Monthly Archives: August 2016

Tips to Choosing Your Celebrant

Between your dress, the flowers, the canapés and the weather, there are so many details of a wedding that a bride needs to consider; but one of the most important is who solemnizes the wedding. He or she will set the tone for your day, and they’ll always be the person who officially made you husband and wife.

Deciding on a celebrant can be a challenging decision, which is why we’re here to help you. There are two different elements you need to consider before you select your marriage celebrant: legal and personal.

To be legally married In Australia, the ceremony must be performed by an authorised celebrant, but you may choose whether you want a civil or religious ceremony. There are four types of celebrants with this authority:

– A Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant who performs a religious ceremony, for an independent religious organisation.

– A Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant who conducts a civil ceremony, for people who may have religious beliefs, but who choose not to get married in a religious building.

– A Minister of Religion who conducts a religious ceremony, and who belongs to a recognised denomination.

– A State official who performs a civil ceremony.

Civil marriages have outnumbered religious services since 1999, and if you’re reading this, you’re in the 72% of Australians who are choosing to use a civil marriage celebrant. In recent years, couples tend to want an increased sense of flexibility on their wedding day, from the time and venue, to the content of the service. If you choose a civil marriage celebrant, you can have your wedding virtually anywhere – a boat, a beach or a backyard.

Before the Wedding

Whether you decide on a civil or religious marriage celebrant, you must check that they are registered with the Australian Government, which gives them the authority to conduct your marriage. This includes legal advice and processing all the necessary paperwork. You’ll need to provide them with the following documentation:

– A Notice of Intended Marriage form is to be submitted at least a calendar month before your wedding day, and up to 18 months ahead. The form is evidence that you pass the requirements to get married in Australia. It is possible to have it approved in less than a month, but this is limited to specific situations.

– Proof of identity. For people born in Australia, a birth certificate is required. If you were born overseas, your home country’s passport will suffice. From 1st July 2014 an Australian passport can be used to show the place and date of your birth if neither of the other options is available.

– If you have previously been married, you need to provide original divorce decree papers or the death certificate of your previous spouse.

During the Wedding

All celebrants must:

– Introduce themselves to the congregation, to identify themselves as the person who is legally conducting the ceremony

– Declare the bride and groom’s full names, so the congregation can identify with them

– Recite a monitum (Latin for ‘warning’) from the Marriage Act, which begins, “I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages”.

– The couple must say their wedding vows out aloud.

After the Wedding

Just after the ceremony the new husband and wife, two witnesses, and the celebrant all need to sign the marriage certificates. The couple get to keep one, the celebrant keeps the second, and the final certificate gets sent to the State as an official record of the marriage.

The final task of your celebrant is to have your marriage registered, within 2 weeks, in the territory or state where you had your wedding. This notification must be made with the registry of births, deaths and marriages.
This is an immensely important day for you, and the decision about who solemnizes your wedding is an essential one. You want a person who is warm and friendly, but also professional and competent. Other handy traits are: being organised, confident and calm under pressure. You need to feel comfortable with them, and be able to easily establish a relationship. Remember that not every celebrant will suit every couple, and that’s why personality is important.

Seeing them conduct someone else’s wedding is ideal, but a personal recommendation can also help you make the right decision. Thankfully, the Internet allows for unparalleled ease of access to any information about the celebrant, and this allows you to do your homework before requesting a meeting. The simplest way to narrow down your potential list is by looking at feedback.

When you have a face-to-face conversation it allows you to instantly see how you get on, and you’ll quickly be able to make your decision. You want your ceremony to run smoothly, but above all, you need it to be legally sound.

Aside from asking if they’re available on your wedding date, these are the types of questions to ask your potential celebrant:

How long have you been a celebrant for?

– If they have many years of experience, they’re more likely to listen to your thoughts and concerns, and give you the ceremony that you really want.

How many weddings have you performed?

– The more weddings they’re conducted, the more knowledge they have about designing and delivering ceremonies, and they’ll be able to tell you if your particular ideas will actually work.

What do your clients say about you?

– You want to know what their reputation is like, and how successful their previous weddings have been. If you get given references, call them.

How flexible are you?

– Of course this isn’t referring to your celebrants ability to touch his or her toes, but rather if they’re happy to let you dictate the terms of the wedding, rather than insisting on their format.

Do you belong to a celebrant association or network?

– It’s important to know if they’re keeping up to date with laws and procedures.

What equipment do you have?

– By law, your celebrant needs to ensure that everyone can hear the ceremony, particularly if it takes place outside. Modern celebrants use a range of equipment like PA systems and computers to do their job.

How far away are you from our venue?

– If your celebrant needs to travel, you’re obliged to pick up transport and potentially accommodation costs, and you need to know if you can afford that.

Once you’ve found your ideal celebrant, make sure you book them immediately to secure their service. Your chosen celebrant has a vital and undeniably special role in your wedding ceremony and, of course, a huge legal responsibility. Select someone that will support you, fill you with happiness, and perform a ceremony that reflects your personality and captures your dreams.

More Information About Wedding Celebrant Glossary

Church wedding: a wedding ceremony which is performed in a place of worship, by a religious minister.

Civil celebrant: a civil celebrant is a person, outside of the church, who is legally able to marry couples and facilitate wedding ceremonies. A civil celebrant can perform wedding ceremonies in almost any location.

Intent to Marry: a form which must be submitted to the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages, at least 30 days prior to the wedding.

Interfaith Ceremony: a wedding between a couple from different faith backgrounds, which may be difficult to facilitate in a church. A civil celebrant can flexibly work with the couple to incorporate aspects of both faiths into the ceremony.

Legal Wordings: the words which must be spoken by the celebrant, prior to the vows being spoken, to make the marriage legal. There are certain words which must also be spoken by the bride and groom as they exchange vows, to make the marriage legally binding.

Minister: a religious leader who is able to legally marry couples and facilitate wedding ceremonies. Ministers usually include religious wordings during the ceremony and may only perform ceremonies inside their church or place of worship.

Readings: vows which are customised to suit the personality and style of the bride and groom.

Rites: the formal vows, wordings and prayers usually set aside for Catholic wedding ceremonies.

Rituals: the formal parts of the ceremony which include the legal wordings.

Rehearsal: a practice run of the ceremony, usually done the night before the wedding. This is the time to iron out any wrinkles in the service and answer any questions that the wedding party might have. Rehearsals are also a good time to pay the remaining amount of the celebrant’s fee.

Ring exchange: the point in the ceremony, after the vows, where the bride and groom give each other their wedding rings.

Signing registry: the final paperwork which legally states that the bride and groom are married. This paperwork needs to be signed at the ceremony by the bride, groom, celebrant and two witnesses.

Vows: the speech which the bride and groom say to each other, stating their commitment to one another.

Witnesses: two adults who sign the wedding registry, confirming that they witnessed the couple get married in a legal wedding ceremony.

Should Know Standing Positions During Your Ceremony

There are so many finer details that matter when it comes to planning your wedding, and one of these is where you, the groom and the bridal party stand. If you want the traditional – and some unorthodox – options, read on!

What you might not know is that there’s an interesting little tale behind this custom, and it goes way back to Anglo-Saxon England. To set the scene I should inform you that it was common practise for men to kidnap, and then marry women from neighbouring villages. To prevent this from happening, the fiancé would use his bravest and most fearless friend as a sort of bodyguard, who would fight off any jealous rivals until the couple wed. The friend is the modern-day best man, and because the groom was anticipating having to draw his sword with his right hand, and then fight, the bride would stand on his left so he wouldn’t accidentally wound her. One does wonder what happened to left-handed swordsmen, but I digress.
Christian Weddings
We’ve moved on from this decidedly more combative age, but this tradition has stubbornly remained. Perhaps modern brides like the idea that their grooms will fight to marry them – metaphorically of course!
The bridal couple face their marriage officiant, who stands behind the altar, and they have their backs to their guests. To the bride’s left is her maid of honour – within easy reach as she has to hold the bride’s bouquet and she’s the supplier of tissues – and then the other bridesmaids further left. To the groom’s right is his best man, with the other groomsmen further right. The bridesmaids and best men generally face the couple, but with a slight angle towards the guests.

Most weddings have a cute little ring bearer and adorable flower girls, and depending on their age, they can either stand with the bridal party or sit with their relatives. The bride’s friends and family are traditionally seated on the left, and the right is for the groom’s friends and family. The front few rows are reserved for parents (with the mothers next to the aisle), grandparents, other immediate family and special friends. Divorced parents can sit together, otherwise the father and his partner usually sit a few rows back, but of course this depends on the family and their situation.

Jewish Weddings
That’s the norm at a Christian wedding, but if you go to a Jewish wedding you can expect the exact opposite: the bride is on the right of the groom, under the Chuppah – an open canopy supported by four poles. Both sets of parents walk their son or daughter down the aisle, and then stand alongside them. The bridesmaids and best men stand behind the parents, on their respective sides, in order from tallest to shortest.

Muslim Weddings
Islamic weddings can vary significantly but the most important event is the nikah ceremony. It’s a simply, quick service performed by an imam, that legally binds the bride and groom as husband and wife. In front of witnesses, the groom agrees to the bride’s mahr, or dowry, and the wedding contract is signed. If tradition is followed, men and women sit separately, in this case the bride’s wali, or guardian, acts on her behalf. The groom and his family will later host a walima, a lunch or dinner, to officially declare the marriage to friends and family.

Military Weddings
Interestingly, if the groom is in the military, the bride stands on his right if he wears a sword, and to his left if he doesn’t.
Your Own Wedding
As weddings move from churches to forests, hotels to gardens and halls to beaches, the usual standing positions at ceremonies are being challenged. Like everything in a wedding, you can go along the conventional route, or you can throw tradition out with the bouquet. If you’re convinced that your left side is more photographic, or you just want to be different, by all means, switch sides and stand on the groom’s right. While it’s your wedding and you should be able to stand wherever you like, your religion might dictate otherwise, so it’s best to first check with your marriage officiant.

If you choose to have a celebrant marry you, they can stand anywhere. Here are some great, non-traditional options to consider:

– Between the couple and their guests. While his or her back is facing the crowd, any sound issues can be resolved with a microphone, and it allows everyone to see the smiling faces of the happy couple.
– The officiant and the bridal couple to stand sideways, so that the guests are seated on their right or left.
– You can have the officiant off to one side, so that you’re all at an angle, but remember that you want to see their reassuring smile or wink (and practically you need to be able to hear them!), so don’t be too far from the person conducting your ceremony.
Many grandparents will disagree, but it’s no longer customary for guests to sit on a particular side, they’re encouraged to mix. Here are a few unusual seating arrangements to contemplate:
– place your chairs in a circle with the bride and groom in the centre. This works best when you have plenty of space, like a beach, forest or garden wedding.
– If you like the idea of having your friends and family around you – but you’re short of space – use a semi-circle instead. This works particularly well if you have a focal point, such as getting married under a huge tree.
– An unusual and quite fun seating plan is a spiral, which gives everyone a chance to see a bride and groom walk in, and a husband and wife walk out.

There are no right or wrong answers to where you stand; you have to choose what best suits you, what works with your spirituality, and often the wishes of your family or partner. Whether you face them, have your back to them or stand alongside them, what is unlikely to change, is wanting your family close to you when you say your vows.

More Information About Marriage Celebrant Checklist

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just invite all of our loved ones to our big day, rock up at the venue, kiss to seal the deal, and live happily ever after? The other elements of your wedding can, by all means, be a fairy-tale. Unfortunately, in the real world, a kiss does not fulfil the legal requirements of marriage.

Enter: wedding celebrant. A celebrant is like the fairy godmother of legalities and paperwork. Without a celebrant, there is, essentially, no marriage. Your celebrant will not only arrange all of that fiddly paperwork for you, they will also conduct the ceremony and, hopefully, add a unique element to your special day.

With a bit of research and time management (this guideline should help you, in that respect), you can find a celebrant who will, not only, perform all of the legal duties of the ceremony, but will also provide marriage insight, mesh well with you and your partner’s personalities, and perhaps even become a friend.

One Year to Go
• If you’re planning on getting hitched during peak season, it would be a wise idea to start meeting with celebrants now.

6 Months
• If you haven’t already, start consulting celebrants. When ‘shopping’ for a celebrant, try to find someone who you feel comfortable with, has received plenty of positive testimonials from previous clients, and who understands your vision for the ceremony.

• For those brides who have their heart set on a particularly reputable celebrant, now is the time to book and put down your deposit for their services. Popular celebrants book up fast, especially during peak season.

3 Months
• Put down that deposit, girl! If you haven’t chosen a celebrant by now, what are you waiting for?

2 Months
• It’s a good idea to sit down with your celebrant for another consultation, and to sign your “intent to marry” paper work. Use this consultation to make sure that you are all on the same page. This is also a good time to finalise plans for a P.A. system – your celebrant may provide it, or you might have to hire one yourselves.

1 Month
• Your “intent to marry” paperwork needs to be submitted to the attorney-general’s office at least one month in advance. Give your celebrant a quick call to check in and make sure that they have submitted the document on time. This isn’t madatory for the celebrant to do, so the onus is on you to check that your celebrant will be submitting the document for you. On the other hand, if your paperwork has been submitted, kindly move onto the next step.

1 Week
• Couples who have decided to write their own vows need to finalise them now. Check in with your honey and make sure that he has finished writing his (you know what he can be like).

The Day Before
• Go through the ceremony program at the rehearsal and iron out any wrinkles with your celebrant.

• Pay the remaining celebrant’s fee at the rehearsal. That is, if your celebrant is willing to accept the remaining balance at this time.

• In the event that your celebrant wants the remaining balance on W-day (or that you are afraid that your celebrant will run off with the cash and leave you stranded at the aisle), arrange for the best man to pay the remaining balance to the celebrant at the end of the ceremony.

The Big Day
• Smile and don’t forget to breathe. If you find yourself overcome with emotion and can’t remember what to do or say next, follow your celebrant’s cues – he/she is a pro at this, and will endeavour to keep you from making a fool of yourself.