So how does one start to build a wedding ceremony? While wedding ceremonies are initially written or wordsmithed, they are delivered and said which is a whole lot different to just reading words on a page. And I often say to my couples, the Celebrant is only as good as the talent they have to work with. So the more animated, spontaneous and the genuineness of the Bride & Groom makes an enormous difference in how a wedding ceremony is delivered on the day. Of course, the Celebrant should have the presenting skills to be able to apply the expression required to the words, whether it be in humour, fun, sincerity, romance, dignity or formality.
And in essence, there is no excuse for a couple to not have a nice ceremony or at least the sort or type of ceremony that the couple would like., because there is so much out there on the internet. No point in reinventing the wheel, ………….
Marriages are about two people in love, so are weddings, but weddings not only give you an opportunity to honour yourselves and to be proud of what you are doing, but to also honour some or all of those folk who have travelled the journey with you, to this point in your life. The words that I use to my couples, is, “to share the love around”, which I think aptly explains it. Often couples’ family and friends put in a massive effort travelling from all parts of the globe, having sometimes to outlay a huge amount of money to attend your wedding, and certainly can be honoured within the ceremony.
For me as a Celebrant, much of the content of a wedding ceremony is built on “meet and greets” with the B & G, what they say, how they say it, what they have said they want, what they know, “they absolutely don’t want”, and most importantly, what I observe of the couple. I also pick up information from phone calls and emails, and “facebook”, which depending on the personalities of the couple can provide me with an absolute raft of information. Sometimes, I learn way too much for my own good, but that often gives me a great insight into my couples and their characters.
There are a number of styles of wedding ceremonies that I use. In this post I will only talk about what I like to call “a modernist style”. I will discuss the others in a later post.
Generally speaking it would be the most common of the styles that I use. Most couples want something that is non-religious, (I rarely put in any religious content and only when the couple ask for it), around 25-30 minutes in time, that the legal requirements are absolutely included, that the ceremony is relaxed, informal, fun and light hearted, yet meaningful, with the least amount of pomp and ceremony and formality and mostly, with, “no cheese”. They especially don’t like ceremonies “too mushy and cheesy”, I have found.
Of course the legal requirements of the Celebrant Authority and is mandatory for a Celebrant to say, which in essence says that this Celebrant is authorised to marry people here in Australia and outlines what marriage is deemed as, and before the B & G’s legal vow:- from the Marriage Act 1961, or words to that effect, which is:
“I call upon the persons here present to witness, that I Groom, (full name), take you, Bride (full name), to be my lawful wedded husband/wife”.
I don’t suggest that couples deviate too far from the legality, because you do not want your marriage, “to ever be taken into question”. Instead of saying persons, I generally use people, and instead of “lawful wedded wife/husband”, I generally say, “lawful wife/husband in marriage”, which still means it is lawful, wedded, (means marriage) and wife or husband. We are not allowed to say partner.
Basically the first 1/3 of the ceremony is written to be reasonably light-hearted to get everyone in the mood and to allay some of the nerves of the B & G. I like to warmly welcome their parents/and or immediate family to honour them and to include them in the ceremony. Just a little more personal, that’s all. Of course, if the couple already have children, either adults, teenagers or little people, to mention them or I do encourage couples to include them in proceedings where possible..
Giving Away – we, (well I don’t) say, “If anybody here today knows why our couple cannot be joined in holy matrimony, to now speak, or to forever hold their peace?
Modern women may be quite insulted by all of that these days. And we are so much more civilised, these days, I usually just simply ask, “Do you, as the Father of the Bride, give your blessing, (rarely say, do you give your daughter’s hand in marriage) on behalf of your families of origin, to the marriage of your daughter Joanne, to Derek, for example.
I then include some nice words about the Bride and G in a section I call “On Love & Marriage – Your Story”, if you like.
We can include a verse or a blessing from a friend or otherwise. As I often say to my couples, if a guest has flown 3 times around the globe to get to your wedding, and it fits in with the theme or the content of the ceremony, you could include them as a Reader. The readings or verses do not have to be religious. There is plenty available on the internet. Your can have spiritual, (On Marriage by the Phrophet, Cherokee Love Song, Irish Blessing, etc) poems form the Classics, (Shakespeare, Robbie Burns, EE Cummings, whoever) even fun ones. A quirky poem from Dr Suess, called, “The Places We Will Go, or something from the Velveteen Rabbit, or The Lovely Dinosaur are just examples of something a bit different, that I have used.
And then we get into the Asking. Again, not mandatory.
Sometimes, generally for young people, I insert, “The Blessing of the Hands”, by, the Reverend Daniel L Harris………….but not always. It is a nice easy symbolic ceremony within the ceremony to segue into the exchange of rings and a couple’s vows in marriage, as they will definitely be holding hand and links in with what we do next.
I mostly combine their vows and exchange the rings all together, as it makes the ceremony a little shorter. And to do that, the ring bearer, (who is most often the Best Man), I ask to step forward and present the rings, (x 2) in a ring box, (can be elaborate or just a common box from the jewellers) with the lid up, to the Groom, and he selects the Bride’s ring, and I ask him to slide the ring half way on her left hand ring finger, still holding her hand with both of his hands. And why you may ask? Because, “blokes”, being bloke’s, would probably think that if they extend the ring on, and then perhaps drop their hands, thinking their job is done, but they are yet to say their vows to the Bride. And we don’t want that. We want him to be holding her hands and looking deeply into her eyes as he professes his undying love for her in vows. And the same for the Bride, to be honest, I ask the Best Man, to then step forward and present very gracefully the ring to the Bride.
I can then confidently proclaim them as husband and wife, and you may kiss the bride.
I like to honour the people chosen as the witnesses and signatories. I often suggest the Mum’s, because, in all reality they do not get much recognition at a wedding. Dad gets to give the daughter away…………….and then what?
We do the signing of the register, and then I present the newly married couple to the group by them walking back down the aisle, with grace, followed by their bridal party. And usually, I have the parents, grandparents and siblings to follow, and make a point of them being the first to welcome and congratulate the couple.
None of it is “rocket science’, it just requires a little bit of grace and style. A couple will usually spend a lot of money, expend a lot of emotional energy, but to walk away, like “browns cows”, demeans what they have just been through.
Basically, that is my process, but with a sense of fun!
Copyright Victoria A. Wheeler 2013
For a wedding Celebrant in Perth please contact Victoria Wheeler