The structure of a wedding ceremonyCategories Ceremony tips.
30 May, 2023
Unless you’ve been to lots of of civil wedding ceremonies, chances are you don’t really know how they’re structured. That’s why I’m here! In this blog, I cover what you NEED to have at your ceremony and my preferred structure so that it flows well and gets the party started!
The mandatory bits
There is some legal wording that must be said during the ceremony. There are two parts, outlined below:
1. The Monitum
This is a statement that I am required to make as prescribed by the Marriage Act. It’s basically to state that I am authorised to legally marry you and to explain the definition of marriage in Australia. Here is the exact wording:
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 two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
2. Legal vows
Although most couples also choose to write their own personal vows, you only technically need to exchange your legal vows, which are:
“I call upon the persons here present, to witness that I
(FULL LEGAL NAME OF PARTY 1)
take you (FULL LEGAL NAME OF PARTY 2)
to be my lawful wedded wife (OR husband / wife / spouse / partner in marriage.)”
These must come after the Monitum. If you’re doing a ring exchange, you can bundle up your legal vows with this.
And of course, there’s the paperwork that you’re required to sign on the day – there are three marriage certificates to sign in the presence of two witnesses (over 18 years old). One of these is a commemorative certificate for you to take home.
I’ll also get you to sign the Declaration of No Legal Impediment right before your ceremony!
My recommended ceremony structure
Apart from some legal wording and the paperwork that needs to be filled out, there are no rules. I’ll help you craft a ceremony that you’ll feel comfortable with and excited about!
I do have a general structure I follow that flows really well, which is outlined below.
- Quick welcome and housekeeping before the ceremony begins
- Processional (walk down the aisle) with music
- Acknowledgement of Country (optional)
- Welcome and Monitum
- Introduction of wedding party (optional)
- The couple’s story
- Readings (optional – my couples rarely want these!)
- Legal vows (and optional ring exchange)
- Personal vows
- Presentation of the newlyweds, kiss and ceremony finish
- Recessional (walking back down the aisle) with music
- Certificate signing with two witnesses (hopefully with a drink in your hand!).
“Remember, it’s your day, and I’m totally on board with non-traditional ceremony inclusions.”
Other ceremony inclusions
There are lots of fun and unique things you can do during your ceremony, which we’ll cover in our planning meeting!
You can also check out a podcast episode that has some unique ideas for both the ceremony and reception from real couples that my partner Eddy and I have worked with!
Remember, it’s your day, and I’m totally on board with non-traditional ceremony inclusions. For example, when it comes to things like your wedding party or the processional (walk down the aisle), there are loads of options to choose from, a couple of which are outlined below:
The wedding party
You don’t need to have one! Or if you do have one, they can be any size or shape, wearing what they like. They can come down the aisle with both of you; they can sit at the front rather than standing up with you guys – it’s totally your call!
The walk down the aisle
You don’t NEED to come down the aisle. Or you can come down together, with or without your wedding party. Or dance down together and have a cheeky shot halfway down. Up to you!
Photo credit: Tahnee Jade.