Sydney harbour wedding ceremony

Jan Littlejohn of Ceremonies With Style is one of Sydney’s most sought after marriage celebrants. With 10 years of experience as a Marriage Celebrant, and a finalist of Celebrant of the Year, Jan is recognised as providing a very high quality of service to Australian brides.

All wedding ceremony questions have been answered by Jan Littlejohn Ceremonies With Style.

Have your question answered.

Q - What does the Celebrant do?

A - Your Wedding Day is the public celebration of a lifetime commitment to each other. The choice of your Celebrant is one of the most important decisions you will need to make. You should contact the celebrant as soon as possible after setting your wedding date. The initial contact confirms that, the celebrant is available on that date, time and place desired for the Ceremony. Your celebrant attends to all the legal paperwork, assists you to write a ceremony to suit your needs and solemnize your marriage. Anything you need for your ceremony, can be done by your celebrant.

Q - What are the Legal requirements and what do we do we do after we have found our celebrant?

A - You will need to complete a Notice of Intended marriage, giving notice of at least one month and one day. You will need to present your birth certificates, and for overseas people, a current passport (this can be done by fax), and signed by a consulate or Medical Doctor. Where there has been a previous marriage, either a Decree Absolute of Divorce, or a Death Certificate is required. You must be over the age of 18 years, and will need two witness's over the age of 18 years. A deposit will be needed at this time, with the final payment at least 2 weeks before the wedding.

Q - How long is a usual wedding ceremony.

Wedding ceremonies that are too short are not memorable, just as one that is far too long can be boring. The format for a civil marriage ceremony should last for around 20 minutes.

Q - Neither myself or my fiance are religious, but his family is Jewish. I would like to include what I would call 'the fun stuff' of the Jewish ceremony into ours eg stomping glasses and sharing wine. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

A - The breaking of the glass at Jewish ceremonies is usually the very last thing - Cries of "Mazel Tov" (congratulations) usually follow this event. The couple may or may not first drink a toast to each other from the glass - then it is wrapped in a napkin and placed on the floor by the celebrant. It is then crushed under the groom's (right) foot. There are a number of explanations for the breaking of the glass. In a religious sense it remembers the destruction of the second temple of Solomon by the Roman soldiers. In other cultures a loud noise is said to drive away evil spirits.

The glass is usually a light bulb wrapped in a white towel. The best man will place the bottle before the groom. However, it is not broken at this point. Instead, the officiant continues to declare the bride and groom to be "husband and wife". With "congratulations, you may kiss your bride!" the groom then smashes the bottle with his foot and kisses the bride. Applauding is appropriate in most ceremonies with the breaking of the glass.

Q - Both my father and step father have been a big part of my life I want my real father to walk me down the aisle as it means a lot to him. Is there a way that I can add something in to the ceremony so that my step father is recognised as well as I don't feel that it will be suitable for them to both walk me down the aisle.

A - Have your father walk you down the aisle, then ask your stepfather to tie the love knot after the ring ceremony. Lovers Knot - In many cultures the ancient ceremony called “Handfasting” was enough for couples to be wed in the eyes of the community. (Couples cross right wrists and hold them together.)

This silken ribbon close entwines two hearts in love together.
Friendships dearest pledge is made in joy forever.
United you will walk through life sharing Earth’s pain and pleasure.
Hand in hand you shall strive for achievement in life together.
Should the path be rough and thorny let love sustain and guide you .should 
the way be strewn with roses let the joy of life sustain you.

Now I tie this lovers knot you two are joined in oneness.
Gentle are the bounds of this union, pull one way and the bonds are 
strengthened, pull the other way and they are loosened.
(ties silken ribbon around wrists loosely with a bow)
Stor this knot in the silken purse and it will remain tied forever. 
(slide hands apart leaving knot intact.)

Q - Hi, we are planning our wedding for April. This is the second marriage for both of us so want a simple non-religious and unique ceremony. What parts of the ceremony are legally necessary? In particular does there have to be a giving away of the bride? Since I have been married before that tradition feels a little innapropriate for our wedding! Thanks, Rebecca

A - Just because it is a second marriage doesn’t mean it wont be beautiful and meaningful, sometimes the simple ceremonies are the nicest. There are words that must be included in your ceremony to make it valid.

Your full names should be stated somewhere in the ceremony…. Your officiant has to state their name and authorisation…… Extract from the marriage act must be read…… Extract from Marriage Act Before you Groom and you Bride are joined together in marriage, in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am bound 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.

Your vows should include the words “I call upon the people here present to witness that I (your name) take you (partners name) to be my lawful wedded wife/husband. You must have two witnesses over the age of 18 - And No!! the bride does not have to be given away……I have done many weddings where the bride and groom actually welcome their guests as they arrive


Q - If full names are not stated in a wedding ceremony is the marriage legal?

By law you are required to have both full names mentioned somewhere in the this is part of the marriage act, therefore if not stated the marriage can be deemed to be an invalid. This is so all your witnesses know the names of the two people getting married. Who ever your celebrant is make sure they are fully aware of the marriage act and there are changes in this years OPD.

Q - Hello my aunt is a pastor I believe it is called, she performs marriages in her church, I was wondering if she is allowed by law to marry my fiancé and I. Not sure as she is family (my dad’s sister) Would love to have her marry us as she knows me so well, to give it that personal touch would be honoured, but not sure if it is allowed by law. We are getting married in my parent’s yard (acreage) in their beautiful gardens; want it to be a very family orientated and budget minded wedding. Would be so wonderful to have someone so close to us perform the ceremony. Please email me and let me know as I don’t want to ask her and find out she can’t - Kylie

A - Because you aunt is a family member does not exclude her from conducting your service in her church……..however for her to conduct the service outside the church is another matter………I believed she would need to be classed as a civil celebrant as her authority is within the church…..just as I as a civil celebrant am not authorised to conduct a marriage within the church (some chapels)…same rule applies…..she may like to contact the attorney generals office and I am sure they would give her the authority required without any problem

Q - I'm getting marrtied in a Catholic church by a wonderful priest. I really want to incorporate the candle lighting into the ceremony in order to involve other family members who aren't in our bridal party. I would like my fiances younger sisters and my niece and nephew to light the unity candles on our behalf, both representing their respective families. What would the correct procedures be in lighting the unity candle? I am a bit confused by the correct protocol.

A - You could have a candle representing each side of the family, then single candles can be lit from these to light the main candle. ie each member carries a single candle.

Q - My fiance and I are nationals from two different continents, and we have families and friends living in these two continents. Since the two countries are quite far apart, most of my family and friends will probably not be able to come to our wedding in Sweden, and vice versa. We are thinking of having our wedding celebrations in both countries, whilst registering our marriage only in one. How should the ceremony be conducted in both occasions, should it be a full formal ceremony for both occasions or is it more appropriate to have only one, with the other a casual celebration?

A - Choices......cofusing isn't it? There is no reason why you can't duplicate everything, however, only one is legal, the other a re-affirmation.

Q - My fiancé and I are not intending on having any bridesmaids or groomsmen. I am not sure what to do with the wedding rings and who should hold them during the ceremony. Would the celebrant be able to do this for us? Also as neither of us are religious and want no mention of God in the ceremony would the celebrant be able to offer some idea's for the service?

A - Most celebrants would offer you a booklet of ceremonies and suggestions. They would not mention God unless you asked for it. The rings could be held by the groom, or the celebant or or a guest. There are no fast rules, all a matter of choices.

Q - Is their a month that's best to be married in for tax reasons?

A - Not really. Most couples go for the better time of the year, not the tax year. The hottest month in Australia is January/February, and both are still very popular. June is the end of the tax year, and not as popular, however, some of the days in June are beautiful.

Q - I am planning on having a very simple civil registry marriage in Brazil. I want to have a traditional ceremony in Australia next year. Obviously I am unable to get married twice! How would I go about this?

A - Only one marriage will be legal , the other a re-affirmation. It depends on the country you were born in, and which is the easiest for the legalities.

Q - What is the correct/traditional order of your wedding ring and engagement ring on your ring finger? I thought the engagement ring was on the inside and the wedding ring was on the outside as this is the order of events. I have also been told that you must take your engagement ring off for the ceremony.

A - I am told that the wedding ring is closest to your heart. Logically it should be the other way round. Most brides put the engagement ring on the other hand, then transfer it over.

Q - I am a non-practising Catholic while my fiance is Church of England. I would still like to get married in a church and this is not a problem for him. Will this be ok? Also is it possible to have more than 2 witnesses sign?

A - Firstly, there is no problem getting married in a church, however the Catholic do have rules, but there are church's now who are deconsicrated. The witnesses can sign YOUR certificate of Marriage, however, the Marriage Certificate that goes to the Government must be signed by only two, over the age of 18 years.

Q - My fiance and I had planned to get married last year but family interference and squabbling made us cancel the whole thing. We are both still very keen to marry, but without all the fuss and drama that seems to come with it. It is my partners birthday soon and I want to organise a very small informal surprise wedding for him as a present. How can I get around having him sign the legal paperwork that goes with getting married e.g. Notice of Intent to Marry Form?

A - This is not acceptable to the Attorney General's Department. Both parties must sign the declaration and show their legalities within the requred time of one month and one day. The one month and one day is to stop elopements, and to give appropriate time for consideration of an act, which is binding , supposedly, for life.

Q - What would you suggest for two people from different religions who would like to get married according to each of their religious traditions. One partner is Coptic Orthodox, and would like the ceremony held in his church with his priest. This religion does not allow for any deviation to the set proceedings. The priest is very strict with sticking to this rule. The other partner is happy to have the ceremony in this church however some family members are not comfortable with this and one has refused to attend the ceremony. Also, she would like some choice of vows which is not allowed in this ceremony. It is a very difficult situation. Is it possbile at all to have the church ceremony in the church with those who wish to attend, and then have some kind of garden ceremony or blessing with chosen vows and then a reception for all to attend in a 'neutral' setting?

A - This is not as uncommen as you think. The way others have done this in the past is to do as you suggest. They have a Church Ceremony, then another afterwards with a Celebrant. There can be only one legal ceremony, so the one with the Celebrant would be called a re-affirmation. The same, only no legalities. With the Celebrant, you have choices on all fronts.

Q - My fiance and i would really love a friend to marry us. Is there any way this can legally happen?

A - This is not encouraged in Australia, but there is no reason why your friend cannot participate in the wedding. You need to have a Celebrant present to be in charge and take care of all the legalities etc.

Q - My fiance and I are planning to go to New Zealand with a few close friends and get married. Are there any legal requirements in Australia or New Zealand we need to be worried about. Are NZ marriages recognised in Australia?

A - The legalities in New Zealand are the same as in Australia, the only difference is the waiting time for your notice.

Q - Do we have to have flower girls an page boys at our wedding, as my partner and I do not have anyone that we could consider.

A - No, all these things are optional. You do not even have to have anyone other than yourselves. You need two witnesses, to witness, that is all.

Q - Neither myself or my fiance are religious, but his family is Jewish. I would like to include what I would call 'the fun stuff' of the Jewish ceremony into ours eg stomping glasses and sharing wine. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

A - The breaking of the glass at Jewish ceremonies is usually the very last thing - Cries of "Mazel Tov" (congratulations) usually follow this event. The couple may or may not first drink a toast to each other from the glass - then it is wrapped in a napkin and placed on the floor by the celebrant. It is then crushed under the groom's (right) foot. There are a number of explanations for the breaking of the glass. In a religious sense it remembers the destruction of the second temple of Solomon by the Roman soldiers. In other cultures a loud noise is said to drive away evil spirits.

The glass is usually a light bulb wrapped in a white towel. The best man will place the bottle before the groom. However, it is not broken at this point. Instead, the officiant continues to declare the bride and groom to be "husband and wife". With "congratulations, you may kiss your bride!" the groom then smashes the bottle with his foot and kisses the bride. Applauding is appropriate in most ceremonies with the breaking of the glass.

Q - I am of Catholic faith and my fiance is of Macedonian Orthodox faith. We are having a few issues with our ceremony, do you have any suggestions? A garden ceremony is unfortunately out of the question.

A - You MUST iron out any difficulties prior to the marriage. Perhaps sit and talk to a Priest, then the Priest of the Macedonian Church. You will find that the differences will become apparent, and will sort itself out. The only other solution is a garden wedding, with blessings from both church's.

Q - I am Australian but now live in the UK with my English Fiance. We will be getting married in Australia and then coming back to live in the UK. I am Catholic (although not very religious and would not have a full Catholic Ceremony) and my partner is of no religion. Do you know what we would need to do to be married in a church in Australia at this time? We will not have the time to attend weekly marriage counselling.

A - I am sure that the Priest would be sympathetic, however, you would need to decide where and when and book with the church first, then discuss this. The only other way is to have a civil ceremony with a blessing with the church prior.

Q - I am adopted and wondering what Birth Certificate I need to produce. Can Iuse the Birth Extract which has my adopted parents names on it? 

A - You do need to produce your birth certificate, and an extract is ok as it is the number that is needed. You can put your adoptive parents name on the Notice.

Q - Does the bride wear her engagement ring to the ceremony or does she have a bare finger? If she has a bare finger, then when does she put her engagement ring back on? I think if I were to just wear my wedding band on the day, then this would look boring in photos.

A - I usually ask the bride to put her engagement ring on the other hand and then change it over after the ring exchange.The wedding ring is usually first, closer to the heart.

Q - My partner is Muslim, I was baptised Catholic but do not believe in the Catholic faith. We would like to be married by both a Civil Celebrant and an Islamic one in "neutral" territory, eg. a restaurant. Is this possible? If so, how would we go about organising it?

A - I have performed many such marriages, both in the Muslim faith, and otherwise. You can always have the religious cleric take part in the ceremony, and still have an orthodox one. It is your day, and you can have it as you wish.

Q - Could you suggest some wording for the lighting of a candle of rememberance?

A - The flame in each burns with the warmth and love that your family and friends have fostered in each of you. As you join the two candles together to light the single marriage candle, the flame flares higher than before. This flame of love symbolises how your two lives will be richer in your union. The united flame is a strong symbol. It represents the warmth of your love and the sacredness of your relationship, and the light that will guide you through everyday of your future together.

Q - My fiance is Catholic and I am Uniting. If we were to get married in a catholic church what are the regulations?

A - This is something you need to talk to the Priest about. Certain church's have strict rules, others are more lenient. I think you could expect to have 6 weeks of councelling prior to the marriage, with the Priest.


Q - Is it poor etiquette to invite guests to just our wedding ceremony and not the reception afterwards? And how do I word this on invitations? We plan to have about 70 guests at our engagement party and then we would like to invite them all to our ceremony, but then only have close family and friends join us for drinks and a meal after the ceremony. We don't want to be rude, but would like everyone to witness our marriage. What is the best way around this, in terms of etiquette?

A - Perhaps just say:

We would be honoured if you were present at our Ceremony,
however your presence would be our present
as it is only family who are to be invited to the reception.

Q - I am trying to write my own service, but I am having trouble with an Anglican blessing as I am not a church-goer. I don't want it too short or too long.

A - A reading can be from the bible, (one of my favourtites is Corinthians 1 -13) Love is Patient and Kind (see full version in answers below). You can use words of a song, or a poem, or look at the cards you have given each other, and read what you said at that time.

Q - We had our wedding ceremony at the Registry of BDM in Sydney last March and now we would like to have our church ceremony. Could you please advise if we need to have celebrant again to perform the ceremony. We are hoping to ask the priest to do it, because we already have our civil ceremony. Also do we need to register 1 month & 1 days prior to the date again?

A - If you are already married, then this is called a Re-Affirmation of Wedding Vows, and can be done by your Priest. You van only sign the legalities once, which you have already done. A certificate of re-affirmation can be given. Yuo do NOT need to register again.

Q - I would like for my 11 year old daughter to "give me away" or "present me" as you've put it on your site. Is this legally allowed? And what would she have to do etc?

A - Yes, it is legal and lovely. Who better to present you.

Q - We are thinking of having someone read a short poem during our ceremony. Are there any you can recommend?

A - One of my favourites please all, religious or non religious guest. From the Bible - Corinthians 1 - 13 Love is Patient and Kind (see below).

Q - The minister for our wedding has suggested that instead of asking 'who gives this bride etc', that he would ask all of our parents if they consent to our marriage. I really want my dad only to give me away. The minister said that this is ok but that he is unsure how to word it. He said that he would like it to sound like I was giving my self to the marriage, and not being 'given away'. Is there a way that he can still ask my dad without the traditional 'giving away'?

A - As we do not GIVE our girls away in this country, I prefer " who presents this woman to be married today," and both parents can say WE DO. It is not the custom to ask the Grooms parents, unless he says, " Will you be prepared to support them in their marriage, as you have as single people?

Q - We would like a poem read at our reception by our MC while cutting the cake - a poem that symbolises our wedding and our future. 

A - Here are some of my favourites:

A Good Marriage
A good marriage must be created
In the art of marriage the little things
Are the big things
It is never being too old to hold hands
It is remembering to say "I love you" at least once a day
It is never going to sleep angry
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives
It is standing together facing the world
It is speaking words of appreciation and
Demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is having the capacity to forgive and to forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is finding room for the things of the spirit
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful
It is not only marrying the right partner,
It is being the right partner.

Love one Another
If you can love each other through the sunshine and storm
And keep the flame of true devotion glowing bright and warm
If you can give each other room to grow and change and learn
Yet still hold one another close in mutual concern,
If you can be both lovers and the very best of friends,
And face together hand in hand the challenges life sends,
If you can offer patience, comfort and real understanding
Encourage one anothers efforts, yet be understanding
If you can show true love and faith in everything you do
Then married life will surely hold much joy for both of you.

Corinthians 1-13, verses 4, 8, and 13
Love is always patient and kind
it is not jealous
love is never boastful, or conceited;
it is never selfish or rude
it does not take offence. And is not resentful.

Love takes no pleasure
In other people's faults
But delights in the truth
It is always ready to excuse, to trust , to hope.
It is always ready to endure whatever comes.
Finally, true love does not come to an end.

Q - I come from a catholic family, I was baptised and went to church as a younger girl. I now call myself a non practising catholic in that I believe in god, only go to church at Easter and Christmas but would still like to get married in a catholic church. I also feel that I owe this to my parents for everything that they have done for me. My mother would be very disappointed if I didn't marry into the catholic church. My finance was also baptised and brought up as a catholic but does not want to get married in a catholic church. I never thought that this would be an issue for us, what do I do?

A - This could be a problem for you if your fiance does not want to mary in the church, as the church will want you both to agree to ongoing support, and to bring your children up in the faith as well as taking them to church. I suggest you have a talk with the local priest and see what he would require from you both.

Q - My fiance and i were wanting to have a sunrise ceremony then buffet breakfast nearby. Will a celebrant perform our ceremony if it is so early in the morning? And what is the correct way to have our wedding on the beach at sunrise? Is there any appropriate way to ensure guests will come or is it inappropriate to ask them to come to such an early wedding? How do we go about finding out about permits for having our ceremony on the beach?

A - I have performed such ceremonies, and yes, it can be wonderful. I have performed one in the park, alongside the beach at Coogee , and at Manly and also at Vaucluse, at 6.00 in the morning. The beauty of this, is that the venue is usually clear of other people, and the guests can go on to work etc. If there are less than 10 guests, you would NOT need to book, however, if there are more than that, I advise you to get in touch with the local council re park fees, and stipulations. There are some great caterers out there also.

Q - I am getting married by my church Pastor. However, as he is an retired pastor, would he still have the legal authority to perform the wedding ceremony? If our ceremony is being held at the reception, what are the documents that certify us being legally married? How would we obtain a certificate of marriage?

A - I don't think he would offer to marry you if he was not still able to. I would ask him if he is still registered to marry by Australian Law. There are legal documents that must be signed, a notice of Intent to marry form for one, which must be lodged 1 month and 1 day (at least) before the day. Then a declaration that you are able to marry each other, and not married to someone else. Marriage documents on the day plus the Marraige certificate, which you will be given, and these must also be witnessed by two people over the age of 18 years. You are officially married, once the ceremony has been performed, then the certificate given to you.

Q - My parents divorced when I was young and I took my mothers maiden name without formal legal arrangement. My Birth Certificate is in my fathers name but all other identification ie. License/Passport is in my mothers name. What name do I sign the marriage documents in?

A - The name on your birth certificate is the one required, with a statuary declaration, stating that you are known as the other name. You can sign under your mothers name.

Q - Are we required to invite the celebrant to the reception?

A - I don't personally attend the receptions, I think the couuple has enough expense. When the Minister is an old family friend, and it is the only wedding they have that day, he would be expected to attend. Things have changed, and celebrants have other commitments. The decision is yours as to whether you invite the Celebrant or not, but it is not necessary.

Q - My partner was brought up strictly Catholic however I was not, and neither of us intend to be regular church-goers in the future. Is it wrong for us to be married in a church?

A - It is quite usual to marry in the church under these circumstances, however you may find that the church will ask you to promise to bring your children up in that religion, and to undertake some counseling, which is not such a bad thing to do.

Q - My fiance and I are different religions. He is Jewish and I am Christian. Is it possible for a Rabi and a Uniting Church Minister to perform the ceremony together? And if so, how would we go about doing it?

A - It is possible to have both there, one to officiate and the other to do a blessing or reading. This is something you would have to get agreement on between both parties. The one doing the official paperwork would lead the ceremony.

Q - My fiance and I are having an outdoor wedding and he would still liked to be married by a priest as he is Catholic, is this possible? If so, where can we find a priest that would be willing to do this.

A - You could ask your local Priest if he is willing to participate in your wedding with a celebrant. Some will do a blessing prior to the day, and some will come along to do a prayer. You have to choose between the church and the outdoors, as the Priest is restricted to the church. There are some modern Priests, who will do this. Finding him, is the problem. There are also some ex-priests, who are celebrants.

Q - Is it possible to have more than 2 people sign the register? I would like both of our mothers to be witnesses as well as our single bridesmaid and groomsmen.

A - The legal documents that go to the Government must be signed by 2 witnesses only. There is no reason why you can't have all the signatures on the Wedding Certificate which is yours to keep afterwards. The RTA and other Government. bodies are now asking for the Marriage Certificate from the Birth Deaths & Marriages, which you can only get after the wedding date.

Q - We are having an Anglican wedding ceremony, and neither of us are regular church-goers. We were wondering if you can suggest some Anglican hymns that are suitable for weddings.

A - It is very important that the Hymns are familiar to the congregation, if they are expected to join in. Perfect Love and the 23rd Psalm are among my favourites. Ave Maria can be sung in the Anglical church, as well as the Lords Prayer.

Q - I don't really have any close friends to be my bridesmaids and was thinking of having my sister as bridesmaid instead. I think she might be too young though - she's 11. Do I need an older person to be bridesmaid since the best man is an adult?

A - Your sister is fine, and the age does not matter. She would not be able to be your witness though. You need 2 witnesses over the age of 18 years.

Q - My fiance and I are having a orthodox wedding and was wondering if you could tell us what different ways and what is the traditional way to walk down the aisle with the bridal party. The bridal party consists of 1 maid of honour, 1 bridesmaids, two best men, two flower girls (2, 11 yrs) and two pageboys (4, 9 yrs). When is also appropriate time for music during the ceremony

A - I would have the smallest pageboy and 2 year old flowergirl walk together then the 11 yr old flowergirl and the 9 yr old pageboy together. Bridesmaid, then the maid of honour. The groomsmen are usually with the groom waiting. Music is nice for the Bride to walk in to and then again during the signing of the certificates, then after the announcement and congratulations.

Q - My partner & I are planning to write our own vows. Can you help?

A - Groom: I affirm my love for you, as I invite you to share my life, I promise to always respect your needs and individuality. I will endeavour through kindness, unselfishness and trust, to achieve a warm rich life, we will now share.

Bride: You are my love, you are my life. I promise to support you always. I place my trust in you, today and forever. I vow to share our life and dreams together.I promise to love you for all eternity.

Q - Could you suggest a romantic poem for my fiance and i when we do our ring exchange? We have been together ten years and have experienced all the ups and downs, but now we have finally made it. I would like something beautiful to say to him when giving him his ring.

 A - Thanks for your email. These are a couple of my favourites.

Today I marry my friend
the one I have laughed with, and cried with
the one I have learned from ,and shared with
the one I have chosen to support
encourage, and give myself to
through all the days given to share
today I marry the one I love.

Our love is strengthened by knowing that
each of us could survive
on our own
IF we wanted to-
but realizing that
more than anything
we choose to be together.

Q - What is the actual legality of being married? My partner and I feel a little bit funny about being married by someone we don't know. Can we put all the forms to the various departments and just say the words ourselves? With witnesses et al?

A - There are a lot of formal legalities that accompany a marriage, and this can only be done by a Civil Marriage Celebrant, appointed by the Attorney General . No , you cannot do this yourselves.

Q - The gardens we have chosen do not have suitable under cover space if it is raining. What type of wet weather equipment are usually used if its raining? I realise a marque can be used, is a flooring required?

A - I usually advise couples to make alternative arrangments with the reception place, if you have one, and also have an answer phone for guests with alternative arrangements, on the day. Failing that, the only other thing to do is have a few market umbrella on hand. Flooring will not make much difference, if it is bucketing down. I personally think it is unfair to guests , not to have an alternative arrangment.

Q - I am not a church goer, but do have basic beliefs in the Anglican faith. My fiancé has no beliefs at all. If my ceremony must be conducted by a Reverend or a Celebrant will it still be acceptable in the eyes of the Lord?

A - A minister is God's representative, however, having a celebrant does not mean that you are moving away from God, only choosing to do the ceremony out of the church. Most Celebrants have no objections to having reference to the lord in the ceremony, and in fact the clergy and celebrants often work together in marriage ceremonies. It comes down to the choice of words used by you. Life is full of choices, isn't it?

Q - I am Catholic and my partner is non religious and has also been married before. I want to get married in a church. What religions would marry us given our circumstances?

A - This varies, according to the circumstances. Your best bet is to talk with your local Priest, and gets his opinion on it. If you cannot get married in the church, you can have a blessing from the Priest, then marry with a celebrant. Some Priests are understanding, but they are bound by the order. I have married a couple in these circumstances with a priest present to do a blessing.

Q - My fiancé is not christened but we will be having a church wedding for family reasons. Would this be an issue?

A - This depends on the church. You might like to discuss this with the Priest. The Catholic Church would do a christening beforehand sometimes, other church's would not mind.

Q - My family is very religious and want a church wedding. However my finace is not religious and wants an outdoor ceremony. Is it at all possible to have a Catholic priest marry us in an outdoor ceremony? I have been told if you know the priest personally they may mary you outside. What does it mean if the marriage is not done by a priest, and is the blessing enough to make it a 'Catholic wedding'?

A - Priests are not alowed to do this at present, however, if you have a friendly Priest, who is symathetic to the cause, you can get him to participate by giving you a blessing either before or at the wedding. The legalities are still the same, Priests are religious celebrants and have to follow the same legal format. Most celebrants do not object to having religious readings, and participation by Priests.

Q - I have not done my Order Of Service booklets as I am unsure of what to include. Could you help?


  1. INTRODUCTION (Celebrant addresses guests)
  2. READING (Celebrant or guest addresses couple)
  6. VOWS
  8. VERSICLE ¡V READING (Celebrant says this as last ring is being placed)
  9. READING ¡V Candle Ceremony or Tying of Love Knot
  10. DECLARATION OF MARRIAGE (Celebrant addresses guests in an informal way and declares them to be husband and wife)
  12. SIGNING (The Register and Certificates are then signed. The Celebrant presents the couple with the Marriage Certificate)

Q - What is the sequence of the ceremony?

A - The sequence of the Ceremony

  1. Celebrant introduces herself, states her authority to marry and who is to be married.
  2. Presentation of the Bride/Groom. Witnesses acknowledge their presence.
  3. Celebrant asks Bride and Groom to acknowledge that their intention today is to marry.
  4. Celebrant asks Bride and Groom to acknowledge that they are there of their own free will to marry.
  5. Formal reminder of the legal intent of marriage in Australia.
  6. Promises are exchanged.
  7. Wedding rings presented. Wedding ring(s) given.
  8. Declaration of Marriage.
  9. Signing of the Register, the Official Certificate for the state and the Presentation Certificate signed by the Bride, the Groom, the two Witnesses and the Celebrant. (each signs three times)
  10. Final short speech.
  11. Presentation of the Certificates to the Bride and Groom
  12. Presentation of the Bride and Groom to those attending.

Q - I cannot find my Birth Certificate, but I do have my passport. Does the celebrant need to see both Birth Certificate AND Passport, or can they just see one of them?

A - The Attorney General is now asking for Birth Certificates of Australian Citizens - this can be issued from Birth Deaths & Marriages if you have lost yours. If you were born overseas, as passport is acceptable, but must be current. Only one or the other is needed.

Q - I am a Catholic, and my H2B is Anglican. We are marrying in an Anglican church, but I want a close family friend who is a Catholic priest to be present. Is this possible?

A - I think this is something you would need to clarify with the Anglican Minister. The priest could be there as a private person, and even do a reading. I would think you could only have one officiate.

Q - Could you suggest some romantic poetry/readings for my wedding on the beach.

A - Corinthians 1 -13 Love is one of my favourites. From the Bible....Corinthians 1-13, verses 4, 8, and 13.

Love is always patient and kind
it is not jealous
love is never boastful, or conceited;
it is never selfish or rude
it does not take offence. And is not resentful.

Love takes no pleasure
In other people’s faults
But delights in the truth
It is always ready to excuse, to trust , to hope.
It is always ready to endure whatever comes.
Finally, true love does not come to an end.

Q - My fiance and I are having a Macedonian Orthodox Ceremony but we would like to include our own vows in the ceremony. I don't know where I can get these from and the Macedonian Orthodox ceremony doesn't usually have any vows at all so our priest can't provide us with a choice either.

A - There aren't many books which refer specifically to vows with a Maceddonian Orthodox twist, but there are a few books that will give suitable vows anyway:-

'Alternate Weddings'- by Kate Gordon
'Weddings:the magic of creating your own ceremony' by Basayne and Jonowitz
'I do' - Sydney Barbara Metrick

Q - I am having an outdoor ceremony, should I provide chairs for people to sit on as I invisage the ceremony will only last 20 minutes?

A - Yes, it is nice to have some chairs particularly for the family.You only need about one third of the guests to be seated, I suggest rows of 5 either side to form a little aisle for you to walk down and a place for your fiancé, wedding party and celebrant to stand. Don't forget to have a small table and 2 chairs for the signing. Remember when hiring chairs for outside that you choose ones with legs that wont sink into the ground. Folding chairs are good, easy to deliver and pack up.

Q - A family friend is an Anglican minister and I would like to be married by her, however my fiancé and I are not religious and would like a celebrant style ceremony. How informal can a religious ceremony be? I would like to avoid asking the minister directly at this stage as I do not want to offend her incase the ceremony will not suit us.

A - The Clergy are trying to please, just as we Celebrants are. DO ask her, I think you will be pleasantly surprised! I have attended Catholic Ceremonies which have followed our style.

Q - I have four bridesmaids and a junior bridesmaid. Can you tell me where the junior bridesmaid should be positioned during the service? I had hoped to have her sitting with the pageboy and asssisting him with the rings. is this acceptable?

A - Yes, this is acceptable. She could also stand slightly in front at the end of the line of bridesmaids. There is no fast rule, it is your choice.

Q - Can you suggest a simple Grace to be said at our wedding?

A - A lovely Grace that can be said at your wedding is:

Thank you for the world so sweet;
Thank you for the food we eat;
Thank you for the birds that sing;
Thank you God, for everything.


Q - Many people these days are marrying people from overseas, as is my case. I am not sure what documentation is needed. I have had 2 celebrants tell me 2 different stories as to what documentation I need and he needs to bring from his country.

A - Firstly, you can download the Notice of Intent to marry form from the Fill in the front page with ALL info, DO NOT SIGN. This can be then taken to the celebrant to witness your signature, (it can be signed by just one person) then show your birth certificate as well as your partners photocopy of passport details. The partner can then sign his section on the NIM when he arrives, and then produce the ACTUAL birth certificate/or passport for identification. The photocopy is not usually accepted, but in this case it is, when the passport is shown before the marriage can take place. If you are applying for a permit for this person from immigration, then the Notice of Intent to Marry form must be accompanied by a letter from the Celebrant to verify the fact that you have set a date and paid a deposit. This will be given to you with a photocopy of the N.I.M., and the original kept with the Celebrant. A fee for the letter is usual.

Q - Who supplies the marriage certificate and are we able to design our own?

A - No, you cannot design your own. The Government supplies the certificates, and there are others supplied by the AFCC or CELEBRANTS CENTRE which are Government approved. After you are married you could apply to the Birth Deaths and Marriages for a certificate which you can choose.

Q - I have already chosen my Bridal Party, but have some people I would like to give special jobs to during our ceremony. Any suggestions?

A - Children can carry rings, friends can do readings, mum can tie the knot, and dad can give you away. There is no limit to what you can have, as long as it is within reason, and time allowance.

Q - Does the best man carry both rings?

A - This is once again optional. Sometimes the bridemaid holds the brides, and the groomsman the grooms. Try not to have bulky box's in pockets, which isn't a good look in photo's! Perhaps a ring cushion, or you could ask the Celebrant if he/she has a tray.

Q - What name do I sign on my marriage certificate?

A - Your maiden name.

Q - I don't want my dad to walk me down the aisle at my wedding. I was thinking that my mum should do it seeing as she is the one that bought me up to be the woman that I am today. What should I do?

A - A lot of parents give the bride away these days, both Mum and Dad.

Q - How do you go about booking a church if you are not a member of their congregation?

A - It depends on the Church. Some are more lenient than others. Some require you to have 6 weeks of counselling, which is a good idea.

Q - We are having bubbles for after the ceremony. Who should hand them out to our guests and at what stage during the ceremony?

A - No set rule here. One of your friends usually. Whilst you are doing the signing is a good time, however, be sure not to get the water near the paperwork so keep a fair distance from the table. Bubbles in the photo's look pretty groovy.

Q - What is the normal length of time it takes to get down the aisle? I have about 10 metres to walk and want to get my music right!

A - I always ask for a 3 minute track. That should be long enough. Just make sure that you don't take too long to start your walk after the music is turned on!

Q - I can't find my birth certificate, and I don't have a passport, so how can I do this and still be within my one month and one day for the notice.

A - As long as these papers are produced before the marriage, there is no problem. The marriage cannot take place without the celebrant sighting these documents.

Q - Can I give you my celebrant a photocopy of my birth certificate or passport?

A - No. The actual document or certified document must be sighted and noted by the celebrant.

Q - We are planning a semi-religious/semi-modern wedding ceromony and are not too sure of the order things should go in.

A - Generally Catholic Church Weddings have followed the following format. If you are using a Celebrant, then the choice is yours, however if you are using the Church, then it is normal to discuss this with your Priest. Things are changing, and the church is there for you, so don't be afraid to ask. Sometimes, when not marrying in the church, the Priest will give you a blessing also.


  • Introduction
  • A reading or poem
  • The Monitum (the celebrant introduces themself)
  • The asking
  • The Vows (your promises)
  • Another reading, prayer or candle ceremony
  • Versicle reading (celebrant bless's rings and explains procedure)
  • Declaration
  • Signing
  • Presentation and congratulations


Q - What is the average cost of a Celebrant?

A - The Fee suggested by the Federation of Civil Celebrants is $500. However this will differ between celebrants. Travel time and other incidentals (e.g. parking, water taxi to or from venue) may also be applicable.

Q - Is it possible to have a close friend or relative preform your wedding ceremony?

A - Yes, a friend or relative can perform the wedding, as long as a Celebrant is present, and has handled all the legalities.

Q - I am not a regular church-goer but would like some ideas for hymns for my catholic ceremony. Are there any popular favorites that i should consider?

A - I have been to ceremonies where the hymns were not known by the congregation. This is a mistake. The Lord's Prayer is well known, and Abide with Me. Your Priest shoud guide you on this. Have a listen to some tapes, and make your own decision.

Q - What can we have for our Ceremony?

A - It is your day! Civil Ceremonies usually take about 20 minutes to complete, including the signing of certificates. This can be as you wish it to be - Celebrants provide a Ceremony Guide which offers you selections to choose from or you could write your own. You to make it your own personal ceremony with the assistance and advice of your celebrant.

Q - Do we have to attend any pre-marital courses?

A - This is ultimately your choice. Most couples who have taken advantage of this course, have gained a lot of insight and confidence in their marriage.

Q - How far ahead do I need to book the Celebrant?

A - As soon as you have decided on a date. Most Celebrants are booked months (sometimes up to 12 months) in advance, so it should be done quite early in your planning.

Q - I was hoping to get married in before the usual one month and one day. Is that ok?

A - A shortening of time can be granted if there is a genuine reason. The NIM must be completed and with an accompanying letter from the celebrant, taken to the Magistrate at your local court. There is no guarantee that this will be granted, and there will be a cost.

Q - I am of the Buddhist faith, and would like the ceremony to be done by them, but they can't do the legalities. What do I do?

A - As long as all the legalities have been completed by the celebrant, and the celebrant is present at the time, this can be done.

Q - I come from a very Catholic family, and Mum's really upset that we are not being married in the church. What do I do?

A - Tell Mum, that you can still have the Priest involved for a blessing. Also, it is your day, so you can have whatever content would please the family.

Q - Do I have to say vows? I am really looking at a "quickie marriage'!

A - There are required legalities to a marriage, such as the asking and the vows. Discuss with the celebrant your wishes. Remember, this is a sacred occasion, and should be remembered as being "special". Too short a ceremony is not very memorable.

Q - Can we get married anywhere?

A - Yes, within reason. Also discuss with the celebrant what he/she would be prepared to do.

Q - I had a look at the traditional Order Of Service for a Catholic ceremony and I wanted to know what the order of service would be for a marriage ceremony without the mass. My fiancé is not Catholic and we don't want a long, traditional service.

A - The order of service is up to you, and can be discussed with your celebrant. You do not have to have anything you do not want, however it is usual to include the following:

  • Introduction
  • A reading or poem
  • The Monitum (the celebrant introduces themself)
  • The asking
  • The Vows (your promises)
  • Another reading, prayer or candle ceremony
  • Versicle reading (celebrant bless's rings and explains procedure)
  • Declaration
  • Signing
  • Presentation and congratulations

Q - I don't want to be GIVEN away. Do I have to that?

A - Not at all. The whole ceremony is about choices. YOUR choices. The giving away is an old custom, not required, but traditional. I prefer the word PRESENTED, as we don't give our girls away in this country!

outdoor wedding ceremony decor ideas


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