This is a guide to a basic, traditional order of service for an Australian wedding ceremony. Couples and celebrants are welcome to add, change, reorder and/or omit any parts as long as the Monitum and minimum legal vows are said by the celebrant and the couple in accordance with the Marriage Act 1961.
Celebrant welcomes all the guests and provides any applicable housekeeping announcements (phones on silent, ‘unplugged’ info, what’s happening after the ceremony – group photo etc.)
Partner #1 / Partner #2 walks down the aisle to music with the wedding party and their nominated escort (father, mother etc.) Sometimes the couple may choose to enter together.
If desired, Partner #1/#2 or both can be given away. Traditionally the father gives Partner #2 away but one can choose their mother, a sibling, a friend … anyone or everyone. An alternative option here is a family blessing/acknowledgement,where the parents of both the persons getting married are asked to confirm their love and support of the marriage.
“This occasion is a special celebration for you parents who have brought these children into the world, and nurtured them into adulthood. Mr and Mrs [Parents 1] and Mr and Mrs [Parents 2], will you, with the greatest love and wisdom you can command, support this new couple and help in every way?”
“Will you surround this couple in love, offering them the joys of your friendship? Will you support this couple in their relationship? At times of conflict will you offer them the strength of your wisest counsel and the comfort of your thoughtful concern? At times of joy, will you celebrate with them, nourishing their love for one another?”
The celebrant welcomes everyone, talks about love, the meaning of marriage and the couple’s story. The welcoming can include any particular thanks (parents, people who have traveled) and acknowledgements (loved ones who are no longer with us or absent family and friends).
“Jack and Jill would like to thank Auntie Mary for coming all the way from Canada to be part of this special day.”
“Sarah and Jill want to thank their closest family and dearest friends for being here to witness their declaration of love.”
“Today, we are not only joining the lives of Jack and Steven but also the backgrounds from which they came. They are excited to see what delightful new customs and traditions emerge from the blending of both Indian and Australian cultures.”
“Sarah and Jill’s decision to marry will also shape and deeply affect the lives of their children. Today we acknowledge and celebrate not only the creation of a marriage, but also the creation of a new family.”
The couple may choose to include some readings or poems. These can be read either by the celebrant or a guest, or even the persons getting married.
The couple may include any particular wedding rituals or blessings. These can be traditional, religious or multicultural.
The legal wording from the Marriage Act 1961, stated by the celebrant.
This is where the celebrant asks the couple to confirm their intentions to marry. It is the non-legal part that ends with the couple saying “I do!” or “I will!”
“[Partner #1], will you take [Partner #2] to be your forever love? Will you take her hand when it’s too dark,and protect her from harm? Do you promise to love her on bad hair days, and when she burns the toast? And will you always begin and end each day with a kiss?”
The couple state their vows to each other (including the legal minimum vows from the Marriage Act 1961).
“I call upon the persons here present, to witness that I, [Partner #1], take you, [Partner #2] to be my lawful wedded wife/husband/spouse. You are the most beautiful, smart, and generous person I have ever known, and I promise always to respect you. With kindness, unselfishness, and trust, I will work by your side to create a wonderful life together.”
The couple usually exchange rings, often accompanied by a short ring verse.
“As I place this ring on your finger, I commit my heart and soul to you. Wear this ring as a reminder of the vows we have spoken today.”
Sometimes only one party wears a ring so there is a giving and receiving verse.
“I give you this ring as a symbol of my love. As it encircles your finger, may it remind you always that you are surrounded by my enduring love.”
(Response:) “I will wear it gladly. Whenever I look at it, I will remember this joyous day and the vows we’ve made.”
The celebrant concludes and announces the couple as husband & wife/ husband & husband / wife & wife / partners in marriage. If the couple would like they can kiss!
Signing of the Register
The couple sign their wedding documents with their celebrant and two witnesses. Music is sometimes played during this time.
The celebrant presents the newly married couple, as Mr & Mrs / Mr & Mr / Mrs & Mrs or the “newly married couple” or however the couple want to be introduced.
“Let us welcome for the very first time as husband and wife, Jack and Jill Smith! Please give them your heart felt applause!”
The couple walk back down the aisle to music, followed by their wedding party.
Here’s a handy checklist for all the different elements.