wedding. I may mention how they met, something about them, how they complement each other, their connection to the chosen venue, or an observation I have made when meeting them.

Other Celebrants may not do this but I find first and foremost, it personalises the ceremony and adds warmth to the occasion, puts the guests at ease and is always, without exception, well received by the bride and groom.

The Reading
Some form of reading is usually included from a friend or family member.( they are usually honoured to be given this most important task) It might be words of a song that have featured in the couples time together, a verse that conveys their feelings, a song sung by a talented friend etc

The Vows or Promises
The law requires the words “I…….take you…….to be my husband/wife” or words to that effect.  Apart from that you can decide what your vows will be. You should choose what is right for you. The vows can be committed to memory but you may find they flowed easily when rehearsed in the privacy of your own home but on your wedding day they flew out the window. A popular alternative is often when the words are broken down to brief phrases that can be repeated after the celebrant or posed as a question – “Will you take ....to be your wife. Will you love her today, tomorrow and forever?”  “I will” .It is also a legal requirement to have the full names of the bride and groom mentioned at some point during the ceremony.

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Giving and receiving of Rings
The rings are brought forward and the groom is asked to place the ring for his bride on her finger and repeat words such as “from this day forward/you will not walk alone / my heart will be your shelter/ my arms will be your home/ receive this ring as a sign of my love”

Signing the Documents
The Bride & Groom and two witnesses together with the Celebrant, adjourn to a table provided by the celebrant and decorated with shells and ferns and specially set up for the purpose. Music is often played for the guests at this time and cameras flash furiously.

The Pronouncement
At this point, the Celebrant pronounces the couple to be Husband and Wife. A time when you have publicly committed yourselves to each other, that commitment to each other is then sealed with a kiss.

Conclusion
Drawing the ceremony to an end, the Celebrant may recite a wedding blessing or wish the couple well for the future and could well say, “I know you will join me in wishing ....&... a wonderful and happy future together”. Also asking the guests to come forward to welcome the newly married couple, or if the couple prefer, to walk down the aisle together to signify the start of their life together as husband and wife.

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Lesley Morrison - New Zealand Marriage Celebrant - Phone +64 (0)7 866 5334 - Email: lesleyamorrison@gmail.com

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