The Ceremony

The following is a framework for you as you begin planning your ceremony.

Please note, words highlighted in italics are non-negotiable, and must be included in your ceremony.

  • Other parts are largely traditional, and each couple can select which sections they want.
  • Order of service is not mandatory.

Click any of the links below to go to the relevant section of the ceremony :
Welcome : Introduction : Introduction of Celebrant : Acknowledgement of family/parents : Reading/song : The Vows : Symbolic Elements : Cultural Elements : Declaration of Marriage : Signing : Closing : Processional


The welcome sets the context for your ceremony. Included in your welcome might be a thank you to family and friends (present or absent) for attending the ceremony or an acknowledgement of ancestors or country.

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Your introduction might include anecdotes from your initial meeting, friendship, courtship and engagement. It might include a statement about shared values, beliefs and views on marriage and commitment. There may also be an acknowledgement of the role of parents, family, friends and your children, including extended family.

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Introduction of celebrant and authority to perform the marriage

My name is Nancy Batenburg. 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 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.

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Acknowledgement of family/parents, giving away of the bride,or parental blessing

This is an opportunity for parents to be acknowledged formally or informally, by pledging their love and support for the marriage of children; the acknowledgement may involve the bride and the groom and their families. There may be a traditional ‘giving away of the bride’ or a parental blessing. While this may be a tradition in some parts of the world, it is not mandatory in a civil ceremony.

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A poem, verse, reading or song may be included in the ceremony, and led by either the celebrant, family member or friend.

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The Vows

You can write your own vows, or use traditional ones. I have many resources to assist you, but can easily include particular sentiments of importance to you.

The following phrase (or close words to that effect) must be included in your ceremony and are traditionally included as part of the vows, either on their own, or before or after your own words:

I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, (name) take thee, (name) to be my lawful wedded wife.
I call upon the persons here present to witness that I (name) take thee (name) to be my lawful wedded husband.

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Symbolic elements

A number of symbolic elements may also be included in your ceremony:

  • Exchange of rings
  • Lighting of a Unity Candle
  • Sharing wine
  • Exchange of gifts
  • Exchange of garlands
  • Hand fastening

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Cultural elements

A number of cultural elements can be included. For example:

  • English: young children, usually boys, act as ‘pages’ to hold the bride’s train and/or carry the rings and ‘flower girls’ compliment the bride and her beauty. One old tradition states that brides must walk to their wedding through a meadow in bloom (symbolising fertility, warding off evil spirits, and ensuring good luck), hence the flower girls who ensure that every bride has her own personal meadow of flowers.
  • Japan: taking a sip of sake from the same cup implies that the groom and bride are now husband and wife.
  • Sweden: exchange of three rings, for betrothal, marriage and motherhood.
  • Vikings: Tucking money into the bride’s shoes, so she will never be without: silver in the left (from father, and his side of the family) and gold in the right (from mother, and her side of the family).

In many cultures, the sharing of food or wine is an integral part of the marriage ceremony. For example, special breads, as cooked by the bride and/or her mother, symbolise the giving of bread or sustenance to the groom, and welcoming him into the bride’s family.

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Declaration of Marriage

The pronouncement of the couple as husband and wife: ‘the Kiss’ may be included in your ceremony.

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A mandatory part of the ceremony is the signing of the legal documentation, the register and the certificates. You need two witnesses over the age of 18.

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There may be a final blessing, reading, song or words of congratulations. The Marriage Certificate is usually presented to the couple, and the couple announced formally to their family and friends.

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The newly married couple proceed to greet the bride’s family, groom’s family and friends, with witnesses or bridesmaid,matron of honour and best man,groomsman following.

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