Frequently asked wedding ceremony questions - empty wedding venue

Your most important ceremony questions, answered by Queensland wedding experts

Stories // Tips + Advice // by QB

So, we know the party portion of a wedding (aka the reception) tends to gobble up most of your planning time, energy, and budget. But spare a thought for the most heart-melting part of the day: the ceremony. Many couples rush their ceremony prep, only to discover it’s hands-down their wedding highlight! To help get across all things ‘I do’, we gathered six fabulous local ‘celebrant sisters’ at The Marrying Kind to answer your most important ceremony questions. This Brisbane-based collective is home to wedding professionals and friends Rachel, Liz, Jacki, Lisa, Jac and Roxy — helping you find your perfect celebrant match and a wealth of info, all in one place. Take it away, TMK

[Feature image:  The wedding of Blaze & David at Hillview Homestead, Daniel Chafer Photography]

“Can we have our ceremony anywhere in Queensland?”

Pretty much! Park, beach, private residence, restaurant, wedding venue or even a laundromat. Just keep in mind there are requirements and restrictions that come with having a ceremony in a public space. Council permission may be required for ceremonies in a park or on a beach and there could also be alcohol restrictions.

“When should we book our chosen celebrant?

Ideally, when you’ve locked in your date and venue, especially in peak months (March-May and August-October). The most sought-after celebrants can be booked up to 18 months in advance! Legally, however, the minimum requirement is one month before your ceremony date.

“How do we choose the right celebrant for us? ”

In this day and age, couples are truly blessed with an array of celebrants to choose from. When choosing a celebrant, go with the one you could see yourself having a drink with on a Friday night. There are about 9000 celebrants in Australia now so if celebrants are the new barista, then go with the one who you have a good vibe with and who already knows how you like your coffee.

Frequently asked wedding ceremony questions - picture of the celebrants with a vintage bus on the background

“What about readings? ”

Readings can be considered a bit old hat these days, but hear us out… They can be a great way to include special people in your day. For instance, if there was a close friend or family member who just missed out on being in the wedding party, you can have them do a reading so they’re still a part of the ceremony. Or perhaps you have gone with a non-religious ceremony, but your pious parents are upset, you can have them do a reading to incorporate that element.

The type of reading is entirely up to you. One option is to read the lyrics of a significant or sentimental song, as most songs are essentially poetry to music. In years to come, when you hear that song, you’ll be instantly transported back to that magical day.

“Do we need a rehearsal?”

Technically, no. However, you might want to consider one for these reasons:

  • You don’t like surprises. If you’re the kind of person who has a very clear vision of how you want the ceremony to run, then a rehearsal can put your mind at ease.
  • When you have a parent or friend who is being ‘overly helpful’ (also known as ‘interfering’). Invite them to your rehearsal so they can see it’s all under control.
  • When you’re worried about nerves. A rehearsal can reduce anxiety by helping you understand what will happen on the day and work through different scenarios.
  • When you’ve not seen the venue or you’re unsure of how the layout will work for the ceremony.
  • Incidentally, you don’t need your celebrant at your rehearsal, and rehearsals don’t have to take place at the venue. Sometimes a conversation will be enough to ensure everyone is on the same page.

How can we make it personal?

The right celebrant will make your ceremony yours by using answers from questionnaires and getting to know you both to write, tell and share your love story in a truly personalised manner. They can also suggest ideas. Brownies your thing? Include a special brownie commitment ceremony! Love a margarita? Let’s have one after the vows are done! Want to include someone special in your ceremony but aren’t sure how? Let your celebrant know and they might get them to surprise you with a reading from your favourite TV show/song or even pronounce you married! The options are endless.

“Can anyone ‘give me away’?

In short, yes. But celebrants these days generally don’t tend to use “give away” – it’s a little archaic. When a father/mother/brother/ sister/cousin/best friend walks you down the aisle, most of the time they’ll be thankful not to have to speak at that emotional moment. No words need to be exchanged and they can focus on being your support person. To be honest, everyone could use a little help walking in heels and a bridal gown, right?! One thing happening more frequently is the couple choosing not to have anyone walk with them, or even opting to enter the ceremony together! An equal union right from the get-go. We adore this.

“How do we make our ceremony fun?”

Ceremonies are no longer the boring part you HAVE to sit through to get to the celebrations. They are where the party starts!

Depending on your personal style, many fun things can be incorporated. Involving your guests in ‘crowd vows’ is always a hit to get the party started. As a collective, we’ve also included many memorable surprises for our couples.

Think matrimony shots, flash mob readings, involving kids/pets, ninja vows, witness bingo, surprise reading from guests who can/can’t be present. By selecting an experienced celebrant who is open to a range of options, (or better yet, knows your vibe and can surprise you with things you’ll love!), you’ll have a fun, memorable ceremony for all the right reasons.

“Can anyone act as a witness?”

One of the legal requirements of marriage in Australia is having two witnesses sign your marriage paperwork. Witnesses must be 18 years or older, speak English and sober. Tradition says your witnesses will be someone from the wedding party but these days, many couples enjoy the opportunity to ask other VIPs in their life … or not! In an elopement, it’s not unusual for witnesses to be random people enjoying a beach walk or even the photographer and florist! So to recap, a witness cannot be your celebrant, your pets or your young children BUT they can be loved ones or strangers. They need to provide their full name, and hear you say the legal vows, and we guarantee they will feel really special.

“Are there rules about how the ceremony should run?”

Even the most casual of ceremonies require a little bit of structure, and while there are many traditions, it’s important to remember there are no real rules. Though, let’s be honest, having the ring exchange right at the beginning would be a little strange! There are really just two legal requirements for getting married: the celebrant must say what is known as the Monitum (Latin for ‘warning’…) and the couple must exchange their legal vows. The rest is totally up to you and your celebrant. Want to include a song that has meaning to you both? Do it! Want to have a witness lucky dip? Do it!! Be unashamedly you.

“Does a celebrant take care of all the paperwork?”

Your celebrant looks after pretty much all the paperwork. However, you are responsible for lodging a Notice of Intended Marriage and provide a witnessed copy of this to your celebrant at least one month beforehand, and up to 18 months in advance. You also need evidence of date and place of birth, plus documents establishing your identity.

Closer to the wedding day, your celebrant prepares all the legal paperwork, and once all this is signed by you, the witnesses, and the celebrant, they will register your marriage with Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) within the state or territory where the marriage took place. Once BDM has completed this registration process, you can order your Marriage Certificate. Some celebrants will order this on your behalf, and some will require you to do this yourself. All TMK celebrants can do this on your behalf.

“Is the marriage certificate legal?”

According to the Marriage Act, although the Certificate of Marriage that is given to you on the day of your wedding by your celebrant is not a document of identity, it is evidence that a couple has been married. So, technically yes, however, your Official Marriage Certificate that you receive from Births, Deaths and Marriages after your marriage has been registered by your celebrant is the legal document that you need to change bank details, passports and if you wish, your surname.

Frequently asked wedding ceremony questions - picture of the celebrants

Thanks to The Marrying Kind for their insightful tips and advice.