Where it all begins
When you contact me I will suggest that we meet to chat about your plans for your wedding day and any thoughts you may have for your wedding ceremony. This is a conversation without obligation. We begin the process of getting to know each other so you can ensure I am the right person for this very important role on your wedding day.
We will brainstorm your ideas for your ceremony and I will invariably add some of my own. Once you decide to proceed with me as your celebrant I will provide you with resources so you have information on the structure of a ceremony, elements within a wedding ceremony, as well as a wide choice of wordings for vows and ring exchange, readings and poems and a few hints and tips thrown in for good measure! These are all designed to start you thinking about the elements you may want to include in your ceremony.
I also advise on the legal requirements of your ceremony.
Once you have had time to go through the resources provided and when you are ready, we can meet again to begin putting your ceremony together. This is the fun part! Ideas start to galvanise at this meeting and I ensure I get a first draft to you shortly afterwards and I will take as much time as necessary to ensure your ceremony is just how you want it to be. I operate on a “no surprises” basis, you will get final sign off on what I will say during your ceremony.
A rehearsal at your venue close to your wedding day will allow us to go through the organisational part of your ceremony, where to stand, how to enter and what will happen during the ceremony so you can relax and enjoy your big day. Ideally all the key players, attendants, parents and special people who have been asked to read a verse or reading should attend your rehearsal so they know the arrangements and are comfortable and confident about their roles.
On your wedding day I co-ordinate the ceremony and ensure everything runs smoothly. I will dress appropriately to your dress code and colour scheme, I will arrive at least half an hour before your guests are due to arrive to ensure everything is set up and to calm the groom’s nerves! I stay a short time after the ceremony to say my congratulations and to wish you well.
I have a table and chair and tasteful table cloth available for document signing for outdoor venues if required and a sound system which is also available.
Rest assured, you will be in good hands. My role is to ensure your wedding ceremony is memorable sets the scene for the celebrations that follow and is a treasured memory for years to come.
The ceremony structure
One of the most satisfying aspects of my role is translating a couples ideas and dreams for their wedding day into a well crafted and memorable ceremony. Most people know how they want their ceremony to feel, be it romantic, casual, sophisticated, formal or relaxed but often they are not quite sure how to get there. That’s where I come in.
A wedding ceremony includes a number of components and an indicative structure which are designed to set the scene for the heart of the ceremony, the vows.
Music creates atmosphere and adds flavour and style and is one of the easiest ways to personalise your wedding ceremony. Choose music for the processional (entry of the bride) or to mark the beginning of your ceremony, the signing of wedding documents and the recessional (exit of the wedding party) or conclusion of the ceremony. You may have some music choices which are meaningful to you as a couple but if you need ideas great resource for choosing your music is:
There are many ways your ceremony can begin, the groom and his best man and groom’s men standing at the front watching nervously as the bridal party arrives with the bride on her father’s arm. Or the groom can have his own entry complete with music prior to the bride’s arrival. The wedding couple can choose to arrive together. Alternatively the bride and groom’s parties each arrive at the ceremony area from different directions at the same time. In informal settings like restaurants or private homes the couple may choose to mingle with their guests prior to the ceremony until the celebrant announces the proceedings are about to start.
The celebrant welcomes guests, talks about the couple and their relationship, things they love about one another, what marriage means to them and their journey to this day. Family, friends, children, absent friends, people who have travelled may be mentioned as well as how much everyone’s presence means to the couple. This part of the ceremony is written personally for you and with you, with full consultation. It can have some light hearted aspects depending on what is important to you. Some couples may like to do the introduction themselves and speak directly to family and friends.
This is optional but a reading or poem works well immediately after the introduction as a transition from one part of the ceremony to another as well as reflecting some of the points made in the introduction in a poetic way. A reading also fleshes out the ceremony which may otherwise seem quite short for your guests who have travelled to witness it. Readings are a lovely way to include a friend or family member in your ceremony who may appreciate taking this role. Alternatively your celebrant can read your chosen poem or reading for you. I provide my couples with a wide selection of readings and poems to choose from and I am happy to make suggestions.
Declaration of Intent:
Sometimes called “the asking” this is optional and is the part where the celebrant asks the bride and groom if they are ready to pledge themselves to a life together. People other than the celebrant can ask this question: the couple can ask it of each other, or a friend or family member or member of the wedding party can do it.
The giving away or parents’ blessing:
Some brides choose to follow tradition and are given away by their father or by both mother and father. Some couples will opt for a blessing from their parents and or their children if they are present. Alternatively both the bride and groom’s parents can be asked “who brings bride / groom to be married today?” where upon they stand briefly and respond “we do”.
Blessing from the guests:
While optional I often suggest this in a ceremony as an opportunity to involve guests, who say “we do” or similar in reply to a call for support for the couple in their marriage.
Your vows are what your family and friends have come to witness, the moment when promises are made and you legally marry each other. Your vows don’t have to be the same although many couples do opt to say the same words. Some couples write their own vows either separately and secretly or collaboratively or they may adapt some of the examples I provide. Whatever you choose this is your opportunity to express how you feel about each other and your hopes and dreams for your future. I will suggest that you turn and hold each other’s hands at this point in the ceremony and repeat the words after me while you look at and speak those special words to each other.
Whatever words you choose, it is a legal requirement to say at some stage that you (full name) take the other to be your husband or wife, or words to that effect. This is actually the point in your ceremony when you become married.
The exchange of rings is usually accompanied by a pledge which you can choose from the examples I provide or you may choose to make up your own or just speak from your heart.
Once you have made your vows to each other and exchanged rings I will pronounce you married to your delighted family and friends. Then comes the kiss, the classic photo opportunity, the much awaited part in the ceremony for your guests and the symbol of the commitment you have just made to each other.
After the pronouncement is another good opportunity for a reading or poem, alternatively your reading can take the form of a blessing and be moved to after the signing and just prior to the ceremony’s end.
The ceremony breaks at this point so you, your two witnesses and the celebrant can sign the two copies of the legal documents.
We re-group and I will say a few words in conclusion and there may be a toast, party poppers, confetti, rose petals or a release of butterflies. I will ask your guests to stand and I will present you as husband and wife.
The exit, that classic walk from the ceremony area with your new spouse on your arm. Your guests will be looking forward to congratulating you and you can now start your life together as a married couple. Let the celebrations begin!
A note about ceremonies within your ceremony:
Depending on your venue there are opportunities for ceremonies within your ceremony for example you may choose to incorporate candle lighting, ring warming, a shell or sand ceremony for a beach ceremony or there may be cultural ceremonies you would like to incorporate.
A wonderful and well crafted ceremony which reflects you both as a couple will set the tone for the rest of your festivities and be remembered fondly for years to come.